Archive for the ‘Baseball’ Category
As some of you may remember, I used to contribute to NotGraphs, a now-dead offshoot of the ace FanGraphs site. Since NotGraphs’s death, several of the contributors have continued doing similar stuff at Banknotes Industries. Including me. You can see several of my things over there, should you be deathly bored.
I’m a little bit obsessed with making sure I am not lazy. I feel lazy a lot. But, in 2013, I decided to make a list. Nothing strange there, really, but I made a list last year, and I made the list again this year. I did 747 creative things in 2013. This year, I have done 781 things up to and including the 27th of December. How I define “creative things” is simple. It could be a drawing for a sketch to something detailed and time-consuming. I treat those things equally. Likewise, I include blog posts that are unique pieces, so the 17 daily posts about being on holiday in Belize count as 17 creative things. I am happy that I did more stuff than last year, but mostly, I am happy I did more than 365 things.
Before I began keeping note, I hoped that would do at least one thing a day, and, anyone with the barest of maths skills will see that I’ve done way more than that: 2.05 things a day in 2013, 2.16 things per day to date in 2014. But, of course, I can’t just be happy with that. Now my stupid brain is thinking I’m placing too much emphasis on doing a LOT. Maybe I should concentrate on quality, not quantity.
My career, such as it is, is going nowhere. Treading water. Bulls need to be taken by the horns and I need to do better stuff, more substantial stuff. That was something that really hit home when I had the exhibition in London in April. It was fun and humbling and everything to see people looking at my stuff on a wall, but, it was pure vanity, ultimately. The exhibition lost money. I hardly sold anything and it cost me a lot of money to prepare it and get to London and spend three weeks there. I hate that I think of that experience as a failure, but I do.
It’s been an odd year. I moved out of my last apartment before Xmas 2013 because I lived with cunts and the realisation that they were cunts came about very quickly. I realised on a Tuesday, and I’d moved out on the Sunday. I spent a lot of time in London on two trips. And my love for Mexico goes up and down daily. I have a tendency to let things get to me. I had an idea for a book which I spent a bunch of time working on, but I’ve totally abandoned the idea. Not gonna happen.
Looking back through those 781 things from 2014, there’s not a huge amount I’m particularly happy with. I need to do better. I’m not getting any younger and I need to do better so that drawing can keep on paying for my food and rent. Which brings me to look back at what I think is the best, my best, my favourite ten things of 2014. More than anything, it’s nice to remind myself that, despite all the nail-biting, I am quite good at this sometimes. So feel free to click away to another Web site right now, the rest of the post is all blah blah. Thanks for looking at my stuff this year. Happy new year.
In no particularly order…:
Vueling Flight 7823
Girl Scout Heron
The first three things that I really like are drawings done with the Paper app on my iPad. I’ve not used it so much recently because it keeps crashing on my ancient first generation iPad. It was an app I enjoyed. It freed up my drawing a lot, made things a lot sketchier. I really like the Miley drawing, simply because it was done when I had nothing in my head and finished less than a minute later. The drawing of the aeroplane makes me giggle, and the Girl Scout Heron drawing, whilst not a particularly good drawing (I shouldn’t've given him a neck, the beard should be covering it completely), still amuses me.
I’ve spent the last decade enjoying beautiful baseball stadiums. Modern and old. Even crappy baseball stadiums are pretty cool. I wanted to draw something that was the complete opposite. An ugly, purely functional stadium. And when I think of such places, Scunthorpe United’s ground Glanford Park is the one that jumps into my head.
2014 was, I think, the first year since 2005 that baseball wasn’t entirely what I wanted to do stuff about. I’ve done a lot less infographics in general this year, and specifically less baseball-related infographics. But, for a big chunk of the year, I contributed to the now-defunct NotGraphs blog, which was a part of the not-defunct FanGraphs. For that site, I mostly did drawings and a bit of writing here or there. It was fun. There’s an archive of my stuff here. My favourite thing for NotGraphs was a bunch of drawings of vendors at my local baseball stadium in Mexico City. (And should you be a fan of NotGraphs, several of the contributors, including me occasionally, still do similar stuff at Banknotes Industries.)
