mayhap: animated gif of yule log burning (yule log)
I got the sweetest The Dreyfus Affair fic for Yuletide this year!

One Passion, That Of The Light (1237 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Dreyfus Affair - Peter Lefcourt
Rating: Mature
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Randy Dreyfus/D. J. Pickett
Characters: Randy Dreyfus, D. J. Pickett
Additional Tags: Established Relationship, Baseball, Character of Colour, Schmoop

There's planner porn. It's amazing.
mayhap: (Wade Davis)
Realistically, even if the 2017 Royals had stumbled backwards into the second wild card, they were far too hampered by lingering injuries and boneheaded roster moves to be able to do anything with it. Monday's makeup game in the Bronx made for a tolerably good approximation for how it might have gone—I mean, yes, the game would have been managed differently if it were an elimination game, so maybe the Royals lose 6-1 instead of 11-3, but it's really hard to imagine that they actually win. The Twins, who actually did stumble backwards into the second wild card after selling at the trade deadline, don't look poised to do much with it either, but then they've already exceeded expectations for this year and they aren't losing anyone significant to free agency next year, either.

I actually do hate to say 'I told you so' because it would have been infinitely preferable to admit to being wrong than to watch career years from hometown heroes and impending free agents Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas get frittered away amidst general mediocrity and ineptitude over the course of a hundred and sixty-two often-painful games. The Davis-Soler trade was far from the only problem with the team, but it was maybe the biggest single one and it was bad in exactly the way that I predicted that it was going to be bad, so naturally I can't help but perseverate on it.

Closers were maybe the hottest single commodity during the 2016-2017 offseason. Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen all commanded massive contracts as free agents. Greg Holland, coming off of Tommy John surgery, signed a deal that was quite lucrative albeit structured with incentives. Fernando Rodney got snapped up by a contending team, for heaven's sake. While the free agents had their choice of suitors, the Royals were the only team shopping a closer in a trade, or at least the only team that pulled the trigger, and for some reason they settled for absolute garbage that both parties pretended was a major league-ready player in return.

When Jorge Soler isn't injured, which is rarely, he's undisciplined, lackadaisical and surly. He would not recognize major league pitching if it bit him in the ass. Sure, when he manages to connect with a pitch, purely at random, he has the strength to hit it out of the park, but most major league pitchers can manage not to give him a pitch to hit when they know he'll flail helplessly at off-speed pitches that aren't even in the same zip code as the plate. He alternates between making half-hearted attempts to field balls that get away from him in the outfield to making big showy diving attempts to field balls that get away from him in the outfield, practically gift-wrapping third base to runners on a regular basis. He appears to have little aptitude for defense, in spite of playing one of the easiest defensive positions on the field, nor has he shown any desire to improve.

He has no incentive to improve, since his contract guaranteed him the same three million dollars whether he was performing worse than a replacement player on the big league club or jacking meaningless dingers off minor league pitching for the Omaha Stormchasers. In a mere 34 games, he racked up an astonishing -1.3 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball Reference and -0.9 Wins Above Replacement according to Fangraphs, who use a slightly different formula to calculate WAR. A hypothetical replacement player earning league minimum would have been, by definition, worth 0 WAR over those same 34 games and they would have only gotten paid a little over $112,000 to do it. A minor leaguer playing in triple-A only makes $12,000 for an entire season, which is disgraceful, but that is a slight digression from the fact that Jorge Soler earned three million dollars for being completely unsuitable for playing above the AAA level where he spent the majority of the year.

It would have genuinely been better for the team if they had given Wade Davis to the Cubs for literally nothing, because Soler cost more and was worth less than the organizational filler that every team already has available. Oh, and we're still stuck with him for another three years/$12 million dollars, the very prospect of which makes me want to cry almost as much as the idea of Eric Hosmer on the Yankees, Mike Moustakas on the Giants, and Lorenzo Cain on the Rangers, all credible rumors at this admittedly early stage.

Meanwhile I've seen how Joe Maddon uses his rental closers in the postseason and it isn't pretty. If he breaks Wade I swear to God I will burn Chicago to the ground again. I hope the Cubs flame out in the division series.
mayhap: Clint drinks straight from the coffee pot (Clint/coffee)
It's probably just as well that I don't live in Japan or I would be far too tempted to scoop up all of this adorable Café Inui merch. How can you say no to delicious probability 100%?

Meanwhile, Peter Moylan is serving the rest of the Royals coffee drinks out of his locker, including a signature drink involving espresso and chocolate milk over ice that he calls a "Sledge-iatto". Yum.
mayhap: (Hosmoose celebration)
HBO Partners with Major League Baseball to Promote Game of Thrones Season 7

Although I think A Song of Ice and Fire would pair better with American football, and not just because [Bad username or site: grrm @"] posts about football weekly during the season. I really want an AU where all the provinces of Westeros have football teams, or possibly are football teams, and the plot of the entire series is translated into seasons of football games, but I don't understand football nearly well enough to actually write it even if I would ever finish it, which I wouldn't.


