Joe Simpson’s New Play by Play Partner Game Thread, May 25 (by JonathanF)

Annals of Sports Journalism

The following is the transcript of an aborted experiment in which Fox Sports attempted to expand its ratings in the Moneyball demographic. We’ll never know whether or not it would have worked, or indeed whether or not there is a Moneyball demographic. Too bad. In any case, for one untelevised game, Fox paired Joe Simpson with Magnus Saberhead, at least for a while.

Simpson: Hello Braves fans, and welcome to another edition of Braves baseball. Chip is off today, and I’ve been joined by Magnus Saberhead. Magnus — are you related to Bret Saberhagen? You know I played with him in Kansas City.

Saberhead: Ummm… No, I’m not, and no, you didn’t. Your last year was 1983 and Saberhagen arrived in KC as a brilliant 20 year old in 1984.

Simpson: No. I meant I played with him in Kansas City. After I retired I hung around the locker room and played poker with the guys. Took that rookie Saberhagen for about $35. Anyway… We’ve got the Braves taking on the Cardinals today. And Evan Gattis is hotter than a dancing bobcat. Let’s see if he hits a homer today.

Saberhead: If we watch the game, and he hits one, I assume we’ll see it. What are you driving at?

Simpson: Right now? A Ford-F150. So I hear you have some awesome skills at prognostication. How do you see the Braves chances?

Saberhead: Speaking in Pythagorean terms, I’d say about 58-42. Depends on whether or not you want to adjust for barometric pressure. Could be a hair higher.

Simpson: I don’t know anything Pythagorean, but I know that it will probably come down to fundamentals – giving yourself up, going the other way, and generally playing like you’re scared of the other guys. That’s how you play baseball.

Saberhead: Ummm.. well, that is how you played baseball, Mr. 67 career OPS+.

Simpson: Yep. Always liked the sound of that “plus.” But I was always a warrior out there.

Saberhead: -1.9 Warrior, actually, so that you actually contributed less to your teams’ success than Chip Caray, and that’s saying something. But my friend JC Bradbury tells me that WAR is unhealthy for baseball players and analyzing things, so let’s just drop the subject.

Simpson: Fine. So here’s our first batter, BJ Upton.

Saberhead: Who?

Simpson (muttering a bit): BJ Upton, the Braves leadoff man. You studied this stuff, right?

Saberhead: Oh! You mean OPS .509! Yeah, I forgot to mention. I’m giving up name references from now on. OPS references are much more informative.

Simpson: You may think I just fell off the turnip truck, but I know about your newfangled things like OPS. Don’t trust ‘em of course, since they require a knowledge of long division, and they fail to adjust for character, but, umm.. won’t it be confusing to the viewers if a player’s name changes every time he comes up to bat?

Saberhead: Well, if you’re that hung up on names and faces, I suppose it would be. But we know fans aren’t that hung up on names. They called Juan Carlos Oviedo by the name Leo Nunez for years. Names are just as confusing. When Javy Lopez comes into a game, which one of them is it? The pitcher or the catcher? And faces… don’t get me started on faces. Nobody can tell the difference between Fredi Gonzalez and Gerald Laird: not even their wives . What people want to know is how good a player is when he comes up to bat. OPS isn’t perfect of course, but it’s miles better than something as casually constructed as a name. Although I have to admit the name Bob Walk was pretty accurate.

Simpson: And BJ strikes out. You know, if he’d choked up on the bat a foot and tried to go to right field there, he might not have struck out.

Saberhead: Well, OPS .507 (and I do admit it’s a little confusing dynamically, but what the hell) had absolutely no chance of a double or homer if he’d followed that advice. That’s an ex ante losing move in terms of WPA.

Simpson: It was hard to get Saberhagen to ante too. (pause) And there’s a single from Simmons.

Saberhead: BABIP!

Simpson: Didn’t The Sopranos go off the air years ago? (pause) Justin Upton’s been in a bit of a slump lately. Might be a good idea to slap one weakly to the right side to advance him to second. Ordinarily, I’d recommend a bunt, but I’ve been told you think that’s a bad idea even with a slumping hitter.

Saberhead: Seriously?

Simpson: Look. He’s never coming out of his slump until he hits a bunch of weak grounders to the right side. So we might as well try and get something positive out of it. Ordinarily, I’d suggest a warning track fly to right field, but that’s not sound fundamentals with a runner on first.

Saberhead: Seriously?

Simpson: And a line drive single from Upton, despite a badly timed swing that put the ball in left field!

Saberhead: DIP failure!

Simpson: No, you seem to be doing fine. First and third, McCann at the plate. Let’s see what he can do.

Saberhead: If I’ve got this right, there are nine things OPS .973 can do. Would you like to know the probability of each? Walk, 14.9%. Single, also 14.9%. Strike out, 12.8%. Home run….

Simpson: I hate to break in here, Magnus, but can’t we just wait and find out?

Saberhead: Seriously?

