Fans were treated to weird baseball in Boston when the O's and Sox resorted to using position players as pitchers.
The Weekend Takeaway
Everyone loves a good dose of weird baseball, and that’s precisely what fans at Fenway Park were treated to on Sunday afternoon. The Orioles capped off their first sweep of the Red Sox in Boston since 1994, but that does not even begin to describe what transpired on Yawkey Way.
In one of the most bizarre goat-to-hero stories you will ever see, designated hitter Chris Davis hit like a pitcher… and then pitched like one, too. Davis began the afternoon by collecting a platinum sombrero, added a double-play ball in his sixth at-bat, and wound up 0-for-8 by the time the 17-inning marathon was over. But with the media preparing to make Davis the butt of many a Monday joke, Davis put the joke on the hometown nine, hurling two shutout innings to earn the win.
A historian looks at Willard Brown, the first African-American to play in a big-league game at Fenway Park.
Chris Wertz is a freelance baseball writer and historian living in New York City. He is a contributing author to the recently-released Pumpsie & Progress: The Red Sox, Race, and Redemption, by Bill Nowlin, which was published by Rounder Books.
Which teams and which players will get the least and most benefit of the few venues in play for October baseball?
A park factor, as used here, is a measure of how a team's home field changes their statistics. It results from a combination of many factors-the distance and height of the outfield fences, angles, foul territory, visibility, field surface, and weather, to name a few. It is not the case that the Yankees have a high park factor for home runs (PF) because the Yankees hit a lot of home runs. To get a high PF, you need to hit and allow more home runs in your home games than you do in your road games. An average effect on HR is written as '100'; a better-than-average park will score something like 120, which means they get a boost 20 percent above average, while a poor hitters' park would score 90, or 10 percent below average. Players are also graded on who has the best and worst fit to their stadium-not on how well they hit home/road, but how well their profile matches or doesn't match what the park gives.
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The big-league deadline dealing was out of your control, but with some players in new venues, you may need to adapt and adjust.
The trade deadline can be an excellent or terrible day for fantasy owners, depending on how many of your players are moved and where. Maybe you get lucky and your ace pitcher with no run support is dealt to a team with an offense, or maybe a team with a terrible park for pitchers is desperate for an arm and acquires your guy. That was pretty rude of those general managers to swap your guys without your consent, but it's over now, and you need to figure out where to adjust.
The new Yankeee Stadium has received a lot of press this spring for the large number of homeruns hit there so far. On April 21, 2009, Buster Olney wrote at ESPN http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4080195 "The New York Yankees might have a serious problem on their hands: Beautiful new Yankee Stadium appears to be a veritable wind tunnel that is rocketing balls over the fences...including 17 in the first three games in the Yankees' first home series against the Indians. That's an average of five home runs per game and, at this pace, there would be about 400 homers hit in the park this year -- or an increase of about 250 percent. In the last year of old Yankee Stadium, in 2008, there were a total of 160 homers."
Musings and meanderings during a playoff game in Fenway.
A week ago, Christina began an article, "Forgive me a second, as I doff the analyst's cap." From there she went on to share her experiences at ALDS Game Three, Rays versus White Sox, from something of a fan's perspective. I'll do something similar, having attended Monday afternoon's ALCS Game Three at Fenway Park, not as a reporter, but as a paying customer (albeit one who brought along a digital voice recorder and notepad). Unlike Christina's fine bit, I'll spend relatively little time talking about the game itself, which was, to put it mildly, among the least compelling of this year's post-season affairs. Instead, using a diary format, I'll intersperse my own musings with quotes from people I interacted with at the ballpark.
2:40: I arrive at Fenway Park and am surprised to have my ticket ripped, rather than scanned, but for some reason I don't ask why. I attended numerous games as a fan this season, and this is the first time my entry isn't verified electronically. It seems somewhat... old-fashioned?
The short list of lefty no-hitters in Red Sox history serves a reminder that talent trumps environment.
As Will Carroll wrote last night in Unfiltered, sometimes a no-hitter is more than a no-hitter. Jon Lester's thorough blanking of the Kansas City Royals on Monday night certainly qualifies as such. No-hitters have achieved often enough by pitchers both distinguished and less so that it's safe to say that these events, as wonderful as they are, are governed by pure chance. Unless you're Ron Necciai pitching a 27-strikeout no-hitter (in the Appalachian League, alas), the pitcher is subject to the same laws on balls in play that affect every other ballgame: if the ball is hit near where someone happens to be standing, it's an out, and the pitcher looks brilliant. If it's hit three feet behind the pitcher's mound and the batter has some speed, bye-bye history.
The puzzle of park effects led to a flurry of reader emails.
I received a decent number of questions about my park effects piece from last week, so I think it's worthwhile to spend one more column rooting through the mailbag and discussing a few loose ends. The extremely short World Series-indeed, the extremely short postseason, with seven series played in just four games over the minimum-has taken some of the urgency out of the long-delayed umpire discussion.
Skip nature versus nurture, let's talk environments and outcomes.
Lots of people are excited to see the Colorado Rockies in the World Series, but statheads are probably watching this series with a special glint of joy in their eyes. You see, for the past fifteen years, the Rockies have been the focus of one of the great inquiries in baseball-how do you win at altitude? Performance analysis can be defined as the study of baseball in context, and since 1993, the city of Denver has given the major leagues one of the most fascinating contexts in its history: a relentless high-run environment.
Jim has the results of his reader architecture poll, with a few surprising results, and a few not-so-surprising ones.
Today we're presenting the results of the sports venue architecture poll that was introduced in my column of March 16. I asked would-be participants to rank--from an architectural standpoint--their favorite existing sports venues (not just baseball), their favorite defunct or no-longer-extant venues, as well as their least favorite. For the favorite poll, points were given on a 7-5-3-2-1 basis. For the other two, it was 5-3-1. The point totals are in parentheses after the venue's name. Thanks to all of you who took the time to fill out a ballot.