How does a Google search for, say, "Dodgers" differ between the US and the non-baseball world?
Our view of the world is a bit skewed, especially as Baseball Prospectus readers. For us, it's baseball here, baseball there—we probably even see baseballs in scoops of ice cream or in sunrises. A close encounter of the third kind would likely bring us face to face with Babe Ruth or Harmon Killebrew as we carve Yankee Stadium out of a pile of mashed potatoes. A day without baseball is a day wasted.
But ours is a limited view of the real world. There are whole countries and whole continents who couldn't care less about the infield-fly rule or if Mariano Rivera has gone back to wearing high socks. It's a sad world, yes, but it's a world that exists nonetheless.
As a way to explore this sad state of things, I decided to run an experiment. For each of the 30 teams in the majors, I logged into both google.com and google.co.uk (the British homepage for Google) and searched for the team's nickname (e.g., "Yankees" instead of "New York Yankees" or "Tigers" instead of "Detroit Tigers"). With Great Britain being so famously sans baseball, this experiment should provide us with a glimpse at what the non-baseball world sees, however scary that may be.
The teams are listed below in order of 2011 total attendance, with the google.com and google.co.uk rankings of the team's website shown. Comments are also provided.
Phillies google.com rank for phillies.com: 1 google.co.uk rank for phillies.com: 1 Comments: Too specific of a team name. If the word only ever refers to the baseball team, there's little chance that even the British Google will find something else first.
Yankees google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: The biggest, most notable name in baseball. If this didn't have any kind of pull across the Atlantic, I would have been shocked (even considering the Brits' use of the word as a nickname for Americans).
Giants google.com rank: 2 google.co.uk rank: 3* Comments: The New York Football Giants take the first website listing in each search engine. The asterisk (*) on the google.co.uk search means that the Google News search for the term appeared higher than the actual webpage. This will happen a few more times (the Google News search typically appears somewhere in the middle of the first page of results). I'm actually a bit surprised this one carries such cachet in Britain. I would have guessed that, being a fairly generic term, it'd be superseded by Hagrid/Aragog slash fiction or something.
Twins google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: (not on first page)* Comments: This is pretty shocking. Unless I'm missing something, I don't see a minnesotatwins.com search result on google.co.uk until the 18th(!) page of results. The Twins page on Bleacher Report even shows up before the official website. The Google News search does show up near the bottom of the first page of results, however.
Angels google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: (not on first page) Comments: British people like a Robbie Williams song and Doctor Who's Weeping Angels. They do not like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The team website does not appear anywhere in the first 20 pages of results on google.co.uk.
Cardinals google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 2* Comments: The only result above the official team page on google.co.uk is the Google News search. Do cardinals (i.e., the bird) exist in Great Britain? If they don't, that might explain why the team shows up so high in the British rankings - it's a purely American word.
Brewers google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: (not on first page)* Comments: This may be my favorite result so far. As with the Angels, the team website appears nowhere in the first 20 pages of search results. Instead, we're treated to a British home decorating company, a London hall, and numerous links to British beer brewing groups. Brewers Fayre Pub Restaurants sound like something worth visiting too.
Red Sox google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: I would be surprised if this wasn't the case.
Cubs google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 5* Comments: The first three results on google.co.uk come from scouts.org.uk. I'm guessing that's the British equivalent of the Cub/Boy Scouts.
Rangers google.com rank: 2* google.co.uk rank: (not on first page)* Comments: Both sites feature Google News searches high on the results pages. At google.com, that means the Google News search followed by the Texas Rangers' website. In Britain, the results are covered in references to the Rangers Football Club.
Dodgers google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: Wasn't sure what to expect on this one, but I can't say I'm surprised. When else is anything ever referred to as a "dodger"? I suppose there could have been a Charles Dickens fan club high in the rankings, but, alas, there wasn't.
Rockies google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: The Rocky Mountain range had a good shot at taking the google.co.uk top spot here, but Todd Helton's club hung on for the win.
Tigers google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: (not on first page)* Comments: The Leicester Tigers take the top few British results here, with the rest returning information on everyone's favorite striped big cat.
Mets google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 2* Comments: The Google News search takes the number one spot on google.co.uk, followed closely by the team page itself.
Braves google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: The entire first page of results on google.co.uk reference the Atlanta squad.
Reds google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: (not on first page)* Comments: The 1981 Warren Beatty/Diane Keaton film takes two of the three top spots on google.co.uk. I'm pretty sure this is exactly what Beatty was setting out to do when he made this movie 30 years ago.
