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Gary Huckabay 

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05-29

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The BP Wayback Machine: In the Slot
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Gary Huckabay

02-14

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The BP Wayback Machine: Beating Eric Gagne
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Gary Huckabay

01-31

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The BP Wayback Machine: Redecorating Your Glass House
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Gary Huckabay

06-09

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The BP Wayback Machine: Draft Pickin', Grinnin', and Tradin'
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Gary Huckabay

05-04

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The BP Wayback Machine: The GM Starter Pack
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Gary Huckabay

02-03

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The BP Wayback Machine: Baseball's Y2K1 Bugs
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Gary Huckabay

03-16

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6-4-3: Why Youve Paid It
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Gary Huckabay

03-04

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6-4-3: I Will Sell This House!
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Gary Huckabay

07-01

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6-4-3: Adventures in Consulting, Part Three
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Gary Huckabay

04-13

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6-4-3: Adventures in Consulting, Part Two
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Gary Huckabay

03-14

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6-4-3: Adventures in Consulting
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Gary Huckabay

12-17

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6-4-3: Value Over Jack Cust
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Gary Huckabay

11-21

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6-4-3: ESPN and MLB
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Gary Huckabay

10-05

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6-4-3: Weighin' in at 19 Stone, Part Two
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Gary Huckabay

09-25

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6-4-3: Weighin' in at 19 Stone, Part One of Two
by
Gary Huckabay

09-04

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Analyze This: For What You Are About to Receive
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Gary Huckabay

03-05

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Hope and Faith: How the San Francisco Giants Can Win the World Series
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Gary Huckabay

02-11

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6-4-3: Farewell
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Gary Huckabay

12-06

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6-4-3: Redecorating Your Glass House
by
Gary Huckabay

07-20

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Prospectus Today: A Night at the Park, 2004
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Joe Sheehan and Gary Huckabay

05-25

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6-4-3: Leaving the Shore
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Gary Huckabay

03-29

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6-4-3: Hard to Dampen the Joy
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Gary Huckabay

02-28

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6-4-3: Beating Eric Gagne
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Gary Huckabay

01-03

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6-4-3: Bad Habits Learned from Joe Sheehan
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Gary Huckabay

12-19

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6-4-3: Hart to Hart
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Gary Huckabay

11-07

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State of the Prospectus
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Gary Huckabay

10-17

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6-4-3: Puddle of Conciousness, Redux
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Gary Huckabay

10-08

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Playoff Prospectus: Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees
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Gary Huckabay and Nate Silver

10-03

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6-4-3: Fluffy Goodness
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Gary Huckabay

10-01

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Playoff Prospectus: Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics
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Gary Huckabay

09-26

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6-4-3: Take it to the Bridge
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Gary Huckabay

09-12

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6-4-3: Know Loss
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Gary Huckabay

09-05

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6-4-3: Winter Reading List
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Gary Huckabay

08-29

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6-4-3: All the Leaves in Need of Raking
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Gary Huckabay

08-08

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6-4-3: Back To Basics
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Gary Huckabay

08-01

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6-4-3: Alex In Wonderland
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Gary Huckabay

07-25

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6-4-3: Next Anonymous Friday
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Gary Huckabay

07-11

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6-4-3: State of the Prospectus, July 2003
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Gary Huckabay

06-27

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6-4-3: Road Trippin'
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Gary Huckabay

06-23

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In Memoriam
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Gary Huckabay

06-20

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6-4-3: Overhang
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Gary Huckabay

06-13

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6-4-3: The Peter Principle
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Gary Huckabay

06-06

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6-4-3: Going Batty
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Gary Huckabay

05-23

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6-4-3: Looking for Advantages on the Ground
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Gary Huckabay and Nate Silver

05-16

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6-4-3: Always Hangin' 'Round
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Gary Huckabay

05-02

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6-4-3: The American Way
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Gary Huckabay

04-11

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6-4-3: Fun with Eddie Tufte
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Gary Huckabay

03-28

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6-4-3: What Can You Spell With Four Ps?
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Gary Huckabay

03-19

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6-4-3: The Sin of the Politician
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Gary Huckabay

03-14

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6-4-3: Draft Pickin', Grinnin', and Tradin'
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Gary Huckabay

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At the end of January, I was fortunate enough to sit down and talk with executives from a couple of clubs, and reader response was heavy and extremely positive. So we've imposed once again on the executive of the AL Club who was so generous with his time back in January, and here's what he had to say as we approach the final third of the season.

Baseball Prospectus: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us again. The readers really liked the last one. I think I received over 300 pieces of mail, many sure they knew who you were.

Read the full article...

As we hit the unofficial halfway point of the season, and a large number of BP Staff hit Denver this weekend, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thanks to all of you who come to visit Baseball Prospectus on a regular basis, and have supported us through your purchase of the Baseball Prospectus Annual, and your subscriptions to Baseball Prospectus Premium. We had very high goals for this year, and thanks to you, we've not only met our goals, we've dramatically exceeded any reasonable or unreasonable expectations we may have had. Thank you very much. We've added a number of new team members who we hope you'll enjoy reading, and over the next few weeks and months, we'll be rolling out a number of new features and functionality that we hope you'll enjoy, as well as taking steps to deal with the technical and operational challenges that inevitably come from rapid growth. We know that you have high expectations when you come to Baseball Prospectus, and we're working very hard to earn your repeat patronage.

We've added a number of new team members who we hope you'll enjoy reading, and over the next few weeks and months, we'll be rolling out a number of new features and functionality that we hope you'll enjoy, as well as taking steps to deal with the technical and operational challenges that inevitably come from rapid growth. We know that you have high expectations when you come to Baseball Prospectus, and we're working very hard to earn your repeat patronage.

Read the full article...

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June 27, 2003 12:00 am

6-4-3: Road Trippin'

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Gary Huckabay

Gary Huckabay takes a look at the first day of road trips to see if road teams' performance declines in that situation, compared to other road games.

I remember when I was with KPMG Peat Marwick (now KPMG or BearingPoint or Accenture or SynergyMastersArroganciaMarginFiend$500anHourWithAStraightFace), and had an engagement in Montana. To get back to Sacramento, we flew Delta out of Kalispell "International" Airport, to which my good friend Erik Brent retorted: "Let the bastards fly to Canada once, and it goes straight to their f%$^in' heads." Overall, I find baggage checking, overpriced everything, small rooms, OnCommand Hotel Television, and the ritual of learning which channel in the hotel is ESPN to be really tedious. Given the choice between sitting next to a mule hoping the condom doesn't break and flood their system with black tar heroin for six hours while viewing the family-friendly version of Kids, and spending that time either in the woodshop, or hanging out with my wife and dogs, I tend to stay at home.

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June 23, 2003 12:00 am

In Memoriam

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Gary Huckabay

Baseball Prospectus mourns the loss of pioneering sportswriter Leonard Koppett.

I had the good fortune to speak with Mr. Koppett on many occasions, and the even better fortune to attend high school in the Bay Area with his son, David, where we played a lot of Wiffle Ball during breaks, hitting balls onto the roof of Florence Moore Hall, and occasionally making an ill-advised asphalt dive to keep a ball from hitting the wall on the fly, and hence, turning into a double. (I still have a scar from a scrape I got from diving to catch a ball during one of those many Wiffle Ball games. I didn't make the play.)

Leonard Koppett's contributions to baseball and our enjoyment of it are truly enormous, but are only one small facet of a truly great man. Our condolences go out to Suzanne, Katherine, and David, as well as the entire Koppett family.

