Nationals Baseball: February 2022

Monday, February 28, 2022

Monday Quickie - nothing quick about it

 Still negotiating with the CBT still being the sticking point.  The players basically caved already and said - we'll take very little improvements in a couple places and salary increases that don't even line up with revenue increases - and the owners said no.  I'm no longer optimistic this gets done but when the owners crack they tend to do it fast and hard.  Baseball players don't get paid but their pressure is their own. Owners pressure comes from a million different directions; advertisers, cable companies, streaming deals, retailers, and now importantly online gambling partners. They're coming for your thumbs, Monfort! Your thumbs! 

Today is a "deadline" day where they said they'll have to cancel Opening Day (they don't - though they still might). We ARE getting closer to not having 162 games.  That's probably a week or two away. 

While others squabble the Lerners keep signing garbage to fill out the organization (and maybe play some scrub baseball?) and this is a not so friendly soulless automaton reminder that 

  • The Nats were terrible last year 
  • They lost their 2nd (Trea), 4th (Harrison), 5th (Schwarber) best hitters from 2021 AND their veteran leader and likely DH Zimmerman AND their best pitcher (Max) and best reliever (Hudson) 
  • They've signed absolutely no one
  • The minor league organization is still ranked as one of the worst in baseball.

Maybe there's a bright side to a lost season? 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Went on vacation - missed nothing

 Enjoyed a solid President's Day (Presidents' Day?  Presidents Day'?) of signing bills into law and making public appearances.  Hope you enjoyed yours underneath the presidential seal hanging up in your own home. 

Nothing has happened. My own deadline has come and gone which I kind of knew would happen a week before because the progress has been so glacial and not in the important points. 

The whole thing has cleared up as we moved along and it's pretty much all about the CBT.   The owners want to make it harsher and lower (when you think about inflation) the players want it looser and higher. The owners are coming from a place of "Man that pandemic year was hard" The players are coming from a place of "what about every other year? Plus those valuations still look good".  It is millionaires vs billionaires, but the millionaires to me have the stronger case.  Your take may differ a la former Nats GM and basically criminal Jim Bowden who is shilling for the owners in a particularly embarrassing way. 

Fangraphs put out their Top 100 prospect list for 2022.  This includes Cavalli at 74 (lower than most), Henry at 82 (higher than most) and House at 98 (goldilocks). They worry about Cavalli's injury history keeping him from shouldering a starter's load.  They really like Henry's mix of pitches... as a reliever.  House is, you know, super young still. 

What to think of the list?  Well I looked at the 2019 Fangraphs list and the relative positions and basically one guy is an impact major leaguer as of last year (Jonathan India).  The rest are either not good, hurt, or still working their way up.  While every prospect is his own man, this gives you an idea that Cavalli AND Henry AND House being good major leaguers for the 2024 Nats is extremely unlikely and akin to hitting the jackpot.  Hope for one to be good by then, or two to be useful. That would be a very good outcome. 

In the meantime would you trade them?  I never like holding prospects but if you *gasp* *shudder* aren't going to keep Soto long-term or don't like your chances to do so, there is really no reason to trade. Hold on see what you got. Also if you aren't going big time into trying these next few seasons there isn't reason to trade either.  The Nats aren't a player away. If you want to sign a couple guys and trade for a couple guys and make a real go at it, fine, trade. But I'm not seeing that as the Nats path right now. 

How do the other NL East teams show in this "top of minors" listing? 

ATL - Two guys 70/72 - both older (24+/23+) - they've emptied out their system over the past couple of years through trades and call-ups so this isn't surprising or worrisome. They will need a bat - either Freeman or a replacement for him, but they can probably hope someone internal replaces Morton (who was merely good) so they have leeway to set up the lineup without a trade

NYM - Four guys 7/44/63/64 - all younger (20/22) - an interesting situation as these are all bats, the prize being Francisco Alvarez who is in that "it'd be surprising if he failed" level and is a catcher. Their pitching screams WIN NOW but their batting though hasn't kept up. It'd be hard to justify signing another big name with this talent coming and already the highest payroll. So do you trade or do you wait? There's a way this could be either a nice little multi-NL East title run or a disappointing 4-5 year "sneak into a single WC" situtation. 

