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Exactly how does relentlessly forcing fans to hear an awful song every night honor anybody? As far as I am concerned, the best way to honor our truly brave and horribly overtaxed soldiers is to stop making them fight pointless wars. Barring that, at least play a different, less awful piece of music. How about Ray Charles' America the Beautiful? Woodie Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land? Just sayin.
I think the Stairs at bat was yet another example of the egregiously bad umpiring in the game today, as Stairs saw maybe 1 strike in the entire sequence, with two laughably outside pitches called strikes. Just awful. MLB really has become the NFL (or the NBA for that matter), where officiating in playoff games often decides the outcome. It's why I've long since given up on the NBA, and why almost every NFL season lately leaves me with an empty feeling when it's all over. It doesn't bother me nearly as much with those sports, as I don't hold them as dearly as I do baseball. But it's just maddening and seems to get worse every year.
The 1970's being my coming-of-age as a baseball fan, I remember how the great relievers of that time were referred to as "firemen", there even being a yearly "Fireman of the Year" award. The idea being that your best reliever was the guy brought in to "put out the fire"at a crucial point in the game, often NOT the 9th inning. As a rabid A's fan, I can remember all the games when Rollie Fingers would come in in the 7th or 8th with runners on base in a close game (heaven forbid, even DOWN a run!), and pitch the rest of the way.
The most important point, in my view, is the idea that you should maximize the number of innings thrown by your best pitchers. The relentless specialization of the modern game forces far too many innings pitched by bad pitchers. I'll always regard the Earl Weaver philosophy as best - 4-man rotation, 3 or 4 short-relievers, and a couple long-relievers, often young starters being broken in. But then maybe I'm just old.
I started out this contest with a wildly negative opinion of Brian's work. I thought his writing skills were so bad that whatever he was trying to say got lost in translation. That said, I've been very impressed by the steady improvement in his work since then, to the point that I really do wish there could be more than one winner.
I won't lie - my vote goes to Ken, whose work I've enjoyed throughout, and who finished very strong. But as another commenter stated, there really should be a place at BP for a semi-regular piece by Brian, delving more deeply into the nuts and bolts of sabermetric analysis. I never thought I'd say that, but there it is.
I respect that Tim's work here is well thought out and clearly presented. But apparently I must be the only one who is a bit troubled that, when given the freedom literally to write whatever he wanted (related to baseball, obviously), Tim chose to write about this. Maybe it's just my really bad experience many years ago with business school, maybe it's my left-leaning distrust of all things corporate, but when I read things like "driving profitable sales" or "model their local market" in order to "expand their brand locally", my eyes glaze over.
I admit that this is probably more a weakness of mine than of Tim's, as is my visceral rejection of Tim's implication in the first 2 paragraphs that true sports fans are defined by how much crap they buy from the teams they love. Ugh. I root hard for the teams I love, but I feel no need whatsoever to add my money to the already overflowing coffers of owners and players who repeatedly demonstrate callous disregard for the fans they pretend to care about.
Again, from a purely analytical standpoint, I appreciate and respect what Tim has done here. And if this were Business Week Idol, he'd get my vote.
This was Ken's strongest work yet. While I have loved his humor throughout, I am glad that Ken toned it down a bit here and produced a fascinating and well-researched article and a topic that has interested me for decades. Great job!
I think the uproar with regard to this week's competition really shows the inherent weakness of the whole "Idol" style voting structure, a major reason I avoid virtually every one of these kinds of contest-related TV shows. In the end, it's not about whose overall body of work was best, it's about who can avoid the one major screw-up. Personally, if it were my contest (and lord knows it ain't!), I'd make it a requirement either that voters account for the writers' overall body of work, or that some sort of cumulative vote tally is made, so that if someone has a bad week, but was near the top of the vote totals in all previous weeks, that writer is not bumped. Otherwise, what is really being rewarded is consistency rather than quality.
Of course, this is not meant to detract from any of the three remaining finalists, all of whom have produced quality work.
