NYT map shows boundaries of baseball loyalties

Austin: on the wrong side of the Nolan Ryan line

Using Facebook data, the New York Times built this interactive map of baseball team affiliation. They give the boundaries between regional rivals cute names, like the Munson-Nixon line between Yankeeville and Red Sox Nation. The line separating my Astros from the Texas Rangers is called, predictably, the Nolan Ryan line. If things keep going the way they have been, the Rangers may just annex Astro-land and claim it as one of their minor league territories. 

Highlights of an Astros fan's season so far

Opening day, 4-6-12
Hope springs eternal. (Astros record 0-0)

4-9-12
Astros defeat the Atlanta Braves 8-3. (Astros record 3-1, season high water mark)

4-14-12
Astros defeat Miami Marlins 5-4 to return to .500, the closest they will come to a winning season for the rest of the year. (4-4)

5-5-12
Astros snap off their fifth win in a row, their longest winning streak of the year. (13-14)

5-31-12
I find a dollar in the street. (22-29)

6-11-12
Astros idle, go undefeated for the day. (26-34)

6-22-12
Dentist says I have no cavities. (28-42)

7-4-12
Ooh, fireworks! (32-50)

7-29-12
Have a nice chat with my sister. (35-68)

8-2-12
Astros idle, go undefeated for the day. (35-71)

8-15-12
I can’t think of the name of this song that I always forget the name of, but then I do. (39-80)

8-29-12
After weeks of searching online, I finally find a replacement carafe for the coffee maker. (40-90)

9-2-12
Quiet Sunday at home with Mrs. Oblogatory. (41-93)

9-6-12
Astros idle, go undefeated for the day. (42-95)

My mid-season report card

Pitching
Probably my most improved category from last season, where I found myself so disconnected and ambivalent I could scarcely work up the anger and disgust to pitch a fit at all. This season, however, in spite of the overall decline of the Astros, I have a higher level of emotional investment, and so my fit pitching has been more frequent and competitive. And most of my fits have qualified as quality starts, although I admit I need to work on my tendency to lapse into weak sobbing in the later innings.
Grade: B+

Hitting
Kind of a tossup. I’ve been hitting my forehead for a high average, usually when manager Brad Mills brings in a left-handed reliever, who then walks the only batter he faces. But I’m not hitting it with the power I’ve had in seasons past. Often, I barely see stars. Expect improvement in the second half.
Grade: B-

Fielding
As usual, my fielding of queries or barbs about the tragic progress of the Astros’ season has been sharp, with very few errors. When a friend will email me something like, “WTF is up with the Astros? They suck,” I’m never less than sure-fingered, speedily firing off replies like, “Yes, but they drafted extraordinarily well,” or, “Why don’t you bite me?”
Grade: A-

Throwing
Can’t really evaluate, because I wrenched my shoulder throwing my phone at the dog following a walk-off win by the Cardinals in early May. So I’ve been limited to soft tossing crumpled up scorecards at the trashcan in disgust following late inning bullpen implosions. Hopefully, my strength will return, and I’ll be back to winging heavier objects around when the losses start piling up in August.
Grade: Incomplete

Intangibles
Irrational Win Exuberance (IWE): A
Team Management Optimism Credulity (T-MOC): A-
Standings-based Mood Effect (SbME): C-
Play-by-Play Announcer Annoyance: (PbPAA): A+

7 rules toward a unified nicknaming system for MLB players

Rule 1: Wherever possible, add a “-y” or an “-ie” to the last name and you’re done:
Mike Carp, “Carpy”
Laynce Nix, “Nixxie”

Rule 2: If Rule 1 doesn’t work for a particular name, try truncating it and making it plural:
Reggie Abercrombie, “Abs”
Jolbert Cabrera, “Cabs”
Carl Crawford, “Craws”

Rule 3: A name truncated by Rule 2 may sometimes be further modified by adding a “-y” or “-ie” ending from Rule 1:
Chris Dickerson, “Dicksie”
Kyle Hudson, “Hudsie”
Scott Podsednik, “Poddsie”

Rule 4: If Rules 1 or 2 don’t seem to fit, go with the initials:
Justin Christian, “J. C.”
Desmond Jennings, “D. J.”
Clay Timpner, “C. T.”

Rule 5: A-Roddify the name, where appropriate:
Fred Lewis, “F-Lew”
Alex Romero, “A-Rom”

Rule 6: For some Latino names, you’ll get a cooler nickname by ending in “-o” rather than “-y” or “-ie.” Use common sense:
Luis Durango, “Rango”
Carlos Gonzalez, “Gonzo”

Rule 7: Get creative! Have fun with it:
Matt Diaz, “MD 20-20”
Chris Heisey, “Heisman Trophy”
Jon Jay, “Jay Z”
Timo Perez, “T-Mop”
Logan Morrison, “L-Mo”

Sounds of the game: the transcript

“On March 7, the (MLB) network will try to take a leap in audio, televising a spring training game between the Indians and Diamondbacks in which up to six players a team will wear microphones.” NYT: Airing the Sounds of the Game on MLB Network

Indians vs. Diamondbacks, top of the first

18:03:27 Catcher mic: (clears sinuses)
18:03:29 Catcher mic: (expectorates)
18:03:30 Umpire mic: Thanks, Izzy. I just cleaned that plate.
18:03:33 Catcher mic: (belches)
18:03:35 Umpire mic: Again, lovely.  
18:03:42 Batter mic: Afternoon, gents.
18:03:44 Umpire mic: Hey, Parksy.
18:03:46 Catcher mic: (indecipherable utterance)
18:03:59 Umpire mic: Hey, whenever you’re ready. We have until October.
18:04:04 Batter mic: Is it OK with you if I adjust my batting gloves? Would that be all right, for Christ’s sake?
18:04:10 Umpire mic: As long as it occurs in this lifetime.
18:04:13 Batter mic: Is this how it’s going to be all season with you? I thought we were friends.
18:04:16 Catcher mic: (grunting noise)
18:04:20 Umpire mic: Totally agree, Izz.  
18:04:23 Batter mic: OK, whatever.
18:04:29 Umpire, catcher, batter mics: (ball hitting mitt)
18:04:30 Umpire mic: Hraw! Low.
18:04:56 Umpire, catcher, batter mics: (ball hitting mitt)
18:04:57 Umpire mic: Hrawp! Low.
18:04:59 Catcher mic: (exclaimed indecipherable utterance)
18:05:02 Umpire mic: Excuse me?
18:05:04 Catcher mic: (indecipherable grumbling)
18:05:07 Umpire mic: I thought so.
18:05:22 Umpire, catcher, batter mics: (ball hitting bat)
18:05:28 Umpire mic: Y’all got lucky there.
18:05:31 Catcher mic: (indecipherable)
18:05:35 Umpire mic: He just got under it.
18:05:39 Catcher mic: (belches)
18:05:42 Umpire mic: (sighs)
18:05:45 Umpire mic: OK, batter up. Let’s go.
18:05:53 Batter mic: Hey.
18:05:57 Umpire mic: Hey, Jonesy.
18:06:00 Catcher mic: (indecipherable utterance)