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June 20, 2003 12:00 am

6-4-3: Overhang

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Gary Huckabay

Everyone knows the shorthand of fan apparel. A Red Sox hat? Well, you know you're dealing with a borderline alcoholic with a proclivity for self-flagellation. (See also: Woolner, Keith.) An old-time White Sox uniform fashioned from modern fabric? Probably a gullible masochist whom you can defraud for a lucrative second income; but be careful--could also be creepy, stalking Scientologist. A Pete Rose jersey and matching haircut? That's a future Wal-Mart greeter who spends the majority of his free time calling political talk radio shows. A cap sporting the colors of both the A's and Giants? Those are David Koresh rejects who should be dragged from their '82 Dodge Colts and savagely beaten into a persistent vegetative state. But save your pity for those gilding themselves with the colors of the New York Mets. As you know, the Mets fired Steve Phillips, and now find themselves facing not only their own intra-Gotham inferiority complex, but with a number of landmines in house that may not be possible to avoid. The days of being able to readily unload horrifying, soul-draining contracts is largely over, and the Mets have their share. They're not going to be able to Mondesi someone about the head and shoulders, a la Toronto. Those days are over. What are they really facing as they try to rebuild a team?

But save your pity for those gilding themselves with the colors of the New York Mets.

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June 13, 2003 12:00 am

6-4-3: The Peter Principle

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Gary Huckabay

Baseball could learn a lot from Don King. When Don King puts on a fight, there's instantly a thin, greasy film of sleaze on it, but most of the time, King's able to overcome the aversion and distrust inherent in his productions, and sell the damn tickets. When King promotes a fight, he works his butt off to transform the tomatoest of cans into a Mythic Warrior whose nobility and sense of purpose is matched only by his strength and cunning in the ring. Then, after the inevitable whooping of Steve Zouski by Drederick Tatum, the No. 3 contender of the Uzbekistan Boxing Council (not affiliated with the Uzbekistan Boxing Association), people feel ripped off, and know they were stupid for signing up for the $84.95 pay-per-view event--even though they kinda liked the two chicks beating the living crap out of each other on the undercard. The promotion of the fight was great, but the fight itself, the actual product, was pretty lame. Baseball's in exactly the opposite situation. The product is amazing beyond description, providing a mix of rapid, short-term thrills with the mysterious narrative of a 162-game regular season that still actually counts. Collectively, MLB clubs have lost their focus on getting people to actually watch the game, be it on television or in person. Over the past 20 years, management's developed an affinity for publicly trashing their own product, and in terms of holding onto the front of the sports fan's mind, they've had their butts handed to them by Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue, and even the Michael Lerneresque David Stern. From the Commissioner writing off a third of the clubs before the season starts in an attempt to get givebacks from the players, to George Steinbrenner talking about how dangerous it is to come to Yankee games, no stone's gone unturned in the inexplicable quest to keep fans away. To date, no club has come up with "Persistently Infected Sore Night," but at least one club did threaten Jason Tyner bobbleheads. Joe Sheehan calls MLB's efforts "anti-marketing," which is certainly a solid enough label, even if it's overly kind to MLB.

The promotion of the fight was great, but the fight itself, the actual product, was pretty lame.

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June 6, 2003 12:00 am

6-4-3: Going Batty

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Gary Huckabay

If I were making even the major league minimum, I would think an off-season visit to a woodworking group and a couple hundred bucks investment in various types of stock would be worth the risk. The cost difference between a bat made out of Padauk and a bat made out of maple really wouldn't be all that great, and if it can get you 2% more velocity off the bat, that might be the difference between a multi-year deal that sets you up for life and running the produce department at Giant Eagle. After all, gaining an advantage by going against the rules is called cheating. Gaining an advantage by working around the rules to an area not previously considered by the rulemakers is innovation.

OK, so Sammy used a bat with a rough hole hewn into it, and filled it with a bunch of stuff. He'll be suspended, probably for about 10 days, and he's already apologized. My personal take on the specific incident is that he didn't know it was corked; he didn't seem fazed or worried about the shards left on the field, unlike others who have shattered adulterated bats and worried more about gathering the evidence than getting to first base. Doesn't really matter in the end. The annoying thing is how much airtime the whole issue's getting, and how often Will Carroll's been bumped from Outside the Lines so people can moralize and speculate.