Simpson: The one thing we know is that whatever happens will be the result of character, not probability.

Saberhead: Seriously?

At this point, the experiment continued for another inning, but they never got anything out of Saberhead but “Seriously?” and the experiment came to an end.

166 thoughts on “Joe Simpson’s New Play by Play Partner Game Thread, May 25 (by JonathanF)”

  1. Jonathan, this is brilliant. Such stellar work by the Bravesjournal crew this year.

    Jason got a huge break with the third ball call then he grounds into the DP.

  2. The first pitch and the third ball pitch were out of the zone, however only one was called a ball. He has been seriously unlucky.

  3. On the replay the ball was a good 2-3 inches outside, I think the camera angle made it look close when it really wasn’t.

  4. that bit of silliness aside, Teheran looks really good. So much better than his first few starts of the year/spot starts last year. So much more movement on every pitch now.

  5. Laird, you numbskull, when he’s struggling with command, don’t keep calling for pitches out of the strikezone.

  6. This ump’s zone is definitely more flexible up-and-down than it is side-to-side.

  7. Murphy was picked off twice at first, but he looked safe the second time. C.B. giving us a make-up call.

  8. I thought Murphy was out when called safe, and safe when called out. #CBBucknor

  9. I can answer John Kruk’s question. CB Bucknor is not reliable enough to answer a question about one pitch and then consistently apply his ruling on the next pitch.

    Oh, and thanks, Bethany.

  10. I’m afraid we may have met the Braves-lethal combination of junkballer and generous ump. This is looking like One Of Those 60 Nights.

    On the plus side, if they can somehow knock Marcum out and keep the Mets from scoring, the ability to scratch one out in the late innings against iffy relievers is totally in play and maybe they can steal one…

  11. Isn’t there a GM out there we can blackmail into taking BJ off our hands? If I didn’t already know that his name is short for Bossman Junior, I’d think it stood for the dirty term, because he definitely sucks!

  12. I arrive home to find our team is getting one-hit by Sean “Shawn” Marcum. Anybody care to recap the futility for me?

  13. Boy I know nobody loves to hear some wiseass claim ‘I told you so’ but I was a vocal opponent of the braves shelling out $75 million for Mr. Sub .300 obp overrated ‘toolsy’ centerfielder. BJ looks awful.

  14. Hasnt he been watching this ump? How does Jason take that on a full count.

  15. And that right there is why I don’t agree when folks always complain when guys swing at the first pitch. The first pitch to Heyward was a BP fastball. You have to swing at that. And it was the only hittable one in the bunch.

  16. Good thing Heyward’s LD% is better this year. Since returning from the DL he’s 8 for 33 with 2XBH’s and no HR’s.

  17. Braves have 5 games in the current streak that were comeback wins in the 7th or later. Tough crowd.

  18. This would be a good inning to put a rally together.

    Quasi-overshadowed in this slop is another great start by Teheran.

  19. @53 – agree 100%. No reason to take a first pitch strike against this guy. If you get behind in the count then you are just set up for all the not-quite-strike slop he’s going to feed you the rest of the way.

  20. After that shitastic AB by BJ I’d be tempted to double-switch and sit him down, but I think you gotta let Teheran go one more.

  21. Oh geez Atlanta Opera guy I will never make fun of you again you are the best of all possible God Bless Americas if we must do this during seventh inning stretches holy crap 8 million people in New York and this is the best you could come up with?

  22. Unlike Heyward’s strike 3 calls, BJ’s were strikes and continues to argue called strikes that are actually strikes.

  23. Yes that was truly awful. Why can’t people just sing these songs like they were written? Everyone has to have their own version. Annoying

  24. I don’t understand why Avilan gets any high leverage appearances. He’s been awful this year.

  25. @80 agreed. However, god bless America is a pretty cruddy song to begin with. Many singers would appear poor belting that out. The melody blows and that famous rendition by that old lady is truly awful.

    Personally, I’d like to hear less of that song and more of America the beautiful.

  26. Avilan – .221BAA / 250SLGA – he keeps guys from hitting the ball hard, 1HR in his last 221 PA’s. Walks are up, but other than that, he’s fine, and left handed.

  27. Oh hi LaTroy Hawkins. I had your baseball card when I was in seventh grade. I just turned 31.

  28. I can’t imagine who we would bring in in high leverage situations. Venters, O’Flaherty, Walden and Ayala are all ahead of him on the depth chart, and are all on the disabled list. You’ve got Gearrin, Varvaro and Avilan. Unless you’re proposing using Kimbrel in the 7th, which, sure. But ain’t gonna happen. So. Carpenter? Rasmus?

  29. I’m thinking that in a few years we will look back happily on 2013 as the year we got to watch Teheran learn and blossom into a big league pitcher. Not everyone can dominate out of the box like Harvey or Shelby Miller. Hope Julio keeps improving.

