Monday, November 6, 2006

Farewell to Ron Washington

Here's the Dallas Morning News article:

"Oakland third base coach Ron Washington will be hired as the [Ranger's] manager, Daniels confirmed to The Dallas Morning News on Monday morning."

I will offer congrats to Ron Washington, who probably deserved the shot at a managerial position. But I cannot wish him the best of luck. Managing the Rangers means the A's will see an awful lot of him and I can't root for them, as much as I've respected Wash's work with the A's. As third base and infield coach, he's never raised ire for sending runners when he shouldn't have and even more importantly, crafted an amazing infield defense.

Eric Chavez won his sixth straight Gold Glove award this year and the rest of the infield was only a hair behind him. If it had been up to me, Mark Ellis would have gotten the Gold Glove for second base this year too. He made only two errors all season and made the fantastic plays seem routine.

So, I can't root for Washington and the Rangers all year, but I will at least root for them to crush the Angels as often as they can. Bon voyage and good luck, Wash.

Jobster Calls Out Monster

Kudos to Jobster's Jason Golberg for calling out Monster's "crap product." Video here.

The amount of ads the job seeker has to fight through on Monster is just ridiculous. Sure, the business is doing well, but they're abusing the job seeker. It may help them make money in the short term, but it's an AWFUL experience.

(Hat tip to Joel Cheesman for the video and for standing up to the man)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hats Off to the Tigers

Well, the A's put up a little fight in each game, but if you look at the 4-0 Tigers sweep, you really don't see any fight at all. The Tigers just flat-out beat the A's. The Tigers had great hitting, great starting pitching, great relief pitching and solid defense while the A's really didn't show nearly enough of those things.

From around the interweb...

-Ken Arneson:
...without Ellis and his MLB-record 2B fielding percentage, and without Justin Duchscherer, who can throw two shutdown innings in the middle of a ballgame, the A's M.O. was gone. Those two guys were the keys, the very heart and soul of the A's success in 2006.


-Barry Zito:
I'm sure in a couple of days I'll have a more positive outlook, and I'll be able to look back at the season and smile. But right now it's just really tough because of the fashion in which we lost. We just laid down, myself included...

Eventually I'll look back at some highlights. Beating Santana in the Metrodome, highlight of my career. Going in there, with all odds against me and the team -- not just that game but the whole series -- and getting through it on the positive side is definitely a highlight...

The plane ride home is going to be pretty emotional. That kind of stuff goes on every year, saying goodbye to guys because you know they're not going to be back or might not be back. You go up to those guys and make a real point to express how much you like playing with those guys, how much you love being around them. But this year I might be the guy leaving, so I want to go up to the rest of the guys and tell them how much I appreciate playing with them, their competitive spirit, their love, their determination and their support in the clubhouse. That's going to be emotional, I'm sure.

Finally, I'd just like to thank the people who have been following us and supporting us all this time. If this ends up being my last year here, I just want the fans to know how much I love them, too. That's all I can really say right now. Thanks for everything.

Man, I'm going to miss that guy.

-Nico on Athletics Nation:
From early in Game 1 to the end of Game 4, it was simply the Tigers time to play in the World Series. The A's, built on starting pitching, would fail to get a single quality start in the ALCS. Frank Thomas didn't get a single hit. You're not going to win too many series under those circumstances. ... I'm proud of the 2006 Oakland A's. And I can't wait for Spring Training, 2007.


-The Pastime: "Detroit was simply the better team over these 4 games. Eric Chavez took a lot of heat for saying that, but he was right. They made very few mistakes, and took advantage of the A's miscues."

-From Bruce Jenkins at the SF Chronicle:
"That man over there," said Bradley [of Frank Thomas], "that's just greatness. I grew up watching him play. Now I'm watching him accept defeat with humility. He's handling his struggles like a man. He taught me, a lot of us, how to be major-league players. You can't replace that kind of leadership."

-More from Jenkins:
Milton Bradley is the last Oakland player coming off the field, in a slow walk. He's pointing to someone on the Tigers, as if to say, "Job well done." He's pausing now, and I've got my eye on him, becase he was the Oakland A's today. Now he has been acknowledged, but Bradley is hanging around, all by himself, outside the A's dugout.


Wow. It appears that Jim Leyland is the man Bradley was acknowledging. Now Leyland is coming over to pay his respects to the A's. What a class act... Leyland knows the feeling of heartbreak, and he knows how the A's feel right now, and he has left the madness of his own team's triumph to commiserate with Oakland.


I guess I'll be rooting for the Tigers in the World Series. They're a hell of a team and a classy bunch.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Athletics Nation Says It All

After Game 2, the A's are "Down But Not Out"

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Zito's Thoughts on ALCS Game 1

Barry Zito's Playoff Blog: Don't bet against us

They were gonna make me throw them strikes, and that's just something I didn't do. I think a lot of teams that face me, if they're not swinging, it's either because they're trying to time me or because they're going to make me throw strike one, and I didn't throw strike one nearly enough, so I take full responsibility for the loss.

...

I would never bet against this team. First of all because it's against the rules, but also because we've been through so much, and we've been counted out many times. If we can just refocus and clean the slate for tomorrow, I think things will start to look up for us.


Game 2: Verlander vs Loaiza

People are talking about Justin Verlander like he's the second coming of Josh Beckett, circa 2003. I had Verlander on one of my fantasy baseball teams, and he pretty much ran out of gas down the stretch. He was fantastic in July but really scuffled through August and September, as they say young pitchers tend to do.

How does Loaiza compare? Loaiza stunk up the joint for the first few months of the season before turning in a fantastic August and a mediocre September. To confirm my recollections on these guys, I took a look at their game scores, using BaseballMusings' Day by Day Database.

By the way, here's the definition of "Game Score" from Baseball-Almanac.com:
Start with 50 points. Add 1 point for each out recorded, (3 points per inning). Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th. Add 1 point for each strikeout. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract 1 point for each walk.


And here's how they stack up (monthly averages above 50 are bolded):
Verlander v. Loaiza

Verlander definitely had the better year, but he hasn't pitched great since July. And his September game scores really mirror Loaiza's. I just don't see this as the mis-match I keep hearing about from the TV folks at ESPN and Fox.

Let's Go A's!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Vacation?

The A's pitching, defense and clutch hitting took a near total holiday today.

Pitching
As great as Zito was last week against the Twins, he really struggled against the Tigers tonight in Game 1 of the ALCS. Gaudin, Kennedy, Calero and Blanton pitched well in relief (4.1 IP and no runs), but Zito allowed 7 hits, walked three, struck out no one and gave up 5 runs in 3.2 innings.

