Tuesday, July 15, 2014

World Series 1995 Game 1 - Greg Maddux's Magic

Greg Maddux is my favorite player of all time.  He's simply a magician.

I came upon this video on YouTube the other day.  The video is every single pitch from Maddux's complete game victory in game 1 of the 1995 World Series, when he was pitching for the Atlanta Braves against the Cleveland Indians.  I remember watching this game as a teenager and was just blown away by Maddux.

The Indians lineup was scary good that year.  They lead the American League in runs and it featured a lineup with Kenny Lofton (.310/.362/.453), Carlos Baerga (.314/.355/.452), Albert Belle (.317/.401/.690), Eddie Murray (.323/.375/.516), a young Manny Ramirez (.308/.402/.558), and a young Jim Thome (.314/.438/.558).  Lofton, Baerga, Belle, and Ramirez were All Stars in 1995.  Kenny Lofton lead the AL in stolen bases that year and Albert Belle was second in MVP voting in the AL.  They scored the most runs in the MLB that year too.

Their lineup was so daunting that their #8 hitter Paul Sorrento hit 25 home runs and wasn't too shabby with a .235/.336/.511 line.

Cleveland's number 6, 7, and 8 hitters (Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome, & Paul Sorrento) had 81 home runs on the year while their 3, 4, and 5 hitters (Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, & Eddie Murray) had 86 home runs.

It's worth noting this was a strike shortened year.  Across a full 162 game schedule, their 3 through 8 hitters averaged a 30 home run season each.

So what kind of game did Greg Maddux pitch that day?  A 95 pitch, two-hit, complete game gem in which he only gave up 2 runs, both unearned.

What was amazing is how Cleveland accomplished so little in that game.

Here's a breakdown of what happened with the 30 hitters that faced Maddux in this game:

Strikeout - 4
Groundout - 19
Groundball Reach on Error - 1
Infield Popup - 2
Flyout/Lineout - 2
Line Drive Single - 2

Notice anything special in the above?  Maddux didn't walk anyone, which was typical Maddux amazing.

What I found absolutely amazing was only 4 of the 30 plate appearances got the ball into the outfield at all.  Of the 26 non-strikeouts, 22 stayed in the infield. 

Just amazing.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Restaurant Density in Cities

I recently watched a few shows/films about Michelin restaurants ("Three Stars",  and "Michelin: Madness of Perfection").

Both films/shows discuss some of the criticism against Michelin.  In particular, they both discuss the criticism that Michelin has given out more stars in Japan than any other country.  In fact, there are more 3 star restaurants in Japan than any other country.  Some suggest it was due to Michelin trying to sell more guides in Japan and make the guide more popular in Asia.

I came upon this random article about the new head of the Michelin Guide (here), and he said the following about that criticism:

In Japan, there's double the population and fifty times the restaurants.

Holy crap!  That blew me away.  So I began digging up some numbers.

Here's a completely random page with some details from 2010.  In Japan, there are about 474K restaurants or one restaurant for every 266 people.  Compared to the US, it's 566K, or one restaurant for every 547 people.  That boggles my mind that the restaurant density in Japan is nearly twice that of the US.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to find any more details beyond that, so I think I'm going to have to go with Yelp for restaurant data and Wikipedia for population data on individual cities.   Lets start with US cities that are currently Michelin rated.

City Restuarants Population Restaurant/Persons
San Francisco 5038 0.825M 1 per 163 people
Chicago 9692 2.715M 1 per 280 people
New York 33481 8.337M 1 per 249 people

Now naturally, I don't know how Yelp is calculating "restaurants" when I type in a city.  Is it restaurants only within the city limits?  Is it restaurants in the general region and area?  Do users have to input restaurants into Yelp?  Is the restaurant count to some extent dependent on the popularity of Yelp in an area? 

Heck, are the restaurants listed even restaurants?  When I looked up the restaurants in San Francisco, the first restaurant listed (Lazy Bear) isn't even a restaurant with a location, it's a pop-up/underground restaurant.  In addition, "Restaurants" may include a number of bars.

