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I was about to ask the same thing.
With respect to Max's research, calling this framing can't possibly be accurate if you are using just play-by-play data. "Catcher pitch selection" or "catcher pitch sequencing" maybe.
I know this is a months later and you likely won't see it, but I'll be honest: I'm now totally confused by your explanation. How can wings "stall"? I thought the word "stall" literally meant "to stop suddenly and inexplicably".
This a lot like someone abruptly informing me that the word "mathematics" actually means "bicycle" or something of that nature.
There's a special circle of hell reserved for whoever invented Twitter and allowed this pretentious crap to rot people's brains.
Be grateful you don't. I vote that thick New England accent most grating in the entire world.
ANYTHING has to be more inviting than Scott Pilgrim.
You may want to clarify the statement about Votto not leading the NL in OBP last year. Baseball Reference and Retrosheet list him as the league leader, explicitly relying on the "add extra hitless plate appearances" rule that occasionally has arisen over the years in the batting average category.
Votto fell 27 PA short and Stanton just 1 PA short of the 502 minimum. When adding the extra outs both still were easily the leaders in OBP and SLG, respectively. I remember MLB issuing an overt statement on Posey's eligibility to lead in AVG over Melky Cabrera, but do not recall if they did the same on these other two categories.
This is getting freaky now, Ian. Our vegan baseball paths tangentially cross yet again.
Just as I'd been wondering what the deal was with the Kowloon Walled City T-shirt Mark Trumbo had taken to wearing in our clubhouse...and then I clicked on this article.
Nicely written all around with the venues, victuals, and video games.
Notice how that's also leading to other ridiculousness like some teams' only visits to cold-weather cities coming during the balmy month of April. NYY already lost 2 of 3 games to rain on its sole visit to Cleveland, while the Angels are playing in horrifically cold conditions right now on their lone trip to Minnesota.
In addition, we had preposterously backward opening series such as the Angels at Cincinnati and San Diego at the Mets instead of the other way around. At least give yourself a better chance in scheduling by maximizing the games in warm-weather cities and roofed stadiums.
Frankly, I've always thought the very coldest cities shouldn't even open at home until after taxes are filed at the earliest.
Sorry to the fans, but I've just never been able to share in the universal acclaim for The Sandlot or Bull Durham. Some good individual moments in both, but for me they're also trying way too hard to be two different types of movies in one.
I sure do enjoy most of the other accepted classic baseball films, though.
Can BP's prospect people please knock it off with that pretentious "#want" garbage?
Wow, Ian, first you shared vegan restaurant recommendations and now admit to being a fellow Dutch WBC supporter. I am thinking we may have some cousins in common or something. ;)
The headings on the top 5 lists confused me just a bit. When you say "managers least likely to let that previous caught stealing bother them", do you mean they were MORE likely to call a subsequent steal or LESS likely?
Wish I had seen this before you were at our park on Wednesday afternoon, Ian. I would've come crawling out of the clubhouse to say hello.
One of the few things more rare than a liberal in Arpaio-land is a vegan involved with MLB. Would've been nice to meet a fellow plant-eater and catch a break from getting worn out about my food preferences by the players and staff all day.
Lalibela is indeed worth a stop when in Tempe; I will check out TFK based on your recommendation. What did you have at Hanny's?
Has anybody in the history of baseball parlayed a single well-played game into the Hall of Fame before now? Unfortunately, that is exactly what is about to happen when the Flat Earth Society votes for Morris. In that one respect, it'd be like enshrining Don Larsen.
Maybe they can even have Sanctimonious Costas and Hear-No-Evil Morgan evangelize the announcement of Morris's election from atop their soapboxes filled with charred copies of Moneyball while the Most Feared Man Alive! Jim Rice leads the morality police sportswriters in a crusade to burn the next great player who is suspected of suspicious suspicion.
I can't believe the PECOTA odds are that low; of course, I guess the system can't see that St Louis gets every well-timed occurrence that a team would ever need. The odds really ought to be like 95%.
This'll be like two 8-7-1 teams reaching the Super Bowl. What an absolute thrill. Congratulations, Bud. Make sure to keep turning over all the rocks to see if there's one last shred of integrity hidden somewhere that you haven't sold out yet. You're about to be responsible for the worst World Series of all time, why stop there?
ChASS = Heyman = PASSan
Underdog, Cinderella...whatever you want to call it, it's the same thing.
That they went 5 games is great, I'm not complaining about that. It's the fact that the good storyline teams all lost--and how frequently this happens.
By and large, MLB wants what the networks want. Anyone in denial of that isn't facing up to reality. The very idea that MLB (or any other league) doesn't want the biggest markets and most glamorous franchises to advance is ludicrous.
One regular-season record doesn't matter. Are you seriously going to argue that if KC puts together a 98-64 season out of nowhere in 2013, but face NYY in the first round that KC is NOT an underdog?
Seeds are a formality, an ephemeral designation that bears no relationship to reality.
The Bay Area isn't a huge market? Oakland, one of the very poorest and least-supported clubs is another "successful team"? OK, whatever.
Cincinnati is one of the very smallest markets in the game. San Francisco is the #1 team in a huge market. The fact that SF hasn't offered a Votto-type deal may be because they had to finance the stadium privately (something Cincy didn't) or simple fiscal prudence. The private-financing issue aside, the Giants certainly have more financial means than a tiny city like Cincinnati.
There's also the inescapable fact that the Giants have been a fairly consistent contender for the vast majority of the last 15 years or so, with several division titles, 2 pennants and 1 World Series victory--which was just 2 years ago. Meanwhile, the Reds were bad for most of that time.
That's still a sure underdog, even if Oakland, Baltimore, and Washington were more obviously so.
Practical market size, payroll, recent success, undesirably to the networks...all things that made the Nationals and Reds decided underdogs in any type of comparison with St Louis and San Francisco.
I don't see how anyone could even contest this with a straight face. The networks and the league don't want them to win. They don't have any kind of recent success to build on. One of them is among the very worst franchises in sports, not just MLB.
If anyone could honestly sit here and try to say the Washington Nationals (nee Montreal Expos) are not the very definition of an underdog--especially when compared to an 11-time world championship organization--then you are simply living in a dream world.
That's essentially even, which makes my other cited points much more pertinent to determining who the underdog is. Recently off 10 consecutive losing seasons and with a 22-year drought v. the champions from 2 years ago? That's a lot more relevant than 4%.
Be realistic. There isn't any universe in which Washington ceases being an underdog to 11-time World Champion St Louis based on one regular season.
And, yes, "not recently won" is a highly-relevant criterion for determining an underdog in any type of real-world scenario. Oakland, Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Washington all were underdogs--some for that reason, but others for that and financial reasons. That much shouldn't even be in dispute.
So according to your philosophy, once Selig started whoring out the season why stop? No, thanks, buddy.
Cincinnati is an underdog when it's just 3 years removed from 10 straight losing seasons, plays in one of the smallest markets and consequently is rooted against by the networks, and has a World Series drought 11 times longer than the team it faced.
Washington is about the biggest underdog there is when the franchise had just one playoff appearance in 43 previous seasons, was threatened with a bogus extinction notice, had to move after operating as wards of the state, overcame a 5-time defending division champion, and faced off against an 11-time World Champion. There could basically never be a circumstance under which the Cardinals are an underdog.
It should also be noted that Baltimore did not need the new format to qualify as you implied; they would've done so even under last year's arrangement.
Yeah, seeding is a total red herring when talking about who was an underdog, I think we're both talking about the real world. Oakland, Baltimore, and Washington are all glaringly obvious financial and competitive underdogs. Cincinnati certainly was as well in any type of comparison with San Francisco.
Cincinnati and Washington also were underdogs in any type of realistic context. The series were "good" from a competitive standpoint, but when the "have" won each of them that neuters any excitement.
I can't possibly be interested in an 88-win Detroit team breaking its World Series drought when they're an underachieving mediocre team from the year's worst division and several far more accomplished Tiger teams never even got that chance or did but couldn't get it done. This stumbling bunch certainly doesn't deserve my support.
No, there's something most definitely wrong with seeing the teams that "prove" on the field that they belong in the next round playing one another: The fact that so many of them shouldn't have gotten that chance in the first place. Washington spent 162 games proving it, St Louis spent 5. That isn't right in this sport--never has been and never will be.
Sorry, but these are not fine narratives. There isn't ANYTHING good for the game about having all the underdogs eliminated in the 1st round, while the 3 most recent champions and/or the 88-win teams who don't even belong in playoffs in the first place get to advance.
Don't even talk about TV ratings, because fans don't care about that in the first place--nor should they. Could someone list one legitimate reason I would possibly be interested in the remainder of these playoffs? The two teams that have won the most World Series have a chance to win another? Wheeeee! The 7th-best team in the AL is still alive to win a ring? Wow!
Give me a freaking break. Selig has his wet dream: Mediocrity is rewarded and, meanwhile, the playoffs get worse and worse and worse each year with the teams no neutral observer should be rooting for winning virtually every series.
This sport has such a tremendous regular season in spite of all Selig's efforts to water it down, but it also has just an abysmal postseason. Nearly every October is the same thing: My viewership is only sporadic at best after the first round because all the rooting interests are already out of it.
This year is somehow worse than any other because it had so much promise when the playoffs started, but all those great Cinderella storylines immediately went by the boards and we're left with the same old same old. I, for one, am absolutely sick and tired of the homogeneity and this format that engenders it. I'll still be reading BP every day, but I'm out of watching MLB until 2013...I've had it.
For the record, I hope San Francisco wins because they're the least bad of the remaining options.
"It's the young star's first big role, Veteran Actor X has paid his dues..."
"I'm voting for the senior, because the freshman will have other chances to win..."
"This is (blank)'s first season. Give him something to work towards next year..."
ALL of which are 100% invalid, totally political votes of the WORST kind and have no place in awards voting--whether it's the Oscars, the Heisman, or the MVP.
If a younger person had the better performance, they deserve the award PERIOD! Anyone who argues otherwise should NEVER NEVER NEVER get to vote for awards.
misterjohnny has it right. Anyone drawing their paycheck from the organization can use "we" since ultimately their own livelihoods depend on the team doing well.
As harsh as it may sound, fans of a pro team are not justified in using "we" because in the end they are simply customers and can walk at any time with no consequences.
However, actual alumni of a particular university are perfectly justified in using "we" since they were in fact part of the school and their reputations/business pedigrees are often enhanced or damaged by the athletic department's various achievements.
Most of the general sentiments in this article about Selig's continual whoring out of the regular season's integrity are dead on (although the President's Trophy idea--like the one in the NHL--is an empty "who cares?" gesture that has no purpose).
However, the notion that the unbalanced schedule is somehow to blame is totally misguided. The only element of fairness a balanced schedule adds is to the wild card race, whereas the the unbalanced schedule is a much more fair format for the various division races. What the critics of the unbalanced schedule always fail to mention is that the unbalanced schedule is also a greater potential ally for competitive balance (AKA the small market club's best friend).
Since there are many more division races than wild card sports, the unbalanced schedule ought to remain. The focus of competitive integrity in baseball scheduling should always be on what is most fair for the division winners, not on what is most fair for a bunch of 2d- and 3d-place clubs who have no business being in the playoffs in the first place.
This postseason seemed so promising before it started, but has quickly turned into a bunch of foregone conclusions. There's still some doubt in the Washington/St Louis series, but the other three are over.
What the sport desperately needed: An Oakland/Baltimore ALCS
What we're going to get: Detroit/New York
Sorry if I am missing something, but I don't really get the Buster Posey shirt. Would someone please explain?
Tremendous profile, I dearly love these history-based pieces.
Because HE is a waste of time.
If, by "competitor", you mean Boston then I seriously doubt that was much of a consideration from the Texas point of view. The Red Sox are not a competitor to Texas in 2012 at all.