Defense
Where the A's played nearly flawless defense against the Twins, they kicked the ball around today. Chavez made an uncharacteristic mistake on a bases-loaded grounder in the third inning that allowed a run to score. It was a tough play moving to his left, but Chavez usually makes that play -- an out there would have saved a run and ended the inning.

Then, in the fourth, D'Angelo Jimenez looked like he was trying to stop the clock instead of turning a double-play. With Craig Monroe on first, Marcus Thames grounded a ball to Chavez who zipped it over to Jimenez. As he turned to throw to first for the double-play (a near guarantee with a healthy Mark Ellis), Jimenez essentially spiked the ball into the ground (it did make it at least 75 or 80 feet in the air). Instead of two outs and the bases empty, Zito had only one out and a runner on second. The next two batters doubled and grounded out. If Jimenez had turned that double-play, the A's are out of the inning without allowing any more runs. BUT - the Tigers ended up scoring two more runs.

Those two defensive missteps arguably cost the A's 3 runs. Take those three runs away and the final score is 2-1, which takes us to our next point...

Clutch Hitting
The A's were 0-13 with runners in scoring postion. Here's the litany of good situations the A's turned sour:
-Runners on first and second with one out in the first.
-Runners on first and second with one out in the third.
-Runners on second and third with NO out in the fourth.
-Runners on first and second with NO out in the fifth.
-Runners on first and second with one out in the sixth.

It's almost unbelievable that a team could put itself in all of those situations and not score a single run. But then, this is how the A's roll in the post-season. So far this year, the A's are 3-34 with runners in scoring position. Since making the playoffs in 2000, the A's are 40-174 with RISP (according to my rough scanning of the retrosheet box scores: example). That's a .230 batting average. In fact, the A's were only 4-42 (.095) in 2001 while losing two of five to the Yankees.

This clutch hitting problem is nothing new, but we don't have to like it. And the A's don't have to keep it up. Tonight was painful, but the A's are capable of going 4-2 over the remaining 6 games against the Tigers. They just have to pitch, play defense and get a few clutch hits.

LET'S GO A'S

Monday, October 9, 2006

Underdogs

From David Pinto's ALCS Preview: "I'll pick Detroit, with about a 60% chance of winning the series."

Well, I think that's better odds than anyone gave us against the Twins...

Oh, and here's your typical A's fan.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

Sweep!

Oh, the joy! I was only able to watch two half-innings of the entire Twins-A's ALDS. Bottom of the ninth in game 1 and top of the ninth in game 3. But what an enjoyable two innings they were. The Guinness in my hand was shaking last night as Street wobbled through the ninth inning towards the save and the sweep.

When was the last time the A's won a postseason series? It's been 16 years! The last time the A's won a series, they swept the Red Sox in the 1990 ALCS. Since then, post-season agony:
-1990 World Series, swept by the Reds
-1992 ALCS, lost to the Blue Jays 4-2
-2000 ALDS, Lost to the Yankees 3-2 ("Jill" Heredia gave up 6 runs in the top of the first inning of game 5 with some help from CF Terrence Long)
-2001 ALDS, Lost to the Yankees 3-2 (lost three straight after taking the first two games in New York. Oh, and there was that whole Jeter flip, Jeremy Giambi no-slide play...)
-2002 ALDS, Lost to the Twins 3-2 (lost the last two games after going up 2-1. The tastefully named Billy Koch gave up three runs in the top of the ninth of game 5, which the A's lost 5-4)
-2003 ALDS, Lost to the Red Sox 3-2 (Went up 2-0 before baserunning blunders by Eric Byrnes and Miguel Tejada and Ricado Rincon's inability to stop Todd Walker submarined the A's.)

That's six consecutive post-season series the A's had lost, the last four in excrutiating fashion. So, I could hardly believe it was happening as Luis Castillo popped out to Jay Payton in left to end the series. It's been so long, and we've rooted for such great teams in the last few years. It just seemed like we were destined to root for a postseason loser. Clearing that hurdle, getting that monkey off their backs is such a relief. If only the A's had gotten past the Yankees in 2000 or 2001, if only they'd gotten past the Twins in 2002 or the Red Sox in 2003... Well, let's hope this is our year.

"For all of those die hard A’s fans that haven’t seen a World Series since 1989, we hope to bring that back to them." -Barry Zito

Let's Go A's!

From around the interweb:
-Video from the A's locker room. I love me some Nick Swisher.
-Barry Zito: "I Can't Explain How it Feels" (Another excellent piece from Zito's blog. Really well written and heart-felt.)
-Catfish Stew: "Woooooooooooooooh! Woooooooooooooooo! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Woooooooooooooooooooooooo!"
-David Pinto at BaseballMusings: "Many people said the Twins were the scariest team in the playoffs, mostly due to their great pitching. That was there in the first two games, but Oakland managed to pitch just a little bit better, and hit a bit better."
-Blez, at Athletics Nation: "Bring on the Yankees or Tigers. I personally would love to see the Yankees and finish that book that Michael Lewis started years ago. But right now, I couldn't give a rat's ass who it is..."


mmmm, ALCS...

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Tentative Joy

Winning game one of a 5-game series doesn't guarantee anything, as A's fans have learned the hard way. But beating Johan Santana in Minnesota is a rare feat. And now the A's are in pretty good shape. Taking 2 of 3 from Boof Bonser, a one-armed Brad Radke and Carlos Silva is no gimme, but you have to like the A's chances. It is critical for the A's to win two of those three games, though. We (A's fans) do NOT want to see Johan Santana back on the mound in a winner-take-all game 5.

Player of the game was obvioulsy Frank Thomas, but Barry Zito pitched a great game (with some help from the free-swinging Twins). Now, we turn to Esteban Loaiza. Let's Go A's!

Notes from around the interweb:
-Zito's thoughts on game 1 (courtesy Catfish Stew)
-Gleeman's breakdown
-Simmons' game diary
-Deadspin's inifinitely funnier live blog

Monday, October 2, 2006

Anxiety

The A's kick off the ALDS in Minnesota Tuesday afternoon at 1pm Eastern. I'm not sure whether I should be upset that I'm missing the game or happy that I won't be able to agonize over every pitch as I'm in my various meetings all afternoon...

I got an email from good buddy Nick this afternoon, who asked simply, "Is there any way we can win 3 games?" Ahhh, optimism. Seriously, almost no one is picking the A's to win the series. It's going to be an uphill battle. All we fans can do is hope.

Let's go A's.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Piedmont in the News

Whether linebacker or youth coach, he's in people's faces

[Bill] Romanowski, 40, who retired from the NFL in 2004, got into it last week with a seventh-grader from Lafayette who he felt was playing dirty against his Piedmont Highlanders, according to several people who were watching the game at a Lafayette middle school.


It's always nice to see the hometown get a little press. Thanks Romo!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

History

For the first time since the inception of AndrewKoch.com, the Oakland A's are going to the playoffs. And it feels great.

