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I was a Marlins season ticket holder from 2007 to 2012 (yep, that was me), the first year in the new stadium. At a town hall, team president David Samson was asked when the Marlins would host an All-Star Game. His answer was something like, "There are no promises -- but I wouldn't be out of town in July 2015." Of course, a few months later the Marlins did another player purge, embarrassing MLB, and the 2015 game was awarded to Cincinnati. The Fish were also supposed to host the 2000 game, but that was switched out to Atlanta. The reason given was that Dolphin Stadium wasn't suitable -- but it wasn't any less suitable than it was when the game was awarded. Most think it was because of the 1998 player purge.
Great article. Stanton seems to go through one really nasty slump per season -- he had a road trip in late July or early August where he barely got a hit. It appeared like he was getting fooled a lot or not seeing the ball well. It would be interesting to compare his swing during that period to see if a flaw had crept in or if it was just one of those things.
Good article. Beyond pitch counts, there is today's five-man rotation compared to the four-man that was common until the 1980s. As Bill James once said, if you are taking eight starts each from your best, second-best, third-best and fourth-best pitch and giving those 32 to your fifth, there better be an upside -- and given the rising number of injuries, I am not convinced there is. During those four-man days, guys like Ryan and others would pitch 300 or more innings a year. No one has done that since Steve Carlton in 1980. Now, the league leaders are in the 230 to 250 range.
Interesting article and an eye-opener about life in the minors, but I fear quitting was a mistake if you want to make it in baseball. Even more so than many professions, in baseball everyone knows everyone. Every assistant GM thinking about hiring you for a job more to your liking is going to call his counterpart at the Potomacs and will be told, "He couldn't handle it and quit" and that will be that. They won't have time or reason to dig any deeper -- heck, many of them probably started out doing the job you left and carry it as a badge of honor. I hope I'm wrong for your sake.
If that call is in line with the letter and spirit of the rules, which I doubt, then MLB should adopt the rule used in senior-citizen softball to prevent collisions. Instead of running toward the plate, the runner would race toward a line drawn from home plate to the screen. If he crosses the line before the catcher touches the plate while holding he ball, he is safe. Otherwise, he's out. No collisions, no obstruction, cut-and-dry. Sure, it's not baseball but neither is this.
Before the 1980s or so, were players even suspended for charging the mound without some sort of aggravating circumstance like taking your bat along for company? And an eight-game suspension for a guy making the minimum is going t cost him $10,000 and for a guy making $5 million that is going to cost him about $100,000 -- do I really want to smack the pitcher that bad? Add in the injury factor and maybe it's obvious why charging the mound is no longer common.
Make that Yunel Escobar. My bad.
This is picayune, but in the Rays-Marlins game recap, Mathis only threw out one base stealer. On the other, Yuni Escobar singled. The throw came into Marlins second baseman Ed Lucas, who lobbed it back to Alvarez. As they walked back to their positions, Escobar broke for second. Alvarez spun and threw back to Lucas, who tagged Escobar out on a bang-bang play that had no good replay angles because it also surprised the cameramen.
That didn't take long -- the Marlins released Henry Rodriguez.
I listened to the Fernandez-Wood duel during my 35-minute drive home last night. I started the car in the top of the fifth and got home after the bottom of the seventh. It's amazing how time flies if pitchers throw strikes.
I love how Jerry Meals says it was a different era of umpiring, as if the rules of what constitutes a strike once included several inches on the far side of the plate. I never understood why baseball let umpires ignore the rulebook strike zone for over a decade and call whatever pitch they wanted a strike, just as long as they were somewhat consistent about it.
Would the Marlins really go with Hand and Koehler if two pitchers went down for an extended period or would they call up Andrew Heaney and/or Justin Nicolino?
Old Hoss Radbourn is still clamoring for the one-man rotation.
When the trend to a five-man rotation began, Bill James gave a good analysis -- you are taking eight starts from your best starter, eight from your second-best, eight from your third and eight from your fourth and giving them to your fifth-best starter. Your payoff better be obvious if you are doing that and I don't think it is.
