Archive for the 'Pirates' Category


The Greatest Home Run Ever: 50th Anniversary

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ dramatic victory over the New York Yankees in game seven of the 1960 World Series.  For the last 25 years at least one person has listened to the radio broadcast in front of what remains of the outfield wall of Forbes Field.

Sign Commemorating Forbes Field

Given that this year is the 50th anniversary, there were quite a few more people there than usual.

People gathered at the wall

So many people were expected that the city closed off the street that runs by the wall in order to accommodate the festivities.

Street Closed

There were some interesting characters in the crowd.

Super 'stache

Arrr, matey!

There were plenty of reporters and cameramen.

Whoa, I definitely should not have had that burrito for lunch.

People brought along souvenirs and mementos…

Maz and the '60 Bucs

…and maybe a beer or two.

Yinz got an arn for me?

When 3:36 rolled around, it was time to celebrate.


High five!

It was a great event, an opportunity for those of us who weren’t there to experience the thrill of it, and a chance to share it with the next generation.

We had 'em all the way!


Pumpkin 2008 and the Arduino Project

I guess this is becoming somewhat of a tradition.  Last year for Halloween, I carved the Pirates logo into my pumpkin.  This year, I decided to spend less time on the carving and more time on the lighting:

After the break, I have some info on the Arduino project and how I got involved.

Continue reading ‘Pumpkin 2008 and the Arduino Project’


2008 Pirates’ Season: Another Exercise in Futility

Well, the regular season is over and the Pirates’ season can be summarized as follows:

The Pirates are now the team with the longest currently active streak of consecutive losing seasons in any major American sport. The last year they had a winning season was 1992, which is more than half of my lifetime ago. If they don’t have a winning season next year (which, let’s face it, does not look very likely), they will take over sole possession of one of the most disgraceful records in professional sports.

As I mentioned in my post on the sports graph paper I developed, I have been charting the Pirates’ win fraction for the last few seasons. With this year’s season at a close, I can summarize my findings: despite a bunch of changes in the Pirates’ organization over the last few years – a new GM, new manager, new coaches, and many new players – the Pirates’ final win fraction has not changed significantly over the last four seasons. Specifically, they have finished with a win fraction of between 0.410 and 0.420 in each of the last four seasons. That means that over the last 4 years, they have either won 66, 67, or 68 games per season. Evidently, all the changes they have made have done precisely nothing to help the team win.


From the graph above, it’s clear that despite vastly different performance early in the season, the Pirates always manage to regress back to approximately 0.415 by the end of the year. If you’d like to play around with the data I used to create the above plot, take a look at this tab-delimited text file of the Pirates’ total wins and win fraction vs. number of games completed. You might have fun or you might get depressed. You’ve been warned.


What a long, strange (online) trip it’s been

Those of you who know me may have noticed that sometimes I say one thing followed by something seemingly totally unrelated. However, if you were to ask me, I could tell you the entire train of thought that took me from the first statement to the second. I had a similar experience today online. First thing: the Pirates traded Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees. Second thing: an article about the wedding of a girl I went to high school with.

Continue reading ‘What a long, strange (online) trip it’s been’


Sports-oriented graph paper

I’ve been preparing a post on the Pirates’ win records over the last few years and I had created an Excel spreadsheet to plot their win fraction (total wins/total games played) as a function of time during each season. Initially, I had plotted their win fraction versus the date but that made comparing the data between seasons complicated because the seasons’ start and end dates vary a bit from year to year. So, I plotted it versus the number of games played. When I did that, I was somewhat surprised to find that there were sections of the plots from different seasons that overlapped exactly, sometimes for 5 or more games. This indicated that these plots were constrained to consist of a series of small sections from a relatively small, finite set of curves. However, I didn’t know what these curves were, so I set about to figure it out. The final product of this investigation is graph paper that a sports fan can use to easily plot the progress of his/her favorite team as the season progresses.

