Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani was the name on everyone’s lips leading up to the 2018 MLB season. A double threat with a .286 batting average and 42-15 pitching record in the Japanese league, Ohtani was a fiercely sought after free agent. He eventually signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last December and quickly made an impact after the baseball season began in late March, going 2-0 in his first two starts for Angels.

Some are already going as far as to ask whether he is the next Babe Ruth but a little scepticism is healthy. He could be the next Babe Ruth, a baseball legend, but he could just as easily be the next Jeff Francoeur, a man who had an unbelievable start to his career before his bat cooled and he spent 11 years sliding into mediocrity.

Before we use video games to see what the future holds for Ohtani, let’s indulge ourselves in a little statistics. At the time of writing, Ohtani has had 59 at-bats and 5 pitching starts, giving him a batting average of .339 and a pitching record of 3-1. Thanks to data on Retrosheet, we can compare Ohtani’s first 59 at bats to those of Ruth and Francoeur

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As you can see, the three players are on a level playing field in terms of batting average after 59 at-bats (about 15 games or so). Ruth would go on to finish the 1915 season with 92 at-bats and a .315 batting average, while Francoeur would garner a .300 batting average from 257 at-bats in the 2007 season.

I also compared Ohtani and Ruth in terms of pitching, given that both have started their careers on the mound. Babe Ruth went 1-3 in his first five starts for the Red Sox in 1915 (though he would go onto finish the year 18-8 from the mound), the inverse of Ohtani’s previously stated 3-1 record.

Quick fun fact- Francoeur actually went to the mound as well. While playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, he pitched two innings against the Baltimore Orioles on June 16, 2015 and posted a single strikeout while giving up a 2-run home run and 3 walks.

Honestly, it’s probably too early in the season to be comparing Ohtani to my chosen metrics so maybe I’ll do a revisit at the All-Star break.

However, we can use Out of the Park Baseball 19, a baseball management simulation game touted for its accuracy, to see their take on Ohtani’s rookie season. This will be far from gospel, as the game is likely to under-use Ohtani at the plate. As with all my OOTP 19 simulations, I hand all control over to the AI and simply run the season.

I began by running till the All-Star game, the season midpoint.

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So safe to say things aren’t going great for the Angels, though the game doesn’t think that the AL West is going to be a particularly strong division. Before we get to Ohtani’s specific stats according to the game, I can tell you that he doesn’t make the 2018 All-Star Game.

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Batting first. As I expected, the game doesn’t give Ohtani much time off the mound. That’s fair enough, a guy who can pitch and hit doesn’t come around too often so the game is unlikely to have intricate algorithms to process that. However, I find it a little hard to find that after 97 games, he has less than 20 at-bats more than he does after 16 in the real world. The game played him at designated hitter and occasionally right field and his numbers are respectable but nothing special.

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As for pitching, the game has not been generous either- Ohtani has a 4-9 record from 20 starts. It is not uncommon for young pitchers to have a sub-par first season in the majors. However, again the game appears to underestimate Ohtani, at least in the first half of the season. Unless he is truly destined for Francoeur-dom and the game knows something we don’t.

Let’s move to the end of the season

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Yeah, bad season for the Angels. In fact, a terrible season, their worst since 1999.

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As for Ohtani, I feel that the game really cheated him out of a decent rookie season. He batted .258 and achieved a 9-11 pitching record (though that does indicate that he had a much better second half of the season, giving up only two losses in 14 starts). However, the game still awards Ohtani the American League Rookie of the Year title so, there’s that.

(For anyone interested, the game also has the Cubs beating the Yankees in 7 to claim the World Series)

As one final act of curiosity, I simmed the game through to 2022 to see where it places Ohtani after 5 seasons in the majors. After 5 seasons, Jeff Francoeur was batting .277 and had been traded from Atlanta to the New York Mets. Meanwhile, Babe Ruth was batting .307 and was a year or two away from truly starting his path to legendary status.

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Outside of a single-season snapshot, the game is kinder to Ohtani. However, according to the game, he is destined to be more of a Francoeur than a Ruth. After 5 seasons (and a trade to the Chicago Cubs) Ohtani holds a .265 batting average and a 43-35 pitching record.