However, the number is probably a pretty decent estimate.  Based on this random article I found, it isn't horrifically far off.

Lets look at a few European cities now.

City Restuarants Population Restaurant/Persons
London 20617 8.426M 1 per 408 people
Dublin 4343 0.527M 1 per 122 people
Hamburg 4813 1.799 1 per 373 people
Paris 19864 2.211M 1 per 111 people

Interestingly enough, some areas have much higher densities of restaurants but some way lower.  Personally, I did not know that Dublin was such a relatively small city, yet its restaurant count is so high.

Now lets look at some Japanese cities.

City Restuarants Population Restaurant/Persons
Tokyo 108926 13.185M 1 per 121 people
Kyoto 7859 1.473M 1 per 187 people
Osaka 23105 2.666M 1 per 115 people

Holy crap!  While the density isn't that different than a few European cities, the pure count of the restaurants is amazing.  Despite having a population only about 60% more than New York, Tokyo has about three times the number of restaurants.  Despite having a population close to Chicago, Osaka has well over 2 times the number of restaurants.  The overall density, based on this minor sampling, is it's much more dense across Japan than Europe.

It makes sense that given these numbers, there would be way more Michelin stars awarded to Japan than Europe in general.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Having Realisitic Expectations

Last night I saw the documentary Sushi: The Global Catch.

While I thought the film was supposed to be about the history of sushi and its growing popularity around the world, it ended up turning into a film more about the sustainability of blue fin tuna and the ecological concerns about it.  (My personal disappointment in the film is for another discussion.)

During the film, there was a debate between a Greenpeace activist who believes in educating people to not eat blue fin tuna and (what I believe to be) a scientist who supports sustainable farming of blue fin tuna.

At some point in the conversation the Greenpeace activist said something to the effect that "The best thing to do is to teach people to just not eat blue fin tuna, that's the best thing to change the industry."

The other fellow basically said, "There's no point, people won't stop eating it."

This is argument is nothing new.  It's a classic "moral/logical" vs "realistic" debate.  For the Greenpeace dude, I completely agree, it's the most logical thing to do.  However, with a worldwide population of 4 billion people and a growth in sushi consumption, educating people on blue fin tuna just isn't going to happen.

I was trying to think about an analogy to this, and the analogy I eventually thought of was safe sex and the spread of STDs.

There are those that believe in teaching about abstinence and no sex before marriage.

I can't argue with proponents of it.  It's unquestionably safer and will put your chances of getting STDs at literally zero.

However, I think most people out there believe that it's not a realistic goal to teach this.  People are not going to stop having sex before marriage, and this isn't a way to expect STD infection rates to go down.  So we take the more realistic goal and teach about safe sex with condoms.

So I'm all for the sustainable farming of blue fin tuna and look forward to it growing in popularity down the road.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Michelin Bib Gourmand vs San Francisco Chronicle vs Yelp

Continuing my comparisons of Michelin Stared restaurants vs other restaurants guides/reviews (previously vs Zagat/Gayot/Forbes/AAA and vs SF Chronicle/Yelp), I decided I also wanted to look at the grades of the restaurants Michelin lists as Bib Gourmand.

I've been a number of the restaurants on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list.  While some of them are really good, I've found a number of them to be very "meh" or just plain.  I'm wondering how much other folks thought the same.  So I thought I'd compare these restaurants to the SF Chronicle and Yelp again.

For those who don't know the ranges for the reviews, they are:

SF Chronicle - 1 to 4 stars, in 1/2 increments
Yelp - 1 to 5 stars in 1/2 increments

There is no grade for Michelin on this list, these restaurants were simply on the "Bib Gourmand" list.

