Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thanks for a fantastic season

It wasn't a record anybody wanted, but the Astros season ended with yet another hit by pitch record. No other team in World Series history has had as many as 5 hit batters with none of them scoring a run. And while Craig Biggio and the Astros became the first team to lose a World Series to a Chicago team in 88 years, it's worth noting who led the last team to lose to the other Chicago team. The Cubs last World Series win was in 1908 over the Detroit Tigers - managed by Hughie Jennings.
In 2005 Craig Biggio broke Don Baylor's 267 HBPs mark and was crowned by the media as the modern plunk king. The Astros came from 15 games under .500 to make it to the World Series. Biggio led the postseason in total hits and runs scored. He hit his 600th double, played in his 2500th game, stole his 400th base, recorded his 5000th assist and his 1000th double play, and drove in the 1000th run of his career. He also removed himself from all records related to most games without a World Series appearance. And, Biggio became the first player since 1901 to record his 273rd career plunk.
The 2006 season is right around the corner, and it will no doubt be another memorable one. Whether or not the Astros can make another run at the postseason is anyone's guess, but we can be sure Craig Biggio will be making a run at 287 plunks. There's always something to look forward too in baseball.

On a personal note, I'd like to thank everyone for reading this crazy little site. Special thanks to everyone who commented and emailed and asked question or made rambling predictions mixed with updates on life in "Chesterfield County", and the various other people who wrote about this site in their own blogs. Also, thanks to all the media types who encouraged my statistical shenanigans by taking the time to talk to me or exchange emails - Chance McClain and the guys at AM 610 in Houston, Rich Connelly at Houston Press, Jack Curry at NYT, Alyson Footer at, Mark Simon at espn research, Bill Littlefield at NPR's "Only a Game", Jamie Mottra at Sportsbloggers Live for giving me a chance to actual ask Biggio a question during an interview a couple of weeks ago, and every other sports writer who advanced the cause of Craig Biggio this season.
Thanks also to Retrosheet for making such a fantastic wealth of baseball data available on the internet. That site is a living memorial to all the pioneers of the early days of baseball who started the tradition of tracking every imaginable stat for every player in the game. Baseball wouldn't be what it is today without those people who first had the vision to distill the game into the simplicity of the box score. Without that, in the age before tv and radio, the game would have been limited to the fans in the park. Stats are a huge part of the broad appeal of baseball - they let us talk about and compare players throughout history. Records bind the modern day game to its roots, and the games we're watching to the future. Once in a while a player comes along and challenges a record set 100 years ago, and you never know when the game you're watching is going to turn into a performance that will be in the record books for 100 years to come.
Most importantly, thanks to Craig Biggio for being a great player as well as a likeable guy in an age when so many of the great on-the-field performers leave us disappointed off the field. Thanks Craig, for having a sense of humor about the record and not taking this site the wrong way. And sorry if you got sick of answering questions about hit-by-pitch records all season, but I'm pretty sure most of those still would have been asked even without the existence of this site.

I'll be back in the spring, hopefully full of new and entertaining hit-by-pitch related stats. But no more poetry. Unless someone makes me.

Have a good winter everybody.


At 10/27/2005 03:04:00 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Thanks to you too, for keeping the site. Well written, interesting, and funny (if you're into statistical humor). I certainly appreciated it.

Good work.

At 10/27/2005 04:10:00 PM, Blogger DaMasta said...

Man, I'm so sad about the season being over. It was a great season and everyone should congratulate the Astros on a job well done.

Thanks to you for making such an enjoyable site. I agree with tom as I sure do appreciate statistical humor!! Especially about baseball!!

At 10/27/2005 05:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for making this baseball season a very entertaining one. Having lost my team due to relocation, I didn't have much to keep me interested in baseball. Your site did. Thank you.

Yan Desjardins

At 10/27/2005 05:50:00 PM, Blogger Emily said...

I really enjoyed this site. The humor and intellect is second to none.

At 10/27/2005 08:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shedding a little more rally pie chart.....

At 10/27/2005 10:42:00 PM, Anonymous msn said...

