Monthly Archives: October 2010

Tuck, the World’s Laziest Cartoonist

I don’t have the patience to write an introduction for this, since any SABR worth his slide rule knows all about the horrible comic TUCK! sez that appears regularly on Hardball Times and also knows any moment spent thinking about it is a waste of time. Tuck’s artwork is terrible, his stories make no sense, and his jokes are so bad they actually might be anti-comedy.

The worst of it might be Tuck’s sheer laziness. Who else would post the exact same comic six times this year only changing the speech bubbles? If you don’t believe me, here’s the complete listing of what I call  the “Dragon Ball Z Guy Reads the Paper While Watching TV and after the TV Says Something Stupid and Not Funny, He Shoots a Knowing, World-Weary Look to the Reader, also the Headline on the Paper Changes to an Even Worse Joke than the one the TV Made” series.

  1. November 14, 2007: Same as it ever was..!
  2. January 23, 2008: Going, going…still going…
  3. March 19, 2008: Whoulda thunk, indeed?
  4. June 11, 2008: Yeah, right…
  5. August 23, 2008: All part of the game, right, Lefebvre?
  6. August 30, 2008: Glavine-san???
  7. September 10, 2008: They have these new things called “maps”
  8. October 18, 2008: 2008 Playoffs Sketchbook, Part Five
  9. November 8, 2008: TUCK!’s 2008 Playoffs Sketchbook, part (last)
  10. November 19, 2008: File under “Duh”
  11. December 17, 2008: Media blitzed
  12. January 28, 2009: Cha-ching, 2K9
  13. March 5, 2009: Fascinating impersonating
  14. April 2, 2009: no foolin’!
  15. May 14, 2009: One for Calcaterra
  16. August 20, 2009: Play ball. Please!
  17. November 12, 2009: Winner gets the centaur paintings?
  18. January 11, 2010: How much is that per strikeout?
  19. March 25, 2010: Another one for Calcaterra
  20. April 22, 2010: That’s a lot of cabbage
  21. June 14, 2010: Strasburg Week, Pt 1
  22. August 19, 2010: There goes my BBWAA membership
  23. October 14, 2010: Next?

There’s almost no difference from one edition to the next. The biggest change is when Dragon Ball Z Guy’s cigar-smoking dog, Si-Si, first appears on May 14, 2009. Oh and the guy’s hat appears to say “FAN·O,” presumably because he’s a sports fan. Very clever. Anyway, that’s the only change in format between 2007 and now. This is the kind of hard-hitting research you’ll only see at Praiseball Bospectus.

Beyond the stupidity of the jokes or even the stupidity of the whole setup and payoff, is the stupidity of Tuck himself. I don’t think he ever bothered to save a template of the comic, even though he’s reused it nearly two dozen times now. He just scans in a copy of a copy of a copy each time. Comparing the older comics with the more recent, the quality and pixelization definitely has gotten worse over the years. Eventually, we’ll be reading a gray box with two speech bubbles. I don’t know if gray boxes can give withering looks, though.

In the end, this won’t change anyone’s opinion on TUCK! sez. It was total crap to begin with, so what difference does it make if he starts copying himself? Excuse me while I sulk for having spent an hour on this. Next time, though, I’ll give Tuck the Tangotiger treatment, as I investigate the “awards” he’s won.

Update: I don’t why I didn’t do this before. Enjoy this slideshow of the comics. It makes it especially easy to tell that Tuck rescans the comic each time, as the orientation and size never stays the same.

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Questions to Ponder, Vol. 1

Why is Jesse Behr a “Special Assistant” at Baseball Prospectus? What does that even mean?

MGL Engages in Severe Avoidance of Sound Sabermetric Principles

To bring you up to speed, Colin Wyers tried to set the record straight on parallax as it relates to the strike zone and TV broadcasts. He made the fair point that camera angles and zoom are deceiving; the most reliable arbiter of ball/strike calls might just be the home plate umpire. Though I, for one, welcome our new PITCHf/x overlords. Anyway, a controversial call to Lance Berkman in Game 2 of the ALDS might have been a fair one after all.

But MGL was having none of that.