At the time Gonzalez passed through waivers a few days ago, there would've been no realistic way to envision Boston finding a trading partner who'd willingly and enthusiastically assume the Crawford AND Beckett deals as an acquisition cost in a massive multi-player swap. Perhaps the latter, but certainly not the former. We're talking about an unprecedented event.
Given the totality of circumstances, I don't see any way Texas could've reasonably anticipated Boston being able to hit the reset button and clear the decks for the 2013 right now in August 2012--or why Texas should've taken 2013 into consideration even if they had known.
Furthermore, even if Boston's 2013 situation was a consideration in Texas's 2012 thinking, wouldn't taking Gonzalez directly from a 2013 competitor HELP the Rangers' chances next season?
I question that assertion in this case. Under ordinary circumstances, you may be right.
The biggest surprise to me among teams that passed on claiming has to be Texas. It was Adrian's original organization, they're flush with new TV contract cash, 1B is one of the few holes on their roster and they're pushing for a third straight WS berth, plus he'd be a market-value insurance policy if Hamilton and/or Napoli depart this winter.
Unless the Rangers already made some internal decision to budget the money for an off-season signing we don't know about yet, claiming Gonzalez would seem like a slam dunk.
From the Boston end of the deal, this has to be considered as quite likely the greatest trade ever.
You are mistaken about that last sentence. I'd never seen it happen once in two decades until that existed.
It really has been a fortuitous season for the White Sox in many ways. I'm actually glad because I've often felt like I hear and read comparatively little about them and feel I know less about the history of the team than probably any other of the century-old franchises.
Times like this are when we could use one of those classic Steven Goldman pieces looking back at an underreported near-miss White Sox season or something of the sort.
Thanks for responding again. Just a few points and I'll relinquish this subject hereafter.
First, I DO blame Twitter for dramatically accelerating America down a path we were already headed...in which anything said becomes fact merely by having been said at all...in which whatever final few shreds of journalistic integrity still remained were strewn to the dustbin of history once and for all...in which the pressure to keep up with this dangerous trend has quite likely been the cause of a fairly significant number of its disastrous consequences. The new problem Twitter brought to the table was that this instrumentality proliferated so rapidly and so thoroughly that we've now passed the point of no return.
The other is that its very existence totally ruined any chance sports journalism had of ever reclaiming its dignity. Newspapers were already a dying industry, and we all get why that happened. Transitioning to the next phase isn't such a big deal on its own, but when that next thing involves the writers literally being pressured to amass X number of Twitter followers in order to retain a job...well, it doesn't take long to figure out the fastest way to do that. Does anybody think the gossipy TMZ-ization of sports that engulfed ESPN is a good thing? Twitter is highly culpable in that. Seriously, when did highlight shows start taking time away from showing highlights and use it instead to show tweets and talk about tweets? Believe me, the last thing sports writers needed was something which they both must use and which makes their relationship with athletes worse.
On another level, the whole thing itself is so juvenile: "Look how many followers I have!"...begging to be re-tweeted...people actually saying "hashtag (subject)" aloud in conversation. If you think all these are just my personal concerns, they aren't. I know of at least two people way over my station who share my identical viewpoints on Twitter, but who feel pressured to keep up with the fact that it's currently dominating the industry and are on there even though they desperately don't want to be. The game needs an environment in which the manager can tell a player in person that he's being optioned before a guy hears it on Twitter first or in which you can talk about baseball in clubhouse meetings and not Twitter.
Thanks for the consideration again, Ben. I'll move on now. Just don't be surprised by anything that arises in the future where this is concerned.
But then the author goes on to talk about Twitter, and should athletes even be on there, and his first comment is more about Twitter...
If you think it's harmless, that's your business. I, on the other hand, see guys having to waste valuable time answering questions about Twitter instead of preparing for games. I won't even go into the lives and careers it's ruined, so let's leave it there.
These are the reasons I don't want to do anything remotely supportive of that garbage. For example, I had to pull the plug entirely on ever listening to any more ESPN Radio because they started talking about Twitter more than the games themselves.
There is a ton of content on this site, much of which I love and only a couple things I despise or find useless. The key is that the headlines and bylines should help me find and avoid the latter categories--however they may vary for each individual person. In your satirical Barry Zito example, you actually ARE doing that to a large degree even if that is someone's real-life pet peeve. Most articles' headlines typically let us know they focus on one player or one team when that's pertinent, so most of the time the Zito-phobe can avoid that content.
I don't know anything about maintaining the graphic headlines for a website, but is it difficult to simply have a "T" or a "GIF" appended to the heading of each article?
That's just it---I have the option to skip embedded video, I have the option to skip articles by a writer I don't like...I'm simply asking to have the same option on this subject.
If I'm correct that you're like some websites and evaluate by the number of clicks on each article, then that's the very reason I want a warning: I don't want to inadvertently contribute to ancillary support of a topic I'd love to see die. On the other hand, if you don't evaluate by the number of clicks then it's not such a big deal.
How about just retiring the word "meme" instead?
Once again: I'd like to ask the editorial staff to reconsider and provide a warning in the links of all articles discussing Twitter in a significant way as this one did. Thank you!
Sutton is a typically bland announcer who does overdo the "I don't know anything about modern society" routine. In his defense, however, despite a prevalent barrage of references to its unreliability I've only ever seen one false thing on Wikipedia (which was clearly placed there as a bad joke) and I don't know, want to know, or ever will know anything about the scourge of the world known as Twitter...so that is definitely a point of view that could be on the level.
It took me 10 minutes to figure out what VU was...forget about most of the comment references.
Probably the 3 biggest reasons that the sabermetric movement has had to do so much work to overcome the general public's misinformed beliefs about baseball are the pitcher win, the RBI, and the save.
I'm sorry, but I don't follow the methodology used.
If Team A acquired an everyday second baseman who replaced a rotating cast of stiffs at that position, then I understand measuring New Guy's production against an aggregate of the stiffs' expected future production prorated by (past) playing time.
Where you have me confused is the notion that Team B's new starting pitcher acquisition is somehow replacing a portion of the expected future production by other starters who REMAIN in the rotation. New Pitcher can't possibly be replacing anything other than the (presumed) revolving door in the 5th slot that gets bumped to make room, unless there's some extremely unusual set of circumstances.
Suddenly Susan must've been very, very funny indeed...
I'd say it's much more likely that Torii bunted on his own in the 1st inning of that 4th game. No matter whose decision it was, I also understood why and the philosophy wasn't wrong on this occasion.
Toronto's trade of Roy Halladay to Philadelphia also might qualify to be included in such an analysis, and right now you could definitely say his absence hurt the 2012 Blue Jay team quite a bit (aside from the separate question of whether he'd still have gotten hurt had he remained in Toronto).
None of this should be surprising at all for an organization that:
A) Failed to use the surplus of tweener-type OFs it had 7-8 years ago before they spoiled to shore up the Guzman/Rivas sinkholes in the middle IF, and
B) Stubbornly refuses to recognize that Blackburn/Duensing-style pitch-to-contact types are the baseball equivalent of Viagra to opposing Yankee offenses in the playoffs, but that Liriano repertoires must be shipped out of town for pennies on the dollar simply because they don't fit the vaunted "Twins way" on the mound.
As an outsider, they are a frustrating club to watch simply because an institutional denial is the biggest thing that has kept them from capitalizing more fruitfully on the nice decade they had...and it is that, not money, which was the primary culprit despite the barrage of disinformation that the party-line financial mouthpieces constantly spew.
I've never heard that philosophy attributed to Mack, but if true it's ironic in light of the actual results: His Athletics were kind of the "stars-and-scrubs" kings of the standings, finishing either first or last in more than half his 50 seasons at the helm.
No doubt he was the unknown sire of Heyman, Chass, Morgan, and the other mindless hordes from the Flat Earth Society.
Leitner is also the unquestioned league leader among MLB radio voices in smug self-righteousness; only Costas is as hypocritically arrogant.
As a guy who worked with him at stop 16, I absolutely loved him.
The Avengers and Space Jam are "truly great" films? Wow.
Looking back at this a few months later...wow, I thought you'd be right even with a reasonably normal level of attrition. How unfortunate for Toronto it's been an epidemic instead.
Just wanted to say
The Melky and Lincecum
Haikus are golden
I've come to enjoy World Cup soccer (just that variety) quite a bit in the last few years, but this is still a funny comment...and most of the complaints about it are largely true.
As for the other sports...college football is fantastic, but I'd dearly love to lock all the incessant NFL coverage and its mindless zombie fans away in a closet somewhere so I wouldn't have to hear about it anymore. Its existence doesn't bother me, but the absolutely relentless assault of trying to shove it down the throats of people who clearly don't care makes overkill look understated.
Basketball is a painfully dull sport period, and that's the one bad thing about where I live now: It's the first serious NBA town in which I've resided. Wow, do I ever wish that would just go away. I'll admit to openly despising the NBA and its mere existence.
Hockey is fine as a casual endeavor, but it'll never be more important than as an occasional distraction. I'd gladly watch tennis any day over the NFL or NBA, and while I can't watch golf I do admire their skills. Redneck pseudo-sports aren't really irritating because they mostly keep to their own little worlds.
I often review articles en masse months later, so please forgive my tardiness at commenting...but if Ortiz has indeed lost weight it isn't apparent to me from those photos. The stance, no question.
That only highlights another problem with your proposal which you probably didn't realize: This idea wouldn't give the players incentive to win, it would increase their and the clubs' incentives not to play in it at all.
MLB is the most risk-averse business I've ever encountered, especially closer to the top of the pyramid. If they tried to implement a system similar to what you outlined here, every contending team in the league will strongly encourage--if not force--their players out of the ASG. They won't care one bit about the potential reward of gaining a game in the standings on their rivals, they'll care far more about the risk of losing one.
A raft of phony injuries later, and you'd soon be left with the non-contenders supplying most of the rosters for the ASG...and there go the ratings even further. The teams will argue to the league "you can't penalize us a game in the standings when none of our guys played" and they'd have a great point. Everybody would know that the contending teams discouraged/forbade their guys participating (likely even providing backroom financial incentives), but publicly nobody would admit it. MLB couldn't do a thing about it, either, unless they wanted to answer injunctions instead of promoting playoff races.
Everyone who would argue "make it a rule that they're forced to participate" is naive, because that's a subject for collective bargaining and nobody could realistically expect the union to willingly cede a desperately needed midseason break. That's still another reason for the decline in enthusiasm among the players: The season is an absolute grind and off-days are worth their weight in gold, particularly in the drug-testing era.
They're not going to come out and say so, but you can bet that many of the top stars who go to the ASG nearly every year are privately relieved to get a rest in the seasons that they're finally omitted from the rosters. Guys just aren't going to give up that safety net for an exhibition game, no matter how hard the league tries to title and/or incentivize it otherwise.
Unfortunately this is one Pandora's Box that MLB opened and I seriously doubt they ever could close. Players are generally only excited to go to the ASG the first time or two. After that, they're mostly just interested in showing up for the spoils and the parties. Playing is a total afterthought and frequently not any kind of motivator at all. I'm afraid that ship has long since sailed.
I run into a number of people who are primarily fans of one league over the other. For example, a friend only watches the AL. His team is in the AL and he hates the automatic outs of pitchers hitting. Yet there are also still NL diehards out there who prefer the greater purity of the NL game, which bears closer resemblance to what was played in the old days.
Frankly there's also a pretty massive difference in what the teams are expected to do to win. With the game's two 800-pound financial and media-coverage gorillas both in the AL, you simply have a much harder uphill climb in that league. AL teams may not HAVE to beat both NY and Boston back-to-back to go to the World Series, but they certainly must construct and prepare as if they'll have to do that. There just hasn't been that level of juggernaut in the NL for quite some time.
While it's true that players don't take the All-Star Game seriously anymore, the "blame" doesn't lie with the players. Management and ownership are the ones responsible for turning it into a sideshow, and the players simply followed along once they saw the sea change. If it's ever to be fixed, the parties responsible for ruining it in the first place ought to be charged with the wholesale correction of what they tore down...not by instituting some new system that would punish people who weren't culpable.
To me it was clear when I implied the same rationale could be used to add spring-training results to the standings. It's just so absurd even Rube Goldberg would laugh, that's why I didn't think you could possibly be serious.
When the "solution" is 20 times more convoluted than the "problem" (random assignment of players to randomly-generated All-Star teams through some kind of draft that totally destroys whatever vestige of league affiliation still remains), that's a pretty good indicator that it's not worth pursuing. Sorry if anyone's feelings got hurt by pointing out what I thought was self-evident.
If you're just throwing something crazy out there to generate discussion, that's no problem. However, if this was a serious proposal then it's honestly among the worst I've ever heard. You might as well add spring-training games to the standings, too, while you're at it.
The only thing wrong with the All-Star Game is that Bud Selig and Joe Torre killed it. Torre started treating it like a Little League-style mandatory participation exercise, and the players started responding accordingly over the years. Hell, as recently as the mid-90s Maddux threw 3 IP and you'll NEVER see that again from the starting pitcher.
Selig applied the coup de grace with his preposterious interleague Frankenchild. Nobody bothered to listen to we traditionalists when we warned that the ASG would be among interleague's victims. The chickens have simply come home to roost. This is the cost of trying to fix things that were never broken. Kill interleague and you might have a chance to revive the ASG; otherwise, forget it.
Travel implications are a larger concern than most people think, because it isn't just travel that's affected. Teams want the travel to remain as local as possible as often as possible because it costs the teams a lot less money. Players like it as well, because fewer cross-country flights mean fewer middle-of-the-night arrival times...which doesn't get the players run down as much, and greatly reduces the temptation to get "extra help" to combat the cumulative fatigue.
There's also the more far-reaching issues for TV. Local cable and over-the-air networks can't charge as much for ad rates the more often games are broadcast at off-peak hours in different time zones. All that increases dramatically with a balanced schedule. None of that is good for anybody who has a fiduciary interest in the game, which definitely includes all of the parties listed above.
However--as important as those concerns are to the clubs, players, and the broadcast partners--in my view they are decidedly secondary to the most urgent issue tied to a balanced schedule...competitive balance. Right now the unbalanced schedule is the biggest ally of the small-market, small-revenue teams although many of them have not capitalized on it.
Very few people have noticed, but to a fair degree the teams are grouped into divisions with somewhat similar-sized POTENTIAL markets. (That is a key distinction.) In each league, the East division generally has larger potential markets and typically outspends the other divisions, with the Centrals usually bringing up the rear and the West normally somewhere in the middle.
The absolute best advantage long-downtrodden organizations like KC and Pittsburgh have is that they're competing more often against reasonably like-positioned rivals. If you suddenly delete a dozen games against the Twins and Indians from the KC schedule and the corresponding increase is more games against the Yankees and Red Sox, then you're REALLY going to have competitive balance problems way worse than what anybody has seen before. That isn't going to be good for anybody, neither the haves nor the have-nots.
Another smaller, but nevertheless relevant problem is that if you go to a balanced schedule then you might as well not have divisions at all. Believe me, in the long run that would be the outcome.
The reason the clubs don't want that is marketing. Quite likely you can't sell as many "2012 Playoffs" T-shirts in the team store as you can "2012 Division Champions." Nobody is going to run "Playoff Participant" banners up their flagpole, and chances are it also doesn't carry as much clout on season-ticket renewal forms. Of course this is a more ancillary issue, but once again it's primarily the smaller clubs who are the biggest beneficiaries and stand to lose the most if it's eliminated.
There may even be other potential problems of which I am unaware, but certainly expenses, drugs, revenues, competitive balance, and marketing are all vital places to start and easily outweigh whatever alleged problems a balanced schedule will "solve."
This has become such a canard in the 21st century: "A balanced schedule will help."
While it might help this issue, rest assured that many more things would be hurt by a balanced schedule than helped.
The NFL system is the LAST thing anybody should want. What the hell kind of system says "Yeah, yeah...we know our officials will blow some calls, but we just don't care enough to correct all of them--only a couple"?
You said it...this rush to cry the blues for Robinson Cano sounds like something I expect from the tabloid classes at YESPN, not BP. As a Yankee, Cano quite likely hears far worse every road trip.
Personally I was glad to hear KC cared enough to boo. The market has been dormant for decades, and at least the Derby let me know they still have a little passion buried down deep.
What e-mail address?
Those economic conditions also applied when each of these local cable rights renegotiations occurred and didn't hinder the price explosions whatsoever.
It isn't the unimaginably wealthy advertisers and networks who are hurting financially in 2012, it's the potential field of viewers.
Absolutely outstanding. One of the very best items ever to appear on the site.
I sincerely hope this becomes a permanent feature, both in the team-by-team format and perhaps even a 1-30 listing by defensive position. There may be other useful variations, too.
What is this, FOUR posts and/or articles in the last 3-4 days that are nothing more than regurgitations of stuff posted on Twitter?
If I gave a damn about Nyjer Morgan wishing himself happy birthday, a prospect correcting his age by one year, a woman talking about life throwing you curveballs, or ANYTHING Buster Olney said then I'd have an account over there.
At least this post warned me it was about Twitter in the headline, and that's the only reason I clicked on it: To ask the editorial staff to flag all future Twitter summaries in the headline exactly as this post did so I know not to waste time clicking on any of them moving forward.
There's already one writer on this site whose articles I had to stop reading because they're never about anything other than himself and/or Twitter, but fortunately the byline lets me exercise freedom of choice. By a similar token, if recaps of Twitter-related garbage are going to start infecting this website like a cancer then I'd simply like to be warned so I can stay as far away as possible. Thank you!
That was a very serious potential problem at the time, and Nate was right to be wary.
However, it's also equally true that high-risk/high-reward question marks like Hanley Ramirez was then (and still is now) are exactly the types of chances that financially-strapped teams need to take in order to contend. The Marlins gambled on the lottery ticket, and this time it hit.
The color confusion is actually a legitimate complaint, and this isn't the first division profile in which it's been a problem. Seems like there are plenty of colors that could be used to avoid any issue...
I like the "every-team-must-be-represented" rule and will never understand why so many people are against it.
Just think back to seasons when you knew your club was doomed before it even started. Sometimes all I HAD to look forward to in those lost summers was that maybe my team's token rep in the All-Star Game might get in there and have a chance to be the hero for the whole league.
If that results in the occasional undeserving selection, I'm fine with that trade-off. Fans of lousy squads ought to have something to cheer about as well, otherwise they might not even tune in to the ASG. After all, who is really hurt: Yet another good player on the Yankees or some other highly-publicized team who'll likely be getting televised the whole month of October anyway? Wow, what a tragedy.
It's against MLB rules for anyone other than the players, enumerated coaching staff, trainers, strength coach(es), equipment manager/clubbies, or stadium security/police to sit in the dugout during a game.
Greg Maddux doesn't fit any of those categories, so if you truly have seen him--rather than his brother--there during games then there is something illegal afoot.
Once and for all, would people please stop lazily criticizing Sammy Sosa for using an interpreter when testifying before Congress?
I don't care how fluent I was in a second language, if I had to give legally-binding testimony to a different country's legislature you'd better believe I'd be doing it in my native tongue EVERY TIME. To insinuate otherwise is a cynical, baseless cheap shot of the worst kind.
Is there any way that all BP article headlines/hyperlinks (especially in the newsletter) can be flagged to let us know that the article in question contains these GIF videos?
They slow down the computer tremendously and it'd be quite user-friendly if we could know up front which ones to skip when so desired. Thank you.
Toronto has GOT to be on the phone with Livan right now...
The single most dangerous and unnecessary invention in world history.
That is, and always has been, a BS criticism of Lonnie Smith.
Where did you find the team rankings for outside-the-zone swing percentage as well as the 3-0, 3-1, and 2-0 counts?
I'll be honest: I guess I didn't really understand how the zebra analogy applied to Fox here.
The Tigers had Rodney in the organization for nearly a decade, and the Angels had him for 2 full seasons. Tampa Bay has him for a single spring training and makes the shift...res ipsa loquitur.
One slight correction to your article, Geoff: I can assure you the physiques of Callaspo and Izturis are not at all similar. :-)
I'll personally guarantee 72 is not the high-water mark for Angel hit-and-run attempts over this time period.
I realize this comment is months later and you may not see it at all, but your summary of the in-and-out volume accrued in these deals got me thinking it'd be great to see a similar feature on Oakland's massive number of trades consummated over the last 5 seasons.
Just as I expected, Game 7 turned into an anticlimactic dud. We finally had a good World Series again for the first time in 9 years, but the finale stunk...plus, it's the 9th time in 17 years under this playoff format that the title was won by the three biggest current "have" franchises: Yankees, Red Sox, and Cardinals--which absolutely blows from an interest standpoint.
If my family tried that with me, I'd tell them to GFY.
So join the rest of the mindless zombies and go watch it then, you clown, and spare us your incessant parade of inane comments.
This article was totally unexpected, completely frivolous...and unquestionably one of my five favorite columns ever posted on the site. Bravo, Dan!
I can see both sides of this issue, but in support it's probably worth noting that for all the difficulty the Astros have had in reaching/winning playoff games, each of their 4 NLCS appearances has been a genuine classic.
Oh, that one is perfect...well done, sir.
If you're planning on Arizona being in Boston for the ALCS, your travel plans are going to be quite perplexing indeed.
Maybe someone at BP could do a follow-up article to this one putting the near-total dearth of 2011 races into historical perspective. The season is staggering through a just awful ending, with 75% of the playoff spots having been salted away weeks or even months ago.
I don't recall seeing a 50/50 probability represented as 2-1 before, though maybe it has and I just didn't know it.
Can you give examples of how the word "odds" is used differently in different contexts?
Does that method of calculating odds apply to basically all situations when we see probability percentages presented?
I know Nate is no longer with BP and can't really answer, but I just don't understand the math involved in this article. The "odds against" listings don't seem to correlate at all with the corresponding peak playoff probabilities. Why?
Ben, the player rep on our club was DFA earlier this season and later outrighted after clearing waivers. His assistant rep was optioned back to the minors twice and has spent far more of the year in AAA than he has in the majors.
My boss and I both suggested that the players elect a new rep, but to the best of my knowledge they have not done so yet. I have no idea who has assumed the paperwork duties, such as they are.
The real question is why the hell did the UCLA coach unnecessarily allow Bauer to throw 140 pitches in a 10-1 blowout of a non-marquee opponent like CS-Bakersfield and why has that coach not been fired already by the AD?
During the mid-1990s at a prominent baseball program, I personally saw an arrogant college coach ruin a former first-round draft pick with virtually the same unnecessary overuse in routs of overmatched smaller schools.
In a zero wild-card scenario, it would mean much, much more.
Nobody has a set of standards like that and you'll likely never see one.
This site has been one of the pioneers challenging the conventional wisdom that managers can make a difference. BP's default setting has been that managers don't make much difference or that--if they do--it's too small or too undetectable to be captured.
While the industry mostly doesn't agree with that, I happen to think the reality is probably closer to what BP has suggested. However, analysis of that subject is necessarily going to take a more subjective discussion-based approach.
Toward that end, while you and some others highlighted positive accomplishments of LaRussa (and Cox) I wanted to proffer some other bullet points that could be considered negatives. That isn't "picking apart" managers without having standards set, it's having the discussion.
Maybe having the open and honest examination of the ups and downs will help us arrive at a set of standards for which there currently is none. I do know this: Automatically getting defensive about LaRussa and Cox just because I brought up their bad sides isn't going to get us anywhere.