Padres google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: Another surprise. I guess British people probably don't use that word all too often.
Diamondbacks google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: Another word that just isn't used all that often in Britain, I imagine.
Astros google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: I admit it, I was jealous that the second result on the google.co.uk page went to Astro Gaming UK.
White Sox google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: As Hawk Harrelson might say - "Yes! Yes! Hell yes! And the flowers are still standing!"
Nationals google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: This is one of the biggest surprises. It seems like such a generic term that might be used in many circumstances. I guess not.
Pirates google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 5* Comments: Beaten out by "piracy" and various other nefarious activities. The "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies and the brand new "Pirates! Band of Misfits" movie also find their way into the British results.
Mariners google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 4* Comments: This may be a reverse of, say, the Dodgers' ranking. The word "mariner" just isn't used much in American English, but it was used quite often in older British times. It makes sense, then, for the top result to be a page where you can research the "mariners and ships of the merchant marines and the world's navies."
Indians google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: A little surprised by this one.
Blue Jays google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: This could be another "Cardinals" situation, where the American word takes precedence because there isn't really a need for it in Great Britain.
Orioles google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: More aviary nicknames taking control of google.co.uk.
Royals google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: (not on first page)* Comments: Did you know that the family of the king and queen are collectively referred to as "the royals" in British parlance? Shocking, I know. How could we expect the team page of a lousy club to even compete with something as ingrained in Britons' being as that?
Rays google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 1 Comments: Maybe the biggest shock of all. Yes, the Rays have been good lately, but I was still expecting the generic nature of the name to take it off the top of the list quickly.
Marlins google.com rank: 1 google.co.uk rank: 3* Comments: The Google News search takes the number one spot on google.co.uk, but number two is much more surprising: Marlins.co.uk, which offers "training solutions for the shipping, cruise, and offshore industries."
A's (or Athletics) google.com rank: 1 (2*) google.co.uk rank: 1 ( [not on first page]* ) Comments: This didn't seem fair, considering how unique the "A's" nickname is in sport. Of course it would be found at the top of both search pages. At least the Athletics name allowed for the chance that a non-baseball site would get high on the results page. As you can see, that assumption was true, as the Oakland Athletics are nowhere to be found.
There you have it. Some mixed results in the experiment, I'd say. On the one hand, the really specific or powerful brand names (Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, etc.) don't care what country you're searching for them in. And the super-generic terms (Angels, Twins, Tigers) have very different results in the non-baseball-oriented world. But how do we explain the Nationals or Orioles or even Indians being so easy to find in Britain? There's no real answer to that question, but I think that's okay. As long as it means that our baseball world is constantly expanding, I'll take anything.
Now if you'll excuse me, a pile of mashed potatoes is calling me...
Jason Collette and Paul Sporer launch the new Baseball Prospectus Fantasy Podcast and discuss the studs and duds of April, roster management in the first few weeks of the season, make prop bets, and talk about their favorite read of the week.
The tater trots for April 25: Cespedes bests Konerko and Rolen keeps pace with Hudson.
After watching so many home runs over the last 2+ years, I've come to have a number of favorite players to watch on their tater trots: Scott Rolen, Billy Butler, Adrian Beltre, David Ortiz, and plenty more. It's always nice, then, when a number of them all hit home runs on the same night, like many did on Wednesday. Top that off with some of the big flies that we saw last night, it was a good day for home runs.
A quick story from the 1930s or 1940s, when a player was thrown out for gluing a newspaper photo to home plate.
From the September 1965 issue of "Baseball Digest", comes this story of umpires making mistakes and the consequences when players can't get over it:
The umpires on the eve of the All-Star Game were happily arguing over the quickest thumbings on record. The stopper involved Al Lopez during his playing days.
The Senor was once chased by Bill Klem before a game even started. The night before this particular incident, Catcher Lopez hotly protested a close call at the plate. The morning paper published a picture of the play proving Klem was wrong, Lopez right.
A Jekyll and Hyde righty in the Yankees system and notes from around the day in the minors.
Once a week, the Minor League Update is free, but every time, I'm going to remind you that subscribers get these every day from Tuesday-Friday with ten detailed profiles every morning in the popular Monday Morning Ten Pack.
A Jekyll and Hyde prospect, Mitchell was signed for $800,000 three years ago as a 16th-round pick, and is just now getting to his full-season debut, as while he has two plus pitches in a low-90s fastball and big breaking curveball, his ability to control those pitches has consistently held him back. When he's throwing strikes, like he did last night, he looks like a future big league starter, when he doesn't, like in his previous two outings in which he allowed seven runs over 3.2 innings while walking eight, he looks like he doesn't belong at all. Oh, and those were after season debut in which he fired six shutout innings while allowing just one hit and walking only one. He's interesting for sure, but for now only in the same way a lottery ticket is.
