I went to winter formal with an awesome person named Zoe in my senior year of high school. Since then, I have been wondering, Wait, why did she agree to go with me? only like half-jokingly.
Today, my friend Dylan helped me answer that question by showing me a sonnet, which evidently I used for the purpose of actually inviting Zoe (verbal communication has always frightened me). Dylan had the sonnet archived in his email; I guess I sent it to him so he could edit it for me.
An invite to formal lies in your hands
From a suitor veiled in obscurity.
Decipher these clues and traverse these lands
If you’d like to go to formal with me.
Your first destination is familiar,
And it is stocked with the comforts of home.
If you find yourself near those in our year,
Know that you have not much farther to roam.
You may usually accept a slice of gum
But this kind has been in somebody’s mouth.
I don’t think you’ll find this clue troublesome,
But if it is remember to look south.
You may find this poem cheesy, but only
‘Cause I wish you’d go to formal with me.
Now, reader, it is time for an Action Poll.
Chaucer is daunting right now, so I’m trying to take a break by writing about something easier for me. Jonah Keri made trade rankings, ranking the top 50 players by how valuable he thinks they are in the trade market. It’s a Grantland gimmick at this point. Still, I read it, because Jonah Keri wrote it. I guess that’s a personal rule of mine, though I’d never thought about it before.
Anyway, let’s talk about Pablo Sandoval, because that’s who the people care about. Keri said this to justify leaving Panda off the list:
Excluding Sandoval was excruciatingly tough. The Panda is 26 years old, owns a combined 123 OPS+ over the past three seasons, and fields his position well. Oh, and he’s the defending World Series MVP, after doing something only Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols had ever done before. Problem is, Sandoval offers only two years of team control, albeit at a very team-friendly price of $14 million. If we could reliably predict Sandoval’s stats in 2013, that would probably be enough to bump Panda up a few spots on this list. But check out these stat lines from the past four seasons:
So what are we getting next year? Should we expect 150-plus games played, or multiple trips to the disabled list? A .300 hitter, or something less? The massive power threat we saw in Game 1 of the World Series, or the guy who hit just 25 homers combined in 2010 and 2012? Someone who produces at a near-elite level, or a player who’s a shade above average, after factoring in both numbers and playing time? We don’t know, so Sandoval falls a bit short.
I think Keri unfairly uses the generic “injury-prone guy” label here. These are some things from the World of Facts: since 2009 Pablo Sandoval has been “acquired” by the Disabled List three times, he has been considered day-to-day for six other ailments, and he has missed about 30 games a year. Keri has been correct to note that Sandoval has been inconsistent in his first four full seasons, but I think the things that caused this inconsistency are non-issues now and, indeed, evermore!
Sandoval broke both of his hamate bones (there’s one in each wrist), once this year and once in 2011. Players often injure their hamates because they hold the bat by the knob. Yoenis Cespedes had to sit out this year, too, for the same reason. (Sandoval is a swtich-hitter, hence two broken hamates.) Each time he broke a hamate, he had surgery to get it removed, which kept him out for about a month, then suppressed his power for about a month after he returned. In the first month back from the injury in 2011, Sandoval had a .482 slugging percentage, which is good, but still .070 worse than his slugging percentage for that entire season. Same info for this year: .464 slugging in that first month, .015 better than his slugging for the season. In the first month after returning from his hamstring (Two different hams. COINCIDENCE?!), Sandoval slugged only .263. So the hamate-bad hitting connection wasn’t as strong as I originally suspected, but the more important thing is that Sandoval can from now on play without having to worry about his hamates, because they’re in a proverbial jar on his dresser next to a family photo.
I think the other thing that negatively impacted Sandoval’s game was his weight in 2010. At least, that’s the narrative the Giants and local media have taken. Sandoval now keeps to a diet, so situation remedied.
Going forward, Sandoval is no more of an injury risk than any other position player. At least, I would be dubious of calling him an injury risk, because his vulnerable body parts are poof! gone.
A song that doesn’t complement anything I just wrote:
Early this morning I witnessed a brawl on the R100 high-speed rail line. I wrote about it for the Villanova Times, since a lot of students, especially freshmen, take that line.
