July 1, 2003
Under The Knife
At some point, luck becomes less of a viable explanation, and we need to look beyond the simple to find the root causes. We can't just look at the last start to determine why someone is injured, we can't look at the last year to find team trends, and we can't always toss out "luck" or "random" as an explanation when there might be something deeper going on. I just don't believe, as Einstein says, that God plays dice with the universe. Baseball is one of the better creations on his green earth, so why should it be any different?
When a team wins 20 straight games, we revel in it as historical. No one thinks that the A's streak of last year was simply luck. Yes, there was an element of it involved, but that team was designed with a now well-known set of rules and built to win games in a certain way. I don't know the rules and I'm a bit dubious of the design, but in a world where we look at results, the Diamondbacks have to be right up there. It's tough enough to contend while rebuilding--just ask the Indians or Tigers. It's hard to rebuild a team over the long term like the Braves have done for a decade and more. It's nearly impossible to rebuild and remake a team during a season.
The Snakes have done it. While getting younger and cheaper--by necessity and injury--the team has also gotten better. Is it by design? Yes. Joe Garagiola Jr. knew that a risky, older team would need depth behind it. He used a great minor league development system to get players like Robby Hammock and Matt Kata ready to step in, and to find Brandon Webb and Jose Valverde when older, established players went down. He also found Shea Hillenbrand to step in for Matt Williams, doing something while his counterparts waited. Garagiola deserves at least as many accolades as Billy Beane for his feats so far in 2003.
Onto the injuries...
There is always something new to see in baseball, which is always a reason to watch, or better, head out to the local ballpark. Last night, Bill Hall hit a routine line drive to left, caught easily by the left-fielder. Hall, somehow, didn't pick up that it was caught and motored full-speed into second base, complete with head-first slide. While the Richmond middle infielders were just snickering, Hall turned to the ump who gave a quick "out" sign. Hall stood, jogged towards third and then, knowing how dumb it looked, turned, trotted home, and completed his phantom home run. It's one thing to make a stupid mistake, but it's another to be able to laugh at yourself. Bill Hall may not be a great prospect, but that move showed class.
Today, if you're so inclined, you can call in to the Will Carroll Baseball Hour. We're having some great guests, and you can listen in via www.espn950.com. We'll also have a great question of the day...if you were a closer, what song would you want to use as your entrance theme? "Hell's Bells" and "Enter Sandman" are taken, so dig into your MP3 files and come up with a good one for us. The number is 800 TALK 2 90 and we'll be on from 3-6 Indy time.
Baseball Prospectus Radio this week? Glendon Rusch and Michael Wolverton will discuss luck, pitching, support, and baseball. Scott McCauley and I will discuss whatever comes to mind. The week after? Oh, you're going to like the week after. I'll give you a hint...a guy in his underwear and his mentor.