PHI - Two 20/34 - one 20+ one 24+.  It'd be great for the Phillies if the guy ready was the starter but it's a bat and the prospect bats have not been kind to Philadelphia with one disappointment after another from what looked to be a stacked system. They desperately need Stott (SS) to be everything he can be as it looks likely they'll have to bludgeon their way to wins. 

MIA - Five total, two super young (18+) others on the verge (22/23).  They got four SP in here, three we could see next year. They could really have dominant pitching very soon and dominant pitching that would last through like 2026. Of course you have to score runs too and the Marlins are neigher young nor good at the plate so they'll have to get some FA. I see MIA as an underdog Soto location

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Juan Nogo

Word got out yesterday that the Nats offered Soto a long term contract (that's good!) and it was rejected (that's bad!) but exactly how good/bad it is is up to interpretation. 

The contract itself was 13 years for 350 million or just under 27 million per year.  It buys out his remaining 3 arbitration years and controls him through his age 35/36 season. 

It's not a good contract for Juan. 

Juan Soto might be the best player to have on any baseball team going forward for the next 5-8 years. At the plate it's hard to see anyone surpass what he's doing, only perhaps match his production from a different path. His combined stats for the past two seasons are clearly a step better than anyone else so they first would have to catch him. A guy like Bryce might slug enough or Trea might hit for a high enough average to catch his value that way, but it would take Soto slipping a bit or one of those two doing something special. The juniors, Guerrero and Tatis, might develop into the same bat - but right now they aren't quite there.

Juan is a good athlete and is still very young (will be his age 23 season) and that keeps his value up on the base paths and in the field, where in neither place he's a natural. Still it's possible, I suppose, you could see someone put up a single combined all-around season that has more value but to do so continually going forward?  Of the names I mentioned so far - not Bryce who is an underrated athlete and might sneak one in but at 29 compared to Soto's 23 can't be counted on doing that for half a decade. Not Vladdy Jr, who is already playing a less demanding position (1B) and appears far more likely to age ungracefully in the other aspects of his game. Not Trea, who yes is a solid baserunner and good enough in the field to do it regularly, but would need to morph into a consistently different player at 28. He'd have to do 2020 for a whole year over and over.

Some other names : 

Ramirez - criminally underrated but old. 

Acuna - Has a Trea profile where he wouldn't hit as well but could use great baserunning and decent fielding to outpace Juan, though with more of a chance to pull it off for the time frame needed given his age. 

Bichette - He's not so good in anything to even contend now. Needs another gear in something.  

Devers - a defensive liability who doesn't hit as well as Soto to start.  

Robert - oooh all sorts of interesting but at 23 he gets no benefit of the doubt trying to catch Juan. He's gotta put a full season together first 

Trout - The all-around master, the new Willie Mays, he's been getting hurt and seeing his plus baserunning shut down for his protection and he's 30.  No offense to an already HoFer but give me Juan for the next 5.

There are basically three guys I can think of  a team might rather have in the 5-8 year range . 

Ohtani - no, he isn't the hitter Soto is (and never will be) but he's not just a hitter and the combination in value is hard to beat

Tatis Jr - he could improve to hit like Soto, he's already a better baserunner. His defense is not good but that's not Tatis' fault that the Padres for bringing in Machado and blocking 3rd.

Franco - This is a gamble. He hit very well in half a season last year but nothing close to Soto. He can handle short, unlike Bichette who can hang in and Tatis who should move. There's a lot of ground to make up but he has something everyone else on this list does not. Time. He's two and a half years younger than Soto.

Anyway - this is a very long winded way of saying - the best player needs the best contract and 13/350 is not close to that. It's less that Trout, and Betts and Lindor. It's barely more than Stanton who signed his older and not as good 8 years ago.  It is bigger than Tatis yes but Tatis had injury concerns AND was having an extra cheaper contract year being bought out.

The Nats usually make one and done offers, not negotiating after setting a fair price then moving on.  I'm not 100% sure that's what's going on here. It's further out from FA than usual and before a CBA has been set.  It might be better seen as a "while we're hear this is the best we'll do" but all I can tell you is this won't do.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

There's no Ryan in baseball

Like I said yesterday Ryan Zimmerman has retired. 

Even though he was only ever a National there were very distinctive parts of Zimmerman's career.  

He began as the hometown wunderkind. The guy from the Tidewater, who went to Virginia, who was the first Nationals draft pick, drafted in June of the Nats inaugural year, and who was the first hot prospect to be brought up to the team that very same year. He would excite fans with three weeks of great play and quickly settle down to play some great D while figuring it out at the plate and suffering through what would be the first of a career full of injuries. He was something positive to focus on as the team reset.

