4/25/13 Rangers at Twins: Target Field
After a week off from baseball, due to the game I was initially going to attend on Tuesday against the Marlins being postponed, it was back to Target Field:
Ah yes. The Texas Rangers. Historically a team that could always get enough runs to win, and relied on their pitching to not get knocked around. Sadly, though, I didn’t get to see their bombers this game, because, well, they didn’t show up:
I thought it was really weird that there was no batting practice until I realized that they had played the last night’s game in Ananheim. As overlooked as it may be by most baseball fans, that’s a long ways to travel overnight, especially when the time change is working against you. And also, as my friend Jonathan pointed out, they had beaten the Angels 11-3, so in a sense, they got their batting practice in. Why did he say this to me? Because he joined me for this game. Here is a picture of him waiting in line for the gates to open:
I really should do a better job of warning people when I’m about to take a picture of them. But progressing away from my digression, the reason that you can see so many people at the gates (who had sizable lines behind them) is 1. This was the first game that it was over 40 degrees for the majority of said game, and it was even warmer for BP because the sun was still out. And 2. The Twins, in partnership with 96.3 K-Twin were giving out a Glen Perkins fishing lure as a promotion:
I ended up giving it away to a lady on the bus ride back, who had just missed out on it and wanted to give one to her nephew, but I guess it was a cool promotion? My experience with fishing is the catch-it-and-throw-it-back of summer camp, so………moving on to the snagging; when I got in, the pitchers for the Rangers were indeed throwing, so I moved behind them:
When I got there, though, the awesomeness that is Derek Lowe took over. Jonathan took the next few pictures/video.
Here he is throwing me what I believe is a curveball. He spun a bunch of them to me as well as over-emphasizing the speeds of the “fast”balls he was tossing me from thirty feet out:
He did so with such gems as: “Woo! What was that?! Twenty miles an hour?” Here I am throwing him what I believe is a change-up:
For the sake of completeness, here are the rest of the pictures that Jonathan took:
And here is the video of us two throwing:
Finally, after TEN MINUTES of playing catch with me and then playing and additional session of catch with Yu Darvish that you saw earlier, Lowe tossed me the ball:
He’s now much higher on my favorite players list.
After that, I almost got Yu Darvish to sign the ball:
but he had to go to a pitcher’s meeting right before he got to me.
Then there was a lull because absolutely nothing was going on on the field, but one of the awesomest things that has ever happened to me at a baseball game happened. A Twins worker headed up to both myself and Jonathan and handed us each one of these flyers:
We were both going to be in the Race at Target Field. She actually said she had spotted us sitting by the dugout from the upper deck. What are the odds? So since there really wasn’t anything of note that happened between this point and the race, let’s get right to it, shall we?
In the bottom of the second inning, Jonathan and I headed out to the New Era Store in left field:
From there, a different Twins employee took us through the elevator typically designated for the club and suite levels to the basement (or -2) level concourse:
Sorry the picture is a bit blurry; we were walking and I didn’t want to stop to take pictures.
Anyway, I had to leave my phone in my backpack, so my detailing to you of what happened next will be all text. I didn’t know if I was supposed to be taking pictures, so I didn’t want to find out that I didn’t. We first arrived at a room that opened similar to a garage door. In there, among other things, were the mascot costumes and a broken Best Buy video game station, similar to that which I played on in my last game of last season. In there, we got completely suited up as the mascots. Jonathan and I actually ended up picking our mascots last, so I had Skeeta, leaving Jonathan stuck with Wanda:
Skeeta (as in a shortening of the word “mosquito”)/myself is on the left while Wanda/Jonathan is on the right. After getting suited-up, we moved to an alcove of sorts right underneath the left field seats, where we got the rules and logistics explained to us. Then it was a little bit of waiting, and finally we got to go out onto the field. We got to exit to our (characters’) names being introduced and to the applause of the crowd. After the introduction, we lined up and waited for the countdown to “go”. I was really nervous about getting an unfair start, so I hesitated a bit on the start, but I got the lead after ten feet or less and then never gave it up for the rest of the race. It was *really* awkward running in the mascot costumes, because the heads bobble up and down as you run, so I was actually going what felt like very slowly to me. It also caused me to be off-balance on turning, so I almost broke one of the main rules that were explained to me. In turning the corner by the foul pole, I almost ran onto the grass, but I managed to balance my head long enough for me to jump over the corner of the grass and take a really sharp turn down the last stretch of the race, which ended at the outfield end of the dugout. Again, I was running what felt to be VERY slowly, so I couldn’t believe that I was in the lead. Finally, though, I crossed the finish line as still no one had passed me. If you want to watch the video of the race, here it is:
Exciting to say the least. After the race finished, though. I thought we were going to the tunnel the umpires exit through. It wasn’t until the camera man was telling me to get off the field back from where I came from. I then grabbed the trophy and got off the field just as the first hitter of the inning was being introduced. In getting in through the door we were supposed to exit, though, we all had to duck, and Babe had to also turn sideways. That’s another thing: during the race, we were told not to hold our heads. I is so tempting given how wobbly they are, but apparently Target doesn’t like how awkward it makes the mascots look as they are running.
