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July 29, 2010

Changing Speeds

Forty-two Things I Think, Part 1

by Ken Funck

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I have engaged in baseball conversations with a greater number of people in the past year since becoming a contributor to Baseball Prospectus than in the previous five years combined. Casual acquaintances, or good friends who aren’t particularly baseball zealots, have been interested in hearing what I write about, and how it might differ from what they read in the local paper or see on ESPN. Mostly these conversations are exceedingly pleasant, since like most people I like to talk about myself, and I can spend time pretending to be an “expert” with a willing audience to discuss concepts that many people have never really heard about or considered.

Last week, however, I was a little taken aback when, in response to being told I wrote for BP, an acquaintance (let’s call him Chet) shot me a glance and said “Oh, so you probably believe a lot of things about baseball that I don’t believe.” I guess I never had really thought of it that way—that what I think about baseball is some sort of a belief system, a method of explaining the workings of the baseball universe to be embraced or discarded, and essentially argued for or against, like a religion. We went on to discuss a few topics, like clutch hitting, DIPS, and the importance of clubhouse chemistry, and I think Chet was surprised at how much we actually agreed, and that most of our disagreement was one of degree, or about the difficulty of proving that something exists. Mostly, we just enjoyed talking about a game we both love for many of the same reasons.

Since that conversation, I’ve been asking myself what my baseball belief system is, and how much it overlaps that of other fans—both those who read BP and those who don’t. With that in mind, here are some of my beliefs, mostly about baseball, some of them related to metrics, some of them not, for you to chew on. I came up with 42 of them very quickly, half of which I’m sharing this week. They’re pretty random, and don’t include some of the basic tenets of baseball analysis (e.g., outs are bad, several counting stats are overrated and clutch hitting as a repeatable skill is hard to prove), but should provide somewhat of a picture of what my belief system is.

Please consider this an invitation to agree or disagree with me as you see fit, and use the comments to pick me off if you feel I’m too far off base, or to throw out some beliefs of your own.

1. I believe that Major League Baseball organizations are better for having embraced sabermetric concepts and married them to their scouting process, while at the same time I’m disappointed that the mainstream media has yet to fully do the same. As I’ve written before, I think the disconnect here is that GMs need to leverage new ideas in order to succeed in a competitive environment, whereas success in the mainstream media isn’t tied to wins and losses. I believe that casual fans, driven to a great degree by the proliferation of fantasy baseball, continue to grow smarter about the game and how to value players—a belief that persists despite my daily dose of call-in sports radio—and I think a new generation of forward-thinking broadcasters will eventually change the sports media landscape much as the recent generation of GMs has changed the game itself.

2. With that in mind, I believe that OPS is a perfectly useful metric. Sure, it’s not as accurate as something like True Average, and it doesn’t attempt to accurately weigh the value of avoiding outs compared to hitting for power but, as Clay Davenport has shown, it’s not particularly inaccurate, either. More importantly, when you tune into a ballgame or watch ESPN or MLB Network, you’ll sometimes hear announcers mentioning OPS, or see it under a player’s name. I’d rather see OBP and SLG listed and discussed separately, of course, but any metric that helps move casual fans beyond batting average and counting stats like RBI and wins is something to be embraced.

3. I believe value metrics such as WARP are terrifically useful for giving us some idea of the total production a given player has provided for his team. However, I worry that sometimes people (myself included) use these metrics a little too literally. As Colin Wyers has recently done such a terrific job of pointing out, in our continued quest to understand and quantify as much as possible about the game, we sometimes lose sight of the uncertainties that underlie them. Has a player with a 5.8 WARP at the end of the season clearly helped his team more than one with a 4.2 WARP? Personally, I’m not sure. The defensive component of that number isn’t precise, and the offensive component can’t take into consideration the timing of the hitting events that go into it—sure, clutch hitting hasn’t been shown to be a particularly repeatable skill, but if a batter “happens” to produce better in clutch situations during a given season, he’s clearly provided more value that year, which is what WARP tries to measure. It’s important to keep in mind that numbers like this aren’t concrete data points but a range of values that overlap each other to a greater extent than you might think.

