Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Defensive indifference put Jerry Meals on the spot, so eliminate the stat

The bad call that ended Tuesday's 19-inning Braves-Pirates game.

Back in 2009, I called defensive indifference the "most-unfair baseball stat." Tuesday night's Pirates-Braves game, which ended in a controversial fashion, cemented my hate of the statistic.

In the bottom of the 19th inning, with one out and runners and second and third, the Braves' Scott Proctor hit a grounder to third, which Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez handled well and threw home, seemingly putting out Atlanta runner Julio Lugo by a mile. But umpire Jerry Meals controversially called Lugo "safe," ending the game with what some writers are calling the "worst call ever" because it ended an amazing baseball game (although I still think Don Dekinger's call in the 1985 World Series will have more of a longterm impact). The call here was so bad that the Pirates have filed a formal complaint with the MLB offices.

Where "defensive indifference" comes into play here was the fact that there were runners on second and third only because Atlanta's Jordan Schafer, who had singled, ran to second base a few pitches after his hit. The scorekeeper ruled Schafer's advance as "defensive indifference" because the Pirates made no effort to put him out.

But if Schafer had not advanced to second, it would have been a different game altogether because the advance eliminated the possibility of a double play. Proctor's grounder was hard enough that Alvarez could have gotten the runner at second and also the runner at first. If there'd been a double play, the inning would have been over. Therefore, Schafer's advance was critical to the Braves' win and I think simply labeling it as "defensive indifference" is a disservice.

Even the Pirates' announcers agreed as the play happened. "If a guy takes second base," one said, "give him a stolen base regardless."

I concur. Advancing is important. As I wrote earlier, "A runner stealing second -- or advancing on "defensive indifference" -- (...) reduces the potential options for a force play by 50 percent. ... A defense may indeed chose to concentrate on a batter rather than a runner, but any runner that advances makes the defense's job all that much harder."

Therefore, I am forced once again to state that "defensive indifference" is a horrible statistic that needs to be eliminated. Call them stolen bases, because every advance can change the game.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lost and Found at Comic-Con

Do you know us?

This past weekend, the family took its annual pilgrimage to Comic-Con in San Diego. We had a good time, and I'll try and do a blog wrap-up later.

The wife and kids left Saturday morning, leaving me on my own for the final two days of the Con, including Sunday, where after spending six hours in line (three to pre-register for 2012 and another three for the Doctor Who panel), I -- as has become traditional -- wrapped the convention with a sing-along showing of "Once More, With Feeling," the Buffy musical episode. As it began, I saw that someone had left a Nikon camera on the seat in front of me. I kept an eye on it for the next hour, but no one came to claim it.

I then decided to try and reunite it with its owner by posting pictures online. Above is one of the only personal pictures I found on the camera. All the other photos are from panels (from Futurama to Glee to Sons of Anarchy, plus others I am withholding to use as ID questions) in either Ballroom 20 or Hall H at the San Diego Convention Center.

Why did I not simply turn it into lost and found? Because there were no doubt hundreds of items lost and/or found at the convention, including many cameras -- in fact, other Nikon cameras. I'm hoping showing the picture above might give me a better shot of reuniting owner and camera than the owner's simply cold-calling the Convention Center.

So if you know the girls above, contact me via the e-mail address on my profile page. I'll ask some question to verify (Description? What article was the camera in? What other panels had pictures on the camera? etc.) and make arrangements for its return.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The missus is on StreetView, butt ...

A couple weeks ago, I pointed out that StreetView cars are becoming ubiquitous, even showing up in my neighborhood.

Well, the new pictures came up on StreetView this week, and it turns out my wife made the cut -- although it may not be the most-flattering of angles (above) ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The hippification of Bob St. Clair

Bob St. Clair was one of pro football’s most-feared tackles in the 1950s and 1960s. The burly (6-foot, 9-inch, 263 pounds) St. Clair was one of the San Francisco 49ers’ most-potent weapons, blocking on both offense and defense, and led the Red and Gold by being named to nine all-NFL teams and five Pro Bowls.

St. Clair was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 for his accomplishments.

After retiring from the NFL, St. Clair got into politics, serving first as a councilmember in Daly City, then as a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors from 1967-1975. By all accounts, he was as nimble politically as he was on the gridiron.

A few years back, when I worked in Redwood City’s Hall of Justice as a public safety dispatcher, I would look at the pictures on the walls honoring former supervisors while on breaks. St. Clair’s photos always stood out to me, not only because he was head and shoulders above his fellow supervisors, but because of a gradual process I can only call … “hippification” while on the Board.

Over the course of six or seven years, you can watch as St. Clair transformed in official group photos from an uptight, if tall, “suit” into a ‘70s fashion disaster, complete with denim jacket, long-ish hair and tinted glasses. It’s both amusing and gratifying that San Mateo County had such “hip” (or should that be “groovy?”) representation.

Here’s the relevant pictures, taken earlier today while I was in the building for jury duty (for which I was quickly dismissed – guy was accused of stealing a Blackberry. I think the alleged thief was doing the victim a favor!). Please forgive the picture quality, as these were taken with an iPhone 3G in low light and of a framed phtograph covered by glass (hence the glare/reflections).

In 1968 (below), St. Clair (standing left) was well-groomed, wearing a smart tie and looking every bit the 1960s politician:

In 1969, St. Clair (sitting center) defied tradition with a khaki jacket, but still was conservative in his dress:

By 1970, St. Clair's hair (back row, middle) was a little shaggy, in line with the times, but still wouldn't raise many eybrows:

The same in 1971 (St. Clair in the center):

Here we go! By 1973, St. Clair (far right) looked as if he were going on safari,his open coat and lack of tie defying tradition:

Finally, by 1973, St. Clair (center) clearly doesn't give a frak about what others think. He's going to make a hole for legislation like he opened the pocket for Y.A. Tittle. Check out the hair, glasses and coat:

I met St.Clair a few times back in 2001, when I served as extra mid-week security for Candlestick Park after the terrorist attacks of that year. St. Clair, at the time a 49ers consultant, would drop in a few times a week to visit the offices and would check in with me at the gate. He seemed a really nice fellow.

And his hair was short.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Streetview cars are everywhere, even on TV

It seems Google is becoming ubiquitous in our lives (this blog you're reading is on a service owned by Google, for example), to the point where "Google" has become a verb.

Google's Streetview service has become a godsend to wandering travelers and armchair explorers (I used it prior to my 2008 Australia trip to plan walking routes around the neighborhoods I'd be visiting). It has also brought protests from those who say the service violates privacy, even though it does no such thing.

It's no surprise, then, that Google's Streetview cars have been constantly going through neighborhoods to update photos. A car was seen in my neighborhood in March, for example.

Still I was surprised that while watching "Burn Notice," about 54 minutes into last night's episode (counting commercials), I saw a Google Streetview car go by in the background (below).

The chances of a TV show shooting at the exact same time a Streetview car goes by might seem low, but -- as I wrote above -- the cars are all over the place now. It's probably for that reason that the editors of Burn Notice left the shot with the very-noticeable Streetview car in the show instead of using another take -- it's more realistic that way!