Feb. 26th, 2017 09:37 am
mayhap: Alex Gordon wearing his glove on top of his head (glovehat)
Spring training games, are, of course, completely meaningless scrimmages with no bearing on anything, except when my team wins one, in which case they are clear portents of a successful season.
mayhap: watercolor star over a hill (le plus beau et le plus triste paysage)
I had something running through my head about how I felt about sports teams like Rudyard Kipling felt about dogs—they're just so gosh-darned adorable that I keep adopting them, knowing full well that mostly what they do is break your heart.

What I had in mind was injuries, trades, and playoff losses, though. Not this: Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura dies in Dominican Republic vehicle crash at age 25. It's the saddest fucking thing.
mayhap: Tezuka looks disappointed (eyes closed)
Mariners getting OF Jarrod Dyson for RHP Nathan Karns

I fucking hate this trade. It doesn't make emotional sense or baseball sense. It does cut payroll, though, which is the only thing David Glass cares about this offseason, apparently. I mean, sure, you're replacing a guy who was insanely affordable for his production with a giant box of question marks, but at least they're cheap question marks! Piece by piece we're replacing our team identity with pieces of castoff trash. It's a good thing David Glass can't actually sell the 2015 championship or I'm sure that would be gone too.
mayhap: watercolor of a girl looking down (a face like a glass of water)
I am the luckiest Yuletider in the world! I got this long, perfect sequel to a book that is as obscure as it is beloved by me:

A House For Me (12120 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: The Woman in the Wall - Patrice Kindl
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Anna Newland/F | Francis Albright
Additional Tags: Post-Canon, Growing Up, Chicago (City), romance between stepsiblings

How Anna Newland made herself at home in Chicago.

And this delightful treat about my favorite baseball players:

Life On Line (1082 words) by Anonymous
Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Baseball RPF
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Lorenzo Cain & Salvador Pérez
Characters: Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Pérez

Salvy visits Lolo in the off-season. Lorenzo wishes he'd stop calling him that.

I just realized, reading both stories together, that the common thread running through all three of my requests was people being pushed outside of their comfort zones in various ways.
mayhap: wee Matilda reads a book (Matilda)
What I've been reading

I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Thanks to the long time between the play opening and the script being published, it was the first time I consumed a Harry Potter book (-like object) without it being a scrupulously-unspoiled experience. I did start out avoiding the spoilers, but it ended up being untenable.

spoilers )

I read The Glory of Their Times: The Story of the Early Days of Baseball Told by the Men Who Played It, a really entertaining collection of oral history. Deservedly a classic.

I read But Didn't We have Fun?: An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870, which covers even earlier days than The Glory of Their Times. I was personally looking for more about gameplay and how it changed during that time period, which this book touches lightly on but focuses more on changes in attitudes towards playing baseball at all, and also the shift from local amateur teams to recruiting professional teams, which is also very interesting.

I read Full of Briars, an novelette in the October Daye series but with Quentin as the POV character, and i don't know why. I mean I do know why, because I still keep up with the series and I like Quentin, but then I feel like Seanan McGuire's writing really only works for me with a POV character who fits within this very circumscribed range that is her sweet spot and this…does not fall within that range. At all. Also the whole encounter with Quentin's parents just fell unbelievably flat. I dunno, this made me actively less excited for the next actual Toby book, which is not great.

I read Where Nobody Knows Your Name: Life in the Minor Leagues of Baseball, which follows a pretty good number of minor league players and managers (plus an umpire and a groundskeeper) through a minor-league season.
mayhap: Alex Gordon wearing his glove on top of his head (glovehat)
What I've been reading

I read Whatever Life Throws at You, a young adult/new adult romance novel (I'm not entirely sure what the difference is, which I believe makes me an old adult) about how the daughter of the Kansas City Royals' new pitching coach falls in love with their new hotshot rookie pitcher. My expectations were low; I was mostly curious and expecting to be mildly entertained by how it depicted, or more likely failed to depict, the town where I live. It delivered roughly what I expected, occasional moments of semi-accuracy amidst a lot of blandness.

What transfixed me, though, was the author's complete and utter lack of understanding of how a major league pitching staff functions. I suffered through all the boring, poorly-written romance bits just to see what insane pitching changes they were going to make next. At one point, the hotshot rookie pitcher/love interest pitched at least three innings every day for four days in a row. They appear to use starting pitchers in relief constantly, but I think this is just a misunderstanding about what the terms "ace" and "number five pitcher" actually mean, because elsewhere there is a reference to a "number five mid-relief pitcher, which is…not a thing.

Then there's this gem from the deciding game of the ALCS against the Yankees:
The other starter was coming off four days in a row of pitching and Brody was fresher and more ready, so his name got pulled from the roster.

That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.

