The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The 2007 No-Stars

Silly me to forget the "No-Star" Team for 2007. These are the players who posted the worst OFIB totals, with the minimum PA through the All-Star Break, in MLB so far this season.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Naïve Girl

Many years ago, there was a young lady in Minneapolis whose misadventures made us laugh and cry on a weekly basis. The cute-but-naïve girl was always fretting about her life with her friends and co-workers, and her misadventures became legendary in status.

Now, three decades later, another cute-but-naïve young girl in the Twin Cities has taken the stage – not on a television screen, but in a web-based comic strip known as Wapsi Square. Her misadventures and growing pains have brought similar feelings of joy and pain from people around the world as they follow her on a five-days-a-week basis via Paul Taylor's finely crafted drawings.

The similarities between the two, however, pretty much end there. The years and the jobs are not the only things that separate Mary Richards from Monica Villareal; there is a vast difference in the everyday lives of the two as well. About the only outlandish thing that Mary ever had to deal with, other than her boss Lou Grant, was probably her TV station's anchorman, Ted Baxter (or his wife, Georgette). On the other hand, Monica deals routinely with the supernatural, speaking in a long-dead language and pondering ancient cultures with a demi-goddess and golem girls, all the while fighting off the influence of her inner demons.

Monica's story is not one that can be easily grasped by the first-time reader, as it is somewhat like a soap opera (and in almost as many installments). It's an understatement to say she had a difficult childhood. She was involved in an accident where she nearly died, and she had issues both mental and physical along the way. Mental in that her sanity was questioned when an old lady who was no longer living had apparently taught her "glyph reading"; physical in her poor eyesight that resulted in milk-bottle-thick corrective lenses, and her early "blossoming" womanhood.

Lesser individuals would, at first glance, dismiss Wapsi Square as a boobs-and-babes story, especially due to Monica's exceptional physique. Digging below the surface and beyond the girder-and-rebar brassieres, however, is a very intelligent and extraordinary girl. Though she sees herself as a bit of a nerd, focused on museum antiquities and calendar machines, she knows herself in a way few others do. The way she deals with the supernatural activities going on around her serves to reinforce her inner strength and her intelligence – something Mary Richards could only dream of having. Of course, I doubt that Mary and Rhoda would know what to do in the presence of a sphinx librarian.

The supernatural characters and storylines are seen as a drawback to the casual observer, since it's difficult to pick up who is who (and what exactly they are doing in Minneapolis) without some background. At times like that, the reader should definitely remember two pertinent laws of fiction: Clarke's Law, which states that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic; and Joel's MST3K Law, which suggests that you should remember it's just a show, and you should probably relax and enjoy it.

Paul Taylor does a wonderful job of storytelling, with characters that you are immediately drawn to (no pun intended). Though you see the pitfalls of Shelly's relationship issues, you empathize with her for how she feels as she's trying to deal with a very difficult situation with another woman. Monica, of course, is the main focus of the strip, and her character is probably the most complex. Consider the following:

To say that Monica Villareal lives a complicated life, then, is akin to saying the Grand Canyon is a pretty big ditch. Obviously, her saga is far from being over. The questions of what her role as a glyph reader really means, and the questions surrounding the calendar machine, the Sun Stone, and what those figurines of Shelly's really are, are enough to keep the strip in potential storylines for years to come. Which is fortunate for the rest of us, because resolution of Monica's life would make for a pretty boring story.

At this point, though, we're not entirely sure if Monica's first statement, questioning if she is a naïve girl, is true or not. She may be naïve in certain things, but is growing closer to understanding them – perhaps more than she wants to know. And, perhaps at some point down the road, the statement attributed to that other girl from the Twin Cities may eventually prove true to our heroine – she's gonna make it through, after all.

EDIT: I was reminded (gently) that Phix is actually a Sphinx, and not a Griffen. If she were a griffen, she'd have the face of a cat, not of a librarian.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

2007 MLB OFIB and CYP All-Stars

(all stats through June 30, 2007)

C – Victor Martinez, Cleveland (57.1 SR, 7.6 OFIB)
1B – Kevin Youkils, Boston (58.1 SR, 9.0 OFIB)
2B – Bip Roberts, Baltimore (61.6 SR, 9.2 OFIB)
3B – Alex Rodriguez, New York (84.3 SR, 11.0 OFIB; 92.6 RCbasic, 41 BR)
SS – Orlando Cabrera, Los Angeles/Anaheim (56.4 SR, 7.8 OFIB)
LF – Manny Ramirez, Boston (49.0 SR, 7.6 OFIB)
CF – Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle (66.7 SR, 8.8 OFIB)
RF – Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles/Anaheim (65.9 SR, 9.7 OFIB)
DH – David Ortiz, Boston (63.9 SR, 9.7 OFIB)

