Friday, September 22, 2006

Ball Four

Ball Four is a terrific book by Jim Bouton, a MLB pitcher clinging on near the end of his career. I read it about 20 years ago, and Black Dog quoted from this book yesterday in a very good post on Thoresen. And since I have no shame, here is the Bouton quote on the preseason from Pat's blog, brought to you through the magic of 'cut & paste'.

Reminds me of Jim Bouton's classic Ball Four and when he talks about training camp and trying to make the major league roster of the Seattle Pilots. If you're not playing much is that a good thing? Does it mean that the team has decided you are in? Or does it mean they have decided that you are out? If you are playing a lot what does that mean? It must mean you are in the mix, right? Or are they waiting for you to fail so they can point out to the media/organization/you that this is why you were cut?

I'm with Bouton, I really have no idea either. And I'm not much of a prospects or preseason guy, but in games I've seen the teams clearly tended towards playing veterans vs veterans and kids vs kids. And I believe that everybody does everything for a reason, be it wise or foolish, straightforward or convoluted. And that includes coaches.

So, by the looks of it last night the Flames had two NHL calibre forward lines out there. Iginla /Tanguay and Amonte/Friesen. So, just summing the icetime vs Iginla and Amonte, who never played together at all at even strength, here are the head to head icetimes vs the veterans, just for even strength here.

I'm not sure what that means (SEE Bouton quote above), but if I were a fringe player I am pretty sure that I would rather be near the top of this list than near the bottom.


Blogger Iffy said...


Great posts and great blog. This shift chart analysis is great stuff. I'm nowhere near being at that level now, but I have been checking out your nhlcode blog and wishing I was smarter!

Towards a simpler topic, how do you create those little JPG files? Is this some excel add-on, and is it something readily available? Please feel free to email me at if anyone has any advice!

Keep up the good work (and what happened to the rest of your crew?)

9/22/2006 8:38 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this info!

I was surprised 2 days ago when Duco was the only cut and then I saw last nights' lineup and knew that the young forwards were kept to be played to test the suspect D-men with a little adversity.

It's only one game, but Tjarnqvist also took 3 penalties, Staois took 1 (Roy also had a fighting major).

9/22/2006 9:09 am  
Anonymous Big T said...

Has to speak something of MacT's feelings about Hejda. Clearly he wants to see what he can do.

I agree on the Tarnqvist assesment that he saw so little ES icetime due, in part, to penalties. Wait, wouldn't that make him get more ES because the others would be tired from the kill??? Now I'm more confused than Jim Bouton!!!!


9/22/2006 10:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was not implying taking 3 hooking /holding penalties was a good thing for a guy being tested.

9/22/2006 11:51 am  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Ahh, Vic. You're the man. I was on the way into work this morning hoping you would do this - I think it tells us a lot.

I thought Hejda would see a lot of this quality of opposition - so the next question is - how did he look? Anyone?

And I think the icetime for the forwards is pretty telling and if I were Schremp and Almtorp I'd be getting some games or maybe a copy of Ulysses to pass time on those long bus rides. The fact that they received less icetime then Trukhno tells us a lot.

I think unless the wheels fall off Thoresen has this team made - I know its early but its obvious by this icetime that they wanted to see how he'd do playing against the big boys - a goal an assist and by all accounts another good allround performance.

The one that interests me is Zach Stortini - the knock on him is his skating iirc - he was the captain of my hometown junior team and in terms of intangibles (heart) this kid has it all - I guess they wanted to see if he could hang in there?

9/22/2006 12:07 pm  
Blogger Alana said...

Stortini is a penalty magnet. He may have heart, but I think he would hurt the team more than help it.

9/22/2006 12:39 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Stortini is the strange one for me too. Maybe they are considering a fighter as one of their extra forwards, I dunno.

I can't see any other reason for getting the guy out there against Calgary's two NHL lines all night. I mean it looks like he didn't get a helluva lot of icetime, but most of it was vs Iginla's line (more than any Oiler forward vs Iggy by some distance). And the rest against Amonte/Friesen.

Go figure.

9/22/2006 12:39 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


The jpgs are just made by cutting and pasting into MS Paint and then saving as a jpg.

As for the other IOFers ... I have no idea why they are so quiet lately. I know I go through stretches where I don't feel like posting, I'm sure that they do too.

