Last Updated: 6:15 PM, May 7, 2012
Posted: 1:08 AM, May 7, 2012
Used to be, the most difficult try-it physical challenge was to pat your head with one hand while making a circular motion on your stomach with the other.
But then the Weber outdoor grill people began to sell rectangular numbers that came with a thick, rubberized cloth weather-resistant cover. You get one side on and the other yanks off. You go at it front to back (or back to front), and the same thing happens.
One can spend hours trying to cover a Weber outdoor rectangular grill with the Weber rectangular outdoor grill cover. It’s a two-person job, often in the rain.
But now there’s a new leader in physical challenges: Scratching and shaking one’s head while laughing so loud, you need two hands to hold your stomach — while watching a baseball telecast.
In the latest in series of comical attempts to reinvent baseball — to clutter the screen and viewers’ good senses with the addition of extract of nonsense — SNY, during Diamondbacks-Mets on Friday, introduced the “Pitch Predictor.” If that sounds like an invention by Professor Frink from “The Simpsons,” you win a free spin.
As Gary Cohen explained over a full-screen billboard, the Pitch Predictor relies on data compiled by data-compilers at Bloomberg to predict the next pitch based on these qualifiers (as I write this, I can’t believe I’m writing this):
1. Pitcher’s overall pitch use history.
2. The count.
3. Base runners.
4. Pitcher vs. batter history.
5. Type of batter (slugger vs. contact hitter).
6. Four years of pitching data.
Why stop at 6 when 7 should be, “When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars”?
I love No. 5 — How does a slugger become a slugger if he’s not a contact hitter? As Lou Costello demanded of Bud Abbott, “How can a muddah eat its faddah?”
The Pitch Predictor has nothing to do with, oh, the catcher’s sign? How are NL pitchers classified — sluggers, contact hitters or pizza crust? Four years of data? Are pre- and post-Tommy John surgery variables included? Is a good-fielding shortstop hitting .218 considered a contact hitter?
Anyway, SNY’s first application/intrusion of the Pitch Predictor came in the sixth inning, the Mets up, 4-2. Arizona had two on with two out, Aaron Hill batting, a 3-2 count. (Not that it mattered, but Hill, after nearly seven seasons with Toronto in the AL, became a D'back late last season.)
Ron Darling, noting the Pitch Predictor graphic — in such a situation Dillon Gee will throw a change-up 31 percent of the time, up from Gee’s 19 percent “average use” of his change-up — was struck by a sudden surge of here-and-now common sense:
“The only problem here is that you may not want to throw the change-up because Hill has been late on the fastball, every time. You’ll speed up his bat if you throw a change-up for a strike.”
The pitch: Hill strikes out, looking — at a fastball.
SNY’s presentation of the Pitch Predictor alerted viewers to a change-up because data shows Gee to throw it 31 percent of the time in such situations, well up from other situations. But that means that in such situations, there’s a 69 percent chance Gee will throw something else! And what percent of that 69 percent are 3-2 fastballs? Hmm, 96 percent?
The data-loaded Pitch Predictor told us in this particular circumstance, be on the lookout for the pitch that the pitcher is least likely to throw. Got that?
Q: Can’t we just watch the game? A: No.
Oh, the Mets lost, 5-4. But Mets reliever Tim Byrdak did get his fifth hold of the season. In one-third of an inning he allowed an earned run, but he didn’t blow the lead — good enough to earn a hold.
But look at it this way: SNY was able to turn a 5-4 game into a laugher.
Official story: Refs at fault, claims MSG
Seems every time the Knicks or Rangers are losing, aren’t winning or have lost, an MSG Network voice blames the refs. Saturday during Game 4 of Rangers-Capitals, that was a steady theme from Rangers radio analyst Dave Maloney.
* It took a remarkably long time — 17 minutes! — for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby payoffs to be posted. Yet, no acknowledgement or explanation from NBC. Was the delay due to a track issue or did NBC withhold the info to hold the audience?
Good prerace celebrity Derby picks spot from NBC. Skier Bode Miller selected Bodemeister, Joan Rivers touted Done Talking — she claimed it was Never Done Talking — and, staying in character, Jack Black chose the winner, I’ll Have Another.
* Disinclined to ignore a vulgar chant from the New Jersey crowd during Flyers-Devils on Thursday, Devils radio team Matt Loughlin and Sherry Ross spoke their regrets and disapproval. Good. Rather than ignore the inescapable, all game announcers should — must, before it’s too late — condemn such public incivilities.
The Clippers’ 87-86 win Saturday, had that neo-classical look. The Clippers hit — “knocked down” — eight-of-17 3s (47 percent), yet kept the Grizzlies alive by making only 13 of 30 free throws (43 percent). Wonder if there’s a correlation between the rise of ESPN and the decline of free-throw shooting?
Jamie Moyer, 49-year-old pitcher, Saturday accused Chipper Jones of stealing signs. What sign could Jones steal, the one for his 80 mph fastball or those for his off-speed stuff?
* Yesterday from Kansas City, Suzyn Waldman dropped this news nugget: “Andy [Pettitte] doesn’t want to come back before he’s ready.” Stop the presses!
Wait. Tiger Woods missed the cut, but they played the rest of the tournament anyway? Why? What for?
David Cone, during yesterday’s YES trivia segment, tried to provide Ken Singleton a hint on Cy Young Award winners: “Think more modern era.” Singleton: “Oh, not my era? Is that what you’re trying to say?” Cone: “How’d you make out against Bob Feller?”
* Reader David Wilde: “Is it me or is there a twinkle in Bob Costas’ eye when he interviews a jockey? It’s as if, just once, he’ll be asked, ‘How’s the weather up there?’ ”
It’s official! As heard Saturday on WCBS’ Yankees radio, “Brut is the official men’s bathroom products partner of the Yankees’ radio network.” I guess Brut out-bid Glade.