After all, if I really had an agenda and was just interested in slamming them I could've mentioned the personal troubles of both men. The fact that I didn't indicates I'm only interested in questioning the legitimate topic of whether they are really as valuable on the field as many have assumed.
Postseason results are not the be-all and end-all, and I understand the math involved perfectly well...which you should've inferred from my statement "quite a bit more postseason failure than SHOULD BE EXPECTED from that type of track record."
What does "liking" LaRussa or Cox have to do with this conversation? I've been in the game 17 years and never crossed paths with either man. However, it is germane and perhaps not coincidental to note that they both have similar postseason legacies far beneath their regular-season accomplishments. Those are facts, not value judgments.
I did nothing other than state facts about LaRussa's history of postseason failures and yet it somehow got construed as "flaws in your arguments" or "twist[ing] statements and logic".
Some of you were mentioning his history of regular season success. All I did was point out that for every piece of evidence you could offer in support, there is probably an equally valid counterargument of detraction. If you're truly seeking truth along with entertainment, then you must be willing to accept and examine the warts, too.
No, I'm pointing out that his resume looks a lot like Bobby Cox's: A lot of regular-season success, but quite a bit more postseason failure than should be expected from that type of track record.
Why some of you are getting defensive about pointing out his shortcomings is hard to understand.
Admittedly I haven't seen much of Rasmus yet, but do you really think he has twice the upside of Reggie Sanders?
Nobody is ever going to remember Sanders as a forgotten great or anything, but the man is a member of the very small 300 HR/300 SB club so he obviously accomplished quite a bit nonetheless. A player's upside would have to be high indeed to have a chance at clearing that bar.
Your own words are at odds with what you're trying to say: "Having more play-off berths only makes it easier for a team to luck into a pennant."
That was precisely my point. Herzog didn't have the option of lucking into a pennant as LaRussa's 2006 team did. Herzog's only means was to finish first under a more difficult regular-season set-up.
Never claimed TLR was a poor manager because of losing that one World Series, just that's it certainly one of several noteworthy and embarrassing losses under his stewardship. If you want to give him credit for winning with a 83-78 team, the credit lies just as much with Selig's format as it does with LaRussa.
Facts don't make value judgments, they simply are. In this case, the facts are that in his career LaRussa has lost the World Series three times with teams that won at least 103 games. Two of those losses were to clearly inferior opponents. He also had other teams of 100 and 99 wins that couldn't reach the World Series, at least one of which lost to a clearly inferior opponent. He is one of just two managers who has been swept in the World Series twice. Of the two World Series he has won, he had a clearly superior team once and--as you said--lucked into the other victory with a clearly inferior team thanks in part to a watered-down postseason format.
Sorry, I just can't call that a great track record. Not a bad one, but also nothing that moves mountains.
You misstated what the difference in the postseason format then vs now is. Reaching the playoffs at all was far more difficult in Herzog's era. However, actually winning the pennant once you got there was easier because it required beating just one opponent rather than two. That is a tradeoff by definition.
In addition, it's interesting to note that during LaRussa's time managing under the old postseason format in Chicago and Oakland he managed more seasons than Herzog, yet won exactly the same number of pennants (3) and World Series (1) despite having superior talent during the Oakland tenure than anything Herzog ever had.
Derek, could you please direct me to a link that lists park effects broken down by handedness?
Herzog also won 3 pennants for St Louis with only half as many playoff spots available and in half as much time as it's taken LaRussa to win 2 there.
LaRussa also managed the neat trick of having a 105-57 team with a +196 run differential somehow get swept in the World Series without ever even having a lead for a single inning and the next year failed to reach the WS with a 100-62 club despite nobody else in the league being good enough to win more than 90.
Yes, very nicely done with each trade getting its own separate column so that BP can take turns shining a light on all the discrete transactions.
I find it hilarious that someone complained about too many obscure references in Christina's column, when nearly every mention of a 15th-century philosopher or previously-unknown general was accompanied by a link that included more information. If I wanted to understand the allusion or learn more, she made it as easy as possible.
Meanwhile, in this article and the comments Jason used the word "hipster" multiple times, an abbreviation "D.F.", and an author "DFW" without a single link explaining what any of those things are. For the second time this week, I read a commenter reference a "0.9er" without an explanation of that as well. Which column hinges more on obscure references exactly?
This is one of the most confusing moves in recent memory. I can't at all understand why a team as far away from a playoff spot as Washington is would acquire Jonny Gomes.
Fascinating to read a defense of Tropicana Field and the location from someone familiar with it since all I hear through the media is the opposite. I've never been to the Tampa Bay area, but now at least I'm curious enough to check it out for myself at some point.
Tommy, can you please tell me where online I can find data like pitcher pop-up rates?
While I wasn't being totally serious, it does always make me cringe to hear "the modern major-league record" or "since 1900". Drawing a line is both insulting to the accomplishments of players whose careers straddled or predated that time, as well as being expressly forbidden by the commissioner's 1969 edict on record-keeping.
Besides, just on a narrative level I see quite a few parallels between the NL of the 1890s and some of Bud's follies of more recent vintage: Cries of overexpansion, contraction, and franchises shifting leagues; ill-advised attempts to fool with the playoff format; and letting owners have control of multiple franchises at once (Jeffrey Loria, anyone?).
For the record, the Angels won't have an opening because Abreu's $9M option for 2012 becomes guaranteed when he hits 433 PA. He had 416 coming into today's game.
Am I the only person who is totally unconvinced by any of the video/photographic evidence and completely satisfied by Meals's explanation?
I spent over 400 games on the field less than 50 feet away from the plate and during that time saw literally dozens of calls on the bases that were so bad that they seemed crooked. This one doesn't come anywhere close to that standard.
Jerry Meals handled this exactly the right way: The same way Jim Joyce did. What rankles players and club personnel is not the occasional umpiring mistakes, but the embarrassing and self-serving attempts to project an air of infallibility. Contrast the comments of Meals and Joyce with the cover-your-ass routine some other officials have chosen in the past and you'll know the difference.
Jim Joyce was one of the top 5 most respected umpires amongst the players and coaches for his honesty before the Galarraga incident and Jimmy's reaction only ENHANCED his stature for the open manner in which he handled it. Whatever the consensus was on Jerry Meals before last night, I'm guessing he too will get an extra measure of respect moving forward.
Let these episodes be a lesson for all arbiters: Simply own up to the possibility that you might've made a mistake and the controversy fades. There are actually umpires who do this; I was occasionally asked by a few if I'd seen the replay yet and whether they blew the call. Those guys ALWAYS got the benefit of the doubt due to their humility and lack of insecurity.
As for the call last night, it DID look like McKenry made an "ole" tag on the live play. While the replays suggest Lugo could've been out, there simply isn't the necessary three-dimensional depth to say with certainty. Meals handled it correctly in the moment and--more importantly--after having a chance to review.
If the streak continues, I'm expecting another article on the 1899 Spiders who lost 24 in a row.
That so-called "music" clip was one of the most worthless pieces of junk I've ever actually heard.
Brought to you by the Bud Selig three-divisions-and-a-wild-card scheme, expanding soon to another mediocre undeserving future champion near you!
What the heck is a 0.9er?
May not HAVE deserved? That non-advocacy advocacy for Rizzuto is exactly what's wrong with HOF voting in the first place, and was demolished with surgical precision by James in the book. I'm totally embarrassed for the site that KG resorted to hucksterism and Seinfeld episodes as his rationale in true Chass/Jenkins/et al. fashion.
I'd like to see the word "meme" die an instantaneous death. Definitely the most pretentious term of the last 2-3 years along with "going/went viral".
Heartily agree that Houston has been a badly underpublicized franchise, with two lengthy periods of sustained competitiveness and at least one fairly quick rebuilding effort. Seems to be there could be another historical posterity article about how the "Let Yourself Go" nadir of 1991 quickly morphed into the long run of the Biggio/Bagwell/(and later) Berkman contenders we all remember.
Michael, where do you find things like minor-league swing percentages that you mentioned in the d'Arnaud section?
"...but because of his market, batting average, quality of teammates, and the likelihood of a Red Sox playoff appearance, expect [Gonzalez] to be in the thick of the MVP chatter."
Thank you for stating so succinctly what is, has been, and always will be disgustingly wrong with MVP voting. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that your prediction will be proven correct. In fact, I can practically hear Gammons, Olney, Stark, Kurkjian, Shaughnessy and everybody at NESPN (ahem) getting aroused as they rush to get their columns written first.
How do you pronounce Altuve?
The place is a dump and has been for years. It has nothing to do with the McCourt ownership group.
Well, maybe I'm the only one, but it makes me very gloomy to hear the careers of Jason Kendall and Brandon Webb are in such serious jeopardy. Both players did a lot of nice things, and I'd dearly like to see both back on the field one more time if only to say goodbye properly.
This is what happens when you whore yourself out to those fringe fans: You end up bastardizing the core product so much in a futile pursuit of magpies who aren't going to be there anyway as soon as they get distracted by the next shiny object...fantasy football..."The Decision"...Dancing with the Stars...the royal wedding.
Why the hell leagues waste time chasing mindless drones like that is the real mystery here.
Bob Costas or Mike Greenberg? I don't want either of those clowns anywhere near this sport, they might even be worse than Selig.
Jason, what--if anything--do you hear on Luis Jimenez?
Just wow. Jimmy Wynn was an excellent player. We hear all the time about how each new generation is increasingly oblivious to the accomplishments of people of even the recent past, but that is simply embarrassing.
Wynn is not a well-publicized player today by any means, so I can only assume we in the analysis community have more work to do getting his name out there for deserved recognition as we've seen with Blyleven and some other notables. Maybe the Astros' competitive downtown of recent years is responsible for turning away some of the older fans who no doubt remember Jimmy's abilities.
Wait...you can listen to MLB audio anywhere you can get a cell phone signal?
Yeah, but not among the slobbering hordes of torch-carriers who were ready to follow her over the cliff into oblivion in the first place.
Wow, reviving one of Joe's typically pointed (and on-point) columns really hammers home how great it was when he was writing these for BP on a daily basis.
The site still has numerous worthy contributors, but this type of surgical firebrand journalism left a void that nobody else has been able to fill since.
Thanks, Ben. Much appreciated.
His nickname begins with a # sign?
What the heck does "#TheLegend" mean?
My computer uses Safari. Do you have any idea how I would change the font in that?
(After looking up what kerning was...)
OK, understandable. I know nothing about computers, so I wasn't sure if it could be done but I do appreciate the prompt response.
Admittedly this is a small detail, but take a look at the consecutive use of the words "corner" and "Comer" in the middle of the Blue Jays section. Am I the only one who finds the "rn" and "m" letter combinations difficult to distinguish as they appear in print on the computer?
Not that you'll see the name Comer often, but there are a surprising number of times I've seen a word with an "rn" letter combo that also might make sense with an "m" and struggled to tell the difference. Context doesn't always help, especially with names.
Just wondering if it's at all possible to insert a bit more space between the letters when it is the "rn" pairing. I don't have this problem with anything else, so it is not an eyesight issue.
I saw at least one DVD version with the title "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" so anything else beyond that wouldn't surprise me.
I like that Ben and RJ have readopted some of the small details from TA when Christina had it, but there are still a few of those pieces that need to be put back in place--for the sake of consistency, if nothing else.
Ben lists the transactions per team in reverse chronological order, while RJ seems to list them in chronological order. Ben has taken to listing pitchers as LHP or RHP, while RJ uses SP or RP.
I personally always found Christina's formatting of chronological order best because it allows us intuitively to watch the logical progression of the team's moves. Further, I'd appreciate it if Ben and RJ could return to her LHP/RHP designation for pitchers and her 3B-L (for example) designation for position players. That was always vital information for me to draw a picture of a call-up player's handedness, as well as expected level of contribution...especially for newcomers with whom I'm not as familiar.
I didn't know anything about Emma Span other than the articles of hers I've read here, but now I can tell one thing for certain: She's either under a certain age or a victim of the Lucas/Spielberg revisionist-history hysteria if she refers to it as "Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark". The same is true for anyone who calls it "Star Wars: A New Hope".
Just to correct a point in your comment, criminal intent does not hinge on whether the consequences were unintended. Instead it turns on whether the act that led to those consequences was intentional. In this case, it was. Cousins intended to initiate a collision with Posey aimed at delivering enough force to dislodge the ball from Posey's grasp.
Whether Cousins intended to injure Posey is irrelevant from a criminal intent standpoint. Posey is the proverbial eggshell plaintiff in this instance.
A couple of comments:
1) You probably should've mentioned that the two zone maps were from the hitter's point of view. It took me a moment to reconcile them with what at first seemed to be your contradictory verbal descriptions in the preceding paragraph.
2) I've never ever seen a pitcher's GO/AO ratio expressed in the reverse order as you did in the table above. Furthermore, the actual ratios in the chart seem much more consistent with the typical GO/AO ratios seen when looking a pitcher with groundball rates above 50% as Masterson's are. Are you sure you did not accidentally reverse the label in the heading of that column? I find it unlikely Masterson could possibly have an airout ratio exceeding his groundouts to such a degree with groundball rates over 50% and flyball rates under 30%.
You failed to notice the obvious change over the 2003-4 winter that certainly affected Jeter's subsequent results: Alex Rodriguez was acquired to play 3B next to him.
I don't even think the "fifth-ump-as-booth-reviewer" system would necessarily have to result in hiring as many new umpires or increased expenses as one person suggested.
It seems to me that it would be the perfect opportunity to push some of the older, less mobile umps and/or surlier umps upstairs into the booth job where their rules knowledge can still come in handy, but where their limitations and reputations no longer hurt as much.
Their old spots on the field would be filled by guys who are currently on the minor-league call-up list who would quite naturally start lower on the pay scale or perhaps instead get filled by a small group of non-permanent call-ups who each get to audition for a subsequent full-time opening (similar to how it operates now).
Am I the only person who suffers from MEGO whenever the articles mention "p-value" and "r-squared" and references of that nature?
To be honest, I know these things are statistically important but I also have absolutely no idea what they are. Is it asking too much for BP to write a simple article explaining in layman's terms (and I cannot stress that point enough) precisely how and why a "weighted regression" is done or how the other aforementioned figures are calculated?
It would be an immense help if BP produced a column showing how the statistical sausage is made--with as little jargon as possible--and kept it tacked to the top of the board so we could reference it at any time. I know I'd get way more out of Colin's work, for example, than I do now when I'm glossing over entire paragraphs at times.
Just a suggestion that I believe would greatly enhance user-friendliness of this site. Thank you, BP.
Renteria won the World Series MVP award only once, although he has been on the winning team more than once.
I'm continually amazed at the links on this site to obscure musicians I've never heard of and the number of people here who apparently not only know them, but know them well. I wouldn't even know where you hear someone like this.
Not a value judgment or anything, just an oddity I've noticed over the years.
Oh, I have no doubt what you say is true. I don't know anything about the economic situation in the Montreal area, but I'm guessing it's fairly similar to everywhere else in the US right now and political support for such an expense would be hard to raise.
What I do know, however, is that funding a significant portion of the costs from MLB's central coffers would be light years cheaper than buying out a franchise. If the naked honesty to admit that would've been employed 10 years ago, we probably wouldn't be talking about "returning" to Montreal right now. I'm simply advocating for the truth, but that's never been a weapon employed by Selig at any point so why should we expect anything different now?
Yeah, this was probably the most revealing Q&A since Max St. Pierre's. Maybe the Canadians are simply more frank and don't give the same canned answers.
Forget a minor-league team, I'd still like to see a major-league team return to Montreal. Since the intent of the WBC was to expand the game internationally, why ignore the one international market we already had but ruined with the Dr. Kevorkian treatment? Let's get back in there and do it right this time, then watch the revenue stream revitalize itself.
I wouldn't necessarily take line-drive DPs as evidence of lesser baseball intelligence. Your 1908 example is from the height of the deadball era. When every game is that low-scoring and nobody can hit for power, it stands to reason that virtually every man who reached base was seen by both the players and managers as a potential game-winning run.
Quite naturally, I would expect the teams to employ risky baserunning strategies (including hit-and-runs, delayed steals, double steals, and perhaps other tactics) at nearly every opportunity for two reasons: A) It was probably their best available method to move runners around the bases and B) The offensive team might not get another shot.
If anything, a high number of line-drive DPs might even be evidence of excellent baseball intelligence in this case, i.e. the ability to recognize and try to capitalize on a high-risk/high-reward scenario.
DiSar actually returned to the Angels organization in 2011 as a special advisor after several years managing short-season Lowell in the Red Sox system.
I'm sorry, I don't even understand what your argument is here. Care to elaborate?
I can't say I've had an extended opportunity to listen to Waldman, but by default she has to be better than the most artificial, contrived phony that ever existed in a baseball radio booth, i.e. Sterling.
You know what makes a division title "more significant"? When it's the ONLY way to get into the playoffs and there aren't any wild cards.
Furthermore, if "increasing the number of teams in contention" is such an important goal and makes the end of the regular season "more interesting" and "more meaningful", why stop at 10? Why not expand the playoff field to 12, 14, 16...heck, even 20 teams? More is better, right?
I seem to recall that BP has already demonstrated that this frequently-cited "benefit" (i.e. increased fan interest and attendance) inured itself and dissipated rather quickly. The same thing will happen again and even faster this time...or hasn't anyone else realized what's caused all the empty seats and obscure networks at Division Series games?
Selig, as usual, has a death wish and simply can't wait to take what integrity remains of the sport over the cliff into oblivion with him.
For that matter, I'm a bit disappointed that no one at BP has yet addressed what the real reason for expanded playoffs is: Because TV wants to sell people a postseason with both the Yankees and Red Sox involved EVERY year. Don't kid yourself, that's what this is about no matter what the Puppet Master and his cronies publicly argue otherwise. Just notice the timing of the announcement, now that 2 of the last 3 years saw Tampa Bay prevent what had become a foregone conclusion of October planning.
Only McCarver, Morgan, and other members of the Flat Earth Society would go on record with an assertion that preposterous.
I've seen literally dozens of fielders make catches while diving or falling into the stands, but never once seen baserunners awarded an extra base because of it as 7.04(c) states they should.
I can only conclude that it's treated as a gentlemen's agreement not to enforce, like the failure to cite catchers for obstruction when blocking the plate without having possession of the ball.
Is the third bullet point supposed to read "9% of all playoff teams have had a losing streak of at least EIGHT games"?
I'm assuming this is an editing mistake and I know these things happen, but there's been an alarming increase in their frequency over recent weeks and it's not particular to any particular author on the site. One can only wonder if it's due to the effective departure of Christina, but it's certainly not a promising trend.
The graph isn't nearly as helpful as it should be. For example, does "RF-CF" include just shifts in that direction or does it include both RF->CF shifts and CF->RF shifts? I imagine the latter is the far more common change. By a similar token, why is "LF-1B" listed twice?
Steven, in your entirely-correct rant against those Luddites who can't separate the wheat from the Chass, you somehow neglected to mention the argument they would've used against Sabathia on this night: "He should've finished what he started like they used to! Why, the old-timers were expected to go 9 innings or more every time out...they never turned it over to the bullpen..." Blah blah blah, ad nausea.
Everybody talks about the BBQ in KC, but what do you eat there if you're a vegetarian?
There's no need to apologize for writing a couple of article on Royals prospects. Wasn't it equally topical to discuss the same loaded system found in the Tampa Bay organization circa 2007? Every educated industry person knew the onslaught was coming, we just didn't know the exact arrival date.
Probably worth noting that Stairs already played for Montreal before it moved to Washington, so Matt hasn't joined a 13th different team quite yet.
How can you reconcile Werth's red/yellow/yellow line with LaRoche's much more favorable yellow/green/green line when LaRoche is just 6 months younger, yet lost more days to injury in each of the last three seasons? Does the six months of age and positional difference between RF and 1B make THAT much of an impact on the database results?
Otherwise, it would seem to me that the color codes of the two players ought to be switched.
Personally I find editorial comments like Goldman's opinion of Nationals Park very useful. For example, while I've never met any fans who have been to PNC Park in Pittsburgh, the overwhelming number of times it's been mentioned by the media as an outstanding venue actually has me considering it as a potential road trip at some point.
If other writers feel Nationals Park is fine, then Goldman's voice will fade away as a minority viewpoint. However, I'd at least like to hear the negative comments, too. I dearly wish there'd been a lot more of them about what a dump both Dodger Stadium and old Yankee Stadium are and were rather than hearing everyone ejaculate all over themselves about those "great" ballparks.
I've nothing new to add other than to echo the sentiments of others above that: 1) CK always has been my favorite writer at BP; 2) that Transactions Analysis is truly irreplaceable for the baseball, historical, and pop culture lessons it taught in every column; and 3) that the timing of this announcement couldn't have been worse given that I also extended my subscription yesterday.
Our organization has lost multiple coaching staff members who graduated to managerial positions elsewhere and in each case I had the same sentiment which applies to Christina today--I'm ecstatic for the professional advancement, but woefully sorry the person won't be "here" anymore.
And now, despite it being not quite 9AM on the West Coast, I shall mix myself a rum-and-soda and drink lamentingly to the death of the late, great Transactions Analysis. I've always said if I could read just one thing on the entire Internet it would be that column as written by CK. Alas, poor Yorick is dead. Truly a gray day, regardless of the beautiful weather here.
Wonderfully-conceived method of displaying this information, Corey and Marc. Huge upgrade for the site.
While I agree with your general observation (i.e. that the value of the SB gained is higher when it occurs with the bottom of the lineup batting), I have to take exception with that last point you threw in there ("because the cost of making an out is lower.")
I'd say the cost of the baserunner making an out is far higher with the bottom of the order batting, because by definition it delays the stronger top and middle of the lineup from getting to the plate again. If anything, the strategy you've been advocating to your fellow Reds fans should be most accurately described as higher-risk, higher-reward.
I agree with this suggestion 100%. Even as many years as I've been here, I still need regular refreshers on VORP and all the other alphabet soup metrics to remind me what is and isn't being measured with it, what's context-neutral, etc.
Yes, Ken, there would be something wrong with yet another year of watching the Yankees or Red Sox in the World Series.
Why shouldn't they have this many picks if circumstances align correctly? It's basically the best--and, more importantly, the only realistic--chance for an organization with a limited budget to remain competitive.
Furthermore, this scenario is exactly what allows a team like Tampa Bay to load up occasionally for a serious shot at winning as they did in 2010. They can gameplan for one year's higher major-league payroll, precisely because they know it's only a short-term expense and the system will be replenished the next June. Had these picks not been coming, the Rays could not have traded for Soriano last winter and likely would've had to move Crawford or Pena, and perhaps even non-pick sources such as Garza or Bartlett a season early--which probably would've equalled no division title.
As to your point of voting omissions possibly resulting in some players falling off the ballot while Hamlet-esque writers wait for evidentiary Godot, all I can say is you are right about that danger. Don't be surprised by anything that might happen.
A few years ago in our clubhouse, I personally heard one prominent HOF voter holding court with some other junior members proffer the idea that "wouldn't it be great if we all agreed to leave Barry off the ballot his first year so he falls below the 5% threshold and gets dropped from the ballot?"
I don't care what anybody thinks of Bonds, but I do know it isn't the job of a writer to instigate some half-assed premeditated boycott just because Barry didn't provide enough canned quotes to fellate the media's egos...and make no mistake, that issue--more than any drug allegations--is what lies at the heart of the matter in the Bonds case.