When we got back to the garage-type room, I got the organizer to take another picture of me celebrating:
Jonathan then headed up to the standing room and spent the game basically rephrasing how to say, “Did that just happen?” And with that, ended what probably what will be my favorite Twins loss/1-ball game ever.
- 1 Ball at this game
- 35 Balls in 8 Games= 4.38 Balls Per Game
- 1 Balls x 25,459 Fans=25,459 Competition Factor
- 70 straight Games with at least 1 Ball
- 90 Balls in 22 Games at Target Field= 4.09 Balls Per Game
- 20 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Target Field
- Time Spent On Game 4:05-11:22= 7 Hours 17 Minutes
MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference 2012- Day 2
For those wondering why it took me so long to get this posted, last week (March 4th- 10th was National Procrastination Week), and I was… er… celebrating until this past Sunday. So anyway, here is the entry…
Ah, day 2. This conference couldn’t get any better, right? Well, it didn’t. It simply maintained its awesomeness from the first day, but before we delve into the events of the second day, here are some items I got on the first day that I would like to share. First, here is the ID I used to enter the convention center. It might look familiar to those of you who follow me on Twitter (If you don’t follow me on Twitter and would like to do so there is a button to do so over there —> It is near the top of the page):
Pretty self-explanatory, right?
At the door, in addition to giving us those spiffy IDs, we also got a “goodie bag” of sorts:
The lower right item is the bag all this other stuff came in. The labeled items going clockwise from the bag are: an ESPN the magazine you may recognize from my introductory entry to this conference, the “handbook” is really a book that explains everything about the conference. Mostly, it has all of the panels and bios of each of the participants, a list of all of the participants in the conference (about 2,200) sorted by organization, and finally, a mouse pad that is basically a square cut out of some thin plastic sheet ( I actually don’t know if it is a mouse pad, but I assume so with how it looks). The other two things are a metallic bottle and some book I still haven’t figured out the theme of.
So anyway, NOW let’s get to the action of the day. There was no common panel for everyone to watch this day. It was just “go directly from breakfast to your first session”. That first session for me was “Measuring Belief in Sports Performance Research”. Since it wasn’t Baseball-related, here are only a few of the slides:
Just to give you an idea of the “globality” of this conference, the talk was given by this guy, Peter Blanch:
Yeah, well he’s from Australia.
The next talk was sort of a spin-off of a talk I had heard the previous day in that Peter Fadde helped research for this company.
Anyway, it was “Training Above The Neck”. The company was Axon Performance and the talk was given by their vice-president, Jason Sada:
The idea of the company is to enact Malcolm Gladwell‘s idea of getting mastery of something with 10,000 hours of practice, but instead of having a player go on the field and wear down their body’s mileage and risk injury, the athletes master the mental aspect of the game through their products. An example of the mileage thing being the case is, for those who pay attention to football, Quarterbacks will almost always say after they’re retired that once they started figuring out the mental part of the game, their body started failing them. An example of the usage of these products is that Minor League Baseball Players, who have eons of time traveling on buses, could actually see 5,000 pitches and practice identifying the first 1/8th of a pitch’s flight instead of just being bored out of their mind. This really was a presentation meant to be experience and not read, so I actually won’t post any of the slides. For example, the presentation started off with a movie about the company.
Not to belittle the other sessions, but next was by far my favorite session of the day and quite possibly the conference. Actually, though, it wasn’t as easy a choice as you might have thought. Right up until the end of Axon Sports’ presentation, I still didn’t know whether I was going to either: Franchises In Transition, or Box Score Rebooted. Right at the end of the session I thought to myself, “Hey, doofus, what are you even debating? You are a stat-oriented Baseball fan. Go to Box Score Rebooted!” So not only did I go to that one, but it was boxed lunch time so I was able to out-race people and get in the first row of seats. Check out the view I had:
Mind you, this shot was taken with the camera zoomed all the way out.
You may be able to recognize one of the panelists, but let me introduce them all:
John Walsh (moderator):
– Executive Vice-President ESPN.
– I already introduced him in the previous day‘s entry.
– Director of Production Analytics ESPN ( if you have seen TQBR in football used, he was part of the team that invented it).
– The founder of STATS Inc.
– Official Historian for MLB.
Trust me when I tell you they had some very interesting things they talked about, but unfortunately I don’t have my notes with me as I lent them to someone else who wanted to know about the conference. Like the Ron Shapiro video, I’ll tweet it out when I update the entry. However, here is a video if you want to watch the whole panel:
Also, here’s the panel I was thinking of going to. You can tell me if you think I made the right choice:
Next up was a session that I really didn’t expect, and it was disappointing as a result. It was a competition between business schools when I thought it was going to be a presentation or panel on business. So, I’ll show the competitors and that’s it.
