Nationals Baseball: Holiday Q&A 2 : The HoliDay After

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Q&A 2 : The HoliDay After

Ok so the Nats related stuff is still going on over here. Any non-Nats or non-baseball stuff can be asked over here. I'll be checking this through Christmas and come back with something new the 26th or 27th barring some big move that I have to talk about so feel free to ask away.

Do you have any new terrible Christmas movie recommendations/reviews?

Oh god yes!  Since Thanksgiving I've added about 15-20 new XMas movies to the list of ones I've seen. Mostly new ones but some old ones, and of course I've watched some returning classics. I'll hold off on any reviews as that could take up pages and hours. Instead I might live-tweet a day and night of watching nothing but Holiday movies.

I'll recommend a few but note that these are recommendations based on knowing what you are getting into here. These movies aren't fighting for an Oscar here. In terms of new movies "Married by Christmas" on the UP channel, which my cable guide assures me is a real thing, is probably the best one I've seen this year. It is completely shoehorned into the Christmas movie genre as the plot doesn't need to revolve around it but that'll happen. What is enjoyable about it, and probably biases me toward it, is it goes for actual laughs rather than the "A reindeer ate my hat!" kind of laughs that usually pepper these types of movies. I'm not saying it's a laugh riot. It's a generic sitcom. But in a world of romance movies aimed toward 40 year old housewives that's a big difference.  The best generic one I watched this year, was actually a 2015 premiere I think "Sound of Christmas" on the Hallmark channel. If you want to just hit all the notes of this type of movie this is a fine example of the form. If you've seen that and want something new that fits the bill "My Christmas Dream" (not to be confused with the also new and also acceptable "A Dream of Christmas") with Danica McKellar would be my recommendation.  Sometimes people you recognize from other stuff are just cashing those checks, but the stalwarts of the genre, your Chaberts, your Witts, your Cameron-Bures aren't. McKellar falls in this latter category. 

To avoid? Assuming for you it's not "ALL OF THESE HARPER!" I've got a couple. Speaking of cashing checks, Eric McCormack and Kristin Davis do nothing for nobody in "Heavenly Christmas". The "Christmas with the Andersons" movie was unwatchable and coming from me, that's something. If you want to watch a BAD Christmas movie that's fun for being terrible, Haylie Duff's "Christmas Belle" is delightfully stilted, overacted, and filled with shirtless running.

Oh if you are into "movies normal people find watchable" here's a post I did a few years ago on what I watch of those.

Yankees were pretty good post trade deadline. Do they have a shot at second place in the division? 

The Yankees have two issues. They weren't all that good last year. There are three other teams in the division were. Let's talk about the latter.  The Red Sox have lost Ortiz but gained Sale and all those young guys have another year under their belt. It would be surprising if the Yankees can catch them given the gap in talent set up.  The Orioles are a mirage managed by a quality manager. Unless Dylan Bundy becomes an ace it's hard to see where they've improved on last year and Jones and Davis could easily be falling into oblivion.  They should be .500+, 81-84 range.  The Blue Jays will lose Encarnacion and Dickey but the latter wasn't that important last year and you get the feeling they can make up the former. It's hard to believe their pitching will be better though as they were best in the AL last year. They'll probably be in the 84-87 range.

That gives the Yankees one or two more games to win - if they are better. But are they? They got some 2nd half performances that won't be repeated (Sanchez and Billy Butler hitting like .350!) and lost Beltran but I'd still expect the offense to be a tick better as they introduce some young blood into the lineup, bring in Holliday to just hit, and hopefully have some better health. But they were 12th in RS in the AL last year so a tick means only maybe average at best. So the pitching will have to carry them. The bullpen should be great again - Chapman, Betances (not closing), MLBs greatest middle reliever every Tyler Clippard.  So the question comes down to the starting pitching. Tanaka is good enough to be your #1.  Sabathia has learned how to effectively eat innings now. If Pineda or Severino can make a star turn the Yankees have a shot. If not, I just don't see how they don't get stuck where the Os will probably be. That leaves 2nd place possible if the Jays falter or the Red Sox surprisingly fall but not likely and probably not enough wins for a WC in any case.

