Piniella banishes Bradley after tantrum | News

Piniella banishes Bradley after tantrum | News.

I wish they would banish Bradley to the minors.  I wonder if they thought to put an option in the contract that releases the Cubs from any obligation to pay him if he doesn’t behave professionally (or even like a grown up 🙂

Unfortunately, Lou only banished him for the afternoon and will put him back in tomorrow . . . which doesn’t really send much of a message.

Much more to write about the games since my previous post . . . including a confession that I’m now more of a Twins fan than a Cubs fan . . . .  I won’t be changing my blog header anytime soon, but I’m so fed up with the Cubs that I can barely watch them anymore.  Derrek Lee is just about the only decent hard-working guy left on that team.

Too late to go into all that now . . . just wanted to rant some more about Bradley.

Tough day for Bradley, Cubs in loss to Twins

Tough day for Bradley, Cubs in loss to Twins | News.

This weekend my two favorite teams, the Chicago Cubs and the Minnesota Twins, play three games of interleague baseball. The first game went, deservedly, to the Twins, who played good, clean, fundamental baseball. Kevin Slowey was impressive on the mound for the Twins, with 10 strikeouts in six innings. Mauer and Kubel hit homers and the rest of the Twins played like the professionals they are.

Then there was Milton Bradley (currently hitting .224 , when he’s not on the DL . . . so much for the big bucks we spent on him). The article linked above says it all: “There are bloopers, and then there was Milton Bradley’s day. . . . Bradley hit a two-run double in the sixth, but also made a baserunning gaffe that inning, lost a ball in the sun in the seventh and was charged with an error in the eighth when he caught a ball for the second out and threw it to a fan in the bleachers. Someone got a souvenir, and the Minnesota Twins handed the Cubs a 7-4 Interleague loss.”

There are just no excuses for anyone making that much money to play the way he (and several other Cubs) have been playing. In one of the long games in Houston recently, Soriano seemed to just lose interest in the later innings. These guys make more in one day than I’ve ever made in an entire year. The least they can do is pay attention for the three hours (or even a bit more) that it takes to play a baseball game.

The Twins organization doesn’t put up with that kind of “lolly-gagging around” the infield and outfield and basepaths . . . and it shows. Though to be fair to my beloved Cubbies, it must be difficult to come to work everyday and have to face Lou, who doesn’t seem to spread much joy or inspiration in the dugout . . .

Two more day games in this series. (The way God meant for baseball to be played.)

Your Brain On Cubs—A Review

Your Brain on Cubs: Inside the Heads of Players and Fans (2008) Edited by Dan Gordon. Washington, DC: Dana Press

Cubs fans are perfect subjects for psychological study. We stick with our team despite 100 years of heartbreak. We rationalize with talk of curses. We analyze what it would take to have that perfect team who would make all our pennant dreams come true. Any book purporting to examine not only our fanatic brains, but also the inner workings of hitters and pitchers, should be a “natural” for us. As a die-hard Cubs fan and a cognitive psychologist, I thought this book would “touch all my bases”. Unfortunately, I was disappointed from both perspectives: much of the baseball in the book was not really about the Cubs and most of the science in the book was not about baseball.

The book contains seven chapters covering: the social-cognitive and neuroscience basis of fan loyalty; expertise and the brain; the neuroscience of hitting; the psychology of superstition; performance enhancing drugs; handedness; and the psychology of the euphoria of winning and the agony/depression of losing. These chapters vary in the degree to which they report actual research on baseball fans and/or players. Some seem to be pure speculation about how research in a particular field might apply to baseball. Others use research on other sports or the movements and processes that are part of baseball and try to extrapolate to the actual experience of playing or watching a game. Although most of the authors seem to be enthusiastic about baseball, and some even include moving personal stories about their connection to baseball and/or the Cubs, they vary in their ability to knit the psychological research and the game of baseball into a convincing presentation. Not all of the authors are trained psychologists, so some of the articles read more like magazine pieces than science. Other chapters read like a basic overview of someone’s specialty with a few baseball references inserted for this publication. Others seem to be stretching to find any real connection at all. The best chapters (e.g. Kelli Whitlock Burton and Hillary R. Rodman’s “It Isn’t Whether You Win or Lose, It’s Whether You Win: Agony and Ecstasy in the Brain”) integrate the experience of baseball throughout the discussion of the research and acknowledge when they are extrapolating (e.g., after describing parallels between fanship and religious faith including brain studies on religious subjects reciting psalms, they note “Ritual recitation of ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game’ has yet to be studied.”—LOL).

