Saturday, July 25, 2020

MLB20 Update

Here's my current projection for pairings in the best-of-three Wild Card Series in the 2020 Major League Baseball playoffs:

-- Houston Astros (1) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (8)
-- Oakland A's (4) vs. Cleveland Baseball Team (5)
-- Minnesota Twins (3) vs. Boston Red Sox (6)
-- New York Yankees (2) vs. Texas Rangers (7)
-- Los Angeles Dodgers (1) vs. Atlanta Braves (8)
-- Chicago Cubs (4) vs. San Diego Padres (5)
-- New York Mets (3) vs. Miami Marlins (6)
-- St. Louis Cardinals (2) vs. Cincinnati Reds (7)

I'm basing this on current standings, with last season's regular-season performance breaking ties. My initial two thoughts about the pairings are, one, that Cardinals-Reds series would be huge around here, and, two, if I were a Dodgers fan, I would be a little wary of the Braves after they charged out of nowhere to take the National League's eighth berth.

The A's are 1-0, and I stayed awake until right before they actually won it. I have an anonymous source who emailed the following (italicized) observations as the glorious, 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels played out. He might choose to GOaHEAd and reveal himself, but I am not going to divulge.

Subject: I'm watching the A's and the Angels
Date: July 24, 2020 at 10:51:16 PM CDT
I would guess that approximately 80 percent of the A's games I've watched over the last 10 years involved the Angels.

This was the first of Oakland's 60 regular-season games, probably 45 of which will be against the Angels.

Baseball Reference is amazing. So, as previously noted, is the internet. I'm sitting here in my living room in Madisonville, Kentucky, watching the MLB74 All-Star Game on YouTube while also browsing  Mike Trout's career splits against different opponents (and checking out some gorgeous custom-made, 1970s-style football cards).

Richard Justice is ga-ga for Mike Trout, and Richard Justice is great.

I believe Richard Justice, but I do not have my own authentic sense of the greatness of Mike Trout's career. Because the only games I watch on TV are A's games or playoff games, and because the A's play the Angels two out of every three games and the Angels do not participate in the playoffs, my sense of Mike Trout is based only on his thousands of games against the A's, and Mike Trout has been better against the rest of the league than he has against the A's.

For example, Mike Trout's on-base percentage ((hits plus bases on balls plus + times hit by pitch) divided by (AB plus BB plus HBP plus sacrifice flies)) is .396 in 613 career plate appearances against the A's. That's really good. Carl Yastrzemski led the entire American League with an OBP of .395 in MLB65. However, Mike Trout has led the American League in OBP for each of the last four seasons with nothing lower than last year's .438. His career OBP is .500 against teams with less than a .500 record and .406 against above-.500 teams. He's played eight career games against the Milwaukee Brewers, and his OBP against them is .594!

(Oh, my gosh, Barry Bonds's OBPs were .515 in MLB01, .582 in MLB02, .529 in MLB03 and .609 in MLB04. No one has had an OBP above .500 since, and no one had one in the 1900s had one other than Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Rogers Hornsby—and none of those guys got close to .609. Cheating is the worst.)

So, back to Mike Trout, Mike Trout to me is a very good player but not nearly as great as Richard Justice knows him to be. (And, again, I do know that Richard Justice, who watches all of the baseball games, is correct.)

Mike Trout has played most of his games against the A's, Mariners and Rangers, who have always been in his division. The A's have intentionally walked Trout a lot less than those other two teams have, but they did so last night.

Subject: The A's no longer have a flagship radio station
Date: July 24, 2020 at 10:53:43 PM CDT
They've gone to a streaming model, although there are still 11 stations in Northern California (mostly in rural areas) that still carry the games.  I can still get the radio broadcasts online, so I'm fine.
On my scoreboard at home, I've decided to go with all logos from the 1970's as much as possible.  I also have the Angels listed on the scoreboard as "Cal."

I had to look up what the Angels are calling themselves now. I seriously thought they were currently going by "Anaheim."

Subject: The A's have designated their field
Date: July 24, 2020 at 10:57:54 PM CDT
As "Rickey Henderson Field."
I would have gone with "Reggie Jackson Field."

One thing they said on ESPN last night that surprised me is that Marcus Semien has more opening-day starts at shortstop than any other A ever. That is great! I absolutely would've guessed Bert Campaneris, who was my favorite of the '70s A's. But I'm very happy for Marcus Semien, who was born Sept. 17, 1990, in San Francisco, just a few weeks before the A's were swept by the Reds in the World Series. I watched those games with a bunch of Reds fans in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and those guys still remind me of it two or three times a season.

Subject: The A's have crowd noise on their radio broadcast
Date: July 25, 2020 at 12:06:50 AM CDT
It's quite good -- they have organ music, and a PA announcer, and you can hear the crowd reacting to the events in the game.  If you were only listening to the radio, you would think it was a normal game.

I particularly enjoyed the pictures of people in the seats. Tony La Russa and Sal Bando were among those. It's so great to have baseball back.

Subject: 3-3 after 9
Date: July 25, 2020 at 12:33:04 AM CDT
The A's and Angels become the first teams in Major League history to start the 10th inning with a runner on second base.

This is when I turned it off to go to sleep. I was really tired, and, besides, my wife wanted to show me a video of Lin-Manuel Miranda playing one of those arcade games where the claw drops down and grasps at a stuffed animal or whatever. He's really good at it!

Subject: A's walk off the Angels with a GRAND SLAM
Date: July 25, 2020 at 1:02:58 AM CDT
A's win 7-3 in 10, move to 1-0 on the year.


