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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ryu Throws Complete Game 2-Hit Shutout

Ryu Throws Complete Game 2-Hit Shutout
May 29, 2013
LOS ANGELES, CA --

Hyun-Jin Ryu closed out the Dodgers’ end of the Freeway Series with a complete game, 2-hit shutout as the Dodgers defeated the 3-0 Los Angeles Angels Tuesday night.

Ryu’s first ever game against the local rival Angels was a dominant performance, allowing just two hits in nine innings and no walks while striking out seven batters. Ryu earned his sixth win of the season and dropped his ERA to 2.89. With a 6-2 record through eleven starts, the Korean-born pitcher appears to be worth the $62 million investment for the Dodgers.

Ryu also got the offense started for the Dodgers with a line drive double to the right center gap in the bottom of the 3rd, but was stranded there.

Luis Cruz provided a boost for the Dodgers with a 2-run shot to left field in the bottom of the 5th. Despite struggling this year, the Dodgers designated teammate Dee Gordon to their Triple-A affiliate Albuquerque Isotopes instead of Cruz. The home run was Cruz’s first of the year as his lone hit on the night kept his batting average from dropping below .100 again.

Matt Kemp doubled in the 6th inning and scored on an A.J. Ellis single to finish off the scoring for the night. Former Dodgers pitcher Joe Blanton tossed a respectable seven innings, allowing three earned off of seven hits. Blanton’s first return to Chavez Ravine since his offseason departure would be his eighth loss of the season.

Howie Kendrick singled off Ryu in the top of the 2nd, but the Angels would not see another base runner until catcher Chris Iannetta doubled in the top of the 8th.  A ground out would end that offensive threat as Ryu closed out his 2-hitter.

The Freeway Series now moves to Anaheim for two games. Wednesday night’s matchup will likely see Jered Weaver’s return from an elbow fracture as he faces off against the Dodgers’ Chris Capuano at 7:05 p.m.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Quickly" Explaining Cricket to Americans

As a sports enthusiast, I appreciate learning new and foreign games from time to time. Cricket has always intrigued me, but its lack of presence on American television makes it difficult to learn and to get excited about. I finally resolved to batten down the hatches and learn the rules. While I'm at it, I might as well write down what I learned so other Americans can have a quick and dirty explanation of the rules.

There is a lot of terminology which may be foreign even to baseball fans. As such, I will try to follow any unclear terms with definitions in parentheses. I will also try to make comparisons to baseball whenever appropriate and helpful for clarity.

Let's first talk about the players. Each team consists of 11 players and 1 substitute. On the offensive side, each player will be a batsman during the match. On the defensive side, the players are separated into three main categories: bowlers (like pitchers), fielders, and a keeper (like a catcher). At any time, there is only one player bowling and one player keeping. The other nine players roam the field, trying to catch any balls hit toward them.

When on offense, a team sends two of its batsman to the area where the bowling (pitching) is done, called the pitch. One batsman stands on the opposite end of the bowler and the other batsman stands on the same end as the bowler. The batsman who is opposite of the bowler (also called the striker) is tasked with "protecting the wickets" which are three wooden stakes that are hammered into the ground behind him. If the bowler is able to break the wickets by hitting a stake with the ball, the striker is dismissed (out) and is then replaced by a new batsman. Note: There is another set of wickets directly behind the bowler.



In order to score runs, the striker and his opposite batsman must successfully cross the pitch (measuring about 60 feet) and cross the crease (essentially a batter's box) with either his body or his bat (they both carry their bats with them while running). Each time they manage to swap sides, they earn their team 2 points. After the ball has been bowled, the batsmen must together decide whether they will risk leaving their creases to attempt to score runs. If the ball looks as if it will not be caught in the air or picked up off the ground and quickly returned, the batsmen will take off running. They will continue to run back and forth, scoring two runs each time, until they feel as if they cannot safely cross again. Should the fielders or keeper return the ball and knock over a wicket while a batsman is not safely in the crease, that batsman is dismissed. Until dismissed, he and his partner continue batting.

As I said before, the batsmen can continue to run as long as they believe they will safely cross the pitch. Scoring one to three runs per batsman is common when crossing the pitch, but more than that is unlikely. Similar to baseball, there is a boundary around the pitch (which is generally shaped like an oval). If the batsman hits the ball and it bounces across the boundary (like a ground rule double), the batsman earns 4 runs and needs not cross the pitch. If the ball manages to clear the boundary while flying through the air (like a home run), the batsman is awarded 6 runs.

