Bases empty, two outs, a 3-1 game, #8 hitter up. Nothing comes down to this.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dan Johnson Gets So Laid: Frat Boy

TAMPA BAY (Bottom of the Fourth) - According to a frat boy, Dan Johnson got "so laid" last night after hitting a heroic ninth-inning home run to preserve the Tampa Bay Rays' playoff chances. Chad Nickelback, of Mu Mu Pi, which is not affiliated with any educational institution, says that he "almost definitely, yeah definitely, for sure, though I was kinda wasted" saw Johnson at a bar last night and he was "getting so much p****".

Johnson could not be reached for comment, though Bottom of the Fourth did speak with a man claiming to be his agent, Chazz Nickelbock. "My client wishes to inform you that, um, he did, like, get so laid, all thanks to his good buddy Chad Nickelback, who's like a really cool guy."

Cardinals Bust Out Champagne on Flight, Molina Forced to Land Plane

ST. LOUIS (Bottom of the Fourth) - After beating the Houston Astros last night, the St. Louis Cardinals' fate was in the Atlanta Braves hands, who were still playing in extra innings against the Philadelphia Phillies. But they couldn't stick around to see how it played out, as they had to hop a flight back home to St. Louis.

The news that the Braves had lost, ensuring St. Louis' place in the playoffs, came mid-flight, and so the players busted out the champagne on the spot, much to the chagrin of the service staff. The chagrin was short-lived, however, as the exuberance of the team rubbed off on everyone, and even the pilots got in on the festivities.

When the dust settled, however, the pilots were smashed and the only person on the plane still sober was catcher Yadier Molina, a devout non-drinker. Consequently, Molina was forced to land the plane amid conflicting drunken instructions from the pilots and Tony La Russa. Fortunately, Molina told the press after successfully landing the plane, catching skills are "directly transferrable" to landing a plane.

Area Man Opts Out of Carl Crawford's Contract

BOSTON (Bottom of the Fourth) - A local man made news in Boston this morning when he opted out of Carl Crawford's contract. Gerald McFadden, a Boston pub owner, says that he was "optimistic" at the beginning of the year but that it's become clear that it's time for him and Crawford to "go their separate ways".

Though Red Sox lawyers deny that McFadden and Crawford had any sort of contractual agreement, Crawford's agent Todd Stevens says that the decision voids his client's entire contract. Apparently, upon signing with the Red Sox, Crawford insisted on an "area man clause", whereby any fan determined by an impartial third party to fit the description of "area man" can opt out on the team's behalf should he become disenchanted with Crawford. Stevens explained that the clause was included to "protect [his] client's fragile feelings".

Nothing Happens on Final Day of Season: Source

OAKLAND (Bottom of the Fourth) - An anonymous tipster informed Bottom of the Fourth early Thursday morning that Wednesday night, the final night of MLB's regular season, went by without any sort of significant activity. The surprising news comes contradictory to numerous reports claiming that important "stuff" and "things" may have "occurred" and/or "happened" on MLB's final day.

A phone call came into BotF's Toronto headquarters from an Oakland area code, but the caller used a voice distorter so as not to be identified. BotF's reporter chatted with the informant for close to half an hour about such topics as the weather, his/her marriage, and why Oakland doesn't get out-of-area baseball games.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Strasburg Out With Wisdom Arm Surgery, Expected to Miss 10 Months

WASHINGTON (Bottom of the Fourth) - Just weeks after Stephen Strasburg returned to the Washington Nationals' rotation following Tommy John surgery, the phenom is going under the knife again.

Nationals fans were distraught when the team announced in a press conference Tuesday that Strasburg will be undergoing more surgery. Reportedly, team doctors recently discovered a wisdom arm coming in, and it needs to be removed immediately.

Unlike wisdom teeth, which are frequently extracted for health reasons, a wisdom arm carries virtually no health risk. However, wisdom arms are against MLB's Extra Limb Policy. Rule 4.2 b) under section 7 states "no player shall be allowed to advantageously utilize any extra limb, appendage or member".

If Strasburg let his wisdom arm grow in, he'd have a huge advantage
Steve Stevenson, MLB's official Rules and Regulations Liaison, told Bottom of the Fourth that having an extra arm would give Strasburg an "unfair advantage" by allowing him to "throw two balls at once" and "trick the batter". Among the various tools up a "Three-Armer"'s sleeve are the Double-Fastball, the Curve-Change, and the Bean-Strike, in which one arm throws directly at the batter while the other throws a perfect strike, forcing the batter to cringe while strike three blows by them.

