Monthly Archives: May 2016

Pitcher morphology:  It’s a lucky sperm thing

Freshman pitching prodigy at Fridley.  He’s gone 9-0 on the year, thrown a couple no-hitters.

http://www.startribune.com/fridley-s-evan-shaw-is-freshman-pitching-wizard/381214551/

Yeah, he’s a prodigy alright, he’s really mastered some finer points at a young age….

Two weeks ago in my 35+ game we played a guy who I had encountered ten years ago in the ‘real’ amateur league and a couple other places.  Then as a young man this guy truly threw about 90.  A) he told everyone he threw 90, he had been doing the tryout camp circuit, had been radar timed  B) I caught him in a fall league game and he gave me a palm bruise that lasted for months w/ the pony league mitt I was using C) he struck out a lot of guys.  Ergo, he threw 90, I’m sure he wasn’t BSing.

So we have this game two weeks ago, I guess he’s 36, and he still threw very hard.  Wasn’t hard enough that I was confused into swinging at terribly bad pitches… I laid off the neck high stuff.  But he put it down the middle at the naval and it was in the glove as my bat is going over the plate.  Still better than an 85mph fastball I’d think, too fast for me.  Also got me on a juco quality curveball I had no chance at, didn’t know if I was on foot or horseback there…

Throwing always was my favorite physical activity, and it remains as I get older…In 2016 we got all this knowledge on pitcher kinesiology, and I’ve read it… so I looked at this guy to observe his somewhat elite ‘kinetic chain’ as they say…. And that’s not really what I saw.

Oh, I know the good kinetic chain is there, because the speed means it’s there…. Just like the astronomer knows the dog star is X light years away because of parallax. But I am not seeing the kinetic chain on this dad-bodish 36 year old, whose motion was actually kinda ponderous.

What jumps out at me is an extreme limberness of the shoulder joint that not a lot of people (guys) have that makes for an elite explosiveness of that to-the-plate ‘trebuchet’ action.

First time I ever saw this on someone who could really throw was with the current Fridley phenom’s uncle, the Dennis mentioned in the story, when he was at BSU.  He lived on same floor of dorm as freshman.  Good, affable guy.  He played home run derby with safety baseballs on the ‘quad’ with a couple of us just once I think in the fall of say ’88.

I was like… so that’s what a real fastball is….  He had been timed, and I recall him saying he threw 86 or so.  Well that’s what they call 91-92 now.  He went on to sign an undrafted contract with the Twins and had a couple good years in A ball, led Kenosha in saves once if I read BBref right.  He wouldn’t of if he didn’t throw over 90, the game hasn’t actually change that way, it’s just the radar algorithms that have.

So the 15 year old prodigy…  I think there’s kind of an untruthfulness in these articles when they imply some kind of mastery has been attained, thus leading to…. ‘success!’.  That’s not it, you can’t put a toothpick skinny 15 year old on the mound and think his ‘mastery’ has a fighting chance to defeat 18 year olds.

What he’s got is precocious speed.  I’ve understood the ‘no-hitters in high school’ threshold to be about 90 mph, just below maybe.  That’s where the kid is.  At 15.

He didn’t work his way into that, its riding around on a gene.  Article does give a proper nod to the notion of ‘heritability’ there, mentioning Dennis and the grandpa.  The kid’s youth and his fastball proves it.

I’d just take the moment of this example to go further, and say that with the pitcher, it’s always that, ie having inherited a shoulder with a certain ability for motion.  I have really heard of no fella who actually worked up to a pro-arm.  It hurts trying to throw that hard when you are not actually capable of it.

Conservative outrage du jour: Katie Couric’s lying anti-gun documentary

Not just conservatives actually.  There are some good journalism types who call foul:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2016/05/25/audiotape-katie-couric-documentary-falsely-depicts-gun-supporters-as-idiots/

I’m sure Couric regards it as a noble lie eh.  I got a functional fixation with the noble lie right.  Be that as it may…. I think it’s legitimately observed as almost wholly a Democrat / liberal phenomena, cuz the party / activist platform there is always a bit at odds with electoral politics, ie, to left of popular thought.  So they lie, and justify that with a rationalization that it’s OK to lie to advance the egalitarian agenda cuz people will be better for it and like it once it is enacted… ya know, ends justifies the means, and noble lies are no biggie right, we’re not talking about putting the Kulaks in train cars…. Just saying, I’d also assert I think rightly that the noble lie is totally out of control here in the Obama era.

Anyway, to have effect a noble lie can’t stink of this falsity that Couric’s does here.  And what I mean is… gunny people have an answer for everything.  On their topic they are probably the most well-versed people in the country (in contrast, liberal gun control people have a way of being very low-info on the actual subject matter).  There isn’t a question that will stupefy the gunny people like the film pretends.

My Marxist objection to the HS pitch count rule

I agree it’s bad to burn out young arms, but…..

http://bringmethenews.com/2016/05/24/minnesota-stepping-up-to-the-plate-to-protect-hurlers-with-pitch-count/

…such that this is supposed to protect for that, I think there’s kinda an awkward who / whom thing going on, to be Marxist about it, and I’m conflicted.

