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."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bautista's BP Session Leaves Royals Literally Quaking in their Boots

TORONTO (Bottom of the Fourth) - The internet was abuzz when an earthquake hit North America's east coast Tuesday afternoon. It was soon revealed that the tremor was the first ever recorded earthquake to be caused by the batting practice session of a Major League Baseball player.

José Bautista, star slugger of the Toronto Blue Jays, was taking batting practice when he crushed a 70-MPH fastball with such force that it caused most of the Eastern Seaboard to shake violently.

According to an unnamed member of the press, some members Kansas City Royals were on the field stretching and were left literally "quaking in their boots" upon witness Bautista's astonishing power. Bottom of the Fourth is working on several leads to ascertain exactly why the Royals were wearing boots.

Sources say the earthquake, which was felt from Virginia to Chicago to Toronto, caused "extensive tweeting" and "mass exclamation".

Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has called a press conference for 3:30 this afternoon to apologize for the quake. He is also expected to announce the signing of Kate Winslet to be the team's new Director of Grandma Affairs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

S&P Downgrades National League to AAA

NEW YORK (Bottom of the Fourth) - Just days after downgrading the United States to AA+, Standard and Poor's has announced another major downgrade, bumping Major League Baseball's National League down from "Major Leagues" to "AAA".

S&P analyst John Keats said the move has been a long time coming, but the agency garnered the courage to go through with it after their controversial downgrade of the USA.

"It's been clear for at least 15 years that the National League fucking sucks," said Keats in a statement Wednesday morning, "'I dunno how it's taken us this long to officially acknowledge that fact."

Technical details of the demotion followed in a report released by S&P. National League clubs will be evenly distributed between the International and Pacific Coast leagues, the two current AAA leagues. This will mean that some clubs will even play regularly against their own AAA affiliate.

Additionally, NL clubs will no longer be eligible for the World Series. MLB has acted swiftly to implement a new playoff structure, and commissioner Bud Selig announced the changes this morning. "The World Series will still be a best-of-seven series, and it will be between the Yankees and Red Sox." The commissioner went on to explain that "that's what would have happened anyway, duh".

NL clubs have banded together to file a protest, claiming that S&P has no authority to make such a decision. However, their protest is unlikely to gain traction, as a little-known amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that "Standard and Poor's shall carry jurisdiction over any ratings denoted by the letters 'A', 'B' or 'C', possibly including symbols up to and including '-' and/or '+'.

Reaction to the news has been swift and diverse, and has come from sources as varied as satirical newspaper The Onion. Jeff Harris, Public Relations Director, had this to say at a press conference: "I would just like to say, on behalf of all employees of The Onion, that this joke is super obvious. Twenty-nine different Onion writers thought of it independently, so obviously we didn't publish it. Too easy."

Bottom of the Fourth author Xave responded to the criticism on his blog, claiming that "HEY THE ONION, YOU'RE DOWNGRADED!!! I DOWNGRADE YOU!!!! YOU'RE A TRIPLE C NOW, HOW BOUT THAT HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAAAHAHHH"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Blue Jays Sign 12-Week-Old Fetus

TORONTO (Bottom of the Fourth) - The Blue Jays under Alex Anthopoulos and John Farrell have made a point of trying to get "younger" and "more athletic" this season. A move announced by the club Monday morning will ensure they continue to move in the "younger" direction, at least. In a press conference, the club announced the first ever MLB signing of an unborn player, a 12-week-old unnamed fetus.

'Fete Rose', as the new signee is being called by fans and media, is said to have exceptional fast-twitch muscles for a fetus. Additionally, his growth pattern portends above-average plate discipline, according to the Blue Jays' prenatal scouting department.

Though many parties have been surprised by this announcement, none have been more so than the fetus' mother Emily Dickinson. "I didn't sign any contract," Dickinson commented to the media during a hypno-birthing class, "and I plan on fighting this thing. My lawyer says there's legal precedent for sports teams not being allowed to sign an unborn baby without the mother's consent."

Blue Jays lawyers are aware of this precedent, and plan on contesting this claim based on the fact that the fetus is young enough to not yet be considered a human being. 

According to a source within the Blue Jays' organization, the club had fetal operatives working over the last several weeks to get this deal done without other teams, or the mother, finding out their intentions. Most of their work involved preparing the womb for the embryo to enter the fetal stage, creating welcoming conditions that would be conducive to making a long-term commitment to the organization.

"We had the place decked out in Blue Jays memorabilia, we had the 92-93 DVD playing non-stop, we had a gourmet buffet available 24/7, there was no way he could resist," commented tiny scout Alan Dempsey.

Alex Anthopoulos says this was a feat of scouting the likes of which has never been seen before, and that the club needs to keep going in new, unexplored directions if it hopes to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox. Though he was characteristically mum on the club's future plans, he did finish the press conference by dropping a tantalizing hint: "I still think we can go younger."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

MLB Completely Reshuffles Rosters After Three-Day Bender Leaves Players in Unexpected Locations

TORONTO (Bottom of the Fourth) - With games scheduled to resume this evening, MLB faced a dilemma this morning upon discovering almost none of its players were in the right cities. Rather than fretting over the difficult situation, however, the league has implemented a creative solution: rosters will be reshuffled to reflect where players currently are.

MLB Spokesman Sir Edmund Hillary spoke to the media this morning. "This seems to happen every year. No-one seems quite sure why there's always a three-day break in the baseball schedule right in the middle of the season, but players inevitably end up scattered across the country, sometimes overseas."

Surprising changes to MLB rosters include Derek Jeter joining the Boston Red Sox, Ichiro Suzuki joining the Cleveland Indians after vowing to "punch himself in the face" if he ever said he was excited about going to Cleveland, and the 90 or so best players in baseball becoming the newest members of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In addition, some new teams will have to be formed, while others will be contracted. The aforementioned Diamondbacks will be split into three squads: "The New Diamondbacks", "The Diamondbacks Strike Back", and "Return of the Diamondbacks". Las Vegas will also boast three teams after discovering dozens of MLB players passed out in its suites, and the Spanish island Ibiza will become the first MLB team to play its home games outside of North America.

The Cincinnati Reds, on the other hand, will no longer cease to exist despite being one of baseball's oldest teams. The city woke up on Thursday morning with only three members of its current team still in the city: relief pitchers Sam LeCure, Logan Ondrusek and Nick Masset were discovered at early morning service at Cincinnati Central United Church.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Washington to Make Mid-Pitch Pitching Changes to Accommodate Size of All-Star Roster

PHOENIX (Bottom of the Fourth) - The size of baseball's All-Star Roster is a constant source of derision from the media, as it annually seems as if the entirety of Major League Baseball is part of the game. But while fans and the media may get amusement out of the event's shortcomings, AL manager Ron Washington gets a bit of a headache.

Washington told reporters this morning that he's been devising an All-Star Game strategy for days, and just last night had the breakthrough that will allow him to utilize all his players. His solution: mid-pitch pitching changes.

Washington says he had the breakthrough while in his 'chalking room'. "As a player, I put chalk on my hands to get a better grip on the ball," Washington explained, "and as a manager I've kept up the habit. A little chalk now and then helps me think."

Bringing in relief pitchers to face just a single batter is a strategy often employed in regular season games to gain a marginal advantage, but Washington said this wouldn't allow him to use all the pitchers on his roster. Rather, he'll make pitching changes mid-pitch: one pitcher will go into the windup, only to be replaced by a second pitcher who will follow through and throw the pitch. Washington is not ruling out making a second mid-pitch pitching change after the pitch, inserting a third pitcher to field.

The Texas Rangers' manager says that in addition to allowing him to maximize his roster utility, the strategy has the advantage of confusing batters. They could be getting set to hit off a right-handed pitcher, only to suddenly see a lefty spinning a breaking ball in on their hands at the last moment.