I say poppycock! I claim I can call most pitches almost as well as the pitch f/x graphics you see on TV. How can I do that even with all those camera problems that Colin talks about? Well, when you watch thousand [sic] of games and you get feedback from umpires, batters, pitchers, AND, most importantly, the “pitchtrax” graphics on TV over the last 5 or 10 years, you somehow mentally can make all the necessary adjustments, the same way that a batter can figure out whether a pitch is going to be a ball or strike (Jeff Francouer and Pablo Sandoval excepted of course) in less than 1/2 a second. In other words, for every pitch you see, you have seen that same pitch in the same visual location hundreds of times, and you have also seen what the umpire calls it, the reaction of the players, and many times, the exact location according to the TV strike zone graphic. You can reach into your memory bank, and call the pitch pretty much as well as the average umpire, the average player, the pitchtrax graphic, etc.

Bully for poppycock, but MGL was basically saying, “Screw your science and computers. I know what I’m doing.” This argument by experience–without a whiff of evidence–just reeks of the mythical old-school Baseball Man.

Fortunately, Mike Fast was there to call out MGL.

MGL and Dave [Smyth], it’s easy for you guys to claim that when you don’t have to offer any proof.  I’m extremely skeptical of your claims.

Later…

Put another way, what percentage of pitches do you call correctly, and how did you determine that?

And after some MGL flimflammery,

This thread is is [sic] pointless. It’s just like all of MGL’s favorite announcers and managers.

Kind of a non-sequitur, but still, that’s got to sting. And it did, as MGL replied,

Thanks Mike. That is a real nice thing to say…

If you can’t take the heat, don’t make a summary judgment in a thread on The The Book–Playing the Percentages in Baseball Blog.

They’re Trying to Bore Us to Death

It works so well for FanGraphs, it was only a matter of time before all SABR took a page out of The R.J. Anderson Manual of Style. Chase Gharrity brings us BP’s own FG-esque look at Tim Stauffer. I must say he reaches a powerful conclusion.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the FanGraphs Empire

I am sick and tired of FanGraphs. Their player pages remain the gold standard, both in information and usability. But it’s their “stories” that really bother me. What happened to actual analysis or discussing interesting baseball issues? Questioning the conventional wisdom? Nowadays, the author picks a player, spends 15 minutes looking at his player page, decides whether to highlight his xFIP, BABIP, LD%, or HR/FB, and spends another 10 minutes writing up why Player X is underpeforming/overperforming because his Stat Y is so far from the league/his career average.

Unless it’s Dave Allen or Albert Lyu, in which case the author spends a couple of hours writing an R script to perform a local regression of swings, home runs, or ground balls by plate location. Having done that, he picks a player, spends 10 seconds updating his script with the right player IDs, runs it, takes 2 minutes uploading his graphs to WordPress, and 5 minutes explaining what’s in said graphs. It’s important to avoid giving anything that could be construed as an opinion in this last step.

As “FagGraphs” said succintly in a comment on another post here, “You might as well have just posted a link to his player page.”

(I won’t ape the Pozterisk, but to play devil’s advocate, it’s nice to know that sabermetrics has grown to the point where someone can now earn a good amount just by mailing it in with some vaguely-sabermetric articles. Mainstream acceptance, here we come!)

I looked over the 30 or so most recent posts. And only those written by Dave Cameron, Carson Cistulli, or Alex Remington didn’t neatly fit into my overly-simplistic description. That’s pretty sad. There was word vomit on Matt Stairs, Juan Uribe, the Rockies, Madison Bumgarner, Will Venable, Zach Greinke, P.J. Walters and James McDonald, Robinson Cano, Pedro Feliciano, and Carlos Lee, to name a few. And not one has any analysis I could see.

As for the writers who break the mold, in Remington’s case, it doesn’t matter in the end since his articles were–as always–super boring and on the intellectual level of a middle schooler. Cistulli’s writing often crosses the Kahrl Line, but he has his fans (graphs! I hate myself). And everyone knows that Dave Cameron is the rock of the FanGraphs blog.

The decline of FanGraphs may be overshadowed in intensity by the decline of the Hardball Times or in longevity by the decline of Baseball Prospectus, but it was a site that held promise to be everything  a SABR could hope for and didn’t strive to appeal to idiotic mainstream fans. That the blog is now nearly indistinguishable from TMI activates the weeping circuit in my robot motherboard. If the FanGraphs overlords could manage to fire a few (or all) of the other contributors, SABR everywhere would have reason to smile.

Attention, Daves: for $10 a post, I’ll rip all the SABR out there a new one. Hell, it’s got to be better than Jack Moore finding the world’s stupidest correlation.