Cutter on Lenny: I still love him


In light of all that happened to his dad over the last few months, Cutter Dykstra would have every reason not to want to associate himself with Lenny Dykstra. But that’s not the case.

Lenny Dykstra, the former MLB All-Star and Sherwood Country Club resident jailed last week on federal embezzlement charges, was released on $150,000 bond and ordered to outpatient substance abuse treatment and surrender his passport. He could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Cutter Dykstra, the former Westlake High standout now playing for single-A Potomac in the Carolina League, told Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer (linked here) that he doesn’t read any of the negative stories that have come out about his father’s collapsed business dealings.

“That’s stupid,” he said. “I don’t even waste my time reading that stuff. It doesn’t really matter to me. I know who he is and I know what he’s about. He’s my dad and I love him.”

Cutter, drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers with the 54th pick in 2008 and traded to the Washington Nationals for outfielder Nyjer Morgan and $50,000 cash before this season, concedes his dad does do things out of the ordinary.

“He is (crazy),” the 21-year-old Cutter said. “He’s wild. That’s the kind of dude he is. He’s a different guy, but you know I love him, and if he wasn’t like that he wouldn’t be as successful as he was. He gave everything to baseball and gave everything he had. Everyone knew he was a little bit crazy.”

Cutter Dykstra has bounced from center field to third base and second since being drafted. This season, he has been a DH hitter with Potomac. Heading into last weekend’s games, he was batting .273 with no extra-base hits, four RBIs, and two stolen bases.

A year ago with Milwaukee’s Midwest League Wisconsin affiliate, Dykstra hit .312 with a 416 on-base percentage and 27 stolen bases.

“I love having Dykstra on the back of my jersey. People say, ‘That’s Lenny Dykstra’s son,’ and when I’m out there on the field I want people saying, ‘Wow, he plays the game just like his dad does.’ That’s the right way.

“From the early stages my dad said, ‘Put on a show. This is the entertainment business.’ That’s what I try to do. I try to entertain the fans.”

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30 baseball books in 30 days of ’11: Day 26 — Let it rain beer in the greater Seattle area


The book: “Pitchers of Beer: The Story of the Seattle Rainiers”

The author: Dan Raley

The vital stats: University of Nebraska Press, 352 pages, $26.95

Find it: At the publisher’s site (linked here) as well as at Powell’s (linked here), (linked here) and Barnes & Noble (linked here)

The pitch: Admittedly, we’ve got no ties to Seattle-based baseball, only a heart-felt appreciation for how the ’69 one-and-done Pilots managed to survive a season at Sicks Stadium with a bunch of castoffs (leading to Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four”), only to see them cascade off to Milwaukee.

You didn’t see them crying in their beers.

Now, with this history book by Raley, a former sportswriter from the recently distant memory Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in collaboration with local Seattle baseball historian and aficionado Dave Eskenazi (see his bio link here), the circle of baseball life in the Emerald City seems appropriate to revisit.

“Telling the story of the Rainers is our way of preserving an athletic civic treasure,” Raley writes in the preface, “something that meant as much to thousands of people in Seattle as it did to us. The words are mine. The photos are Eskenazi’s. The team is your to adopt or reclaim.”

The beer angle comes from Emil Sick, a hops-and-barley baron talked into buying the Pacific Coast League’s Seattle Indians in 1937 as it was about to fold up. The one who nudged him in: New York Yankees owner Col. Jacob Ruppert, who saw the value of having a group of customers regularily buying his product, with baseball as the catalyst.

Starting from page 13: “Sick would set out to do what the Seattle Mariners pulled off nearly six decades later when the modern-day team took up residence in $550 million Safeco Field near the waterfront and trotted out such unforgettable players as Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki: change ownership, build a new-age ballpark with all the amenities available and put talented, fan-pleasing characters in uniform. Sick had resisted when approached in previous years to bail out the Indians, but now the situation had turned so dire the brewer felt compelled to get involved. …

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30 baseball books in 30 days of ’11: Day 25 — More math involved … it’s counting on your mitts


The book: “Wizardry: Baseball’s All-Time Greatest Fielders Revealed”

The author: Michael Humphreys

The vital stats: Oxford University Press, 432 pages, $19.95

Find it: At the publisher’s site (linked here), as well as at Powell’s (linked here), (linked here) and Barnes & Noble (linked here).