Once Washington had this mental breakthrough, he says his plan for using all his hitters came naturally. Mid-pitch pinch hitters will also carry the added benefit of enabling Washington to match hitters with pitch types. Once a pitch has been identified as a slider, for example, Washington can pinch-hit with a batter who is often successful against sliders before the pitch reaches the plate.

Washington speculated to the media that in order to use all his players, he'll be making some managerial move, often more than one, during about 80% of the pitches thrown during tonight's game.

Monday, July 11, 2011

MLB Agrees to Let Players "Hang" on Sidelines at HR Derby; "Chilling" Still on the Table

PHOENIX (Bottom of the Fourth) - Amid labour strife in both the NFL and NBA, MLB has had to scramble to resolve its own dispute at the last minute. The league was surprised to receive word this morning that the players were demanding "chilling" rights for tonight's Home Run Derby, a significant increase from last year's "maxin' and relaxin'" clause.

MLB Spokesman Stuart Dawson said the demand "blindsided" the league and that the players' demands were "outrageous". However, a "power-negosh" this afternoon brought the two sides to a tentative agreement. The players assented to the somewhat less extreme "hanging" privilege when the league threatened to curtail "players' kids wearing matching uniforms" rights to "kids of cuteness quotient 5 or less".

While most players are satisfied with the arrangement, a few stalwarts are still pushing for "chilling". Alex Avila, Tigers catcher and first-time All-Star, wants to make the most of his first selection to the team, and claims he won't be able to do so without the ability to "chill".

"It's been my dream since I was four years old to chill at the Home Run Derby," Avila told reporters Monday, "and I just can't believe MLB would be so heartless as to crush players' dreams so unnecessarily."

Stuart Dawson, meanwhile, disagrees wholeheartedly with Avila. "This is by no means an unnecessary, cruel decision. If MLB allowed the players to "chill" it's just a matter of time before they'd be "loafing", and before you know it "sloth" would set in. We can't have our players setting such bad examples for the kids out there. It's simply a non-starter."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Alex Anthopoulos: The Song

We (I) here at Bottom of the Fourth are (am) a big fan of Alex Anthopoulos, the young general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. So we (I) made a superhero song about him! Enjoy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mármol Backpedals, Says He "Loves" Slider, Is Not "In Love" With Slider

CHICAGO (Bottom of the Fourth) - It seems the honeymoon is over for Carlos Mármol and his slider. The Chicago Cubs' closer, who recently admitted to the media that he was "in love" with his slider, retracted those sentiments in a statement Friday morning.

"Ned and I, well, I think we got caught up in the moment," Mármol intimated to reporters at a press conference, "and things were said that may have been a little... premature."

Further questioning revealed that "Ned" is Mármol's name for his slider.

Mármol insisted that he still "loves" Ned, in the same way he loves his sister or Nabisco Black Pepper and Olive Oil Triscuits. But he's having second thoughts on whether he wants to be in an intimate relationship with the pitch.

Mármol is now on the outside looking into the heart in which he was once fully immersed

Attempts to contact Mármol's slider Ned went mostly unanswered, though Ned's agent finally put out a press release this afternoon. It read: "Ned would like to thank everyone for their concern, but wishes to be left in private during this difficult time. He is still struggling with his emotions and would like peace and quiet to recover from this trauma. Further, Ned would like to vehemently deny any rumours that may be circulating that he is involved romantically with Carlos' fastball Alan."

While most of the reaction to the news has been supportive of Mármol and his slider through this difficult time, National League hitters on teams other than the Cubs and pitcher-pitch marriage counseling specialists are among those happy about the situation.

(Thanks to Texas Leaguers for the slider chart.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Graph Infection: Distance From Kansas City

Today's graph is a map-based infographic showing the distance from Kansas City to all other Major League cities. The distance is shown by the colour of the arrows, where the colour is based on RGB values. The formulas for these values are given by:

where dist is the distance from the given city to Kansas City. The constants are shown below:

Given all the above, presented next is a set of instructions on how to use the maphographic. First, eyeball the RGB values of the desired arrow. Next, re-arrange the three colour formulas to isolate the variable dist. Input the constants given above, and solve for dist. Voila: now you can easily find the distance from Kansas City to any other city with a Major League Baseball team in just a few simple steps. Feel free to pass this handy tool along!

Note: Toronto's arrow colour is based on kilometres, and is therefore darker than one would expect for an American city with a similar distance.

Click to embiggen

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ichiro Disciplined By Mariners After Tweeting During Diving Catch

SEATTLE (Bottom of the Fourth) - Is there anything Ichiro Suzuki can't do? Widely considered one of the most exciting players in baseball since bursting on to the scene in 2001, the Mariners superstar has outdone himself once again, this time establishing a Major League Baseball first by tweeting during a diving catch.

The right-fielder ranged into the right-centre gap during the play in question. Replay later confirmed that he composed the tweet blind while sprinting toward the ball, and sent it off just as he was going into his dive. The tweet itself read "Check this out!!!!!! #sickcatch", as shown below.

Ichiro tweeted the message milliseconds before making the catch

It should be noted that Ichiro was not actually a member of Twitter prior to this tweet. Therefore, it seems that in addition to composing and sending a tweet while tracking down a fly ball, Ichiro had to create an entire account in the time it took to run from his spot in the outfield to the eventual site of his catch. It is not currently known how the Japanese star was able to complete the reCAPTCHA required as part of Twitter's registration while keeping his eyes on the ball.

Despite the fact that he made the catch, the Mariners are not happy with Ichiro's actions. The team believes he's "setting a bad example" for the younger Seattle players like Justin Smoak and Michael Pineda who "have never known a world without Twitter", according to team spokesman Ben Golden. "If this keeps up, the youth of our team soon won't be able to distinguish between reality and Twitrality", said Golden.

The aforementioned inability to distinguish between reality and Twitrality is condition well-documented to not be real, based on the scientifically-established fact that Twitrality is not a thing.

Regardless, the team has suspended Ichiro's Twitter privileges until such time as he has completed a Twitter Sensitivity Training course. Ichiro reacted to the news by twtng: "scks tht cn't twt ntl fnsh ths crs, bt fllw m n Twttr fr ll th ltst chr nws!!!"

Ichiro will be joined in the sensitivity training course by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who recently tweeted, while making a double-switch, that Latinos are underrepresented on Twitter.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Right Fielders Threaten Strike Over Lack of Work

PHOENIX (Bottom of the Fourth) - Two and a half months is long enough. At least, so say Major League Baseball's right-fielders, who are threatening to strike over lack of work. With offense down across MLB and teams increasingly looking for ground-ball pitchers, right-fielders say they're simply "bored out of [their] friggin' minds".

Spokesman for the Union of Right-Fielders (URF) Justin Upton spoke to the media on Monday morning. "Well-met, good sir. Well, us chaps in the urf, see, we've amassed just a pip of ennui, see, lallygagging out there in the pitch, see. It's not more than a trifle, and I wouldn't care to beget a whole hullaballoo, but if the fellas down there on Wall Street threw us a few more bones, y'know, to catch, so to speak, well, that would just be cuter than a bug's ear."

MLB was dismissive of the right-fielders' complaints. "See, usually when unions threaten strikes over lack of work, they're really striking because they aren't getting paid," explained MLB spokesman Dan Kricke. "It seems the right-fielders fail to understand that they're still getting millions of dollars for standing there doing nothing."

Notably absent from the right-fielders' petition was Blue Jays star José Bautista. When asked why he wasn't supporting his right-field counterparts, Bautista responded "because I'm f&*%ing killing it this year."