Magglio Ordonez, RF, Detroit (78.8 SR, 9.6 OFIB)
Grady Sizemore, CF, Cleveland (61.6 SR, 8.2 OFIB)
Nick Swisher, RF, Oakland (46.2 SR, 8.1 OFIB)
Alex Rios, RF, Toronto (56.9 SR, 7.6 OFIB)
Derek Jeter, SS, New York (58.3 SR, 7.5 OFIB)
Jorge Posada, C, New York (53.8 SR, 7.5 OFIB)

Starting Pitchers:
Dan Haren, Oakland (14.4 FW, 24.7 CYP)
C.C. Sabathia, Cleveland (20.3 FW, 24.2 CYP; 12 W)
Josh Beckett, Boston (18.3 FW, 20.1 CYP)
Kenny Rogers, Detroit (4.0 FW, 14.1 CYP)
Jeremy Bonderman, Detroit (14.1 FW, 13.8 CYP)
Justin Verlander, Detroit (12.8 FW, 13.6 CYP)

Hideki Okajima, Boston (16 RP, 10.2 CYP)
Eric Gagne, Texas (31 RP, 10.1 CYP)
Eric O'Flaherty, Seattle (10 RP, 10.0 FW, 10.1 CYP)
J.J. Putz, Seattle (69 RP, 0.0 FW, 9.6 CYP; 23 SV, .192 BABIP)


C – Russell Martin, Los Angeles (49.2 SR, 7.7 OFIB)
1B – Prince Fielder, Milwaukee (67.5 SR, 9.8 OFIB)
2B – Chase Utley, Philadelphia (72.5 SR, 9.5 OFIB; 80 RCbasic, 30 BR)
3B – David Wright, New York (58.1 SR, 6.2 OFIB)
SS – Jose Reyes, New York (62.4 SR, 9.4 OFIB)
LF – Matt Holliday, Colorado (73.3 SR, 10.1 OFIB; 77.6 RCbasic, 26 BR)
CF – Carlos Beltran, New York (51.1 SR, 7.7 OFIB)
RF – Ken Griffey Jr., Cincinnati (56.2 SR, 8.0 OFIB)

Eric Byrnes, LF, Arizona (62.2 SR, 9.5 OFIB)
Alex Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego (52.7 SR, 9.1 OFIB)
Alfonso Soriano, LF, Chicago (57.9 SR, 8.6 OFIB)
Edgar Renteria, SS, Atlanta (58.7 SR, 8.5 OFIB)
Barry Bonds, LF, San Francisco (58.7 SR, 8.5 OFIB)
Benjie Molina, C, San Francisco (33.0 SR, 3.8 OFIB; -3 BR)

Starting Pitchers:
Brad Penny, Los Angeles (18.1 FW, 29.2 CYP)
Jake Peavy, San Diego (14.4 FW, 22.0 CYP)
Ben Sheets, Milwaukee (14.7 FW, 16.2 CYP)
Chris Young, San Diego (10.8 FW, 14.8 CYP)
John Maine, New York (11.2 FW, 13.1 CYP)
Aaron Harang, Cincinnati (12.4 FW, 12.3 CYP)

Jason Isringhausen, Saint Louis (51 RP, 13.9 CYP; .201 BABIP)
Takashi Saito, Los Angeles (68 RP, 13.8 CYP)
Billy Wagner, New York (50 RP, 9.0 CYP)
Francisco Cordero, Milwaukee (77 RP, 3.7 CYP; 27 SV)

BABIP: Batting Average of Balls In Play. Basically, Hits less Home Runs, divided by At Bats less Strikeouts, less Home Runs.
RP: Relief Points; here, only Saves, Wins and Losses are used from available data.
CYP: Cy Young Points. Complicated formula; presented elsewhere in this blog. Basically a "strength" statistic that measures pitching performance in terms of (roughly) wins.
BR: Batting Runs.
RCbasic - Basic Runs Created, otherwise known as TECH-1. Does not include IW and GIDP, because of lack of data.
OFIB: Offensive Fibonacci Points. Offensive Wins, times Offensive Winning Percentage, plus Offensive Wins minus Offensive Losses.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Random Observations, July 2007

Some random observations for a long Independence Day weekend: