Box and whisker plots: MLB stadia by age

My joke idea for league realignment used to be stadium age; you’d have teams slipping from the, shall we say, “senior” to “junior” circuits every so often as they moved into new homes. But where do you draw the line? Well, at the median, obviously–whatever the value is such that half the stadiums are older and half are younger. But where’s the median? And how has it moved over time? For that matter, what about the other quartiles, and which stadia are just outliers? Take a look for yourself…

Sentences in Sonnets

I recently had a great assignment–read a bunch of sonnets! This I did, having previously gotten through a discussion of Robert Frost’s syntactically fiendish “The Silken Tent”–it’s one sonnet, where all fourteen lines are just one grammatical sentence. This is not the only one of its type, although most sonnets break it up a little bit. So I made a graph of how many sentences they had.

Four sentences is the mode and median, and the mean is 3.95. This makes sense in the case of a Shakespearean sonnet, say (three quatrains and a final couplet), if each of those sections spaced out on the page happened to be an independent sentence. In this sample of 42 different poems, only one hit double-digits in sentence count (“Delirium in Vera Cruz,” by Malcolm Lowry.) I’m defining “sentence” as “thing ended by a period, question mark, or exclamation point, so something like “Oh!” (Wordsworth’s “London, 1802” counts).

On the other hand…you have me trying to write sonnets.

I glanced through 94 of my sonnets, written over parts of nine years, from five different sets; my Lipogram! Scorecard! output (2009-present), a bunch of lipograms on different letters (2004), some vaguely-related ones that it’d be a long story to explain (2005-2007, and one from 2011), Humbug Journal poems and comments (2004-2009), and some ones I wrote about Chicago (2011). The results are, um…a little different.

Er, so, nine of my 24 Lipogram! Scorecard! sonnets are 11 sentences (and/or fragments!) long. Four are longer than that. I’ve gotten down to two twice, in 2004, and one of those poems was written two days after the other. (One was about baseball. The other was about a spelling bee.) At the upper limit, I got to twenty in 2004 (it was a dialogue thing so it was just two people going back and forth at each other; “Really? Do you think?” counts for two sentences and is only half of a line). The mean, overall, is 8.67, and the median is 9, with modes at 8 and 11.

Three of the nine Chicago poems fit four sentences into the closing couplet.

So…yeah.

Feminine Rhyme

As a follow-up to my last post, here’s a wider pool of feminine rhyme samples from other poems (not necessarily hymns–the Praise and Thanksgiving section of the Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal is relatively heavy on the “add an unstressed word to the end to make a feminine rhyme,” and includes no less than three mountain/fountain pairs). This pool comes from the Poetry Foundation website. I was amused to find James Clark Maxwell (of physics’ Maxwell’s Equations fame, or infame if you’re me) contributing several poems, including this evocatively-titled piece.

“ation” was counted as a “legit” rhyme in the last post, but upon further consideration I realize how “all-purpose” it really is. (Again, I’m not above most of these tricks–one of my lipogram projects has a bunch of “ations” together. Should dust that off sometime.)

A Feminine Touch

It should come as no shock that I’m a stickler for rhyme. Whether it be “cat” and “hat” or “two fish” and “blue fish,” I appreciate people who take the time to make their lines…line up.

But there’s a difference between these two examples, so it’s time for a short crash course in poetic…stuff. “Cat” and “hat” have parts of one syllable in common. Of course, they’re only one syllable long. So consider “surprise” and “disguise”–although they’re two syllables long, the stress is on the last syllable in both of them, and so we look at the stressed syllable. Since “ise” matches with “ise,” there’s the same kind of one-syllable rhyme going on here. This is, for some reason, called “masculine rhyme.”

But sometimes the stress is on the second-to-last syllable of a word (or a line). An example I wrote is “Wieters” and (for instance) “heaters.” The last syllables are exactly the same, and the previous syllables rhyme as well. This is called “feminine rhyme”. Personally, I’m particularly pleased with myself if I can come up with rhymes like that–often, they’re rarer then the masculine kind. (There are a few three-syllable combinations, like “clarity” and “parity,” which as far as I know don’t have a special name.)

Although these two-syllable rhymes can be hard to come up with, if you work for it it’s not that difficult. Given two rhyming verbs, you can always thrown an unstressed “ing” onto the back of both of them. Voila–feminine rhyme! (I am no means above this trick myself.) Last night, listening to “Good King Wenceslas,” I realized how many ways there are to do this. You can add a verb ending (“telling” and “dwelling”), stretch out some arguably monosyllabic words (“cruel” and “fuel”), use archaic words (“hither” and “thither” when “here” and “there” mean the same thing),  or even find two distinct rhyming words (“mountain” and “fountain”).

So, I got to wondering what other Christmas carols did…

Here, “suffix” denotes some other suffix than “ing” (dinted/printed), and “word” means there’s an unstressed word coming after two rhyming words (“own him”/”enthrone him”). “Weak” is just a rhyme I’m skeptical of (“deliver”/”forever”?)

A special shoutout to “Ding Dong Merrily on High,” which takes boring old “swing” and “sing” and conjugates them into “swungen” and “sungen.” Keeping it old school.

No-hitters graph 2011

Thanks to whoever came across my old no-hitters post for reminding me it’s time to make a new one! The graph of no-hitters looks much the same as it did last year, with no new perfect games. The error rate has flickered upwards, probably not perceptibly; as in last year, exactly one error was made by teams winning no-hitters (this year it came from Erick Aybar of the Angels on the first at-bat for Cleveland!). However, with fewer no-hitters overall, this means that the average did climb. Interestingly, the walk-per-no-hitter rate is exactly the same.

Nickname comparison, Part II

I can’t particularly call myself ready for any football. But I was sort of intrigued by the fact that the Packers beat the Steelers in the last Super Bowl, and the former will open against the Saints tonight. In particular, the fact that all three of these are descriptions of groups of people, rather than just animals. Is this tendency something special to the NFL? I thought maybe, but not exactly. Baseball’s defending champions are the Giants, after all.

To shed some further light on the subject, more pie charts!

Four pie charts

It’s actually the NFL with the highest proportion of animal nicknames, even if they don’t win. Groups of people nicknames can be subdivided into the “actually relevant to city/predecessor’s history” (the Packers), “less relevant” (the Sacramento Kings), and “getting metaphysical” (the New Jersey Devils. You kind of have to throw the Orlando Magic in here with the Washington Wizards. Or at least I did.)

As you probably guessed, many are judgment calls–I’m throwing the vague Nashville Predators a bone by sticking them in the “animal” category. And I’m paying more attention to the actual name than the etymology (Cincinnati Reds are other while Boston Red Sox are inanimate plural, even though I probably could have done things differently and lumped them together into the “footwear” category).

The inanimate plurals get bigger as we move through the leagues. Maybe the good animals had been taken already?

The MLS and the WNBA, as mentioned in Part 1, are big on singulars.