The initiative of the right-fielders has propelled other groups to speak up and take action for their own causes. Third-base umpires have officially joined the right-fielder strike over concerns related to "boredom" (though it should be noted that since umpiring crews operate on a rotating basis, the Organization for Third-Base Umpires completely turns over its membership every day), while the AAAA Tweeners' Society is considering action "just as soon as we get the call".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Foul Poles in Dubai Baseball Stadium Now Tallest Structures in World

DUBAI (Bottom of the Fourth) - It was only a year and a half ago that the Burj Khalifa in Dubai officially opened and became the tallest structure in the world at 828 metres. But its reign was short-lived, as Dubai has already bettered itself.

On Wednesday morning, the ribbon was cut on the new Dubai Stadium of Base Balls, a massive project years in the making. The stadium is enormous: it will seat over 150,000 fans, roughly triple what most MLB stadiums can handle, and significantly more than even NFL stadiums. But what stood out at the ribbon cutting were the foul poles, which stand many times the height of the stadium itself.

The poles are 905 metres tall, with the left-field pole about 8 mm taller (a grievous error that resulted in the imprisonment of several labourers), according to stadium architect Farank al-Lloyd Wright. But while this may seem to be an act of pure indulgence, Wright says there is practicality behind the poles' extreme height. "The height of the poles is a safeguard in case José Bautista ever plays in our stadium," said Wright, "how will we be able to judge his home runs if he keeps hitting them over the foul poles?"

(Bautista famously hit the first ball to ever leave the Rogers Centre, the Toronto stadium that is, coincidentally, right next to the former tallest building in the world, the CN Tower. It is believed that Bautista's foul ball actually entered the CN Tower through the glass floor on the observation deck.)

In addition to breaking records for height and seating capacity, the Dubai Stadium of Base Balls has many other record-breaking directives in the pipeline. Namely, it plans to host the world's longest baseball games at 50 innings (though it hasn't specified which teams will play, since Dubai has no baseball teams), record the world's fastest pitch with their custom-built pitching robot, and serve the world's longest stadium hot dogs (2 feet).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Graph Infection: BABIP vs. Vegetarianism

Today's graph reveals a previously-unknown relationship between a player's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and their diet. Based on a sample of 20 Major Leaguers, it appears that BABIP increases linearly as a player incorporates a higher percentage of vegetarian food into their diet.

The cause for this correlation, if one exists, has not yet been confirmed, though Bottom of the Fourth scientists are currently working on the theory that meat carries a special BABIP-dampening hormone known as Molinagen.

The only outlier in this data set is Bengie Molina, who has gone 100% vegetarian, reportedly in an effort to lose weight (though it's possible he had a jump on this research and is trying to improve his production), but is still a laggard in terms of BABIP.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Target Field Collapses Due to Resonant Frequency of The Wave

MINNEAPOLIS (Bottom of the Fourth) - It has not been a good year for Minnesota's stadium engineers. First, the Metrodome's roof collapsed because of a large snow build-up, reportedly because engineers had "failed to account for the fact that sometimes there is snow in winter".

Now, just a few months later, the Minnesota Twins' less-than-two-year-old stadium Target Field has also collapsed, much more devastatingly. Last night in a game against the Texas Rangers, fans were frightened when the stadium began to rumble in the bottom of the 7th inning.  The oscillations grew in size for about 20 seconds before the foundations of the stadium began to crumble, and not long after the upper decks collapsed in on themselves, crushing countless hot dogs, beer cans and Twins hats in the process.

No footage was captured in the panic, but the collapse could have looked something like this

Scientists say the collapse was a result of The Wave, which had been started by drunk frat boys (as is generally the case) in the 7th inning. What made this wave unique, however, was its speed (or lack thereof). Last night's wave had a period of 1 minute and 26 seconds, meaning it took that much time to complete one revolution of Target Field.

(For reference, the average period of The Wave at the Metrodome was about 48 seconds, as documented here.)

As it happens, 1:26 is also the period of resonance of Target Field. This was a problem.

For the uninitiated, all structures have a natural frequency at which they vibrate as a result of their material structure. This vibration amplifies when an external action is performed at the same frequency - like pushing a child on a swing - and can cause major disasters when affecting large structures. Famously, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed because of wind-induced resonance, and the Angers Bridge collapsed when soldiers marched across at its resonant frequency. (The soldiers were French, obviously.)

Target Field lead engineer David Ruggiero was distraught, and dumbfounded. "The Wave was part of my calculations... I accounted for this... It shouldn't have happened..." Ruggiero had never imagined, apparently, that The Wave could circumnavigate the stadium at such a slow rate.

Ruggiero's team is now working to figure out how a Wave could be so slow. They had previously worked out a theoretical maximum of 1 minute and 10 seconds, but clearly there was a flaw in their calculations.

Ruggiero's colleague, Alessandro Ariza, believes the coefficient λ, or "lethargy factor" needs to be revamped for an appropriate population. "λ (the Greek letter lambda) was calculated by Arvydas Sabonis, a Lithuanian sociologist," explains Ariza, "but his number was based on a Lithuanian sample. We should have reworked the constant for our decidedly lethargickier populace."

Unfortunately for the Twins, given the aforementioned destruction of the Metrodome's roof, they will have to keep playing at Target Field while repairs are underway. The debris strewn about foul territory, suddenly uneven terrain, and lack of an outfield fence will be, like the hill in the outfield in Houston's Minute Maid Park, "just part of the game".

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Introducing Graph Infection

Today, Bottom of the Fourth is proud to announce a new feature: Graph Infection. Every now and then, we'll bring you a graph that will reveal some fascinating tidbit about the great game of baseball in the intuitive way only a graph can.

Today's graph focuses on the AL Player of the Month award. Have you ever wondered how many AL Player of the Month awards are given out each season? And, after having wondered that, have you ever proceeded to wonder how many have been given out cumulatively at any given point in the season? If so, today's graph should be enlightening.

You'll never wonder again. We hope you've enjoyed this first edition of Graph Infection!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jeter Opts to Let Appendix Burst, Play Through Pain

NEW YORK (Bottom of the Fourth) - Cases of appendicitis spring up a few times per year among Major League baseball players. It's a fairly minor ailment that is by definition a one-time affliction, but it does usually sideline the player for 4-6 weeks.

Unless they're named Derek Jeter. After feeling a twinge in his lower abdomen and removing himself from the Yankees' game against the Red Sox on Tuesday night, Jeter was diagnosed with the disease. However, instead of opting for surgery to remove the inflamed appendix, Jeter decided to simply "play through the pain". Sometime in the next two weeks, the Yankee captain's appendix will rupture, possibly during a game, and will likely cause severe pain and vomiting. A burst appendix also carries a not-insignificant chance of death. However, Jeter says it's "worth the risk".

"With the Red Sox caught up and the Rays nipping at our heels, we can't afford to take any time off," Jeter told reporters. "I don't care if it's a paper cut or a life-threatening illness, we've gotta keep ourselves on the field."

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a specialist in Jeter-related Medicine, says that the captain should be able to deal with the affliction better than most. "Overlooked in this whole thing has been Derek's extremely high levels of Jetogen." Jetogen, Wakefield went on to explain, is a hormone present in nearly 90% of Derek Jeters, and carries special appendicitis-soothing properties. The scientist predicts that Jeter will experience what feels less like a "rupture" and more like a "gentle breeze".

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Reyes Makes Great Play Deep in the Hole, Giggles About Phrase "Deep in the Hole"

NEW YORK (Bottom of the Fourth) - José Reyes is known as a bit of a jokester around the Mets' clubhouse, and sometimes he even makes himself laugh. Until last night, though, he had never amused himself to the point of doubling over laughing during a game.

In the fourth inning, a hard ground ball was hit to Reyes' right, and the Mets' infielder ranged deep into the hole to make a great snag. However, before he could complete the play by throwing to first base, Reyes fell over, clutching his stomach. Mets trainer Ray Ramirez rushed out, only to discover that Reyes was unhurt, and laughing uncontrollably.