Video game simulations aside, Ohtani is an exciting MLB prospect and definitely one to watch. As I previously mentioned, I am likely to revisit Ohtani’s rookie season later in the year.

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Theory: Chris Pratt is simply playing alternate versions of Andy Dwyer

Theory: Chris Pratt is simply playing alternate versions of Andy Dwyer

One of Chris Pratt’s best known roles is well-meaning idiot Andy Dwyer from Parks & Recreation.

because we smart

For those unfamiliar with the show, Parks & Recreation is a sitcom about the Parks & Recreation department in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana. Andy starts the show as the lazy boyfriend of Ann Perkins, a nurse who wants to see the large pit behind her house filled in because Andy fell in and broke both his legs. After he and Ann break up, he starts working at City Hall as a shoe shine, starting a relationship with the Parks department intern (whom he eventually marries) and goes through a number of different jobs before starting his own children’s television show. Andy is the show’s main comic relief, and can be relied upon to do something stupid, insane or both. Despite this, he is also a sweet and caring individual who just wants to everyone to be happy and having fun at the end of the day.

However, it recently occurred to me that Chris Pratt, while a good actor, does seem to fall back on Andy Dwyer mannerisms when performing other roles, which is why I present my theory that his major roles since the show ended in 2015 are actually simply versions of Andy Dwyer in non-Pawnee scenarios.

Exhibit A- Owen Grady (Jurassic World/Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom)

Pratt led the cast of the 2015 reboot of the Jurassic Park franchise, portraying Velociraptor trainer Owen Grady. Grady, in line with the tone of the films, is a much more serious and straight-faced character than Andy Dwyer. However, Andy often adopted a more serious persona, that of rogue FBI agent Burt Macklin, if a situation at the Parks department required a law enforcement aspect. There is also Johnathan Karate, the older brother of his television persona, Johnny Karate. Johnathan is more mature and serious than both Andy and Johnnie.

Both characters care strongly about animals- Owen with his pack of raptors and Andy with his three-legged dog, Champion and both are surprisingly innovative thinkers, notably in Andy’s case when he suggests that a charity run by Pawnee’s local confectionery manufacturer, Sweetums, can optimise its giving by forgoing the decadence enjoyed by those who run it.

Furthermore, in the trailer for the upcoming sequel, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Owen says something to former Jurassic World executive Claire Dearing (who was the other major character from the first film) that is almost painfully Andy Dwyer-esque:

“If I don’t make it back…remember you’re the one who made me come here”

The last piece of evidence for this exhibit that I would like to present is that Burt Macklin’s middle name is Tyrannosaurus.

Exhibit B- Star Lord/Peter Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers: Infinity War)

I will admit that my links between Owen Grady and Andy Dwyer aren’t as strong as they could be. However, Star Lord is undeniably a deep space Andy Dwyer. Firstly, there is Quill’s decision to challenge Ronan the Accuser to a dance-off at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, which is totally a stunt that Andy would pull, right down to the use of “bro”.

Dance off

Secondly, they both share a love of 1980s pop culture. Quill has his signature cassette tapes of classic rock, and a love of Footloose. Meanwhile, Andy lovingly recreates scenes from Roadhouse while entertaining guests at an election party. In addition to this, Quill responds to Iron Man stating that he is from Earth by saying “I’m not from Earth, I’m from Missouri”. Andy Dwyer has shown a similar lack of geographical knowledge, asking his wife where the “mountain with all the faces on it” [Mount Rushmore] was after they take a road trip to the Grand Canyon.

Furthermore, both Quill and Andy have an interesting reaction to jealousy. In Avengers: Infinity War, Quill deepens his voice to mimic Thor and goes toe-to-toe with him when comparing how tough their families are in terms of dealing with them after the Asgardian makes him feel a little self-conscious. Andy, on the other hand, camps out in a pit to spy on his ex-girlfriend and spends a good portion of the show’s second season trying to win her back in various ways.

In conclusion, I believe there is sufficient evidence to state that Chris Pratt actually and very simply plays different versions of Andy Dwyer in his post-Parks and Recreation career.