I didn't really learn anything new, but I always enjoy Ken's writing. Still, to have a table with Walt Williams name on it and not include one of the great nicknames of all time - Walt "No Neck" Williams??? VERY disappointing! Plus, saying that Hack Wilson was built like a washing machine is only true from the waist up. More like a spinning top - big and broad at the top, tapering down to almost nothing. Seriously, the guy had the ankles of a little girl.
Since this is the last of the articles I read this week, I wanted to just say how disappointed I was overall in the lack of "history" involved in this week's pieces. Everyone seemed to approach the topic as "how can I use advanced metrics in a historical sense". I really would have loved to read just one piece that wasn't stats-based, that went back to an earlier time and gave us some historical insight that wasn't entirely based on modern concepts. But then, Goldman IS my favorite BP writer.
This is the first of Brian's articles that I've genuinely enjoyed all the way through. He gave me information that I did not know, and presented it in a mostly readable fashion. This sure was short, though. The word limit for this week was 2000, and Brian didn't even break 1000, but I found the brevity refreshing.
As Christina's comment implies, translating stats from an era of whites-only, dead-ball baseball is pointless in an of itself. That said, as someone who's read countless books and articles on the deadball era, and the great Redsox teams of the teens in particular, the conclusions Brian draws make sense to me. Unfortunately, this brings to light a problem I've had with the 3 articles I've read so far - little to no effort made to actually research contemporary sources for the eras in question. I know there are deadlines and all, but it shouldn't be that difficult to find contemporary sources to back up your data. It seems to me that just using modern data metrics to apply to historical concepts is the easy way out.
Still, this was overall a fine piece of writing, as Brian does seem to have kicked his writing up a few notches these past 2 weeks.
"Forgoing that revenue would be a small price to pay to avoid that scene". HAHAHAHA. MLB owners forgoing revenue! To protect players!!! You're a funny guy, Goldman.
Easily best of the week. I could care less about fantasy sports in general, so some of this week's entries have been slow going for me. But Matt's put together a wonderful piece of analysis that is convincing and highly readable, regardless of its application to fantasy.
I love Ken's writing, and I've been playing some form of Strat since the mid-70's, but there needed to be more of a link between Strat and fantasy baseball.
The appeal of Brian's work continues to elude me. Perhaps it's the English teacher in me, but I can't get past that first paragraph without the urge to just draw a big red X over it, hand it back, and say "try again"! Honestly, does the author know anyone who has a grasp of basic grammar? I realize this is not a grammar contest, but it IS a writing contest.
I really enjoyed how Jeff effortless draws the reader into the world of sabermetrics, in much the way Bill James did for me back when I was a baseball obsessed adolescent. Things do bog down a bit toward the end, but overall this is nearly flawless.
I have to concur with the last few comments. Not only did Brittany fail to execute the assignment according to the directions, but what she did submit was poorly written and, at times, incoherent.
While I personally hope she moves on, as I think BP could benefit from a bit more traditional baseball writing, I cannot vote for this one.
Ken executed this week's assignment to perfection. He is a genuinely gifted writer that I would love to continue reading.
Pet peeve: "their job is to try and strip away..." That should be "try TO strip away". Just one of those common errors that drives me nuts. The fact that the writing is otherwise so flawless just makes me all the crazier.
I had no idea who this writer was before BP Idol. I gather from some of the comments that Brian has a fine reputation in the baseball analysis community. He sure knows more about math and statistical mumbo jumbo than do I. What he does not seem to possess, based on this and his initial entry, is an ability to write in a manner that appeals to anyone without a degree in math.
Putting aside one's feelings with regard to math-heavy analysis, Brian seems to have ignored the rules for this week's entries. The most basic requirement is to "craft an article around one statistic or concept and explain it." If the concept of "Park Factors" is explained in this article, the explanation eludes me.