Restaurant SF Yelp
Artisan Bistro 2.5 4
A16 3 3.5
Bar Tartine 3 4
Bellanico 2.5 4
Bistro Aix 2.5 4
Bistro Jeanty 1 4
Bistro 29
Boon Eat + Drink
Brick & Bottle 2.5 3.5
Burma Superstar 2 4
C Casa
Chalkboard 3 4.5
Chapeau! 3 4.5
Chevalier 2.5 3.5
Comal 3 3.5
Contigo 2.5 4
Cook 2
Corso 2.5 4
Cotogna 3.5 4
Crouching Tiger
Cucina Paradiso 2.5 4.5
Delfina 3 4
Domo 2.5 4
Donato Enoteca 2 4
Dosa 2.5 4
Ebisu 2 4
Evvia 2.5 4.5
flour + water 3 3.5
Fringale 2.5 4
Gajalee 2 4
Gather 2.5 4
Glen Ellen Star 2.5 4
Hachi Ju Hachi
Happy Noodles*
Hot Box Grill 2 4
Insalata’s 2.5 3.5
Ippuku 3 4
Izakaya Yuzuki 2.5 4
Kappou Gomi 2 4
Kokkari Estiatorio 2 4.5
La Costanera 2.5 3.5
LaSalette 2.5 4
Le Garage 2.5 4
Mamacita 3 3.5
Marlowe 3 4
Mason Pacific 2 4.5
Monti’s Rotisserie 1 4
M. Y. China 2.5 3.5
Oenotri 3 4
Old Mandarin Islamic 2.5 3.5
Osteria Coppa 2 3.5
Perbacco 3 4
Ramen Shop 3 3.5
Redd Wood 3 4
Regalito 2 3.5
Rich Table 3.5 4
Risibisi 2 4
Rivoli 2 4
Sana Marin*
Sazón 2.5 4.5
Scopa 3 4.5
Sichuan Home
Sir and Star 3 3.5
1601 Bar & Kitchen 2.5 4
The Slanted Door 3.0 3.5
Slow Club 2.5 3.5
Sociale 2.5 4
Starbelly 2.5 3.5
Sushi Ran 3 4
Thai House
the girl & the fig
Troya 2.5 4
Vesta 2.5 4.5
Willi’s Wine Bar 2 4.5
Wood Tavern 2 4.5
Yank Sing 3 3.5
Zero Zero

* - As of this writing known to be closed.

The first thing that surprised me is how many of the restaurants on the Bib Gourmand list that the San Francisco Chronicle didn't review.  Given they are on this Michelin list, presumably the restaurant has enough publicity to warrant a review?  Or perhaps the lack of a review is slimply a statement from the Chronicle on the worth of doing a review for a particular restaurant?  Then again I may be reading into this too much.  The chronicle simply may not have enough reviewers to constantly scour the bay area.

The SF Chronicle grades are perhaps in-line for Bib Gourmand, mostly ranging from 2 to 3 stars.  Cotogna, a restaurant in San Francisco which has a lot of buzz, is the only one to get above 3 stars.  What is surprising is that two of the restaurants, Bistro Jeanty and Monti’s Rotisserie got only a single star.  It's quite the difference compared to Michelin.  Bistro Jeanty used to have a Michelin star many years ago, so it's interesting that the Chronicle thinks so lowly of it now.

The reviews from Yelp aren't too surprising.  I expected 3.5 to 4 stars for most of them.  I was hoping to see one or two of the restaurants dip to 3.0 or even 2.5 stars to see if there was a huge disparity in the reviews.  However, for restaurants listed on the Bib Gourmand list, you would expect everyone to presumably get atleast 4 stars on Yelp.  So those getting a 3.5 would probably be a disappointment to most.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Michelin vs San Francisco Chronicle vs Yelp

Not so long ago I compared the Michelin starred restaurants in the San Francisco area to other major restaurant guides Zagat, Gayot, Forbes, and AAA.

It got me thinking though, those reviews are most likely from people who are not from the San Francisco Bay Area.  In addition, their review may be only based on going to the restaurant once.  How would Michelin reviews compare to local reviewers who have an opportunity to go multiple times.  So I'm going to compare the Michelin starred restaurants to the reviews from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Then I thought, at the end of the day restaurants have a job to really only please one person, the average customer.  Not reviewers or guides.  So lets also compare to Yelp.