Let's take a minute to talk about matchups. The two teams from the AL Central (Tigers and Twins) cannot play each other in the first round of the playoffs, and as a by-product the A's cannot play the Yankees. That means the A's will play either the Tigers or the Twins. And because the Yankees have a better record than the A's, "we" will face the winner of the AL Central, while the Yankees will get the wildcard team.

Who should we want to win the AL Central? My gut says we want nothing to do with the Twins, but let's check some numbers.

AL-Central.JPG


This crude analysis doesn't feel all that conclusive, but two things frighten me about the Twins: (1) The A's have a TON of trouble in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and (2) the Twins are red-hot. Let's go Tigers!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sitting Pretty

Ken Arneson is still nervous, but I am not. The A's magic number is down to 4, with ten games remaining. The Angels have a magic number too: 19.

For the Angels to make the playoffs, they would have to win all 7 of their games against the A's and their three games with Texas. Meanwhile, the A's would have to lose two of three to the Mariners while losing all of those seven games to the Angels. It's not impossible, but it is so unlikely that I feel comfortable *not* worrying.

Baseball Prospectus' Posteason Odds Report says the A's chances of winning the division are 98.5%. Sounds good to me.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Great Weekend for the A's

A's sweep the White Sox, Angels lose two of three to the Rangers (Fri-Sat-Sun) after winning the first game of their series.

End Result: A's Magic Number down to 7, A's division lead up to 7 games.

If you're an A's fan, you are absolutely feeling better today than you did on Friday. Hopefully, we can extend this lead a little more and make that last series in Anaheim irrelevant. It would be nice to relax that weekend and set up the rotation for a deep October run (please!).

Up next for the A's are the Cleveland Indians, who are 3-7 over their last ten games and without their best player (Travis Hafner) for the rest of the season. Let's Go A's!

Update: Baseball Prospectus' Postseason Odds Report says the A's have a 97% chance of making the playoffs at this point. I've been checking that report every day for two weeks now, and it's fantastic, especially because they chart the division races over time. Here's the AL West Division Race.

Friday, September 15, 2006

A's Inching Closer to the Playoffs

In the last week, the A's have gone 3-3. They won two of three in Tampa and lost two of three in Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Angels have gone 4-3. They took two of three from Toronto and lost two of three to the White Sox (both series in Anaheim) before winning the first game of a four-game series against the Rangers (in Arlington) last night.

So, the magic number has gone from 18 to 12. The A's need a combination of wins and Angels' losses adding up to twelve in order to clinch the division.

The two teams play each other seven times in these last 2+ weeks of the seasons. A mid-case scenario (neither best- nor worst-case), would have the A's winning just 3 of those 7 critical games. Those three victories alone would drop the A's magic number to 6. Let's say, conservatively, that the A's only win 3 of their 10 remaining non-Angels games. That drops the magic number to 3, and leaves the Angels without a whole lot of wiggle room. Assuming everything plays out in that exact scenario, the Angels would have to go 6-2 against the Rangers and Royals to take the division.

As I was writing this, I was hoping that the case for the Angels would be miserably bleak, but 6-2 against the Rangers and Royals is not so unreasonable. I guess I can take solace in this: the A's control their own destiny. If the A's play any better than 6-11 over their last seventeen games, they're pretty much in.

Friday, September 8, 2006

While I Was Away

I spent a week in Ireland, northwest of Galway, since my last post. That area around Lough Corrib is truly beautiful... and there are plenty of pubs. It was my second trip to the Emerald Isle, and both times have been very relaxing. The only downside is losing touch with the A's.

Fortunately the A's went 4-2, winning series in Toronto and Texas and extending their lead in the AL West to 6.5 games. Since then, the A's have gone only 5-3 and have given a game back to the Angels, who now trail the A's by 5.5 games. With 23 games left on the schedule, the A's magic number is 18.

Here's how the rest of the season looks for the A's:

3 gms at TB
3 gms at MIN
3 gms vs CWS
4 gms vs CLE
3 gms vs LAA (or ANA, if you're old school)
3 gms at SEA
4 gms at LAA

I would love to be further ahead, but I'm happy with where we are. We, er... the A's control their own destiny, and have a great shot at winning the division - hopeful the A's can clinch before that last 4-game trip to Anaheim. I'd like to save my angst and misery for the postseason...

Just for comparison sake, here's how the AL West looked at this time over the last couple years. Final result in parantheses:

2005: A's 0.5 games behind the Angels (Angels won the division by 7 games)
2004: A's 1.5 games ahead of the Angels (Angels won the division by 1 game)
2003: A's 2 games ahead of the Angels (A's won the division by 3 games)
2002: A's 2 games ahead of the Angels (A's won the division by 4 games)

(Old standings are available on ESPN's MLB Standings page - just change the date drop-downs)

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Fantastic Chavez

Over at Catfish Stew, Ken Arneson is feeling pious: Praise Be for Eric Chavez, Deity of Fielding

Eric Chavez... is simply having the most astounding season of fielding I have ever had the pleasure to witness. Great fielding seasons don't get the kind of attention that having a bunch of walkoff hits like David Ortiz gets, but after last night's game, it's obvious to me the Chavez is having a season for the history books. This is defense of Ozzie Smith-Brooks Robinson-Bill Mazeroski's ilk, the kind of defense that deserves to be remembered for generations.

...

The latest jaw-dropper took place last night. With one out, runners on second and third, and Texas one run down, Chavez took a chopper near the bag, and quickly tagged out Mark DeRosa trying to return to third base. Now, I can't ever remember seeing a 5-unassisted at third base like that before, but Chavez didn't stop there. After tagging out DeRosa, he jumped over him into foul territory, planted his feet, and fired across the diamond to throw out the batter, Ian Kinsler. Double play, inning over.


I'd have to agree. He's been amazing at third base, but he's still not so hot at the plate. Here's another look at his OPS, this time by month:

Apr: 1.083
May: .770
Jun: .609
Jul: .614
Aug: .451 (to date)

The team is playing well, the defense is fantastic and the pitching has been good. But the A's need some offense from Chavez.

He only has two multi-hit games since June 16 and 5 RBIs over that same strech. We just need more.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Too Many Non-Readers

Marc's "Advice for Authors" post pointed me to Seth Godin's "Advice for Authors", which in turn pointed me to the following stats from Para Publishing:

<> 58% of the US adult population never reads another book after high school.

<> 42% of college graduates never read another book.

<> 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year.


I find that terrifying. I have a wishlist on Amazon with over $1,000 worth of books I want to read. I have no storage in my Manhattan apartment, in part because every nook and cranny is filled with books, books, books. I spend my commute on the subway reading books. I'm going on vacation later this month, and I'm excited to have more time to read books.