After the game, Reyes explained to reporters that he hears the game broadcast as an internal monologue at all times, and when Ben Nicholson-Smith (Reyes' imaginary play-by-play man) uttered the phrase "and Walker fists the ball deep in the hole", the shortstop couldn't contain his mirth.

Reyes added that he had already been loosened up by an earlier play, when a shattered bat prompted Nicholson-Smith to quip: "wow, look out for that renegade wood!"

"Haha, deep in the hole, oh man," Reyes said, chuckling. "Walker fisted the ball... deep... in the...." At this point, Reyes fell into a fit of hysteria, prompting reporters to pack up for the day.

The Mets, for their part, have ordered Reyes to put an immediate halt to his internal monologue and have threatened selective lobotimization should he fail to comply.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MLB Introduces "Going to See Coldplay List" For Players Who Need Time Off to Go See Coldplay

NEW YORK (Bottom of the Fourth) - Earlier this season, MLB unveiled two new lists by which players can briefly leave their teams without being placed on the disabled list: the paternity list and a shorter, concussion-specific disabled list. However, these weren't the only new lists MLB introduced. A whole slew of new options flew under the radar, getting dwarfed by the more noteworthy paternity and concussion lists.

Chief among them is the "Going to See Coldplay List", which allows players to leave their team for one day to see Coldplay. The team may then recall a minor league player without making a disabled list move, providing the recalled player is not also on the Coldplay trip.

Several hours after the announcement, baseball statistics website GranPhaphs posted an article analyzing players' walk-up music, and found that, not coincidentally, the Coldplay song "Viva La Vida" accounts for nearly 65% of the walk-up songs of white MLB players.

MLB spokesperson Erika Hagen said that the "Coldplay problem" has gotten out of hand in recent years, and this measure is an attempt to provide teams with a backup plan whenever Coldplay is in the area. Last year the problem reached epidemic levels when teams would regularly lose up to 40% of their active roster on nights when Coldplay was playing a concert.

Pittsburgh Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan remembers one such game with not-so-fond memories. "We lost our entire infield," Hanrahan told Bottom of the Fourth. "The whole bullpen had to play the field. When we got to the later innings, we would just bring in a reliever from somewhere on the diamond, and then when they were done pitching they'd go back into the field."

Other lists introduced along with paternity, concussion and Coldplay (along with their respective lengths) include the "Just Needs Some Time to Think List" (4 days), the "Caught in a Wikipedia Link Maze List" (3 hours) and "Really Needs To Go To The Bathroom List" (5 minutes).

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

High School Pitcher Mistakes Mock Draft For Real Draft, Moves to Aberdeen, Maryland

ABERDEEN (Bottom of the Fourth) - Dylan Bundy has been waiting his whole life to hear his name called in the MLB draft. So when he read online that the Baltimore Orioles had selected him fourth overall in this year's draft, he was so excited he packed a bag and caught the first bus to Aberdeen, Maryland, home of the Orioles' short-season A-ball affiliate the Aberdeen IronBirds.

The only problem: the draft is still a week away. Bundy mistook blogger John Sickels' recent mock draft for the real thing.

(Aside: Bottom of the Fourth is still working on several leads to figure out why there is a direct bus from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Aberdeen.)

Bundy's parents weren't too concerned when reached. "Oh, this has happened before," said Bundy's mother Peg. "One time, when he was nine or ten, he heard a news story from Australia about someone named Dylan Richardson. Not having learned what last names were, he assumed he was supposed to be in Australia, this news story somehow being about him. We've never figured out how he got into that cargo hold."

Mrs. Bundy went on to explain that the family has had to go out of their way to keep Bob Dylan tour information away from their son, lest he think he's supposed to be playing a concert for thousands of fans.

"He's not the brightest kid around," commented Dylan's father Ted, "but he's perplexingly resourceful. We can never figure out how he actually gets to these places he thinks he's supposed to go to."

Residents of Aberdeen who took in Bundy after seeing him aimlessly wandering the streets told Bottom of the Fourth that he's a "very nice kid" and that if he wants to stay there's a career in "garage cleaning-out" waiting for him.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Chris Berman Reveals He Has Bermanitis; Can Only Speak in Bermanisms

NEW HAVEN (Bottom of the Fourth) - Sportscaster Chris Berman, famous for coining pun-based nicknames such as Bert "Be Home" Blyleven, Roberto "Remember The" Alomar and Scott "Supercalifragilisticexpiali" Brosius, announced to the press today that he has Bermanitis. It's a sad turn for the long-time baseball and football broadcaster, whose "Bermanisms" have become popular in the mainstream media. 

Berman addressed the media this morning. "It's both a blessing and a curse of the jade scorpion," he told reporters at a press conference. "I love thinking up new nicknames, but now it's unavoidable market. Only time will tell whether it makes me go crazy or whether I can live with this diseasy street."

Little is known about the disease, but 9 out of 10 doctors who spoke to Bottom of the Fourth say that it affects 1 out of every 1 Chris Bermans. Apparently, it was only a matter of time before it got to this particular Chris Berman; he's into his mid-fifties, after all. 

While it's a sad day for Berman and his family, it's an exciting day for science. Bermanitis was first hypothesized by the Greek physician Hippocrates, and this will be the first chance scientists have to study it. "We've been waiting for centuries for this opportunity," said Dr. Janet Lee-Evoy, a Bermanologist at the University of ESPN in Disney World. "It's one of the rare diseases we've never been able to study in mice or rats, so with Mr. Berman's consent, we'll be keeping a close eye on him in an attempt to prevent this affliction from affecting other Chris Bermans."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Halladay Balks at Balk Call, Opens Wormhole

PHILADELPHIA (Bottom of the Fourth) - Roy Halladay is not used to being penalized for an illegal pitching motion, being one of the most consistent and fastest-working pitchers in the game. So when the Phillies ace was called for a balk in a game Monday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, he was taken aback. So taken aback, in fact, that he balked at the call.

This sudden change in demeanour for Halladay was enough to make home plate umpire Jim Davidson balk in turn. "Halladay is like a robot," commented Davidson, "he never breaks rhythm. So when he balked at my balk call, it caused me to balk involuntarily."

Both teams could only watch in confusion and fascination as the pitcher and umpire engaged in this strange balk-off for more than 20 seconds. It only got stranger, though, as the balk energies collided halfway between the pitcher's mound and home plate, and spontaneously opened a wormhole.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield, Bottom of the Fourth's resident scientist, explained the phenomenon. "It's been theorized in the past that the bosons emitted from a balk carry enough energy to open a wormhole, but it takes two parties balking at each other to produce the interference necessary to open the wormhole, and this is the first experimental confirmation of the theory. It's a very exciting day for Balkology."

After a brief delay during which the Phillies' grounds crew attempted to clean up the wormhole only to be sucked into it (only to reappear in Busch Stadium's maintenance area, it was later discovered), the game resumed. The Phillies won 67-54 when it became clear that pitchers would have to lob their pitches over the wormhole to avoid the balls disappearing completely.

Monday, May 16, 2011

MLB Investigating Whether José Bautista is Actually Two Albert Pujolses in a Trenchcoat

TORONTO (Bottom of the Fourth) - After this weekend's series against Minnesota in which he hit five homers including three yesterday, José Bautista is being investigated by Major League Baseball to determine whether there's foul play involved in his torrid start to the 2011 season.

Specifically, MLB is exploring the possibility that the Blue Jays slugger is actually two Albert Pujolses, stacked on top of each other, in a trenchcoat.

MLB spokesman Dan Kricke elaborated. "It has come to our attention, from an anonymous source, that José Bautista watched Los Bribónitos (the Spanish version of The Little Rascals) when he was a kid. It's only logical that, as we all did, he would one day attempt the trenchcoat trick."