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There's an awful lot of stuff in baseball analysis that's just a complete waste of time. Some people love doing studies that take a look at something either esoteric, rare, or with no potential practical application when it comes to the actual game of baseball. That's great; there's nothing wrong with those kinds of diversions. We've all got those kinds of activities in our lives. But in terms of practical application on a real life baseball team, a "sabermetric" biography of the 1952 Yankees isn't particularly useful. That sort of stuff has never spun my wheels, and it's one reason I tend to yell and scream at BP writers who mention ballplayers from before Kristy Swanson was born. Historians and fans of sepia tones will undoubtedly pipe in with: "Of course you can learn something from history!" (Derisively insert sound of adults in Charlie Brown cartoons here.) No one's saying that's not the case. But we prefer to focus on ideas that actually have practical applications on the field, and can directly and visibly translate into more wins, which means more championships, more money, etc. We've taken a fair amount of flak over the years for not making more things public, and not fully embracing an academic model for the serious study of baseball. Some of the criticism is well-deserved, some of it's simply a disagreement over what people in the field are really doing. We like the idea of innovating to gain a competitive advantage and beat the snot out of opponents, rather than having the material published in some peer-reviewed journal. When Rany Jazayerli came back from a Pizza Feed a few weeks back and mentioned that he had talked to a couple of front office guys about a different kind of platoon, my chin hit the virtual floor. The idea he had mentioned, and which was apparently perceived as novel, was at least 20 years old, and Gary Huckabay had been approached about studying the idea by a major league club back in 1998. (Even more surprising is that the club that wanted this issue studied is not largely perceived as a progressive organization.) This supposedly novel idea had also been mentioned in one of the old Elias Analysts, but was never really fleshed out in those pages. What kind of platoon are we talking about? Using the groundball/flyball tendencies of pitchers and hitters to determine and acquire the most favorable possible matchups.

Historians and fans of sepia tones will undoubtedly pipe in with: "Of course you can learn something from history!" (Derisively insert sound of adults in Charlie Brown cartoons here.) No one's saying that's not the case. But we prefer to focus on ideas that actually have practical applications on the field, and can directly and visibly translate into more wins, which means more championships, more money, etc. We've taken a fair amount of flak over the years for not making more things public, and not fully embracing an academic model for the serious study of baseball. Some of the criticism is well-deserved, some of it's simply a disagreement over what people in the field are really doing. We like the idea of innovating to gain a competitive advantage and beat the snot out of opponents, rather than having the material published in some peer-reviewed journal.

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May 16, 2003 12:00 am

6-4-3: Always Hangin' 'Round

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Gary Huckabay

On Wednesday evening, approximately 40 people gathered at Rocco's Pizzeria in Walnut Creek for a BP Pizza Feed. Unlike most of the NorCal Pizza Feeds, the evening didn't consist primarily of me, Wolverton, Wilkins, and Cleary answering a bunch of questions and listening to a rather malicious version of Les Nessman's Death Watch, usually focused on Steve Phillips. We were fortunate enough to be joined by Mark Wolfson, the Director of the Oakland A's Broadcasts on KICU 36 in the Bay Area. Mark knows more about broadcasting and that side of baseball than anyone really should, and has a facility and feel for the business that most people wish they had about any business. If you missed it, you missed an informative and entertaining evening, and a gathering of a bunch of very nice, very dedicated and jovial baseball fans. I hope you can make the next one. (Houston and Fresno--we haven't forgotten about you.) One of the topics that always comes up when conversation turns to baseball broadcasting is the length of games. There's a common perception among people on the broadcasting side that games are too long. You're probably familiar with the line of thinking; kids today are used to more stimulation, instant gratification, and the long "slow spells" in baseball make it difficult to sell the game to people, particularly young kids. The powers that be in MLB's front office have responded to this perceived challenge by forming a task force with the goal of speeding up games. Personally, I like a lot of the simple, quick hits that have been implemented. It makes sense to have a batboy ready with an identical bat in case one breaks. There's a lot of little things along those lines that make sense for MLB and the fans, and it's good to see those steps being taken.