Who are these people that don't read? What's wrong with them? (And are they asking the same thing about me?)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Motherload Victory!

Well, I destroyed my previous high score and bested Marc. That's 73.8 million in motherload. And with that, I'm announcing my permanent retirement from the game.

Motherload2.bmp

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Struggles of Eric Chavez

I'm clearly late to the "Eric Chavez is hurt and struggling" party. But the table below is an interesting look at this year compared to last for Chavez. Both lines are the ten-game rolling OPS for Chavez throughout the season. Last year, he started slow, got extremely hot in early June and then played decent ball the rest of the way, save a little untimely hiccup in early September.

This year, he started hot and has essentially gotten worse every day. July has been rock bottom. Chavez has to get healthy and return to something like his normal self if the A's are going to have any real shot at the postseason. None of this is new, but like I said, it's an interesting way to look at the data.

ChavezOPS.JPG

Damn You Marc!

Yesterday, Marc emailed me a link for Motherload. It's a fun little game that you can really sink some time into.

I played for a while last night, staying up well past the witching hour. I took a little screenshot of my progress before I called it quits:

Motherload

I thought my score of 1.2mm was respectable, until marc emailed me his high score: 53 million! Good lord, that's dedication.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Great Experience with JetBlue

Over the last few years, I’ve flown JetBlue a lot - their direct flight from JFK to hometown Oakland has been a personal favorite of mine. I love the TVs, the service and the fact that they’re smart. They get it.

JetBlue used to board their planes from back to front. People sitting in the back rows would be called to board the plane before the people in front of them, etc. That always seemed to me like the most efficient way to board the plane. But instead of merely resting on their laurels, JetBlue actually tested that idea. In the last few months, JetBlue has changed - calling everyone to board the plane all at once.

The first time I saw this new method, I thought they had just screwed up. The second time, I thought they were losing their edge – that they didn’t care about their customers anymore. The third time, my wife and I asked a flight attendant what was going on. Turns out that JetBlue tested the two different boarding methods and the “Every Man for Himself” method of boarding the plane is actually faster.

Kudos, JetBlue, for working hard to make things better.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

TBS - Good News or Bad News?

Fox, TBS lead baseball's new 7-year TV deal

"Turner Broadcasting System also will televise 26 regular-season Sunday games in 2008 while eventually cutting back on its nationwide Atlanta Braves coverage."

I've got the MLB extra innings package, which gives me access to just about all of the MLB games on TV. The exceptions are for Fox's national broadcasts. The current blackout rules say, "due to the national exclusivity of both FOX and ESPN, there are no games available for distribution via this package on Saturday day or Sunday night, respectively."

So, the question is - will TBS' Sunday games prevent us from enjoying the rest of the Sunday games? And if they eliminate yet another day of the week from the MLB Extra Innings package (going from 6 days each week to only 5), will they also cut the price of the package by 16%?

(Of course they won't, but a guy can dream.)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pat on the Back from Robert Wilson

In Job Boards Worshiping False Gods, Robert Wilson reminds us that many jobs boards are really advertising publishers and points out that "there is a great deal of money to be made off the inefficiency of search – and very little motivation for advertising publishers to improve relevance." Good stuff, but not as good as this gem:

Thankfully, organizations like TheLadders, Jobster, and JobCentral are building successful businesses by improving the labor exchange. If you’re an employer or a jobseeker looking for a true ‘matchmaker’ in the labor exchange process, then these three organizations should be at the top of your list.


Thanks, Robert!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Spec Review with Bill Gates

Great post from Joel on Software: My First BillG Review

"Bill [Gates] doesn't really want to review your spec, he just wants to make sure you've got it under control. His standard M.O. is to ask harder and harder questions until you admit that you don't know, and then he can yell at you for being unprepared. Nobody was really sure what happens if you answer the hardest question he can come up with because it's never happened before."


Read the whole thing, it's an interesting look into Excel's weird date functions, Bill Gates and managing a software organization.

Better Job Search

In his post, Irrelevance of Job Boards, Robert Wilson complains that Indeed, SimplyHired and CareerBuilder send him totally irrelevant jobs in their Job Alerts/Scouts:

Below, you will find the top ten jobs emailed to me today by three scouts for ‘auto sales’ jobs in Boston, MA. Not one of the 30 is selling automobiles! Somehow, the job boards interpreted ‘auto sales’ to mean I’m looking for a job as an engineer, a mechanic, a pharmacy manager, a business analyst, a trainer, and a customer service rep.


As a curious guy, I wondered how we stacked up. So, I performed a quick search on SalesLadder for "Auto Sales" (login required). Here are the top three results:

Dealer Account Sales Rep
"...develop and support business relationships with both dealer and credit union clientele in the indirect auto financing industry..."

Sales Manager II
"...responsible for selling Progressive's Commercial Auto product..."

National Sales Representative
"...expand their US presence to such areas as large drug stores, 24 hour stores, office stores, auto parts stores and similar retail stores..."

Not bad, considering we're focused on jobs that pay $100k+. The top three results aren't really selling cars, but they are sales jobs related to the auto industry. Can't really complain about that. So, in this informal taste test, I'll give the edge to SalesLadder, where you'll find a better search for sales jobs.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

A's Quiet 5-Game Winning Streak

I say that the A's have had a quiet 5-game winning streak because I haven't been able to see any of the games. For whatever reason (work, events, odd scheduling on MLB Extra Innings), I've missed the last few games, and the A's have done just fine without me. After this mini-surge, the A's are now 14-12 and a half-game behind the Rangers.

After 26 games last year, the A's were 11-15, had scored only 91 runs and had allowed 120. This year, the A's have given up about the same number of runs (122) but they've been able to increase the offense - scoring 121 runs so far this year. That's a 33% increase in runs scored over the same time period, but it only moved the A's from dead last in the AL in runs scored to 11th out of 14 teams. In order to make the playoffs, the A's are going to need more offense.

By the end of the 2005 season, the A's had climbed all the way up to sixth in terms of runs scored. We're going to need a similar performance again this year to pull away from our mediocre start.

The pitching, however, has been about the same this year as it was last year - 122 runs so far against 120 last year over the first 26 games and the 4th-best AL pitching staff so far in 2006 compared to a 4th-best AL pitching staff over the course of 2005. So, the A's are doing fine on the pitching front (injuries notwithstanding).

Here's the problem - last year, the A's went 11-15 in their first 26 games and 8-18 over their next 26 games with Harden and Crosby on the DL. Again this year Harden's on the DL for May, and the A's face a tough schedule with series against the Indians, at the Blue Jays, at the Yankees, at the White Sox and at the Rangers. (Although the Devel Rays ,Mariners and Royals come to Oakland over that same stretch.) So, we're left to hope the offensive explosion from yesterday carries on throughout May and carries the A's to a better record than 8-18 and a solid foundation for a playoff run.

