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Beside The Points For Monday, April 23, 2018

Things That Caught My Eye

Seattle to earn more frequent flyer miles

The Seattle Seahawks, by virtue of playing in a city that is very far away from other cities that host NFL teams, spend a lot of time on planes. Once every four years, they get a reprieve and get to play in Oakland, a place only 801 miles away. This year the NFL scheduled that advantage away, as Seattle will play Oakland 4,789 miles away in one of the London games. [ESPN]

Detroit isn’t as bad off as it seems

Every year, people talk about a strength of team’s schedule, and every year they tend to use the one thing that isn’t super predictive of future results, namely total wins and losses. Football is fluky, and a team’s win percentage is often no indicator of how a team will do in a subsequent year. What is helpful is looking at Pythagorean wins, which looks at how a team with a given points scored and allowed would be expected to perform as. Ranking strength of schedule by that, a team like Detroit — which has the second hardest schedule according to wins — can breathe easier, as they’d be more in the middle of the pack, with the 15th hardest schedule. [FiveThirtyEight]

Pine tar seems like a bigger problem?

Gerrit Cole’s spin rate on a fastball jumped from 2,163 rpm last year to 2,332 rpm this season, a jump that Trevor Bauer of the Indians suggested may have been due to the use of pine tar. Several years ago a particularly brazen use of pine tar — which can aid in grip and control of the ball and is super illegal — got Michael Pineda ejected from a game. How widespread this practice is is unclear, but pitchers and managers reportedly seem to tolerate it because many people regardless of club are using it. [ESPN]

Try out our interactive, Which World Cup Team Should You Root For?

Shady way of doing business

We are several weeks into baseball, which means that finally top-tier talent that was forced to marinate in the minors for an arbitrary two weeks in order to defer free agency for another year is being brought up to the big leagues. The CBA gives teams control over a player for 4 or 5 minor league seasons, then six full major league seasons. Operative word being full; if you force a rookie to spend a few weeks in the minors and then bring him up, teams can defer free agency for an additional year. [The Ringer]

Don’t call it a tank

The Miami Marlins, which FiveThirtyEight forecasts will have an estimated 60 wins at the end of this season (the lowest in the league), are in part owned by Derek Jeter, who oversaw a roster wipe. Confronted about this by HBO’s Bryant Gumbel, Jeter vehemently denied that the tank was on and that he truly expects the team to contend this year. [Miami Herald]

Browns attempt to defy history

Since 1950, the Browns have drafted 49 quarterbacks. Of those, eight were in the first round. Only one of those eight was a successful pick, Bernie Kosar, who led the Browns to three AFC championship games. In their whole history, they’ve had 55 different starting quarterbacks, of whom only 11 started in a playoff game, and only 2 since 1993. Let’s see what they do with their No. 1 pick. [ESPN]

Big Number(s)

21 pitches

Congratulations to San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt and condolences to viewers of a baseball game he played in! Belt has the record for most pitches in a single at bat, with 21 pitches. The at bat lasted 12 minutes and 45 seconds. [ESPN]

Leaks from Slack:

neil:

That has to be one of the least likely no-hitters ever

(at least based on the opponent)

chris.herring:

I’m just seeing the highlights of the no-hitter! Thats so shady! The error they called def shouldve been a hit!

 

Predictions

Oh, and don’t forget
A successful no no nearly killed this man

Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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