Understand some structural stuff…. quality competitive baseball is dependent on pitching, which might as well be a code word for ‘velocity’.  The speed of the baseball has a lot to do with the competitive challenge.  The velocity will vary from level to level, but how hard the other team’s guy throws and then how hard your team’s guy throws determines much.  What’s true is, no one’s looking for soft throwers eh.

In the pros, superficially it looks like ‘average fast’ is about 92 mph.  Those are elite athletes.

At the high school level, where non elite but nonetheless fit young men get to play, I’d guess ‘average fast’ is about 78 mph.  But ya know, you got a team of twenty or so, drawing from seniors and juniors and sophomores, there’s often like one guy, maybe two, who can throw pretty good, maybe get up to 84, 85…. And when these guys pitch, it dramatically improves the team’s competitive effort.

So what happens is these guys pitch a lot, they get ridden.  And they get sore arms (sometimes).  With the pitch count rules we’re talking about protecting from that overuse….

…. But we’re talking about protecting a certain kind of stud HS player actually, right (for whom the possibility of going pro is almost as small as anyone else’s….) … we don’t really care about the scrubeenies with the American Legion fastballs, not worried about protecting them, those guys will actually get to pitch more….

I just think there are some odd implications if you think about it.

Why Koufax and Kershaw are so similar….

You got this celebration that Kershaw is equaling Koufax’ unparalleled success 2 generations ago right… and we’re all stat heads, so there is this great delight in comparing their stats, which are similar in ways ironic…….and also because they are both Dodgers. And their names are more than a bit similar in linguism….  And both left-handed, both 6 2ish, 6 3ish….

Start thinking about that morphology and go back and watch Koufax’ ’65 game 7 vs the Twins. To throw that 100mph fastball of his and get on top of the curveball like he did Koufax uniquely flexed his back I assert in excess of almost anyone who played in the pros, ever.  His raw stuff isn’t that unexplainable, he was doing something athletically no one else did (…Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson… also guys throwing the ball in ways no one else did…)

Kershaw … does exactly the same thing as Koufax’s singularly unique thing…. Kershaw’s back is a trebuchet, but I think no one has picked this out because he has a little bit of a hitch in his wind up.  Doesn’t matter, it’s the same ….

So you got a guy, Koufax, who had singular success with singularly unique pitcher morphology…. A certain height and raw strength and leverage and limberness.   And you got another guy, Kershaw, who has the same success 50 years later as a function of being blessed with identical pitcher morphology.

There’s a conclusion to be drawn from that.  Like, it’s not all random.   Or it is all random.  Pick one.  Or pick both.

Chait Stains:  (D) ex-presidents are popular, (GOP) ex-presidents are not

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/05/why-democrats-have-popular-presidents.html

I don’t buy this.

Yeah, W is not ‘popular’, but…

HW is reasonably popular, he could campaign for GOP candidates if he was ambulatory.

Reagan is popular, he could campaign for GOP candidates if he was alive.

Thing is Chait’s point is undermined by the small sample size problem.

MNLEG: 529 credit in the tax bill

College is expensive, I dread the expense for the kids but I am making a game effort in the preceding years here.  Been tuning up the kid’s 529Ks, so I was curious to see there is a 529 credit in the tax bill.

http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/journals/2015-2016/20160522106.pdf#page=321

Page 7530

Max of $500 credited against, I guess, your personal income balance owed, tabulated by calculating 529 contributions against somewhat arbitrary fractional multi-pliers that are stair stepped amongst some income boundaries.

The most generous multiplier there is .50 on the dollar (max of $500) available to those with an AGI of less than $80k.

Important question:  Do I get this?

Answer: maybe, I’m not sure I’ve had an AGI over $80 given standard deduction, med insurance premiums, 401k, etc., but it’s been close.

Anyway, I contribute $2500 a year into the kids 529’s.  .5 of $2500, is way over that $500, I’d max out there.  If I go into the next AGI bracket, $80k – $100k, the multiplier is .25.  I’m going to max out there too, it’s over $500.  So good, I get the credit.

Is it meaningful?  Yeah, kinda.  I got to think $500 is more than 10% of my typical state tax obligation.  Pretty generous there, to the point that I imagine this goes away if the state runs a deficit in the next couple years.

Skeptic:  The ‘Ferguson’ effect increased crime

The narrative has been essentially that BLM protests in the last year have caused police to dial back their policing in some ways, which has say removed the brake on some amount of crime that is otherwise bottled up.  Today’s article is in Vox, but this has been largely a conservative indictment against the BLM protest movement.

http://www.vox.com/2016/5/23/11722634/ferguson-effect-richard-rosenfeld

I don’t buy it… it would seem sensible that the police could cut out some of their abusive practices that BLM complains about without diminishing their ability to do meaningful crime interdiction.  Ya know, like the cop in Chicago that shot Laquon McDonald…. Not being able to shoot Laquon and have the rest of the precinct squad there lie about it in conspiracy, that doesn’t actually prevent those guys from doing good neighborhood police work amirite.

It’s BS.  We get ten years down the road on this, if there was a murder spike here… and there very well might be… The cause will probably be properly identifiable as economics / demographics, as always.