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Derek Zumsteg 

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07-16

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2

The BP Wayback Machine: Being There
by
Derek Zumsteg

04-25

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1

The BP Wayback Machine: There is No Divide
by
Derek Zumsteg

04-20

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The BP Wayback Machine: Ode to Jamie Moyer
by
Derek Zumsteg

02-17

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5

The BP Wayback Machine: Trading Places
by
Derek Zumsteg

01-11

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7

The BP Wayback Machine: The Best Commissioner of All-Time
by
Derek Zumsteg

11-22

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2

The BP Wayback Machine: We Need More Awards
by
Derek Zumsteg

04-21

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5

The BP Wayback Machine: Marooning Montreal
by
Derek Zumsteg

03-24

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12

The BP Wayback Machine: Derek's Guide to Becoming a Fan Favorite
by
Derek Zumsteg

03-19

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Hope and Faith: How the Seattle Mariners Can Win the World Series
by
Derek Zumsteg

04-29

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Handling the Steroids Issue
by
Derek Zumsteg

01-20

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Breaking Balls: There Is No Divide
by
Derek Zumsteg

10-12

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Playoff Prospectus: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-30

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Breaking Balls: Have Faith
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-27

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Breaking Balls: A Game of Numbers
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-15

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Breaking Balls: More on Greatness
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-14

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Breaking Balls: Barry, Barry Good
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-13

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Breaking Balls: Oswalt vs. Schmidt
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-09

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Breaking Balls: Mariners vs. Indians, 9/8/2004
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-08

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Breaking Balls: Another Unenforced Rule
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-07

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Breaking Balls: Pitch to Him!
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-06

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Breaking Balls: Buying an Import
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-02

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Breaking Balls: OGTWB 'Bag
by
Derek Zumsteg

09-01

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Breaking Balls: Out of Center Field
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-30

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Breaking Balls: The Great Ichiro
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-26

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Breaking Balls: Feedback on the Rules
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-25

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Breaking Balls: Derek's Guide to Winning Baseball, an Occasional Series: Part 3
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-24

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Breaking Balls: Derek's Guide to Becoming a Fan Favorite
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-23

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Breaking Balls: The Best Commissioner of All-Time
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-20

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Breaking Balls: Derek's Guide to Winning Baseball, an Occasional Series: Part 2
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-19

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Breaking Balls: Stop the Moose Goose!
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-18

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Breaking Balls: The Bizarro Dusty Baker
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-17

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Breaking Balls: Taking a Risk
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-09

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Breaking Balls: So Long, Edgar
by
Derek Zumsteg

08-03

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Breaking Balls: More on Rules
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-29

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Breaking Balls: Rules Were Made to be Broken
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-27

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Breaking Balls: I'm a Straight Shooter
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-20

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Breaking Balls: Holding Back
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-15

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Breaking Balls: The Five Stages of General Manager Grief
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-13

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Breaking Balls: Wanting What's Best
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-08

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Breaking Balls: Trading Places
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-06

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Breaking Balls: Put Me In, Uh...Me
by
Derek Zumsteg

07-01

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Breaking Balls: All-Albatross Team
by
Derek Zumsteg

06-29

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Breaking Balls: Pride
by
Derek Zumsteg

06-24

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Breaking Balls: Framing the Debate
by
Derek Zumsteg

06-22

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Breaking Balls: Derek's Guide to Winning Baseball, an Occasional Series
by
Derek Zumsteg

06-17

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Breaking Balls: The Umpty Dance
by
Derek Zumsteg

06-15

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Breaking Balls: A New Low
by
Derek Zumsteg

06-08

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Breaking Balls: The Tino Martinez All-Stars
by
Derek Zumsteg

06-03

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Breaking Balls: [Team Name Here]
by
Derek Zumsteg

06-02

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Breaking Balls: The Modestly Productive Column
by
Derek Zumsteg

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August 26, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: Feedback on the Rules

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Derek Zumsteg

Readers contribute more thoughts in the aftermath of Derek's article on the rule changes baseball should consider.

I got a lot of e-mails from readers about my contention that the rule stating players must try to get out of the way of a pitch was unenforceable and, further, that maybe we wouldn't want to enforce it. Many of them ran like this:

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Ever wonder, when you see a manager make a terrible move, if he has a grander plan? Derek Zumsteg sees method behind the madness, and explores.

In games, systems for decision making only work until the other side figures out your system. In the RoShamBo Programming Competition for instance, programs play rock-paper-scissors against each other. The programs use varied approaches, statistical scoring, recent history, and all kinds of trickery. The least you should expect for your approach is a win in a third of all trials (33% win, 33% loss, 33% tie)--which is what you can get picking randomly. Systems with easy patterns are easily beat; rock every time takes only a couple of lines of code to detect and adapt to, for instance. But what if you intentionally act streaky and then when you've figured out your opponent's threshold for trying to take advantage of it, switch? What if they take advantage of your streakiness earlier? The more complicated your system gets, the more you may gain, and the more trouble you can get yourself into.

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Why does Willie Bloomquist get to have all the fun? Derek Zumsteg writes in with a handy-dandy guide to becoming an MLB ballplayer, and a fan favorite to boot.