(And by the way, you've gotta love the grit of Jason Kendall. He's a gamer, even if it does look like he's about to get pounded in that picture.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Nice Win by the A's Last Night

A’s won 4-3 on the strength of Nick Swisher’s bat, Carlos Guillen’s errant throws in the 4th inning and surprisingly decent pitching.

Good News
- Loaiza didn’t look awful
- Swisher continues his hot start, both at the plate and in the field
- Defense looked solid, as it has all year. I love watching the A’s turn a double play
- Sloth Shelton stayed in the yard
- Huston Street bounced back from his tough outing on Sunday

Not Quite As Good News
- Bobby Crosby doesn’t look right at the plate. He went 0-4 to bring his average down to .205
- Huston Street had to throw a bunch of pitches again - 21 last night

Vin Scully is the Best

Over the weekend, a friend and I were lamenting the lack of quality baseball commentators on TV. We really couldn’t come up with anyone that was worth listening to – but we overlooked Vin Scully. I caught my first Scully/Dodgers game Monday night and it was a joy.

Scully is smooth, knowledgeable and fun to listen to. And he’s really not much of a homer. Scully couldn’t have been more excited to watch Greg Maddux twirl a gem for the Cubs. He kept marveling at how Maddux was teaching the Dodgers what pitching is all about – almost yelling out at times, “He might as well have a blackboard out on the mound with him” and, “These Dodgers should get a diploma after this lesson” (if you’ll forgive my paraphrasing). I can’t stand the Dodgers and I’ll never forgive them for 1988. But I love watching their games so I can listen to Scully. He’s an old fella’ but I hope he keeps covering baseball forever.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ken Macha Cost the A's Sunday's Game

I have two thoughts about the following:

Street's streak of converted save opportunities came to an end at 21, tied for the second longest in Oakland history with Dennis Eckersley and Mudcat Grant. Street's last blown save was July 10 at Chicago, but it was the 22-year-old's first career loss in a save situation.

"It's good for him, toughen him up,'' joked third baseman Eric Chavez, who had four hits and all three of Oakland's RBIs. "No, it happens. I want Huston out there every day -- he's the guy. He's going to be the guy. He can't be perfect his whole career.'' - Street bobbles the save
After 21 straight successes, closer has first blown chance since July


(1) Sounds like the team isn't really taking this one so hard. That's probably a good perspective, especially for a young team.
(2) Huston Street looked tired yesterday - and I'm going to place the blame at the feet of Ken Macha. If Street hadn't thrown 25 pitches in a pointless Friday-night outing, I think he holds the lead and saves the game, even with the bobblehead curse.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Disappointing Series in MN

"Three fine starts by A's pitchers at Seattle were systematically rubbed out by three correspondingly poor performances at Minnesota." -Susan Slusser, on the A's last series

Well, that didn't turn out to be so much fun. I had suggested that the pitching matchups would favor the A's, but things certainly did not turn out the way I was hoping.

The A's get a chance to bounce back this weekend in Oakland against the Rangers.

Friday - Millwood vs. Zito
Saturday - Padilla vs. Harden
Sunday - Loe vs. Haren

Again, the matchups should favor the A's. Let's hope it plays out a little better this time around.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Twinkies Up Next

My least favorite Twin was always Brian Harper. He was never the best Twin, but he seemed to have a knack for killing the A's. From 1988-1993, it seemed like he could drop a flare double on the left- or right-field line against the A's at will, and his success drove me bonkers.

Here's his career line with the Twins: .306 BA / .342 OBP / .431 SLG
And against the A's: .351 / .404 / .490
(Thanks to Baseball Musings' amazing day-by-day database for the numbers)

Brian Harper was a quality major league catcher, but he had no business putting those numbers up against my A's. I guess the A's brought out the best in Harper, and Harper brought out the worst in me. I hated him.

No one on the Twins today makes my blood boil like Brian Hunter, but I'd like to see the A's sweep 'em all the same.

Tuesday: Haren vs. Radke
Wednesday: Loaiza vs. Silva
Thursday: Blanton vs. Lohse

The A's don't have to face Johan Santana (a now-perennial favorite for the Cy Young) and the Twins miss both Zito and Harden. So, it's really a battle of the back-end of the rotations, and I like the A's chances. Let's hope Haren, Loaiza and Blanton continue the 0.43 starters' ERA we saw over the weekend in Seattle.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Nice Start, Indeed

Bradley, Thomas making presence felt / Newcomers key A's win over Yankees

"It's a nice way to start,'' said A's third baseman Eric Chavez ... "Opening Night was probably more disheartening for the fans, but we were able to shake it off."


Chavez is right. A 2-1 series victory over the Yankees is a good way to start any season. Putting aside Monday's disastrous performance, the A's have won with good pitching, great defense, quality base-running and clutch hitting. Just as Tuesday morning was too early to write off the season, Thursday morning is too early to start printing the playoff tickets... But as an A's fan, you've gotta feel good about what you've seen the last two nights.

Next up, four games in Seattle:
> Loaiza - Meche
> Blanton - Felix Hernandez
> Zito - Moyer
> Harden - Pineiro

That Blanton-Hernandez matchup tomorrow looks to be the most interesting. A 25-year-old pitcher coming off a 200 IP / 3.53 ERA season against a pitcher one day shy of his 20th birthday coming off a phenomenal 84 IP / 2.67 ERA season. Two up-and-coming pitchers facing off early in the year - anything could happen. Should be worth watching.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Scoring a Double Play?

Watching the A's-Yankees again tonight - and Michael Kay just said that a play would have been a 6-6-3 double play if Jeter hadn't bobbled the ball off his face. He said the same thing last night about a play where Jeter fielded a grounder, stepped on second for the first out and threw to first for the second out of a double play. 6-6-3?

Isn't that just a 6-3 double play? Am I crazy here?

(And kudos to Jeter for turning two consecutive playable ground balls to his left into baserunners.)

Feeling Better About '06

Catfish Stew : Now That's More Like It

The A's won with some home runs, a walk, a bunt and a clutch hit--a multidimensional attack that can satisfy both sabermetricians and traditionalists. The fact that they are capable of playing a crisp, tense, mistake-free playoff-caliber game in early April fills me with all kinds of hope. It finally feels like the season has begun. -Ken Arneson


I couldn't agree more. I also like his quip that, "Ken Macha and my wife outmanaged Joe Torre." It's very curious that Rivera wasn't pitching the ninth inning. As far as high-leverage innings go, tied in the bottom of the ninth has got to be right up there. You have to use your relief ace in that situation, right?