Here is the story. Here is an excerpt:
Bryn Mawr tries to get Red Vest off the train, because everyone knows and is saying the cops are on their way. Red Vest exits and enters the train multiple times, passing right by me when he does. Each time, I look down. He re-enters over and over to continue the verbal barrage, until he re-enters the last time to get physical, tackling whichever woman was in the front of her group.
Are you hooked? If so, go and provide our fledgling site with traffic.
I also recently wrote a review of Skyfall, which is way better than the review done by our rival paper, the Villanovan. All that dude said, basically, was that Skyfall is much better than Quantum of Solace. Here is some of what I said:
Skyfall is beautifully shot, with stunning establishing shots and calm camerawork during action sequences. It helps that Bond is a high-class secret agent; instead of going undercover in some slum, he tracks bad guys to grandiose parties in the exotic Orient. Craig as Bond provides a mellow counterbalance to the spectacle of these locales, and the fight scenes mirror his cool control, the camera kept at a distance to display all of the choreography, with the peculiarities of setting incorporated. A fight between silhouettes in a crazy neon building is the best example of what I mean.
Here is the rest of what I said.
Here is a song, because you deserve a song for still coming here.
In the first episode of That Podcast, Frankie and I discuss the major awards for MLB. Throughout the course of this podcast, we make many drunken asides and even more threats against each other’s lives.* In other words, it is a more thoughtful version of ESPN’s First Take.
- Get up from couch to go to bed.
- On your way to bed, see giant spider on front door.
- Pick up boot to smash spider.
- Be a coward for five minutes and just stare at the spider instead.
- Notice roommate’s shoe-cleaning spray on table.
- Pick up spray and shake well.
- Steel yourself mentally to gas spider’s tiny lungs with poison.
- Be a coward for three minutes and just stare at the spider instead.
- Pee yourself a little from the way it moves its legs.
- Spray spider.
- Watch spider fall to ground, alive.
- Watch spider run for cover.
- Resist the urge to run for cover.
- Spray spider again to get it out from under the mop.
- Repeat Step 14 at least six times.
- Watch spider run from mop to other boot.
- Drop the boot you are holding.
- Kick the boot you were holding toward cover-boot, turning cover-boot a little.
- Kick cover-boot over.
- Find spider maimed from when cover-boot was turned on top of it.
- Kick cover-boot, and all other things nearby that could be used for cover, out of the way.
- Pick up sandal.
- Hold sandal four feet above maimed, motionless, possibly dead spider.
- Drop sandal.
- Thank gravity.
- Put foot in other sandal.
- Stomp on the gravity sandal with the sandal you’re wearing.
- Repeat Step 27 three times.
This is the last article of mine that appeared in the most recent Villanova Times. What you are about to read is about thirty words shorter than what appeared in the print edition, because I edited the document further for an assignment.
The Charmed Life of Intramural Referees
They bask in the sun when it is out, as it is today, a crisp 73 degrees with clear skies. Days like this make it easier for them to endure the rain when it comes, or endure you if you complain to them, ignorant of the rules. While the NFL’s replacement referees illustrate the lowest and darkest depths of officiating, Villanova’s intramural flag football refs enjoy the climate and the company of friends as they make money for tuition or books or beer, whatever it is we college kids spend our money on.
Indeed, the worst criticism the refs of Austin Field on Thursday, Sept. 20 face is the teasing of friends passing by on their way to or from Dougherty Hall.
“I don’t know about that one,” yells one catcaller from the path in front of Austin Hall.
“What game you watching?” The hecklers keep coming.
Senior Geoff Brovich, who serves as line judge for the first game of the shift, understands the extra pressure that comes with the spotlight on Austin. Before the contest between the Mamba’s [sic] and Cantouchiss, he intimates how, from the traffic on Lancaster to the vacant stares of the cars on Main Lot to the passersby to the dead resting in the graveyard, refs are never free from a critical eye over here.
And the players. Oh, the players—always the refs’ harshest critics.
“They don’t filter themselves,” says Joe Brady, a sophomore and head referee for the first game. “There are few plays they actually care about.”
In other words, players complain because it is in their nature, not because of a strong knowledge of the rules.
“They do not understand the line of scrimmage,” Brovich says mid-game with an exasperated laugh to today’s on-site supervisor Christine Bosco (as in the chocolate syrup) and scorekeeper Casey Butler (as in the annex, she says, not to be outdone), both juniors.
