Happy "The Big Game" day, folks. For me it just means we're that much closer to pitchers and catchers reporting. Yep, the Sox even come in last in reporting for spring training. I know today is important to many people, so I'll let you get back to drinking fatty foods and eating beer. We lead off with a proper Sunday essay topic: baseball as religion. Soon after the end of World War Uno, Russian-born American philosopher Morris R. Cohen wrote about baseball, and settling differences on the field of play rather than the field of battle, in glowing terms. Perhaps the game didn't strike such hopeful highs, but the article is inspiring nonetheless.
Traditionally, U.S. Presidents throw out the first pitch on Opening Day, via Old Time Family Baseball. I like Jimmy Carter, (picked blueberries at his Georgia compound once) but sheesh. Why not make some time for issues of actual import?
Speaking of the past, a retrospective on Al Smith from The Hardball Times.
Sabr lists the records tied and broken in 2011. Some of those game records make for great win expectancy graphs on Fangraphs.
From The Book blog, more fodder for the argument for American League strength, looking specifically at 2011.
Speaking of The Book, because it's linked by TangoTiger, I feel I can link it, too: An analysis of the golden age of Calvin and Hobbes' Sunday strips. Basically any excuse to bring up that beloved comic.
Okay, some meaty stuff I found interesting: A look at production from the corners, by position, over recent years, from our old friend Christina Kahrl, former Baseball Prospectus editor. The mini-series continues with up-the-middle analysis, then defines average at each position. This is all using EqA instead of the more tossed-around (on SSS, at least) wOBA. Don't worry, it's a simple concept, dear reader: an overall offensive stat adjusted to many factors (such as park and league) and scaled to a regular batting average which stays constant season-to-season.
Speaking of BP, new-type baseball lingo, such as "innings muncher." Kind of edgy, though not very flowing.
This illustration, while safe for work is... disturbing.
Speaking of disturbing, a quote: "As Williams said on Friday night, if the White Sox hit, they will contend. Parent's adjustment to that statement is if the White Sox hit, Rios might have a chance to top his career high of 34 stolen bases, Ramirez might surpass 15 for the first time in his career and Konerko might even reach five stolen bases in a season." Uh-oh.
In stadium construction news, yes, it's coming along terribly. It still looks like the animation! And ground was broken this past week on the Barons' new stadium, Regions Field, set to open for the 2013 season.
Don't forget the open thread tomorrow. Call your sons, call your daughters. Call your friends, call your neighbors. It's like a pledge drive, but we actually expect you to be cheap.