4. Similarly, I believe there is value in calculating pitch-type linear weights, but I worry about some of the conclusions being drawn from them, especially from a small sample size. Due to the effects of pitch sequencing, it’s harder to consider each pitch as a discrete event than it is to consider, say, a plate appearance as a discrete event. The largest change in run expectancy for a given pitch in an at-bat will usually be the terminal pitch of the at-bat, but it’s hard to know whether that slider away would have been offered at if the previous fastballs hadn’t set it up. There’s no foolproof way, and perhaps never will be, of assigning appropriate weights to each pitch in a plate appearance. None of this renders pitch-type linear weights useless, but we should be careful to use it correctly and be less apt to call a particular pitcher’s slider, “the best pitch in baseball” based on this metric.

5. I believe one of the biggest aspects of baseball’s appeal is the myriad approaches that players can take to perform the same job. Billy Wagner’s heater, Doug Jones’s changeup, Byung-Hyun Kim’s submarine slider—all have been dominant in their own way. You rarely see such wide variation in approach, or even in physical size and skill, in the other major sports, and this humanizes the game for us. I can picture myself charging down the third-base line after a slow roller, making a bare-handed pickup and firing a strike across the diamond, far more than I can picture myself boxing out an NBA power forward or tackling an NFL running back in the open field. Walter Mitty was surely a baseball fan.

6. I believe expanded instant replay is long overdue, with the best approach being an umpire placed in a booth with the authority to quickly review any questionable play, other than balls and strikes. Such a system would be unlikely to interrupt the flow of the game, would likely add at most a few minutes to the average game, and would protect umpires from the inevitable mistakes they’ll make. I’ve yet to hear an argument that convinces me there’s any significant downside to this.

7. I believe the championship of our summer game should be decided in weather that is likely to at least approximate summer temperatures, thus the World Series needs to conclude before the gales of November appear. The way to do this is to schedule, say, eight doubleheaders for each team throughout the season. There are arguments against this, of course, but I don’t care—these are my beliefs, right?

8. I believe that the designated hitter should continue to be supported in one league but not the other. Whether you adore or abhor the DH, there should always be a league for you. 

9. I believe the wild card should remain as well. I’ve read many well-reasoned articles calling for the WC to be flushed down the toilet since it minimizes the value of a team’s regular-season record and cuts into the drama of a “real” pennant race between, say, the Yankees and the Red Sox. While that may be true, to me that’s outweighed by the sheer number of other teams that remain in the hunt for a playoff spot later in the season, and the fact that it reduces the chance that the second-best team in a given league doesn’t even make the playoffs. If you want to get rid of divisions entirely and have the teams with the best record in each league face off in the World Series, fine, I’ll buy that (though I don’t expect most owners would). But if we’re going to have playoffs at all, the wild card does more good than harm.

10. I believe interleague play should be ditched. The number of truly successful “rivalry” games that this allows is truly small, and they come at the cost of a huge increase in schedule disparity.

11. I believe Inception is currently listed on IMDB as the third-best movie of all time, which is pretty ridiculous considering I believe it’s at best tied for the third-best Christopher Nolan movie of all time.

12. I believe it’s inevitable that additional steps will be taken to ensure a more level playing field between large-market and small-market franchises, and if done correctly this will be a good thing. This will likely require a salary floor to ensure small-market teams don’t line their pockets with revenue-sharing dollars, but the continuing disparity in resources available to teams is a time bomb that continues to tick. While it’s possible to win with less and lose with more, it’s certainly easier to win with more, and any fan of a successful big-market team who disagrees with that is merely rationalizing.