I Wanna Dance with Somebody
Next up is a story I thought of in 2013 in a taxi. I’m a big fan of airdancers, the flappy things that are hooked up to a fan and dance in front of car dealerships and the like. So I did a children’s story about an airdancer in Mexico City called I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
I find getting a likeness of people quite difficult. I don’t have the patience for it. But this one came together really quickly. Once I realised Lionel Messi’s eyes could just be dots, it all fell into place. Plus, I enjoyed drawing the kit and boots. I did a lot of football drawings this year, but this was the best, I think.
Bandstand is simple infographic idea. I like it because of its simplicity. And the fact that I can keep on adding to it forever and ever.
This is a companion to the Mexico City drawing I did in 2013. I wanted to show the Mexico City one at the exhibition in London, so felt it might be nice to do a London version to go with it. You can see it full-size here. The nicest part of this, though, for me, was that I was contacted about doing a slightly altered version for the cover of Time Out in London. This was quite the honour, a wee personal triumph. Being a provincial boy, London was always the coolest place, and whenever I visited, one of the first things I would do would be to buy a copy of Time Out. Here’s the version that was on that cover.
The main reason that this site existed beyond a year or two was Minipops. I am under no illusions about that. These simple, silly, pixelly drawings of famous people became popular back in 1999, and stayed relatively popular for quite a while. It was pretty cool. But, after a while, I became frustrated just doing more and more and more of them. And along the way, kinda lost the love to draw any pixel stuff. I still did it, but mostly that was because I couldn’t be arsed to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. But this last year, I’ve started to enjoy pixels again. And this drawing is the best thing I did this year, I think. I enjoy that I stuck with it and created something that by my standards was pretty epic. The more I drew, the more I wanted to draw. But I was also glad that it had a natural end point. The drawing outgrew the title, but I’m still happy that I called it Flower.
And that is, self-indulgently, that. Thanks again for visiting, commenting, sending emails, etc. It really is appreciated. Onwards and upwards, hopefully, in 2015.
One of the joys of Google Street View is knowing that if you miss something with your camera, you might be able to see it again. This is a school, I think, that I went past in a bus yesterday in Chetumal. Link to Street View view
Not really an infographic, but here’s something about Derek Jeter.
Two drawings of the areas between the foul poles at major league stadiums. I kinda like that this combines the idea of an infographic with “art.”
Go for a walk on the moor. Feel the wind on your face. Clouds, grasses, heather, birds. Get away from the city, away from life. No cellphone reception, no scores, no line-ups, no statistics, no baseball. A break in the clouds, and the sun reveals the brightest of greens. And there, in the middle of that patch of green: a baseball game.
Digital painting done using the Brushes app on an iPad, based on this photograph.
It seems like at least once a season, there will be a bevy of tedious articles where people flap their hands and faint like ladies in Victorian novels about the length of baseball games and how that means people will soon stop going to games and watching on the television. Baseball is long and boring, they say, something has to change! I say NO! It’s too short and not boring enough MLB is not doing enough to stop people watching! This is my 20-point plan for making baseball better.
1. 7.05 p.m. first pitch? Pfff, that’s rubbish. Let’s start the games at 7.05 a.m. and snag that coming-home-from-a-night-shift demographic that all sports currently ignore. Plus ballpark breakfast food, knowhamsayin’?
2. Who doesn’t love the excitement of extra innings? Let’s make that the norm. 18-inning games. Double the pleasure. Double the fun. And if we’re still tied after 18 innings: extra innings!
3. Why are we putting so much pressure on pitchers to pitch quickly? Don’t we want them to be relaxed and mentally prepared? Take all the time you need, Daisuke.
4. Similarly, we want the batters to do the best they can, and if that means Derek Jeter needs to adjust his batting gloves twenty or thirty times before each pitch: so be it.
5. Who doesn’t love walk-up music? Well, let’s hear the whole song, not just a snippet.
6. After each at-bat has ended, one of the players’ children can appear on the big screen, calculating the updated statistics of that batter. With a pencil and paper, not using a calculator. That child could also gain some sort of school credit for doing this.
7. Catchers should be banned from throwing the ball back to the pitcher. They should have to take it to the mound and hand it the pitcher. And then the pitcher would say thank you.
