It’s 12:34pm on Tuesday September 5th, 2017. My name is Tim Dillard. I’m an elegantly bearded thirty-something-year-old-minor-league-pitcher, and a few days ago I finished my 15th season in professional baseball! And every year I have been at some level in the Milwaukee Brewers organization! Here’s more useless facts about myself… I ENJOY: short walks on the beach, the new wireless headphones I bought and haven’t told my wife about yet, saltwater taffy, wrestling with my three kids, cheap sunglasses, playing Clue, explaining Star Wars to teammates, and chronologically writing down my inner baseball thoughts… for money. (THANKS MLB Trade Rumors!)
12:37pm Currently I have a window seat on a United flight from Denver to Memphis because, well, as you may already know… we made the PLAYOFFS! That is right… for the first time in twenty years the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox Baseball Team has made it to the postseason! The last time this happened, the team roster was filled with a bunch of players nobody’s ever heard of… like Craig Counsell and Todd Helton.
12:39pm Can’t believe how packed this plane is right now. I wonder if all these people are flying to Tennessee just for our playoff game tomorrow! Pretty sure the guy sitting next to me is trying to read what I’m typing… and he may have stolen my peanuts. (I saw him eat two packs.)
12:40pm You know, it’s hard to make the postseason. Some players go their entire careers without making playoffs. In the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, there are four divisions of four teams… and only the top four actually make the postseason. So yep, it’s a big deal.
12:41pm This will be the seventh time in my pro career to be part of a playoff team. Six in America, and one in Venezuela. (¡Te amo y te extraño Águilas del Zulia!)
12:41pm In 2003, my rookie ball team in Helena, Montana went to playoffs. We didn’t win it all… and honestly that’s about all I can remember. It feels like such a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
12:43pm In 2006, the Double-A Huntsville Stars made playoffs and almost won the championship! It was an interesting year too because we were statistically the worst team in all of baseball the first half of the season. Then we added a pitcher (Yovani Gallardo) and a third baseman (Ryan Braun)… and just like that, we became the best team in all of baseball the second half!
12:47pm In 2007, the Triple-A Nashville Sounds made the playoffs but lost in the first round. After we clinched and were spraying discount champagne in each others’ eyes… the Major League club called up half the team. We lost the team camaraderie voodoo, and were easily defeated by the New Orleans Zephyrs. (Insert loud weeping emoji)
12:50pm In 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers made an amazing run to clinch the National League Wild Card! I wasn’t added to the playoff roster, but I WAS however nervously eating clubhouse cheesesteaks every inning in Philadelphia! (We didn’t win… but I did gain seven pounds.)
12:54pm In 2011, the Brewers again made the playoffs and almost went to the World Series! And again, I wasn’t added to the playoff roster. But this time I got to carry the candy bag, sit in the bullpen, and wave my proverbial pom-poms!
12:56pm Ok, I gotta know… here’s a test sentence for the guy next to me. Excuse me airplane passenger sitting in 32B, are you by chance reading what I’m typing?
12:57pm Haha! He laughed… caughtcha!
1:11pm Alright, so mister 32B’s real name is Anthony! Good dude.
1:12pm He asked me how my season went… I told him I was a relief pitcher, but got to be the backup catcher last month during a game in Salt Lake City! The team had a need, so I dressed in full catcher’s gear, and warmed-up and caught four teammates in the bullpen! I even got to warm one up on the field in between innings!
1:14pm I also told my new travel companion about the different game delays I witnessed at the ball field this season. There’s your basic rain, wind, lightning, dust, and hail delays. But then there’s also the more interesting delays: There was the fog delay. And the too many bugs in the lights delay. And of course the… two snakes trying to eat each other in left field delay.
1:117pm But truthfully it’s difficult for a player to judge how his season went. Probably because we’re biased, and want validation that all the good outweighed all the bad. That all the sacrifices may have accomplished something. Like all the workouts. Spring training. Plane trips. Bus trips. Being away from family. Away from friends. The aches. The pains. (Special shout out to my boy ibuprofen… love you big guy!)
1:21pm However baseball is all about statistics. It measures everything. From route efficiency and WAR. To sabermetrical something something and WHIP. Let’s not forget OBP, OFA, OPS, and OPP yeah you know me. Anyway, you get it, “Stats on Stats on Stats.”
1:22pm Which is all fine. Statistics are necessary, but sometimes stats just don’t tell the whole story of a player’s season.
1:22pm For instance, the way baseball measures, oh I don’t know, let’s say… the relief pitcher. E.R.A. or Earned Run Average is a solid way to calculate a starting pitchers effectiveness, but can actually be a disadvantage for a reliever at times.
1:24pm So that’s why back in 2012 I invented PONAR! I’m certain some of you have already heard of this “LEGIT” bullpen statistic, so you can stop reading. But for the rest of you… P.O.N.A.R means: Percentage of Outings Not Allowing a Run (my first adaptation was P.O.O.N.A.R… but I didn’t think anyone would take that seriously, so I dropped the “Of” part)
1:27pm But yeah… PONAR! Pretty deep huh?
1:28pm Essentially, what my imaginary stat measures, is: how many times a relief pitcher comes into a game and has a scoreless appearance. So if a pitcher’s PONAR is 90%, it means 9 out of 10 times he doesn’t give up a run. It’s better than earned run average (E.R.A.) because if a reliever is lights-out 9 out of 10 times, but the 10th time gives up 7 runs… he’s still a fantastic pitcher!… even though he has 6.30 E.R.A.
1:33pm As opposed to a relief pitcher giving up 1 run in 7 of 10 appearances. His E.R.A. would be the same at 6.30… but his PONAR would be a dismal 30%.
1:34pm Make sense? (Insert confused emoji)
1:34pm Oh well… anyone out there have the phone number for ESPN’s super-analyst Tim Kurkjian!? I need to text him something. He may be the man who can help get my PONAR off the ground!
1:35pm Speaking of ground, I need to make sure my seat back and tray table are in their full upright and locked position.
To Be Concluded…