After reading Byron's initial entry, which I thought mostly well-written and entertaining, I expected a LOT more than what is presented here. As a fellow holder of that always marketable B.A. in English, this reminds me of too many of my own lesser efforts, lo those many years ago, when my love of beer and inherent procrastinating tendencies would lead me to submit 10-page essays written in the early morning hours just prior to class.
In all seriousness, if you're going to tout your writing ability as a strength, you need to do better than this.
I've read 7 of these so far, and this is the first one that I've immediately loved. I really don't get the criticism that this is a "201" or "301" level piece. To paraphrase a previous commenter, this is "BP Basics" not baseball for dummies. The idea is to present a complex concept in a manner that is understandable to a reasonably knowledgeable baseball fan, preferably in a style that is entertaining. For me, Tim succeeded on all counts.
I did not find the writing style "dry" in the least, as others have commented. I guess it's all in then eye of the beholder, but for me, Tim writes with an ease and confidence, both here and in his initial entry, that is impressive.
Oh, and the title...umm...YES.
Have to agree with this, in part. The opening sentence of this article is simply awful. I simply cannot imagine how anyone would allow a sentence THAT poorly written to make it into a final draft, let alone allow it to be the opening sentence!
That being said, I thought thing picked up considerably after that, and agree with others that the graphs were particularly enlightening, especially to the "novice" reader.
Overall, I think Matt does a fine job of explaining a rather difficult concept for the average fan.
Hey Will, great stuff as always. Any news on Adam Jones hamstring? O's say he's day to day.
Growing up in western NY, I didn't really have a hometown team to root for, but I could pick up Phillies games pretty easily on the radio, and fell in love with that amazing voice, and the childlike rapport between Kalas and Ashburn. Hell, even Tim McCarver sounded alright back then. In many ways, Harry Kalas was one of those voices that made my otherwise tortured adolescence seem worthwhile. He made me a Phillies fan (he and Mike Schmidt), gave me something to root for, and made the 1980 season one of the greatest experiences of my baseball loving life. Thanks Harry.
Gee, what do ya think the odds are both would be first-ballot HOFers if they\'d played those great long careers in New York?
Great post, Joe. Can\'t remember the last piece I read that mentioned \"Championship-caliber\" and \"Orioles\" in the same sentence!
Teixeira would give the Orioles one more piece of what is shaping up to be a very good defensive club as well, which can only help whoever ends up on the mound. Not sure about Wieters defense, but Izturis/Roberts/Jones is some pretty great up-the-middle D, and putting Tex at 1B will only make Izturis and Roberts that much better. Assuming the pitching develops (never a wise assumption), this could be a helluva team in 2-3 years.
This is all assuming Angelos is willing to part with his money. Part of me believes Angelos may see this as the ultimate good PR move and a means of rehabilitating his awful local reputation and do it. The other part of me sees him using the crappy economy as an excuse not to do it. Speaking with friends, and listening to local talk radio, I get the real sense from O\'s fans that if Angelos doesn\'t make a big offer to get Teixeira, he\'ll never win the fans back.
I\'ve stated for years that the O\'s would never win anything again with Angelos as owner. Sure hope he proves me wrong.
Great article, Joe. I\'ve long thought Moose to be a first-ballot HOFer. To me, a great comparison is with another great Oriole, Jim Palmer, a pitcher no one would ever call a borderline HOFer. The only difference between Moose and Palmer, in my view, is the context in which their careers played out. Palmer played for great teams with very good defenses, during an era in which starters threw a ton of innings, mostly in 4-man rotations, in a relatively low-scoring environment. If you subtract Palmer\'s injury-plagued 49-inning 1967 season, they both pitched 17 relatively full seasons and 1 half-season. Palmer\'s ERA+ is 126, Mussina\'s is 123. Palmer\'s career WHIP was 1.180, Moose\'s was 1.192. The only real difference is IP and decisions, numbers Moose has no control over.
I suspect that Moose will get into the HOF, but it might take a couple years, due to the mind-numbing stupidity of so many voters.