8. God Bless America should be played between every half inning to remind attendees that they are American (in case they had forgotten to be patriotic), and that God exists (in case they had forgotten to be Christian). In Toronto, this still applies. Canadians need reminding that they are inferior to Unitedstatesofamericans.
9. But, we should be accommodating to Johnny Foreigner, because it’s not only Americans who play or watch baseball. Let’s play the anthems from the countries of all the players on the rosters that day! American! Canadian! Dominican! Venezuelan! Cuban! Japanese! Mexican! Australian! Curaçaoan! Saudi Arabian!
10. I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know if this would actually work, but it feels like it might: put airtight roofs on all stadiums, fill them with helium, give every player and spectator oxygen masks, and let’s see how many massive home runs the batters can hit. Helium is less dense than air, so that should work, right? We’d have longer, higher-scoring games. Just like in the Mexican League!
11. After the seventh-inning stretch and the playing of the full length version of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, why not have a special guest reading out some delightful poems?
12. Players should be obligated to take their own batting gloves and elbow and shin protector things to the dugout after reaching base. Similarly, runners left on base at the end of an inning have to collect their mitts themselves rather than having a team employee doing it.
13. The designated non-hitter. While the American League is all modern and has a DH, and the National League is all old-fashioned and allows its fans to feel superior, both leagues are missing a designated non-hitter. An extra player in the line-up would be something the MLBPA would adore. Let’s extend the careers not just of players who can no longer play defense very well, let’s extend the careers who can no longer hit very well either! Or just give a spot in the line-up to a player we all love. Ken Griffey Jr. could still be a Mariner! That player would be the tenth in the batting order, and would come to the plate, tip his cap, and return to the dugout. Joe Maddon could even have him non-batting clean-up if he wanted.
14. The fourteenth inning of every game could be brought to you by Sony PlayStation 4. Two chairs will be brought the batter’s boxes, and placed facing the big screen. A PlayStation 4 will be put on home plate. Whoever is due to pitch and hit that inning will sit in the chairs and play as themselves for one inning. This will undoubted speed up the game, so Sony can organise for people to dress up like big furry PlayStation controllers and race, similar to Milwaukee’s sausages. They will compete in a 5,000 meter race around the warning track.
15. Screenings of Andy Warhol’s Empire in the middle of the fifteenth inning.
16. Water cooler breaks for the players. Baseball is a sport. Sports mean players sweat. The body needs to replace that water lost to sweat. Let’s get a load of water coolers (prime sponsorship opportunity, Commissioner) and put one at each position so the pitchers, second basemen, center fielders, etc. can get refreshed and have a nice chat.
17. Premier League breaks. Due to my proposed 7.05 a.m. start times, that will, because of time zone difference, allow some synergy with the World’s Greatest Sports League: the English Premier League. Whenever a scintillating 0-0 draw is about to happen, the umpire calls a 90-minute time out so everyone in the park can watch Sunderland vs. Stoke City.
18. John Cage’s 4’33″ will be played and observed in complete silence. Any noise made in the stadium will mean that we have to start again from the beginning.
19. During the seventeenth inning, the t-shirt gun people will keep launching t-shirts into the crowd until every single spectator has a t-shirt.
20. Ballpark security is replaced with the National Guard midway through the game. They create an exclusion zone and no longer permit people from leaving the ballpark until the season is over. Get back in your seat, NOW! At the end of the season, attendees will be permitted to leave, but only until Opening Day the following season, when they will be required BY LAW to return to their seats.
Feel free to use all of these suggestions as you please, Commissioner-elect Manfred.
My new post at NotGraphs is about the Diablos Rojos and their now ex-ballpark Foro Sol.
This week’s post for NotGraphs is a short story called “October 27, 2011″ set during game 6 of the Cardinals-Rangers World Series. http://www.fangraphs.com/not/october-27-2011
Forgot to mention these things I did for NotGraphs, coz I iz dumm:
This, we recently found out, will be the last season that Diablos Rojos will play at Foro Sol. It’s a crappy stadium. It’s ugly and way too big, but, sentimentally, it’s kinda been a second home since I’ve been in Mexico. Next season they’ll play *somewhere* in the city, and there’ll be a brand new stadium in 2016. But for now, it’s nice to take photos and do drawings of the old place.