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

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.