If enough writers individually decide to omit, fine, but it shouldn't be some concerted plan of action in what would amount to the Fourth Estate's version of Revenge of the Nerds.
Good, but I actually preferred the Jay "Don't Bring Me Down" Bruce reference.
Here we are, exactly where I predicted we would be when BeelzeBud first proferred his ridiculous wild card-driven scheme. Instead of listening to the dire warnings of we traditionalists that baseball was irreversably heading down a slippery slope that would lead to endless levels of playoff expansion, he simply couldn't resist the compulsion to play Pandora.
Now we've got Stark, Olney, and all the rest of the MSM sycophants completely on board with the steward's folly...ejaculating articles about "adding more meaning" to winning the division via the simultaneously contradictory position of adding more playoff teams.
I am as thoroughly convinced today as I was in 1993 that there is a special circle of hell reserved for every last one of them who had a hand in this inexorable crawl into mediocrity. The day when he finds his way there can't come soon enough.
You said it. What a pleasure to have a World Series matchup I can just sit back and enjoy. There haven't been many under this playoff format, but I'm grateful this year is one of them.
The more I'm looking, the more it looks like yet another game in which the memo went out that MLB wants to make sure the Yankees win.
Although I think the Cano HR would've stood, the lack of review on a play that clearly begged for one is the type of garbage that makes the sport look crooked at times.
Was the combined output of Tampa Bay's 3 home games the most impotent offensive performance of all time for a home team in a postseason series? Just dreadful.
TB/Texas looked like a coin flip before the series, but it's obvious by now that the Rays are DOA and the series is over. Conversely, Minnesota/NY never had a chance of resulting in anything other than yet another NY walkover into the next round so there's no point in sticking around for that.
Guess I can go to the movies or something until the Giants/Braves series gets underway. Hope we're not headed for one more MLB postseason devoid of drama, but early returns are not promising. Thank goodness Halladay provided something unexpected.
Can we please just substitute "New York = First-Round Bye" for all future Yankees/Twins playoff series until Minnesota starts proving otherwise? I badly wish it weren't the case, but these games are a complete waste of everyone's time.
What's unclear about not wanting two tiebreaker games, the second of which would pit two teams who aren't even tied? That's an incongruity which should be easily understood.
Besides being tidier and more efficient, my solution also carries the additional benefit of not extending the schedule needlessly which appears to be a rising concern in the postseason.
Rather than your mission statement, I'd suggest the top priority should be keeping the schedule to one and only one tiebreaker game per league unless two are absolutely necessary to resolve a four-way tie.
In typically Goldbergian fashion, Selig has an unnecessarily complicated solution set up for the potential three-way tie scenario in the NL. Two tiebreaker games is both extraneous and also not exactly correct.
If SF and SD tie for the West at 91-71 with Atlanta looming as a potential wild card at 91-71, MLB will force a first tiebreaker game between the Giants and Padres and then have the loser play a second tiebreaker game with the Braves. This inexplicably ignores the fact that the SF/SD loser would then be 91-72 and no longer tied with Atlanta, but instead 1/2 game behind the Braves.
I do not suggest ending the procedure with just the first tiebreaker game for the NL West, because doing so would leave us in the illogical position of the second-place Braves automatically being in the playoffs while the two teams tied for first place in the West would have only 50/50 odds of advancing.
However, a much more sensible solution exists that would require only one tiebreaker game and avoids the "half a game behind is still tied" paradox we now face.
My suggestion is simple: Since the intent of divisional play is to crown a division champion, settle the NL West tie not with a tiebreaker game but with records v. the NL West. In this case, SD would have a better record against the NL West than SF so the Padres would be the division winner. That would leave SF and Atlanta both remaining at 91-71 and THEY would play each other in a tiebreaker game Monday for the wild-card berth.
Sveum has to be out the running just on general principle. He did in fact have a 25 HR season in the rabbit-ball year of 1987, which is a hell of a lot more valuable than anything Bloomquist or Hocking could ever contribute in any Monte Carlo simulation.
It should be noted that Eddie Murray is also a 500 HR guy with no MVP award who is in the Hall of Fame.
Wow, even if Vargas is slumping lately I'd be jumping at a week which has him lined up to face both Oak and LAA. His 28 IP v. the Angels are his most against any opponent this season, yet across those 4 starts he has allowed less than 1 baserunner/inning.
Who says MLB doesn't have juiced baseballs anymore?
If the $4M figure is correct it would seem to suggest the White Sox assumed some portion of the deferred money.
According to Cot's, Manny is getting just $5M in salary for this regular season with deferred payments of $3 1/3 M due on 06-30-11 and 06-30-12 plus another $8 1/3 M due on 06-30-13. The remaining pro-rated portion of the $5M regular-season base salary at the time Manny was claimed came out to roughly $850K, so to get anywhere near $4M in total obligation for Chicago that would be like the White Sox agreeing to pick up one of the two $3 1/3M deferred payments.
Is there any way Jeff Euston can clarify this issue? We were talking about the claim in our clubhouse the other day and none of us had any clue which team was responsible for the deferred payments.
Sorry, but your reply is too unclear. If the White Sox "assume the remainder of the contract", wouldn't that also include deferred payments which have yet to be made? If not, why? Furthermore, can you provide a link that supports any of this?
Yes, because that has worked SO brilliantly to "level the playing field" in the NFL and NBA.
Just wow. It's absolutely jaw-dropping how many Americans have bought this canard hook, line, and sinker.
For what it's worth, here is one subscriber who didn't even notice Under the Knife had not been appearing until these comments...so make of that what you will.
At least there was also still relevant albums from Guns 'n' Roses and Soundgarden and Metallica in the early '90s and a massively successful grunge movement. Hip hop/R&B was still a nascent phenomenon at that point, not the only game in town like it has been for the last 15 years.
Ever since then the music industry has been like a bad paraphrasing of the scene in The Blues Brothers: "We have both kinds--hip hop AND R&B..." Little wonder I haven't bought an album since the 20th century and quite certainly never will again. Who could've ever foreseen rock music dying forever shortly after the Iron Curtain did?
Anyway, back to baseball...
Forget the Rangers' last October appearance, we need to rewind to the last Blue Jays or Pirates playoff year to remember when there was a type of music other than hip hop/R&B.
Wow, you're friends with Joe Morgan?
I've heard many more anecdotal stories within the industry about how a certain Yankee player is a bad teammate and not well-liked by colleagues for being a phony than I have about Bonds, yet the Yankee player will be employed forever.
Inception and Doubt both suck. I will give Ken a ton of credit for rightly naming The Prestige as Nolan's best movie, though.
One thing that authors never make clear in this discussion and in the Rule 5 discussion is in which direction the $20K claiming fee is paid.
In the case of Rios, I could see the White Sox being forced to pay Toronto the $20K fee in exchange for making the claim and acquiring a new player--which at first glance seems like it should be the default setting--but I could also envision Toronto being forced to pay $20K to the White Sox in consideration for getting salary relief and escaping the obligation to the player.
Similarly, in the Rule 5 context I would assume the original $50K claiming fee is paid by the player's new team to the old team. What I don't understand is which way the $25K fee is paid if the player is not kept on the new team's 25-man roster all season. Is it paid from the new team to the original team in exchange for being wrong about the player and, therefore, depriving the original team of the player's services for that length of time or is it paid from the original team to the new team as a simple transaction fee to reclaim the player?
I'm surprised nobody commented on this interview. Stories of redemption are always interesting and St. Pierre's carries a special double layer with it--both for himself, but perhaps also to erase a bit of the Dr. Kevorkian treatment Quebec and Montreal suffered with the Expos.
Here's to hoping that Max can reach the majors and provide a small ray of sunshine for his personal battle and for the people of French-speaking Canada.
I do like it, and by quite a bit. All these sports are constantly trying to expand their reach to other countries and regular-season games are the best realistic option to do so. I'm totally fine with these ongoing efforts and I'd even like to see it done more often, with a greater variety of locales. Europe and South America ought to be next on the table along with the typical Caribbean and Asian options.
Flip it around and imagine you were a Taiwanese fan begging for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see MLB come to the island, yet instead of the real thing you got to see one of those split-squad spring training road game lineups.
Employee of another club here, and one who absolutely loathes Yankee Stadium...yet Bob Sheppard was and always will be total class, a gentleman and representative of the game cut from a singular mold. What a soothing and instantly-recognizable stage he set for us all from just a few simple words.
Only a select few support personnel in baseball transcend their roles to join the ranks of immortals, but Bob was most definitely one of them. Is there any exception by which he can be added to the list of Ford Frick award winners in Cooperstown?
Scully is in his decline phase, but he's still better than most. What a lot of people don't want to acknowledge is that even in his prime, Scully was not as good as Jon Miller--the best I've ever heard by far.
Worst of all time is a tie between Ted Lightner and John Sterling with Harrelson very close.
Thank you for the explanation, Matt...and if someone is going to give my original comment a negative rating for asking a non-obvious question then I think it's high time for BP to eliminate ratings altogether.
Matt, I don't follow how you arrive at the 29% figure leading off the final paragraph.
I don't know why any column with a paragraph like the penultimate one here even appears on this website.
Are you sure about that? I believe it may also apply to post free-agency arbitration players who don't yet have the additional set of five years' service time that makes them fully free-agent eligible again.
One post-FA player I know who was coming off a three-year deal a couple winters ago was in a dilemma because he didn't know whether the 20% maximum arbitration pay cut was calculated according to the Year 3 salary standing alone or according to the average annual value of the entire three-year deal. He and his agent were told it was the latter and declined arbitration accordingly.
Another winning piece, Steven. This and the spring article on the 1933 Giants have been among my favorites of recent months.
One of the most essential tidbits in these historical profiles is when you cite modern players as comparison points. It really helps me paint a picture of the guy's likely collection of skills.
I suppose it's apt that one of the few times I didn't understand a CK tangent (what "that Barton Fink feeling" has to do with Golson and Winn) it was a Coen Brothers reference because I also don't understand the Internet-wide worship of them in general. Oh, well... :-)
My question is what compromising photos does Fullerton have that they keep getting a cakewalk regional every single year?
UCLA hosts the strongest regional while Fullerton essentially has only a less-than-vintage Stanford squad. It's just like 2009 when Fullerton hosted a similar collection of creampuffs while down the freeway Irvine had by far the deepest regional competition.
The problem with this issue is that the medical literature always misses the one incontestable fact that makes addiction not a disease: Addiction is something you can only get by trying the activity the first time VOLUNTARILY.
I forgot to mention that for the sake of simplicity right now I treated every SB attempt as an attempt to steal 2d base.
Honest question: Is there anybody other than Yankee fans who think the old stadium was nice? I have no idea why it was ever spoken of in reverential tones. Other than the monuments, everything else was an awful experience.
All right, Tango. I used the 2009 run expectancy chart from this site and made two assumptions: A) That each catcher faced a normal run environment and B) That the SB and CS occurred evenly with 0 outs, 1 out, and 2 out. To make the math easier on the latter point I used numbers divisible by 3 so that Pudge had 21-21, Carter 81-60, and Piazza 141-99. Hope you are OK with that small adjustment.
Pudge is credited with 5.19736 runs saved, Carter with 11.26511 runs saved, and Piazza with 17.33286 runs saved. The catcher who faced the most attempts and had the worst CS percentage nevertheless would appear to have a better arm than the other two catchers combined. That's exactly my concern from above, i.e. the non-linear run disparity of the successful and unsuccessful attempts combined with the higher volume produces a counterintuitive result.
This example seems to support the notion that a deterrence adjustment is necessary. My question for you is how can these numbers be reconciled with the opposite assertion and, if so, on what is that based?