He morphed into one of the best players in baseball.  For two years (2009-2010) he not only played his regular top notch D, but he hit at another level. As basically a .300 30HR guy with 70 walks a year, Zimmerman wasn't the best player in baseball (Pujols was hitting THAT well at this point) but he was right up there. With Strasburg and Bryce being drafted in back to back years it looked like the Nats had a bright future. 

But this time frame was exceedingly brief, as next came the injuries and subsequent defensive woes. He had abdominal surgery to start 2011. He'd injure his shoulder to start 2012, undergoing surgery before 2013. The shoulder one cost him the ability to throw the ball with any confidence and ended his career as a third baseman.  He could still hit well, but the near great .300 / 30 / 70 became the perfectly good .280 / 25 / 60.  He was a cog in the Nats but just that, not the difference maker, not the perennial all-star. 

If it remained there it would have been disappointing but fine. However, it would get worse and we'd get to what looked like the end for Ryan. The missed time would pile up and he'd play only 270 games over the next 3 years. He'd break his thumb and strain his hammy in 2014. He'd begin experiencing plantar fasciitis and hurt his oblique in 2015.  He'd strain a rib and take a baseball to the wrist in 2016. Right when the Nats were peaking as a team, winning the NL East for the third time in 5 years, Zimmerman put out a half-season of terrible baseball. It looked like Ryan was breaking down right out of the game.

But a contract extension signed in 2012 saved his career and allowed for the late career renaissance.  The Nats had to pay him until 2019 so even if he looked done in 2016, he was going to get that chance to come back. And come back he did. Finally he again played close to a full season (144 games) Finally he was free to find his groove and the .300 30 guy came back. We knew it wouldn't last. Despite the fans (and the media!) trying to tell us that Ryan was just missing Spring Training in 2018 because he wanted to, we could read the writing on the wall. But that was ok, because 2017 showed both the fans and the Nats Ryan wasn't completely done. If he could be healthy, he could hit. While he wasn't healthy much over the next couple of years, he was healthy enough to get at bats and hit ok and more importantly he got to be around for 2019. 

He did not hit well in 2019 but he did everything he needed to in the playoffs. He got a key single to with two outs in the 8th that would help set up Soto/Grisham's game winning combo. He hit well in the NLDS, including a mid game 3-run bomb that help put that game 3 away for Max. He didn't hit all that well the rest of the way but he did homer off Gerrit Cole in G1 setting a tone for the World Series and giving the Nats fans a moment. 

After that it was gravy, though thin and watery. The pandemic ruined the victory lap season and even if it didn't, Zimm, with an Mom suffering from MS, chose to sit out 2020. He'd play in 2021 and hit with some pop but also definitely looked his age hitting for the worst average of his career (.243) and barely walking as pitchers saw no reason not to challenge him. If the end wasn't here, it was imminent. So while the retirement is a mild surprise (see two posts ago) it's in no way a shock.


What could he have been without the injuries?  Zimm himself put out 400 homers, 500 doubles, 8GG and a hall of famer. It's hard to go ahead and say "with no injuries" because hardly any player has NO injuries, but if we just fill out 2011-2016 with .300 30 which he was in 09-10 and was in 2017, we get 81 more homers, 450 hits, 100 more doubles.  This is probably optimistic but it also has him crashing out at 33 to make up for it. Something like 2300 H, 500+ 2B, 360HR.  Yeah unless Zimm morphed into a 40 homer guy he wasn't getting to 400 easily.  8 Gold Gloves?  He was already not getting his respect winning only in 2009... I suppose if he won in 2011 and 2012 (over Placido Polanco and Chase Headley) he might have gotten 1 or 2 inertia GGs over Arenado, who started winning in 2013, but 8 is way too many. Five tops, and I'd probably guess 3.  

Now does all that put him in the HoF?  Let's say a .285 average 375 HR, 520 doubles, 1700 RBI, 3 GG, probably 5-6 All-Stars. Well Rolen is at what? .281 316HR 517 doubles, 1300 RBI, 8 GG, 7 All-Stars... Both around 125 OPS+... It's tough. You see the issue Rolen has getting in despite being the best 3B for a decade. I don't think Zimm would quite have enough. I think for him to do it, because he wouldn't be seen as that other worldly fielder, you'd have to assume the injuries kept him from hitting another level as a batter. I'm not sure about that.