Didn't the wedding coincide with NatsFest? Do you think most or all Nats were invited to Bryce's wedding, or just his good friends?  

No he got married - seems like the 16th. Winterfest was the previous weekend. It interfered with a Duke UNLV game which is why Bryce wasn't there (and wedding planning - sure). I'd guess just good friends were invited out but not everyone. It's like giving out rings - where do you draw the line?

Recommend an introductory volume or two on baseball analytics for those, such as myself, who are stats curious, but not SAS programmer-types. Thanks? 

 OK I have an answer. People seem to like "Baseball Between the Numbers", "The Book:  Playing the Percentages" and I've seen a couple recommened "Understanding Sabermetrics" 

What is your favorite Christmas Carol?

Straight up "carol"... I do love the urgency of "Carol of the Bells" but the Trans-Siberian Orchestra version has kind of ruined it? I mean I kind of like that song while acknowledging it's too much. A well sung "O Holy Night" can be super powerful but it needs a great voice behind it. So I'll go with the jaunty "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

For songs... I mean there are so many good ones. The solid swing of "Let it Snow" (Vaughn Monroe version please) The joyous bombast of "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year". The longing soul of "Please Come Home for Christmas" The creepy fun of "Zat you Santa Claus". The Elvis-ness of "Blue Christmas" I could make a top 10 list - so I will. But I already know #1. The simple straight forward "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" - Burl Ives version - album Burl Ives not shortened Rudolph Burl Ives.  There's just a touch of mischeviousness in it that appeals to me so much.

Can I pretend that Star Wars 7 and Rogue One are Christmas movies?


Have the Nationals been trying to sell the naming rights to Nats Park?

Yes. They kind of made on and off gestures early on probing the market but didn't like what they found. They made it known last year that they now were definitely looking to sell them again. What's the hold up? I assume what holds up all Nats deals. They have a set value in mind and aren't looking to go much under that. It may seem small but if you think you can get 10 mill a year and someone is offering you 7 - these are usually 10+ year deals. That's 30 million you cost yourself. So in theory you can wait 4 years before you'd start to "lose" money by have not taking that deal. (Sort of - it's all a rich tapestry of when the deal ends and other deals changing market etc)

My guess right now is too is that the digital billboard thing will have to be settled before they sell.  Right now the council approved them - but not as many or on as long as the Nats wanted. They may try again? Sue? Who knows? They really have to sell this year though because a big ad thing - the All-Star game - is set for 2018. Once that is past the deal loses value. So don't expect to be going to Nationals Park on Opening Day 2018.

Would you rather have a crazy, win at all costs owner of the Nats (think Dan Snyder) or an owner that tries to run the franchise in a more respectful/classy way (aka Lerner's)?

I'm going to choose the latter, but it's not a slam dunk.  I think the key word in the whole question is "crazy". This to me signifies, much like it has with Snyder, that the guy doesn't have a good idea on how to translate his money and effort into wins. He puts too much stock in his own opinions, doesn't hire the right people, etc. A guy like this is just as likely to drive the team into the ground for half a decade as he is to make a couple years of runs into the playoffs.

Throwing money around (in baseball*) IS very effective. In my opinion most of us could create a "winner" with just an unlimited payroll and a fair sense of the game. But that just means being over .500.  Getting to playoffs regularly takes some skill. Getting to the playoffs as a favorite even more. So unless I can confirm that the win at all costs guy isn't an idiot - give me the latter group

*Baseball's salary structure lends itself to being able to bludgeon your way to over .500 with money. NFL does not.  Instead money in the NFL seems to create a floor around 5 wins. It's hard to be truly terrible by spending a lot.


JD said...

Yankees were pretty good post trade deadline. Do they have a shot at second place in the division?

PotomacFan said...

Do you think most or all Nats were invited to Bryce's wedding, or just his good friends? Loved the pictures of a non-smiling Jayson Werth. Was not surprised that the DC Strangler was not there. Was surprised the Ian Desmond was there. And I admit that this is all kind of silly. But then, sports is entertainment, no?