13. For all that’s been written and said over the last decade about pitch counts, the injury nexus, and arm fatigue, I believe we’ve only just scratched the surface on learning how to keep pitchers healthy. We seem to know that pitching when fatigued leads to injury, but we’re not sure how to accurately assess and avoid fatigue. Rany Jazayerli and Keith Woolner performed groundbreaking work in developing and tuning the Pitcher Abuse Points metric, but I suspect both would be the first to agree that PAP is only a starting point for assessing the long-term injury risk of specific pitchers. To try to avoid injuries it seems to me that teams have merely decided to have pitchers pitch less, but a more nuanced approach doesn’t yet seem to have taken hold. “Pitching less” can mean any combination of fewer pitches in an outing, more rest between appearances, or a more gradual increase in workload from year to year, without much knowledge of the cost/benefit of each. Since quality pitchers are baseball’s most-valued commodity, if there is any great breakthrough in baseball analysis over the next decade, I believe it will be in this area.

14. I believe that this great breakthrough may well come through further analysis of PITCHf/x data. The wealth of PITCHf/x data that will pile up in coming years could be mined to identify changes in velocity, release point, or movement that indicate a dangerous level of pitcher fatigue. PITCHf/x, and eventually HITf/x, is likely the most disruptive technology sabermetrics has yet seen.

15. I believe current pitcher-usage patterns, perhaps partially in an effort to avoid injuries, have become less optimal over time. The one-inning closer is my favorite example—if your closer is the best reliever on your team, he should be pitching more innings and facing tough hitters earlier in the game if those situations have higher leverage. The multi-inning save has become a rarity and should be revived. Every extra inning pitched by your best pitchers means fewer innings for your worst pitchers to work, and could perhaps even get teams to stop carrying as many relievers.

16. If the Brewers are serious about installing a Bud Selig statue in front of Miller Park, I believe it ought to have a very specific design. All entry to Miller Park should be funneled past Bud’s image, which will rest motionless and inscrutable until fans approach. At that point The Selig will seemingly come to life and challenge those who wish to enter with The Riddle of the Selig: “What had 38 arms in the morning, zero arms in the evening, and left millions up in arms overnight?” Only those who provide the correct answer, “The 2002 All-Star Game,” will be allowed in.

17. I believe baseball is the sport that works best on radio. The game’s rhythms are the perfect accompaniment to spring cleaning, summer beach lounging, and fall drives to the country, and the slower pace allows us to develop a deeper relationship with our local broadcasters. If music is the space between the notes, as DeBussy noted, then broadcasting is the space between the pitches, and those announcers who fill that space with not just their analysis but their personality become part of our life’s soundtrack, more than in any other sport.

18. When it comes to batter platoon splits, I believe we might be better off thinking of batters facing same-side and opposite-side pitching as two distinct skills. Much of the work I’ve seen, such as Dan Fox’s excellent article from several years ago, looks at a player’s platoon split as a single value, i.e., the difference between a given offensive metric vs. righties and lefties, and determines that such a value doesn’t seem to show a lot of year-to-year consistency. However, I wonder if there’s a flaw in that approach. If batting against same-side hitting is a skill, and your annual OBP or SLG vs. same-side hitting varies around a mean, and the same thing is true of opposite-side hitting, isn’t the variance between those two numbers going to be even greater? Some time ago I played around with re-running Dan’s analysis, but instead of calculating split-half correlations between the annual platoon split I calculated career split-half correlations separately for batters facing same-side and opposite-side pitchers, and I found much greater correlation. I’ve meant to write about this for a while, but I think that there is much more persistence in a given hitter’s ability against same-side hitters than many analysts seem to think—and I don’t just say that because Curtis Granderson is on my Strat team.

19. I believe Matt Swartz is right that free agents who re-sign with their existing team are likely to perform better than those who change teams. On reflection this seems obvious—of course a player’s current team should have the most knowledge about that player, and will be more likely to re-sign him if their information shows that doing so is likely to turn out well. Yet no one had really shown this to be true before, and Matt’s work on this shows that sometimes the simplest ideas are the most powerful, and there are still plenty of avenues to be explored for those with inquiring minds and the analytical chops to follow up their theories with action.

20. I believe Tim Raines has a better case for the Hall of Fame than Andre Dawson. However, I also believe Dawson belongs. I understand that he made a lot of outs, but Hawk’s combination of speed, power, and center-field defense enabled him to make game-changing plays at literally any point in the game: at the plate, in the field or on the base paths. I’m unabashedly a “Big Hall” guy (not to mention a Willie “Too Big” Hall guy), and while I understand there are more deserving players currently on the outside looking in, I can’t begrudge Dawson that.

 21. I believe the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series in my lifetime. Otherwise, why would I still care?  

Ken Funck is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ken's other articles. You can contact Ken by clicking here

36 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

kmbart

Ken: I agree with all but two of your "Forty-Two Things I Think" (so far) - but I haven't seen Inception (#11) and #21 is just too far-fetched for me; I play fantasy baseball, but c'mon, the Cubs winning the World Series?

Jul 29, 2010 05:21 AM
rating: 4
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Here's my thinking: there are 30 teams, and actuarial tables tell me there's a good chance I'll live at least 30 more years. All things being equal, the Cubs ought to win once, right? I don't believe that black cats and billy goats and young men sporting ear buds have conspired to keep the Cubs from winning a championship in my lifetime (or my father's, or my father's father's). They're just an extreme statistical outlier. It happens. Given the financial resources at their disposal, at some point they're bound to win.

Or so I keep telling myself.

Jul 29, 2010 07:20 AM
 
Jim Ferguson

A couple of quick comments for you, while we're waiting on 22-42:

#15: As an example, look at the usage patterns of Gary Lavelle and Randy Moffitt (who probably both faced Mick Kelleher) of the Giants in the 70's. These guys had a LOT of decisions because they were the best arms in the bullpen, and not a large number of Saves, as managers were allowed to trust most any of their Professional pitchers with finishing a game.

#18: Write this! And not just because Adrian Gonzalez is on my Strat team.

Jul 29, 2010 07:03 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

#15: Exactly right -- and thank you for remembering my bio.

Kelleher vs. Moffitt: 0-7, 0 BBs, 2 Ks
Kelleher vs. Lavelle: 5-6 (all singles), 0 BBs, 2 RBIs

Jul 29, 2010 07:29 AM
 
bravejason

The riddle in #16 is great. Good points in #3. I'm on board with #6, #7, & #8.

I also agree with #17, though for different reasons. The players don't move around very much from batter to batter, pitch to pitch, so it is easier to visualize what is happening when the ball is hit.

Someone please explain to me the baseball tie, if any, in belief #11 since I haven't seen the movie. And while you're at it, please explain to me the baseball tie, if any, to Christopher Nolan.

Jul 29, 2010 09:15 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

There's no baseball tie in #11. Nothing about Inception or Christopher Nolan has anything to do with baseball -- I just happen to have recently seen Inception and enjoyed it, but I don't quite understand why it's been showered with such overwhelming praise. There are two Nolan movies I most definitely liked more.

Jul 29, 2010 10:17 AM
 
doog7642

#7 is brilliant. I miss doubleheaders. I know that they still happen from time to time, but I remember when...

Jul 29, 2010 10:01 AM
rating: 2
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

And right on cue, The Commish decides to start the season earlier in order to ensure the Series ends in October. That's a good start, although it's swapping bad weather late for bad weather early. Now, if they'd just add a few doubleheaders we could end the season in mid-October.

Jul 29, 2010 10:21 AM
 
etothepiiplus43

Agree completely on #7. I love watching and following the roster machinations necessary for double-headers.

Jul 29, 2010 16:54 PM
rating: 1
 
brucegilsen
(999)

Obviously, teams need the revenue of 81 home dates, so they could schedule day/night doubleheaders on some weekends and change 2 admissions.

Aug 07, 2010 12:39 PM
rating: 0
 
anderson721

I've nothing against doubleheaders, and I hate freezing weather postseason ball, but the real issue here is the absurd number of postseason off days to accommodate TV.

