Posted by: justinlafferty | February 20, 2014

The last knuckleballer to pitch for every AL team

12279721586_4fa69ca555_bWith R.A. Dickey being the only knuckleballer to likely have a spot in his team’s rotation for 2014, it kinda made me wonder when the last time each team had a knuckleballer pitch for them. Kinda surprised that, from what I could find, the Yankees haven’t had a true knuckleball pitcher since Joe Niekro. Also, R.A. Dickey tends to get around.

AL West:

  • Oakland — Steve Sparks (2003)
  • Anaheim — Steve Sparks (1998-99)
  • Texas — R.A. Dickey (2003-06)
  • Houston — Jared Fernandez (2003-04)
  • Seattle — R.A. Dickey (2008)

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Posted by: justinlafferty | February 4, 2013

Tips for comedians on Facebook pages

It seems like almost weekly, I’m getting an invite from a comedian to like their Facebook page… which is great!

And then I like the page, only to find out that the comedian either never uses it or uses it to post anything that crosses their mind (that’s what Twitter is for). In my day job, I work for a social media company and I’m the co-editor of a blog focused on Facebook. I’ve written about companies who use Facebook pages to grow their business. I’m not saying I’m perfect or that I’ll make you famous or Oprah rich, but I’d love to help.

  • Think of Facebook as your own webpage

It’s OK if you don’t know HTML or have the change to spring for someone to design/manage a website. You’ve got Facebook. If you want to use your Facebook page to make it easier for promoters, make sure to have your name (or My Name Comedy, if you want), as well as a bio of yourself (with your location) and some accomplishments.

Include your email address, if you wish, so promoters/bookers have some way to reach you.

Additionally, use the photos feature to upload high-quality headshots/comedy action shots. If you worry that Facebook photos aren’t high-quality enough, upload some photos to a free photo management site like Flickr and link to this gallery in your bio. This way, if a promoter wants to get more information or a headshot for their flier, it’s easily there. Make sure they know about your page and don’t have to do a lot of work to find info or pictures.

Also, find a good cover image. It can be you on stage, a microphone, or whatever you feel represents you. Cover image dimensions: 851 pixels wide and 315 pixels tall. Make sure it’s not pixellated.

  • Don’t post everything you think is funny

Even though you’ve begged friends, family, and randoms in the Tenderloin to like your page, not all of your fans will see your post. Facebook has this funny little algorithm (many call it EdgeRank… you can do some more research on this, if you want) that sorts the news feed based on what people will engage with (like, comment or share). Understand that even though you post something to your Facebook page, not everyone will see it. However, the more people you get to like, comment on or share your posts, the greater chances will be that your fans will see more posts. You can pay a few bucks to promote your posts if you want, so more people see, but it’s not mandatory.

If you’re posting 15 times a day, odds are, at least one person is clicking “hide.” This hurts your page. Try to moderate your posting to a reasonable amount.

  • You can create events through your page

If you want to promote a big event or showcase that you’re in, create an event through your Facebook page, and invite people that way. Not only does this build awareness of your page, but it yields results a little bit better than just posting “Hey, I’ve got a show tonight at Cobb’s! Message me for a free ticket!”

If you want to place extra importance on post, keeping it at the top of your page, go to the top right corner of it (while you’re on the admin page), click the pencil, then click “pin to top.” Use this when you want to highlight something like a big show or an announcement.

You can also use other services such as LaffQ (or just link to your LaffQ page) to keep fans updated on your appearances.

  • Don’t post the same things as your personal profile

If you have a Facebook page, invite your entire friends list to like it, and then just post the same exact things … what is the point to me liking your page? Use the page to post witty one-liners, announcements of shows (as well as thanks to promoters/bookers and shout-outs to fellow comics), and questions for fans to get people liking, commenting and sharing.

Facebook is a pretty powerful utility for comedians, but it’s not perfect. These are just some tips for comics to help them use a Facebook page for success.

Posted by: justinlafferty | November 5, 2012

On leaving print journalism

Ever since I was 15, there was only one thing I ever wanted to do: be a reporter. I remember sitting in career day in high school, and the speaker for journalism was Neil Hayes, a sports columnist from the Contra Costa Times. He talked about flying back and forth between Anaheim and San Francisco while covering the World Series.

I was hooked.

I wanted that job and started to get more serious about writing for the school paper.

(cross-posted at

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Posted by: justinlafferty | June 18, 2012

On R.A. Dickey and perseverance

ImageNew York Mets pitcher and Cy Young candidate R.A. Dickey, 37, has transformed himself as a knuckleballer and is enjoying a late-career resurgence.

That much you already knew.