The Dodgers in 1966 had a four-man rotation (Koufax, Drysdale, Osteen and Sutton) that started 154 of 162 games, with reliever Joe Moeller picking up the other eight -- mostly during or around doubleheaders.
I realize there is a priority list, but that doesn't mean the shortstop calls for a pop fly hit right to the third baseman, even if he can get there. The only player that happens with is the pitcher and it makes no sense most of the time. If the ball is coming right to him, he should catch it. Again, it ain't that hard and doing anything else complicates that matter.
I will never understand why pitchers don't catch pop flies that are hit right to them, something most of us who aren't big leaguers mastered by 12. Wainwright had to take two steps to catch that ball and backed off because he thought a catcher running 55 feet was a better option. Through high school, pitchers catch pop ups - then suddenly stop in colleges and the pros.
Some of my friends last night were arguing about pitchers not being athletic enough. We are talking about catching a routine pop fly, not running down a ball in the gap. It ain't that hard. Most botched pop ups on the infield happen because the guy who was closest -- the pitcher -- moved out of the way so four guys have to run to a spot and then get clear which one will take it.
I can see it during a day game because pitchers don't wear shades, but otherwise just catch the ball.
Some props to the St. Louis official scorer -- there have been some who would have preserved the no-no by ruling an error on Kozma's throw. Fans of a certain age will remember in 1979 when Angels CF Rick Miller got an eighth-inning error on a failed diving catch as the scorer tried to preserve a no-hitter for Nolan Ryan against the Yankees on national TV. It got broken up later on a Reggie Jackson smash that couldn't be fudged. And there have been others.
Back in 2010, Murphy had a great month with the Marlins as a mid-season call up, posting a 1.052 OPS. Then he fell down chasing a pop-up and dislocated his wrist -- a really nasty accident. That was that.
About 40 years ago, I remember MLB did an experiment in spring training where they put down chalk lines radiating from the rubber at about 45 degree angles toward both the first and third base lines. The rule was that the front foot of a lefty throwing to first and a righty throwing to third (yeah, right)would have to clear that line or a balk would be called. But the lines were eliminated once the regular season began and were never seen again. I think it would be a good idea as it would eliminate the guess work the umpires now employ and would prevent Pettitte and other lefties from doing that move where they kinda sorta step toward first.
Re the Pirates comment -- Yes, the Bucs have joined this list of teams that have lost series to the Marlins in the last month: the Cardinals, Giants, Braves and Nats all beat them to it. As noted in an article elsewhere, maybe the Marlins, given their rotation, aren't the 29th team at the moment -- would you rather be them, the Phillies or the White Sox right now?
For Fernandez's start yesterday, I was sitting directly behind home plate in the lower deck. His curve was a thing of beauty -- disguised well with a huge break and drop and speed differential from his fastball. It's too bad Fox decided to spend the inning Fernandez pitched in the All-Star Game talking to Jason Grilli rather than tell his interesting backstory to a national audience. Given the Marlins' young and promising rotation, Cishek learning how to tame lefties and Stanton, as a Miamian I would be feeling optimistic except I can't shake the fear Loria will trade them all once they hit arbitration.
Stanton is the 10th youngest player to hit 100 homers. Four of the other nine are in the HOF, two of the others (Griffey and Pujols) will be and a third (A-Rod) would be except for PEDs. So seven out of the other nine had HOF-worthy careers, Andruw Jones is close and Tony Conigliaro got hit in the face. I don't think the scout is out of line.
1.Mel Ott, Giants -- 22 years, 132 days
2.Tony Conigliaro, Red Sox -- 22 years, 197 days
3.Mathews -- 22 years, 292 days
4.Alex Rodriguez, Mariners -- 23 years, 16 days
5.Andruw Jones, Braves -- 23 years, 62 days
6.Johnny Bench, Reds -- 23 years, 161 days
7.Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 23 years, 185 days
8.Hank Aaron, Braves -- 23 years, 191 days
9.Ken Griffey Jr., Mariners -- 23 years, 206 days
10.Stanton -- 23 years, 221 days
Marlins TV color commentator and former player Tommy Hutton was making the same argument as Wedge the other night (yes, I'm the guy who still watches Marlins games) and I wanted to throw my shoe at the screen. He was arguing that runs are down because too many hitters are being passive and not swinging early in the count because they want to draw walks and increase pitch counts.
If that's the case, then don't blame the sabermetricians, but the hitting coaches. Early in the count, I am assuming major league hitters are looking for strikes in a specific zone where they rake and avoiding pitches that they are going to tap weakly to short, even if they make contact.
I don't know why runs are down -- my guess would be drug testing -- but hitter passivity is probably not in the Top 10 of reasons.
Ian -- How bad/unlucky would a team have to be to break the 1962 Mets' record? Their Pythagorean record was actually 50-110, 10 games better than their result. The 2003 Tigers had a Pythagorean record of 49-113, six games better than their result. To be so bad to actually earn a 39-123 record -- can that even be done using bad but qualified major league players without horrible luck, too?
Samson is the son of Loria's ex-wife, not his son-in-law -- he married Samson's mom when Samson was young, so he is basically Loria's kid.
You forgot Marcell Ozuna. If he keeps hitting, when Stanton comes back, Ozuna moves to left and Pierre becomes Herb Washington.
Your honor, the most important skill a hitter has is his ability to get on base. It is the belief of his prospective employer that he would get on base at least 50 percent of the time, more frequently than any player in major league history. If his employer believes my client will help his team win baseball games, it is of no business of the other 29 owners. In fact, the only reason we are here is that they believe he is right -- otherwise, they would be more than happy to let him waste his money and lose games to their benefit. Look at what they have allowed the Marlins to do time and time again -- how many of those currently on the Miami roster have more than one skill that is above the major league norm? No more than a few. I rest my case.
Actually, the term midget is no longer used and is considered offensive because it is an 1800s concoction derived from the word "midge," a type of insect. This is from a Salon article about the group Little People of America's 2009 conference announcing "that the word “midget is anathema:"
“When referring to people of short stature, Little People of America will use the terms ‘dwarf,’ ‘little person,’ ‘person with dwarfism,’ or ‘person of short stature,’” reads the group’s statement. “In addition to promoting positive language around people of short stature, Little People of America will … spread awareness to prevent use of the word ‘midget,’ considered offensive by Little People of America.”
Again, I'm not a lawyer but I think the Americans With Disabilities Act would make it difficult for Selig to void the contract -- and person would surely file suit if he did.
I don't know -- if the dwarf gets into a normal hitting crouch, the strike zone top to bottom would be about five inches and much lower than normal. The pitcher would be thrown out of his normal rhythm and would be trying to aim the ball. If the dwarf walks 40 percent of the time, which I think is a low estimate, that's a better OBP than 90 percent of MLB hitters. And how many teams, even contenders, call up their full compliment of 40 players? A team could experiment in spring training, having a dwarf stand in the box during some pitchers' side sessions to see how it goes.
What, besides public backlash, would preclude a team today from signing a dwarf like Gaedel in September and using him as a pinch-hitter to lead off the ninth when it needs a baserunner? Team him with Campana as his designated pinch runner and you've got a golden combination. (And if you say Selig could reject the contract, I'm no lawyer but I'm thinking the Americans With Disabilities Act might preclude that).
Thanks for the article. I've wondered about BABIP, trying to think about the similarities in simple terms for my simple brain. I find it hard to believe that a ball hit fair off Mariano Rivera in his prime is just as likely to be a basehit as a ball hit today off Heath Bell, assuming both stay in the park. Wouldn't a ball hit off Rivera be more likely to be a jam shot or squibbler while a ball hit off Bell more likely to be a rocket?
Seriously, I was thinking something similar over the weekend. If you could move time and space and put together a team of the best player of all-time at each position, the five-best starting pitchers, the best relief pitchers and a bench of the second-best players, what would their record be if they played a typical collection of opponents over 162 games? Would they win 140 games? 150?
The Marlins have a 30-year contract on the stadium -- they aren't leaving town. But they don't need to draw large crowds to make good money. Even before they sell a ticket they make enough through revenue sharing and broadcast rights to cover the payroll they will now have -- those documents Deadspin got a couple years ago showed the Marlins were hugely profitable drawing no one at a football stadium where they had an unfavorable lease.
I've had Marlins weekend season tickets since 2007 and was on the fence about renewing, but now they have pushed me off. When I renewed last fall, they made it sound like I had better act fast because with the new stadium (which to their and Miami taxpayers' credit is a great place to watch a game) and free agent signings (we are serious about going after Pujols), getting shutout was a real possiblity.
It turned out that in my section (upper deck, 15 rows up, directly behind home plate) there was almost no one within 10 rows of me at just about every game after April. Beyond being a team that became increasingly joyless to watch as the season progressed, the team's promotional items and postgame concerts were a joke. And now it turns out that the commitment to being competitive was also a lie. Even when they traded Cabrera, at least Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller were (wrongly) projected as potential stars - I just don't see that here, short- or long-term. This is potentially a 110-loss team. I'll go to five or six games, buying deeply discounted tickets off Stubhub.
Ozzie has been a postseason commentator on TBS, although I'm sure they were on seven-second delay manned by a guy covered in flop sweat.
After two games of the ALDS, Yankee starters had thrown only 17 of 235 total team pitches.....
Man, that's impatience.
The Rangers lost to the Orioles, not the A's, in th play-in game.
A couple questions for brighter minds than mine: Would McCarthy's injury have been fatal if it happened in 1920 like Ray Chapman's? And would Chapman have lived if he had been injured today?
Ben -- I don't understand your statement that it's a stretch to think that some or all of Cabrera's improved performance this year is because he was taking a banned substance. Call me a skeptic, but if a player is doing better than expected and then it turns out he's juicing, I'm going to credit the juice rather than some personal revelation about his swing mechanics. Maybe you were being sarcastic and I'm being dense, but I read the graf three times before I posted this.
A 30th-round pick in 2008, Sulbaran signed for a $500,000 bonus.....
Something is amiss somewhere in that sentence or that needs an explanation.
Ask Not For Whom the Bell Toils
July 3 -- The Marlins rally from 9-2 and 11-5 deficits to tie the Brewers and force extras. They then take the lead 12-11 when Jose Reyes homers with two outs in the 10th. But then Heath (I Still Have Those Photos, Ozzie) Bell walks the lead off man and, with two outs, gives up 410-foot bomb to Aramis Ramirez, blowing his 746th save of the season.
What's funny about corking bats is that it doesn't work because you don't pick up enough bat speed to compensate for the lack of mass. As Yale professor Robert Adair, the author of "The Physics of Baseball," told the AP after Belle's attempt:
"A corked bat will increase bat speed but won't hit the ball as far," he said. "You also reduce the length of the sweet spot. How far you hit a ball depends on mass. If you want a really light bat, try swinging one made of Styrofoam. The ball would brush it away because it's not heavy enough."
The only way it would work is psychological -- if a hitter thinks it makes him better maybe it does.
When I lived in Single-A cities, I would often wonder why some of the fil-out-the-roster pitchers (the 27-year-olds with an 85 mph fastball) didn't give a knuckleball a shot as it was their only chance of moving up.
I know from experience that throwing one consistently from a mound isn't as easy as one might think - and I never had a professional batter ready to pounce on any flat ones. But if it's your only hope of cashing an MLB lotto ticket, what the heck -- you're going to be getting a real job in a year or two anyway.
I thought maybe it was a point of pride -- "I made it this far with the stuff I have (back in high school, I could throw that speed ball by you, make you look like a fool, boy) and if I could just get my slider to bite a little more and not telegraph my change-up..... Anyway, I'm not going to throw some sissy pitch like a knuckleball."
There is also the mental part -- committing to throwing a pitch that you know is going to get blasted if you make a mistake and then throwing it again after that inevitably happens.
But with Dickey's success, some undoubtedly will give it a shot -- and I'll love to see it.
Vin Scully often talks about Pete Reiser, who hit .343/.406/.558 in 1941 at age 22 with a warp of 7 and was second in the MVP voting. The next year he ran into a concrete wall in August and his career was never the same. He then injured his shoulder playing ball on a service team during the war and came back to have a couple decent years, but by his age 29 season he was done.
"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time" -- Jim Bouton, the last line of "Ball Four."
Peter -- Hanley will be playing third, which despite his protests will be a better position for him. And unless the Mets want to give the Marlins David Wright in exchange, third has been a black hole for the Fish.
As a five-year Marlins season ticket holder, I believe most of the attendance problem was playing at Dolphin/ Pro Player/ Your Name Here stadium.
The sight lines were horrible, particularly beyond first and third base, and every night it was 85 degrees, 85 percent humidity and 85 percent chance of rain. And let's not even talk about day games in a South Florida stadium with almost no shade.
Every person I have talked to who has been inside the new stadium says it is spectacular. The Marlins' local TV ratings are actually quite good, so there are fans out there -- they just chose to stay home to watch.
On the financial side, being the owner of the new stadium instead of the tenant will add tens of millions to the team's bottom line -- including income from any concerts and other events held there. And for all we know, Loria could have been socking away most of the $60 million a year in profit he's been making the last several years for just this occasion.
Red Sox 55 percent to the Rays 45 percent with two games left????? I don't think the computer is taking into account that while the Rays will be playing a Yankee team that really doesn't care beyond keeping their timing sharp and getting some backend pitchers some innings, the Red Sox will be facing an O's team for whom this series is their season.
When NASCAR was the next big thing, I would get into arguments with gearheads over that sport's relative popularity vs. baseball. They would point out that their sport filled venues much bigger than a baseball stadium and that the races had higher TV ratings than baseball's national game of the week.
That was a pretty easy argument to deflate -- when you add up the attendance and TV viewers of the 15 games played on Sunday, they dwarf the attendance at NASCAR's one venue and its TV viewership. NASCAR also has the advantage that each race is the only time (maybe one of two times) the sport will appear in that city during the year. Even my Marlins would likely draw sell-out crowds if they only played two home games a year.
During the first two months of the season when the Marlins were playing well, Vazquez was awful and probably should have been released. Since June, while the Marlins have generally been awful, Vazquez has pitched very well and no one, including himself, seems able to explain the difference, although his fastball seems to have a little more pop. How much of a factor has luck played in his turnaround or has it been legit?
To McKeon's credit, the Marlins did turn around in 2003 after he replaced Jeff Torborg and I'm surprised that's not mentioned in this piece. The biggest differnece -- McKeon had the fortune of first Willis and then Cabrera being brought up from the minors. But he also stopped Torborg's insistence on basing the offense around the steal and the sacrifice (God how I used to scream at the TV when Pierre would lead off the first with a double and then Torborg would have Castillo bunt him to third).
Unfortunately there are no studs in waiting for the Marlins to call up and Edwin's strategic moves didn't stand out as horrible (or brilliant).
I think because of 2003, Loria thinks he's just a managerial change away from his team winning another title.
Miller showed streaks of brilliance with the Marlins where he would just shutdown the opposition -- and then after two or three of those starts he would go back to walking the park. If I were a Red Sox fan, I wouldn't get my hopes up.
I remember exactly where I was when Sabean blasted his own player, JT Snow, for crushing Marlins catcher Pudge Rodriguez in the 2003 playoffs. In my dreams. (And no, it doesn't matter that Pudge wasn't hurt -- that's a roll of the dice).
One thing I learned years ago as a beginning journalist: never put a cute headline or lede on a story involving a serious injury or death.
I sit directly behind home plate at Marlins games and I never notice the screen. If we go to a game and are sitting in the lower deck beyond the screen, I bring my glove because I'm responsible for my wife and kid. The risk is small and acceptable but woulda, shoulda, coulda ain't going to cut it after the fact. It's the same reason I wear seatbelts even though I haven't had an accident in 25 years.
Or the Indians overcoming the Mariners' 12-0 and 14-2 leads on Aug. 5, 2001, to win 15-14 in 11?
As a Marlins season ticket holder (the few, the proud), thanks for the love -- this could be an interesting year for the Fish. Morrison impressed me last year with his command of the strike zone and his ability to hit from line-to-line. Stanton is just a beast -- let's hope the fans and front office accept the strike outs that will come with his homers. And Gabby Sanchez has hit much better than I thought he would -- and he delivers a mean clothes-line tackle.
