BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 20: J.J. Hardy #2 of the Baltimore Orioles (R) looks on as Jacoby Ellsbury #2 of the Boston Red Sox rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Red Sox defeated the Orioles 4-0. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
I will now release my inner Jason Stark. Last night's loss to the Red Sox was the Mariners fifteenth straight. Impressive, but not really that close to the longest losing streak by a baseball team. The 1988 Orioles lost 21 in a row to start the season. Yes, they were, at one time, 0-21 and by the twentieth game of the season 16 games out of first. They weren't the worst ever. The 1961 Philadelphia Phillies lost 23 in a row. That's the modern, or post-1900 record, and likely the one you'll hear about if the Mariners make a run at this thing. But even the '61 Phils weren't the worst. Nope, that dishonor goes to the 1899 Cleveland Spiders who lost 24 consecutive games. So see, Mariners fans? It could get a lot worse. Whoops! I meant "could be" a lot worse. Ah well, you're not reading this anyway.
Steven Goldman of Pinstriped Bible fame takes a look at lineups and the pitfalls and downfalls and regular falls of putting one together. As research has shown that the difference between a fully optimized lineup and the worst possible lineup over the course of a year is relatively minimal. Not insignificant, but minimal and because predicting how players will do is quite difficult, managers tend to, as they do with bullpen roles, fall back on a preconceived order to things. The fast guy goes first, the slappy guy who can bunt is second, the best hitter third, the home run threat fourth, a neutered chiwawa fifth, your aunt Peg sixth, then you finish out the lineup with two or three goats, then the pitcher. Unless you're Tony La Russa in which case the pitcher bats sixth because nobody would ever suspect something like that. Also, Tony La Russa knows that goats can't hit. Just one reason why he's a genius.
As someone who grew up outside Washington DC. I've spent a fair amount of time at Camden Yards. I admit to being partial to the place, so much so that I had my bachelor party there. Yes, I'm quite the womanizer. This article on comparing the two DC area (yes, Baltimore is in the DC area) baseball stadiums comes from the standpoint of one who admittedly hasn't been to many parks and hadn't been to either DC area stadium before. As one who has been to both multiple times, I can say he missed some stuff. First of all, the beer selection in Camden Yards is much better than at Nats Park. They have multiple local beers on draught which, if you're not into drinking pig piss and calling it beer, is nice. Second, Camden Yards is in a fine section of town. I'm not sure where the author and his compatriot went to, but it takes some doing to reach a bad section of Baltimore on foot from Camden Yards. Then again, "bad part of town" can be so subjective.
Bill Pennington of the New York Times has a well researched piece on Kei Igawa, the Yankees retort to Daisuke Matsuzaka who has spent all but sixteen starts pitching in the minor leagues since coming over from Japan. One of Mr. Pennington's most interesting points is that the Yankees are beyond trying to hide the expensive error they made with Igawa. Brian Cashman went so far as to call call Igawa's signing a "mistake." The Yankees and to a lesser extent the Red Sox and Phillies are part of a select group of teams where a contract like Igawa's won't prevent the team from signing other players. The Yankees spent $46 million on Igawa and received sixteen starts of 6.66 ERA ball. Oops. Mistake. And yet Igawa, to his undying credit, has refused to give up. Mr. Pennington paints a picture of a determined if somewhat beaten down pitcher who still believes he belongs in the big leagues. After this season his contract with the Yankees expires so here's hoping he gets another chance somewhere.
I've argued vociferously for Jarrod Saltalamacchia in these pages and elsewhere. It's been my position that Salty can be an above average hitting catcher with a strong arm who can hold down the Red Sox catching position until they find someone who is really a star. Beyond the Boxscore has their monthly catcher defensive rankings out and Salty, uh, doesn't rank last. There are extenuating circumstances, of course. Namely Tim Wakefield who's knuckleball befuddles both batters and catching statistics. And zebras too. Helpless against it's knuckley powers. Jason Varitek's ranking is a bit surprising too but in a good way.
Finally, if you like Twitter and comedy, check this out by Patton Oswalt.