Others Of Note:
Matt Andreiese, RHP, Padres (High-A Lake Elsinore): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K. 2011 third-round pick has plus sinker, good curveball and some command and control; 2.41 ERA in four starts.
Christian Bethancourt, C, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): 3-for-5, 2 RBI, K, 2 SB. Plus-plus defender is struggling at upper levels as a 20-year-old; .246/.270/.262 in 16 games.
Drake Britton, LHP, Red Sox (High-A Salem): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. First good start in four attempts for power arm; ERA drops nearly four runs to 9.87.
Matt Den Dekker, OF, Mets (Double-A Binghamton): 2-for-4, 2B, HR (2), 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, CS. Could get to big leagues on defense alone but can hit a bit as well; .288/.346/.493 in 18 games.
Derek Dietrich, SS, Rays (High-A Charlotte): 3-for-3, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI. Power from last year has been sucked into the Florida State League vortex; .273/.355/.379 in 18 games.
Terry Doyle, RHP, White Sox (Triple-A Charlotte): 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K. Control specialist could work his way into White Sox bullpen at some point during season.
Brad Eldred, 1B/DH, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo): 1-for-3, HR (13), R, RBI, BB, K. Getting kind of silly with five home runs in last three games and 13 in 20 overall; .388/.444/1.013 overall with 23 of his 31 hits going for extra bases.
Alen Hanson, SS, Pirates (Low-A West Virginia): 2-for-4, RBI, K, 2 SB, CS. 29-for-65 (.446) during 15-game hitting streak; 19-year-old Dominican can really hit.
Matt Harvey, RHP, Mets (Triple-A Buffalo): 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. Back-to-back good starts after ugly start to season; 4.85 ERA with 24 strikeouts in 26 innings.
Marc Krauss, OF, Diamondbacks (Double-A Mobile): 3-for-4, 3 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, K. CS. Repeating the level after rough 2011 and hitting .254/.420/.507 in 21 games; non-athletic bat-only type with power and patience.
Seth Maness, RHP, Cardinals (High-A Palm Beach): 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 7 K. 11th-round pick from last June is a short righty with upper-80s heat but impeccable control. 0.67 ERA in 27 innings with 21 strikeouts and zero walks.
Trevor May, RHP, Phillies (Double-A Reading): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K. Making his case to get a look toward the end of the year; 23 IP, 12 H, 8 BB, 26 K in four starts.
Deck McGuire, RHP, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire): 3 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 1 BB, 2 K. 2010 first-rounder has had one good start and three bad ones; 8.24 ERA with league hitting .346 against him.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox (Triple-A Pawtucket): 2-for-5, HR (9), R, 2 RBI, 3 K. For those of you keeping track, that's now six home runs in his last eight games; .377/.429/.792 overall in 20 games.
Wil Myers, OF, Royals (Double-A Northwest Arkansas): 2-for-4, 2B, HR (5), 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, K, SB. It took him 73 games to hit his fifth home run last year; .319/.382/.623 in 17 games.
Henry Owens, LHP, Red Sox (Low-A Greenville): 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K. The run of weirdness continues; 10.05 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 14.1 innings.
Luigi Rodriguez, OF, Indians (Low-A Lake County): 3-for-4, 2 R, SB. Back-to-back three-hit games raise averages to .338/.398/.514 in 18 games; more in today's piece.
Daniel Rosenbaum, LHP, Nationals (Double-A Harrisburg): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K. With a 0.94 ERA in four starts, at some point we'll have to take him more seriously; low on stuff but gets plenty of ground balls and doesn't walk anyone.
Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves (Double-A Mississippi): 2-for-3, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB. 9-for-17 in last four games to raise batting average 77 points; .313/.366/.422 in 15 games.
Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals (Double-A Springfield): 2-for-5, HR (4), R, 2 RBI, 2 K. Snaps out of mini-slump and up to .312/.321/.610 in 18 games; only concern is one walk in 77 at-bats.
Julio Teheran, RHP, Braves (Triple-A Gwinnett): 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 BB, 1 K. Seemed to be getting on a run and then this.
Mason Williams, OF, Yankees (Low-A Charleston): 4-for-4, 2B, HR (1), 2 R, RBI, BB. Not missing a beat in full-season debut; .347/.375/.507 in 17 games.