One correction: You have Coghlan playing second and third in the majors. I think that should be in the minors.
It's already happening in hockey, at least here in South Florida (yes, the Panthers still exist). Icing has been sponsored by a local diamond seller (Get it?!), penalty kills are sponsored by an exterminator and fights have some sponsor that I forget. I've never understood the marketing -- "Honey, that icing call reminds me that I need to get you something nice for your birthday." But it must have some affect because companies buy it.
I was sitting behind home plate during Halladay's perfect game and there was no question that Mike DiMuro was giving him a wide strike zone. Friends who watched the game on TV said at least two 3-2 pitches that were called strikes were actually balls according to Foxtrak. But if the ump is giving it, good pitchers know how to take it.
While Andrew Miller is a lost cause, I still think Maybin is going to turn into a good major leaguer. Because he's been up and down for four years, people forget he's only 22.
As a Marlins season ticket holder (the few, the proud), I've also been impressed with Logan Morrison since his call up and was surprised he wasn't mentioned. He hits the ball from line to line and has an impressive command of the strike zone. He gets his share of doubles -- his only offensive weakness so far is his lack of homers, but he looks like a guy who'll get 15 to 20 a year as he matures. And while I haven't looked at the defensive metrics, he doesn't appear to be a complete butcher in left and even shows some athleticism for a natural first baseman. His arm seems pretty good although he has a long throwing motion.
"Post-season birth?" Well, as long as it happens early in the offseason the team should be ready for spring training.
I don't think it's a fair assessment to say the Marlins "tore apart" their roster in 2004. Only two key starters, Derek Lee and Ivan Rodriguez, were gone, the rotation opened intact and Armando Benitez replaced Ugeth Urbina as closer, which was an upgrade. And the big trade consumated midseason -- Brad Penny and Hee-Seop Choi for Paul Lo Duca and Guillermo Mota -- was aimed at improving the team's playoff chances, not a salary dump.
OK, I should have done this first -- the Dodgers went 9-8-1 against the Tokyo Giants on that tour. Wills played in four games and then claimed he'd hurt his knee and needed to go home for treatment. He instead went to Hawaii to party and that led to his trade.
Growing up in L.A., I remember the Dodgers going to Japan in 1966 -- I was 7, so the details are murky. I don't know who they played. But I do recall that Maury Wills refused to go so the Dodgers traded him to the Pirates -- the late, great Herald-Examiner had a cartoon of Maury leaving Japan on a Pirate ship.
Am I reading this right? Did someone at Baseball Prospectus say something nice about the Marlins? As a Fish season ticket holder (the few, the proud), I give Beinfest credit for keeping the team competitive most years despite the Lorians' penny pinching. I have never understood why other teams spend arbitration-level salaries on the Kevin Greggs and Mike Jacobs of the world. Hermida is a puzzle -- I defended him until he became indefensible. He still might blossom but it's not worth the gamble unless you're a big money team that can afford the risk.
I hope that with Marlins' new stadium on the horizon that players like Josh Johnson will get the long-term contracts they deserve -- and, like Christina said, not getting too attached to the supporting cast should help make that possible.
A study I would like to see -- albeit time-consuming -- is to look at the umpires' bang-bang base calls to see what percentage they get right. Umpires say they get 98 percent of their calls correct (or something like that) but most of their calls are easy and could be made by a low-rung amateur. I want to know which ones are getting the tough ones right almost always and which ones aren't.
Since every game is now televised and has an independent data collector monitoring it, my thought is that these people could mark the close plays and then someone could go back and look at the replays. On the ones that are too close to determine, give the ump the benefit of the doubt.
Go beyond the closer issues, what about the set-up guy? We've all been there, our team down by a run in the eighth or ninth, the heart of the opponent's lineup coming up and instead of bringing in the best or second-best reliever, in comes the fourth- or fifth-best guy because it's not a save or hold situation. Next thing you know the one-run lead is now a four-run lead. The only hope left is that the other team will now bring in one of its shmoes to face the heart of our lineup because it's no longer a save situation and we can get a couple quick runs before the other manager can react.