I think my favorite part, though, is where Brody is throwing a perfect game in the World Series—because of course he is—and he's already been named Rookie of the Year—because of course he has, even though that doesn't even happen until the World Series is over—and apparently he's been relying either entirely or almost entirely on a mid-nineties fastball, with his slider and curveball being described as "newer pitches" that he's still "trying." What? No. No way has he even been starting without commanding, at a bare minimum, two pitches that he can mix effectively, much less is throwing a perfect game, much less is he throwing a perfect game in the World Series. Especially since his arm fell off from overuse months ago.
mayhap: (champions)
Mike Moustakas is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL and I'm just fucking gutted.
mayhap: Junie B. Jones peeks from behind composition book (Junie B.)
The Royals play the White Sox, who are currently sitting two games ahead of them in the central division, at the same time as the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee tonight. I'm going to have to try to watch them both at once.

Edit: well, the game is officially postponed, so this is one problem that I don't have anymore. At least I didn't get hit by a tornado.
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
What I've been reading

I read Brain Camp, another graphic novel that Faith Erin Hicks drew but did not write. I wasn't that excited about this collaboration, though. It's a summer camp horror story with some reasonably creepy touches but not a lot going on in terms of its cast of characters.

I read The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team. Two writers for Baseball Prospectus got to try to play moneyball on a shoestring with an indy ball team last year, and as though they thought it was an essential part of the moneyball process, they immediately handcuffed themselves by accidentally appointing a manager who, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe-like, was not interested in and did not intend to implement their statistically-driven suggestions or experiments. Although this makes for some entertaining drama that is good book fodder, it really limits the extent to which they are able to put their stamp on the Sonoma Stompers' season, for good and ill. A lot of writers could have written an observational book about the strange world of indy ball, and these are some of the only writers who would have been interested in implementing a five-man infield, so it seems like a bit of a waste. Very entertaining read, though.
mayhap: hennaed hands, writing (Default)
What I've been reading

I read Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre. A few of them are straight-up fanfiction, a few more are so loosely "inspired" that I never would have guessed it in a million years, and most of them are somewhere in between. By far my favorite story in the collection is Audrey Niffenegger's, which is an AU fic sort of thing with spoilers ).

I read The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer. I'd read the original comic when it was going around but didn't realize that there was a whole book and that it was gloriously overstuffed with footnotes. I enjoyed the footnotes at least as much as the comics; they're filled with delight.

I read The Catcher was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg because Paul Rudd, the dreamiest Royals superfan/cosplayer, got cast as Berg in a film adaptation. It's an interesting story and I'm curious if a movie is going to even try, much less succeed, at capturing how very peculiar Berg and the life he made for himself were. I enjoyed the book quite a bit, although I don't quite understand why in an otherwise chronological account the author chose to reserve a bunch of stuff about Berg's relationship with his father and how it affected him until the last chapter. It's not even like the rest of the book just recounted his actions without trying to understand his motivations! He just saved that particular motivation for last for some reason!
mayhap: (champions)
There's just nothing fair about this incredible 6-3 double play from last night. Carlos Gomez had just broken up Ian Kennedy's no-hitter with a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth. Marwin Gonzalez followed it up with a bloop that by rights should have fallen for a hit in an awkward spot in shallow center. Instead, Alcides Escobar raced out, made a sliding over-the-shoulder catch, popped back up to his feet and doubled Gomez off with a long throw to first. There's a reason they call him El Mago.

Once more, with Statcast.
mayhap: (champions)
I think those last two innings actually shortened my lifespan, and I wouldn't have it any other way. ♥
mayhap: (Wade Davis)
What I've been reading

I read The War that Saved My Life, which was a Newbery Honor book, among other honors. Although it was extremely accomplished in many respects, I thought it felt very anachronistic and very American, and it seems really lazy to keep going back to the WWII well for award bait, especially when the setting feels so unconvincing. I mean, I wouldn't be so annoyed if it wasn't so good otherwise!

I read The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player, a book which my dad bought for himself but which I stole and read first because it looked interesting. It was interesting, although since it mostly covered things like how hitters physically recognize and react to pitches and how outfielders track balls I have to imagine there's been more recent/technologically advanced research since 2007 that would be pertinent.

I read The Shadow Hero, the origin story for a Chinese-American superhero that Gene Luen Yang invented based on a real character from some off-brand golden age comics who showed up in five issues and then vanished forever. Which is a really cool idea, even though I think, tonally, the execution is a little all over the place.

I read Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero. Apparently, before baseball gloves were invented catchers used to catch barehanded, which was all very well and good until pitchers started trying to actually get batters out with their pitches, instead of just sort of lobbing the ball out there to get things started. The good catchers apparently had a knack for sort of using the fingers of both hands to absorb the speed of the ball, but even then their fingers were constantly broken or split open or both. In spite of this, lots of boys apparently wanted to be catchers for some reason—this is where the author's thesis about folk heroes comes in—but even with this large potential talent pool it got to the point that there were only a handful of major-league calibre catchers who were uninjured enough to play at all, which put a hard limit on the number of competitive teams that could be fielded. Then the mask, chest protector and glove were invented, in that order, and the catcher bottleneck disappeared, although in spite of the fact that catching is still so arduous that I think you have to be a little crazy to even consider doing it, people stopped idolizing or even respecting catchers.

February 2019

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