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October 15, 2004
From The Mailbag
Feedback on the FeedbackWhither Youppi: The Expo-tortion Racket Is More Difficult Than It Looks
Neil deMause's math today breaking down the DC ballpark deal is a bit slanted. He puts $2.5 million of the annual rental fee in the 'Public cost' column because the city is giving up the stadium naming rights. This doesn't jibe--if there is no stadium, there are no naming rights. It's an asset that currently doesn't exist. This $2.5MM isn't costing the public, it's costing the corporation that buys the rights. This $2.5MM cannot be subtracted from the public side of the ledger.
On the naming-rights issue, this is somewhat of a semantic argument. Let's say that, in appreciation for all his good works as baseball commissioner, I decide to buy a house and let Bud Selig live in it rent-free. Then let's say it turns out there's a treasure chest full of gold in the attic, and I tell Bud, "Hey, you're a good guy, you went from owning two baseball teams to zero in the course of a week, you look like you could use some cheering up--go ahead, keep the gold." Does that count as an additional cost to me, on top of the rent I'm forgoing? If not, and if you ever find a winning lottery ticket, can I have it?
As for the "bowling alley effect" (a much better name than "substitution effect," I agree), I used 50% because it was a good bit lower than what I was finding for other cities that don't have a pair of neighboring states competing for entertainment dollars. Five percent seems unbelievably low to me; are you telling me that of all the baseball fans in D.C. and the surrounding burbs, only 5% spend their money at Wizards games, or D.C. United games, or on a miser wat dinner at Fasika's? But even if you crank the bowling-alley effect all the way down to, say, 20%, that's at most another $3 million a year shifted from the "D.C." column to the "neighboring states" column. D.C. taxpayers would still be on the hook for about two-thirds of the stadium cost, which is a lot of dough no matter how you slice it.
You will note the distribution over time:
Excellent point on the distribution of the curve, Dan, and one I could have explored in more depth. I think all three arguments of small sample size, physical fitness leading to late-career production and higher offensive era could be feasible (though of course, on a basic level, the numbers used in the article do reflect the basic of the better offensive era, even if the more subtle issue of a higher base leading to wider swings isn't accounted for).
One thing I keep coming back to, though, is that even with the rate of about three a year that we've seen the last decade, it's still fair to say that what Mark Loretta and Melvin Mora have done is pretty rare. Further, I find the fact that neither of them has ridden a massive Brady Anderson-like home run spike, but rather across the board gains in every offensive facet, a really interesting occurrence. If the sample were bigger, I'd want to break this down and see how players fitting the profile of Loretta/Mora compare to the Anderson group, after the spike year in question.
'Though pundits throughout the land have dismissed Boston's chances of winning the American League East...'
You know, I was wondering if someone would call me on that, and I'm glad you did. The possibility of contradicting myself is something I think about often. As a columnist who has to formulate a new worldview every couple of days or so, you sometimes tend to live in the moment. You comment on what is happening now, and the danger in that is you can overemphasize the trend du jour. A player goes 0-for-15 and he's ready for retirement. A team loses five in a row and it's crashing.
I think that generally I have been pretty good at stepping outside of the constraints of deadlines to find the big picture, but in this case the Red Sox tossed me a change-up, finding themselves at the exact moment the Yankees faltered. I had anticipated the Yankees' struggles, but wasn't sanguine on the possibilities of the Red Sox putting themselves back together.
Or, to put it another way, just before he died, John Lennon began praising Paul McCartney's music after years of criticizing it. Asked why, Lennon said, "I changed me mind!"
Seeing David Ortiz leg out an infield hit last night got me thinking about how many Big Papi had in 2004. I just spent 20 minutes searching the nettrying to find out how many infield hits David had in 2004 and I couldn't find it. Do you know how many he had or where I can find this info?
Surprisingly, Ortiz has 10. Ichiro Suzuki led the league with 60, but he had so many singles in general that he was only 32nd in the league in the percentage of singles which were infield hits. Here's the top and bottom 20 in that metric, min 100 PA.
PLAYER YEAR SINGLES INF_HIT INF_HIT_PERC Alfredo Amezaga 2004 11 6 .545 Kerry Robinson 2004 23 10 .435 Alex Sanchez 2004 93 37 .398 DeWayne Wise 2004 18 7 .389 Nook Logan 2004 30 11 .367 Justin Leone 2004 11 4 .364 Lew Ford 2004 120 43 .358 Rocco Baldelli 2004 99 34 .343 Miguel Olivo 2004 38 13 .342 Nick Punto 2004 21 7 .333 Jeff DaVanon 2004 57 18 .316 Dave Ross 2004 19 6 .316 Ryan Freel 2004 108 34 .315 Adam Everett 2004 80 25 .313 Doug Devore 2004 16 5 .313 Jason Bay 2004 62 19 .306 Yorvit Torrealba 2004 23 7 .304 Kenny Lofton 2004 56 17 .304 Luis Castillo 2004 143 43 .301 Aaron Rowand 2004 87 26 .299 ...... Mark Sweeney 2004 24 1 .042 Orlando Palmeiro 2004 24 1 .042 Mike Lamb 2004 49 2 .041 Johnny Estrada 2004 100 4 .040 Ricky Ledee 2004 25 1 .040 Todd Pratt 2004 25 1 .040 Tino Martinez 2004 76 3 .039 Bobby Hill 2004 51 2 .039 Bucky Jacobsen 2004 26 1 .039 Jason Phillips 2004 54 2 .037 Yadier Molina 2004 28 1 .036 B.J. Surhoff 2004 85 3 .035 Javier Valentin 2004 30 1 .033 Trot Nixon 2004 31 1 .032 Dave Berg 2004 32 1 .031 Robert Fick 2004 32 1 .031 J.T. Snow 2004 68 2 .029 Brent Mayne 2004 35 1 .029 Toby Hall 2004 74 2 .027 Jeromy Burnitz 2004 82 2 .024