  30. @102

    Varvaro or Gearrin would be preferable. I’ve never been a fan of Avilan, though. But then, an 8-10 k/bb ratio shouldn’t inspire confidence, regardless of BAA. The latter will regress. It always does.

  31. I wonder if we bring in Gearrin to face Wright.

    Edit: Annnd he’s starting the inning. N/m then

  32. Avilan had a 3.3K/BB ratio last year over twice as many ip as this year – why won’t it regress that way? Why is the 18ip sample your baseline?

    //and 2.4 over 400+ minor league innings

  33. Maybe it will regress, but you’re talking about two very different things: something a pitcher definitely controls, something he only partly controls. My point is that Avilan, if he doesn’t fix the k/ bb walk issues, will get torched eventually. So hopefully he starts striking guys out again.

  34. They needed a lefty to face Duda.

    And Gearrin is probably the one guy Davis can hit.

  35. Fredi couldn’t manage a great bullpen properly. I shudder at how he he’ll handle a lousy one.

  36. We can’t do this all year long. A one-run lead in the 8th inning can’t be a 50/50 proposition for the rest of the season.

  37. I’m probably the biggest supporter of Gearrin on this site but even I don’t like him in these situations.

  38. We’ve scored 2 runs. It’s not the pitching. Would’ve liked to have seen McCann or Gattis hit in that last inning instead of the pinch-bunt-fredi-special.

    Oh, and Gearrin sucks and should never face a lefty. Carrying him on the roster is a waste.

  39. How is this not a mix and match inning? Gearrin being out there two batters ago is questionable. Still being out there is indefensible. Fredi…

  40. Why did Fredi pull Tehran with two outs in the 7th while he was cruising. I know we need another LHP in the pen, but Fredi didn’t have to use Avalian in the 7th.

  41. @ 128. I like what you did there.

    Sam Jackson is light saber dueling on Spike if anyone else is tiring of this game.

  42. I told my wife when I saw Gearrin come in to start the 8th with the heart of the order coming up they were in trouble. A soft tossing righty isn’t a good fit for a high leverage situation in any inning, especially the 8th. How much longer before we get a set up guy or two? Hard to blame Fredi since he has nobody at his disposal

  43. Teheran the 4th time through the order is probably a better bet than anyone in the pen save Kimbrel. I also assume Varvaro is unavailable? If so, it makes the decision to pull Teheran in the 7th even more confusing.

  44. Avilan was allowing .614 OPS to RHBs, .539 to LHBs.

    There was NO reason to take him out after one pitch, not with such shaky options behind him in the bullpen. Beyond Kimbrel, he is the best one-inning reliever this team has right now, by miles.

  45. Jason still getting hosed on strike calls and his swing has come down with a case of the lates. Oh brother…

  46. Might as well let Avilan hit for himself if you are going to sac bunt with his replacement. Gearrin should never face a lh’d batter.

  47. @141 Fredi had Teheran and Avilan and Kimbrel at his disposal. Let’s not pretend his hands were tied.

  48. Jason is still very late on fastballs – I will continue to blame the super-wiggly hands. Someone needs to fix that.

  49. I believe Heyward had three 3-1 counts tonight that ended up with K’s. There comes a time when you at least have to make the other team make a play to beat you.

  50. I don’t blame him for using Gearrin. I blame Gearrin for leaving EVERYTHING over the plate.

    I do blame him for pinch bunting in the only PH opportunity of the game, and leaving Brian McCann and Evan Gattis on the bench.

    I get that he has Kimbrel out there. But no one is going to do that. You can’t hold against him something that NOBODY in his position does.

    But pinch bunting instead of pinch hitting is really inexcusably stupid. And he does it ALL THE TIME.

  51. So this was one of the 60 we’re going to lose no matter what? OK…on to the next. But that’s a terrible team we just played. Terrible.

  52. Yeah, it’s getting hard to defend Heyward. He (and Freeman) looked lost tonight.

  53. I didn’t like bringing in Avilan in the 7th to face one batter. Teheran probably could’ve gotten you thru 7 and then maybe the 8th. He was in a groove. Sometimes relievers have bad nights, but you got to pull them when they are getting hit and hitting batters. Ike Davis or not, Gearrin shouldn’t have been allowed to face him.

  54. Hard to justify Schafer AND Gattis riding the pine while you’ve got two OFer’s who couldn’t find the Mendoza line with a map. One or the other of those two should be sitting most nights.

  55. Is JR Graham shut down for the season with his shoulder. We need some big arms in the pen.

  56. If Fredi took a step forward last season as a manager, he’s taken about ten steps back this year.

  57. We need bullpen help. Walden, Beachy, Ayala, and Martinez are not the answer to that. They will help a bit, but we need at least one more lefty in the pen.

  58. We were 26-23 last year at this time, with an outfield that was far less offensively problematic and a relatively healthy pen

  59. I’m ready for the Juan Fransisco experiment to end. Pena should get his Ab’s when Johnson is sitting.

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