Well, I've found tangotiger's chart of Crucial Situations. Scroll down to the bottom of the ninth. And check out the various situations - depending on the score, the runners on base and the number of outs, the leverage of the situation varies from low (blank) to medium (gray) to high (blue) to very high (red). Let's walk through the A's 9th inning last night.

Start of the inning, tied: medium leverage
Bradley walks: still medium leverage
Kendall sacrifices Bradley to second: high leverage
IBB to Swisher: high leverage
Scutaro's single: game over

I guess the game never made it to a "Very high" leverage situation, but do you really want Scott Proctor out there in even High leverage spots? How is that excusable when you've got Mariano Rivera out in the bullpen? Beats me. But I'll take the win. Today, we've got youngsters Dan Haren and Chien-Ming Wang facing off.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Holy Smokes

My mom has a website! Check out RuthKoch.com - she's got all her watercolor paintings up there for the viewing. I think Silver Breeze is my favorite, but the low-res image here doesn't do it justice. I recommend you buy a print!

Congrats Mom, and welcome to the internet.

(note - this post was originally authored, posted and taken down on 3/28/06)

Stumbling Out of the Gate

The A's opened the 2006 season last night and it could hardly have gone any worse, losing 15-2 to the Yankees. I keep looking through Susan Slusser's recap and the box score trying to find some kind of silver lining. I think I've finally found it: I was at dinner late last night and missed the game. I think that's it. The only good thing about last night's game was that I didn't watch it.

With that said, it is only one game, and Barry Zito started slowly last year as well. As I pointed out last May, Zito started '05 by giving up 22 ER in his first 30 innings (6.60 ERA). In fact, Zito has a 5.22 career ERA in April against a 3.27 ERA in all other months. So, let's hope Zito gets these early-season jitters out of the way and settles in to another solid year.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Happy Frank = Smiles

Nice A'S NOTEBOOK today from Susan Slusser

"[Macha] was saying how loaded this team is and how tough it is finding at-bats for everyone,'' Thomas said. "The guy who's swinging the hot bat will probably decide things a lot, but I told him that playing two out of every three games or something like that is fine with me. Whatever he needs to do to keep guys fresh.''


That's just great. The big concerns with Frank Thomas are his health and his attitude. Given his mini-feud with his former GM in Chicago and history as an occassionally selfish player, it's comforting to see Thomas acting like a good team player.

Kendall a Hidden Gem?

Top A's newcomer? Don't forget Kendall / Catcher showing signs of making up for 2005

[Gerald] Perry, who was also Kendall's hitting coach at Pittsburgh, has been working with Kendall on staying short to the ball and standing back better -- Perry believes Kendall was rushing everything last year, which is the same problem Kendall had throwing the ball in 2005.

Kendall spent the winter working hard on his throwing, which was a problem area last year, and he has looked much improved, nailing a couple of would-be base stealers this spring. Manager Ken Macha called one of Kendall's throws this spring the best he's seen him make.

"Every part of his game looks better,'' said bench coach Bob Geren, who works closely with the catchers. "His arm strength, his footwork, his timing -- it just seems like everything is clicking. And offensively, he looks like he's going to have a great year.''


Two things here. (1) I don't think anyone's counting on Kendall improving much from last year. Any improvements could really help the A's separate themselves from the Angels. (2) I've heard nothing but good things about Perry as the new hitting coach - and it's not plattitudes from the players that have me excited. It just sounds like he knows what he's doing. I don't know whether he does or not, but the idea that he's "working with Kendall on staying short to the ball and standing back better" just makes me feel better.

Have I mentioned this yet: I'm feeling good about 2006.

Fantastic World Maps

Worldmapper: The world as you've never seen it before

"Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest."

There are 56 maps. Click thru to check out all the thumbnails. Fascinating stuff. What's with all the container ports in China?

(Thanks to Stephen Dubner for the link over on the Freakonomics Blog)

Baseball Crank's AL West Preview

Baseball Crank: BASEBALL: 2006 AL West EWSL Report

I'm not sure I see Oakland beating the Angels this year, but this is definitely a team that will make the race neck-and-neck, at least. Much will depend on the health of Milton Bradley and Frank Thomas and the sophomore progress of Haren, Blanton, Street, Nick Swisher and Dan Johnson.


First off, let me say that I love what the Crank is doing with ESWL. I think it's a great idea, and the execution constantly entertains. Thanks for putting in the work, Crank!

Getting to his comments about the A's, it sounds like the Crank is just reluctant to flat-out predict the A's as AL West champions. But in his heart of hearts, he believes. It's hard not to. The Angels look to be re-loading a bit this year, and the A's have (almost) all the pieces - a large handful of quality starters, a solid bullpen, excellent defense and a deep lineup. The superstar slugger is missing from the middle of the lineup, but there's just too much talent on the roster to let that get in the way.

I'm entering this season with high hopes. Let's go A's!

Baseball Musing's AL West Preview

Baseball Musings: AL West Preview

I like [the A's] a lot. They are a young team, but at the same time they have experience. If you look at the lineup, you expect most of the players to be on their way up. That's always a good thing.

The addition of the veterans is similar to the move the Cleveland Indians made in the mid 1990's. They developed a good young team, and when they were ready to win, Hart brought in Murray, Hershiser and Dennis Martinez to plug the holes with solid veterans. Bringing in Thomas, Bradley and Loaiza does the same thing for the A's.

The pitching and hitting were going to be better simply due to the maturation of the players. Actually bringing in good veterans should help even more. My guess is Oakland wins the division.


Good thoughts in there from David Pinto. Looking back a little further in the A's own history, these moves remind me of the Dave Parker and Harold Baines acquisitions in the late 80's. The A's had a strong pool of youngsters in back-to-back-to-back Rookies of the Year in Canseco, McGwire and Weiss -- adding those veteran bats helped the team make 'the leap' towards greatness.

Here's hoping Frank Thomas and Milton Bradley turn out as well.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Deee-licious

ESPN.com - INSIDER/BLOG/GAMMONS_PETER - GAMMONS_PETER BLOG

"Watching Frank Thomas in an A's uniform," said Beane, "is like having Mick Jagger sing at your wedding."

It's been quiet around these parts all throughout spring training. A few things have caught my eye, but nothing quite as much as this gem from Billy Beane. Needless to say, I'm very excited about the A's.

(...and if you haven't stopped by, please check out Baseball Crank's ESWL projections, starting with the AL East)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Nerd Heaven

Web 2.0 or Star Wars Quiz

(I got 32 out of 43 correct)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Nobody Home

Robert Wilson asks, "Is Anyone Home at HotJobs?"

My guess is "no". The entire Product department has been turned over since I left HotJobs two years ago, and virtually everyone in the Marketing department jumped ship (or was forced out?) within the last three months, as I understand it.

