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May 21, 2013 5:00 am

Skewed Left: The Shift's PR Problem

12

Zachary Levine

The shift is here to stay, but to be embraced, it has to be rebranded.

In 50 years, and that may be a conservatively distant estimate, we will hear much less talk about defensive shifts.

First of all, there might not be baseball in 50 years. It’s why I’m always hesitant to answer questions that start with “will we ever see,” because “ever” is a really, really long time compared to the current lifespan of baseball (unless it isn’t).

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April 29, 2013 5:00 am

Bizball: Baseball's Marketing Problem Isn't Easy to Fix

23

Maury Brown

Maury explains the challenges that MLB faces in attracting young and minority fans.

Whether it was the release of the movie“42,” the anniversary of Hank Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth as the all-time home run leader, or one of many articles each year telling baseball it has an “issue,” Major League Baseball decided recently it was time to create a task force to deal with the decline of African-Americans at the highest levels of the game. Baseball, like other professional sports leagues, likes to create this type of task force. It shows that the league cares, and well meaning be damned, is often stocked with people that likely aren’t difference-makers. Recommendations will be made, but they will be around things that don’t get at the heart of the matter, because those things are difficult—if not impossible—to fix.

The “problem” isn’t really a problem in the way that MLB’s task force is likely to look at it. It’s about the change in society, the growth of other sports, the power of television, the internet, how fast players can transition, the growth of other minority groups now playing the game, and, yes, marketing.

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December 18, 2012 5:00 am

Skewed Left: My Lost Weekend with Football

4

Zachary Levine

A committed baseball fan gets seduced by football, then comes crawling back.

Dear Baseball,

There are so many ways I could start this. How you’ve been gone for so long. How I was in a different area code, so it might not even count. But you probably don’t want to hear the excuses. Yes, I know Rogers Hornsby wouldn’t have done this to you. He would have waited for spring and looked out the window and blah, blah, bullshitty blah. Some of us aren’t that strong, though. I’m not Rogers Hornsby. I never hit four-God-damn-twenty-four either. And yes, I cheated on you this weekend with football.

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A 2012 draftee has struck out in his first 16 at-bats as a professional. What does that say about him? And more importantly, what does it say about baseball?

One month ago today, the Red Sox selected Shaquille Green-Thompson in the 18th round of the amateur draft. Nine days later, they signed him to a contract. This was important for an obvious reason: if Green-Thompson signed and went on to play professional baseball, there would be a professional baseball player named Shaq. But as it turns out, the selection was even more important for another reason: Shaq Green-Thompson was about to remind us how hard it is to play baseball.

Green-Thompson is a 6-foot-2, 225-pound, right-handed-hitting-and-throwing outfielder. But that’s sort of a secondary definition—you can’t bring up his baseball abilities without burying the lead. That's because Green-Thompson is also one of the best 18-year-old football prospects in the country.

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The NFL has a big advantage over MLB in its schedule. What would happen if MLB adopted this advantage for itself?

If there's anything I learned from my Twitter feed this weekend, it's that the football season is now underway. Apparently, we're actually in the second week of the NFL season, with the season having begun ten days ago with a Saints/Packers matchup in Green Bay. Who knew?

I'm being facetious, of course, but it is true that the start of the NFL season barely registers on my radar each year. Instead, I tend to be more focused on the various playoff races going on in Major League Baseball at the time. This year, for example, it's Boston's potential collapse under the pressure of a late-season surge by Tampa Bay and the Milwaukee/Arizona battle for the second-best record in the NL that has me ignoring the games on the gridiron. Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson, Jose Bautista, Dan Uggla and a thousand other players/teams/storylines also help.

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With baseball on the brain, a brief look at the history of baseball in the two Super Bowl-bound cities.

Want to know how I *know* that I’m in a baseball sort of mind, what with Spring Training only a couple of weeks away and with my baseball preview magazines already in the stores? With the Super Bowl only a day away - and with it featuring the home town team of my adopted city - it still comes up as a bit of a surprise. “Oh yeah, the Super Bowl is tomorrow, isn’t it? Sweet."

And with baseball on my brain, I can’t help but think about how baseball relates to this Super Bowl. How convenient, then, that I write for a baseball website!