Shoppe Keep 2: Simple, wholesome fun

Shoppe Keep 2: Simple, wholesome fun

Shoppe Keep was a simple game- you ran a shop in a small fantasy village, providing the sort of goods that adventurers require.

Late last week, Excalibur Games launched a sequel, Shoppe Keep 2, into early access on Steam. The premise is very much the same- you run a shop in a small fantasy village. The main mechanic is beautifully simple- you buy goods, you sell said goods and you use the profits to buy more goods.

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Your store starts small and simple but has plenty of potential

Alongside the primary objective of buying and selling, you are assigned quests around the village, which is wholly open world. The first five quests or so are to familiarise you with how the game works- buy X pedestals to display your goods; pay taxes (more on that in a moment). It is undeniably hand-holdy but you don’t feel patronised, it’s simply a nudge in the right direction (and completing the quests provides you with coin, which is useful in the early game when you are still establishing your shop).

The other major mechanics are taxes and town management- you are required to pay taxes on the goods that you sell. At this point in the game’s development, you have to pay taxes manually and if you exceed your tax threshold, the town will shut down your store until you pay them. However, you have complete control over your tax rate for different item types and the money accrued from your taxes is put into a fund which you can use to purchase new buildings in the town, unlocking new items and characters to interact with.

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You will rely on this gentleman for the first few hours of the game

The best advice for the start of the game is to start small- don’t buy a water bottle for 3 gold and then try to sell it for 20 gold. In my playthrough, I brought 3 water bottles and sold each one for 4 gold, making a meagre 1 gold profit. It’s a slow yet sustainable tactic which allows you to grow over time without risking too much of your small starting fund, especially as the early game items are be surprisingly expensive.

As previously mentioned, Shoppe Keep 2 is very early access and so there are inevitably going to be bugs and issues. I didn’t experience too much except for a slow load time. However, the major issue I did encounter was an almost nauseating mouse sensitivity, even at the lowest sensitivity, I was forced to move the mouse slowly and carefully as not to launch my character into a wild first-person camera spin.

Overall, the game is simplistic but incredibly satisfying and I for one am excited to see how the game develops.

Infinity War does what it needed to do to keep the MCU going

Infinity War does what it needed to do to keep the MCU going

Avengers: Infinity War was always going to be an ambitious project- bringing together around twenty main characters, literally spread across the universe, into a coherent plot that also sufficiently addresses main villain Thanos and his magical McGuffin rocks, something that is literally a decade in the making.

For the most part, Infinity War serves its purpose and serves it well. The plot moves along at a nice pace, fluidly moving between its Earth-based heroes (Cap and co., Black Panther, Hulk) and those spending the film in space (Iron Man, Spiderman, Dr Strange, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Thor). On top of that, the film is genuinely engaging- while the plot is somewhat of an on-rails adventure as Thanos collects the six Infinity Stones, the long-awaited interactions between fan-favourite characters is what keeps the audience watching. Personally, the story arc concerning Thor and the Guardians of the Galaxy is far and away the highlight of the film. The set-pieces are suitably epic and the humour ranges from smirk-worthy to laugh-out-loud.

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Thor’s time with the Guardians of the Galaxy felt like a teaser for the third Guardians movie that we truly deserve

Without delving into spoiler territory, the ending delivers both emotional punch and heavy-handed brutality, only really let down by the shameless nature of its set-up for the second part of the Infinity War story. This could have been a single movie, there is more than enough that could have been cut to make room for the whole plot to unfold, but that is not the way of modern cinema so, so be it, we’ll see the resolution next summer.

However, Infinity War is from perfect. As an excellent article from Polygon notes, Thanos’ plan to bring balance to the universe by killing half of all sentient life makes little sense when he can simply create the resources necessary to sustain its current population. In fairness, this may be due to an inadequate adaptation of the plot in the comics. In print, Thanos wants to kill half the universe to woo Death, an embodiment of the end of all things. Death is not in the MCU so the plan stayed while the motivation was changed to ‘crazy zealot’.