JD said...

Didn't the wedding coincide with NatsFest?

Josh Higham said...

Tidbit of Mormon knowledge that relates to the WinterFest no-show: Before you can be married in a Mormon/LDS temple, you've got to participate in a ceremony called the endowment. Rule of thumb is that people under 25 only participate in that ceremony if they serve missions (not Bryce) or get married. In the latter case, the endowment usually takes place about a week before the wedding. If Bryce and Kayla both got endowed on the Saturday before the wedding in San Diego, he would have been legitimately committed weeks or months in advance. (source: my own endowed, temple married self)

Since Bryce has shown in the past that he doesn't really care about WinterFest, it would surprise me zero to learn that he scheduled it deliberately to conflict. It was probably an accident, but it wouldn't be in character to change his plans for an event he doesn't want to go to.

Harper said...

Josh Higham - Fair enough - does it take two days?

Bryceroni said...

What is your favorite Christmas Carol?

JD said...

About Christmas movies. Can I pretend that Star Wars 7 and Rogue One are Christmas movies? Especially since it looks like Disney is going to make it a Christmas tradition to release a movie every December.

1natsfan said...

Have the Nationals been trying to sell the naming rights to Nats Park?

Josh Higham said...

@Harper, nah. Single day. Bryce absolutely could have gone to part of winterfest if he'd wanted to. Ultimately the only real reason he wasn't there is going to boil down to "I didn't feel like it." But one day at least he had a legitimate religious reasons not to be there.

Wookiee of the Year said...

Re: "Recommend an introductory volume or two on baseball analytics for those, such as myself, who are stats curious, but not SAS programmer-types."

I still think "Baseball Between the Numbers" ( from Baseball Prospectus holds up as the best introductory volume on sabermetrics/analytics on the market.

blovy8 said...

I believe there is a mystery science theater 3000 aspect to the viewing of these movies. Yuletide, you'll cry, you'll wish you had more bourbon, when Lacey Sherbet's Maybellene contract is somehow broken just one week before Christmas!

Harper said...

I love calling her Lacey Sherbet as much as I like calling him Matthew Mahagony.

Jay said...

Everyone knows that ridiculous sports discussions come up every year at various family holiday get togethers. One came up at ours. It's sort of loosely based on two of the Washington area teams. Would you rather have a crazy, win at all costs owner of the Nats (think Dan Snyder) or an owner that tries to run the franchise in a more respectful/classy way (aka Lerner's)? You might win a WS sooner with the crazy owner, but he may churn through players and treats other poorly. The Lerners have built a very good team, but they don't sign every big free agent or make huge trades. Anyway, it pains me to write this bc I have complained about the Nats lack of getting Sale or McCutcheon this year, but I prefer the Lerners style of ownership.

John C. said...

Jay, the ownership question is an easy one, simply because the "crazy, win at all costs" ownership doesn't really work. Snyder is just one obvious example. A lot of people hold up the Yankees' George Steinbrenner as the counter, but I will note that there is a solid argument that the most successful Yankee teams were built while George was out of the picture. In the 1970's Gabe Paul built the core of the 1976-1981 dynasty while George was in jail for campaign finance crimes. Then George took over and the Yankees spent a pile of money and won bupkiss for over a decade. George gets suspended from baseball for hiring a known gambler to spy on his own player (Dave Winfield) and Gene Michael builds the core of the 1995-2003 dynasty. Another bout of big spending George keeps the team in the playoffs, but no titles until 2009. Which I would argue was largely the result of George's failing health keeping him from meddling with Brian Cashman. Fortunately for those who hate the Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner has also shown distinct meddling tendencies (remember the Soriano press conference, where Cashman essentially said "it's not my fault!").

There are many examples of activist owners that have mismanaged their franchises. Steady ownership is a key to success.

PotomacFan said...