Kricke noted that in Los Bribónitos, the trenchcoat trick was used in an attempt to snitch burritos from the burrito jar on top of the fridge. It is not currently known why the characters required a disguise to accomplish such a feat, but Bottom of the Fourth is working on several leads.

To head the investigation, MLB has hired Andrew Wakefield, a renowned expert in the burgeoning field of Two Guys Stacked On Top of Each Other in a Trenchcoat-ology. "It's been well-established in our field's literature that two guys stacked on top of each other in a trenchcoat assume the abilities of both parties combined. This relationship has been scientifically verified with respect to the abilities of "height", "stature" and "tallness", and thus by induction applies to any skill."

However, Phil Plait, a leader in the equally-burgeoning field of Two Guys Stacked On Top of Each Other in a Trenchcoat Skepticism, responded to Wakefield's claims. "First of all, huh? Second, LOL. Finally, WTF?"

When prompted, Plait explained his skepticism, noting that two guys swinging two separate bats wouldn't actually produce more power, that such a person would be approximately 12 feet tall and would not go unnoticed, and that José Bautista has not actually been seen wearing a trenchcoat during baseball games.

Albert Pujols, for his part, is with Plait in his skepticism. "There's a paradox here. I hate trenchcoats, so if there are two more of me out there they wouldn't wear trenchcoats. But I guess other than that one logical inconsistency it's possible."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FanGraphs Discovers End of Statistics, Circles Back To "Games"

ARLINGTON, VA (Bottom of the Fourth) - In recent years, the baseball website FanGraphs has become a destination for cutting-edge baseball statistics and analysis. So cutting-edge, it seems based on news released this morning, that it has found the end of baseball statistics.

Founder David Appelman says he came upon the end of baseball stats accidentally while looking for his slide rule. "I checked under the bed, in the fridge, behind all my Bill James posters, but it was nowhere. So I started looking in spreadsheets, and got into some really complex non-linear weight stuff based on ZiPS projections."

Appelman says he didn't find his slide rule there, but soon completely forgot he was even looking for it. "Something caught my eye when I ran an anti-regression model on the fractal matrix of Luke Gregerson's slider", he explained. "I didn't believe it at first, but I've checked it to 99.99999% confidence. It was the end of baseball statistics, there's no doubt about it." Appelman went on to add that there was a restaurant there, and that the food was "above-average".

With the discovery, FanGraphs has decided against attempting to improve on existing statistics, as it believes such an endeavour would be fruitless. Instead, the website believes the only way to move forward is to go back to the beginning. "It's like an old-school video game," commented editor Dave Cameron, "when your dude reaches the edge of the screen, he appears on the opposite edge. We're taking that philosophy and really running with it."

The first implementation of FanGraphs' new methodology has players ranked by games played. Consequently, the title of best player in 2011 is currently a 13-way tie between Torii Hunter, Adrian Beltre, Alex Gonzalez, Michael Young, Miguel Cabrera, Dan Uggla, James Loney, Martin Prado, Howard Kendrick, Matt Kemp, Peter Bourjos, Austin Jackson and Jason Heyward.

But the team of analysts is already furiously working to push the boundaries. Despite attempts to control information flow, an anonymous source has leaked that the next statistic to appear on the site will be called either "ats" or "bats".

Monday, May 9, 2011

Bourn Falls Single, Double, Triple, Home Run Short of Cycle

HOUSTON (Bottom of the Fourth) - In a week in which two no-hitters were thrown, history was almost made a third time on Sunday night when Michael Bourn of the Houston Astros came within a single, double, triple and home run of a cycle.

Hitting for the cycle is almost as rare as throwing a no-hitter, having happened just under 300 times in major league history. Bourn was just four different hits away from becoming the seventh Astro to accomplish the feat.

After his first at bat, Bourn said he knew he had a chance. "I almost got the hardest part out of the way first. If (Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew) McCutchen hadn't run that ball down in the gap, it could have gone for a triple."

In his next two at bats, Bourn said, he hit balls that could have been a single and a double, respectively, had there been no fielders standing where they were (in their usual places). And that was a distinct possibility, according to Neil Walker, Pittsburgh's second baseman. "It never crossed my mind to stand anywhere other than where I always stand, between first and second base. What are you talking about?" commented Walker.

Finally, in the ninth inning with his team down by one, the light-hitting speedster came within a foot of tying the game with a home run. "It was so close," he recalled, "if that pitch was just 12 inches lower I would have crushed it."

And that would sealed the deal. Provided, of course, that the other three caveats already mentioned in this hypothetical scenario had gone Bourn's way.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Fan Outrage After @Yankees #FFs @RedSox

NEW YORK (Bottom of the Fourth) - When riots broke out in the Middle East this past winter, people took to Twitter to get the most-up-to-date and behind-the-scenes information. Now it seems as if Twitter has had a hand in starting its own sort of riot.

On Friday morning, the New York Yankees' official Twitter account (@Yankees) included its rival Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) in the weekly Follow Friday (#FF) tradition. The move outraged fans, leading some Twitter users to call it everything on the word-not a word spectrum from "treasonous" to "backstabby".

The Yankees tried to sneak the Red Sox between @PhilHughes65 and @Joba_62

The initial backlash was strong and cutting, and united under the #WorseThan911 hashtag. "so stupid i can't beleive this. its a disgrace to the proud yankees fans red sox are fukin dbags," tweeted @sixpacksandbeer, who started the hashtag.

Others were more composed in their criticism, especially after #WorseThan911 dropped off the trending topics list 17 seconds after the Yankees' initial tweet. "My first thought was to protect my son from such an atrocity," expounded @WBurgSteven over TwitLonger, "but after careful consideration I decided that witnessing and trying to comprehend such an abomination would be a valuable learning experience for Fletcher. It's as much a part of growing up as quinoa baby formula and Starbucks play-dates."

The Red Sox, for their part, were grateful for the inclusion. "Thanks for the shout-out @Yankees! Maybe we'll catch up to your 360k followers now! We're starving over here lol," @RedSox responded. This was followed by "Seriously tho my family is actually starving they won't pay me until we get over 100k", which was in turn succeeded by a short tweet: a single semi-colon, followed by a single front bracket.

In related news, the Red Sox have hired a new Director of Twitter and Twitter-Based Promotions.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blackburn, Not To Be Outdone, Throws All-Hitter

MINNESOTA (Bottom of the Fourth) - On Tuesday night, Francisco Liriano made history by throwing a no-hitter. Just one game later, fellow Twin Nick Blackburn one-upped his teammate by throwing the first All-Hitter in major league history.

For the uninitiated, an all-hitter is a complete game thrown by a pitcher in which every plate appearance results in a hit. No walks, no ground-outs, fly-outs, etc. Outs may only be recorded on plays on which a hit is also recorded; i.e. when players are thrown out at the plate, are called out for interference, run outside the base-paths, etc.

Blackburn's line for the evening easily broke the record for most hits allowed in a single game: 9 IP, 45 H, 0 BB, 9 ER, 0 K. While the right-hander may not wish to be remembered for this record, however, right-fielder Delmon Young will surely wear his 10 assists in a single game as a badge of honour.

Fans started picking up on what was happening around the 7th inning, and their hopes for history were almost dashed right then. A slow roller that shortstop Alexi Casilla bobbled was initially ruled an error, but was changed to a hit when the official scorer decided the runner would have made it regardless.

Blackburn was relieved by the decision. "I mean, that could have been the end of the dream right there," he said after the game. "Guys always say they're not thinking about it when they're pitching a game like this, but that's such a lie. I knew exactly what was happening, and my heart sank when Alexi bobbled that ball."

In the end, Blackburn accomplished this rarest of rare feats. His teammates mobbed him after he recorded the final out when opposition base-runners accidentally ran to the same base for the third time in the game. Then they went back to the dug-out to bat one more time, because they were losing 9-2. That would be the final score.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

First Month Rich With Stories: Source

TORONTO (Bottom of the Fourth) - A source close to the situation has told Bottom of the Fourth, in an exclusive interview, that the first month of the 2011 baseball season saw "many intriguing story-lines" and that we could be in for an "exciting season".