While on that topic, the film tries hard to make you care about Thanos, his journey and the sacrifices he makes throughout the film, despite his on-screen appearances in the last decade of Marvel cinema equating to about seven minutes, and based on that, there is simply not enough to make me care. The same goes for the relationship between Scarlet Witch and Vision- this is a love story that has been developed off-screen, with only a few scenes devoted to it in films like Captain America: Civil War. No matter how much Paul Bettany acts like he is in Love, Actually, there is very little reason for the audience to care or invest in the sub-plot.

Finally, there is one thing that sort of renders the entire film utterly pointless- the Time Stone. The green Infinity Stone, first introduced in 2016’s adequate origin story Dr Strange, is arguably the most powerful and best defined of the six Infinity Stones. Providing the wielder with control of time itself, it is essentially an in-universe retcon. Don’t like how something turned out? Time stone. Just lost a fight but you didn’t die? Time stone. Again without touching too heavily on spoilers, the film makes it pretty clear that it will the Time stone that makes the world right again. And honestly? That kind of sucks- it removes any allusion of tension in the second part of the film.

All in all, Infinity War did what it needed to do. While it was a noticeable dip in quality compared to recent Marvel outings such as Black Panther, it was by no means a bad Marvel movie and is far better than DC’s attempt at an ensemble superhero film. The film had a beginning, a middle and an end and does undeniably leave the fans wanting more, even if that ‘more’ is simply some resolution.

God of War is a beautifully nuanced masterpiece

God of War is a beautifully nuanced masterpiece

You may be familiar with God of War, the hack-and-slash franchise focused around a vengeful Spartan warrior, Kratos, seeking revenge on the Greek gods after they exploit him and use him for their own means. While the series is critically acclaimed (the three main entries in the series average a Metacritic score of 93), it is a little one-dimensional- you spend the game murdering waves of enemies, engage in some boss fights with the Greek gods and brutally murder most of the Pantheon. It’s mindless, simplistic fun.

God of War (2018), the fourth major instalment in the franchise, is everything that its three predecessors are not. After switching the setting from Greece to Scandinavia, you take control of a very different Kratos. Now a man who desperately wishes to leave his past, and his legacy, behind, the Ghost of Sparta is a quieter and more nuanced character as he travels across the nine realms of Norse mythology, simply trying to release his wife’s ashes at the top of the highest mountain in existence. While combat is still an integral part of the game, you now fight on the defensive- killing because it is necessary and because it ensures survival.

Kratos is joined on his journey by his young son, Atreus. While AI companions are often be annoying or useless, Atreus is a proficient archer whose upgraded abilities make the larger scale combat encounters much more management. Furthermore, one of the reasons that the game is incredibly satisfying is the character development seen in Kratos, which in large part is due to the journey he is undertaking with his song. Though they are distant at the start of the game and Kratos is somewhat over-bearing and cold, they slowly bond and grow as a father-son pairing over the 20 or so hours of gameplay.

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This simple gesture is something you would be forgiven for not believing possible from Kratos at the start of the game.

The game explores themes such as parenthood, loss and redemption without ever stopping to teach the player a lesson or preach a sermon. The interactions between characters, the protagonist’s in-game growth and the simple plot all serve to promote these themes naturally without sacrificing the game’s genre or mechanics or overshadowing the poetic Norse mythology that is woven into the game. You become invested in Kratos and his journey, feeling an empathetic link to the character that was simply not present in the previous games.

As previously mentioned, the game is incredibly satisfying and that extends right through to the final cutscene- the quest is completed and Kratos is allowed to walk back to Midgard to enjoy life with his son. There is no last minute anguish or shocking betrayal- the story simply comes to an end. From start to finish, the game plays out like a well-crafted television series and while you are sad to see it end, you feel a sense of resolution that only a great ballad can bring you.

 

Who to support to sate your bandwagon success needs

Who to support to sate your bandwagon success needs

Fans of ‘sport’ typically fall into one of three categories- the diehard, name every player on the roster, fanatics; the mild interest, check the scores once a week, fans and finally, the bandwagon, I support X because it’s trendy/I want to connect with someone and they like sport so I’m going to make the effort to learn about something they like. There is no shame or issue about being in any one of these groups (although members of said categories will tell you otherwise). But that’s not what this blog is about- this blog is for the success seekers, those looking to jump on a bandwagon.

