Formerly Felines for Anarchistic Green Democracies

A Bostonian at the University of Michigan.

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Monday, November 07, 2005  

Scottie Vines.

Three first-round picks and the best bloody receiver on the Detroit Lions is... Scottie Vines.

That is pretty much all that I want to say about that, except to point out that it is not all Joey's fault... the O-line was shaky at best, as usual. Mike Williams dropped a few passes he definitely should have gotten his hands on. I won't pretend to know much about it, being a mere blogger, but people are saying that Roy Williams is milking his injury a bit too much. Charles Rogers is... well, if he's not cracked in two, he's smoking like a chimney, and if he's not doing either one of those things he's dogging it in practice and getting his State-grad ass sat for the game. Leaving us with, yes, Scottie Vines, who had a career game today.

Of course it's not too hard to have a career game when you're the sort of guy who was an undrafted free agent, and who was cut out of training camp by a team as dismal as the Lions. Still, you can't deny that he has now got the most yards in a game of any Lions receiver this year, and that he made some sick catches today... notably that one near the end of the first half where he hauled one in near the endzone, with Ralph Brown covering. That was a lovely grab, that was.

He wasn't too excited about his great day, though, because he's a team player, yo. Or, as he put it himself after the game, "When the team lose, I feel they pain."

He feels they pain, guys. He feels they pain.

Joey Harrington, postgame, on throwing to Scottie Vines and Glen Martinez (who?) instead of his trio of alleged star-potential receivers: "Like I always said, you dance with the girl that brung ya."

I am not making that up, either. The word 'brung' was actually used.

I just.... yeah, I don't really have anything else to say about that game. Urgh.

But, baseball!

In my evolutionary biology discussion tomorrow (relevant, honest, stick with me here kids) we're talking about handedness, in humans and in the scale-eating cichlid fish species Perissodus microlepis (as seen here). The stuff with the fish is interesting, but I won't bore you with it, except to say that they exhibit 'handedness' in which way their jaw leans, so some of them have their mouth opening more to the left, and some more to the right, and it's all very neat.

The paper on handedness in humans (you can read it right here if you're as dorky as me... it's not very long) goes through a whole logical proof trying to explain why left handedness, which seems like a detrimental trait, has persisted at about the same rate in the global human population over the years. They decide that left handedness, while reducing fitness in general, is sometimes selected for because it confers an advantage in fights. They go on to declare that competitive sports are today's equivalent of the combats of primitive times (a premise I'm not totally convinced of, but whatever), and that therefore there should be a higher percentage of left handers in competitive sports than in the general population. They say that about 10% of the general male population throws left handed.

It's a British journal that they're published in, so they talk about crazy things like fencing and cricket and Danish boxing. But they also talk about handedness in baseball, and you all heave a sigh of relief as you sense something resembling an actual point creeping up upon you.

In 1994, they say, 40.6% of first basemen were left handed, 29% of outfielders were left handed, and 0% of infielders and catchers were left handed.

Wha? Really? Zero percent of all infielders aside from first basemen are left handed? It cannot be! Not a single one?

Being the insane individual that I am, I went through and had a look at the starting second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops for all 30 major league teams. I didn't look at catchers, because I started getting a whanging big headache, and because one of my hallmates came in to talk about housing and how much looking for it sucked (ALOT OF SUCK, I assure you), and I ran out of time and initiative.

I'm also not sure that all these guys were actually starters... I just went off of the top names on the depth charts. I mean, blimey, the Royals weren't really starting Donnie Murphy at second base by the end of the season, were they? Because, uh, that would be insane. Because, uh, Donnie Murphy. His batting average for the year was .156 which is, well, I think it speaks for itself, doesn't it? But for the guys I checked out, here's how it broke down:

Second basemen who bat left handed: Adam Kennedy, Todd Walkah (meeeeeeemories...), Chase Utley, Rob Mackowiak, Robinson Cano
Second basemen who are switch hitters: Orlando Hudson (Florida NewYork), Ray Durham, Luis Castillo, Jose Vidro, Brian Roberts, Little Nicky Punto
The remaining 19 second basemen bat right handed.

Third basemen who bat left handed: Gold Glove Whore Eric Chavez, Corey Koskie, Russell Branyan, Hank Blalock, Mark Teahen
Third basemen who are switch hitters: Chipper Jones, Jose Macias, Willy Aybar, Bill Mueller (come back Billy!)
The remaining 21 third basemen bat right handed.

Shortstops who bat left handed: Russ Adams, all by his Blue Jay lonesome
Shortstops who are switch hitters: Rafael Furcal, Cesar Izturis, Omar Vizquel, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Felipe Lopez, Carlos Guillen (and his Surgically Repaired Knee)
The remaining 22 shortstops bat right handed.

So of infielders, 12.2% bat lefty, 18.9% are switch hitters, and 68.9% bat righty.

When it comes to throwing, however, 0% throw left handed, and 100% throw right handed.

Let me repeat that.

100% of starting second basemen, third basemen, and shortstops throw right handed.

Why why why did this never occur to me before???? I am sorry I have resorted to multiple punctuation marks but that's how astounded I am. Not one exception! Not one terrible fielder who throws awkwardly across his body with his left hand but is kept on by the team because he can hit or something! Not a single one! 100% right handers!

I feel immensely stupid for having somehow never noticed this before about baseball.

Science wins again. I bow down before its mighty statistical prowess.

Oh, and congrats to Jason Varitek for winning his first Gold Glove. You all know I love 'Tek with all my stony little Bostonian heart, and I'll stand right up and say that he was the best overall catcher in the AL this season, but he was not the best defensive catcher. Period. You can't argue it. Regardless of what he did with the bat, Pudge was the best catcher in the AL, by far. He threw out over 50% of baserunners who tried to steal off of him. Not that many people even tried, because the fear of his arm is so great, but over 50% is just ridiculously good.

'Tek is a great leader, and a good hitter, and very good with the pitching staff, but when it comes to pure defense, sorry, Pudge has the edge. Sickening as it is to Boston fans, you just have to admit that he won this Gold Glove in much the same way that Calm Eyes Jeter habitually wins his... not by being the best pure defensive player at his position, but by being the best all-round guy with the prettiest 'intangibles'.

Still, it's not like Pudge needed another Gold Glove to jam up on a shelf with his 11 (!!) others, so good for 'Tek. But people shouldn't go about getting confused about who has the best arm from behind the plate in the AL. Just so we're all clear.

1:36 AM

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