Like Marc said,

...it's sad that the energy and optimism of this e-mail haven't been justified by subsequent events. HotJobs has dropped to a distant third. 9 out of 11 of the top people at HotJobs were gone within 6 months, and the remaining stragglers have now left. And the place has lost that old HOTJ feeling -- the manic, exuberant, juvenile atmosphere of "hey, let's put on an internet company!"

I had drinks with one of the new HotJobbers the other night, and none of the history has been passed down. None of the tradition, none of the pride or legacy, none of the crazy celebrations, none of the misguided sense that we deserved to be #1. And so it's sad to see that loss. Because what's been lost isn't just the spirit of HotJobs, but a beautiful, inspiring example of the entrepreneurial best in all of us.

And for that, we are all the poorer.


I hope I'm wrong, but it looks like Yahoo's just letting HotJobs die.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Bonds - Still a Hall of Famer

Baseball Toaster : Mike's Baseball Rants : Grin and Barry

[Barry] Bonds will now be asterisked and marginalized to death. Never mind that the man already had 411 home runs, 8 All-Star appearances, and three MVPs before he started taking steroids after 1998, when the writers allege that he started roiding. He was already a Hall of Famer, but now that will be forgotten.


That's an excellent point. A co-worker of mine wrote a paper, Modeling Election to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame through the use of Genetic Algorithms in which he established that a player must meet 14 of 19 possible criteria (all listed in this post).

Based on those rules, Bonds became a Hall of Famer at the end of the 1997 season, after he'd hit 355 HR, scored 1145 Runs and brought his postseason slugging percent above .269 - And of course, that's before Bonds started 'roiding, allegedly.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Bonds & Steroids

SI.com - MLB - Shadows reveals truth behind Barry Bonds' steroid use - Tuesday March 7, 2006 1:57PM

Beginning in 1998 with injections in his buttocks of Winstrol, a powerful steroid, Barry Bonds took a wide array of performance-enhancing drugs over at least five seasons in a massive doping regimen that grew more sophisticated as the years went on, according to Game of Shadows, a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters at the forefront of reporting on the BALCO steroid distribution scandal.


Barry Bonds is royally F-ed. I think we all knew this to be true in our heart of hearts, but seeing it laid out like this is something else. Bud Selig has to do something when faced with this information. This is no Jose Canseco tell-all

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Fantastic Baseball Salary Applet

Marc forwards this fantastic tool. View salary by team, by player, highlight by position. Great way to see who's spending money and on whom.

(Can you call it a cartogram? I'm reminded of the great cartograms following the '04 election: Alternate views of the electoral map)

So, what does it say about the A's? Each of the following groups looks to be about even, salary-wise, at roughly $10 million (forgive my aggressive rounding):

Group 1 - Jason Kendall
Group 2 - Kotsay and Zito
Group 3 - Eric Chavez
Group 4 - Loaiza and Payton
Group 5 - Bradley, Ellis, Kennedy and Kielty
Group 6 - Witasick, Harden, Calero, Crosby, Haren, Frank Thomas, Melhuse, Dan Johnson, Blanton, Duchscherer, Ron Flores, Chad Gaudin, Antonio Perez, Marco Scutaro, Huston Street, Swisher and Matt Watson

It's fascinating to see the allocation of resources, the tremendous cost of Kendall and the great values found in the 63% of the team receiving only 17% of the money. Also funny to see the A's total payroll graphically lined up against the Yankees starting infield - well really just A-Rod, Jeter and Giambi, who earn the same $60 million that the entire A's team will earn this year.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Presentation Zen

There were a few confused giggles in this morning's company-wide meeting about an anonymous "Zen Presentation" comment. Well, here's the backstory: Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic.

The whole Presentation Zen website is fantastic and well worth the read.

UPDATE: I couldn't help myself - had to start poking around on the site, and found a link to this - Apple Keynote Bloopers.

Hoping for Sanity

Irate White Sox G.M. calls Big Hurt ‘idiot’ - Baseball - MSNBC.com

Angry and disgusted with the latest comments from former slugger Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams fired back Sunday, calling the two-time MVP “an idiot.”


This is old news to the fans by now, and I hope Frank is over it too. The Oakland A's need a relaxed, focused Frank Thomas, not a brooding headcase. So, I hope we've gotten this all out of our system and we're ready for a good, clean, healthy year of A's baseball. (And Frank, don't get Milton Bradley riled up - we need him to stay calm too.)

NFL Wonderlic

One of my first posts on this site was about Akili Smith's wonderlic prowess, so it warmed my heart to see more buzz this weekend around Vince Young's alleged 6(!) on the test.

Setting The Vince Young Record Straight - Deadspin

All the buzz yesterday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis... involved a supposed score of “6” by Texas quarterback Vince Young on his Wonderlic test.


Makes me wonder, though, if this Wonderlic test is really all it's cracked up to be. If it's so easily scored incorrectly and an individual's scores can vary so wildly (Akili allegedly scored 13, 37 and 27 in his three attempts), I just don't think I can trust it. If someone took the SAT's three times, I'd expect their scores to at least be in the same ballpark - so why is the NFL using a test that's so imprecise? And why aren't they using an automated scoring machine like a scantron?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Entrepreneurial Vision

OnlyOnce: Memory Lane or Dark Alley?

At the same time, it was pretty painful to look at some of our original projections for market size and of course business size -- not to mention some of the marketing efforts, Powerpoint templates, logos, and names that fell by the wayside.


That's Matt Blumberg, CEO of ReturnPath, talking about the unpredictable evolution of a start-up. As I approach my two-year anniversary as a full-timer here at TheLadders, Matt's post is particularly interesting, in part because our experience at TheLadders, the definitive source for executive jobs, has been different. We've had our fair share of silly ideas and bad designs, but we've gotten the big stuff right. Marc's original powerpoint from July of 2003 is shockingly similar to our current business.

(Thanks to fellow upper-westsider Fred for the link to Matt)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Good Tidings

Please stop by and offer a hearty welcome to blogging newcomer, friend and coworker mrshafrir. Here's his first post.

And reminiscing, my first post from November 2003. "Is this thing on?" is a strangely popular first post in these parts.

Anyway, I look forward to many mrshafrir postings popping up in my bloglines feeds. Happy internetting!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nothing says "HR" like "Get Laid, Stay Paid"

As I understand it, the business model over at SimplyHired is to attract job seekers to the site (mostly by scraping jobs off the internet and surrounding them with "web 2.0" tools) and then essentially re-sell that traffic to corporate HR types. Today, most of the ads are from Google, but the long term play is to get recruiters bidding on keywords like "software engineer" directly on SimplyHired's own system.

So, if your plan is to reach out to corporate HR people, wouldn't it make sense to have a site that shows you understand them?

