Back in the early 1990s, when I was working as a book editor, our company published a book called The Designer’s Guide to Charts and Diagrams, written by a guy named Nigel Holmes, who at the time was the “explanation graphics” editor for Time magazine. (He’s now an independent designer and consultant, with a nifty web site.) I was pretty fascinated by charts, so I was pissed off when the manuscript got assigned to one of the other production editors.
Nearly two decades later, I’m still fascinated by charts and diagrams. So I was excited when reader Ben Wideman recently pointed me toward the awkwardly named site Flip Flop Fly Ball, which presents a bunch of baseball-related info in diagrammatic form. Think of it as an interesting little cul de sac of athletics aesthetics. The topics range from the conventional (MLB field configurations, when each MLB team broke the color barrier) to the unusual (a projection of when the Yankees will run out of numbers, an analysis of World Baseball Classic rosters), but almost all of the charts are worth a look. The biggest surprise for me was this one, which shows the wide range of MLB stadium orientation. So much for the universality of “southpaw.”
The site is the work of a European gent named Craig Robinson, who appears to be particularly fascinated by the concept of distance. He’s charted the distance the Royals will travel this year, the distance of all the pitches in the 2006 MLB season, and the distance traveled by all the 2006 baserunners.
Robinson also appears to be a bit of a nut, and I mean that in the best way. Flip Flop Fly Ball shouldn’t be confused with his other web sites, which are called Flip Flop Flying, Flip Flop Flyin’, and the very simple and endearing CraigRobinson.com. In addition to all the charts, he also likes to create sports illustrations (many of which I quite like) and teeny-tiny pixilated portraits he calls minipops (whose charms elude me). I knew he was our kind of people when I saw that he collects and documents Tic Tac containers with Tic Tacs stuck on the inside. Now that’s a niche obsession!
I haven’t been in touch with Robinson yet, but I was surprised and pleased to see that he likes Uni Watch (see his blogroll on this page). Craig, get in touch once you see this post — I’d love to hear more about your work.
Meanwhile, just to bring things full-circle, here’s a baseball-related diagram by Nigel Holmes, the guy whose book I didn’t get to edit. Frankly, I like Robinson’s material better.
Danger, Will Robinson!: In what is probably a classic case of burying the lede, this small, unassuming item informs us that Oregon will be unveiling new football uniforms later today. “They are believed to be motocross-inspired,” says reader Ben Jamin, which I guess means the offensive line will look like this. Anyway, the whole thing will be live-streamed at goducks.com, 1pm Oregon time. I’ll say this much for Nike and Oregon: Good for them for keeping this announcement under wraps until a day before the unveiling.
New Sponsor Shout-Out: Everyone knows Ali and Foreman fought in the Rumble in the Jungle back in 1974 in Zaire. What you might not know is that there was also a huge soul music festival that was promoted alongside the fight. A new documentary called Soul Power, set to open on July 10th, takes a look at this mix of music and sports (sort of a music-themed companion to When We Were Kings) and the movie’s official merch licensee is now offering T-shirts — check out their ad in the right-hand rail.
Raffle/Redemske Reminder: I’m currently raffling off four pairs of Wilco tickets and taking up a collection to help out former Uni Watch bench coach Bryan Redemske, who broke his back in a cycling accident last week. Full details on both of these projects here.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Nice set of vintage Bengals drinking cups here. … Newcastle United has unveiled a new orange kit (with thanks to Ross Hazlett). … Alan Kreit along close-up pics of the old Shea’s home plate, pitching rubber, and third base, now situated in the new Shea’s parking lot. … And Jason Libes provided similar shots for all the old Veterans Stadium landmarks in Philly. … Those controversial new swimsuits have been approved for competition use after all. … Remember Mark Penxa, who I interviewed last year? He’s done a bunch more gorgeous sports paintings, including portraits of Roy Halladay, Jacques Plante, Johnny U, Steve Yzerman, and Jean Béliveau, and Deacon Jones. Further info here (big thanks to Sam McCullough). … There’s a Kellen Winslow jersey prominently featured in this video clip, but you might find it being overshadowed by something else (with thanks to Brendon Yarian). … Check this out: When switch-hitter Delwyn Young was with the Dodgers last year, he wore No. 3 and his left-handed batting helmet had a backwards 3 decal, presumably so he and the equipment staff could easily tell it from his right-handed helmet. Never seen that before (great catch by Rick Subrizio). … Matt Duchene, who is expected to be selected at the top of the upcoming NHL draft, designed his high school team’s jersey. Details here (with thanks to Taylor Buckley). … LSU’s basball team keeps a lucky charm in the dugout (with thanks to David McGee). … Underbill update from Roberto Santiago, who reports that Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez has written quite a screed under the right side of his visor, plus a few additional lines under the left side. Can’t make out what any of it says, though. … Rough time for Ian Stewart (no, not that Ian Stewart) last night in Anaheim, as reported by Jeff Fields: “In the second inning, he ripped a huge hole in the seat of his pants scoring from second. In the ninth inning, a pitch pulled his jersey right out of his pants for a hit-by-pitch. He unbuckled at first base and adjusted/retucked. The Rockies announcers joked that he ‘almost pulled a Psycho, but not quite'” (a reference, of course, to Steve “Psycho” Lyons, who once famously pulled down his pants at second base).