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January 28, 2009 11:14 am

Prospectus Q&A: Casey Kelly

3

David Laurila

The two-way player discusses turning his back on football, and what it will be like to begin the season as a pitcher and end it as a shortstop.

Life is full of big decisions, and Casey Kelly has had to make his share since being selected as the 30th overall pick in the 2008 draft. A two-sport standout at Sarasota (FL) High School, Kelly first had to choose between signing with the Red Sox and accepting a scholarship to play quarterback at the University of Tennessee. Once baseball-and Boston's $3 million contract offer-won out, the question became: Is Casey Kelly a pitcher, or is he a shortstop? After making his professional debut as an infielder, Kelly will report to spring training as a pitcher, but the Red Sox are keeping their options open, and Kelly will be bringing his batting gloves to camp.

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August 19, 2007 12:00 am

Lies, Damned Lies: Slotto Bonanzas, Part Two

0

Nate Silver

Nate turns his attention to the individual big bonus players from the last decade, and determines whether their teams would do it all over again.

What follows is a comprehensive roster of all players between 1998 and 2006 who were drafted with one of the first 100 selections and who also went for at least $500,000 over slot, considering both their signing bonus and any guaranteed MLB money. I've used the 2006 slot values for all seasons from 2000-2006, as MLB has generally been very successful at containing draft inflation during this period (in fact, the draft slots went down in 2007). The slots do appear to have been a little lower in 1999 and 1998, and so I've scaled those back by five percent and 10 percent respectively, rounding off to the nearest "big" number. I've also indicated those cases where the player's alternative careers in football or basketball could have influenced his signing bonus. Finally, I've posed a simple question: If the team had perfect knowledge of what that player was going to do, would they commit the same money again?

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December 9, 2005 12:00 am

Prospectus Matchups: Heisman vs. Golden Spikes

0

Jim Baker

A year-by-year comparison of the top collegiate football player and top collegiate baseball player in the nation.

Since everyone has Heisman fever, I thought it would be interesting to compare the winners of each award by year and see how they fared as professionals. While these awards were never meant to be predictors of professional performance, that doesn't mean we can't use them as such, what with free speech and all. Here, in chronological order, is my assessment of which of the collegiate winners won the post-award battle.

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August 31, 2005 12:00 am

Can Of Corn: The No-Fun League

0

Dayn Perry

Dayn's trip to an NFL preseason game left him with more questions than answers about football's popularity compared to baseball.

For the last several years it's been neither novel nor subversive to suggest that football has replaced baseball as the national pastime. What's more interesting is the popularity gap that's developing between the NFL and, well, everything else. I recently had lunch with a prominent sports editor, and he opined that forthcoming coverage in the mainstream sports media is going to reflect this divide: "There's the NFL," he said, "and all the other sports occupy lower tiers."

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September 24, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Tom House, Part II

0

Jonah Keri

Baseball Prospectus: You've worked with some interesting characters over the years. What lessons did you learn from Bobby Valentine when you worked with him in Texas? Tom House: He's a perfectionist. He helped me create a preparation base as a pitching coach. One time I'd planned the rotation out to a certain day. He'd say that's not enough, tell me out to this day; five presentations later he finally gave it his stamp of approval. It was never enough, he was never just satisfied with what he had. His search for perfection and a better way to do things are second to none. He made me a better pitching coach.

Baseball Prospectus: You've worked with some interesting characters over the years. What lessons did you learn from Bobby Valentine when you worked with him in Texas?

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March 17, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Joe Borchard

0

Jonah Keri

A two-sport star at Stanford University, Joe Borchard chose a professional baseball career in the Chicago White Sox organization over a career as an NFL quarterback. Now 25 years old, with talented outfielders in front of him (Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee) and behind him (Jeremy Reed), Borchard faces a pivotal point in his career. Told earlier this week that he'll begin the year at Triple-A Charlotte, he hopes to get back up to the big club soon, with an eye on claiming a starting job. BP recently spoke to Borchard--before news of his demotion--about his off-season training regimen, his quest for a steady job in the big leagues, his choice of baseball over football, and more.

Baseball Prospectus: You were highly regarded at Stanford as both a football and baseball player. How did you decide which sport to pursue? How much did the money the White Sox offered affect the decision?

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