Stevenson says rule 4.2 b) was not always in place, but was implemented in 1968 when Willie Stargell showed up to spring training with an extra leg. The big slugger had stolen 47 bases through the first two months of the season before MLB realized it had a problem on its hands.

Other players to have lost limbs to the rule include Mark Fidrych, who had the same wisdom arm surgery Strasburg is about to have, and Rickey Henderson, who lost his first head (Rickey actually opted to keep the second, as he liked its tendency to speak in the third person). José Canseco, meanwhile, has never had to have his wisdom p**** removed, according to José Canseco.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Controversial Sausage Race Leads Second Deck Fans to Demand Do-Over

MILWAUKEE (Bottom of the Fourth) - The Klement's Sausage Race has been a much-loved tradition at Milwaukee's Miller Park ever since it was introduced in 1995. But on Sunday night it took a turn for the ugly.

Fans from the second deck are demanding a do-over after their sausage (the Polish, wearing #4) tripped and fell while leading the race. The Coalition of Brewers Fans Who Usually Sit in the Second Deck, Like When We Decide to Come to the Game Anyway, however, claims it was no accident.

Grzegorz Szczepanski, a spokesman for the CBFWUSSDLWWDCGA, says that the organization has video footage clearly showing the Polish sausage being "jostled" by the Italian. "Those greasy Italians will do anything to get a leg up", fumed Szczepanski at a press conference.

Agnieszka Grabowski, the Miller Park employee who ran in the Italian costume, was taken aback by the visceral reaction. "I mean, I know Grzegorz," she told Bottom of the Fourth, "he's my great uncle on my mom's side and my third grand-niece on my dad's side. We grew up together."

The CBFWUSSDLWWDCGA announced in a press release that they are "furious, steaming, even sizzling" over the issue. They plan to file a petition and have three demands:
  1. A do-over of the race, to be held at 7 AM tomorrow morning
  2. Complementary Polish sausages for all in attendance
  3. Renaming Miller Park to "Mziller Pzarkz"
The petition currently has over 300 signatures, mostly alternate spellings of "Grzegorz Szczepanski" with varying quantities and locations of zs. This is well below Wisconsin's state minimum of 1000, at which point the petition must be considered by the state legislature. However, University of Wisconsin computer science professor Dave Stevens theorizes that the number of possible spellings, accounting for the z factor, is "on the order of millions".

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baseball-Reference Shakes "Indispensable" Label, Now Available in Vending Machines

PHILADELPHIA (Bottom of the Fourth) - For years, Baseball Reference has been the go-to source for reams of historical and present-day baseball data. The website boasts an impressive array of statistics from the game's beginnings to the current day on an easily-navigable platform, in the process earning the "indispensable" title from fans and industry types alike.

But BBRef, as it is colloquially known, isn't happy with this description.

"Why shouldn't we be dispensable?" That's Sean Forman, a former math professor and the founder of Baseball Reference. "Nobody can tell me what the site can and can't be, and I'm sick of people giving it labels that imply some sort of failing."

Just a few hours after speaking with the media, Forman released a post on BBRef's blog stating plans to launch a vending machine version of the site. "We're on the internet, tablets and mobile, who says we can't go further?" fumed Forman, "we're gonna have a dispensable version in every vending machine in America by the end of the week. Just you fucking watch."

Little detail was provided regarding the nature of this version, whether it's on a small device, an enormous paper volume or something else entirely. It was also unclear what the purpose of such an implementation would be, given that BBRef is available from most-anywhere.

Regardless, Forman went on to outline plans for other versions of the enormous data store, including a Tagalog translation, a Stay-At-Home-Mom Edition and BBRef "Red" and "Blue", each of which will only contain statistics for certain players, necessitating swaps between owners to collect the complete data set.

Media analyst Lord Byron dismissed the idea as "just another one of Forman's crazy crusades", akin to the "Angels in the Outfield Fiasco". But while the site's founder's hot-headedness leads to the occasional financial setback, Byron says the core service of BBRef is strong enough to soldier on nearly unaffected.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Diamondbacks Fan Left Hungry After Announcers Use Every Ingredient of Tacos in Broadcast

PHOENIX (Bottom of the Fourth) - A local man is apparently suing the Arizona Diamondbacks after a segment of Tuesday night's game's play-by-play left him "irreparably hungry".

Bernie Taylor, an accountant from downtown Phoenix, says that a portion of the game's broadcast included "every taco ingredient" in the span of less than two minutes. Taylor was at work at the time, listening to the radio broadcast, and didn't have immediate access to taco ingredients.