Nearly all players have some appreciation for football. The problem is, flag football is to football what softball is to cricket. The official rules given by the intramural department—88 bullet points under 40 categories—explain the differences in perfect detail. This is, of course, required reading for the refs, and reinforced via PowerPoint presentation at the preseason Intramural Flag Football Officiating Clinic.
The slideshow lasts 50 minutes, and now the screen reads, with ominous capitalization, “RULES TEST.” The officials will be shown a video, and they will have to identify each rule that is broken in it.
But this is the fun interlude portion of the evening. The internet-famous Marshawn Lynch “Beast Mode” video plays on the next slide. Both teams in the video have 11 players (seven is the intramural maximum), offensive linemen touch defenders (no blocking allowed), Lynch stiff-arms (that’s offensive obstruction) and leaps into the endzone (no diving except to catch a pass)—these are just a few of the many violations on the play.
“Oh,” someone in the crowd says, “and he didn’t check in with his wildcard.”
According to the man in charge of all officials, new Intramural Intern Colin Allison, this is the first year the clinic has consisted of anything more than a supervisor reading the rules. Allison graduated from Rutgers, where he worked in the recreation department, last spring. In high school he officiated AAU basketball games, and he got his start officiating basketball for third- and fourth-graders when he was 12 years old. Right now he desires nothing greater than to work in a university recreation or athletic department for the foreseeable future, so when he calls on refs during the duller parts of the clinic to demonstrate their knowledge of the rules, it is not out of cruelty but the drive to make his personal passion the best it can possibly be.
That process starts with the referees themselves, and Allison says the department was able to be very selective about who could officiate.
“I think we hired a group of 50 officials this year,” he says. “Fifty total—30 new people. I’m still getting people emailing me asking for jobs. So I think I’m up to at least 110 [applications].”
According to Allison, many applicants already have officiating experience from high school, and most are on a work-study program, so they have to work somewhere on campus. As to why this job is so popular, that’s easy.
“They [applicants] think it’s a hell of a lot better than sitting in an office, filing paperwork,” Allison says. “You get to be outside, you get to be around sports. A lot of them—some sophomores who applied this year—they…saw how much of a great time the refs and the supervisors had that they wanted to be a part of the program.”
In today’s game between the Mamba’s [sic] and Cantouchiss, players are breaking the same rules as Marshawn Lynch and his teammates. Red’s offensive lineman extends his hands to block: a flag, then some chatter. Green’s star player, who was allegedly recruited to the football team but quit after a week, dives into the endzone: a flag, then some chatter, then a score anyway on the next play.
And twice during today’s three-hour shift a player goes to check in without a wildcard, the first in an attempt to play for a team to which he did not belong.
“You’re not allowed to play without a wildcard,” Butler says to the second when he tries to check in for the game.
“Are you serious?”
“Every game, every shift,” Butler says as the player goes to his bag to get his card. “It’s like, ‘Do I still need a wildcard?’ Yes!”
Bosco and Butler’s job is to comment on the games, players and referees from the comfort and shade of their work station: a University club car parked about 10 yards from the field, which is marked blue and worn brown by the hundreds of feet that played before. Sometimes they are needed to back up the crew in the event of a conflict. But idle chatter is the worst the refs will get today, and they say that’s an average level of player unhappiness. One team will not show for the next game, and so the crew will hang out and talk with each other, often about sports (I hear that green’s star player is far from the first to quit a team after a week; some kids just want the team apparel)—just like dozens of other groups of students around campus.
“Get some money, get some sun. It’s a nice gig,” Bosco says.
This Game 3 rain delay = good thing for the Giants. Let’s hope all the Cardinal relievers are getting drunk right now. At the very least, they might be getting stiff. Such are the hopes I cling to.
I was bitching to Dylan about Why hasn’t Bochy switched Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence in the lineup? The Cardinals have one lefty reliever, Scrabble Man, and the lineup as its currently constructed has three straight left-handed hitters (the only three left-handed hitters in the lineup). In other words, Bochy is maximizing Scrabble Man’s potential effectiveness and reducing the number of bullpen moves for Mike Matheny. And Pence is mired in a turrible slump.
There have been no drunk blog posts for drunk blog week because I am sick.