We often hear about how offenses fail when they leave too many men on base. But is this really failure?
I feel the need to re-introduce myself, or at least my column, since this space has been pretty quiet in 2008-I've spent a lot of time so far running around explaining legal concepts and covering live events for Baseball Prospectus-and I'm hoping this will be the beginning of a more regular schedule. Prospectus Toolbox is a column dedicated to new readers, or veteran readers who might not be familiar with all the acronyms and numbers that we tend throw around rather casually on this website. The focus is meant to be high on simple language and explanations and low on any form of math you'd have learned after middle school-because, really, you shouldn't need to be Stephen Hawking to comprehend the work that we do here, or to have it increase your enjoyment of baseball.
Are there any legal-beagle ramifications to the Miguel Tejada and Frank Thomas mini-dramas?
It's been a while since our last foray through the legal underbelly of baseball. We've seen a fair bit of action in the last week in particular, regarding questions of age-one star player skipped across the back end of his prime in the blink of an eye, while another had a disagreement with his ballclub over whether he's reached the end of the road.
Let's start with Miguel Tejada, who joined Ann Coulter and Traci Lords (as well as, yes, a whole bunch of other Dominican ballplayers) as famous people who have fibbed about their age. The Astros shortstop revealed last week that his actual birth date was two years earlier than the one that's been listed throughout his career, making him a soon-to-be 34-year-old rather than a soon-to-be 32-year-old. The revelation came on the heels of an ambush interview with ESPN, where Tejada was confronted with a copy of his 1974 birth certificate, after telling interviewer Tom Farrey that he'd been born in 1976.
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The final season of play at the House That Ruth Built kicked off a day later than expected.
On Monday, what was to be Yankee Stadium's first-ever March game was canceled when the weather forecast didn't promise that the Yankees and Blue Jays could get in the requisite five innings for an official game. While this led to a fair amount of grumbling and booing by the fans who'd trekked out in a cold drizzle to catch the 2008 opener, it couldn't be argued that the 30-hour postponement didn't make for better baseball-playing and -watching conditions. The rains that assailed New York City off and on overnight and throughout the day on Tuesday gave way to perfect spring conditions in the evening: sixty-odd degrees and dry at game time.
The big story of the night was the historic final Opening Day of the House That Ruth Built, one of a litany of lasts that will run at least through September 21 against the Orioles (the Yankees' final scheduled regular season home game) and perhaps be stretched even farther should the Bronx Bombers manage to make it to the playoffs for the 14th straight year. We can look forward to these "historic" markers growing increasingly absurd as the year wears on, with broadcasters encouraging fans to catch the historic final midweek series against the Rays in July, and in August alerting us to Carl Pavano's historic final trip to the Yankee Stadium Trainers' Room. (I can almost hear Suzyn Waldman reverently running down the historic implications of the latter event: "Should Pavano somehow stay with the Yankees next year, and need a cortisone shot, or a rub down, or a precautionary X-Ray, it will be at the new Yankee Stadium.")
One of the staples of this website is the yearly Prospectus Today column in which Joe Sheehan discusses the expert fantasy leagues he participates in-the Rotowire Staff League and Tout Wars. Today, I find myself in the odd position of hijacking one of those discussions, mainly because of peculiar luck and a wonky wireless Internet connection. Last Friday, I was BP's on-site representative at the AL Tout Wars draft-yes, the one made famous by Sam Walker's bestseller, Fantasyland, as the ne plus ultra of fantasy leagues.
CHEERS clearly proves that Tim Raines doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame. Will it incite an anti-stathead backlash for Rock amongst the voters?
I'm asking all of you to take a voyage back in time. Not to last week, or even last month, but to a more innocent time, before my mind got wrapped up in Congressional hearings or trips to the Dominican Republic. Back then, we looked at the candidacy of Tim Raines for induction to Cooperstown. I shared some of my subconscious thoughts on the subject, and issued a challenge: come up with an argument that would create an anti-stathead backlash in favor of Raines among Hall of Fame voters, and win a prize.
The retirement of a minor league catcher incites the revisiting of a now-infamous book.
The news that Jeremy Brown was hanging up his spikes due to "personal issues" made more of a stir last week than you'd expect from the retirement of a 28-year-old catcher who's spent the last two years in Triple-A. Our prospects expert, Kevin Goldstein, gave Brown an extremely evenhanded send-off over on Unfiltered; others have been less charitable, invoking imaginary choruses of scouts cheering the end of Brown's career. At least, I hope the cheering is imaginary: it'd take a Grinch-sized heart to rejoice in the end of someone's big-league dreams, unless their name is, say, Ben Christensen. The reason that Brown is the focus of such attention and schadenfreude is because the A's drafted him in the first round of the 2002 draft-an overdraft which, by itself, wouldn't be that noteworthy-and because Michael Lewis wrote a best-selling book which hailed Brown's selection as the bellwether of a new way of doing business, which the author dubbed "Moneyball" in the book of the same name. Apparently, those celebrating Brown's retirement are marking the occasion as the death of Moneyball acumen-a festive wake, with dancing and ironic toasts.
