Sabermetrics has reached its next sport: pro wrestling.
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.
Brandon Stroud is a blogger and published author who achieved mild Internet notoriety for "The Dugout'" a baseball-themed AOL Instant Messenger comic about curse words and capital letters, before settling into an editor-in-chief position at With Leather. He has never been happier to write for a website, and is still trying to figure out where the sexy lady slideshows are supposed to go.
Hero worship has a large role in how teams are built.
To say that baseball and American culture are intertwined is cliché. There is an entire genre of American rhapsodic poetry reserved for reflection, reverie, and remembrances of baseball, in general used as a subplot or an allegory to some other major story line from 20th-century American history in the foreground. How the game of baseball affects and influences American culture is a fascinating field of study, one traversed by many before me.
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A culture of winning is one of the best things to have, and a culture of losing is surely one of the worst, but do such things even exist?
'Tis the (off)season when baseball teams make strange moves. A couple of weeks ago, Matt Swartz took aim at one particular type of move: the proverbial "team going nowhere" who signs an expensive free agent. He will not lead them out of the forest, but will take a lot of green with him. Matt made the argument that, from a financial standpoint, this type of move makes sense for a team on the cusp of contention, but not for a team who doesn't have much chance to contend. The Baltimore Orioles' signing of Mike Gonzalez seemed to be more of the "team going nowhere" type than on the cusp of contention. The Orioles are a re-building team playing in the AL East, wherein live the 2009 MLB Champion Yankees, the 2008 AL Champion Rays, and the 2007 MLB Champion Red Sox. True, the Orioles have a number of talented young players, but coming off a 68-94 season (their 12th straight losing campaign), it's unlikely that they will be challenging for a playoff spot next year.
The former Tigers first baseman has found a home in Tampa Bay. Pretty good for a guy who was released at the end of spring training.
Carlos Pena is having a career year. One of the most highly-respected players in the game, the Dominican-born first baseman has clubbed 42 home runs in his first season with the Devil Rays. Drafted tenth-overall in 1998, the 29-year-old Pena showed flashes of his potential with the Rangers, A's, Tigers, and Red Sox, but never lived up to his billing as a first-round pick--until now. After spending most of last season in the minor leagues, the former engineering student at Northeastern University is hitting .278/.400/.610 and is a leading candidate for comeback player of the year in the American League.
David talked to Pena about his home run numbers, keeping things simple and focused, and the challenge of acclimating to a new language and culture.