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, added that while he will be keeping close tabs on April's biggest stories, it's important to remember that May will see the inception of some, if not many, of its own stories.

In fact, in the three days since May began, several stories have already materialized. "Based on what we've already seen, May is looking to be at the least a low story month, but more likely an average story month," commented the source. 

Reportedly, some of the stories baseball fans could be in store for in the upcoming weeks include "What Were the Biggest Stories of April?", "Looking Ahead to the Biggest Stories of the Rest of the Season", and "When Do Past Stories And Future Stories Meet? An Analysis of the Present". 

April story-analysis already caused some controversy in the print media world when the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle disagreed on the number of major stories in April. Each publication wrote a story disputing the other's story on stories, but the animosity remains unresolved. The Denver Post, in a peacekeeping effort, has announced plans to publish an impartial story-story story story.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Goalies to Start Using Catcher Masks

I'd like to welcome Vaxe from our sister blog, The Early Parts of the Second Period, who wrote this guest post for Bottom of the Fourth.

TORONTO (The Early Parts of the Second Period) - With the NHL season coming to a close, the league is starting to announce some changes to the game for the 2011-2012 season. First among them is a stipulation that goaltenders must start using baseball-style catcher masks.

Commissioner Gary Bettman explained the decision to reporters on Tuesday morning. "Ever since catchers started using hockey-style masks in baseball, we've been trying to extract money from MLB. Suing for theft of intellectual property, demanding royalties on every use of the mask, requiring NHL ads on each unit, etc. We're so poor."

Unfortunately, Bettman says, his lawyers tell him that the NHL has no rights to the goalie mask, having neither invented nor patented it. Common Sense and Obviousness Consultant Karthik Senthilnathan explained the concept when contacted by Bottom of the Fourth: "having neither invented nor patented the goalie mask, the NHL has no rights over its use."

The sudden decision to use catcher masks in the NHL, therefore, is an act of retribution on the league's part. "See how they like us using their equipment," raged Bettman.

Goalies across the NHL have called the move "pointless" and "confusing"

Said Bud Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, "What? Who's the NHL? I don't care."

The new masks are expected to aid goalies on pop-up shots on which the goalies need to quickly remove their mask in order to see the puck better. They are also expected to offer much less protection.

Monday, May 2, 2011

With Dying Breath, Bin Laden Predicts Mets to Win World Series

ABBOTTABAD (Bottom of the Fourth) - Last night, news broke that the U.S. military had conducted an operation that resulted in the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. This afternoon we are receiving transcripts of the terrorist's final communication as he lay dying from gunshot wounds. With his last breath, Bin Laden reportedly whispered, "I think the New York Mets will... (cough) go all the way... and win the World Series."

Just prior, he had voiced his optimism about the team. "Beltran is back and playing well... Ike Davis is a monster... Chris Young has a sub-1 WHIP... and they're getting Santana back mid-season. They were smart to end the Brad Emaus experiment early... (gasp) he's a quad-A player..." It is unclear whether these thoughts were uttered with Bin Laden's second or third-last breath, or some combination thereof. Bottom of the Fourth is looking into several leads on this matter.

The Mets, for their part, were inspired by Bin Laden's prediction, and beat the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies in 14 innings in the weekly Sunday Night Baseball game. Shortstop José Reyes spoke to the media after the game. "I mean, the dude's a lunatic and a mass-murderer, but he obviously has very strong beliefs. If he believes in us, there's no reason we can't believe in ourselves. Sometimes we forget to do that."

Citizens of New York City are unsure how to feel about this confusing turn of events. New York, of course, was the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks orchestrated by Bin Laden almost ten years ago, and some citizens feel that Bin Laden's last words were in mockery. Others think the terrorist feels a tinge of remorse at slaughtering thousands of innocent civilians, and was offering the city one final olive branch.

It is unclear at this time whether there is a pattern of which groups of people hold which interpretation, though it should be noted that the first group was primarily wearing Yankees hats, while the second was wearing Mets hats. Bottom of the Fourth is still working on establishing a connection between these facts.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Stat Nerd Moves Out of Mom's Basement, Is Blinded By Sun, Immediately Moves Back

KANSAS CITY (Bottom of the Fourth) - In breaking news, it was reported early Wednesday afternoon that a baseball blogger and self-proclaimed stat nerd had moved out of his mom's basement. The blogger, whose identity is as of yet unconfirmed, had apparently been planning the move for "years" and had saved up several hundred dollars in PartyPoker credit to help him make the move financially feasible.

Unfortunately, the blogger, described as "a little on the pale side" by his mother, was unprepared for the great outdoors, and was badly sunburned on the way to the driveway. He is currently being treated for second degree burns at a local hospital, and is still slowly recovering his vision. The Weather Network reported Kansas City's early afternoon weather as "cloudy with scattered showers".

Susan Bishop, the blogger's mother, said that her son will be temporarily putting off his move to focus on recovering and "getting his stat nerd start-up of the ground". The nature of the start-up is unknown, but is believed to be based on stats, nerds, or some combination thereof.

Sports writer and one-time winner of the J.G. Spink Award Murray Chass offered his take on the story on his blog. "My heart breaks for the poor kid. But, you know, he didn't really think things through. Apparently he tried to move into an apartment, when it's a well-established fact that the shadow beneath a bridge is the only place suitable for trolls."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

José Bautista, Mistaken for CN Tower, Gets Climbed All Over By Kid

TORONTO (Bottom of the Fourth) - Since a mechanical adjustment turned him into one of the best hitters in the game in September of 2009, the legend of José Bautista has only grown. Last season he became the first Blue Jay to hit 50 home runs and the first person ever to hit a ball out of the Rogers Centre.

While these accomplishments may induce many a smitten beat reporter to describe José as a "giant among men", it wasn't until this past weekend that Bautista was mistaken for an actual giant.

Reportedly, while walking near his home in downtown Toronto, Bautista was assailed by a small boy yelling "mommy, look, the CN Tower! I'm climbing it!!" The boy latched onto Bautista's leg and attempted to shimmy up, reaching his knee before aborting his attempt.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield says this is a common mistake among youngsters. "Children under the age of four haven't yet developed the pheromone that helps us distinguish between actual size and hyperbolic literary descriptions as put forth by the media. For example, when two-year-olds read in the morning paper over a cup of coffee that José Bautista is a 'beast', they cannot comprehend that this doesn't refer to a literal beast."

Upon being asked about the incident in question, Wakefield hypothesized that Bautista's home runs had recently been described as "towering" in a local paper, leading to the boy's confusion.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Smaller Samples Actually Most Accurate: Fuld

TAMPA BAY (Bottom of the Fourth) - Many expected the Tampa Bay Rays to regress in 2011 after losing stars Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena to free agency and Evan Longoria to an early-season injury, but the team is currently sitting second in the AL East thanks to some unlikely contributors, chief among them the previously unheralded Sam Fuld.

While early-season success is often dismissed as a small sample-size fluke, Fuld doesn't believe this to be logical. "I took a statistics class in university," the Stanford grad told Bottom of the Fourth, "and these stat geeks have it backward. The smaller the sample, the more accurate."

Fuld elaborated, explaining that the "binomial nature" of the "central limit theorem" produces a "chirality" that makes it seem as if larger samples are more predictive, but that this is simply a red herring. Upon observing the blank stares on the faces of the media throng surrounding him, Fuld aborted his attempt at explanation, instead asking reporters to "just trust me. I went to Stanford."

