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I hope (and expect) that no matter how excellent our understanding of sabermetrics becomes, the occasional outlier-one who defies quantitative description and can only be fully appreciated qualitatively-will still come along. While statisticians are adept at describing mere mortals, we should need poets to tell the tales of the true immortals.
A couple corrections. You added an extra billion there (give or take a hundred million.)
Also, by any measure, the majority of the New Yankee Stadium's cost was borne by the Yankees, unlike many of the new stadiums around the country. Certainly, the Stadium was publicly-financed in part by both direct public subsidies and through tax-free municipal bonds. But I think you're incorrect when you say that the scale of Steinbrenner's fleecing is greater than that of other owners.
"...the Giants went low (because) they don't want to go to a hearing."
But by going low, the Giants eliminated any leverage they would have in settlement negotiations. Increasing the distance between their number and Lincecum's only decreases the likelihood of a settlement, since (a) a larger difference between reserve prices makes negotiation more difficult, and (b) it gives Lincecum less incentive to compromise, since he can probably win outright.
Another oddity of the system is that in normal litigation, there is an incentive to assert publicly that your demands are extremely reasonable given the circumstances, and should carry more weight than the unreasonable demands of your opponent.
In either-or arbitration, there is an incentive to indicate that you will ask for some crazy number which will never be granted, in order to sucker your opponent into submitting a less reasonable number than they otherwise would have.
I suspect this is what happened in the Lincecum case. Rumors have been spreading of his agents' intention to submit 20+ million dollars, which seems to have caused the Giants to confidently lowball. That has left Lincecum's record high actual number as the more reasonable option, even if it's slightly on the high side.
(T)RIPS: (Team) Reports of Injuries, Psychological disorders, and/or Sicknesses.
I would like to talk about the claim that the line between steroids and coffee is arbitrary. It certainly is arbitrary.
But baseball is a game. In a game, every rule is, at some level, arbitrary. Why do players run the bases counterclockwise, and not clockwise? It's arbitrary. Why is it three strikes and you're out? It's arbitrary. People could have picked any number. Three seemed right.
What ultimately matters is not what the particular rules are at any given time, only that everyone is playing by the same rules. If one guy got four strikes every time he were up, you might look askance at his OBP when comparing him to those who only were given three. And if a certain player took a drug that other players were legally forbidden from taking, you should look askance at his accomplishments as well.
That the drug is only forbidden as the result of an arbitrary rule is irrelevant to the examination of that player's actions. The rule is the rule because it's the rule, and any advantage a player gains from violating that rule is unfair, and that player's career is tarnished for that violation.
In this case there is no "hypothetical dollar;" the contracts are guaranteed. To the extent that you might not get the dollar, an accurate discount rate incorporates that risk. For example, if there is a .1% chance per year that the world will end, the annual discount rate should be 100.1% of what it would be if there were no chance of apocalypse. (Is that math right, finance people?)
Finally, agents are not paid up front, they are paid the same time that the client is. Clients would rarely have the cash to pony up the full commission all at once, and part of the agent's job is to ensure that all the payments (including performance-based incentives) are made in full and on time.
Not a magic wand; just let Mark Cuban buy a team.
Also, teams are given way too much in taxpayer subsidies nowadays to place their entire focus on maximizing year-to-year profit and loss. Teams have become something of a public trust, and ultimately, owners will realize profits when they sell the teams. Win now, and if you aren't willing to do that, the league should make you sell to somebody who will.
What the difference between a back injury and a "bad back?" In other words, why should a professional athlete who takes care of him or herself develop chronic muscle soreness, and not merely suffer the occasional strain or sprain?
So, I guess that the frozen head of Ted Williams was too busy?
Also, to add to Joe's list of ignored constituencies, how about a broadcaster? No one more greatly suffers the game's delays than the guy (or lady) sitting in a radio booth trying to fill time.
At least from my perspective, the main reason I have trouble getting 100% behind the advanced defensive metrics is that they seem far more opaque than the offensive ones. I'm not great at math, so I understand that at some level the statistical methods employed will go over my head. But at least I get the general inputs for the offensive metrics. I get that when I'm told that someone has a VORP of X, I get that is boiling down how many hits, walks, homers, etc. they got relative to a benchmark. If you told me a player had a triple slash line of .200/.225/.250, I couldn't tell you their VORP, but I would know it was not so good.
On the other hand, when someone tells me that a player has an "Ultimate Zone Rating" of X, or a "Plus/Minus" of -Y, I haven't the foggiest idea what that means. I don't even have the ability to look at simple outcome ratios and see if they are in the ballpark what I would expect. You can see this in many recent articles about the Gold Gloves, which just throw out random UZR and Plus/Minus numbers (many of which don't agree with each other), without any explanation to justify why one player or another was robbed. No one would write a similar article about the MVP just citing to VORP without any discussion of the inputs into that VORP.