I'm going to risk stamping a giant red expiration date on this column in this introductory paragraph: Paris Hilton has a book deal, and her proposal includes "an abbreviated version of her instructions to anyone on how to become an heiress and live a privileged life." The first is "1. Be born into the right family. Choose your chromosomes wisely."

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August 23, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: The Best Commissioner of All-Time

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Derek Zumsteg

You might think that Derek Zumsteg would be furious about Bud Selig's contract extension. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't understand it.

Bud Selig's the most successful commissioner baseball has ever had. The owners offered him an extension to 2009 because he richly deserves it.

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How do you confound your opponent's expectations? It's a simple answer with some complicated ramifications. Derek Zumsteg explains it all for you.

"Don't do what your opponent wants you to do."

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August 19, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: Stop the Moose Goose!

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Derek Zumsteg

Derek Zumsteg's latest mission: To deploy military force into Safeco Field and eradicate the Moose Goose.

The Mariners have long been an innovative team in almost all aspects of profitable operation, including making a game a fun and baseball-centered-but-light affair for the whole family. They gave the world that techno music ("Oooh-oh-a-oh-oh, oooh-oh-a-oh-oh...") teams play going into the ninth, originally scraped up for former closer Kazuhiro Sasaki, where the oh-oh, combined with excitement and a little wincing, was entirely appropriate. The only ideas they're loathe to embrace are those that come from New York (like the endlessly annoying Day-O thing). Like great works of literature in Iran, they just don't get translated.

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August 18, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: The Bizarro Dusty Baker

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Derek Zumsteg

The Mariners have watched a string of players leave the organization and immediately play better for a new one. Derek Zumsteg examines the phenomenon.

Set aside for the minute that his grand plan for the team (maintain the core, give up some defense for offense, make another modest run at contention) collapsed around him. Or that it took him (and the organization) months to make it through the five stages of grief. Bavasi has been doubly cursed: not only did the organization's 2001-inspired hubris result in the embossing downfall of the franchise, but he has also demonstrated an amazing Midas touch in reverse, where everything he discards turns into gold. Since Bavasi came on, almost to a man every player traded away for nothing or simply released has performed far better than they had been doing with the Mariners, and far beyond what you'd expect to see.

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August 17, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: Taking a Risk

0

Derek Zumsteg

Derek Zumsteg takes a closer look at Boston's Mientkiewicz-to-second-base experiment, and likes the risk-taking by the Sox.

There are enough barriers to this kind of move to make it tough to pull off even when there isn't that kind of pressure. Some players aren't willing to try another position, for fear of embarrassing themselves, or because they don't want to try something more demanding, or because they're not comfortable enough. Managers don't want to play someone out of position for fear of looking stupid for trying something. But in Boston? Where even the hyper-critical media acknowledges that the atmosphere is too negative? Where fan reaction runs between bitter, expected disappointment and feverish loyalty?

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The Mariners today announced the retirement of Edgar Martinez, one of the best hitters of his generation and arguably one of the best right-handed hitters of all-time. To celebrate Martinez's career, we're re-running this special edition of Derek Zumsteg's Breaking Balls from last October, when it first looked like Edgar would hang 'em up.

I saw fans cry for the first time on Sunday, the last day of the Mariners season. Edgar Martinez was at bat in the eighth for what may be the last plate appearance of his career, and the standing ovation rolled on and on.

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August 3, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: More on Rules

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Derek Zumsteg

But I've come to realize that they're inseparable: Tweaking the rules is a smaller move in philosophy, but in implication and consequence can be just as large as the sweeping one. Which in turn is why this is such a fascinating discussion for me.

--Richard Poole

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July 29, 2004 12:00 am

Breaking Balls: Rules Were Made to be Broken

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Derek Zumsteg

I've been avoiding columns on columns lately, because I feel like every time I try, I dig myself in ever-deeper. But I got a ton of email on Tuesday's column, and it ran about: 33%: "That was hilarious, loved it." 33%: "I don't get it." or "I'm tired of your ranting." 33%: "How can you say that Derek Jeter's the AL MVP when he's only ninth in overall offensive value and your own metrics...." So skip ahead a couple paragraphs to get to the baseball if you'd prefer not to hear the meta stuff. To 66% who didn't get it: the column was intended to make fun of the sports talk radio Jonah and I had to listen to while we were driving back and forth to the Baseball Prospectus business meetings in San Diego last week. I don't even remember the names of the personalities, but between San Diego and Los Angeles, every time we hit the seek button to get away from one of these guys, we ran into another broadcaster spewing the same stuff. They all talked in circles as they tried to figure out what they were going to say, and when they finally got to the point, you'd think, "I waited two minutes for that?"

So skip ahead a couple paragraphs to get to the baseball if you'd prefer not to hear the meta stuff.

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Look, we pulled down the Berlin Wall, and it was once controversial to speak out against that. I like to think time will prove me right. It has in the past, I think that's going to continue. Ideas come and go, and you have to look at them and if their time is past, then so be it, that's how it goes. You can shoot the messenger if you want, but I've been shot at before and I'm still here, still talking to you.

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