Reviewing a new documentary about the often agonizing July 2nd signing process for international amateur prospects.
During last year’s Wisconsin Film Festival, I watched a documentary entitled Open Season, about the events surrounding the tragic shootings of eight deer hunters in northern Wisconsin by a trespassing Minnesotan. The film was reasonably well-made and even-handed, given that the shooter happened to be a Hmong refugee and the victims were white Midwesterners, facts that could have easily enabled a broad black-and-white narrative of culture clash and racism rather than the grey-scale collision of individuals in a moment of escalating conflict. Watching the film didn’t teach me anything new about the shootings and subsequent trial, as both occurred near my hometown, two of the victims were related to me, and it was unlikely the filmmakers could learn and express as much about the events and the environment surrounding them as I already knew, having to some extent lived them.
Following up with eight more baseball arguments that often don't make sense.
Last week in this space, I unveiled the first seven nominees for the Hall of Famously Weak Baseball Arguments, my fictional museum of unsupportable or outdated baseball beliefs. Below you’ll find those initial seven listed without further comment, along with the final eight. As before, I’ve essayed to describe the times and places where you’ll hear these groaners, why I believe they’re weak, and situations in which they may actually be correct.
Deconstructing seven baseball arguments that usually don't make sense.
In the wake of this year’s Hall of Fame voting season, and to help remove the bad taste left by some of the mind-numbingly bad arguments I’ve heard and read over the last few weeks for or against various HOF candidates, I thought it might be fun to open my very own Hall of Famously Bad Baseball Arguments. To do this, I need your help. I am hereby nominating you for membership in the BBWAA—Baseball Weak Argument Arbiters—and empowering you to nominate and vote for the baseball arguments that you find the most irritating and least convincing.
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Ken checks to see how many of his pre-season Over/Unders the readers called correctly and picks the most prescient BP reader.
Last spring in this space I introduced a contest entitled “Setting The Line,” wherein I selected two key players from each American League and National League team, set a benchmark for what their 2011 season might produce in a given metric, and invited participants to select whether each player would score Over or Under that line. Now that the season is over and we are into awards season, it’s time to announce a winner. By a landslide, the most prescient prognosticator this year was Matthew Kenerly, who ran down Rex Babiera in the home stretch by choosing the correct side of the line on 39 of 50 players. No one else had more than 37 correct, so Matthew showed himself to be head-and-shoulders above the crowd and has our permission to proclaim himself the wisest of all BP readers, a title I’m sure will earn him due deference during comments section discussions throughout the coming year. Less importantly, Matthew has won himself a free copy of Baseball Prospectus 2012 with as many author signatures as I can manage to round up this spring. Well done, Matthew.
How to start rooting for a contender in mid-season without compromising your principles.
It’s late August, and if the team you root for is already out of contention, you’re not alone. According to our Playoff Odds Report, only 12 teams currently have even a 5 percent chance of making the postseason, meaning that fully 60 percent of teams are realistically playing out the string with more than a month to go. If you follow one of those teams and are the sort of fan who finds that having a heart-felt rooting interest greatly adds to your baseball enjoyment, what are you to do with the rest of the season? My recommendation is to become a bandwagon jumper, or more specifically, an Ethical Bandwagon Jumper (EBJ).
Checking in on the pre-season over/unders to see who's exceeding or underperforming expectations halfway through the season.
Last spring in this space I introduced a contest entitled “Setting The Line,” wherein I selected two key players from each American League and National League team, set a benchmark for what their 2011 season might produce in a given metric, and invited participants to speculate about whether each player would score Over or Under that line. Now that we’ve reached an approximate midpoint to the season, I thought it worthwhile to take a look at where these players are compared to their set line and identify how well our readers have done at picking the over/under, both collectively and individually.
A trip through the annual unlocks Ken's inner muse.
Among the bells and whistles currently found on our player pages, by far my favorite section is the list of player comments taken from BP Annuals past. The cast of authors may change from year to year, but each season’s comments are equally well-written and educational, and when read chronologically, they often provide a tremendously entertaining overview of a player’s career—or at least how a player’s career has been perceived over time.
A lot of younger veterans are having huge starts to their years, but are the stat lines legit, or will they be turning back into pumpkins soon?
Last year around this time, I wrote a series of articles about the “All-Bounceback Team,” highlighting aging players who were off to such great starts that they had already provided more value than they had during the whole previous season, and predicting whether they could continue on at that level. In trying to put together a similar list this week, I noticed there are far more young veterans surpassing their recent performances than there were older veterans reclaiming their mojo. Thus, I’ve decided to use this year’s columns to identify whether these players’ performance so far points to a “Bounceback” for a veteran player, a “Breakthrough” for a young player who has never experienced much success, or is merely the “Balderdash” of small-sample success that’s doomed to erode.
Cranking up SportsFeed, we preview the 2031 season and the major issues in baseball.
Hi everybody! I’m Evan Mendes. Thanks for joining me here at SportsFeed for this casual-level, commute-sized on-board preview of the upcoming 2031 AL season. If you would like more in-depth analysis, just say keyword “Sabre” at any time and I’ll return in a second with a more appropriate presentation. If you are viewing this in 3DP projection or video, remember that your driver’s side console will automatically switch to audio-only when your vehicle exits autopilot mode or is no longer traveling on a limited-access highway. Sorry—it’s the law.
Does anything beat lucky number slevin when it comes to quality campaigns on the diamond?
For many of us, awaiting baseball’s Opening Day is like sitting in a movie theater marking time until the feature presentation begins. Here we are, popcorn in our laps and anticipation in our hearts, enduring that endless preview of coming attractions called “spring training.” Action unfolds in front of us, but it’s not real action, and though we may be tempted, even encouraged, to use these small-sample snippets to determine whether a team or a player is going to be worth our attention when the show begins, this isn’t our first rodeo. We may hear the voice of Don LaFontaine intone “In a world … where Jake Fox can hit .333/.345/.833 … hope springs eternal,” but experience tells us the quality of his season is less likely to be Citizen Kane than Throw Momma From The Train. Excepting a handful of roster battles and unfortunate injuries, spring training gives us precious little insight as to what kind of season we have in store.
Like many of you, I spent time this past weekend preparing for a fantasy draft or auction, typing lists of player names into spreadsheets, ranking them, and assembling a draft strategy. A large number of factors come into play when ranking players—age, long-term vs. short-term value, positional need, injury risk, ceiling vs. likelihood of meeting it, and whether the player is on a team you’re comfortable rooting for. However, there’s one final tiebreaker for me that can come into play: whether or not I like the player’s name. All else being equal, I’ll take the player whose moniker is more enjoyable for me to say, type, or think about.