One half of Brownson's assertion makes all the sense in the world to me: The notion that Reputation Guy saved X number of runs based on the lower volume of attempts against him. If there existed a catcher so feared that he faced only 2 SB attempts in 900 IP compared to 70 SB attempts in the same time against a normal catcher, you'd better believe that is definitely worth something to Supercatcher's team.
Defense is an ongoing series of tradeoffs that the coaching staff must decide to make, i.e. guarding the line. If Supercatcher's reputation is that amazing, then guarding against the SB at the expense of opening more holes in the IF is a tradeoff his team doesn't need to make and they can instead focus their efforts elsewhere--which certainly has SOME corresponding run value. I simply can't imagine someone trying to argue that this doesn't make sense.
Thanks for the response, but I just don't see how your conclusion follows from the example I gave. You didn't address my point about the volume of varying opportunities perhaps creating unequal potential run values between Damon and Ichiro.
However, I think the real purpose of a deterrence argument is not between Damon and Ichiro, but between Ichiro and a guy with similar ability but a weaker reputation--again, due both to the disparity in advancement opportunities and unequal run values inherent to the baserunners' decisions and outcomes.
I don't know, maybe this is like the Monty Hall paradox where the answer seems counterintuitive and I'm totally open to that possibility here...but I'd like to see someone provide a simple example of numbers that prove Reputation Guy is not hurt by a comparison with Not-As-Widely-Publicized Guy and that a deterrence adjustment is not needed. Right now I don't see that, but I'd be grateful if someone can show me.
Sorry, but I don't think that is necessarily the case.
Everybody runs on Johnny Damon whereas far fewer baserunners attempt to stretch against Ichiro Suzuki. Damon's weaker reputation results in more men at 1st-and-3d situations AND man at 1st, out-at-3d situations. Ichiro's stronger reputation is going to result in fewer of both of those situations, but also result in more men at 1st-and-2d situations as the lead runner stops with increased frequency.
The number of opportunities for these situations against the two OFs is going to differ and it seems to me we would need to know the volume because the potential runs gained and lost probably isn't going to match.
Just reading back over some old TAs, Christina, and balked a bit at the disparaging comment on Brandon Backe. Sure, his regular-season resume for Houston was not great...but the guy also made 6 playoff starts for Houston during that 2004-5 run and 4 of them were legitimately outstanding.
I suspect what Astros fans remain in Drayton's Juicebox probably think of Backe somewhat fondly--and with good reason.
I don't have the slightest clue what a 3G is and I've never seen MLB.tv, but one thing I do know is that Fox's endless Saturday blackout window is a ridiculously antiquated relic of the 1970s.
I'd love to be able to jump between 3-4 early games just like a college football Saturday, but instead our only option is to wait around for Joe Suck's latest smarm-fest on the Yankee/Red Sox/Met game of the week.
The picture is too small for me to make it out clearly, but does anybody know what logo is on Shawn Hoffman's hat?
I'll always remember the day in spring training 2007 when Peter stood with a co-worker and I on a practice field for a half-hour just talking baseball. Great memory from a genuinely valuable guy. I suspect this is simply the end of his tenure at ESPN.
I'd love to fix the economic issues in baseball. Somewhere I'm sure there is a set of changes that could level the playing field somewhat and still allow room for most ownership groups to make a healthy profit.
What I do know for certain is that a salary cap isn't the answer. The NBA, NFL, NHL and--yes--NCAA are living proof.
"Simply negotiate a fixed percentage of the revenue to the players. If revenue tanks - players share the cost, if it grows - they share in the growth."
You must be living in a dreamworld. Yeah, because there is NO incentive in that system for ownership to lie about and hide revenues from the players...which, you know, won't cause labor discord or anything like that. How could the union possibly get screwed? I mean, it's not like these things are already happening without a cap in MLB or in other leagues with a cap...
Say hi to Bud, Bob Costas, and the rest of the Flat Earth Society for me.
You missed the point.
There is no need for BP to run a simulation and see where the Yankees would be without A-Rod, CC, or Tex. We had a real-life simulation called the 2008 season and that roster even included A-Rod, but not CC, Tex, or Burnett. The result was a good third-place team.
That's primarily an issue of volume due to the massive size of the two markets involved, and the MSM's incessant cacophony of round-the-clock coverage of all things Yankee. Contrast that with last year's MSM narrative "oh, nobody will be interested in these two teams" that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The relationship between viewership, public interest, media coverage, and ad dollars is far more complicated than simple TV ratings could ever illustrate. TV ratings without context are like unadjusted player statistics.
If that qualifies as a "great" series, then it proves my point that the World Series just hasn't been very good for quite a few years now.
All three of those players were core guys in 2008 as well and they nevertheless missed the playoffs. Matter of fact, most of the other players were core guys a year ago as well. Who wasn't? Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett, and Swisher. Add them to a contending team who narrowly missed the postseason, and...voila. Thus, the talk about money is completely legitimate and relevant in this case.
In related news, congratulations to the casinos, oil companies, and Wall Street for beating those damn consumers yet again.
That makes it 7 of 15 world titles under this playoff format won by either the Yankees or Boston and 9 of 15 AL pennants over the same time. It's not as big a stranglehold as NYY had during the long run that ended in the 1960s, but it's also quite clearly a major step backward from the title parity we saw throughout MLB in the last 15 years under the previous format.
Get ready for the competitive balance drumbeats to intensify both in the media and during the next CBA negotiation. Frankly, it's starting to get a bit discouraging again like it was at the beginning of the decade.
I felt bad for Phillies fans because as soon as Damon singled to left after fighting off several 2-strike deliveries, you just KNEW he would score. When Manuel insists on playing with flammable materials, even the tiniest spark will ignite the whole bundle.
This isn't even meant as criticism of Lidge. He's been an excellent reliever for years, but this season isn't one of them. A prudent manager wouldn't keep sending him out there to get embarrassed.
Managers would rather march to their doom on the Bob Brenly Green Mile rather than cover for a weak bullpen with the blueprint Jack McKeon used successfully in 2003. Why? Fear of answering questions from the media. That alone is what's paralyzing this industry and stifling innovation.
I'm not contradicting myself at all; you're mistakenly assuming I thought the outcome of THIS series was inevitable before it started. I did not.
With respect for the Phillies' accomplishments, I expected this World Series to be a bit of a tossup. Splitting the first 2 games in NY did not change that at all.
What totally transformed the complexion was losing the first game in Philly. Returning home at 1-1, all you're trying to do in a macro sense is take 2 of 3 in your park. However, using up that 1 loss in the first of the 3 home games--with, as we said, an unfavorable pitching matchup looming in the second home game--is what put PHI behind the eightball. Now down 3-1, we can all start looking forward to the Hot Stove League because this is just a formality.
By contrast, the Twins/Yankees series is one where I expected at the start the Twins had zero chances in a hundred. The outcome of that series is one I would've characterized as "inevitable." This World Series? I said it was "in jeopardy" with NYY leading 2-1 and only now with NYY holding a 3-1 lead am I saying the outcome is inevitable.
Go ahead and hold on to that hope of a miracle, but I'm just being realistic about the chances of this Yankee team blowing a huge lead against an opponent with a terminally-ill bullpen. In other words, it ain't happening.
Exactly what I meant. Philly losing the first home game totally changed the Series. They essentially HAD to win the next two and the first of those came with a decidedly unfavorable pitching matchup.
With Lidge's implosion in the 9th tonight, this thing has passed from "in jeopardy" to "affirmatively over." Somebody will hurry up and give me a negative rating for being honest, but by the same token I'll bet none of those negative voters have the stones to bet against NYY closing it out.
Can we please bury the "anything can happen in a short series" cliche once and for all? No, the Twins never had a chance of beating the Yankees in the first round and, no, the Yankees are not going to blow a 3 games to 1 lead.
The blown call on Mauer wasn't muted because of the subsequent events of the Minnesota 11th inning, it was aggravated by them.
Had Cuzzi correctly ruled it a double, the singles by Kubel and Cuddyer would have plated Mauer rather than leaving him at third and the Twins would've taken a one-run lead into the bottom of the frame.
Point me toward someone who says "well, they had their chance anyway" and I'll show you the type of call-in radio/ESPN lemming who represents everything wrong with sports.
I also know this World Series appears to be very much in jeopardy already for anybody not affiliated with the Yankees or the MSM.
Thus my qualifier "right now." It certainly was unwatchable to that point with all the balls being kicked around and whatnot. The series has improved to some degree, but it's also equally apparent that the Angels have probably made more mistakes in each game--even those they have won.
In that regard, this is hardly a classic series. Still going, yes, but there's also never been much sense that the Yankees are in real danger. It would have to reach a Game 7 for me to get that feeling. Just as last year's shorter 5-game World Series was in fact quite close and competitive, this longer 6-game series still hasn't escaped the "comfortable victory" zone yet.
"Neither team is that defensively strong, to the point that the advantage here could come in the form of decisions and mental mistakes from the likes of Cano, Izturis, and Aybar."
How sadly prescient that line was, and not all of those mistakes were due to the poor weather.
It's not the margins, but the sense of inevitability. I think it was KG who remarked in last night's chat that, even at 2-1 in the 4th inning, the game seemed under total control...and it was. Tonight, is there anyone NOT expecting a Yankee walk-off hit? Now, maybe it won't happen this time...but anybody who is being honest knows it's lurking.
Pretty much in agreement with you on recent playoff seasons being lousy. The 2007 postseason was the overall worst I've ever seen, with only the ALCS not a total disappointment. To be honest, 2008 was the first time I'd watched the World Series since 2003. It speaks to the recent low quality of the matchups.
Yeah, at this rate we could be facing a repeat of the thoroughly uncompetitive 2004 World Series in which St. Louis never held a lead. The Angels look completely incapable of putting up even token resistance right now. It's unwatchable...
I'm still waiting for some evidence to demonstrate it will turn out differently. So far there isn't any.
...yet, just like that, the series already appears to be over after the first inning.
As far as I know, but that's my point. There's nothing stopping a team from employing Rule 5-style "injury" shenanigans to conjure up an immediate roster replacement if a random 16-inning game suddenly occurs.
Consequently there's no need to carry TWO "in case of emergency break glass" pitchers. Have, say, just Boggs on the roster. If disaster strikes, just toss him onto the phony-injury discard pile and replace him with Hawksworth for the next doomsday scenario.
Joe is completely right about this issue, and the lunacy of a 12-man pitching staff in the postseason becomes even more obvious when you consider the rules have now changed to allow mid-series roster replacements.
Sorry, roarke, that should read "the flip side is that *I have* an equal amount of disdain..."
What the Seligian playoff system might've taken away from the 2004 and/or 2005 teams was given back in spades in 2006.
The uncomfortable truth is that 83-78 teams have no business being in the playoffs in MLB. Since they often are, however, you're going to have to accept the fact that some of your best teams won't win the World Series while some of your weaker ones might. Mediocrity is now rewarded, while season-long excellence has almost no value.
I do feel bad for the 2004 and 2005 teams in that respect; under the previous playoff system they might've ranked alongside the Cardinals' run in the 1940s. The flip side is that an equal amount of disdain for the system-aided 2006 "champions." Unfortunately that is the "brave" new world His Czarness has created.
Always said by someone who's on the wrong side of such history. It's not a stretch at all when the players have to answer questions from the mediots every day. Even those players who may not have been aware or weren't there before get subjected to the barrage.
To put it another way, do you honestly think the Boston clubhouse isn't drooling right now with their favorite victim lined up yet again? Sure, they'll say all the correct things publicly and you can talk all you want about how the casts have changed over the years...but what is said and thought behind closed doors is often a different matter.
I guess the gamblers make their money from people who think there is no carry-over effect.
Hilarious that a fan of the team that's won the second-most world championships is bitter about one they didn't win. In the big picture, someone who's being honest ought to forgive 1985 as a trade-off for the gift you got from the system in 2006.
