Friday, February 13, 2009

The rites of spring

Baseball season is upon us, almost. The White Sox report for spring training Sunday and the World Baseball Classic will take away the boredom of exhibition games, beginning March 5.

While I am excited for the defending AL Central champs to begin another campaign, I found this story in today's Chicago Tribune about a statistical prediction for the upcoming season. Using a complicated formula taking into account players' potential performance, the author estimated the White Sox's 2009 record to be 74-88, third worst in the American League.

Math formulas and predictions, along with $2, will buy me a venti regular coffee at Starbucks, so I guess all it's really good for is to stir debate. I prefer to think about the post-season run the Sox went on last year. Including scenes like this -- the final out of the AL Central tie-breaker game. It was a 1-0 win over the Twins. Jim Thome accounted for the only run. Another view is here.

Are the Sox the best team in the AL this year, probably not. But they will not finish with the third-worst record as the Baseball Prospectus expects. I think this team has the potential to be very good, but they are going to be slugging it out with the Twins, Indians and Tigers. It's also hard to stomach the Royals having a better record than the Sox as the book suggests.

Incidentally, my wife's beloved Red Sox are picked to win 98 games. I find that hard to believe as well, because their starting pitching is aging and has an injury history, as this article suggests.

As I said, we're just trying to stir some debate.

Hoosier country among best college towns

Bloomington was rated the No. 10 best college sports town by

I have to say the reputation is deserved. B-town has a great bar scene, i.e. Kirkwood Avenue, as well as top-quality sports. The town also is beautiful, especially in the fall during football season.

The IU music school, rated among the best in the nation, also lends itself to a cool music scene. I can remember sitting in Bear's Place for the weekly Jazz Fables show, listening to the music school's jazz masters students. They were a group that would cost $50 to see in New York, but my friends and I paid $5. The musicians didn't like to advertise the show because the small pizza place couldn't handle the mass of people who would attend.

The room was so crowded the host asked patrons to let strangers sit with them in their boothes. We had to arrive an hour before show time to get seats. We felt like we were in on a little Bloomington secret.

Hat tip:'s Big Ten blog