There has been just about zero Indians news to speak of all week, but Kevin Meers has "A Visual Examination of the Wondrous Corey Kluber," up at the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective. It includes a collect of heat maps, showing what kind of results Kluber got from each of his pitches in 2012 and in 2013, giving you a sense of how much more effective he's become.
Jonah Keri previews the American League Championship Series between the hated Boston Red Sox and the also-hated Detroit Tigers.
Meanwhile, the NLCS kicked off last night, with the Cardinals winning 3-2 in 13 innings. It was only the 12th game in postseason history to go 13+ innings. 11 of those 12 games have come since 1986, 10 of them since 1995. Carlos Beltran was the hero, which is no surprise, given that he's the best postseason hitter ever.
Flip Flop Fly Ball's Craig Robinson has created an infographic representing every World Series matchup in history (led by Yankees/Dodgers, which has happened 11 times. It's a shame there's not more Indians on it, but for some Tribe-related work at Robinson's site, there's this Terry Francona oddity, and the Oscar Gamble entry in this fantastic series.
At The Hardball Times, Richard Barbieri presents his picks for the team of the 90s. Any 'Team of the Decade' is fairly arbitrary, in that a player's inclusion is largely dependent on his peak years falling within a particular range of years, leaving you with someone like Pedro Martinez, who's ten-year peak was arguably the best of any pitcher in history, but because it took place from 1996 to 2005, he might not land in the rotation for either decade. That said, I think projects like this always make for fun.
A pair of notable (for me) deaths this week, only one of which has anything to do with baseball, but I'll honor who I damn well please here!
Kumar Pallana first made a name for himself as an entertainer in America in the 1950s, after growing up in colonial India. His life had quieted down by the mid-90s, he was helping his son run a coffee shop in Texas. That coffee shop was frequented by the Wilson brothers and Wes Anderson, who convinced Pallana to take a small (but memorable) role in his first feature film, Bottle Rocket, playing a failed safecracker. He also appeared in Rushmore and my favorite film of the early 2000s, The Royal Tenenbaums, along with a handful of other films. Pallana was 94 years old.
Andy Pafko was a ballplayer long before my time, it was 1959 when he finished his 17-year career with 1796 hits and 213 home runs. He was a 4-time All-Star, all with the Cubs, and later played with the Dodgers and Braves. The memory many baseball fans from that era have of Pafko is him standing at the outfield wall, watching Bobby Thompson's 'shot heard round the world' sail into the seats and winning the 1951 National League pennant for the Giants. That scene was the focal point of a wonderful short story by Don Delillo, "Pafko at the Wall." A slightly modified version of that story later became the prologue of DeLillo's 1997 masterpiece, Underworld.
In honor of that connection...
Top novels of the 1990s
6) The Giver (Lois Lowry) - Dystopia that's accessible for adolescents (I recommend it to my higher students), but also engaging for adults.
5) Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling) - Hard for me to separate individual books from the series as a whole, but this began one of the most enjoyable series ever.
4) Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk) - His later stuff often went too far around the bend for me, but this one is a great read.
3) The Things They Carried (Tim O'Brien) - One of the best books about war ever written (which could be its own list at some point).
2) Jurassic Park (Michael Crichton) - The science is sketchy, I know, but the story is so much fun, and so well-told. I like the move even better, but the book is a blast in its own right.
1) Underworld (Don DeLillo) - Not an easy read, both for its length (over 800 pages) and its complexity (non-linear story telling that weaves together a large number of characters), but one of the most rewarding texts I've ever encountered.