Phillies vs. Mets

June 10, 2009

Baseball Prospectus, a great web site that caters to NJ ( Nerdy Justin ) had a great piece yesterday on the current three game series between the New York Mets and the Phillies.  You’ll need a memberhip to Baseball Prospectus ( $5 / month ) to read the whole article, but the gist was that the two teams are relatively evenly matched in a number of statistical categories especially pitching depth throughout the team.  The piece has a very technical analysis of how well the Phillies have performed so far compared to how they were expected to at this point based on information such as the total number of runs the team has scored and how many they “should have”.

This short paper on “Regression to the Mean” is helpful in understanding the point made in the article about how Raul Ibanez is likely to perform at a slightly lower level during the remainder of the season than he has so far.

Since the Phillies were unlucky last night, let’s hope they can salvage a 2-1 record for this series and be energized for their return to Philly later this week!

Here are three news stories I’ve been thinking about lately.  One is from the 1990’s, while the other two are much more recent.

1) First, listen to the statement Bill Clinton makes in this video.

Bill Clinton was ultimately impeached by the House of Representatives ( and acquitted by the Senate ) for a variety of crimes, one of which was perjury — a crime that seeks to prosecute those who lie in a courtroom due to the very real ability of a lie to impact the outcome of the case.

2) In November, we learned that Barack Obama wanted to have Tom Daschle serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  His first confirmation hearing before the Senate went smoothly, where he was able to say what the questioners wanted to hear — specifics on some of his ideas to reform the U.S. Health Care System with bipartisan collaboration.  Because Obama had a certain view of Daschle ( that he was a completely honest, upbuilding, talented person) that differed from what was really the case ( he failed to pay a significant amount of tax ), he made a decision to consider him as a candidate for Health Secretary.  Unfortunately, Daschle’s character problems might now have a negative impact on President Obama’s image.

3) I would be careless if I didn’t include some comments on baseball here.  In 2007, I was lucky enough to see Alex Rodriguez hit his 500th Major League home run — in person.  I knew it was a special moment from the instant I heard the sound of his bat making contact with the ball.  Unfortunately, that probably wouldn’t have been his 500th home run if he never used steroids.

Finally, in 2009, A-Rod admitted his mistake from the past:

We will never know if it would be his 425th, 443rd, 476th, or some other home run if he was a completely “clean” athlete, which is unfortunate.  Furthermore, since baseball statistics are interdependent on the performance of other athletes in the game, Alex Rodriguez’s problem is everyone’s problem.  The statistics for every pitcher who has faced Rodriguez even one time in their career are slightly muddled — for instance, pitcher ERA’s would be slightly lower if A-Rod made more fly-outs and hit fewer home runs.

What seems really odd to me in all three of these cases is how the individuals in these cases probably didn’t need to lie.  Bill Clinton would still have been able to be the U.S. President if he dealt with his personal problems in a more open way.  The current Governor of New York State, David Paterson, admitted to a sexual affair almost immediately upon taking office.  Because he was open about the affair, it’s practically a non-issue now.  Daschle could have used some of the hundreds of thousands of dollars he receives for opening his mouth ( the topic of a future blog post ) to pay for a professional tax consultant so he would have filed a proper return and paid the proper taxes.  A-Rod would likely be a talented baseball player even if he never touched a performance-enhancing substance even once in his career.

Do people tell these kinds of lies because it’s too easy and the risk of getting caught is relatively low?  Is there some mental calculation process that leads people to lie until they are backed into a corner and can’t do so anymore?  I’m sure we’ll see more of these kinds of stories in the news.

Using data derived from mathematical simulations run by Baseball Prospectus, I made this chart in Excel that shows their predictions, by day, of who might win this year’s World Series.

Notice how the Chicago Cubs ( the teal blue line that starts above 30 percent on October 1 ) were quickly eliminated, and now have a (sigh) 0 percent chance of winning this year’s World Series.  The probability for my Phillies, 19.13 percent, isn’t all that bad; it’s the best we’ve had in a LONG time and I’m very excited for this year’s ALCS and NLCS to start up.

After reading a post on FiveThirtyEight, I looked at the data from Nielsen on how many people watched last night’s Vice Presidential Debate between Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden. 

For one, the weighted average rating of 45 is quite impressive, meaning that almost half of televisions that were on in the markets that were studied were tuned into the debate.

Second, it’s interesting to me how the ratings may have been affected by baseball.  The TV ratings in the markets where a Major League Baseball team is currently engaged in a Division Series tended to be markedly lower than the average.  In Los Angeles ( where the Dodgers were playing a game while the debate was in progress), the rating was only 34.4.  Philadelphia’s rating of 45.8 was comparable to the average, and may have been higher due to local interest in hearing Biden as he’s from Delaware and also since the Phillies won their game against Milwaukee shortly after the debate started, so people could switch channels without fear of missing the action.  The Chicago rating (40.3) may have been affected by the Cubs game, which was in progress during the debate.   Boston was not playing yesterday, and their TV rating was an astonishing 54.3!

Over the next three days, the Phillies will play a three game series in New York against the Mets.  There are four possible outcomes after these three games are played, and only one of them is acceptable to me.

Consider this table which would show the records of the Phillies and Mets after the three games are played for each possible case:


Phillies Win

Phillies Record

Mets Record


# of Games Behind

Is Phillies’ Goose Cooked ?

0 76-64 82-61 6 Yes
1 77-64 81-62 4 Yes
2 78-64 80-63 2 Partially
3 79-64 79-64 0 No

So, let’s root, root root for the Phil…..lies…. ’cause if they don’t win, it’s a shame!!!

Unassisted Triple Play

May 14, 2008

There was an unassisted triple play by Cabrera in yesterday’s baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays. Why can’t something cool like this happen during a Phillies game?

Nationals Home Opener

March 31, 2008


Watched the beginning of the Nationals Home Opener last night on ESPN.  What a beautiful stadium!  A definite improvement over RFK, just from what I could see on the TV.  Too bad I was already sleeping by the time walker worthy Ryan Zimmerman hit the walk-off home run that gave the Nationals the win.

I can’t wait to head down in May and see the Phillies play there; it’s going to be awesome.