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what we've learned

Nine Baseball Things We Learned This Weekend, Starring David Cone

Another weekend of baseball is in the books — the Yankees took two of three in Texas, while the Mets won two of three against the Dodgers — so what did we learn over the past couple of days? These nine things, for starters.

1. David Cone is a WAR hero. When it was announced that David Cone wouldn't broadcast any Yankees games during that season back in early 2010, we called Cone the best announcer in the crowded YES stable of announcers, and held out hope that he'd return sometime in the future. He did indeed return to the YES rotation this season, and yesterday he reminded us why he's so good: During a discussion of Curtis Granderson, he gave viewers a primer on the wins above replacement stat — explaining in layman's terms what it signifies — even giving Fangraphs.com a shout-out in the process. (Needless to say, this is more talk of advanced statistics than you typically get on a Yankees broadcast, and, more importantly, it was presented as a useful statistic, i.e., not dismissed as something from the realm of nerd-dom.) By the way, according to Fangraphs, Granderson is fourth among American League batters with a WAR value of 1.9.

2. R.A. Dickey isn't as familiar with his Tolkien as we'd thought. Last week, we pointed to a Times blog post about how Dickey names each of his bats: He has one is called Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver (a reference to The Hobbit), and another named Hrunting (which comes from Beowulf). Anyway, that item led to the nerdiest newspaper correction you'll ever see:

An item in the Extra Bases baseball notebook last Sunday misidentified, in some editions, the origin of the name Orcrist the Goblin Cleaver, which Mets pitcher R. A. Dickey gave one of his bats. Orcrist was not, as Dickey had said, the name of the sword used by Bilbo Baggins in the Misty Mountains in "The Hobbit"; Orcrist was the sword used by the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield in the book. (Bilbo Baggins's sword was called Sting.)


3. Frank Costanza roots, roots, roots for the home team. The Mets gave away Seinfeld-sponsored hats on Saturday — though surely TV-Jerry wouldn't approve of their non-fitted nature. And in keeping with the night's theme, Keith Hernandez (of "I'm Keith Hernandez" fame) threw out the first pitch, while Jerry Stiller (the man who played Queens's very own Frank Costanza) sang take me out to the ball game, which you can watch in the clip below:


4. Poor Francisco Cerveli didn't even get a personalized John Sterling home run call. Cervelli entered yesterday's game with just one career home run — it came in Atlanta back on June 24, 2009 — but it's surprising nonetheless that John Sterling didn't have anything prepared when the catcher hit a grand slam in the eighth inning off Texas's Cody Eppley. It seems the eighth type of John Sterling catchphrase is no catchphrase at all.

5. The Mets might move the Citi Field fences in, maybe, possibly. This was explicitly passed along as a "fascinating rumor" by Jayson Stark, so take it for what it's worth, but from ESPN (via MetsBlog): "A fascinating rumor that's been rippling through the Mets' clubhouse lately has the team finally getting ready to move in the fences at Citi Field. But we're hearing that's an idea that hasn't gotten past the let's-talk-about-this-later phase in the Mets' front office. For now, at least." Meanwhile, New York Baseball Digest points out that Citi Field is actually sixth in home runs allowed this season — obviously, Mets pitching has something to do with that — while noting that, yeah, it might not be a bad idea to try lowering that left field wall, or adjusting the quirky "Mo Zone" in right.

6. Jose Reyes was to blame for that terrible call two weeks ago, apparently. So says Forbes's Tom Van Riper, in what Hardball Talk calls "The dumbest thing you'll read today." (Their post went up Saturday, but we imagine that it would be the case most days.) Here's the play, if you've forgotten. And here's Van Riper:


The triple/ non-triple against the Nationals had all the elements of Reyes' eight-year career: strong bat smoking a ball up the gap, explosive speed getting him to third, only to wind up back in the dugout thanks to a lack of brains. The sad part was how predictable the play was. Scintillating as he is to watch when he's going well, Reyes has never really learned how to play the game.


And also this:

Replays indicated that Hudson indeed blew the call, which the Mets' T.V. announcers pointed out. What they didn't point out: that Reyes chiefly had himself to blame. That while the call was wrong, all the movement and readjustments on Reyes' part after the poor slide proved deceptive to the umpire, making the call tougher than it should have been. That a proper, fundamental feet first slide would have left no doubt about the play.


We didn't think there was a whole lot of doubt about the play as it was — even with the "deceptive" slide — and even the umpire apologized the next day. Can we be done talking about this now?

7. Andre Ethier is no Joe DiMaggio. Ethier went 0-for-4 in the Dodgers' loss to the Mets on Saturday, ending his hitting streak at 30 games, and also ending the use of the names "Andre Ethier" and "Joe DiMaggio" in the same sentence for the foreseeable future.

8. The Mets are up to 7,840 games without a no-hitter. We only bring this up because this weekend saw the season's second no-hitter — Justin Verlander against the Blue Jays on Saturday — and also saw a handful of pitchers flirt with no-hitters. And still, Mets fans wait.

9. Ivan Nova finally made it into the eighth inning. Nova went seven and a third innings on Friday night — the deepest into a game he's gone in thirteen big-league starts — allowing just two hits and an unearned run. In his two previous starts, Nova had made it through six and a third innings before getting the hook — that was the deepest he'd gone until Friday — and in his last three starts, via the Record, Nova is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA.

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Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage