Friday, July 05, 2013

Dadpost: Waxing Nostalgic with Crayons

There’s no question we’re living in a technology-saturated age, even when it comes to the simple act of drawing.  Graphics tablets and super advanced  design programs give anyone the ability to create masterpieces without necessarily having the innate talent to draw.

But there’s still something special about cracking open a fresh box of wax crayons, and seeing the sharp, unused tips, ready to add streaks of colour to the page.

My daughter’s almost a year and a half old now, and while she definitely enjoys playing games on our smartphones and watching TV, she’s also at the age where she can grab a crayon and scribble, which I’ve been waiting for since I first laid eyes on her in the hospital.

Colouring with my daughter has reawakened my love of crayons and colouring books.  I remember being super excited to get a brand-new mega-pack of crayons as a kid, so I was more than happy to provide her with the same feeling.
My fiancĂ©e bought her a few Sesame Street colouring books, and nearly every day since then we’ve had colouring time. She even asks for it – pointing at the box and saying “colour!”

I don’t always draw perfectly in the lines, especially when a tiny hand is constantly trying to snatch the crayon I’m using or scribbling over the area I’m trying to fill in. But just the experience of colouring alongside her is priceless - even if she immediately ruins all my hard work!

And I’m certainly guilty of continuing to finish what I was working on - even starting a new page - well after she’s moved on to another source of entertainment.

It’s kind of nice to know that, in an era of iPads and Wacom tablets, a company like Crayola is still going strong. In fact, it’s their 110th anniversary this year, and they’re celebrating by releasing a limited edition 1903-style eight-crayon pack with new nicknames.

Whatever the name or colour, the simple crayon will always have a special place in my heart - and in my hand, especially when it’s being shared with another tiny hand.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sorry, Me, But Miguel Cabrera Won AL MVP

Welp. The last post I wrote here was that Mike Trout deserved to win AL MVP, but that in all likelihood Miguel Cabrera would win because Triple Crown and playoffs and other dumb non-MVP reasons.

What I didn't expect was how lopsided the final vote would be - Miggy getting 22 of the 28 first-place votes.

Look, Cabrera had a terrific season. But the fact that 79% of BBWAA voters thought he was more valuable than Trout is, at best, a misinterpretation of what the word "valuable" means in the context of this award.

What's particularly frustrating about this year's old-school-vs-new-school vote is that Trout was a more worthy candidate whether you ignore or include all the numbers, be they archaic (RBI, AVG) or sabermetric (WAR, wOBA).

Instead of rehashing or stripping away all the math, let's focus on just one simple statistic - runs. Trout not only led the majors in that category, but had the greatest impact on the creation of runs on offence, and the prevention of runs on defence.

Trout got on base more than Cabrera, stole more bases, and played far better defence at a far more important position. And he did it despite missing the first month of his first full season in the majors, turning around an Angels team that stumbled out of the gate and leading them to a better record than Cabrera's Tigers.

How much more "valuable" could Trout have been to his team? What more could he have done? Short of taking Ervin Santana's turn in the rotation back in May, not much.

Cabrera was fortunate enough to put up totals that led the AL in all three Triple Crown categories - something that hadn't been done in 45 years, and that, along with his team reaching the postseason, is ultimately what gave Cabrera the edge over Trout.

But we may never see a season like Trout's again. It may have been the best display of baseball in ten years; can anyone honestly say that Miguel Cabrera accomplished that?

Hopefully it won't take another ten years - or 45 - to come around again, and hopefully voters will get it right next time.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Sorry Miggy, But Mike Trout Deserves AL MVP

In all likelihood, Miguel Cabrera is going to win the AL Triple Crown, a feat that hasn't been accomplished in 45 years.

In all likelihood, Miguel Cabrera is going to win the AL MVP, because of the aforementioned feat.

This may have been acceptable in 1967, but not in 2012. Mike Trout deserves to win AL MVP in 2012.