The pitch: Quick, how do you calculate someone’s fielding percentage? Putouts plus assists, divided by total chances (putouts, assists and errors added together).

Very lame, apparently.

Humphreys, who by day “advises on tax aspects of international capital markets transactions at Ernst & Young LLP,” calculates in a way that he can “quantify the fielding value of every player in major league baseball history.”

You’re familiar with DRA, right? Defensive Regression Analysis, which Humphreys figured out in 2003 after seeing what else was out there and then crunched some other numbers himself. His empirical approach is deciding who, in the course of the last 130-odd years, handled the glove better than anyone else at their position.

Go ahead. Knock yourself out.

Or, on page 32, throw out a formula discussion that made us think we were back in our high school Honors Math calculus class. Can you say:*(ABC/lgABC).

That means something to someone. Just not much to us on our sequestered world.

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Play It Forward: April 25-May 1 on your sports calendar


AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
Kings center Michal Handzus is tangled up with San Jose’s Dany Heatley during a third-period scuffle in Saturday’s Game 5 of their Stanley Cup playoff series. The Kings won to stave off elimination.

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:


NHL playoffs: Kings vs. San Jose, Game 6: Staples Center, 7 p.m., Prime:

Rocco’s Old School Tattoo Balm may not be able to cover up the way the Sharks have tattooed the Kings for much of this Stanley Cup opening-round series. But the fact there’s at least one more game squeezed out, in front of the Kings’ loyal towel wavers, says something about the character of this young squad. The Kings, who killed all four of San Jose’s power plays in Saturday’s brink-of-elimination contest, have knocked out 18 of 20 in the series. Anyone up for a seventh game? That would be Wednesday at San Jose.


MLB: Dodgers at Florida, 4:10 p.m., Channel 9:

Since early Cy Young candidate Josh Johnson pitched Sunday against Colorado, Florida won’t have its ace for this series. It might not matter. Andre Ethier’s 21-game hitting streak will go up against a team with, for starters, has one of the best bullpens in the league with a combined ERA in the 1.60 range, and opposing hitter are struggling just to post a batting average of about .180 against them. Ricky Nolasco (2-0, 3.00), coming off seven shutout innings with eight Ks against Pittsburgh last time out, pitches Tuesday against Clayton Kershaw (4 p.m., Channel 9). Then Anabel Sanchez, who nearly threw a no-hitter at Colorado in his last start, comes back in the final game of this series on Wednesday against Chad Billingsley (9 a.m., Prime).


MLB: Angels vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:

How is Jered Weaver (5-0, 1.23 ERA) doing it? Scouts say the Angels’ 6-foot-7 right hander out of Northridge is using his slider more often than usual. In a win at Texas last week, he threw 32 sliders among his 119 pitches, with 16 of them down and away. Yes, they measure things that closely. Even more: The last time he threw the slider 25 percent or more of the time was a 15-strikeout effort against Toronto on April 10. He’s throwing the pitch 30.2 percent of the time this season against righties, as opposed to just 23.0 percent of the time the previous two seasons. We can’t make that stuff up. Weaver goes tonight against the A’s Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 1.80) and the series continues Tuesday (7 p.m., FSW, Tyler Chatwood vs. Brandon McCarthy) and Wednesday (4 p.m., FSW, Dan Haren vs. Tyson Ross) with the top two pitching staffs in the American League going head to head.

NBA playoffs: Portland at Dallas, Game 5: 5:30 p.m., NBA TV:

Each team has won the two games on their home court, but the Blazers’ comeback last Saturday night could be a huge psychological blow to the Mavs. Now they’re going neck and neck to see which series finishes first — this one, or the Lakers-Hornets. With Game 6 set on Thursday, both series could go the distance until a Saturday Game 7 — and if both the Lakers and Mavs prevail, they’d certainly not be as well rested as they’d have liked.



NBA playoffs: Lakers vs. New Orleans, Game 5: 7:30 p.m., Channel 9, TNT:

Kobe Bryant, zero for the first half. Yup, that’s a strategy that seems to work well if the Lakers want to avoid a seventh game of this thing (which would be Saturday night back at Staples Center). They already knew what Chris Paul could do. Now they know Jarrett Jack. And whether its Jack Nicholson, Jack Black or Jack in the Box sitting courtside for this one, there’s a crazy chance that they haven’t seen the last of the pesky Hornets. A sixth game is now locked in for Thursday in New Orleans.


