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The latest inefficiencies exploited by the Rays: ice cream and classical conditioning.

The Rays are baseball's hottest team, having run up a 15-5 record in August. Their pitchers, who've posted the lowest team ERA in the American League this month, deserve most of the credit. But their latest victory owed something to a secret more valuable than any of their statistical and scouting skills: the power of classical conditioning.

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With some thoughts on the best pen and paper for the job, Jason shares some scouting notes on Yu Darvish.

Day 5: 4:30 PM
Back from the fields and swollen with stories, Patricia. Thanks for the note you left. I didn’t read it until I was nearing the stadium here in Surprise. Very thoughtful of you to wish me well. Remind me to volley the kindness back to you at a time more convenient for such an act. I’m growing closer to you by the minute. My eyes might only own a few tears, saved up over the years just in case I might need to deploy them in a tear-appropriate situation, but I think I caught a hint of one’s presence after I learned that you had feelings for me. It retreated out of fear and because this desert climate chews moisture like George Lucas chews chocolate. Tears can be such cowards. I’m just assuming you have feelings for me. I’ve only been in Arizona for five days and I’m already lonely. I’m not sure when you will read this, but it’s Friday, March 2nd when I’m writing it. I know you are busy. Read it when you can.

On the way back to the house I was overcome with anticipation as I pored over my scouting notes from the previous week, knowing that the upcoming dictation of these thoughts would reanimate them in my mind. The process I constructed is as follows: Observe the talent on the field, and take notes on the talent using a standard issue soft-cover Finest Selection Gold Fibre notebook from Ampad, with its 80 medium-ruled sheets that are micro-perforated for neat sheet removal and a convenient 5’’ x 8’’ size, which fits neatly into my leather Wenger portfolio, which also houses several varieties of custom made hit and pitch charts, several Pentel EnerGel pens (black), a respectable stack of glossy Baseball Prospectus business cards that bear my name and my contact information, an extra AX725 AccuSplit stopwatch (yellow), and a backup legal pad, which comes as standard issue when you purchase the Wenger portfolio.

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Though it looks like a two-horse race in the NL West, even those players on losing clubs have something to play for.

In Phoenix, the Diamondbacks have skidded into a five-game losing streak after riding the heroics of a succession of first basemen (Brandon Allen, Paul Goldschmidt, Lyle Overbay... perhaps it is time to put in a call for Travis Lee?). In San Francisco, the Giants struggle to stay healthy, a problem that dogs all old people, not just those who play baseball for Brian Sabean's geriatric club.

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March 10, 2010 12:07 pm

Checking the Numbers: Leaving the Innings Buffet


Eric Seidman

Not all LAIM moundsmen live down to the label, so why is there so little love for Joe Blanton?

About a month ago an internal e-mail thread circulated amongst the BP staff that eventually became our infamous robopitcher roundtable. The gist of the discussion was whether or not it would be preferable to employ a pitcher essentially guaranteed to surrender four runs in seven frames each time out, and how much that guarantee of consistency would be worth.

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March 9, 2007 12:00 am

Prospectus Matchups: Little League Longing


Jim Baker

There are plenty of Wikipedia entries that never make it onto the information superhighway--like Presley Wilkes' recollections of (very) amateur baseball.

It happens every time to me, I swear. I spend all this time writing up entries for Wikipedia and they get rid of them almost as soon as I post them. What's the deal? First of all, it's hard enough finding a topic that's not already taken. Babe Ruth? Somebody beat me to him. Barry Bonds? Same thing. The Kennedy Assassination? Done and done. Grand Theft Auto? Yup. Taken.

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October 7, 2005 12:00 am

Playoff Prospectus: Division Series, Day Three


Paul Swydan

The National League had the stage to itself Thursday, which was a good thing for the Braves, and not so good for the Padres.

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