What Trout has been able to accomplish in his first full year in the major leagues is nothing short of sensational. As of this post, he's one stolen base from becoming the third player EVER to hit 30 home runs and steal 50 bases in a season.

If Cabrera hangs on for the Triple Crown, he will become the 16th player to do it. Impressive, yes, but not as much as it appears; it's more a matter of circumstance.

For example, Miggy will finish with a worse average than he did last season (a league best .344), and a much lower AVG than the 2010 winner, Josh Hamilton (.359). And the HR total is only one better than Jose Bautista's 2011-leading total, and far less than Joey Bats' 2010 total of 54. Ty Cobb won the Triple Crown way back in 1909 with a whopping 9 home runs, and Frank Robinson's good-but-not-great .316 AVG was enough to secure the Triple Crown in 1966.

Plus, two-thirds of the Triple Crown statistics - AVG and RBI - are increasingly being seen as irrelevant, as not true measures of baseball prowess, and again, largely dependent on circumstance. Miguel Cabrera hits in the middle of a great Tigers lineup; Trout hits leadoff. And for what it's worth, Trout has 83 RBI, driving in the likes of Maicer Izturis and Alberto Callaspo as opposed to the table-setters in Detroit.

And perhaps the most amazing statistic of all is zero: the number of games Mike Trout played before April 28. Trout has about 60 fewer plate appearances than Cabrera, and has still compiled eye-popping numbers.

Trout's WAR (Wins Above Replacement, increasingly considered the best and most accurate statistic to measure a player's value) is an astronomical 10.7, dwarfing Cabrera's 6.8. Without getting too sabermetric on you, this number means Trout is worth almost a full 4 wins more to his team than Cabrera - a significant number when you consider that four wins is the difference between the Tigers capturing the AL Central and missing the playoffs.

Trout has led his club to a higher win total, and has literally done everything in his power to get his team to the playoffs, short of physically moving the city of Anaheim to the Central Time Zone, which is unfortunately what it would have taken to put the Angels in the postseason.

When you also consider that Cabrera contributes next to nothing defensively and on the basepaths, you're basically saying that what Cabrera does at the plate 4 to 5 times a game is more valuable than what Trout does at the plate 4 to 5 times a game, plus playing a more challenging position at an elite level, plus being a terror on the basepaths.

And that just doesn't add up, no matter what statistic or formula you use.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Yunel Escobar’s Eye Black Is A Black Eye For Baseball

This was on Yunel Escobar’s face during Saturday’s Red Sox-Blue Jays game.

If you’re interested in what it means, you can Google Translate it, but suffice it to say it’s not a kind statement to the homosexual community.

Whether Escobar himself wrote it or the message was written by a teammate as a prank, it’s the kind of thing that has no place in this game in the year 2012, and will do nothing to improve his less-than-stellar reputation.

UPDATE: The Blue Jays have released an official statement.
The Toronto Blue Jays do not support discrimination of any kind nor condone the message displayed by Yunel Escobar during Saturday’s game. The club takes this situation seriously and is investigating the matter.
2ND UPDATE: Escobar was suspended 3 games on Tuesday, will participate in sensitivity training and have his lost salary donated to pro-LGBT causes . He apologized at the press conference, saying it would never happen again.  Jays manager John Farrell claimed no one on the team paid attention to what Escobar had written, because it was too small and he had written messages there before.

Needless to say, this is a pretty bad time to be a Jays fan right now: close to dead last in the AL East, ravaged by injuries, and now you’ve got a PR disaster in a city that prides itself on its tolerance.

Hat tip to @James_in_TO for the photo.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Dadpost: Don't Take Unsolicited Advice - Or Candy - From Strangers

This morning Sarah and I decided to take Hannah up to our building's pool for our first swim together as a family (she has a swim class but it's one parent in the water at a time).

There was an elderly woman already in the pool - she was there when I went up to check the pool's temperature to ensure it was warm enough for Hannah - and she remained in the pool when the three of us got in.