It's hard to get exactly what Zimmerman meant and I think it's best to see him as the rock. The guy that tied the franchise together, from that magical 2005, to the garbage reset as cheaply as possible teams, to the first window of maddening back and forth success, to the more consistent second window of continued last chance questions, to the frustrating denouement of a team that couldn't keep getting lucky. He was there for it all. He wasn't always the best player, but sometimes he was. He wasn't always the most beloved player, although he was always up there. But he was was always THERE. Which for a fan means a lot.

Happy trails.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Ryan Zimmerman retires

Just when I though I had something interesting to say, Zimm makes that moot by hanging up the spikes

Long career, lots of money, title.  Not much more you can ask for short of a HoF shot (which he does not have).

More tomorrow of course.  

Friday, February 11, 2022

Designated 'Hoo

The baseball negotiations continue as the owners try to make themselves out to be poor and those mean old players are not helping trying to take their money. Yesterday Manfred talked and he tried to convince people that owning a baseball team isn't a good investment. I believe he said something like "worse than the stock market".  It's not a straight lie. There are a million different ways you can cut things to make things true; what exact parts of the team are you including, what's the time frame, what assumptions are you making about stock market growth, but in the sense most people would think - "If I own a baseball team for 15-20 years and sell it - is that a good investment?" the answer is yes, better than a lot of other ones, including the stock market. As smart people have said, rich people wouldn't keep buying them if they were bad investments, especially in the modern days were there are far fewer "Guys with a 100 million dollars to spend" out there and more "companies with a billion dollars" getting into the game. 

The owners are drawing a line in part I assume because the pandemic was hard on them.  They might have actually lost money, and they certainly made less than they usually do.  Rich investors don't like that! They want security. They want to know they'll make a ton regardless. Minimal risk, maximum reward. 

We'll see the owner's latest counter offer Saturday but without a real expansion of the luxury tax thresholds it won't be accepted.  Which by the way Manfred DID flat out lie about that saying the punishments were the same as they had been. The league itself had to follow up and say "oh no penalties for going over have been increased".  The players might take more stringent penalties with a BIG bump in limit (probably not though).  

What was confirmed yesterday was that the DH will be universal next year.  I've explained what I think about the DH (it's "better" baseball, but less fun. Think of it kind of like if you had uniform stadium dimensions. It continues the game down a path where batting and fielding are separated and likely sets up a second DH sometime down the line. Well down the line but it will be argued in the next 20 years I bet) but it was always coming because both sides want it. The owners want more offense because they see scoring as good. The (veteran) players who have the most sway want more ways to hang on in the league. 

What this means is the Nats will have a DH next year, which means Zimm will likely be back. 

After hurting his shoulder in 2010-2 Zimm quickly went from near elite to unplayable in the field. They tried for a couple of years then shifted him where they could, corner OF, but primarily 1B since he couldn't throw. He's been mostly fine but a few years ago his feet started bothering him as well and he's either been a statue in the field or can play half a season. Your choice. 

With the DH now he can play every day and hit and Zimm.. well he was still an above average hitter last year, if only barely. He's never hit particularly well as a DH but it's been so limited per year it's hard to read anything from that. He did look best in April and May when he'd be freshest so that might give you an idea of a "best case" scenario on how he could hit. But it's also limited data. 2019 didn't show that.

Zimm could pass both 2000 hits and 300 homers, which are nice numbers (only like 100 players have done that) but not by themselves HoF worthy. In part because like half of these seasons have come from players in the first 85 years of the game (almost all HoFers) and half in the last 35 years of the game (a mix). If he'd had remained a top notch third baseman he could have played a "Scott Rolen" card when Rolen gets in. Rolen is at 316 / 2077. But Zimm didn't.  He'd have to become a great DH for a few years to maybe get talked about. I don't see it happening. 

He already has all the franchise records*, even throwing in Montreal. His 284 homers are 50 ahead of Vlad. His 1846 hits are 150 ahead of Tim Wallach. Other things he's already first in : Games Played, PA, Runs, Doubles, RBI, SO, GIDP (almost 50% more than Tim Wallach). He's far behind in one's you'd expect (3B, SB, HBP**) Zimm is 2nd in BB but he doesn't actually walk much and Tim Raines had a great eye and is way ahead on that. It'd take like 3-4 more years for Zimm to pass him. Really the only thing he could get a lead on he doesn't already have is sacrifice flies where he is two behind Andre Dawson. 