But do you want to know why I really love watching R.A. Dickey pitch? This is the second time he’s had to reinvent himself.

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Posted by: justinlafferty | February 20, 2012

On Tim Wakefield and the knuckleball

I know, I couldn't bring myself to upload a photo of him in Boston. I'm that petty.

I remember the first time I became aware of the knuckleball.

I was playing All-Star Baseball 99 on the N64. I didn’t really know much about baseball, but I liked the Oakland A’s because they were the local team. And I already pretty much knew I’d never be able to root for Barry Bonds.

One of Oakland’s best starting pitchers in that game was Tom Candiotti. His out pitch? Something called the knuckleball.

Intrigued, I pitched with him and watched as the knuckleball darted, danced, dipped and frustrated my friend Stuart or Lance. It was near impossible to actually control and I was pleasantly surprised when one of Candiotti’s knuckleballs landed in the strike zone, at around 65 mph.

It’s been said that the knuckleball is the everyman’s revenge. It doesn’t require a 6’6″ frame, an arm like a cannon or  laser precision. It just takes patience and hope.

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Posted by: justinlafferty | January 9, 2012

On weight loss

There’s no magic pill.

There’s no secret.

There’s no special food.

There’s no trick.

There’s no “easy way.”

As many times as I’ve tried to find other ways, I’ve discovered there is one surefire way to lose weight. It’s damn simple, but one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It just doesn’t fit into an advertising jingle: exercise more and stop eating junk food.

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Posted by: justinlafferty | January 22, 2011

Bad baseball players

Apparently, this guy was the worst baseball player of the 2000s

Wins Above Replacement, WAR, is a stat showing basically how much better a certain player is than an average, replacement-level player. Click here for a better explanation. Basically, a 0.0 WAR player is no better or no worse than the everyday player. He won’t make an All-Star team, but he’s hitting above the Mendoza Line. Note that I’m not that stat-oriented, but I’ll give it a shot.

Examples of today’s players who were about average last season (via Fangraphs… and I’m trying to use basic stats to give a more fungible idea):

Jorge Cantu, 0.0 WAR – .256 avg/11 HR/.304 OBP

Ryan Theriot, 0.0 WAR – .270/2/.321

Carlos Quentin, 0.0 WAR – .243/26/.342

Three of the best:

Josh Hamilton, 8.0 WAR – .359/32/.411

Joey Votto, 7.4 WAR – .324/37/.424

Albert Pujols, 7.3 WAR – .312/42/.414

So this made me wonder… if we can use WAR to measure the players who have been the best, why can’t we use it to figure out who has been the worst?

According to WAR, last year’s worst player with enough ABs to qualify? The Melk Man.

Melky Cabrera, -1.2 WAR – .255 avg/4 HR/42 RBI/.317 OBP

The scary part? Cabrera might open the year as a starting center fielder… granted, for the Royals, but… here… I’ll let Joe Posnanski explain.

Then (Brewers manager Ned Yost) started talking about (prospect Lorrenzo) Cain, talked about his athleticism, how he and Escobar can help the Royals offense “just with their legs alone.” Then it all took a terrible turn.

“He’s a center fielder,” Yost told Bob about Cain. “But we’ll see where it fits in. I’m not projecting anything right now. We’ve signed Melky Cabrera (to play center field), and Lorenzo Cain only has (147) big-league at-bats.”

Uh oh. Bob asked Ned Yost about Cain … and the words “Melky” and “Cabrera” were in the answer? Melky Cabrera of the 83 OPS+ and .317 on-base percentage last year? Melky Cabrera of the minus-21 on the Dewan Plus/Minus for outfield defense last year (minus-9 in center fielder where he only played 385 innings)? Melky Cabrera of the minus-1.2 WAR last year — which made him by Fangraphs ratings the worst everyday player in baseball? That Melky Cabrera?

So I decided to dig a little deeper. Below the cut are the worst players from 2000-2010.

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Posted by: justinlafferty | December 5, 2010

Not sure what to do

Every day, it seems like there’s little reminders.

A couple years ago, my uncle took his life. It still feels so recent, so fresh.

Now, I don’t really know how to feel. There are so many emotions. There’s anger, that he’d so something so stupid, so foolish, so easily preventable. That certain forces got him to that point. That he couldn’t stop himself. That we didn’t stop him. That we didn’t help. That she’s still alive and he’s gone. That I can’t just call him up today. That he’s not going to be here for Christmas. That he wasn’t here for Thanksgiving. That he didn’t think of his daughter. That he didn’t think of us. That he didn’t… well… I don’t know.

Then there’s confusion. Over why it got that to that point. Over why he thought it was that bad. Over how when he solved his problem, he caused a million more. Over why it happened at all. Over what do we all do now?