Your blog has been a daily stop for me all season long; I'm really glad you stuck to it the way you did. Very enjoyable--I like "dry humor", and I love the Astros. Kudos to a unique idea and the cajones to follow it through. I am hoping for a repeat performance in 2006. Best of luck.

At 11/02/2005 02:49:00 PM, Anonymous Helene said...

All the way from France, congratulation on a funny and interesting blog.When I first discovered baseball in 92, being a foreign student in Lake Charles, Craig Biggio was the first baseball/Astros player I heard about. So, this site is very enjoyable for me. Merci beaucoup and Have a great offseason and "read you" next week.

At 11/03/2005 10:00:00 AM, Anonymous cletus j. "bubba" huckabee jr. said...

Now if you ask me, and plenty folks do now and again, the entire post-season thing was just a distraction. As my favorite living uncle on my Daddy’s side, Uncle Nervin Pervis Huckabee III, used to always say, “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” In this case, our man Craig “Target” Biggio and his uncanny horse hide magnetism is the main thing.

I am about 30% complete with trials on my new Plunk Prognostication Program™ and will start running real time tests during Spring Training. By Opening Day I intend to be in a position to accurately predict each and every one of Target’s 2006 Season plunkings down to the exact time they take place. I am still working out the statistical anomalies created by that whacky daylight savings time foisted on us by the Federal Government, but I ought to be able to overcome any time shifts by careful manipulation of the equations I am building.

Just an aside, the Beta version of the Plunk Prognostication Program™ proved 37% accurate during the post season and provided spin off benefits such as interesting and exciting anagrams made from the name of the visiting team’s radio announcer’s full name, palindromes crafted from the pitcher’s names, winning lottery numbers generated by numeric combinations of the visiting outfielders (only those on the diamond in the first three innings), and random song lyrics suitable for use with an array of melodies currently within public domain. The benefits are endless and the potential of this thing is astounding. I ain’t about to make any predictions just yet, but I have a hunch good things are in store and we will know when the record is to be broken well in advance of the actual date.

However them spin offs ain’t the main thing and Uncle Nervin Pervis Huckabee III would scold me for getting myself side tracked.

At 11/07/2005 04:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good to have you back Cletus. We were worried that dang invention of yers done nab gone and blown up on yer.

At 11/11/2005 04:36:00 PM, Anonymous cletus j."bubba"huckabee jr. said...

I'm getting real close. I got a half dozen kinks worked out just by replacing the vacuum tubes. I might even be ready to start running tests again during the World Cup thingie in March. Mama is off visiting relations in Stillwell, so I have unrestricted time to go out to the shed and work on things through the winter. Hold tight and I’ll get back to you.

At 12/15/2005 01:47:00 AM, Anonymous cletus j. "bubba" huckabee jr. said...

Now if you ask me, and plenty folk do now and again, the greatest upset in sporting history (and by sporting history I mean the entire history of all sports on the planet from the dawn of time up until about 20 minutes ago) happened at the second antipodean Olympics when on 20 September 2000, during the tournament round of Olympic Baseball competition, the lowly Dutch spanked the mighty Cubans in a 4-2 upset.

Now it looks like there will be a re-match of that pairing when Cuba will play the Netherlands in the Baseball World Cup Thingie Thursday March 9th. I anticipate an emotional re-match betwixt the professional “armatures” of the last communist sports machines (unless you also count the sports machines of the other four remaining communist nations; Red China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Laos) and the strappin’ young bucks from the Low Lands and their Caribbean cousins. Should be a show down… and I plan to have my new prognostication gizmo up and running so I can see if there are going to be any plunking in advance.

By the time “Target” Biggio takes his stance at the plate on opening day of the Major League Season, I’ll pretty much have all the kinks worked out and should be able to generate a computerized, itemized, sanitized list of dates and plunkers for the entire 2006 season… at least that is my plan.

At 12/16/2005 12:55:00 AM, Anonymous cletus j. "bubba" huckabee jr. said...

Now if you ask me, and plenty folk who are sick of meddling politicians do now and again, no sooner had I made my observation about the rematch of the Dutch and the Cubans on the Baseball diamond then the meddling US politicians decided to stick their nose in where it wasn’t needed and certainly wasn’t wanted, and they decided that the Cubans need to be uninvited to the Baseball World Cup thingie.