So what this is would be just a guy playing baseball because he likes it and he's good enough to keep doing it. That's good enough for me.  Also for you guys it's a chance to see him off like he deserves, with what hopes to be a normal full season of baseball. Even if he does walk away with no fanfare, instead of the self-serving "retirement year" you'll have your chance to keep seeing him and accept each time on out might be the last.

*Soto is really good. Is he close to a leader in anything? Nope. Although in three seasons he could challenge for the BB title - he's got that good an eye and is making up that much ground. It's almost certain he'll be 2nd when FA comes around unless he gets hurt.  IBB almost certainly 3rd, same conditions.  But a lot of franchise records come just by being there a long time so Soto would have to re-sign and hang around in order to obliterate the franchise books. 

**Ryan doesn't really get hit all that often. 16th in franchise totals. Werth actually got him more in his stay.  The "Nats" leader is Danny Espinosa at 73 with Victor Robles next at 54.  Rendon, and Nick Johnson (even taking out the Expo year) are also ahead of Zimm.  The franchise leader might be unassailable by any National though. Ron Hunt played only 4 years in Montreal but the guy was one of baseball's best lean-iners. Lead the league with 50 HBP while with the Expos - 15 more than anyone in the past 120 years. Racked up 114 total in his time. That would be like the 63rd best career where like 25% of those are pre-dead ball. In other words his short time in Montreal alone would be a Top 50 HBP career in the usual baseball time we keep stats for.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

Still nothing

The players said no to federal moderation because they felt the owners actually hadn't done much negotiating. That's probably true.  The owners are meeting over the next couple of days and the CBA will be discussed a lot but any formal offer is not expected. Gotta say this is killing my blog, dropping my ad revenue an undefined percentage from $0 to $0.  And don't even talk about my non-existent subscriber substack. Brutal. 

So what to talk about?  How about lists?  ESPN put out their list of the Top 100 players and of course people took the bait.  We can't help it.  We like arguing.  It's fun.  

Of course lists like this are stupid, and in baseball more so.  The game has been fundamentally around in the same way for 120 years. So much has changed in that time.  In 1900, which is when we usually put the starting point because the American and National Leagues formalized, there weren't computers... or television... or radio... or automobiles or motion pictures really. There weren't anti-biotics and they JUST figured out germs caused diseases instead of like "bad air".  The US had 45 states. Why are we trying to compare someone from then to now? 

People know this intrinsically so they do try to dismiss a chunk of time from analysis. Most often it's saying "I'm not considering anyone before integration. That's like 20% of the population who weren't allowed to play" But if it's just a population thing (instead of like a punishment) then we can't ignore the explosion of players from Latin American countries in the 80s or the introduction of players from Asian countries in the last 20 years when pointing out population differences. There's also considering the percentage of population who WANTED to play the sport. In the 20s what could you do instead? Box? Everyone who wanted to be an athelete pretty much wanted to be a baseball player.  Now? Football is dominant in the culture. Basketball can be played anywhere. You aren't getting the same level of interest. But does that really even matter considering baseball growth hasn't matched population growth? We're more than 4 times bigger but don't even have twice as many teams.  And that's not considering all those other countries we talked about. So are there more young men who could and want to play now or less?

It's impossible and that's just wrangling the "population involved" question.  Former players didn't have to travel across time zones... but also traveled the same amount of time by train in some comfort but nothing like players have today.  Players today have modern medicine and training methods. Players in the old days played in a era where the system didn't quite optimize the best players and had wider variety between the best and the worst*.  But then again players in the old days had to hit against balls that could be mushed up, spit on, and gunked up but then again again it was on worse maintained fields and guys with gloves the size of big hands. Impossible. 

I'm not saying don't rank players. Do! It's fun. I just say if you are going to do it cross-era you need to admit it is an exercise in opinion. There is no fact here. Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Barry Bonds.  Who's better? Whoever you want to be. 

If you want to take it more seriously then you are going to have to split up eras in some way.  Even that is fraught. When to make the cut and who falls into where is hard.  Dead ball to live ball makes sense.  Pre 69 expanision and field changes and after makes sense. But players' careers don't always fall neatly into one or the other. Failing doing like 5-10 rankings of different eras I prefer the "does anyone alive really remember this time" breaking point. Basically we are coming into that split being around WWII right now.  Players before that are numbers on a page, and a bit on film if we are lucky.  They are legend and stories. That can't possibly be ranked in the same way as people you actually saw play.