Barely a minute or two had passed when the woman decided to come over to us and share her years of wisdom. After she assured us to "not take offense" - I say "us" but she was looking at Sarah the whole time - she hit us with some knowledge: "Babies sometimes pee in pools."

When Sarah responded that Hannah was wearing a swimming diaper, this woman got way too close for comfort and almost kissed Sarah - whilst holding the baby, no less -  and followed that awkward moment up with another "Don't take offense" comment on her way out of the pool.

This situation left both of us a little stunned: what was the point of that exchange, and why would a complete stranger say something like that to us?

Sarah often encounters random people offering their advice while she's out with Hannah, and I can understand how frustrating it must be. Who knows their baby better than her mommy? Answer: definitely not some batty old lady or some housewife whose kids don't listen to her anymore.

This rarely, if ever, happens to me when I'm out with Hannah by myself; I just get people gushing over how cute she is. I guess it's because I'm the dad and the stereotype is that anything I do should be considered a bonus, but if that's the case, shouldn't I be getting bombarded with hot tips because I "don't know any better"?

It's a weird double standard and like most double standards, they make very little sense and are not based on fact. Both Sarah and I are more than capable of dealing with whatever comes our way baby-wise, and even if we're not always successful, we're confident that we have Hannah's best intentions in mind.

We've been with her every minute of her life. You, complete stranger, on the other hand, haven't even shared a minute of it, and if you're going to offer us totally unsolicited advice, that's the most you're ever going to get.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dana White Cancels UFC 151, MMA World Asplodes

Here's what we know: Dana White has cancelled UFC 151 - the first time ever a PPV has been called off while he's owned the company - because Dan Henderson has a partially torn MCL.

We also know that White had Chael Sonnen lined up to replace Hendo, but Jon Jones refused the fight on eight days notice, under the guidance of his trainer Greg Jackson.

The plan going forward is for Jones to fight Lyoto Machida (again) in Toronto (again) in September.

Needless to say, Dana White is pissed off. He's called both Jones and Jackson out over today's conference call, calling the trainer a "f***ing sport killer". You should stop whatever you're doing and track down that presser, because it was pretty epic.

Having said that, I'm siding with Jon Jones on this one. From his perspective, it makes absolutely no sense to take this fight.

Jackson reportedly said it would have been the biggest mistake of his career, and I can understand why he'd say that.

Jones has the ability to go down as one of the greatest MMA fighters ever, and to jeopardize his legacy by taking a fight with a vastly different opponent eight days before the event would probably not be very smart.

The counter argument to this is laden with macho bluster, that fighters should take on any and all challenges, anytime, anywhere - regardless of whether it's the intelligent thing to do - and that to do otherwise means you're scared.

Perhaps certain factions of the UFC fanbase would be swayed by these Biff Tannen-in-Back To The Future- sentiments , but evidently it wasn't in the best interests of Jones' camp to agree to it. And since there's no clause in Jones' contract that says he HAS to fight, why would he, if he feels he wouldn't be prepared to successfully defend his title?

As a promoter, Dana White is obviously furious that he has to kibosh an entire event, and he's definitely losing a ton of money on this thing, money he can't get back. But as a fighter, Jon Jones - and his camp - only have to look out for Jon Jones, especially when so much is on the line.

His rep will most certainly take a hit - I envision an NWO-like entrance in Toronto come September - but when it's all said and done, Jones will look back on this decision and not regret it one little bit. And he shouldn't.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Bane Kiffin Tumblr Is The Internet's Reckoning

This Tumblr absolutely nails it, mashing up the egotistical antagonist of The Dark Knight Rises with the egotistical antagonist of the Pac-12.

Between the Sean Connery-through-a-megaphone Bane voice and the Christian Bale-gargling-rocks Batman voice, TDKR is chock-full of barely audible yet strangely quotable lines, and this certainly won't help the nonstop one liners.

Looking forward to USC winning the BCS Championship and Kiffin stepping to the mic with "Let's not stand on ceremony here!"