The format of a Cricket match can vary greatly, but the match is most commonly divided into innings. An innings (Cricket adds an "s" to inning for both the singular and plural form) continues for the offensive team until 10 out of the 11 batsmen have been dismissed. Not all 11 are required to be dismissed to end an innings because each striker needs a non-striker batsman to run opposite himself. When a team's innings is over, the fielding team and batting team swap sides.

Also important to note is the idea of "overs." Each bowler may only bowl one over, which consists of six consecutive balls thrown. After a bowler finishes his over, another bowler must replace him for no bowler may throw consecutive overs.

Finally, and I'm sure I left out some important details, I will cover the four most prominent ways of being dismissed as a batsman:
  1. "Bowled" - The bowler successfully gets the ball past the striker and "breaks" the wicket, which means it has either literally broken or one of the small pieces of wood sitting on top and essentially connecting the wickets together has been dislodged.
  2. "Caught" - The batsman's batted ball has been caught out of the air by one of the members of the other team.
  3. "Leg Before Wicket" - In the simplest sense, if the ball hits the striker when it would have hit the wickets, the striker is dismissed. Think of this rule as sort of an anti-goaltending rule. It prevents the batsman from purposefully getting hit to avoid being "bowled."
  4. "Run Out" - If a member of the defensive side breaks a wicket with the ball while the batsman nearest that wicket has not crossed the crease to safety, that batsman is dismissed.
A batter that has been "bowled"

The other six ways are less common and include rules about obstructing a fielder or mishitting the ball.
Note: There are also other ways of scoring runs that I have not mentioned for the sake of brevity.

So that's the basic gist of Cricket. If you have any questions or clarifications, feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to provide an answer or look it up!

Sources: Wikipedia, Cricket-Rules.comLearn-Cricket.com

- Isaac M. Comelli (5/22/13)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sitzpinklers and Backpfeifengesichts (no, that's not English)




     It's about 16 foreign words that we don't have words for in English. They're pretty funny (for example, Pisan Zapra – The time needed to eat a banana.), so I decided to write a story, incorporating each of these words (in order, nonetheless). Here is that story with each word and its definition provided below as a sort of legend:

     Once upon a time, there lived a man named Marteen. Having acquired aquaphobia at a young age, Marteen was a sitzpinkler.

     Marteen sat at his work cubicle in a state of misery. He had already sent 37 e-mails that morning and it was only 8:45 AM. The monotony of everyday life had gotten to Marteen. His tocka overwhelmed him and he worried he wouldn't make it through the day. The only hope of relief he had was knowing that at the end of the day, he would visit his favorite tanning salon. Being a slampadato, Marteen’s 8 visits a week made him more than a regular. Susie, the friendly receptionist greeted him with a wide grin every visit despite suspecting something mentally wrong with the man.

     At 5 o’clock, Marteen packed his hands-free waist satchel (he didn't like to call it a fanny pack) and left for Tan-tacular. Along the way, a homeless man called to him from the sidewalk and said, “Hey! Sirrrr. You got some whiskey?” The hobo rubbed his upper lip to relieve his sgriob while Marteen walked away as quickly as he could. He continued on to the tanning salon, but to his great sadness, found it to be closed. Disappointed, Marteen walked home.

     Late that night, as Marteen lay awake in bed, his mind raced with all the disappointments in his life. There was the time he thought he saw the gumusservi, but it was really just the police helicopter’s spotlight, coming to arrest his grandmother for arson. There was the time he was a contestant on a game show in which he had a pisan zapra to grab as much money from a cash whirlwind but got too scared and huddled in a ball. There was also the time he bought a baby iguana from the pet store but it was so gigil, he literally pinched it to death. Life had been rough on Marteen and it wasn't getting any easier.

     The next day, while procrastinating on some data entry in his cubicle, Marteen’s co-worker Arthur walked by and noticed his eyes looking a bit glazed over. “Marteen, are you high?” asked Arthur. Marteen stammered, “What? Oh. No. I was just…” “You were all boketto on that window over there,” interrupted Arthur. “Yeah. Sorry. Just been kinda out of it recently.” “That’s ok, man. I noticed you've been a little off since Kerman died,” said Arthur solemnly. “Oh… yeah. I suppose,” Marteen agreed for hope that the conversation would end. “Alright buddy. I’ll see you at the funeral. Chin up! I don’t mean to be a pesameneiro, but there should be some great Shitta to grub on.” “Yeah. Hopefully I won’t kummerspeck. I gotta watch my figure,” Marteen jested. Arthur laughed and walked away from his pensive co-worker. Marteen spent the rest of the afternoon continuing to think about nothing.