Here are the three people from the first school I forgot the names of, even though they were sitting right next to me prior to, and during the competition:
University of Chicago Booth School, the eventual winners:
So anyway, after that it was time for “Building the Modern Athlete: Performance Analyitcs“. This panel was made up of:
Peter Keating (moderator):
– Senior Writer for ESPN the Magazine.
– CEO of Athlete’s Performance.
– Co-Founder of BASE Productions.
– Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated.
– Director of Player Personnel for the Indiana Pacers.
– Four-time Olympic Ice Hockey Medalist.
This panel really didn’t talk a bout Baseball at all, so I’ll refrain from writing about the content of it.
The next panel I went to was entitled, “Fanalytics“. It was either that or “Fantasy Sports Analytics”. The deciding factor was that the former was held in the Ballroom, so I would have an easier time finding a good seat for the closing ceremonies. So, I left the previous session a tad early and managed to grab a seat in the section directly in front of the stage. Unfortunately, it was towards the back so all of my pictures were taken through the heads of people in front of me and some of the “good” pictures were ruined as a result, but anyway, here are the panelists:
Bill Simmons (moderator):
– Writer for ESPN. Listed, though, as the editor-in-cheif for Grantland, which is that mysterious book in the middle of the second picture of the entry.
– President of the Kraft Group.
– I already introduced him in this entry.
– CEO of Ticketmaster.
– Executive Vice President of Business for MLB.
It really wasn’t a Baseball panel per say, but I think its better moment came from the Baseball related banter going on between Bill Simmons and Tim Brosnan. For example, Bill complaining about the fact that you can’t watch Baseball clips on Youtube and then Tim responding to it. If I ever get around to posting the footage I have of this panel, I’ll tweet it that the entry has been edited, but it’s pretty crumby because of all the people’s heads I had to constantly move my camera out of the way of. So if you want to watch it just for the entertainment value of that (and it was entertaining to those of us present), here is the video if you want to watch:
Next up was the First Annual Alpha Awards, which were awards in the field of analytics made for the conference. There were a bunch of them, so I’ll just highlight the most notable ones.
First (I believe), was Bill James winning the “Lifetime Achievement” Award. Here is a video I took of the occasion. I apologize for the blurriness, I had a telephoto lens all the way zoomed-in, so I wasn’t exactly close, and the camera was feeling heavy at this point:
Next was the Tampa Bay Rays winning the prize for best-run organization (this being in terms of analytics, of course):
The last notable award was for the University of Chicago Booth school winning the business competition I was at earlier:
I really have no idea whether those events actually took place in the order I presented them, but I do know that after the awards, there was a “Live B.S. Report” with Mark Cuban.
First of all, it was a completely non-baseball “session”, so I won’t share anything besides the pictures, but it was a unique situation that I want to describe in that this was Mark Cuban’s only session of the conference (it was the last session of the conference period). Even though he was supposed to be there the whole weekend. So he basically flew out from wherever just for this session. The only other panel I attended he should have been in was the “Fanalytics” panel. So, here are the pictures:
After the BS Report itself ended, Cuban and Simmons got mobbed on the stage by all of the MIT students who organized the event and personally thanked/ shook the hand of each one of them. If you are a Basketball or aspiring Sports Business person, it may be a session to listen to as both involved are “personalities”. So for those of you who do want to take a look/listen, here is the video:
They were then nice enough to pose for me to take a picture. Don’t let their eyes fool you, the whole set-up was for me:
Oh and when I say “mobbed” it’s not that much of a stretch. The stage was pretty small and there were a lot of people. This next picture is just me moving the camera to the left to show all of the people outside of the shot, and that’s not including the people out-of-frame to the right:
…and that was your conference. I went out in the halls to film a video you will probably never see and went back to my hotel room already planning to comeback next year.
So obviously, I extremely recommend this conference if you are really into sports and live in the North-eastern region of the United States. Even if you don’t, it might be worth it. It was just THAT amazing for me.
Lastly, there may be a few more entries regarding this conference coming up, so if you’re waiting for the rest of the “Offseason Recap and Preview” entries, bear with me. I wanted to keep writing them all the way up until the beginning of the season and this conference provided the perfect excuse to do so. I will actually be doing an in-school internship involving this blog, so expect entries done during the month of April to be a tad more developed along with me experimenting with a few things. Also, if you want to check out the video page, here, is the link. They used some of my pictures as the shots for the videos. See how many you can pick out that are my pictures from these two entries.
P.S. I really didn’t want that to be the last word, just because the conference was so awesome so here are the final word: What a way to spend two days.