As a success seeker, looking to align yourself with a consistently successful team, you may be wondering who to even support in the first place; what sport to invest yourself in. Well luckily for you, I have complied the data for nine US cities who host a baseball, hockey and basketball team (I would have included football but its inclusion reduces the number of viable samples to seven) and turned the data into an easy to understand guide to who you should support for maximum success.

Boston

Boston, Massachusetts is home to the Red Sox of baseball, the Bruins of hockey and the Celtics of basketball. The city has long been considered a successful powerhouse of the east coast, with the three teams collecting 23 championships between them since 1946, including the Celtics winning every NBA championship of the 1960s bar one.

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As for who to the support, the graph of season by season records shows that Boston offers the potential of choosing any of the three teams. Some things to note- as the green line shows, the Celtics have a precedent for a cycle of boom and bust, with stretches of prosperity nose-diving to a sub-.500 season or even an extended run of losing seasons. This unpredictability could be off-putting if success is your main focus as a fan. The Red Sox are a typical safe bet with a losing season being rarity for them but all-in-all, the Bruins are your best bet for a Boston area success team. They haven’t had a sub-.500 season since 2006-07 and since then, they’ve only failed to make the playoffs twice. All three teams appear to be improving season by season as of the last three or four seasons but your safest bet would be to back the Bruins.

Chicago

Chicago, Illinois is home to the Cubs and White Sox of baseball, the Bulls of basketball and the Blackhawks of hockey. Sports fame for the city has largely stemmed from the mythos surrounded the teams that have played in the city- the Cubs Curse, the 1919 World Series Scandal, Michael Jordan, the Wirtz dynasty and the continuing controversy over the Blackhawks’ name. There’s a lot going on with Chicago’s sport teams.

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There is a reason that this graph looks so chaotic- most of Chicago’s teams have a very similar record when it comes to the late 20th Century. The Cubs, White Sox and Blackhawks never spent more than a few seasons either side of the .500 line at any one time. Closer to the present, the trends become a little clearer as the Bulls are on a downward slide and looking for their first division title since 2012 (and their first championship since 1998) while the Cubs are the feel-good story with their sensational 2016 World Series victory. However, it is once again hockey that brings you your best bet of following a successful team- the Blackhawks’ last sub-.500 season was in 2006 and since then they have won three Stanley Cups and only missed the playoffs once.

Denver

Denver, Colorado is home to the Rockies of baseball, the Nuggets of the basketball and the Avalanche of hockey. Denver has not always been a sports hub- while it is the long time home of the NFL’s broncos and has hosted the Nuggets since the 1960s, it was only granted an MLB and NHL franchise in the mid-90s. Aside from the Bronco’s Super Bowl win in Super Bowl 50, the last major championship for the city came from the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup in the 2000-01 NHL season.

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As could be inferred from the lacklustre introduction of the Mile High City, there is nothing spectacularly about the city’s baseball, basketball or hockey. The Rockies haven’t recorded a winning season since 2010 (although they look on course do so in 2017) while the Nuggets are on the cusp of breaking .500 after a steady decline since 2011. Meanwhile, the Avalanche has crashed in a series of increasingly worse seasons. If I had to a pick team to recommend, I’d choose the Nuggets or the Rockies. Or the Broncos, go off book and support football.

Detroit

Detroit, Michigan is home to the Red Wings of hockey, the Tigers of baseball and the Pistons of basketball. The city and surrounding area was once the heart of the American automotive industry and strong, robust sporting franchises. While the industry has gone, the sport has remained and many denizens of the city embrace the Red Wings, with the affinity for hockey strong enough for the city to be nicknamed ‘Hockeytown’.