NBA playoffs: Memphis vs. San Antonio, Game 5: 5:30 p.m., NBA TV:

The eight-seeded Grizzles are actually in position to close this series out against the Western Conference champs. Miami (4 p.m., TNT) and Oklahoma City (7:30 p.m., TNT) are also about to finish off their series against Philadelphia and Denver.



NFL Draft: First round, 5 p.m., ESPN, NFL Network:


USC tackle Tyron Smith, left, has plenty of upside — some mock pickers have him going in the Top 10, perhaps as the Dallas Cowboys’ next insurance policy for Tony Romo. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton has some nagging downside — does his inexperience make him a one-hit college wonder, or will the Carolina Panthers go ahead and make him the No. 1 overall pick because they have no faith in Jimmy Clausen? And then there’s Marcell Dareus, above, the 6-foot-3, 319-pound defensive tackle out of Alabama who can knock just anyone sideways. Will he be available for the Denver Broncos at No. 2? The NFL might be buried in labor talks, but there are plenty of ESPN and NFL Network analysts laboring over their big boards, minute by minute, changing things around as they try to second- and third-guess the real GMs who will make the official selections in prime time. Again, the proceedings are spread over three days, with 3 1/2 hours allotted for the first round. The second and third rounds are Friday (ESPN2, NFL Network at 5 p.m.) with rounds 4-7 on Saturday (ESPN and NFL Network, 9 a.m.)



MLB: Dodgers vs. San Diego, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:

In their first 20 games, the Padres were held scoreless six times – worst in baseball. One of them was a 4-0 loss at San Diego to the Dodgers during the last time these two met three weekends ago. This series goes through Saturday (7 p.m., Prime) and Sunday (1 p.m., Prime), where they’re giving out retro 1981 World Series T-shirts. Remember that one 30 years ago? This three-game series against the Padres are the only meetings the Dodgers have with an NL West rival between April 14 and May 16.

MLB: Angels at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m., FSW:

Yes, these two just played a two-game series in the great indoors of St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field, and the Angels won both — 5-3 and 5-1, on April 5-6. That first one turned out to be Manny Ramirez’s last game. The series includes games Saturday (10 a.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (10:40 a.m., FSW).


NHL playoffs: Teams to be determined, noon, Channel 4:

Who’s looking for a little national exposure. NBC has set aside this window, as well as one more on Sunday.


MLS: Galaxy at Dallas, 4 p.m., FSW:


Something borrowed, something Becks: David Beckham has told the team he plans to be in England on Friday to attend Prince Williams’ wedding ceremony to Kate Middleton, then fly from Westminster Abbey to Pizza Hut Park in Dallas in time for the opening kickoff. In fact, by his calculations, he’ll even be there on Saturday before the team arrives.

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30 baseball books in 30 days of ’11: Day 24 — PRG is progress, or potential runs per game …


The book: “The Runmakers: A New Way to Rate Baseball Players”

The author: Frederick E. Taylor

The vital stats: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 272 pages, $24.95

Find it: At the publisher’s site (linked here) as well as at Powell’s (linked here), (linked here) and Barnes & Noble (linked here)

The pitch: It looks so simple. It factors out in some degree looking very accurate with the eye-ball test. But then you have some strange abberations.

It’s what happens when you make numbers pole dance.

Knowing how stats fuel baseball, and should always have a seat in the discussion when we start to accumulate baseball books that have meaning and could hold long-term prominence. Which is why we accept this one by Taylor, a retired professor of American government who also worked for the U.S. Department of Commerce and Department of Defense.

He proposes “potential runs per game” (PRG) as a new measure — the ninth, by his count, after all the OPS, OBP and other abbreviations available. This one takes into account batters not just reaching base or driving in runs, but also advancing runners. It’s advertised as much better than a simple batting average, easier to calculate than any Bill James formula, and getting to the essential part of the game — who produces runs.

So Taylor takes his slide rule and breaks down the history of baseball into eight different eras, then creating a new Top 10 lists of players based on positions, time played, and where they were in the batting lineup.

By his calculations, for example, he concurs that Babe Ruth was the top player (in PRG) during the 1921-41 era, and Ted Williams the same from ’42-’62.

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