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Great article, Patrick. I find the joy of the ballpark experience lays in choosing where to give my attention, rather than having the TV producer choose for me. Descartes would approve of exercising your free will, right?
Bryan, as a former school teacher and current corporate trainer, I greatly appreciate the detailed way in which you both explained and applied Bloom. We all agree that "baseball is hard," but you've revealed the complexity that explains the difficulty.
Russell, it feels like you've found another axis around which to spin a "scouts vs. stats" distinction: quick vs. deep analysis. What a terrific article.
I really enjoyed this article. It's a great example of the "victors" writing the history, ignoring the contributions of the oppressed.
Thanks for pointing out the lack of minority candidates, let alone hires. It is indeed shameful in this era.
A beautiful piece that sheds light on a beautiful game. Thanks, Sam.
I never skip an article with your byline, Joshua. How wonderful that the fan in you lives on, despite the rigors of your work. Thanks for sharing that with us.
Russell, your last paragraph prompts a question: can there be a placebo effect as well? If teams believe there are clubhouse guys, and the clubhouse guy believes he's making a difference, then perhaps that can be enough to effect a small change the attitude in the clubhouse?
I love your articles, Josh, and not that I needed another reason to love Bucci, but wow, what a cool gesture.
A really helpful way to approach my draft, Jeff. Great article.
This is a terrific article. I was not aware of Black's contributions, and he is indeed worthy of comparison to Harper Lee. Thanks for this, Sahadev.
Would that be a first, for a ball to land over the fence on the fly and be called an error?
It hasn't been Pac Bell Park for a while now.
I believe the Tugger was borrowing from UK soccer 1960s and '70s legend George Best, who said, "I spent 90% of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted."
A Good Spoil Spoiled
How would a young pitcher, or even a minor leaguer, go about establishing his pitch threshold? Is it a certain amount of pain felt? A certain percentage drop in velocity? The number of days until the arm is fully recovered after an outing? And once established, does it remain constant? How often would a player or organization assess this threshold?
And is candor over discussing pain/soreness another problem here? Pitchers are supposed to be dragged off the mound, not inform a manager when he's starting to feel pain. And can all pitchers even tell what their threshold is? Matt Harvey claimed last season that his arm felt just fine, until it didn't, but some accused the Mets of overworking him, insinuating that they missed some signals.
I agree. What's to stop an outfielder from intentionally catching, then dropping, a flyball with runners on, to try to double them up? Are we going to need an "outfield fly" rule?
I think that was Darrell Evans, not Dwight, in the Tigers' back-to-back-to-back dingers. Dwight played in the '86 World Series for the Red Sox that year.
Although I agree that the severity of the penalty makes this feel like a special case, it sounds like Selig doesn't want to set a precedent. Should he testify in this hearing, every player going forward would make the same request.
Thanks for cluing in us non-heavy Twitter users!
Could it be because (a) Russell doesn't expect Chass will actually read this, and (b) sometimes one's patience runs thin at the utter refusal of people whose job is ostensibly to provide analysis and/or insight about sports to consider *any* new sources of information that might deepen such analysis and/or insight, even years after the introduction of these sources? It seems that every member of the sabermetric community reaches an occasional point of exasperation, replacing the usual polite tone of introducing new thinking. We all have our limits.
How about a pitcher "bearing down" to retire a hitter? Because usually they're not trying ...?
Darvish has to be the second person on the DL, because Erick Aybar is the first person.
That's because there are quantum leaps your boys will make between 4 and 6. Happy Father's Day, Matt. This is a great piece.
This is what came to mind for me, too ... were there ever shortstops years ago who resisted "double-play depth" positioning? And what TV director can resist the visual of a bench coach gesturing to his outfielders, extending the narrative of the manager as chess player? I'll bet we'll see lots of that shot during the CWS.
Also, I'd add the drawn-in infield to this list.
This is what hockey does. The world championships are held right after the NHL season ends, so guys whose teams didn't make the playoffs can choose to play. I think this even applies to guys who lose in the first round. So a few of the top guys don't get to play, but the overall quality is sufficient to make it a legit tourney.
Another brilliant piece, Adam. The final paragraph is almost poetic.
I'm so pleased MLBTV brought this show back. I thought BK did a super job appealing to both the BP crowd and more casual baseball fans.
Matthew, another fine piece about the Sox. I agree with you that Crawford has plenty of upside left in him.
I would like to point out that Bobby V was "foisted," rather than "hoisted," upon Cherington.
Well, managing *is* about the results, and thus the injuries and poor Lester/Beckett performances are primary reasons for the Sox's mediocrity, but when you spend hours a day for over seven months together, how you interact with your players has to matter. Maybe the attack on Youkilis was to signal that there was a new sheriff in town, but there had to be a more effective way to send it--such as, by saying it to the guy's face behind a closed door, not to the media.
Given the injuries and poor pitching, I don't think the team would be faring much better under Francona. But all teams deal with injury and underperformance issues, and respond to them differently. Until the last couple of weeks, the Sox have been on the edge of contention, tempting me to ask that if the manager wasn't so convinced of his superior intellect and was a bit easier to spend all those hours with, this season might have turned out differently.
But that's the point, isn't it? Last season he didn't run out of steam when others did.
I believe the VP candidate's name was Bentsen. He gave us the greatest line in VP debate history (not that there's much competition), telling Dan Quayle, "I knew Jack Kennedy and you, sir, are no Jack Kennedy."
In my professional life I teach a workshop that helps people think more deeply about their work. My company believes that the better you can get at analyzing your work, the better you'll perform at it. And while I do think one reason why people like the workshop is that they feel smarter when they return to their work, the deeper satisfaction our tools offer is the sense of understanding and competence they feel more often as they do their jobs.
I think my interest in a developing a sabermetric understanding of baseball offers a similar feeling of satisfaction. It might be enough for some to watch baseball at a yeah-we-win/boo-we-lose level, but that level is not deep and does not last. I think many BP readers are here not just to look smarter than other fans, but because we really want to understand this game we love at a deeper level. For me, reading BP *sustains* my satisfaction at watching baseball. Sure, I'm still irrational in my responses to how my beloved Red Sox are playing, but I have no trouble meshing those reactions with wanting to understand their travails at a deeper level.
As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."
Brilliant, Adam. Especially for a dropsical moron.
Thanks for summing up the angst which has plagued me the whole season. I have felt foolish for seeing the team's chances as glass-half-full, but now I feel better. Thanks, Matthew.
Sam MIller, thanks for reminding us all that the numbers can help spot trends but they don't limit our individual destinies. For ballplayers too.
Another great piece, team.
I too have felt your pain, Ben. My lapse happened in 2002. I had Stanley Cup playoff tickets and my local Hurricanes made a near-miraculous run to the Finals. After all that adrenaline and intensity a summer evening at the ballpark was like watching paint dry. I lost my love of baseball.
Then last summer I saw an ESPN piece on the 40th anniversary of the first game I remember watching start-to-finish, the 1971 All-Star Game in Detroit, when two African-Americans started and Reggie hit *that* home run and 22 (or 23?) future HOF members participated (Torre will make it 23 or 24), and I remembered my first trip to Fenway with my dad and grandfather that same summer, with the greenest grass I'd ever seen and a Sox extra-inning win. Then I started peeking at MLB TV, and playing in a late-season fantasy league, and watching the World Series on my iPhone at the Nagoya airport ... and my passion is reborn. Maybe the years away are just making me appreciate the game more, but once again I love baseball like I'm 8 years old.
It was Strasbourg not Jackson against the Red Sox last Friday. I'm guessing his 13 K's soured Bobby V's mood for the weekend.
I'm pretty sure Santana's last pitch was to David Freese, not Greene. Just two consonants off.
Adam, thank you for tying one more knot between well-played baseball and well-written literature. Each makes me enjoy the other more, and your article allows me to enjoy them simultaneously.
On a technical note, when I click on the link to PECOTA on my MacBook Pro using Chrome, it downloaded "download.php" rather than the spreadsheet itself. It worked fine when I switched to Safari.
Thanks, Ben--now it makes sense why Bowden's comments have appeared here. He's a guy BP has effectively critiqued for years, so I could not figure out why BP would solicit his opinions, most of which (see above re: "proven closer") are sufficiently wrong-headed to keep him an ex-GM. Then again, guys like him seem to get lots of chances in MLB front offices... .
As a Red Sox fan I'll never forget the image of Bill Lee grimacing and holding his left arm as he rose from the dogpile in Yankee Stadium. The beginning of the descent for the 1978 Sox.