What direction does the Rocket blaze towards next, or is this whole thing out of fuel?
Not every legal option is wise. The example that always sprang up in my own experience was in divorces: men would get involved in divorce proceedings, and almost invariably, their "friends" would start spreading rumors that the soon-to-be ex-wife had been involved in extramarital affairs, and that maybe some or all of the couple's children may have been the result of those alleged affairs. The men would then go to a lawyer with the question: can I have my kids DNA-tested?
The answer to this question was usually "yes," but that wasn't the end of the discussion, because a legal right to a DNA test doesn't speak to the real-world consequences of such an action. If these guys went forward with the testing, and their suspicions were proven correct, they might get out of paying child support, but they could also lose their parental rights over children they'd raised their entire lives. If they were wrong, they risked destroying their relationship with the children, if those children should ever find out about the test. The question wasn't so much "can I do this" as "is it a good idea?"
A preview of tomorrow's action on the Hill, and some of the legal concepts that are involved.
While I was off in the Dominican Republic enjoying 80-plus degree weather and watching real, live baseball, everyone's favorite steroid drama was spawning depositions, social calls, leaked photographs, outlandish claims, and enough saber-rattling by the parties' lawyers to make you think you'd accidentally stepped onto the set of a sequel to the F. Murray Abraham/Eric Roberts fencing film, By the Sword. Rusty Hardin and Earl Ward have been so histrionic defending their respective clients in the press that they make Jack Nicholson's performance as Frank Costello look nuanced and restrained. Well, now that I'm back in the frozen northeast, and the side players to the Clemens/McNamee drama (Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, Kirk Radomski) seem to have fallen off of Congress's witness list, I figured I might as well give you a little guide to a few legal concepts that could help you make sense of the goings-on in Washington this week.
Materiality: This is the concept that a piece of evidence-be it a physical item, a document, or even a piece of testimony-has to matter to the outcome of the case or inquiry in order to be relevant. For example, it's hard to imagine any situation where the so-called Clemens Report is considered material to any of the Clemens/McNamee proceedings, before Congress or in a court of law. Since the last time we discussed this, a foursome of academics has taken on the topic in the New York Times, and found the Report as unsatisfying as I did a few weeks ago. While the Report's authors have written a defense of their work, I don't think that there's anything they can say in defense of the Report's most risible sections, as pointed out by reader D.K.:
Dominican Team #2 proved it was second to no other Caribbean team with an 8-2 victory in the title game.
SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic--All good things must come to an end, and the 2008 Caribbean Series was no exception. The question was not if it would end but when-Thursday night with a win by Licey at its hated rivals' stadium, or Friday night, in a tiebreaker between the Dominican teams?
Before we could have an answer to that question, the two eliminated teams, Mexico and Venezuela, would face off in the early game. It would be a lie to say that this game was more than just an afterthought for those of us preoccupied with the big nightcap, but coming off of Mexico's stunning victory over Licey, I thought it would be interesting to do the same kind of lineup analysis for Mexico that we did for Venezuela on Day Three:
Yesterday's action delivered a pair of upsets, but that's not why Derek's upset with himself.
My wife traveled with me to the Dominican Republic, just as she did to Puerto Rico with me last year. We work together at my other, non-BP job, and we're lucky enough that our business isn't usually tied to any one place, geographically. This enables us to distress, blur, and perhaps someday completely erase the line between work and vacation.
My wife's a gamer. For most of the time that I've been in the press box, working on creating content for all of you to read, she's been back in Puerto Plata, working and hitting the beach. So she decides to take a few days off from the working vacation, and simply vacation. Yesterday, she came with me to the game, so she got to participate in all sorts of fun activities, like "sit here for two hours before the game while I answer questions on the internet." Not that I phrased it that way, but you get the idea.
Licey defeated Cibao in a matchup of the two undefeated Dominican arch rivals, setting up a rematch for the series crown on Thursday.
Once upon a time, I was incensed at the idea that scalping tickets was illegal. Even though the illegality in most states merely involves the distance from the venue that you're allowed to be when you sell the ticket-a distinction that's now been largely obviated by the internet-I was upset at the very idea that you could buy something that you weren't then allowed to sell. In my (then) libertarian heart, it was a gross unfairness.
But then I look at the empty sections in Estadio Cibao, and I feel silly that I ever thought that way. According to everyone I speak to, the games are sold out. The box office hasn't been open the entire time I've been in Santiago. The bleachers (well, more like bleacher-the right-field bleacher is taken up by a booster group that acts as an additional billboard) are full to bursting. That being the case, why are there thousands of seats left empty in Cibao Stadium the very first time that the two biggest arch-rivals in the country-the Licey Tigers and Cibao Eagles-face each other in the Caribbean Series? The outfield sections of the stadium have been a ghost town throughout this tourney, but there was always the thought that maybe some people weren't interested in watching Mexico or Venezuela play; last night there were no excuses-it was two Dominican teams playing a night game on Dominican soil, and if you just wandered into the stadium, you'd have no trouble finding a seat at all.