Fuld's teammates have taken to calling him 'Professor'

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Braves Sign Jermaine Dye to DH, Hoping to Stimulate Offense

ATLANTA (Bottom of the Fourth) - The Atlanta Braves, widely expected to contend for the 2011 NL East crown, have made a bold move in the early season by becoming the first National League team in baseball history to employ a designated hitter, namely the just-signed Jermaine Dye.

The National League, of course, doesn't let its teams use DHs, instead requiring pitchers to hit in the regular batting order. The Braves plan to circumvent this rule by removing players from its every day line-up. Nate McClouth, for example, has not hit well this year, and the Braves could opt to leave him on the bench and a hole in center field while DHing Dye.

Dye could fill in for players on rest days, as well. Catchers in particular need regular rest, and the team could choose to have its pitchers simply pitch to the backstop and retrieve their own balls while hitting Dye in place of a resting Brian McCann.

Finally, while the team hasn't spoken publicly about this, it has been rumoured that in an effort to gain employment with an MLB team, Dye has been working on his hit-pitching, a rarely-used technique in which the pitcher delivers his pitch by batting it towards the strike zone. If Dye has indeed become proficient at this skill (and rumour has it he's got a three-pitch arsenal featuring a two-seam fastball, splitter, and shuuto), the Braves could keep their line-up intact while using their newest player as a DH/pitcher.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

AL Central Standings a Result of Games Actually Being Played Upside-Down

CLEVELAND (Bottom of the Fourth) - The term "upside-down standings" has been thrown around a lot in the early baseball season in reference to the American League Central division, as the teams' current records reflect essentially the opposite of what pundits predicted prior to the 2011 season. However, while the small sample size of early season play naturally produces surprising results, this is one that can be expected to continue indefinitely, as there is a logical explanation for it: games in the AL Central are actually being played upside-down.

It is a well-established fact, of course, that physically inverting the game of baseball correspondingly inverts the expected results, as with mathematical functions. To be specific, this phenomenon is analogous to the mathematical reciprocal function, in which the function is flipped to the bottom of the fraction. This explains Cleveland manager Manny Acta's explanation for his team's excellent early-season play: "we've all got a common denominator right now."

For anyone who hasn't witnessed upside-down baseball, this may seem outrageous. How would one, as a fan, watch an upside-down baseball game live, in the park? And how could this have been going on for 10% of the season already without anyone mentioning, even off-handedly, "hey, isn't it weird that the game tonight was upside-down?"

In reality, the crowds haven't themselves been aware of the inverted nature of the games in the early going, as each AL Central stadium possesses a special gravity field that flips everything inside the stadium, not just the playing surface. Fans are watching the game while upside-down without being aware of it. And for some reason nobody has yet questioned the "re-orientation chambers" by which all fans are required to enter the stadium, assuming it was just some sort of TSA-related cancer beam.

This concept was originally implemented as a joint project between the Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians. The two teams decided that rather than developing and acquiring talented baseball players in an effort to win, it would be easier to just turn their 50,000 capacity stadiums upside-down. Upon successfully completing the endeavour in their own parks, they hired an unlisted, independent contractor to stealthily install the system in their divisional rivals' parks without their knowing. Through a series of upside-down phone calls Bottom of the Fourth was able to reach Ali Sunderji, the contractor, who was surprisingly candid about his work.

"Oh yeah, I mean the government hasn't really found out about LSP (Large-Scale Reciprocation, apparently the industry term for flipping huge things upside-down), so there aren't any laws against it," explained Sunderji. "I stay out of the spotlight to prevent regulation of my field, but what I do isn't actually illegal."

Sunderji went on to describe some of his other LSP work, including reciprocation of mountainous Peruvian villages ("to produce crops other than potatoes"), archaeological sites (funded by the Republican Party, "to unprove evolution"), and Mount Everest ("to make an awesome sledding hill").

But Sunderji says he's found his true calling in baseball. "I grew up in Cincinnati, home of baseball, and I've loved the game all my life. Pete Rose was my favourite player growing up, I idolized that guy. And there's nothing that gives me greater pleasure than bringing my work into the game to give certain teams unfair advantages because they paid me to."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Leake Claims Rare Form of Dyslexia, Often Confuses 'Paying' with 'Leaving'

CINCINNATI (Bottom of the Fourth) - Mike Leake of the Cincinnati Reds made headlines yesterday when he was arrested for shoplifting about $60 worth of shirts from a Macy's in Cincinnati. Instead of apologizing to his team and fans, however, Leake explained his actions by revealing he suffers from a rare form of dyslexia that makes him mix up the specific actions of 'paying' and 'leaving'.

Leake says the disorder has been problematic throughout his life, causing him to do socially-inappropriate things like attempting to pay upon leaving a new girlfriend's house. The pitcher says he's had difficulty sustaining relationships beyond the first date as a result.

Leake was diagnosed by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who has made a career out of controversial diagnoses. Wakefield says Leake's affliction is common among "Cincinnati Reds pitchers" and isn't limited to the aforementioned mix-up. The doctor says that Leake and anyone else who suffers from "Weirdly-Specific Action Dyslexia" (W-SAD) could have trouble distinguishing between other pairs of actions, specifically 'reading a novel' and 'arson', 'microwaving a burrito' and 'grand theft auto', and 'giving raspberry kisses to babies' and 'murder'.

Leake could accidentally throw grenades at his opponents because of his disorder

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dayton Moore "Distraught" Without Betancourt

KANSAS CITY (Bottom of the Fourth) - A successful general manager is supposed to keep his head away from his heart lest the latter affect the ability of the former. Unfortunately, it seems Dayton Moore's head failed to adequately assess the impact of a broken heart this winter when he included Yuniesky Betancourt in a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers. Club officials have described him as "miserable" and "disconsolate".

Moore has allegedly been missing meetings on a regular basis, and is usually found slumped over at his desk fast asleep. Kila Ka'aihue, the club's first baseman, thinks he has an explanation for this erratic behaviour.

"I see him every night, wandering the corridors of Kauffman Stadium until four, five AM. He looks forlorn. Abject, even. And he's always softly singing the same sweet song, his own version of the Beatles' Michelle:

Sweet pea,
Two hundred ninety five O-B-P,
My Yuni"

Asked what he himself is doing at the stadium at all hours of the night, Ka'aihue responded candidly: "oh, I work the janitor night shift. I mean the guys deserve clean toilets, right?"

A source in the Royals' front office speculated on the nature of Moore's affection for Betancourt. "I don't think Dayton is in love with Yuni exactly. He's got a loving wife and family, and he's fully committed to them. No, I think he's in love with the idea of Yuni. The refusal to walk, the inability to run the bases effectively, the awful defense... he's everything Dayton looks for in a player."

Eventually, the source said, tensions boiled over in the front office. When a student intern was forced to take a call from Brian Cashman about a possible Jesus Montero-Mike Moustakas deal, Moore's staff forced him to face the issue by calling a public press conference.

A clearly emotional Moore sat down, shuffled his papers, and began speaking. "I've called this press conference with the intention of..." Moore trailed off, seeming unsure of how to proceed. He stopped, crumpled up his notes, took a deep breath, and started over. "Look, I'm just gonna be honest with you guys. I just... really... miss Yuni." His voice cracking, the Royals' GM paused to collect himself.

Moore fighting back the tears at his press conference
"But this isn't how a GM should act," he continued resolutely. "I can't even count the number of times I was the shoulder for John Schuerholz to cry on," he explained, referring to his days in the Atlanta Braves' organization, "and I vowed to never be like that. Even though the guy was a great GM, he was an emotional wreck. He ate a whole tub of Cherry Garcia every time he traded away a LOOGY, for god's sake."

Betancourt, for his part seems completely unaware of the situation. He responded to repeated questions about it simply with the word "como?"

Though Moore is putting on a brave face (no pun intended), it's clear he's still hurting inside. Thankfully, the Royals have gotten off to a surprisingly hot start, and it shouldn't be too long before their general manager is right as rain.