*this is part of the theory why we don't have .400 hitters anymore. But of course it was part of the theory on why we didn't have 60+ homer hitters anymore and we saw that can change. You can always tweak the game.

Friday, February 04, 2022

Slow movement is better than no movement I guess

Yesterday was the real first bit of bad news in the lockout front. Now, some might take that to be a delay in opening in Spring Training, but as you might guess from my "Feb 21st" estimate of an agreement date, I expected that and don't honestly care about it.  However, this negotiation period didn't seem to make any progress. The MLBPA did lower the pre-arb bonus pool money request... and are still way off from what the owners want (It's like 100 mill vs 10 mill)  They also made changes to their attempt to stop at least one or two instances of service time manipulation, for which the owners are like "nah, want to keep doing that". The MLBPA bent a little. MLB has to show a bend now. They were supposed to talk more yesterday and today on marginal things that have to be agreed upon in the CBA, not on anything that matters negotiation wise. And we've now learned MLB wants the federal government to try to come in and help with negotiations and an arbitrator.  What people think that means is all over the place from "Trying to show the handful of hardline owners they can't do any more" to "setting up another long 1994 type lockout"

Expanded playoffs and expanded DH are on the table for owners as "prizes" but the latter is almost certainly happening no matter where the negotiations end up. Both sides want it. I don't. It makes the game better but less fun, if that makes any sense.  

This all picks up again early next week. What you want to see is the owners make some movement on that pre-arb money and service time thing for at least the very best players (really they should agree to the player's deal which helps like 2 young players a year and one owner would probably be able to avoid it if they tried). The former is a no-brainer and if they don't move it's the first really bad sign. The latter... well they don't want to open the door even a little to losing service time control so I could see that not move at all. 

 So you want to hear about chasing sun? (one random person) 

It's not actually chasing sun, although if you never ran from impending shade from small clouds on a mostly sunny day that's a fun way to spend a day outside. Granted it's more of a rural activity than a suburban or urban one, but I digress. No "chasing sun" is about being kind of obsessed with time zones and getting maximum (or minimum) sunlight.  

Now of course it could be very simple - from March to September the Northern Hemisphere gets more light and the opposite from September to March. The further you are from the equator the more extreme it gets.  This is neat to think about around the inflection point.  If you take a place near the equator, let's say Aruba (I've been there!) and a place far from it, let's say Yellowknife (I have not been there), at the beginning of March Aruba has 11:36 hours of light* and Yellowknife has 10:20. Around March 15th they'll both have about 11:45 of light. At the end of the month Aruba has 11:53 and Yellowknife 13:21!** So go as far N as you can in the summer and S as you can in the winter, for the most part. 

Now my thoughts break into two arenas.  First is where I can get the most or least sun in the continental US. I'm the type that if I have the free time would drive to the middle of nowhere to see that. Second is where could I live in the world that's reasonable for me that would give me the most overall sunlight. For the sake of rambling savings we'll only deal with the US right now. 

Now two things can come into play here. One is the fact we aren't feudal farmers. What I mean by that is that we don't live by the sun, we live by the clock. We live by a construct of time that we ourselves set through time zones. Second is we aren't robots. We need to sleep. Even us soulless automatons try to get 5-6 hours. 

Why do these matter? Well for the clock in a perfect world the time zones would be equally 15 degrees apart, however countries, states, hell even towns would be split if you did that. So we don't do that. But because we don't do that and time zones differ by size we can't simply say "the furthest northwest spot in any time zone will work. We have to actually look. For the sleep - if all you care about is sun after you wake up - then it's not the most sunlight that matters as much as the most sunlight starting from time X.  In the longest days in the Northern US it's quite usual for the sun to rise pre-6 AM.  For me that's just wasted sunlight. 

So knowing that what matters more latitude or longitude, going north or going west? Again that depends on when you set that wake up time. If it's say... 6:30 well in most time zones even as far south as you can go the sun will be up by then on the longest day so you would be more concerned with longitude.  If you set it at 5:30 it might be either. 

