Sporcle of the Week: 2009 Yankees

My Giants got crushed today, so nostalgia pushed me toward the 2009 Yankees Sporcle: Name every player that played at least one game for the Yankees in 2009.

Two or three years ago I may have gotten 100%, but I’ll settle for 25 out of 45.

SPORCLE OF THE WEEK: 2009 YANKEES

To me, this World Series will forever be known as the one that saved me from a year of annoying Phillies fans. Rowan University was a good choice 🙂

Calling all poker fans

Right now I’m watching this great heads up battle between Martin Staszko and Pius Heinz. Chip leads have flip flopped back and forth multiple times. I believe both players have had a 2:1 chip count during this heads up battle (not official but it has been close).

A misconception about poker is it’s all about luck. I forgot where, but I once heard poker is 10% luck and 90% knowing how to play it.

I would consider myself an average poker player. I have a moderate knowledge of the game. If you want to compete with the professionals of the game, you need to analyze every player’s bodily movement, the timing of every bet, betting patters, mannerisms.

The best poker players share the minds of the best chess players. Both games measure your ability to foresee one step ahead of your opponent. As you get more skilled at seeing into the future you move up in the worldwide rankings.

What I’m watching right now is a match between two very good poker minds. You don’t beat over 6,000 people by accident, although with all the amateurs in the field I wouldn’t be as surprised.

I’ve seen stone cold bluff five-bet, I’ve seen great value bets paid off, I’ve seen pocket aces, pocket kings, and suited Big Slick.

All in an effort to win the $8+ million dollars grilling them no more than a yard away.

On a separate note, I give a lot of credit to Lon McHeren and Norman Chad. Live, Chad doesn’t sound like a side-show clown. It’s nice to see his personality. McHeren really knows a lot about the game. He’s been dead-on most of the time. I’d expect Antonio Esfandiari to be a little more than just another voice. His reads have been way off today. I believe it was a board of 5-5-J-A or something similar. Esfandiari said something like, “With this bet he’s representing either a five or a jack….he also may have the Ace….He could have a smaller pocket pair or he could simply be on a stone cold bluff.” He literally had listed every possibility.

I digress. Announcing poker for hours on end is not an easy job. I announce the Rowan football games, and you have to have a lot of information prepared because there’s a lot of down time in between plays. Announcing poker is as slow paced at announcing your Grandma Rose knit a sweater.

“Ooh… what color will she go with here Rich?”

“I don’t know Donnie, I’m thinking green or a teal complement. It would contrast brilliantly against the maroon.”

But the poker broadcast booth is good! It’s also nice that you see the whole cards. Personally, I would not like that if I was heads-up. In poker you never get to see most of your opponent’s hands. In this set up you can see all of them. On the highest scale in poker, I think it should remain as pure as the game always is.

But then again seeing whole cards brings ratings – and that’s what it’s all about.

PS…this battle is still going on! Turn on ESPN because this has been a great match-up.

The Greatest Game Ever Played

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals. Three days ago I had zero vested interest in this World Series. Last night I found myself to getting frequent updates at work.

All things considered: late drama, perfect imperfections, a walk-off home run, a slugfest, the world series, etc., this game featured a concoction of rare attributes that made game six the best game ever played in professional baseball history.

No team within 1,000 miles of me was represented – no team I love was represented, no team I hate was represented. I was a TV station’s worst case scenario – the indifferent fan.

But then game six happened. What started as ambiance on my living room TV during a small social setting quickly became the center of attention. What started as “Oh, at least it’s a good game,” became, “No, we’re not leaving until this game is over.”

Two separate times I sat watching the soon-to-be final strike, waiting for Neftali Feliz or Scott Feldman to induce a ground ball or throw strike three, waiting for “…and the Texas Rangers are your World Champions.”

…and then they weren’t.

Lance Berkman’s hit in the tenth pumped adrenaline through me reminiscent of what I felt when Matsui’s single of Pedro knocked in two during 2009’s Game Six, or when A-Rod’s ’09 ALDS shot tied it up in the ninth. I all of a sudden wanted the Cardinals to win.

Many great games follow similar formulas: a great late comeback,  a slugfest, a pitchers duel, but this game had the “it” factor. It wasn’t just one comeback; it wasn’t your mundane slugfest.

Looking at only the game itself, similar games with this “it” factor were the Mets’ victory against the Braves on Independence Day in 1985 when pitcher Rick Camp, lifetime .074 batter, hit his only career home run with two outs in the 18th to send the game further into the night. And that was after the Braves came back with four runs in the 8th, the Mets with one in the ninth, and both teams with two in the 13th.

Games like July 1st, 2004 between the Yankees and Red Sox, where a rematch of the 2003 ALCS pitted rookie Brad Halsey against superstar Pedro Martinez. By the 13th, A-Rod was back at shortstop, the Red Sox were using five infielders, and Gary Sheffield was at third base for the first time in ten years because Derek Jeter’s kamikaze play in the 12th saved the game, yet forced him to leave.

Games with that little extra. They all have something you rarely see. The games where you need everybody.

This game had “it.”

Right off the bat (haha…) both teams scored in the first. Then the rare wheel play in the second forced the only 5-6-4 bunt-groundball-double play I’ve ever seen. Both teams traded errors in the fourth. Texas’ back to back home runs in the seventh broke a 4-4 tie, and later that inning sent out 24-year old starter Derek Holland out for his second inning of relief, and he was already the third starter to pitch for Texas.

Two improbable comebacks in consecutive innings gave me only a taste of what it would’ve been like if I was a Cardinals or Rangers fan. According to baseball-reference.com, after Ryan Theriot’s strikeout to leadoff the ninth, the Cardinals had a 4% to win the game (8% chance to tie it up). They did. Once Josh Hamilton hit his two-run homer in the tenth, the Cardinals had a 7% chance to win (14% chance to tie it up). They did.

I’m about to crunch some numbers. I apologize in advance.

8% in the ninth, 14% in the tenth, then once the game went into extras, lets assume both teams have a 50% chance to win.

.08 x .14 x .5 = .0056

I’m no baseball statistician, and this number is only a guesstimate, but I calculate the Cardinals had about a .6% chance to win this game after Theriot’s strike out. If the Cardinals and Rangers were to play 1,000 games starting with said strikeout, the Cardinals would win six times. Assuming each team had a 50% chance to win game seven, you saw something that happens three times out of 1,000.

And this was in a World Series.

Everything considered – from the errors, to the starting pitchers in relief, to the slugfest, to the late comebacks, to the World Series implications, you may never see a better baseball game in your lifetime. Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals and their fans. I’m incredibly jealous of you.