Continue reading ‘Sports-oriented graph paper’



The Pirates swept the Giants in their recently-concluded 3-game series.  Obviously, this is good to see under any circumstances.  However, I was particularly happy to see the Pirates win a couple of close games.  It seems to me that when they win, they blow out their opponents but if the game is close, then they lose.  However, yesterday, they won 3-1 and today they won 5-4 after trailing 4-2.

An interesting tidbit that I learned yesterday is that (as of yesterday) the Pirates’ starting outfielders (Jason Bay, Nate McLouth, and Xavier Nady) collectively have 20 home runs and 73 RBI, which is better than any trio of outfielders in all of baseball.  Nice job, guys.  Of course, I’ve said before that Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady are awesome, but I was impressed at how well the Pirates outfield compares with the rest of the league.


Pirates win opening series

On Monday, the Pirates beat the braves 12-11 in 12 innings.  Yesterday, the Pirates got manhandled by the Braves, losing 10-2.  Today, the Pirates beat the Braves 4-3 in 10 innings.  Today’s win gives the Pirates the series victory and keeps them tied for the lead in the NL Central, along with the Brewers, the Reds, and the Cardinals.  Keep up the good work!


A few thoughts on the Pirates

  • Yesterday’s game was crazy.  The Pirates, carried by Nate McLouth (3-5 plus a walk, 1 HR, 4 RBIs) and Xavier Nady(4-7, a double, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs) put on quite an offensive show.  Unfortunately, Damaso Marte and Matt Capps gave new meaning to the word “meltdown”, as they walked 4 out of 5 batters to start the bottom of the 9th, ultimately erasing the Pirates’ 5-run lead.  As they say, all’s well that ends well, and the game ended well for the Pirates, but it should have been a clean victory in 9 innings, rather than a messy one in 12.
  • I’m glad that the Pirates got rid of Byung-Hyun Kim.  I couldn’t believe it when they signed him because he has been bad for a long time.  Fortunately, he was bad enough in Spring Training that they dumped him without giving him the chance to ruin any regular season games.
  • Starting pitching for the Pirates looked pretty good toward the end of Spring Training.  Let’s hope it stays good.
  • Pirates are tied with the Brewers for first place in the NL Central.  Savor it.

Pumpkin is done

I spent this evening working on the details in the face and scraping out the inside some more so that more light would shine through. Here’s a picture of the end product:


I’m not really sure why the colors look so bad. I’m guessing it’s a white balance issue. Anyway, even if the picture doesn’t look that great, I’m really happy with the way the pumpkin turned out.


A Halloween Project

We’ve had 2 pumpkins in our apartment for a couple of weeks now and they’re begging to be carved.  With Halloween coming up in 2 days, I thought that I better get cracking (or, carving…).  Anyway, after watching lots of postseason baseball and not getting too excited about the Red Sox, the fact that the Pirates are “my team” was confirmed again.  So, I decided to carve a pumpkin with the Pirates’ logo on it.  Here’s how I did it:

  1. I got out my Pirates hoodie (with a nice, embroidered logo) and photographed the logo:


  2. I opened up the GIMP and applied a Gaussian blur to make the colors a little more uniform, then I posterized the image to get just white, black, red and yellow (plus a little residual junk):


  3. I printed out the image and cut out the details in the face so I could use it as a template on the pumpkin:


    Seen here taped to a little curtain thing we have.

  4. I taped the template to the pumpkin and, using a permanent marker, marked in black all the stuff I was going to carve away.  I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m pretty happy with it so far.


When I get it all done (hopefully before Wednesday night), I’ll post a picture of it all lit up.  I hope it’ll look decent.  I may wind up needing a giant lightbulb to put inside it in order for a decent amount of light to shine through.  We’ll see.  Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve worked on a project that involved using my hands in ways other than pressing keys on a keyboard, so I’ve had a good time with this.


May 2022

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