Jul 30, 2010 07:07 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Agreed. Thankfully, Bud says we're supposed to see fewer off days between postseason games this year, which will help.

Jul 30, 2010 07:25 AM
 
ronb626

Your take on instant replay, "Such a system would be unlikely to interrupt the flow of the game, would likely add at most a few minutes to the average game" provides its main arguement against. Baseball does not need to do anything that adds additional time to the length of games. Games being too long, now, is one of baseball's greatest problems.

That and the inbred problem that baseball requires an attention span that is not measured in micro-seconds. Which precludes most of the modern sports fans.

Jul 29, 2010 10:13 AM
rating: -2
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

True, but to me (a) a few minutes (at most) to get things right is worth it to me; and (b) better things can be done to speed up the game, like limiting catcher visits or how long players can stand out of the box between pitches.

Jul 29, 2010 10:28 AM
 
mcjacob

would you rather:
a)see the game end 3 minutes earlier, or
b)see the game called correctly.

how is this a question?

Jul 30, 2010 09:25 AM
rating: 2
 
ronb626

10. I believe interleague play should be ditched. The number of truly successful “rivalry” games that this allows is truly small, and they come at the cost of a huge increase in schedule disparity.

Truly a great idea! While I love, personally, some of the more obvious "rivalries", such as Dodgers-Angels, Yankees-Mets, Cubs-White Sox, etc. However, I've never been convinced that they outweigh many of the other "rivalries" that baseball forces upon us. Such as Marlins-Twins, Pirates-Mariners, Red Sox-Diamondbacks. No known rivalry exists, or, probably ever will, between such matchups.

Jul 29, 2010 10:20 AM
rating: -1
 
WaldoInSC

Gentlemen, this is a red herring argument. There are plenty of intra-league non-rivalries too. Who's clamoring for the Brewers-Padres tilt, or the Philly-Phoenix face-off?

You don't like Marlins-Twins or Pirates-Mariners, but the equally desultory Marlins-Pirates and Twins-Mariners match-ups are scheduled annually.

Jul 29, 2010 20:19 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Oh, I love me some Brewers-Padres! What I really miss, however, is Expos and Astros; it always sounded to me like something a drill sergeant would shout at a recruit while crawling through mud.

Valid points indeed, Waldo, and perhaps interleague play merely replaces one lame series with another. However, there's the additional burden of unbalancing the schedule within the division, which to me outweighs the benefit of an annual Subway or Crosstown series. As I said, these are just beliefs, which may or may not be shared.

Jul 29, 2010 22:01 PM
 
6manfan

I emphatically agree with many of your beliefs, and I thought No. 6 was my idea. I would include the replay umpire in the regular rotation so that each crew member would get a turn.

Items 3, 4, 11 and 14 might almost be the calculus that Einstein used to explain relativity, as far as I'm concerned. Maybe one day I will be able to grasp them.

I hope you are right about leveling the big market v. small market playing field. I like the idea of scheduled double-headers to allow the World Series to be played in temperate weather -- I remember when double-headers were commonplace in August due to rain outs.

I would prefer limited inter-league play over elimination, but I don't like the current format. I also long to see the same number of teams in each league and in each division. Symmetry is pleasing. I strongly disagree about keeping the DH in one league; I wouldn't mind if it were limited to inter-league play, and it is a natural for the All-Star Game.

I can't help but sympathize with the plight of a Cubs fan -- although I ama life-long Cardinal fan. I look forward to 22-42.

Jul 29, 2010 10:38 AM
rating: 0
 
ahemmer

Inception is great. I don't know exactly how it rates on my Nolan scale, but it is nearly a tie for me between The Dark Knight, Memento, and Inception. Batman Begins and The Prestige are quite a ways further down the list. I haven't seen the other 2 (or 3?), but I know one is on my Netflix instant watch queue.

Jul 29, 2010 10:38 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

I have Inception tied with The Dark Knight (although the more I think about it, I think Inception is the better movie, but Ledger's performance in The Dark Knight brings it into a tie). I have Memento ahead of both.