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Of all 10 cities I looked at, Detroit maybe the hardest to gauge. The Red Wings the dominant sports powerhouse for years but have shown consistent decline since the early 2000s while the Pistons fell from their highest point and are still slowly rebuilding. The Tigers are generally successful but when they fall below .500, they either fall hard or they tend to stay below .500 for a substantial period. At the conclusion of 2016, all three had reached something of a crossroads, with the Tigers and Pistons rising above .500 and the Red Wings slipping below it. While Denver was a case of letting you pick the lesser of three disappointments, Detroit is more a case of picking one and hoping for the best.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California is home to the Dodgers of baseball, the Kings of hockey and the Clippers and Lakers of basketball.  LA is the punchline to most jokes about the relocation of sports teams. The Dodgers originated in Brooklyn; the Clippers came from Buffalo via San Diego and the Lakers started life in Minneapolis. Only the Kings and the NFL team, the Rams, started life in LA.

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LA is a story of haves and have-nots. Despite enjoying extended periods of success, the Lakers crashed to well below .500 and have only just begun to pull themselves back up towards success. Inversely, after spending a majority of their time in LA below .500, the Clippers are currently the most successful team in LA, although they have been on a shallow decline in winningness over the last three or four seasons. The Kings are similar to Chicago’s teams in the manner they hug the .500 line, barring their recent spike in success and the Dodgers are a reliably successful team, whose last foray into sub-.500 territory was over a decade ago.

New York

New York, New York is currently home to the Yankees and Mets of baseball, the Knicks and (not included in this article for moving too recently) Nets of basketball and the Islanders and Rangers of hockey. New York and the surrounding area is famous being the starting place for many of modern professional sports teams, many of which appear on this list.

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Much like Chicago, New York is home to a number of sports teams who boast very similar franchise-long records. Every team has seen its share of failure and success. The Knicks are the only team to rule themselves out of being your bandwagon success team with their crash and subsequent sub-.500 rebuild. Of the four teams who are currently sitting above .500, only the Rangers are currently on an upward trend with the other the currently seeing periods of shallow yet consistent decline.

Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is home to the Phillies of baseball, the 76ers of basketball and the Flyers of hockey. Philadelphia has a long history of sport, in part to the character credit the city received for Rocky. It is especially well-known for its raucous fans and maybe the single most annoying mascot in history, the Phanatic.

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The city’s teams’ records bear a similarity to a number of cities we’ve seen previously. The 76ers have never decided whether they want to be successful or not while the Flyers have maintained a consistent success as the Phillies flirt with .500 line. Despite being on a downward trend, the Flyers have been the only team above .500 for the last years, making them the obvious choice to be your success bandwagon team.

Toronto

Toronto, Ontario is home to the Raptors of basketball, the Maple Leafs of hockey and the Blue Jays of baseball. Toronto is the home of Canada’s first MLB team and the Raptors were one of two Canadian basketball teams to join the NBA in 1995.

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Toronto may be the most interesting city on this. With exception of the Raptors relatively poor performance until a turn around and rebuild towards success in 2010, the Blue Jays and Maple Leafs have been fairly consistent teams over the last 20 years. The Blue Jays won back to back World Series in the early 90s and the Maple Leafs are a staple of the NHL. All three teams are currently a safe distance above .500 so once more, the choice is yours. A want of consistency would lean you towards the Maple Leafs; room for disappointment would put you towards the Blue Jays and riding the coat-tails of the break out star would place you squarely in the Raptors camp.

Washington DC

Washington DC is home to the Nationals of baseball, the Captials of hockey and the Wizards of basketball. DC is home to the youngest team in the article, when the Montreal Expos moved to the nation’s capital and became the Washington Nationals before the 2005 MLB season.

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Washington is a city that leaves you spoiled for choice. All three of its teams have been above .500 for four or five seasons with Wizards and Nationals on the rise after seasons of breaking even. The Captials continue to be dominant and hold high-flying NHL numbers. This is certainly an occasional when any one of these teams would suit the needs of your success bandwagon.

My footnote in (fake) baseball history

My footnote in (fake) baseball history

There is a game in my Steam library I have become smitten with. It’s called Out of the Park 18 and it’s a pretty extensive baseball management simulator. I’ve dabbled with the game’s various mechanics for a couple of months now but recently, as one of the ways I’ve been breaking up days of job hunting, I’ve started to take the game more seriously.

