With the Fall Classic now upon us, the staff at Baseball Prospectus shares their most memorable World Series moments.
Every baseball fan has a special World Series memory, whether it's Willie Mays' catch, Bill Mazeroski's home run, Brooks Robinson's defense, Kirk Gibson's limp around the bases, or Derek Jeter becoming the first-ever Mr. November. With the World Series opening tonight at AT&T Park in San Francisco with the Giants facing the Texas Rangers, many of our writers, editors, and interns share their favorite memories of the Fall Classic.
What can hunting high and not so high teach us about hitting at home?
Home-field advantage is one of the greatest puzzles of baseball (and other sports) analysis. Indeed, my colleague Matt Swartz wrote a Burns-esquefive-partinquisitionintothe topic a few months ago. Home-field advantage unquestionably exists. In 2009, the home team won 54.9 percent of all regular season games, and that general range (53-55 percent) has remained remarkably consistent over the years. Seeing that teams play an equal number of home and road games, and that who hosts a regular season game is not determined by the overall quality of the team (as in the NFL playoffs), then the home team should win at a rate close to 50 percent. But HFA persists. Why?
Getting enough pitching while having enough offense in Tinseltown, setting the changing of the guard in Atlanta to a timetable, plus news and views from around the game.
When Joe Torre began his managerial career 33 years ago, he did not believe in the old baseball adages about good pitching always beating good hitting, pitching winning championships, and pitching being 80 percent of the game. Torre believed hitting was equally as important as pitching. That was understandable, considering that Torre was quite the hitter during an 18-year career that spanned from 1960-77, as he had .297/.365/452 slash stats with a .298 career Equivalent Average and 252 home runs in 2,209 games.
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A new/old paradigm that breaks with the old/new paradigm makes for better player development in Oakland.
Six years after its publication, it's understandable that Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane is a little perplexed with the fact that people still want to talk about Moneyball. "I think there's been a broadly held misconception that the ideas put forward in Moneyball were a permanent template as to how we'd do business," said Beane during an interview on Friday. "But, it's really just a snapshot in a moment of time."
A conversation with the journeyman about adapting, reading, and having a sense of humor.
Matt DeSalvo isn't your typical professional athlete. A 28-year-old right-hander currently pitching for the Triple-A Durham Bulls, DeSalvo is just as comfortable discussing philosophy and classic literature as he is delivering fastballs. Originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent out of Division III Marietta (Ohio) College in 2003, DeSalvo made it to the big leagues in 2007, appearing in seven games, six of them as a starter, logging a record of 1-3 with an ERA of 6.18 before being released. Subsequently a member of the Braves' and Mets' organizations, the native of New Castle, Pennsylvania was signed by the Rays in late May. DeSalvo talked about his cerebral approach to life, including how novels by Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoevsky relate to the game of baseball, and why he was reading Lao Tzu in the clubhouse prior to his major league debut.
Is three weeks long enough to learn anything? Some BP staffers chime in with their reactions to the early going.
Will Carroll: I've learned that there's still no answer to an oblique strain. The recent rash of this injury best exemplifies the problems that injuries cause for teams. While it was sensible to think that Chris Carpenter, Ricky Romero, or any other pitcher might be unable to pitch for reasons related to their arms, up jumps a muscle that no one could even find on their body ten years ago. All of the off-season conditioning, stretching, massages, and modalities fail as the body count continues to rack up days and dollars lost. What's next, some new diagnostic technique creating an outbreak of hip surgeries among elite infielders? Oh, wait...
Team USA is dealt in, the Yankees begin hoarding chips, and the White Sox hold.
The idea of sending a baseball Dream Team to the Olympics has been dead a while now. Major League Baseball would never consider shutting down its season for two weeks to send an All-Star team to an Olympiad, and furthermore, baseball will be discontinued as an Olympic sport after next month's games in Beijing. The opening ceremonies are August 8, and the baseball competition will be held from August 13-23. Thus, baseball will be taking a back seat to a lot of other sports in the Olympics. You have to search to find the games on television, and strain even further to find much coverage online or in print.
On the road to the World Series, the Rockies skipper has managed challenges in life, and not just on the diamond.
DENVER-Clint Hurdle has a simple philosophy about dealing with life as a major-league manager. "I've learned that you can't worry about what other people think, except the people who mean the most to you," the Colorado Rockies manager said. "I don't read the newspapers. I don't listen to talk radio. I mean no disrespect to the people in those lines of work, but you can drive yourself crazy if you worry what they are writing about you in the papers or saying about you on the talk shows."
BP's founder makes his comeback bearing an unsettling message.
Itís been an unfortunate part of writing for BP that Iíve written a number of words about the passing of friends. Today, Iíve got another obituary to write, but this one is not in the least bit painful.
Different players adapt, learn, and improve according to their gifts, no implicit value judgment needed.
One of baseball's most interesting unsolvable questions is how much a player can truly learn during the course of his career. We know that dozens of players come into the minor leagues every year, many with similar levels of raw ability. Some get out of A-ball; most do not. For many that fail, it may be the case that they've already peaked, that whatever athletic ability they had reached its greatest extent in high school or college, and cannot be pushed further. Others not only have a higher ceiling, but through practice, repetition, and aptitude, they are able to get an extra something out of whatever nature gave them. Think of Ted Williams, obsessively taking batting practice, or Tony Gwynn and his videotape.