And I know I'll probably get flamed for this, but I have The Prestige ahead of Inception and tied with Memento. I was explaining why to someone yesterday, and now that I've listened to this week's podcast I think that KG has the same minor problem with Inception that I do: Inception has too many "action" scenes. The older I get, the more those bore me, and I kept fidgeting and waiting for Nolan to get back to the plot. The Prestige has almost none of that, and I think that's why I like it more.

Jul 29, 2010 12:09 PM
 
etothepiiplus43

Even though I am a huge fan of The Prestige, I think that I would put Inception ahead simply because Inception was an original story of Nolan's, whereas The Prestige was a novel by Christopher Priest first. Even though Nolan added to and improved on that novel beautifully (much of it addition by omission), it wasn't an entirely original work like Memento and Inception; thus, I would place Memento and Inception both above The Prestige and The Dark Knight (which also built on already-existing characters).

Jul 29, 2010 17:02 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

I can see that, but if I'm selecting one of those movies to watch again, I'll probably pick The Prestige. Vive la difference!

Jul 29, 2010 22:03 PM
 
ScottyB

#3- awesome
#5- this is why people are more critical of baseball's flaws than footballs or basketball's (e.g., steriods)
#8- I'm with Crash Davis on the DH rule
#10- I like interleague. I think "balanced scheduling" is over-rated. Over 162 games if you miss the playoffs and blame unfair interleague schedules, you're just being a crybaby.
#11- regression to the mean will kick in soon. Inception was GREAT but cannot be rated higher than Memento!
#17- right on! I drive a lot at night for work, and there's nothing better than settling into a ballgame.

Jul 29, 2010 10:55 AM
rating: 1
 
Bellis

Thanks for the work, Ken. You’ve consistently shown a knack for doing this type of piece without being annoyingly flip or too shallow, which is tough to do.
With regards to #1, I would almost take it a step further. You’re right that the average fan is getting a little smarter and this has an interesting effect. The same sorts of concepts and analytic tools being used in baseball are applicable in lots of other areas (dare I say important areas) of our lives. Data crunching, game theory, current economic concepts…because baseball is such a familiar, digestible model for a lot of people, it’s a good place to get an introduction into some of this stuff. Just like learning math as a kid by doing batting averages in your head, you can start with baseball and go from there.
#6 : My take on instant replay is that I honestly don’t care whether or not the umpires get it right. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? And I mean it. I don’t care if it costs my team the World Series or if it costs a guy a perfect game. I just don’t care. I’m not celebrating the human element here. I’m not saying that my enjoyment is enhanced by mistakes or that it becomes part of the lore of the game blah blah blah. I’m just saying, mistakes happen and getting things right on the baseball diamond is not so important in the grand scheme of life that I can’t live with goof ups. So, for me there’s no upside to replay. I like the game the way it is, which is not to say I’m a grumpy old man opposed to all changes. But I can live with it so I’d rather not see the rhythm of the game altered, even a little bit. Probably not the usual take on this one.
#17: I love MLB on satellite radio. Listening to the hometown broadcasts is like taking a little mini tour of the country every night. Such a great alternative to being parked in front of the tv. Radio allows you to do other stuff, move through space.

Jul 29, 2010 14:01 PM
rating: 0
 
rjblakel

Fantastic article...I'd love to see this format from other BP writers, as well.

Jul 29, 2010 14:23 PM
rating: 0
 
Llarry

I can get behind most of these, particularly:

#6 - and I agree with 6manfan about rotating the review umpire through the regular crew. Seems the best way to get the guys in blue on the field to buy into it.

#8 - Agreed. I believe that the DH properly keeps the leagues distinct. When we (#10) ditch interleague, the leagues are going to be kept apart (except for spring training, ASG and WS) and should have definite differences in style and makeup, just as they did for the first 50-60 years.

Jul 29, 2010 14:48 PM
rating: 0
 
BrewersTT

Among many good points, 18 is one that makes a lot of sense but I have not seen suggested before. In my field, many people have a tendency to say that sure, there are errors surrounding our estimates, but as long as we look at relative performance and not absolutes, it shouldn't matter much. Wrong.