One of the topics that always comes up when conversation turns to baseball broadcasting is the length of games. There's a common perception among people on the broadcasting side that games are too long. You're probably familiar with the line of thinking: kids today are used to more stimulation, instant gratification, and the long "slow spells" in baseball make it difficult to sell the game to people, particularly young kids. The powers that be in MLB's front office have responded to this perceived challenge by forming a task force with the goal of speeding up games. Personally, I like a lot of the simple, quick hits that have been implemented. It makes sense to have a batboy ready with an identical bat in case one breaks. There's a lot of little things along those lines that make sense for MLB and the fans, and it's good to see those steps being taken.

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May 2, 2003 12:00 am

6-4-3: The American Way

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Gary Huckabay

On Tuesday, Florida Marlins' starter A.J. Burnett underwent Tommy John surgery, after exploration of the elbow revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament. The surgery went well, and Burnett's expected to return fully healthy down the road. Previously, pitchers who have had this surgery take about a year, maybe a year and a half, to get back on the mound and eventually return to form. The procedure and rehab have become something of a commonplace miracle, despite the fact that the rehabilitation regimen's about as appealing as a porta-potty at the Stockton Asparagus Festival. The real issue here isn't Burnett, however unfortunate his injury is. We wish him the best, and I have no doubts that he'll push the rehab envelope and get back as soon as he can. The real issue here is painfully obvious--was this avoidable? You've already seen a number of perspectives about pitcher abuse, injury likelihood, and the very nature of pitching itself, so I won't go into too much detail here. I think the real interesting issue here is a long-underlying one that's been talked about, but never really addressed. That issue is the balance between performance, overwork, responsibility, and accountability when it comes to handling pitchers. So let's put aside the specific case of Burnett, and examine the issue.

On April 28th, Evan Wasserman passed away after a long illness. Evan was a longtime BP supporter, and rabid baseball fan. He joined us at several pizza feeds, where I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance, and I eventually got to know him as a friend. Evan had a great sense of humor, loved the game of baseball, and was a man of generous spirit who brought a smile to people's faces when he walked in the room. He will be greatly missed, and our condolences go out to his wife, Jackie, and his family.

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April 11, 2003 12:00 am

6-4-3: Fun with Eddie Tufte

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Gary Huckabay

There are lots of ways to present numeric information. In addition to just handing someone a big stack of numbers, you can create charts or graphs until the cows come home or the Tigers score five runs in a game--whichever comes first. In many circumstances, there will be some sort of an industry standard, and if you choose to diverge from that standard, you can bet that some of your very valuable time is going to be spent justifying your deviation from the norm. That's what's been going on in the baseball media and front offices for nearly a quarter century now--trying to change the norms of what information is used to evaluate players.

I'm always amazed at how little attention we all pay to how information is presented to us; in business, baseball, everyday life, wherever. You get used to seeing information a particular way, and--allowing for some brain chemistry fun that none of us like to acknowledge very much--you use that information to make decisions. Deciding what information to include in a presentation, and how to display it to best accomplish your goals is something of an art form. If you're pitching a group of venture capitalists on why your company is worth $11 million rather than the $6 million they think it's worth, you have to create your presentation, and the resulting argument, in a particular fashion that best suits both your agenda and the raw information you're choosing to include.

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March 28, 2003 12:00 am

6-4-3: What Can You Spell With Four Ps?

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Gary Huckabay

For a long time, I've been trying to find someone who's at or near the top of the ladder in an MLB marketing department to talk to me about some of the unique challenges, opportunities, and practices in marketing an MLB club, and to give a spin-free answer to some of the tougher questions that readers have asked about MLB's policies over the years. On Thursday, I was fortunate enough to talk with the lead executive of an MLB club's marketing department, and they agreed to answer any questions I threw out, so long as I didn't give out their name.

On March 16th, Fred Halverson passed away after a long battle with illness at the age of 82. Mr. Halverson is directly and personally responsible for much of the success and happiness enjoyed in life by countless students of Menlo School, and he made a positive impact on my life for which I am forever grateful. He provided guidance and support at a time in my life at which I needed both, and his generosity and kindness will never be forgotten by those whose lives he touched. The world is greatly diminished by his passing, but more enriched by his having ever been with us.

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