Well, I ain’t the smartest feller in Chesterfield County, so I went and sought out Flatworm Jackson to get a little wisdom on the matter. See, I am comfustigated over the fact that the US government allowed the Cubans to participate at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics (and their Baseball team won the gold) , in 1999 the Cubans were invited to go play in Camden Yard against the Orioles and that was OK, but now the meddling politicians have decided to get involved in Baseball. I asked Flatworm to explain what was happening to me and he took about half an hour to lay out the sophisticated parameters of this here infuriating situation and it is now crystal clear to me that basically the politicians are to blame for besmirching the good name of Baseball.

I don’t rightly care for Fidel Castro because, from the vantage point of Chesterfield County, it is clear that he is a commonist thug. I don’t have no problem with him being a communist, but he is common and therefore a commonist and that, my friends, I have a problem with. Like them folk who walk around wearing Che Guevara T Shirts… you reckon they have any idea how many people Che murdered? Them folk is just common and they follow along like a lemming and don’t do no investigation for themselves so they just don’t know. I don’t hold much to murderers nor commonists. However, even though Fidel is a commonist, he is a fan of Baseball and that means we speak the same language.

Now if the US government is at all interested in breaking through to the Cuban people, then they have to be looking at Fidel and know that he ain’t going to last much longer. So, with his imminent demise in mind, shouldn’t they be promoting as much people-to-people exposure as possible now – in anticipation of the obligatory obsequies services later? That means the US government ought to be promoting this frazlin’ Baseball World Cup thingie – not opposing it. Give the Cuban people the opportunity to get a little more exposure to the rest of the world now, because when Fidel kicks the proletariat bucket the rush will be on. Them politicians are just too thick headed to see the forest for the trees and decided to meddle in Baseball.

Them political rascals could be fixin’ the budget deficit, or elevating the level of public education, or fixin’ pot holes on the interstate, or building more monuments in the Washington area…. but no. They decided the thing they need to do is get tangled up in Baseball and dictate their pork belly demands on us. So, I reckon the show down twixt the Dutch and the Cubans is off. Sorry folks. Because I know that no politician would ever apologize for such an infraction against the people, please allow me to apologize on their behalf. It won’t do no good, but I reckon somebody needs to apologize and I know darn well that there ain’t no politician who would ever apologize, so I’, doing it for them.

They all scalawags no how.

At 12/16/2005 09:52:00 AM, Blogger pbr said...

Good point Cletus, think of all the Cubans who are being denied the chance to defect because of this policy...
On the other hand, the Astros might have had a slightly better world series if they didn't have to deal with Contreras and Hernandez, so I'm on the fence on this one.

Are they going to have to find another country to pretend some players are from now?

At 12/17/2005 07:45:00 AM, Anonymous cletus j. "bubba" huckabee jr. said...

I reckon they need an even number of teams... so either have some oddball nation step in and play for the Cubans, or better yet... ask the US team to step out. If the US also steps out - then the number is even again. I reckon it's the only polite way to handle this situation.

At 12/18/2005 06:23:00 PM, Anonymous cletus j. "bubba" huckabee jr. said...

rascals all. never trust rascals.

At 12/19/2005 08:37:00 AM, Blogger pbr said...

what about little rascals, can you trust them? I wouldn't... not after what Alfalfa did...

putting on that stupid suit and tricking the Tanner family all those years... not to mention the Ockmanecks.

But at least whoever is running the World Baseball Thingy is trying to get the government to change it's mind about Cuba. Maybe they can tell the government that it's all a trick to get MLBPA members to submit to Olympic level drug testing to participate.

At 1/12/2006 01:39:00 AM, Anonymous Drew said...

It's only January and I'm already having plunkbiggio withdrawals. Give me some STATS!!!! Give me some BASEBALL!!!! I love football as much as the next guy, and I'm happy for the 'Horns, but 287 is the key number everybody should be paying attention to.

I don't know if you're willing to do it, but if you could get some spring training stats going come March, some of us would greatly appreciate would cut the down time by a whole month, which would be rockin'.


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