9/22/2006 12:41 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

Oh, I don't think Stortini is anywhere near ready to play in the NHL and I don't think the Oilers do either.

I think maybe last night was an exercise in seeing if there is any hope for him. Honestly. And if there is, then to go back to that Bouton reference - when they send him down they can say - "ok kid, remember when you played Iginla etc etc - that is what you have to get to"

And good luck with that.

9/22/2006 1:00 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

I agree with your comment on Stortini, makes sense to me.

I have never followed the preseason closely enough to see any patterns before. But I did see the last preseason game from 05/06, the PPV vs the Canucks. And there was no reason in the world for Schremp to be playing against the Sedin's early in that one other than to show the kid just how far he had to go yet.

And asking Cory Cross to "stand 'em up at the blueline" on the PK, that's just mean, the guy got embarrassed. Maybe those rumblings that retirement was 'suggested as an option' to Cory in October, maybe there's some truth in that. I dunno.

9/23/2006 12:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

vic - can you please give tally up the ice time for tonights game?

9/23/2006 3:18 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...


Ya, I'll throw it up on the sidebar thingy if I remember after the game. If you're using Firefox a graphic showing the shift patterns and the PPs and PKs should flash up at the top of the screen. This because imo often the pattern of the icetime against the good players says more than the totals.

Even for the people who are going to the game, still useful (unless you are crazy enough to both pay close attention AND remain very sober at a preseason Saturday night BofA game, in which case you are way too much of a grown-up ... even then not many people will have a good feel for both the Fs and D matchup, its one or the other methinks)

As well, just a general comment towards anyone posting as 'anonymous', would you please throw your name at the bottom, or any name for that matter. For example, even if your real name is Robert, you could just put "- Lemmy" at the bottom of your anonymous posts on blogger. :D The possibilities are endless really. Because it gets really fn confusing when two people named "anonymous" start disagreeing with each other in the blogosphere.

9/23/2006 5:18 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

And Mr. Stortini gets sent to Hamilton.

Work on that skating young fellow.

9/23/2006 6:28 pm  
Anonymous mo said...

Thanks vic. I played with the sidebar thingy and the graphic works with Firefox for Linux. I'll generate the data myself if you point the sidebar at tonight's shift chart. Much appreciated.

9/23/2006 6:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno Vic...I got a huge bone to pick with you over this post. I mean can we really consider a line NHL calibre if he has both Amonte and Freisen on it???:)

And yeah I'm one of the IOF guys that are quiet but I'll be back with some postgames and other stuff once the season starts up.

One last thing...speaking of that PPV cast last year from Va...I wonder if this Sat's last game from Van will be on TV? That contest from last year was the first real time I became worried about Ty. Here we were in the last warm up and the guy looked like he was in mid July form;)


9/25/2006 9:42 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Ya, I wasn't following the preseason much at all last season, but I'd heard a few people on the radio complaining about Conklin's play, read a couple things on the fan boards and everybody seemed to think he was terrible. I sort of wrote it off as fans over reacting, an "it's just the pre-season" mindset. But when I saw that game, damn he was just brutal. Same with Cross, I thought everyone was just panicking or trying to find a whipping boy, but the two years, plus his lack of speed, just covered in ugly.

I mean you always get the bipolar fans who freak at everything, but even the level headed types were worrying about the Conklin one. I remember speeds wondering out loud on HF if Morrison shouldn't get the start, and he had a point.

I don't know what happened to Conklin, if it was the year off or the groin injury or what. For his sake I hope he bounces back in Columbus.

... and on Amonte and Friesen. I've always rated Friesen as better than his numbers, even though it was pretty clear that Burns didn't think much of him by the way he was using him. Still, a pretty dynamic player when he was first in the league, he should have gotten better. But the results are just shit for the last few years. I don't remember, did he get a knock to the melon along the way? Amonte's lost a step of course, probably doesn't flatter him playing on the Flames though, not exactly a thrill-a-minute style that Sutter had those boys playing.

9/25/2006 10:37 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me Freisen seemed like a super Steve Kelly...lots of speed but initially Freisen could score goals too;) I don't know if he was playing against tough comp or what but his counting stats have sucked for a long time now.


9/26/2006 10:45 am  

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