The offending segment occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning and a transcript has been obtained by Bottom of the Fourth.
"High cheese to Alvarez... and he launches one, high and deep, that's into the left-field bleachers! Holy guacamole, the Diamondbacks are just getting shelled tonight by the Pirates."
"Now Cedeno steps in, and oh boy, he just got beaned, this could get ugly. He took a pitch right in the ribs." 
"I'd say that was more in his back, Greg."
"Eh, tomato tomah-to. Wherever he got hit, Cedeno's got a legitimate beef with Hudson."
"And lettuce be clear: the Diamondbacks can't afford for their ace to get suspended this close to the playoffs."
Though nothing materialized between (pitcher Daniel) Hudson and (shortstop Ronny) Cedeno, it appeared that a fight might break out from the broadcast's description of Cedeno as "red as a thick, chunky salsa". Hudson, on the other hand, wanted no part of it, described by the announcers as "pale as non-fat sour cream".

Bernie Taylor's lawyers claim his medical insurance doesn't cover cases of extreme hunger and that it's dangerous and criminal for the Diamondbacks to induce this ailment. They're seeking a $200,000 settlement.

Taylor himself, however, speaking to the media against his lawyers' wishes, says he would be happy with a Cheesy Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Professor Sam Fuld Explains WAR

TAMPA BAY (Bottom of the Fourth) - It's time again for a visit from Bottom of the Fourth's resident statistician, Professor Sam Fuld. Dr. Fuld first graced us with his presence when he explained sample-size issues in an earlier article. Today he'll be delving into WAR, one of the most widely-used statistics on the sabermetric landscape today. Take it away, professor!

Greetings, statheads and statheadettes! I'm very pleased to be here to explain the fascinating statistic WAR. It's confusing, I know. Don't worry. I went to Stanford. Let's dive in.

WAR is a stat that measures the overall "goodity" of a player, in the same way that how many friends you have on Facebook measures your "coolity". 

WAR for a position player has three components: batting, base-running and fielding. If a player is "good" at batting, they receive 1 point for batting. If they are "not good" or even "bad" at fielding, they receive 0 points for batting. The same system is used for both base-running and fielding. Thus the maximum score is 3 points for a player who is "good" at batting, base-running and fielding. The other possible scores are 2, 1, and 0. 

For example, Ryan Roberts of the Diamondbacks is one of the top players by WAR, because he is "good" at all three categories. He is one of the few 3-WAR players. Albert Pujols is an example of a 2-WAR player because he is "good" at batting and fielding, Ryan Howard is a 1-WAR player (batting) and Vladimir Guerrero is a 0-WAR player (bad at all three).

WAR is a useful statistic because it separates the "very good" players, the "good", the "bad" and the "very bad". That's as separated as it gets, though. As previously mentioned, there are only four groups (3, 2, 1 and 0). To rank players more precisely would require more computing power than is currently possible. However, we here at Fuld Labs are working on the problem and expect a solution within the next 10-20 years.

Bottom of the Fourth would like to thank Dr. Fuld for his detailed and enlightening explanation of WAR.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Berkman Launches Campaign For Rookie of the Year

ST. LOUIS (Bottom of the Fourth) - With baseball entering the final month of its regular season, analysts have begun to talk about who will be taking home the annual end of season awards. A trio of Braves, Craig Kimbrel, Brandon Beachy and Freddie Freeman, are currently leading the charge for NL Rookie of the Year, but on Thursday a new candidate threw his hat into the ring: St. Louis Cardinals left-fielder Lance Berkman.

Berkman's candidacy for the prestigious award seems to be based on a loose definition of the term 'rookie', as the Cardinal has been in the big leagues since 1999. He explained the legitimacy of his campaign by likening it to a "5th year senior coming back for a victory lap".

Berkman says he plans to use tried and tested campaign strategies to earn the votes of the electorate, such as bright-coloured posters, "fun" fonts such as Comic Sans, and hosting cool parties that everyone gets to come to.

In addition, the veteran has written an entire campaign platform and posted it on his website. The manifesto is a "twist" on the 10 Commandments, which Berkman calls "My 10 Promises", a selection of which is shown below.
3. I promise there will be no discrimination and everyone will always have their say. 
6. I promise minutes from next year's Rookie of the Year selection meetings will be posted at our website geocities.org/berktherook.
9. I promise many new MLBPA events such as coffeehouse and Bronson Arroyo can play there with his band. 
Berkman finished by telling reporters that winning Rookie of the Year would be a "dream come true" and has been all that's kept him playing these many years. "I saw the movie Rookie of the Year when I was 17, and it affected me so deeply, I knew it was my destiny."