There’s sadness. There’s regret. Then some more sadness, more anger, and it just starts all over again.

I guess now because it’s the holidays, I can’t stop thinking about him. It seems like there’s something, one little thing that happens every day, and I don’t know what to do. When I watch the Cowboys, I think about how he convinced me when I was a little boy that they were the team I should root for. I remember watching Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin and those amazing mid-90s teams and thinking about him. I remember riding in his truck one time when I was older. He had the song “The Boys Are Back In Town,” playing a little too loud for me, but I didn’t care. I just enjoyed being with him. Now, whenever that song comes on my iPod, it makes me miss him, but it makes me happy. He was a really great guy. Lately, I’ve been listening to CMT in the mornings as I get ready for work. A few days, they’ll have Alcohol by Brad Paisley. My uncle battled alcoholism for most of his life and that song was played at his funeral. CMT had a top songs of the decade show recently, and Whiskey Lullaby was one of the choices. I had to turn the channel immediately.

I just don’t know how I should feel or what I should do now. I wish there was something, anything, I could do to just bring him back for five minutes. There’s never that kind of closure that they talk about in other kinds of deaths. It’s just ongoing. Some days, it frustrates the hell out of me that I can’t just call him anymore and tell him how much I love him and how much he means to me.

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Posted by: justinlafferty | October 28, 2010

Why I’m not rooting for the Giants

OK, I’m starting to get a little tired of the premise that because I live in the Bay Area, because I largely grew up in the Bay Area, that I am a fan of a Bay Area team, I should root for the Giants to win the World Series.

Sure, San Francisco fans. A valid point. Also, should the Oakland Raiders be motivated by their recent thumping of

I know which team he's not rooting for. Good enough for me.

the Denver Broncos and go on some miracle run to the Super Bowl, I’ll be asking you 49er fans why your face isn’t painted silver and black every Sunday. It’s all Bay Area, right?


Giants fans may not see the A’s as your rival, but A’s fans do, in a weird “Oakland is the stepchild of San Francisco” way. Rooting for the Giants, especially now, is like selling out and jumping on a bandwagon. I don’t jump on bandwagons. As BANG columnist Tony Hicks mentions in his column, yeah, A’s fans are a bit jealous. We don’t do panda hats. We don’t care for giant Coke-bottle slides or bad facial hair. And really, we’re just as sick of the torture as you are.

We’ve been watching and perhaps even taking a silent interest in your playoff run. But your bandwagon is far too crowded. Maybe we don’t want your team to fall apart. But if two or three wheels came off the wagon while barreling down championship hill, dumping a few thousand people who wouldn’t know Orlando Cepeda from Orlando, Fla., onto their freshly painted orange heads, you’d see no tears over here.

Jealous? Hell yes, we’re jealous. And hell no, we won’t wear orange and black, even if it is Halloween.

But here’s the real torture for us. You have a future. We don’t. Not as the “Oakland” A’s.

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Posted by: justinlafferty | September 8, 2010


Brentwood - home of the cornfest

So, I’ve finally found employment and I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I had two very solid offers — one which would have me covering high school/community sports in Marin County and the other would have me doing roughly the same area in Brentwood, where I grew up.

I took the latter, and as time goes along, I’m happy I did. I love writing for Patch, and I really hope they are the future of journalism, because the industry could really use some hope right now. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work where I was an intern while studying at Los Medanos College. Unlike Marin (where I would’ve had to either pay a lot in gas or pay a toll to get to work), I know the Brentwood/Antioch/Oakley area pretty well. Everything just feels right here.

I found a sweet studio in Antioch only a few blocks from where I once lived in middle school. I’ve got the support of family living in the area, too. I’m familiar with the high schools (Liberty, Freedom, Antioch, Deer Valley and Heritage) and I’m pretty sure a few of the coaches I’ve talked to are still there. At least, I hope so.

I’ve lived all over California and in parts of Missouri and Montana, but I’d like to say I kinda grew up in East Contra Costa County. There’s something to be said about moving back to where your “roots” are. I feel very comfortable in this area, where I don’t really need to use my GPS or look up directions to go somewhere. I’m pretty close to some of my best friends I’ve missed while living in San Diego, Stockton and on the central coast. Now, instead of having to make a weekend trip to the Bay Area, I can just head over to a friend’s place for a bit. It’s liberating. I’ve walked, taken the bus and driven all over this area. It’s like going home, but now I’m on my own. Considering I was looking at places in Richmond and Vallejo, I’m pretty happy to call a nice area of Antioch my home.

I’m really looking forward to this next step in my life, and hope it’s a successful one all around.

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