For those who don't know the ranges for the reviews, they are:

Michelin - 1 star to 3 stars
SF Chronicle - 1 to 4 stars, in 1/2 increments
Yelp - 1 to 5 stars in 1/2 increments

Restaurant Michelin SF Yelp
The French Laundry *** 4 4.5
The Restaurant at Meadowood *** 4 4
Atelier Crenn ** 2.5 4.5
Baumé ** 3 4
Benu ** 4 4.5
Coi ** 4 4
Manresa ** 4 4
Quince ** 4 4
Saison ** 4 4.5
Acquerello * 3.5 4.5
All Spice * 2 4.5
Ame * 3 4
Auberge du Soleil * 3 4.5
Aziza * 3.5 4
Bouchon * 3 4
Boulevard * 3 4
Campton Place * 3 4
Chez TJ * 3 3.5
Commis * 2.5 4.5
Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant * 3.5 4.5
Gary Danko * 3.5 4.5
Keiko à Nob Hill * 3 4.5
La Folie * 4 4.5
La Toque * 3 4
Luce * 2.5 3.5
Madera * 3.5
Madrona Manor * 3 4
Michael Mina * 3.5 4
Plumed Horse * 3 4
Solbar * 3 4
Sons & Daughters * 3.5 4
SPQR * 3 4
Spruce * 3.5 4
State Bird Provisions * 3.5 4.5
Terra * 3.5 4
Terrapin Creek * 4.5
The Village Pub * 2.5 4
Wakuriya * 3 4.5

Perhaps the most striking ratings difference is the SF Chronicle's 2.5 rating of Atelier Crenn, which received two Michelin stars.  Other than that, almost every restaurant received atleast a 3 or 3.5 rating from the Chronicle except for Commis and Luce.

For some reason, the SF Chronicle didn't review Madera or Terrapin Creek.  Terrapin Creek is in Bodega Bay, so it's arguably outside of the Chronicle's review range.  However, Madera is right in the heart of Silicon Valley in Menlo Park.  It's odd that it wasn't reviewed.

Yelp seems to be quite consistent in their reviews compared to Michelin, with the exception of Chez TJ, Luce, and Madera falling below 4 stars.  Luce is the only restaurant on this list to receive a Michelin star, but get a relative bad grading from the SF Chronicle and Yelp.  Makes me wonder what the Michelin reviewers saw in Luce that others don't.  Perhaps it's because Dominique Crenn of Atelier Crenn is no longer there?  Perhaps Michelin hasn't gone back enough since she left?

So of course, this comparison isn't complete.  What restaurants did the SF Chronicle consider 3.5 or 4 star restaurant that Michelin didn't give a star to?

Restaurant SF
Chez Panisse 4
Bar Terra 3.5
Bistro Don Giovanni 3.5
Camino 3.5
Chez Panisse Cafe 3.5
Coqueta 3.5
Cotogna 3.5
Erna's Elderberry House 3.5
Etoile 3.5
Farallon 3.5
Nico 3.5
One Market 3.5
Prospect 3.5
Redd 3.5
Rich Table 3.5
Zuni Cafe 3.5

The famed Chez Panisse is the only restaurant to get a 4 out of 4 but not receive a Michelin star.  A number of other former Michelin starred restaurants make an appearance on this list too (One Market, Redd, etoile).  Bar Terra is the extension restaurant from Terra, which makes it sorta Michelin starred already.

One of the criticisms of Michelin is that they don't give out stars to restaurants that are not "fine dining" establishments.  A number of the restaurants here are far more casual and I think strengthen the argument about Michelin's pickiness on casual restaurants.

Erna's Elderberry House is a pretty famous restaurant in Oakhurst, CA, so it may simply be out of the range of Michelin reviewers.  Interestingly enough, of every restaurant listed in this blog post, Erna's Elderberry House is the only restaurant to have a perfect 5/5 on Yelp.

Update: See new post of comparison of Michelin Bib Gourmand vs SF Chronicle vs Yelp