Monday, April 4, 2011

In Surprise Collaboration, Cardinals Hire Charlie Sheen

ST. LOUIS (Bottom of the Fourth) - Desperate for some good news after a tumultuous month that has seen stars Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday go down with injuries, the St. Louis Cardinals have made a bold move and hired Charlie Sheen to liven up the clubhouse, among other things.

The Cardinals, widely expected before the season to contend for the NL Central crown, didn't start the season the way they hoped to, dropping two of three games to the Padres this weekend. GM John Mozeliak said that Sheen will help the team to stop "losing" and start "being victorious".

Sheen's official title remains unspecified at the moment, but his responsibilities are expected to include warming up the crowd, delivering a "third-inning rant", and closing.

Some pundits have criticized the move, noting Sheen's recently-revealed unique traits don't mesh with those of the Cardinals. CNN's Leslie Bank weighed in on the topic. "It's a well-established fact that Mr. Sheen a) is a warlock and b) has tiger blood. Neither of these attributes has anything to do with a small red bird. For example, warlocks and cardinals may share the faculty of flight, but that's about where the comparison ends."

Ms. Bank went on to point out that the nature of Sheen's blood makes him better suited to a position with the Detroit Tigers. Ironically, Detroit was the disastrous first stop on Sheen's Torpedo of Truth tour, where he was unceremoniously booed off the stage.

The Cardinals plan to use Sheen's superstar status to plan new promotions for the 2011 season. The traditional "Ladies' Night" will be replaced by "Goddess' Night", at which all women attending will be entered into a draw to "spend some quality time at a super 8" with Sheen. Jimmy Wei, the Cardinals' director of promotions, expects the prize to include "a nice dinner and maybe some pool time", but notes that Sheen was "adamant about the wording" and that "ultimately, it's up to him."

Some outside observers are amused by the obvious parallels between the Cardinals and Sheen. Aramis Ramirez of the division rival Chicago Cubs spoke to the media after the announcement, calling the Cardinals and Sheen "a super-train-wreck deserving of each other". The Cubs' right-fielder elaborated, saying "okay, it's like this. First the Cardinals train crashed with another train, making a train-wreck. Then the Charlie Sheen train crashed with a fourth train, making a second train-wreck. But the train-wrecks still had momentum toward each other, and weren't too far apart, so then they crashed and made a super-train-wreck. Was that not clear? It's pretty common in the Dominican Republic."

Sheen's Torpedo of Truth Tour, which has garnered unanimously negative reviews, is expected to continue with a modified itinerary based around the Cardinals' schedule. Sheen fans are already flocking to St. Louis, and experts believe that within 48 hours the city will eclipse Los Angeles, Miami and, of course, the entire state of New Jersey, as the "Douchiest Place in America".

Thursday, March 31, 2011

With New Season Approaching, Baseball Blogger Decides to "Get Back Into It"

According to a source familiar with the situation, a Toronto blogger is using the impending start of the 2011 Major League Baseball season to kickstart his baseball blog which has been dormant for the last two months.

The blogger, Rave_Xuth, as he's known online, was reached for comment. "You know, it's hard to stay motivated through the winter months when nothing is happening in the game. I tried giving myself 'Xuth Points' each time I finished an article. Then I tried buying myself a new rare vinyl and some kettle chips whenever I focused on writing for 30 minutes. But it's hard, you know."

Amazingly, he kept talking. "Plus, you know the winter, I get some serious seasonal affective dis..." (ed. note: the recording was cut off here due to the interviewer temporarily falling asleep from the blogger's inane description of white people problems).

The blogger's mother, who spoke on condition of anonymity (we'll call her Sue, short for pseudonym), is cautiously optimistic. "Let's see if he's still doing it in a month. That's generally how long these spurts last. But at least it'll get him off his futon for a while, if not out of the basement."

Sue says that when her son gets "in a zone", it's a flurry of activity that requires frequent espresso delivery and sock laundering on her part. "When he gets going, there's no stopping him. He can write for 10, 15, sometimes 20 minutes straight." Sue adds that these sudden stirs are generally followed by a nap of at least two hours.

Upon being questioned about what's in store for the blog in the next few weeks, however, Xuth seemed to renege on his prior promise of upcoming content. "Well, April will be an idea-generating month. You know what they, April brainstorms bring May blogstorms... hahahahahaha, I gotta tweet that line." Xuth continued to laugh at his own joke until being prompted with another question, this time about when new content will appear.

"Hmm, well actually, I'm probably gonna need May to do some research and fact-finding," mused the blogger. "June will be first drafts and July's for editing. I could probably get a couple posts out by August... you know, let's throw some slack time in there, call it September. I'll definitely have some stuff up for the playoffs."

Monday, January 31, 2011

Yankees to Feature New York Philharmonic as "Band in Residence"

NEW YORK (Bottom of the Fourth) - The New York Yankees are one of the most storied franchises in baseball history. The New York Philharmonic is the most prestigious orchestra in America. The only real surprise is that it took this long for the two to hook up.

It was announced on Sunday that the Phil will serve as Yankees "Band in Residence" during the 2011 baseball season. The orchestra will perform any and all musical duties typical to a baseball game, including playing the national anthem(s), and the seventh-inning stretch music, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "God Bless 'Merica". 

Additionally, the group will take over responsibility for playing the intermittent organ noises meant to rev up the crowd. Since these snippets happen often and throughout the game, the orchestra will need to be at the ready at all times. Unfortunately, given the size of the group (50+ members), there isn't a space on the field large enough to accommodate them while the game is being played.

As a result, Yankees' Director of Stadium Operations Jesse Fine-Gagne says the members will be dispersed all around the field: behind the plate, in foul ground along the sides, and in the bullpens. In particular, trombonists, accustomed to sitting in the back and doing nothing, will join the relievers in the bullpen while violists will be strategically placed directly where the highest percentage of foul line drives are hit, because nobody likes violists.

Since this means many of the musicians will be out of sight range of the others, conductor Alan Gilbert will be broadcast on some of the stadium's video screens to coordinate all the music. While this measure ensures that the members of the orchestra will play at the same time, Yankees physicists are still working on the problem of sound delay that will be unavoidable when musicians are spread out over several hundred feet.

The philharmonic's composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg has been hard at work arranging a suite called Baseball Sounds for Orchestra, but took time out of his busy schedule to speak with Bottom of the Fourth. And despite a 30+ year composing career, Lindberg says this is his greatest challenge to date.

"There are so many natural sounds at a baseball game," Lindberg explained, "and I want to capture all of them in my masterwork. Every guffaw, every empty peanut shell crunching underfoot, every drunk Queens asshole yelling at A-Rod. It will all be in the music. This is gonna be some John Cage shit up in this bitch."

The brass section hasn't yet figured out a solution to the obvious risk inherent in playing during a live baseball game: baseballs flying into their bells. Dr. Luke Wesley, joint professor from the departments of Athletics-Influenced Symphonic Music and Orchestral Baseball Studies at Columbia University, says it's both inevitable and dangerous. Tubists, in particular, carry a very high risk of "sudden, unexpected air flow reversal resulting from lodgement of baseball-shaped projectile in instrument", which can lead to "complications arising from spontaneous puffy-cheek".

The aspect of this radical change most anticipated by the Yankees players themselves is the live renditions of their walk-up music. In particular, Mariano Rivera, famous for entering each game along to Metallica's "Enter Sandman", is excited to see what the orchestra does with his classic theme. "I think getting those violins and oboes in there is really going to add another layer of intensity," said Rivera.

Joba Chamberlain, noted fan of classical music, is excited to see how Gilbert coordinates famous works with baseball events. "I'm thinking Thus Spake Zarathustra [the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey] any time a Yankee pitcher gets to two strikes. Wouldn't it be awesome to strike out some asshole on the DUH DUH?"