Sunday, July 12, 2020

Oh, Bardwell

Uh-oh, I might've fallen in love with going driving on Google Maps this weekend. Here are three trips across Bardwell. Come on, and feel the Carlisle County!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Freakin' Weekend (1974)

Current World Football League standings as of Thursday, July 11, 1974:

Eastern Division
Florida Blazers 1-0
Philadelphia Bell 1-0
New York Stars 0-0
Jacksonville Sharks 0-0

Central Division
Birmingham Americans 1-0
Chicago Fire 1-0
Memphis Southmen 1-0
Detroit Wheels 0-1

Western Division
Houston Texans 0-1
Portland Storm 0-1
Southern California Sun 0-1
The Hawaiians 0-1

The league kicked off last night with 10 games, and tonight we have the first nationally televised contest, the New York Stars at the Jacksonville Sharks, syndicated by TVS (check your local listings).

I actually hate the WFL. It's going to have a big hand in killing the Dolphins. But by this point in the summer, 1974 me is willing to watch whatever football you're willing to give me. We'll see how much interest I have left in the WFL in a couple of weeks.

MLB74 is going on ...

The big sports news of late, though, has been Wimbledon. Lovers Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert won the men's and women's singles titles, and they are on the covers of both the current SPORT and Sports Illustrated magazines. SI has the couple posing with their trophies. Monthly SPORT, of course, had to go to press before the tournament was played, so its cover shot of Connors and Evert leaping the net together is especially impressive. Newsweek also had tennis on a cover earlier this month, but it guessed wrong and went with Sweden's Björn Borg.

I like playing tennis. 2020 me, in fact, played just this past Thursday, July 9 (and won my best-of-three-sets match at the Madisonville Community College Garnett "Penny" Pennington courts, 6-2 and 6-3). I just have never much been able to get into it as a spectator sport, however. I didn't even read the SI coverage and was actually more interested in some of the ads.

I might have to add some of those books to my Christmas list.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Nikon 36-72mm/3.5 Series E

I've written before about the E series lenses from Nikon.  This is another in this consumer series of lenses.  If you'd like to read a professional review here is one from Matthew Durr.

I have found that in using these different lenses you get a feel for what they are good for.  In this case this lens works best when you are just shooting family activities.  This would have been a solid lens for instance to take on a family trip to Opryland.  When shooting people it's easy to focus and the zoom and focus movements are very smooth meaning you can get that shot of your kids as they are coming down the log plume ride.  Where this lens shows its flaws is when you want to do something more artistic.  Nature shots or architectural shots.  

Lets take a look at some photos and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the lens.  

We'll start by focusing on the positive.  


This picture is a good example of those family pics you can take.  I was able to get a good series of photos on my D3300 using this lens and shoot some good video.  With the good lighting once I set everything up I got very consistent results no matter what zoom range I was in and so that made clicking a series of photographs quite easy.  The picture quality may be better using the 18-55 that the camera comes with, but there is something fun about using a lens like this. 

Another example of something the lens does very well is handle focus and light very consistently across the zoom range.  Here are two pictures I took with no adjustments other than the zoom. 



As I said this makes shooting those family activities much easier.  

Where I found the lens to struggle was in situations where the lighting was not consistent like this photo of a water fountain.  


No matter what I tried I could never get this picture right.  With the lighting it was always going to be a bit tricky, but I found with this lens that it does not do well at all with blended lighting.  I don't know enough about how lenses work to understand this problem, I just know when I experience it and this was a consistent problem with this lens.  

Another problem with the lens can be seen in this photo.  


It lacks a crispness that you want when shooting something where you want to capture detail.  Even though this photo is properly focused, because the lens is not very crisp the picture ends up feeling blurry or busy.  

Last let's talk about the bokeh. Bokeh is a term used to describe the foreground or background of a picture that is out of focus.  


In this example you can see there isn't much bokeh.  I found this to be pretty consistent.  That the sort of blurred effect you are looking for when trying to focus on a single subject just didn't really exist.  And often if the background was lit more brightly it would appear too washed out and distract from the picture.  

All in all I found using this lens to be very similar to what I experienced when using the Nikon 43-86.  Though I have to say I found the 43-86 to handle color a little better than this lens and to me that is an important flaw in this lens.  

I would give this a score of 6.33 out of 10. That's 5 for picture quality, 7 for ease of use, and 7 for usability. 

36-72mm f/3.5 Series-E

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Oh, Kentucky

Back to school? Yes, with social distancing, face coverings, health screenings, sanitation and contact tracing.

Back to baseball? Yes, at Brooks Stadium starting Monday with a league of two.

Upon further Fancy Farm review ... picnicking, yes; political speaking, no. Posted the priest, per The Mayfield Messenger: "The parish of St. Jerome has been in existence for 184 years. During those 184 years, the people have lived and prayed through times of drought, wars, pandemics, times of plenty and times of scarcity and have held steady to the faith and depended on God's providence. We will continue to do the same in our time and in the future."

Expanded racial-bias training for officers and community policing were said to be among the topics of discussion at a second closed unity meeting in Paducah, report Abisola Adeyemo and Mason Watkins of Channel 6.

The state attorney general: "Strong, empowered communities and safe policing are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they must go hand-in-hand in order for the Commonwealth to thrive."

The state ag commissioner: "We must do something to ensure rural Kentucky get its fair shake at connectivity."

The governor: "In Kentucky, we’re going to reopen and rebuild our economy even stronger than it was before COVID-19."

Drive-through hiring today in Lebanon, for Marion and Washington counties.