Off-topic (and back to baseball): any chance the LA Angels will take RZim? Move Pujols to DH. Angels have already taken Espinosa and Revere. We've got one more guy we need to unload. (I'm not being serious here, but one can always hope. That said, it's hard to be angry at RZim, who was the very likable face of the Nationals since the franchise moved to DC, and he provided the Nats with many years of very good baseball.)

Harper said...

JC - George was suspended (never in jail) for basically just the 1975 season, Paul made several key trades during that time but it was the combination of those moves, guys in place before, and money spent by George (Catfish, Reggie, Gossage) that made the team winners. And while his money never got them a championship after 81 to the next suspension it almost always kept them in contention including a 97 win season. You can piece together a way they could have been better during that time without crazy spending - but it takes near perfect vision on who to trade for, who not to give up and who to sign. Now it did culminate in the crash of the team in 1989 which could have been avoided but now you are talking about a time when George was being pulled away. It's doubtful he would have allowed the team to crater. Does that mean the Core 4 never develop? Perhaps, perhaps not. You probably lean toward at least one of them being traded but then you probably have another signing. Strawberry? Bonilla? You are also poo-pooing a decade long run of success that would have amounted to a couple more playoff appearances at least in the modern format.

After that things get more stable - George cam e back in 93 and basically allowed things to develop as they were, sure post 2003 they don't get to a series until 2009 but they were in the playoffs which I think you've argued before is the point.

I think the lesson is successful teams are generally built by a mix of factors. Most sensibly letting a good GM do their job then having an ownership that allows them the funds to compete for the last couple pieces they need is arguably the best method. You can though spend yourself into some level of constant success but each successive win is more and more expensive so it's hard to spend yourself into constant division championships, and the playoffs are random enough that it's impossible to spend yourself into a series. You can maximize your chances (and sometimes you should - just getting in and getting in as a favorite is an important distinction) but that's it

John C. said...

The 1970's team was Gabe Paul's team - the 1975 pennant proved that they could win without George's flash. Reggie was a major add, of course, but Gossage wasn't even there for the 1977 World Series title (I'll never forget Sparky Lyle's magnificent multi-inning relief effort in WS Game One in back of Don Gullet). Hunter was a mainstay of the rotation but after 1975 was never the "ace" (even in 1977, that title properly went to Guidry). Martin pretty much blew Hunter's arm out in 1975, pitching him an amazing (even then) 328 innings. In the field, the core of that team was Nettles, Rivers, Munson, Randolph (all of whom finished with more rWAR than Jackson; Jackson was second behind Nettles and just ahead of Rivers, Munson and Randolph by fWAR) and the ever-underappreciated Roy White. Even beyond them, players like Lou Pinella and Bucky Dent were more than solid contributors. Jackson got all of the headlines and adulation, but IMHO the Big Stein's impact was overrated.

Yeah, I am discounting an era from 1982-1992 when the Yankees might have won a couple of wild cards in the current format. Overall they won 97 games in 1985, but just in the AL East finished 2nd twice, 3rd twice, 4th once, 5th three times, and 7th once during that time span. Given the amount of money they were pouring into their team compared with the rest of the league, that's a shockingly bad return on investment. They weren't pouring money out to go from good to great, they were pouring money out so they could vary between lousy and mediocre. Getting George out of the picture is what enabled the team to build the 1996-2001 dynasty and the essential core of the team that lingered through the rest of the aughts (although your point about the aughts generally is fair; the Yankees won a spitload of games and made the playoffs every year until 2008). But think about the "Core Four" or even the position players around them - Williams, Martinez, O'Neill, Brosius.

I'd argue that the team has actually been worse than it's record the past three years thanks to Joe Girardi. Again, the payroll is misleading because the talent isn't really there. They've managed win totals in the mid 80's despite being significantly outscored in three of the past four seasons. How Girardi does it I just don't know - but almost no one notices because of the payroll.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this a Nats blog?

John C. said...

^^^Reading comprehension not your thing, eh?

Anonymous said...

...and a Happy New Year to you too John C!

John C. said...

Fair enough :D Happy New Year to all!