     Marteen arrived at the church and entered the sanctuary slowly. He hadn't been in a church since his grandmother had passed away (while she was in prison on her arson charge) and wasn't excited about being there. As he sat down, he noticed the woman sitting right in front of him. She had a stylish hairdo and seemed to be wearing a nice dress, at least by what he could see of it that wasn't covered by the church pew. He hadn't been on a date since Nickelback was cool. He concocted a plan and “accidentally” dropped his pen on her pew so that she would talk to him. She picked up the pen, turned around and said, “Is this yours?” “Yeah. Thanks,” Marteen said shortly. She was bakku-shan and he was a stickler for only the most beautiful girls (only one of many reasons for his Nickelback-length dating drought).

     The funeral service began with a 15-minute prayer by the priest, whom Marteen discovered was a backpfeifengesicht. The latter hoped that the clergyman would stop his prayer during several lulls, but the man trudged on through the sighs of his audience. Marteen decided that the priest had definitely been a manque; he probably should have been a televangelist. After the prayer and seven testimonials of the greatness that was the life of Kerman, something happened that shocked the entire congregation. Kerman’s casket door burst open with a loud vybafnout. An old lady in the front row fainted.

     Kerman ran out of the church doors and out into the street. Thinking this event odd, Marteen decided to follow the potential zombie to see what happened. He could Kerman in an alleyway, hiding. He had his hand on a long, metallic object that hanged from his belt. Marteen saw a woman walking towards the alley’s corner and feared that she was about to be tsujigiri’d. She sauntered closer to the hidden Kerman who heard her coming and braced himself for the pouncing strike. Marteen started running towards her and began to shout, “Watch ou….” But it was too late. Kerman had jumped from the corner with an inaudible vybafnout this time. Marteen watched as he sliced his hands and the metallic object through the air. Kerman’s hands stopped with the object inches away from the woman’s face. He shouted, “Here’s your nine iron, young, Asian, golfing superstar Michelle Wie.” The formerly “dead” and now crazy, golf club-wielding man ran away, never to be seen by Marteen again.

Legend:
Sitzpinkler – A man who pees sitting down.
Tocka – Great spiritual anguish, a longing with nothing to long for.
Slampadato – Being addicted to the infrared glow of tanning salons.
Sgriob – The itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whiskey.
Gumusservi – Moonlight shining on water.
Pisan Zapra – The time needed to eat a banana.
Gigil – When something is so cute you have to pinch it.
Boketto – Gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking.
Pesamenteiro – One who shows up to a funeral for the food.
Shitta – Leftover dinner eaten for breakfast.
Kummerspeck – Weight gaining from emotional eating.
Bakku-shan – Seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.
Backpfeifengesicht – A face badly in need of a fist.
Manque – Having failed to become what one might have been.
Vybafnout – To jump out and say boo.
Tsujigiri – To test a new sword casually on a passerby.

- Isaac M. Comelli (5/12/13)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Computer Is Smarter Than Me

Or maybe it was just luckier?

Almost a month ago during my regular playing for ESPN's game Streak for the Cash, I started out horribly. I began the month with an 0-9 record. It was terrible, disgraceful, and degrading. So I said to myself, "Forget this. I don't need to humiliate myself this way." Then I decided to delve into my fascination with pseudorandom number generation and chance. So, I put my computer to the test and let it take over all of my Streak for the Cash choices for the rest of the month.

I always looked for picks where the percentages weren't seemingly blowouts to attempt to maintain as much of a "coin flip" atmosphere as possible. Sticking as closely as possible to the 50-50 ratios, I let my computer simulate a luck-of-the-draw choice and the results are rather interesting. As one might hope to find, the computer did a pretty good job (with such a small sample size) of remaining close to 50% wins and losses. After starting 0-9, my end of the month results totaled 34 wins and 36 losses. Subtracting out my 9 losses that aren't attributed to the computer, that gives a final computer-generated result of 34-27 (55.7% win percentage). That's right about what I could have hoped for and expected.

So, it was fun while it lasted and I'm glad the results came out how I had thought they would. Alas, it's time for me to get back to choosing my own picks. Here's hoping I'll do much better than I was before I started this experiment!

- Isaac M. Comelli (5/1/13)

P.S. If you want to see my other blog posts related to this experiment, here they are:
The Beginning
The Middle
and this is The End.