Let's for the sake of argument set wake up time at 6:30 which means that all but the very furthest south and west parts of the timezones are up for grabs. Intuitively you'd then think "if the highest latitude spots in each time zone aren't that different then the widest time zone would give us the latest sunset".  Good guess but WRONG. Why? Well, because of the imperfect sizes some time zones "start" the day earlier than others. In the USs case, sunrise hits the eastern time zone, which is the widest, on June 20th around 4:40 in the morning.  Sunrise hits the central time zone at about that same latitude around 5:05.  That difference is enough difference to make up the width difference and so the latest sunset in the continental US happens in the Central time zone.  Specifically in the NW corner of North Dakota. Fortuna, ND if you are looking for an incorporated town. 10:03 PM 

Sunrise hits the other time zones at roughly the same time but if we are doing this, we're doing this and the earliest sunrise is in the furthest eastern reaches of Maine. I will note it's possible maybe someplace the mountainous border of Idaho and Montana it's earlier but there are no towns there and if you aren't in a town well then you might as well be that feudal farmer. 

And you can flip all this if you are some sort of night lover. The earliest sunset is in Maine, a tear inducing 3:50. The latest sunrise is back in NW ND. 8:49 which isn't as terrible. But it's on November 5th not on the shortest day of the year in late December. It only gets to 8:46 on that day. This is why we have daylight savings time, people! 

The take away from all this is that if you want to have the most sunlight, for most people that don't mind a little darkness in the morning, you should definitely move to the western part of a time zone. In the summer you should move north. Indianapolis, is a choice.  Detroit if you want all 4 major sports. You might think Seattle but actually the Pacific time zone is pretty narrow.  In the winter you should fly South. Atlanta would be the big city sports related choice.

Some other notes 

If you just wanted most sunlight and don't mind sitting in the car all day you can try to literally race the sun.  Like start in Thunder Bay in Canada*** at sunrise and just start driving west.  Back of the envelope calculations say you get yourself an extra hour and half of sunlight that way.  It's not very effective - the world spins fast. 

World wise the southern Hemisphere is pretty empty compared to the North.  All the major cities peter out in the 34-38 longitude range. In the N Hemisphere that's vaguely Charlotte to DC range. So your choices are pretty limited for major places to live. in the N Hemisphere they peter out more around 60 degrees north.  Time zones are very funky worse that US.  China is all one time zone. Parts of Canada and Argentina and Alaska spread out basically two time zones behind where they "should" be. Mostly though it's because these are unpopulated area so it's not a big deal. 

*This is based on sunrise and sunset. There are actually different definition and times for "when the light goes away" and if you ever were a kid playing outside in the summer you should be familiar with the ideas if not the names. It technically depends on degrees under the horizon the sun is but it's easier to think of it in practical terms since you can't see the sun yourself.  

Civil Twilight is after sunset when you can still pretty much see as normal. You can still be playing wiffleball, basketball, or a some 2x2 football. 

Nautical Twilight is basically when there's still enough light to see the horizon and but dark enough that enough stars are out where sailors can navigate. For us not on the sea the sky is light enough to see things in contrast against it but the ground is pretty dark. You can probably squeeze out an end to that wiffle ball game because the white ball will still seem bright enough (being white helps a lot but it's also because of the way our eyes work in dimmer light), but it won't be easy.  Basketball will be ok enough shooting the ball but every rebound could be an adventure. Football is mostly done as only lofty Hail Marys will be seen. 

Astronomical Twilight is when you look around and say "I guess it's not completely dark". No one is playing without lights.

** sunset zooms along faster than sunrise for various reasons. It'll go from 6:00 on March 1st to closing in on 8:30 on March 31st. 

 *** looking for a major E-W highway as far N as I could go. Can't waste time going north/south or heading through too many mountains. 

Tuesday, February 01, 2022


Meeting today maybe. I don't expect anything to get done (I'll hold to my Feb 21st guess) and this and the next player proposal (which should follow shortly) will outline exactly the things to argue about. Essentially all we are missing out on are "truck days" which are stupid and are actually still happening because minor leaguers go to Spring Training too. It's just that we're not going to see big deals made out of it when this whole lockout thing is going on. 

I could ramble but that didn't see to interest a population of readers curated over a decade of baseball talk. What you don't want to hear my thoughts on defining generations? how to best chase sunlight? The seasons? So we'll wrap it up here. On like #39 of Posnanski's book - so I'll finish that probably before the season starts. It's good.