Thanks, Eric. Very interesting to me that your studies show less of an effect in marginal changes to location. That seems to belie conventional wisdom to some extent, although it's of course tricky to separate location from movement. I'd certainly like to see an expanded analysis on that subject if you ever get enough together for an article.
This is probably your best profile yet, Eric, but it left me with two major questions the article did not address:
1) The dropoff in average fastball velocity was far greater from '07 to '08 than from '08 to '09. If your conclusions about the marginal differences in velo and movement being a chief cause of the lesser results are correct, then why didn't the greater delta in average FB velo correspond to a similar dropoff in Lidge's performance last season? Is that perhaps tied to the notion that the difference at 94-97 is effectively greater than the difference at 88-91?
2) You emphasized that the marginal differences in velo and movement from '08 to '09 could've been a primary cause of Lidge's poor performance. Yet you seemed to dismiss the simiarly marginal differences in his location from '08 to '09 as having much influence. Why? If anything, the smaller percentage of pitches in the zone and slight upticks on the corners would suggest to me another variable that somewhat mitigates loss of velo and movement. Perhaps it's not a conscious adjustment, but it seems to me that any and all marginal variables ought to play a part in the evaluation.
I don't understand the 4th paragraph from the bottom that begins "Strengthening the argument..." You talked previously about declining HFA percentages as the matchups progressively became closer and more familiar by divisions. Then you mention a 15.8% HFA in same-metro area matchups and say that strengthens the argument that familiarity reduces HFA. Doesn't the huge jump in that percentage right there WEAKEN the argument for familiarity?
Well, we sure as hell get plenty of daily evidence that everything you say doesn't really count for anything.
Thanks to Dave, Christina, and everybody else for addressing this topic. Seems like a good adaptation that should cover nearly all of us.
Add yet another vote for the old newsletter format. I like knowing when all the day's content is finished being added to the site, so it works best for me as a "one-stop shopping" portal.
Coincidentally there was once another OF for the Nationals franchise back when it was located in Montreal about whom you could have said the exact same things.
He never really did improve the "baseball smarts" portion of his game at all, but the overwhelming physical talent alone eventually carried him to a 30-30 season, an MVP award, and probably a future plaque in Cooperstown.
You can figure out who that might be for yourself, but if Milledge has even half of the other guy's career it will all be worthwhile.
Just for the record, ira, I believe O'Day exceeded the 45-day service-time threshold last year with the Angels and no longer has rookie eligibility.
John Hudek is the first name that always springs to mind for me when this topic arises.
...or Steve Phillips?
Weaver was acquired in a trade for Terry Evans after being DFA by the Angels. Truthfully my first instinct was Cone with the 1992 Blue Jays, but then I remembered all 4 of their wins in that World Series were credited to Key and Ward.
Without checking yet, I will guess Jeff Weaver with the 2006 Cardinals.
I never had the occasion to go there, but Tiger Stadium was always a marvelous visual ballpark on TV. The unique upper deck is definitely missed.
Maybe Detroit fans can take some solace in the fact that they might just have a playoff-caliber rotation on the field this season.
The lesson to take from both Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer is that the next pitcher to reach 250 or 300 wins might be somebody who seems to have no chance at all right now.
We've heard numerous times that getting to the majors early and durability are both more important than ever for future 300-game aspirants because the rotation now gets fewer starts, fewer decisions, etc. However, Johnson did not reach the big leagues at all until after turning 25, and he did not have his first huge season until he was 29 years old. He was durable thereafter, but even Randy missed portions of a couple of seasons.
In the case of Moyer, he reached the majors at age 23 but had just 34 career victories at age 30 and once went 9 years between 30-start seasons while teams were constantly looking for replacements. Jamie did not reach the 15-win benchmark in a season for the first time until he was 34 years old! Forget about 250 career wins; you wouldn't have given him any chance of reaching 150 wins. If this guy had enjoyed even an average amount of success in his 20s, we'd be looking at another 300-game winner in the making.
The twin benefits of reaching the majors early and extreme durability obviously help a pitcher's chances, but as Johnson and Moyer have demonstrated it can still be done without both qualities present--and it should be pointed out that they are drastically different types of pitchers as well.
I don't know that I agree with your philosophy, Bryan, nor do I agree that pushing the #1 starter to game two necessarily sends the wrong message to your team. If anything, I might argue the opposite--that it rather tangibly displays a coach's confidence that his offense and #2 starter are good enough to beat the other team's ace.
For that matter, how would Marks have MORE pressure on him by not facing Fullerton's ace? The greater pressure would seem to lie in an ace v. ace matchup. You HAVE to win that one or you're both behind in the series and already fired your best weapon.
If Louisville's strategy is to split their ace from Fullerton's and essentially concede a 1-1 series heading into Sunday, then the Cardinals would only need their offense to carry one game of three to advance. That may not be such a bad plan.
I noticed that at least four teams who have never won the national championship are guaranteed to advance to Omaha, and perhaps as many as seven. It could be a fun College World Series if enough of the newcomers prevail at the super regionals this weekend.
Your winners look pretty solid to me, Bryan. I might say Oregon St comes out of Fort Worth and pull a name from a hat at Irvine, but the rest are all hard to argue.
I'm trying to figure out how UC-Irvine blazed through the Big West and got "rewarded" with the group of death, while CS-Fullerton finished five games behind in the same conference and landed a regional cakewalk. Texas's regional might be the easiest of all-time.
Bryan, it's interesting that you feel Oregon St is in trouble for an at-large bid. I see them as a sure selection with the RPI, series win over Arizona St, deference to Casey's recent success, and the annual criticism of the committee for shortchanging the West Coast schools at tournament time. Not to mention the fact that they did rebound from a poor season in conference play a few years ago to win at Omaha in what also was a somewhat shaky year for the Pac-10.
Maybe today's trade that actually did occur should be noted here, since it might bear some tangential relationship to the ongoing debate: Gerut from SD to Milwaukee for Gwynn, Jr.
Gerut's reclamation project was one of the few things that went right for the Padres in 2008 and, although he is off to a rough start in 2009, you can understand wanting to leverage whatever value remained in an over 30 outfielder with minimal future utility.
Not that Gerut was going to bring much in return, but by acquiring a player who is more a marketing decision than a prospect we could certainly infer that SD already has made their choice to deal both Peavy and Gonzalez. It should be interesting to see whether that plays out and to hear both Joe and Christina weigh in on the big picture for the Padres.
In a related story, Phillips also agreed with Larry Himes in 1992 that Greg Maddux was not a #1 starter, but Mike Morgan was.
"I like him, I just don't think [the Mets] can win with him." Was he talking about Beltran or himself? Oh, wait...one of those issues has already been settled.
Two rehab starts for a 7-year major-league veteran is like playing intrasquad games at the complex in Arizona. The adrenaline is not the same and any big-leaguer will tell you the same thing. Not to mention the fact that Lackey was making his season debut in front of friends and family in his home state of Texas.
I didn't think I would have to put up with the "guilty until proven innocent" crowd here at BP.
Nice work on this piece, Tim. I'm not sure if I would've been so quick to arrive at the same conclusions as you, but this is a good blend of simple math and analysis.
This definitely still happens today.
One fairly-accomplished active pitcher told me about getting set up in his rookie year by John Olerud, who bailed out in an exaggerated fashion when the rookie first showed a certain breaking pitch. Taking the feint at face value, the young hurler went back to the pitch in a tight spot later in the game with Olerud batting again. The veteran jerked it into the RF corner, clearing the bases and providing the rookie with a valuable lesson.
Exactly my point. While the downside is greater for athletes as compared to normal citizens, so is the upside. In that respect, it is probably no different than the early versions of "horse pills" and "weight gainers"...some of which quite likely had no beneficial effects at all.
Facts and common sense have never stopped people from wanting to believe, though. The general public has ALWAYS been willing to invest hope in "magic" potions carried by snake-oil salesmen. These may simply be the latest variation on an eternal theme. There's actually some slight evidentiary basis for that statement, considering one of the original charges in the BALCO trial was for mislabelling the products in an attempt to defraud their customers.
"Also, why would players keep taking them if they did not have a significant impact?"
I hear this red herring proferred all the time. The answer is the placebo effect.
To put it another way, "why does the American public keep taking diet pills and penis-enlargement pills if they do not have a significant impact?"
If you had been watching the game, you would know that your question was moot. The fan in question was wearing a Longoria jersey.
Nice breakdown of Kendall's career. I may be the only person waiting for a follow-up article analyzing his chances of lasting long enough to break the career HBP record.
All kidding aside, Jason has had one heck of a run. The average fan underestimates how difficult it is to have careers even this good. Here's hoping he can reach 2000 hits, 1000 runs, and 288 HBP.
I first came across Babe Phelps's very fine track record about 20 years ago while searching for the best Maryland-born players, but had no idea about the rest of the story. Thanks for all these narrative profiles of semi-forgotten greats, Steven; this column is like the "In Search Of"/Paul Harvey corner of BP.
Best of luck managing your condition.
Are the Marlins indeed preaching the "pitching and defense" mantra? I don't know; you are probably more familiar with that market than me. One thing is for sure, though: If there is a fireable offense in Miami, it's trying to play small (minded) ball when you have a lineup tailor-made for gorilla ball. Somebody please get the Marlins' infield into Earl Weaver's hands...pronto!
I can honestly say I am glad to have absolutely no idea what a twitter is.
Odd that you compare Scioscia the player to Hatcher, because they were not really alike. Scioscia, in fact, walked more than he struck out every season of his career--which is what makes the shape of his Angels offenses somewhat strange.
The really bizarre thing is that Olerud had just 13 career triples, yet hit for the cycle twice--including once in each league.
No kidding. Maddon generally knows what\'s he doing, but man did he ever screw up on Howell.
I can\'t even conceive of how they could possibly justify that decision.
I won\'t say your game plan is wrong; I just know Hamels is a better pitcher than anybody in the Phillies bullpen except perhaps Lidge.
To me a potential championship-clinching game is actually the perfect time to push a player\'s limits and bring home the bacon if possible.
Keep in mind that the Phillies are also only 3 innings away from winning the title at this point, and this is their final chance to have the last AB advantage in doing so. If you wait to bring Hamels back in a possible Game Six or Seven, then you must start all over again and he will be asked to pitch longer.
Admittedly it\'s a tricky situation, and your strategy is probably fine as well. It\'s just that the Phillies are so close, and I would generally prefer firing my bullets now to prevent the slasher from getting up off the floor and finding new life.
I suspect Manuel will follow your line of thinking, but it would certainly be intriguing to see it play out the other way.
If Game Five resumes Wednesday, I would seriously consider sending Hamels back to the mound. However, if Game Five cannot resume until Thursday then I would certainly pull Hamels and bring him back on three days\' rest for Game Six. He threw only 75 pitches Monday night, so the short rest should be less of a problem given the low pitch count.
Manuel certainly has an interesting decision to make, that\'s for sure. By contrast, Maddon\'s options are relatively straightforward.
I\'ll bet Selig\'s henchmen were too dumb to include a damages provision in the TV contract if this should happen during a playoff game.
Absolutely unforgivable, but hardly unbelievable where MLB is concerned. This is what you get for selling out the TV contract to a bootleg network.
The exact language is \"individuals who may become Major League Players.\"
All the people who rushed to judgment about Boras having unclean hands ignored a perfectly reasonable and obvious point: MLB and/or the clubs may have told Boras that the MLBPA knew about the time extension when it did not. In other words, MLB and/or the clubs may have lied.
If so, Boras is not at all precluded from notifying the MLBPA and trying to have these two contracts voided. Under that scenario, his conduct is not tainted by the doctrine of unclean hands.
For that matter, those arguing that the MLBPA and its members are not harmed are further ignoring the quoted provision which covered \"prospective union members.\"