Head in a Word Cloud.
Perhaps you have run into "word clouds," a visual device that represents how frequently different words appear in a text. As a historian I love it, as I can do fun things like compare Obama's 2008 Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance speech with McCain's from the Republican National Convention.
That's useful stuff. I can show word clouds like those to my students, and ask them what the clouds do (and do not) reveal.
But who cares about utility. Let's use some word clouds to navel-gaze, and check out our favorite baseball-related websites.
What does this tell us about ourselves? Eh, on the one hand, perhaps not much more than a bit of fun navel gazing. It does look like it's spring training, though. The most prominent names I see are Micah Hoffpauir, Darwin Barney, Joey Gathright and Marshall. And it looks like we're a permissive group, we like the word "allowing." I have no idea why.
However, comparing our cloud with that from Carrie Muskat's feed shows some interesting differences
"Cubs" is even more prominent for Muskat than it is for us. Perhaps not surprising, as selling the team is part of her job description. But look at that Giant Blue Sutcliffe! Muskat's readership likely is A. more interested in name-brand Cubs (and ex-Cubs) and B. more interested in human interest stories. Those differences show up elsewhere in the word cloud: check out how much more prominent Milton Bradley and his quadriceps are. LouPa features prominently, as do other marque names like Aramis and Harden. Forgive me for noticing, and remarking on, the prominence of "Carrie."
If you're really in to self-mutilation, there's Phil Rogers' RSS feed.
It doesn't look like Rogers actually talks much about baseball. Appropriate.
I should credit Rogers, though, as there isn't a larger Tribune Cubs News feed. Paul Sullivan also doesn't seem to have any sort of news feed. So instead, I cut and pasted the text of four of his "mailbag" columns into wordle, and got this. (Wordle will randomly pair different fonts and color schemes and word layout, if you don't specify any. This layout struck me as quite pretty, so I left it as is.)
I dare you to guess, from this word cloud, what the title is of Paul Sullivan's column.
Both the Sun-Times and the Daily Herald offer Cubs RSS feeds. Here's the Sun-Times' feed.
Compare that to the Daily Herald's feed.
The Sun Times appears to care far more about Milton Bradley. The Herald, the Cubs.
How does TCR compare to Bleed Cubbie Blue? Here's their word cloud.
I'm not interested in any BCB/TCR rivalry: It's a big enough fan-base to support both of us. But there are interesting differences. BCB's word cloud includes a lot more, well, internet-y words like "post" and "comment" and "link". TCR's wordle word cloud more closely resembles "traditional" news media with a higher preponderance of player names and baseball-event sort of words.
Like many of you, I read Fan Graphs religiously. Here's the word cloud on their feed.
Look much like a sabrmetric site?
Lineup: Fowler, Soler, KB, Rizzo, AJackson. Montero, Castro, Hendricks, Russell
I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.
Awesome stuff, Phil.
listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.
That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.
it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?
sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.