A look back at the career of one of the game's great executives.
The baseball world lost one of its titans last week, when Buzzie Bavasi died at the age of 93. A colorful veteran of nearly 50 years in the game, he was the architect of four World Championship teams, and played a pivotal role in some of baseball's biggest changes amid a career that embodied the highest highs and lowest lows of working as a front office executive.
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The national pastime shows up on the printed page in books devoted to other subjects altogether.
A couple of years back, I devoted a column to randomly selecting baseball books from my collection and commenting on passages found therein. I have about as many non-baseball books as I have baseball books, so today I decided to do something different: I would go to non-baseball books and try to find baseball references in them. This proved to be a lot more difficult than I imagined. In fact, given the time constraint between coming up with the idea and my filing deadline and the fact that I have a finite number of books, I only came across four such references. Here they are:
Jay Jaffe checks in with a WBC report after taking in some exciting games in Puerto Rico.
But as the first round revealed, even the hardest heart is capable of being warmed once the games begin. The sudden presence of baseball in early March--not the lazy exhibition walkthroughs in front of somnolent audiences of sun-worshippers but tooth-and-nail battles between bitter rivals in front of frenzied fanatics--trumps all. Either find a way to enjoy the first (relatively) meaningful baseball in four and a half months, or fill out your bracket and kiss Andrew Jackson goodbye.
As of five weeks ago, I had been planning my own sun-worshipping Florida pilgrimage when my brother-in-law Adam upped the ante by suggesting a couple of second-round WBC games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Though mindful of my own reservations about the tourney, I've got enough experience in marquee event attendance to know that even the most pilloried events--such as the birthed-in-scandal 2002 Winter Olympics in my hometown of Salt Lake City--look much better when you're holding a fistful of ducats. As my wife, Andra, likes to say, we're "event people"; it doesn't take much arm-twisting to induce us to hunt big games. So with her blessing, we procured a quartet of tickets for the Pool D winner versus Pool C winner matchup on Monday, March 13 (Adam's girlfriend Nicole would also be accompanying us), and a boys-only pair for the previous night's matchup pairing the Pool D winner and the Pool C runner-up. With the Dominican Republic and Venezuela likely to come out of the D bracket and Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Panama vying for the C slots, we were virtually assured of a pair of high-end Latin-flavored ballgames.
The World Baseball Classic is half marketing event, half true competition, making a whole that's less than its parts.
Yes, it's in March instead of a far more logical time like mid-summer or post-World Series. Sure, how could I be surprised if one or so marquee pitchers blow out their arms either during the Classic, or later this season. So write one, maybe two, articles criticizing MLB and the international organizations for a couple poor choices made in WBC-planning. And now, get over it!
As Cuba celebrates their return to the top of the heap, Clay Davenport takes a look at the field they conquered and comes away less than impressed.
But how good was the level of play in a tournament that had nearly as many European teams (three) as representatives from the rest of the world (five)?
Fortunately for the answer to that question, the skill level of many of the players in the Olympic tournament was a known quantity. Most of the players for Canada, Australia, Greece and the Netherlands are or have been in the American minor leagues, and we have a very good understanding of the level of play in the minors. A few, like Dave Nilsson and Gene Kingsale, have major-league experience, but because Major League Baseball would not release anyone from their contracts to participate in the Olympics, no one on an active major-league roster was present. All of the Japanese players came from their major league, and while we aren't quite as certain about rating the Japanese leagues (see Baseball Prospectus 2004) as we are with the American minors, we still do pretty well. The Taiwanese were mostly unknown, the team drawn mainly from their professional leagues, which I have never been able to translate in either a baseball or a linguistic sense. Their top players, Chin-Feng Chen and Chin-Hui Tsao, do play in the States and are on the verge of playing in the majors. The Italians were unknown, coming from their home leagues, but a couple have played in the U.S. before. The Cubans were all unknown.
The Braves' bench looks ugly. The Dodgers make some nifty deals. The Mets inexplicably hand starting jobs to Tyler Yates and Scott Erickson. The Rangers unload Einar Diaz on the Expos. These and other happenings in today's Transaction Analysis.
The American Sports Medicine Institute kicks off its 22nd annual "Injuries in Baseball" course Jan. 29 in Orlando. Today we continue from Part I of our discussion with ASMI's Smith and Nephew Chair of Research, Dr. Glenn Fleisig.
Baseball Prospectus: Do teams tend to send more major league pitchers or minor leaguers? What are some of the differences between the two groups?
Losing David Justice isn't good news, considering I'm not a big Scott Hatteberg guy, but I am a believer when it comes to Eric Byrnes, so I guess I'm happy. Outfield defense is always going to be an issue for a unit that has Terrence Long in center field and either Justice or Jeremy Giambi in a corner. While I'm not arguing for Byrnes to play every day, he does give the A's a hitter who puts hard-hit balls into play, who can cover an outfield corner well, and basically give the bottom of the lineup someone who can help score some of the other more walk-inclined hitters batting higher up.