I must single out one chapter that I found rather troubling. Bennett Foddy’s analysis of performance enhancing drugs and baseball “Risks and Asterisks: Neurological Enhancements in Baseball” argues in favor of the use of performance enhancing drugs. After discussing the physiological effects (emphasizing the positive and underplaying the negative) of a variety of substances in what could serve as a how-to manual for getting high, Foddy provides an “ethical” analysis using an equation based solely on benefits to the players (e.g., there are no poor MLB players so everyone can afford to take drugs = home runs = $$) and benefits to the spectators (e.g., fans want entertainment = home runs = $$) leaving out any discussion of players as role models for little leaguers, the message sent to young people by the use of performance enhancing drugs, and how the drug use filters down to the minor leagues (where there certainly ARE poor players and not everyone is equally able to afford to take drugs). The fact that Foddy holds a fellowship in bioethics may explain something about the sorry state of medical bioethical analysis today.

By far the biggest problem with the book is actually an editorial issue: the reference style. Even a science book written for the “general reader,” as this book claims to be, needs to be clear about the difference between pure speculation and statements based on scientific research. For many of the statements in Your Brain on Cubs, this distinction is impossible to determine, primarily because of an editorial decision to put all the references in the back of the book. As a scientist, when I read a statement such as “There is sufficient evidence that people integrate their personal identities with their social identities.” I expect to see it followed by either an article citation or a footnote leading me to a specific citation. In this book, there are no such indications of which statements are backed by research; instead, the references for each chapter/article are listed at the back of the book in alphabetical order. Most of the articles do not provide enough information within the article itself (e.g., researcher names) to be able to link specific statements/claims to a particular reference on the list. In fact, I suspect that most of the chapters were written in the standard scientific style and then the references were removed.

Once I located the references buried at the back of the book, I discovered another problem: most of the references are not about baseball at all. Of the 142 references listed, only 18 were specifically about baseball, 13 about other sports, 5 about music; the remaining 106 references are general psychology or neuroscience references. Perhaps the research just does not exist, in which case perhaps sufficient justification for this book is also lacking.

Your Brain On Cubs neither diminished my love of the Cubs nor helped explain it. I recommend readers buy a ticket to a baseball game and spend their time there instead of reading this book.

Line ups Revisited

Back in March, I noted that Lou’s predicted lineup of Alfonso Soriano, Aaron Miles, Derrek Lee, MIlton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot (plus pitcher) seemed unlikely. In fact, I’m fairly certain it has NEVER materialized in a game yet this season. [I’ve now checked. There was only ONE game in which these eight players all started (April 22, 2009 vs. Reds–Lost 3-0) and they did NOT start in the above order.]

Okay, there have been lots of injuries already this year, including Bradley, Miles, Soto, Ramirez, and now Zambrano. Hard to have a set lineup when so many guys are out. Also shows how ridiculous it is to predict a lineup for the season back in March, especially when Lou can’t seem to stick to anything for five minutes, no less a season. Anyway, Fontenot and Theriot have been doing a pretty good job, though for a while there I thought Theriot was too distracted by his little “jazz spot”/”soul patch” facial hair to focus on the ball in the infield. Lately he’s making up for that at the plate, so he’s back in my good graces.

Still not a big fan of Lou. Most of the time he doesn’t seem to have a clue. And every time he opens his mouth to speak to the press, I cringe (kind of like what Barack Obama must feel whenever Joe Biden opens his mouth). I don’t get any sense that Lou learned anything from all those coaching/sports psychology books he said he was reading over the winter.

But, it’s still early in the season . . .

I made a bunch of notes while watching the Cubs/Yankees play the first game at “new” Yankee Stadium, but I wasn’t near a computer then and seem to have misplaced the notes somewhere. Will post if I find them.

Viva Las Vegas

Caught some of both Cubs/Sox games from Vegas. Good to see some of the new faces and old favorites. Too bad we lost both games, but still exciting this afternoon when the Cubs were down 4-0 going into the bottom of the 9th and managed to come up with 3 runs.

That’s what I LOVE about baseball . . . it’s never over ’til it’s over . . . there’s no clock to race . . . just hitters battling pitchers.

Too bad that of the six Spring Training games to be broadcast on WGN, three are scheduled within these four days (last night, this afternoon, Saturday afternoon). Far cry from the days when every Cubs game was on WGN. In fact of the 201 games this year, less than 1/3 will be on WGN. The rest on channels I don’t/can’t get: Comcast SportsNet, MLB.TV, MLBNetwork OR on FOX or ESPN (crapshoot whether they will show a particular game in a particular region, so can’t expect to see those either). I used to (pre-2006) listen via Gameday Audio on the internet, but then MLB “upgraded” everything so that it no longer works on my computer.

SO, I’ll follow along the best I can and watch/listen to the Twins games to get my necessary baseball fix.

Will save my commentary on the Milton Bradley situation (pretty much as I expected) for a later post.