Milestones to celebrate

The past two nights have seen the Washington Nationals’ two best players (arguably) reach milestones much ballyhooed on the Twitter and elsewhere.

On Monday night Nats slugger Bryce Harper hit the 100-RBI mark for the first time in his career. In the Moneyball Era RBIs usually receive asterisks as *not that important* because they tell more about a team’s performance than that of an individual player. True, but one still must bat in a run, as the stat goes. It’s tweet-worthy.

Last night Nats fans (and baseball fans, really), were treated to an even more impressive number: 300. As in, Max Scherzer’s 300th strikeout this season. Yes, yes, everyone is striking out these days and it’s made the K less significant, but come on, 300 strikeouts? Only the best are on that list.

Now consider the following. Of the folks on that 300-strikeout list, Mr. Scherzer has given up the fewest hits en route to those 300 strikeouts. As a matter of Max, 150 hits to be exact. Twice as many strikeouts as hits? A pitcher dreams of that in one game let alone an entire season.

For a little context, in Bob Gibson’s magical 1968 season he posted 268 Ks and gave up 198 hits.

Remember, that was the guy who was so dominant they changed the rules the following season.

Just not there

Tony Bennett’s new album, Love is Here to Say, recorded with Diana Krakl, just doesn’t have it. It’s not terrible, of course (it’s Tony Bennett, after all), it just… doesn’t have it.

I’ve said previously that Tony Bennett doesn’t need duet partners. He doesn’t. The album would be better without Diana, but still wouldn’t be up to a typical Tony Bennett effort the past few years. The Silver Lining, for example, recorded in 2015, is stellar. That record, as with this new one, was recorded with the Bill Charlap Trio. Those guys are the second, third, and fourth best artists on the album. Diana is number five. Can’t have your second-most-featured person be the worst guy (lady) in the band. It’s a shame because Diana Krall has put out so much great music over the years. This one, though, is just flat. She’s not a big name anymore, not really bringing sales the way a Lady Gaga would do (another of Tony’s recent duet partners). When Diana was “new” she was hot. Literally. A young, good-looking lady who could sing and play standards? That was something. Now? Not so much.

There are a few moments on the disc, of course. I gave “Fascinating Rhythm” more than one listen. I think the whole idea, though, works better as a one-off novelty act. Seeing those two (those five, really) “fake it” live would be great. If you’ve got months of studio time, though… it’s got to be better.

Luckily for us, Tony’s only 92. He’ll have another record out soon.

Thanks, Bryce

An oh-fer doesn’t usually make headlines. Not in a good way, anyway.

But an oh for oh?

With five walks?

That’s worth blogging about. And tweeting about.

And something to talk about in math class.

Thanks, Bryce Harper. You just made the “meaningless” game meaningful.

Still plenty of good seats available

The biggest story from yesterday’s pro football matchup between my hometown team and our visitors from Indianapolis was the number of empty seats at FedEx Field. Attendance on Sunday was the team’s lowest since moving to said venue in 1997.

Given the sloppy play and ultimate outcome…

maybe people knew what they weren’t missing.

Numbers. And number Juan

Washington Nationals leftfielder Juan Soto has been getting a lot of ink recently. He’s probably the second-most talked about person in town, after, you know, the guy who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Trump wishes he were having such a year as Juan.

Of all Soto’s stats, his most incredible number is this…


As in, 19 years old.

Soto is flirting with and/or has broken nearly every “teenage” batting record in his year with the Nats. Sure, not every teenage Wunderkind turns into a Hall of Famer, but when you’re passing names like Griffey and Ott you know you’re off to a good start.

Soto’s teammates describe his maturity, especially his maturity and discipline at the plate, and the numbers bear that out.

For example, Juan Soto sees an average of 4.18 pitches per plate appearance. Major league average is only 3.91. (If that doesn’t sound like a lot multiply it by six or seven hundred plate appearances a season.) He sees a 2-0 count on 17.1% of his plate appearances, versus 13.7% for the rest of MLB. And swinging strikes? Only 14.2%, compared to 18.2% for everyone else. (Guy doesn’t swing and miss.)

Here’s where a knowledge of math and numbers helps illuminate some details.

To the untrained eye, percentages like 14.2 and 18.2 sound close. But remember, 18.2% isn’t four percent more than 14.2, it’s nearly 30 percentmore. Remember Crash Davis’s speech in Field of Dreams about “one more hit a week”? One more hit a week gets you from being a .250 hitter to being a .300 hitter? The difference between being a benchwarmer and a Hall of Famer is the difference between getting a hit 25% of the time and doing so 30% of the time. What Crash didn’t explain was that 30 percent is 20 percent more than 25 percent.


Your dad was right

Congratulations, Bryce Harper, NL Player of the Week from September 3 to September 9. In six games Harper had, among other things, two homers, two doubles, and TWELVE walks. His OBP was an incredible .655.

Your dad was right. A walk is as good as a hit.

And he told you that before anyone cared about OBP, OPS, or knew what the heck a “slash line” was.

Hail Monday

All smiles in the DMV this morning following a win for our local pro football team yesterday. And I’ve already heard whispers of the Alex-Smith-for-mayor campaign beginning.

Yes, you would have loved to see a shutout. But 24-6 is still pretty good. My favorite play of the game, of course, was that failed two-point conversion following Arizona’s garbage-time touchdown. As someone who deals with numbers every day, I can tell you six is a much more insulting number than seven.

Trust me, I’m a math teacher. #Mathteachered

Golfing like it’s 1999

Tiger Woods’s opening round 62 yesterday—his lowest first-round score in nearly 20 years—had me feeling young again last night. Knowing that 62 on a Par 70 course was a -8 had me feeling like a math teacher.

Thanks for giving me something to talk about today, Tiger.

Chuck still bringing it

Gotta hand it to the folks at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

One of my favorite establishments since the Reagan administration, Chuck’s has now brought it to a new level.

Yesterday I received an e-mail reminding me that it was a certain member of my family’s half birthday and that I should come in to celebrate.

Half birthday.


Been doin’ that since the Reagan years too!