Jul 29, 2010 15:00 PM
rating: 0
 
Dr. Dave

"If batting against same-side hitting is a skill, and your annual OBP or SLG vs. same-side hitting varies around a mean, and the same thing is true of opposite-side hitting, isn’t the variance between those two numbers going to be even greater?"

Yep. If OBP or SLG vs same-side is independent of OBP or SLG vs opposite-side, then the variance of the difference is the sum of the variances of the individual splits. If there is correlation between same-side and opposite-side (which there probably is), then you have to adjust for the covariance effect, but it's probably still significantly larger than either variance in isolation.

The correlation question is interesting. How much does how well a RH batter hits RHP tell you about how well he will hit LHP? How about for a LH batter? I'm betting the correlation is higher for RH batters, but that's just a guess...

Jul 29, 2010 17:56 PM
rating: 0
 
mhsiegel14
(636)

Regarding inception, IMDB movies start out at very high ranks and gradually sink back to their actual level.

Jul 29, 2010 19:54 PM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

That's what I've noticed as well.

Jul 30, 2010 06:13 AM
rating: -1
 
BP staff member Ken Funck
BP staff

Yeah, you're both right. There's probably selection bias at work here -- if you go out of your way to see a movie in the theater, especially right after it's released, you're more likely to be pre-disposed to like movies of that genre, or by that director, or starring those performers, etc. So the early rankers of a good movie on IMDB are almost always going to be more likely to anjoy it. Once more people see it, especially when it comes out on DVD, etc., the rankings go down. Similar things happen with good foreign language films -- few people who aren't somewhat pre-disposed to liking Kurosawa films are going to see Rashomon.

Jul 30, 2010 07:19 AM
 
John Carter

(hmmm "Post Reply" didn't work - I think there is something wrong with my mouse. I was agreeng that IMDb voter ratings are very high initially then settle down after X number of months - though I'm not sure what X is.)

Great idea here, Ken. I haven't had time to read it all, yet, but regarding #2: I was just thinking it is long overdue for mainstream media to abandon Batting Average almost completely and make OBA and Slugging Average the most used rate stats. It is really getting annoying now.

Getting the mass audience to accept OBA and Slugging might be like stepping into a lake or a seashore. It may feel cold at first. There will be an initial backlash, but they will love it once they get used to it.

Jul 30, 2010 06:24 AM
rating: 0
 
John Carter

Hooray for #8 (keeping the DH in one league and not the other). I think you are the first sportswriter I've read advocating this - and I agree!

Jul 30, 2010 12:48 PM
rating: -1
 
dcarroll

Great list, Ken. Regarding #9, I'd prefer four divisions in each league with each division winner but no wild card advancing to the playoffs, at least if the travel logistics could be worked out. Admittedly, it would make more sense in the 16 team league. You'd end up with about the same number of teams in the races, but they would be real races.

Jul 31, 2010 10:25 AM
rating: 1
 
harderj

Two comments. First on #9. I see some merits in having two wild card teams who play a one game play-in (idea I think I would attribute to Bill Chuck at billyball). Slightly handicaps the wild-card winner (can't necessarily save ace starter for first game of playoffs; opponent gets day off).

Second on #15. Just read a short blurb with Tony LaRussa (Sunday NYT?) saying the one-inning closer was an idea of Dave Duncan's specifically with regard to Eckersley, and that it was contingent on a great closer plus excellent set-up relief. Without that, he said they would have used Eck earlier, presumably in highest leverage situations.

Roger Craig's book (Inside Pitch) on his year as pitching coach for the 1984 Tigers (35-5 start) shows how different the game was, at least in the use of Cy Young winner Willie Hernandez and "co-closer" Aurelio Lopez (iirc). Several 2 or even 3 inning appearances for both, lots of wins, saves for each.

Aug 02, 2010 10:57 AM
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