In my opinion, until fans are given a sense of what qualities in a player these metrics are synthesizing, it will be difficult to ask them to ignore all the biases you rightfully point out in this article.
Bailey over Mariano Rivera for Cy Young Honorable Mention?
If the Phillies were to call you and ask you to consult for them, would you say "well, Cole should just keep doing what he's doing, and the law of averages should kick in?" If that's your answer, I would say that your statistical understanding is less than complete. People aren't going to believe that 2008 Hamels and 2009 Hamels were the same pitcher just because you can't explain year-to-year variation in BABIP.
Of the 26 players on the Yankees World Series Roster (they had to swap Ramiro Pena for Cabrera during the series,), 9 made their ML debut with the Yankees in the last five years. And that doesn't include Francisco Cervelli, who was on the roster for the two prior rounds, or Chien-Mien Wang, who won 19 games twice, or Nick Swisher/Eric Hinske/Damaso Marte who were all acquired, at least in part, with players from the Yankees's system in the last two years. That seems like a pretty productive system to me.
It isn't the salary cap that allows small market NFL teams to compete, it's revenue sharing. Salary caps aren't necessary for parity if everyone is splitting similar revenues.
We're getting a little semantic here, I grant you. But one can expect something, demand something from themselves and those they associate with, knowing that it isn't going to happen. To move between sports, Tiger Woods doesn't just want to win every major; he expects to win every major. He isn't going to, but he demands it of himself. Anything short is a disappointment. In basketball, I imagine that Laker fans don't just want the Lakers to win every year, they expect it, and consider it a disappointment when they do not. These expectations are obviously unrealistic; no team not named the Harlem Globetrotters is going to win every time they suit up. But they are only "unreasonable" if they have some cost that exceeds their benefit. Whether the balance works is a matter of personal preference I guess, but it works for me.
As for your last point, you're entitled to your opinion. But I would say that golf is way more interesting when Tiger is playing and winning, the NBA is more exciting when the Lakers and the Celtics are good, and the NFL was setting records when the Patriots went (almost) undefeated.
1) There's a problem with your expectations. As a fan of the Giants, you should expect your team to win every year; if they don't you should hold your team to account. Yankee fans are lucky enough to have ownership that holds itself to that high standard. You can be upset when your team doesn't win it all, but still "appreciate the little moments."
2) To the extent anyone thinks of the Yankees as "America's Team" (a title applied more often to the Dallas Cowboys than anyone else) it's only because they are the most popular team around the country.
3) Baseball is better off because the Yankees exist and are playing in the postseason. Baseball is also better off because the Red Sox exist, the Dodgers exist, the Cubs exist... You don't think that baseball is better off because the Giants exist? I do. If you don't think that baseball is better off because your team exists, whatever your team is, that's really sad to me.
I'm sure that people way smarter than me have dealt with this issue ad nauseum, but if Ryan Howard is ever going to be a truly great player (as many claim him to be) he's got to figure out some way to improve his effectiveness against lefties. You can't be a poor man's Jose Molina against southpaws and be considered one of the game's elite, no matter how much you rake righties.
The second line should read "close plays at first"
One more thing, on a slightly related topic. While the idea of the "human element" on things like fair/foul balls, or close plays seems silly to me, I'm not sure I feel that way about balls and strikes. Does a pitcher having stuff which fools the umpire into thinking a ball is a strike, or a catcher framing a pitch effectively, not feel like "part of the game" to anyone else? What about selling a phantom tag on a stolen base attempt?
I guess my question is, are the skills that allow a player to fool an umpire "part of the game?" Should they be?
Easy solution for replay; in the playoffs, eliminate the two foul line umps (Phil Cuzzi's missed call on Mauer's double proves they are useless) and put them in a booth watching the network feed, which usually provides replays from good angles fairly quickly. If both umps agree that a call was blown (put aside balls and strikes for a moment, for argument's sake), the call is reversed. Perhaps they could each have a red button that they press, or something. I think a standard akin to the NFL's, "indisputable visual evidence" seems reasonable. They would have to press their buttons prior to the next pitch; this would give an advantage to the defensive team, just as the offensive team has an advantage in football.
The only real complication would be on those plays (mostly fair balls called foul) which cause the defense to stop playing, or the offense to stop running the bases. I have no perfect solution for this, but would suggest the rule that if the ball passed the base on the fly, it's an automatic double, on the ground it's a fielder's choice, with the lead runner being called out.
This would correct the blatant errors, without increasing the game length by any noticeable margin.