For my first serious save file, I chose to be the manager of the Minnesota Twins. The game allows you to be the GM (controlling the franchise as a whole), manager (controlling the major league team) or you can do both roles. Because I hadn’t done a serious playthrough of the game, manager seemed simplest.

So let’s introduce the Minnesota Twins prior to the 2017 season. In 2016, the Twins finished with a record of 59-103, the worst record in the MLB since 2013 (the Astros went 51-111). For me, that meant my rookie season would carry fairly low expectations.

I have no control over the roster, only the lineups and pitchers so I simulate spring training and get right into the season.

April 7th, 2017- Minnesota Twins @ Chicago White Sox

My Twins are on the road at the White Sox for the second series of the season after a 2-1 loss to the Royals at home. The game begins at 9:10pm EST with a fastball from Miguel Gonzalez and goes scoreless for three innings. Max Kepler doubled in the top of the 4th and was run in by an Eddie Rosario double two batters later. Chicago ties the game in the bottom 4th and two half innings later, I’m staring at no outs and runners on first and second for Chicago. Given how this game likes to simulate, I assumed that Chicago was about to start scoring runs until I quit the game. Adalberto Mejia pitches a weak slider to Avisail Garcia who hits a line drive towards third base. The runners are moving, looking to at least advance on a single and load the bases.

Then something happens. The little icon at third, Miguel Sano, catches the ball and starts sprinting away from third. He intercepts the icon moving between second and third before stopping at second base. One pitch, three outs. Garcia caught, Cabrera tagged and Abreu forced out. Miguel Sano, a two-year major league veteran, has just completed an unassisted triple play. Disheartened, Chicago goes on to lose 6-2.

A rare gem

There are many rare feats in baseball- the immaculate inning (9 pitches, 9 strikes), the no-hitter (9 innings, no hits) and of course, the perfect game (9 innings, no bases conceded). Even a triple play is considered to be fairly rare. But there is one play that is rarer than them all- the unassisted triple play. This is a triple play (three outs from a single pitch) performed by a single player. Before we continue, allow me to tell you how rare an unassisted triple play is- between 1876 (the official inception of professional baseball in America) and August of 2017, there have been 713 triple plays, 296 no-hitters, 84 immaculate innings, 23 perfect games. There have only been 15 unassisted triple plays.

Given the number of MLB games played from 1876-2016, an unassisted triple play (UTP) occurs once every 14,225 games (or once every 6 seasons from a purely statistical standpoint). The average MLB career lasts 5.6 years or 907 games, meaning that the purely statistical probability of playing in a game in which a UTP occurs is 0.064 (one in 15.625 careers). The purely statistical probability of fielding a UTP depends on your position. Given how a baseball field is laid out, I think it is safe to say that outfielders (LF, CF and RF) cannot field a UTP because they would never be able to reach the infield in time. The pitcher theoretically could but to be honestly, that would be the most insane thing to happen in baseball and the same applies to the catcher (the only possible way a catcher could even do it would be to catch a fair or foul tip, force or tag out a runner coming home from third and then make it to third to run or tag out the runner approaching from second). So that leaves us with the three basemen and the shortshop. The existing fifteen UTPs tell us that in a game with a UTP, the probability of the position that completes the play is as follows: First baseman- 0.13; Second baseman- 0.33; Shortstop- 0.53. There have been no MLB UTPs by a third baseman but for the sake of this piece, let’s include my Sano UTP. That gives a third baseman the probability of 0.063. So before we move on, we now know that a third baseman making a UTP is about as likely as a UTP occurring in the first place.

This means that the probability of a third baseman making an unassisted triple play in Major League Baseball is 0.004032 or once every 248 unassisted triple plays. If a UTP occurs every 14,225 games; the math says that the 248th UTP would occur during the 3468 MLB season.

But Miguel Sano, a third baseman, made the play four games into the 2017 season. For arguably the league’s worst team.

Wild.

If you liked this piece, I recommend you check out my similar pieces, such as seeing if the 2016 Browns improved by going back and kidnapping football legends of the past