Then why in the world are you promoting "GET LAID, STAY PAID" on the
Simply Fired blog? I just visited the site and was greeted with the following: "FIRED for eating out with the boss' daughter" and "I walked in on my boss while he was having sex with one of my co-workers. He fired me..."

This kind of stuff might entertain the job seeker, but I suspect corporate HR folks are not going to identify with this. This disconnect between business model and brand smells like trouble for SimplyHired.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Office Romance Anyone?

Workplace romance no longer gets the kiss-off - Yahoo! News

Forty percent of employees reported being involved in [an office] romance at some point in their careers, says a poll conducted jointly by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and CareerJournal.com, TheWall Street Journal's online career site.


Nothing perks up a Friday morning like the whiff of an office romance. Thanks to Yahoo, USA Today, SHRM and CareerJournal for brightening my morning.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Gammons Thanks Bloggers

ESPN.com - Gammons: Clubs looking for bullpen stability (Insiders Only?)

There cannot be a better, more thoughtful Internet journal than "Baseball Prospectus," which has the invaluable and unique resource of Will Carroll's "Under the Knife," bookmarked by every front office and media member. "Hardball Times" is daily must-reading, as well as "Baseball Analysts" and the "Baseball Think Factory." Now there are countless blogs, none better than David Pinto's "Baseball Musings," which also provide several significant tools.

To Joe Sheehan, Lee Sinins, David Pinto, Ron Shandler, Rob Neyer, all those tireless bloggers, thanks. You make my job far easier, and far more interesting. And changed the way we look at the game.


Great of Gammons to give some credit to the crowd, but odd that ESPN didn't link to any of the sites...

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Pixar - A Model Business

How Pixar Adds a New School of Thought to Disney - New York Times (registration required)

We've made the leap from an idea-centered business to a people-centered business. Instead of developing ideas, we develop people. Instead of investing in ideas, we invest in people. We're trying to create a culture of learning, filled with lifelong learners. It's no trick for talented people to be interesting, but it's a gift to be interested. We want an organization filled with interested people. -Randy Nelson, Pixar


That's a great way to look at building a successful business. Thanks to Sheila for forwarding the article along. I hope we can eventually look back on our time here at TheLadders as time well spent with interested people, not just time spent building the job search for executives.

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Best College QB You've Never Heard Of

I'm hip to this jive, but I can't imagine the general public is ready for this.

However, this I'm pretty sure about: Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt is the best quarterback available for the NFL draft come April.

I am not alone. A bunch of NFL scouts are whispering the same thing during Senior Bowl week in Mobile, Ala. Some of those even will put out some "negatives" on Cutler deliberately in hopes that he'll drop a little in the draft. It's not going to work.


-Chris Mortensen (ESPN Insiders only)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Big Hurt - Almost an Athletic

ESPN.com - MLB - Sources: Athletics, Thomas close to agreement on deal

"The Oakland Athletics and longtime Chicago White Sox slugger Frank Thomas are on the verge of agreeing to a deal"

Thanks to Stad for the link. He and I are both very excited for the 2006 A's. With better luck on the health front this year, they are playoff bound. Bring on Spring Training!

Reach an Actual Person

IVR Cheat Sheet(tm) by Paul English

Sports Illustrated
800-284-8800
0,0,0,0 (ignore ""invalid entry"" messages)

Pure genius. Thanks to Kottke for the link.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Horrible NFL Officiating Continues

As has been well-documented elsewhere (here, for one), the officiating in this year's NFL playoffs has been pretty poor. I'm watching the Steelers-Broncos game right now, and the Steelers just had a Jerome Bettis touchdown called back on an illegal formation penalty. The official said that Hines Ward lined up on the line of scrimmage outside the tight end, so the formation was illegal. That's just a bad call.

Here's what the NFL rulebook has to say: "Offensive team must have at least seven players on line." AT LEAST seven players. There's nothing barring them from having eight players on the line of scrimmage, as the Steelers did on the Bettis touchdown.

The only problem with "covering" the tight end is that the TE is no longer an eilgible receiver on that play. (Rulebook again: "Eligible receivers on the offensive team are players on either end of line (other than center, guard, or tackle) or players at least one yard behind the line at the snap.") But the touchdown came on a running play - whether you're an eligible receiver is irrelevant.

That is a horrible call. Fortunately, the Steelers scored another touchdown immediately thereafter, so the refs are off the hook. I'm curious to see if we can get a Joey Porter quote out of this...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Release Point Consistency From BaseballAnalysts.com

I found Jeff Sullivan’s post yesterday on Baseball Analysts quite interesting: A Quantitative Approach to Studying Release Point Consistency

We know an awful lot about pitchers. We know how hard they throw, how many batters they strike out, what kinds of pitches they have, and whether their deliveries are fluid and easy or violent and rough. This is all objective and indisputable information that has a lot of value when it comes to projecting a pitcher's future health and success.

One thing we don't know much about, though, is the consistency of a pitcher's release point. The fact that we don't have a good way of measuring what's arguably the most important part of being a good pitcher is one of the more ironic twists of modern analysis. Sure, you can look at a bad curveball and say "he let go too early" or "he held on too long," but that's just one of a few thousand pitches that the guy's going to throw all year, so it doesn't tell you very much. What we need is a way to quantify the extent to which release points varies over a larger period of time for different pitchers.


I took a couple courses on digital signal processing in college. We worked mostly with audio, which only has one dimension, but many of the same techniques would likely work with two-dimensional images.

With the right person doing the programming, you could analyze each photo, normalize for zoom and pinpoint the location of the ball automatically. Not sure how you would normalize for differing CF camera angles from game to game, but it could probably be done.

Separately, I wonder how the study might be affected by the pitcher’s positioning on the rubber? Jeff, if you read this, did you notice whether the pitchers tended to start from the same spot on the mound over the course of a game?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Baseball Decision Maker

I'm not sure this tool makes any intuitive sense, and there's no way Grady Little would use this... But it looks kinda interesting: http://www.visual-io.com/baseball/

The tough part is that you can never go back and compare what the results would have been if you had made a different decision. So you'll never be able to test whether the Manager's gut feeling or the tool's suggestion is a better choice, will you?

(Thanks to marc for the link. And now marc, I'm getting to work.)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Another Timesink

jay is games: Cubefield

"simple but highly addictive"

Absolutely. My high score after a few minutes is 217,005. Scanning through the comments on jayisgames, I'm merely a novice.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

That's It?

Study: 7 Percent of Workers Drink on Job - Yahoo! News

"Just over 7 percent of American workers drink during the workday — mostly at lunch — and even more, 9 percent, have nursed a hangover in the workplace, according to a study."

Only nine percent of American workers have nursed a hangover in the workplace? That sounds preposterously low. I suppose I don't know that many people, but damn near 100% of them have gone to work with a hangover. I'm going to go out on a limb and say this study is just plain wrong.