More replay in baseball is evitable. As evidence, we have Bud Selig's latest unconvincing argument.
With the All-Star game upon us, it’s a good time to take a look at the state of the game. So, on the pulse of things as always, that’s exactly what commissioner Bud Selig did. He pontificated about a number of topics last week, but the one that stood out was his brief discussion of instant replay. Here’s Commissioner Bud on the expansion of instant replay in baseball (via Paul Casella of MLB.com)
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A look at some of the most underrated baseball films in cinematic history.
1) Bad Lieutenant Bad Lieutenant is Harvey Keitel at his most intense. He's a drunk, a drug addict, a degenerate gambler, an unfaithful man, a sadist, and in every way among the worst human beings ever portrayed on film. He has countless enemies, from drug dealers to rapists to bookies he owes money to, but there is one that bothers him most of all. That person is Daryl Strawberry. Among the biggest of many weights dragging down on Keitel is his gambling debt, which he tries to eliminate by constantly going double-or-nothing on a fictional playoff series between the Mets and the Dodgers. After the Dodgers win the first three games of the series, Keitel continuously bets on the Dodgers to put the series away, and time and time again it's Strawberry, who in real life joined the Dodgers in 1991, who ruins his game and ultimately his bet. I've always wondered if Strawberry has seen the movie, as Keitel (his character's name is never revealed) rampages against him in ways that seem far more personal than any crowd simply chanting DAAAAA-RYL. It would disturb me. Hell, it would disturb anyone. —Kevin Goldstein
2) The Fan The Fan is a delightfully creepy movie which features Wesley Snipes as a baseball player (how original!) and Robert DeNiro as a really angry, creepy guy (also very original!) named Gil. Snipes plays an outfielder named Bobby Rayburn who signs a big contract to join the San Francisco Giants and soon becomes DeNiro’s obsession. DeNiro quickly becomes the Pedro Gomez to Snipes’s Barry Bonds in San Francisco, tracking his every move on and off the field from a distance. I’m somewhat surprised that this movie isn’t listed among the pantheon of baseball cinematic classics, considering it has some of the best scenes in cinematic history. These include, but are not limited to: Gil killing another player on the Giants because he wouldn’t give Rayburn his lucky number, Gil kidnapping Rayburn’s son and then killing a man with an aluminum bat for helping the child escape, and at one point someone yells “HE’S CALLING FROM INSIDE THE STADIUM!” which is just wonderful.
Is the traditional strike-ball dichotomy too simplistic?
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Matt Lentzner has carved out a (very) small niche in the baseball analysis world by examining the intersection of physics and biomechanics. He has presented at the PITCHf/x conference in each of the last two years and has written articles for The Hardball Times, as well as a previous article for Baseball Prospectus. When he’s not writing, Matt works on his physics-based baseball simulator, which is so awesome and all-encompassing that it will likely never actually be finished, though it does provide the inspiration for most of his articles and presentations. In real life, he’s an IT Director at a small financial consulting company in the Silicon Valley and also runs a physical training gym in his backyard on the weekends.
In his fourth column in the Asian Equation series, Michael looks at the starting pitchers who have crossed the Pacific, in which many failures are punctuated with a few very notable successes.
In the flood of players coming from Japan, the majority (34 of 43) have been pitchers. Unlike the pursuit of the next Ichiro I described in my previous column, this has less to do with the success of Hideo Nomo than it does with the pitching market–pitching is a difficult commodity to find in any league. What has doomed many NPB starters in MLB, however, has been both talent and adjustment to a different pitching philosophy. To understand and explain the differences between the two, I’ve drawn not only on my own expertise, but relied on Japanese pitching expert Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker for additional insight.
Pitching differences reflect a deeper philosophical difference between Japanese and American baseball. As I discussed in my first Asian Equation column, Japanese culture appreciates baseball’s emphasis on discipline, sacrifice, and the dramatic showdown between pitcher and batter. Instead of putting a batter away quickly, NPB pitchers build tension by indiscriminately filling counts before a perfectly placed strike three resolves the battle. These aren’t seen as “wasted” pitches, instead reflecting the samurai-like virtues of endurance and dramatic battles.
Some thoughts on the pros and cons of instant replay.
Umpires are terrible, right?
Well, no, not really. But listen to fans in Boston or Tampa Bay or Anaheim or Minnesota or pretty much any other major league city and they'll tell you they are. Recent blown calls - some minor, some major - in those cities can't help but give the everyday fan that opinion. With 24-hour talk radio, high profile cable shows like Sportscenter, Baseball Tonight, MLB Tonight and others, official team blogs and websites, and a countless number of fan blogs all there to analyze any and every movement on the field, a blown call can reverberate like never before. Umpires can turn into household names - for all the wrong reasons - overnight. It's not an easy job.
Contrary to what you might hear from more retrograde members of the baseball establishment, sabermetrics and storytelling don't have to be at odds.
As Opening Day approaches, hope springs eternal all around the majors. Some teams' bids at contention are founded upon the presumed maturation of exciting youngsters. Others rest their hopes on their stars' ability to turn back the clock and play as though their time had never passed. You could be forgiven for thinking that the latter was the strategy of the Anti-Sabermetric Brigade, a constellation of writers who insist upon fighting a war that has been fought and largely settled. Yet, signs of their resurgence keep popping up.
Bud Selig's latest blue ribbon committee is doomed to fail, but maybe that is its objective.
As I write this, it's becoming just a little bit suspicious that nearly two days after they presumably "happened," neither of the two huge trades the Phillies made have actually come to fruition. The Phillies have apparently negotiated an extension with Roy Halladay, and physicals are being taken, but there have been no actual announcements, and as I write this on Wednesday afternoon, with a piece on the trade burning a hole in my hard drive, it's just starting to feel a little weird. The deal has been "imminent" for about 48 hours now, but there's been no movement since yesterday afternoon, when word that Halladay and the Phillies had agreed on a contract leaked out.
The Winter Meetings after-party stands to blow away the event itself, with changes coming on multiple fronts.
Bud Selig is usually so quick to remind everyone that such concepts as the wild card and interleague play were added to Major League Baseball during his commissionership that one fears he might blow out a rotator cuff while vigorously patting himself on the back. However, with attendance falling and television ratings down, Selig is admitting that the grand old game has some problems. On Tuesday, he announced the formation of a 14-person special committee for on-field matters that includes field managers, general managers, and club owners, among others. Glaring in their omission were players and umpires.
While the ALCS went into rain delay mode, there's still news and moves from around the majors.
Jimmy Rollins was reflecting on the previous October and looking ahead to this year's postseason one day early in spring training, when he said something that made it clear the Phillies would not be complacent this season. "What we did last year, winning a World Series, was a great accomplishment and something we can cherish for the rest of our lives," the shortstop said. "You know what, though? The truly great teams are the ones who won more than one World Series. The teams people remember and talk about forever are the ones who did it more than once. That's what I'd like to see us do, and I think everyone else on this team feels the same way."
Thirteen total games is hardly a fair representation of four series that all featured close games and some questionable decisions.
It feels like we deserved more than this. A week ago, three of the four postseason series seemed so evenly matched as to defy prediction. Two of those three did just that, but not in the way expected. The Cardinals scored six runs in three games en route to being eliminated by the Dodgers, and the Red Sox weren't much better in being swept by the Angels. The Twins, as expected, went down to the Yankees despite mostly holding down the game's best offense.