You blinded me with science

April 3rd, 2008 → 9:44 am @

Yes, it’s baseball season again. That will, of course, result in more frequent hardball-related posts than I’ve been managing as of late. I’m also going to start an experiment — a semi-regular (and mostly random) collection of other interesting ephemera. This will, at the very least, highlight my oftentimes unhealthy fascination with science.

Without further ado…

I’m currently reading Harvard History of Science professor Anne Harrington’s The Cure Within: A History of Mind Body Medicine. It’s a fantastic book. I’m not going to try to summarize it here. (Jerome Groopman wrote a glowing review in the Times Book Review; also, the Globe recently ran an interesting Q/A with Harrington.) Among the many fascinating issues it raises is the constant tension between “hard” science and the validity/ability of our mind to effect our physiological reactions. One common example of mind/body interplay is the placebo effect. Here’s another: a recent study gives evidence that group stereotypes have concrete (and measurable) results on performance. That’s not as intuitive as you might think…and gives the lie to the notion that behind every stereotype lies a kernel of truth. (It could be that behind every stereotype lies some self-actualizing truth…)

Other interesting links:

Coffee really does make you smarter.

It won’t be long before you can get your insurer to help you with all that time you spend looking up stats online.

Post Categories: mind/body & science & Uncategorized

Reminder: less than 72 hours to get in your contest entries…

March 30th, 2007 → 4:46 pm @

Think you know the Sox? Put your guesses where your bravado is, and tell me who’ll hit the team’s first home run, what Dice-K’s pitching line will be for his first MLB game, and when J.D. Drew will have his first RBI. If you beat out the rest of the crowd, you win a free, autographed copy of Feeding the Monster. Full details and how to enter are here.

Post Categories: 2007 Season & Contests & Uncategorized

Today in baseball: Everybody’s talking at me

October 25th, 2006 → 11:56 am @

In an effort to spice up one of the least watched World Series in history, sports writers around the country keep on searching for some gold in what’s now commonly known as Dirtgate. A couple of my favorite pieces (blatantly cribbed from Buster Olney’s daily wrapup on are this NY Post story by Mike Vaccaro and this piece by the Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott.

Vaccaro finds a new angle with which to slam Tony La Russa and, well, I’m a fan of any story that slams Tony La Russa (and I’m a fan of Vaccaro’s to boot). In the wake of Tony’s claiming he didn’t ask the umps to inspect Kenny Rogers’s hand during Game 2 because he didn’t want to hurt the purity of the game, Mike suggests La Russa apply for the job of Little League commissioner: “Then he can he can bathe himself in sanctimony all he likes and he can tell us all again about the high plane of baseball ethics he subscribes to.” My favorite section is the following: “La Russa knows the rules – jeez, if there’s one thing we can say with certainty in baseball, it’s that La Russa knows the rules. The same guy who held up Game 6 of the NLCS by questioning a balls-and-strikes count when it was obvious to everyone in Shea Stadium what the count was – apparently, that was well within the spirit of competition – didn’t go the distance this time.” Also, my obligatory sunglasses rant: Tony, man, take off the fucking shades already. Even Corey Hart is lets people see his naked face these days.

Elliott, taking a more humorous approach, chronicles all the varied instances of cheating, touching on well-known suspects (Gaylord Perry) and less-known ones (Nolan Ryan). My favorite anecdote involves Eck; this story is from the 1989 ALCS in which the A’s played the Jays. “The night before, a clubhouse attendant from Dunedin, helping with the laundry, found an emery board in Eckersley’s glove. When Eckersley finished his warm-up, and with the A’s leading 4-2, [Toronot manager Cito] Gaston approached plate ump Rick Reed asking him to check the closer’s glove. Crew chief Davey Phillips arrived and checked Eckersley’s glove. Finding nothing, he returned to Gaston, who claimed Eck put something down his pants. ‘I can’t ask him to pull down his pants in front of 50,000 people,’ Phillips said. When Eckersley struck out Junior Felix to end the game, A’s catcher Terry Steinbach gave the Jays dugout the finger. It wasn’t inspected, either.” No ambiguity about that, and for that reason alone it might top the infamous Derek Lowe crotchchop as one of the best screw-you’s in baseball history.

Post Categories: Cheating & Dennis Eckersley & Mike Vaccaro & Oblique references to Harry Nilsson songs & Sports Reporters & Tony La Russa & Uncategorized

If this is true, I pray that the NYC tabs put any puns on their frontpages

October 11th, 2006 → 4:59 pm @

All the reports coming in are saying that the pilot of the plane was the Yankees’ Cory Lidle.

To those Sox fans out there: don’t give the rest of the country more reasons to hate you by making light of this in any way.

(Wolf, of course, keeps it in perspective: “This comes only a few days after the Yankees were elminated from the playoffs.”)

Post Categories: Uncategorized

Pet peeves of the day

August 29th, 2006 → 4:22 pm @

1. Restaurant exhaust vents that blast out hot bursts of putrid-smelling air. If whatever you’re producing smells that nasty, shouldn’t you need to direct the vent back into the restaurant? The Chipotle Mexican Grill on 6th Ave and 13th is especially foul.

2. New York City buses. As far as I can tell, they’re not required to obey any traffic laws. That can be especially frustrating when you’re on one of these.

Post Categories: Pet peeves & Uncategorized