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June 12, 2012 5:00 am

Western Front: A Brief History of the Vedder Cup

12

Geoff Young

Of all the natural interleague rivalries, none are more viciously fought than the Vedder Cup series. Wait, you've never heard of it? Then read on!

When Major League Baseball introduced interleague play in 1997, Bud Selig decreed that certain teams would be “natural rivals.” One such “rivalry” pits the San Diego Padres against the Seattle Mariners, presumably because they share a spring training facility in Peoria, Ariz.

Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder has called San Diego and Seattle home at various points in his life, ergo the series is played for a “Vedder Cup” that doesn't actually exist, which is fine because Vedder is a Cubs fan. Much like the “rivalry” itself, none of this makes any sense.

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Rather than adding a wild card here or an AL team there, a baseball purist proposes blowing it all up and starting over with a solution that could satisfy everyone.

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.

Kevin Baker is a novelist and historian who is currently at work on a social history of New York City baseball, to be published by Pantheon. 

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Could the NL Central be decided by an unbalanced interleague slate?

On Sunday, after the Cubs lost to the Red Sox in Boston in the long-awaited rematch of the curse-tastic 1918 World Series, the interleague ledger for the National League Central looked like this:

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August 25, 2009 12:37 pm

Ahead in the Count: Home-Field Advantages, Part Three

24

Matt Swartz

Drilling down even more deeply into the subject to find out where, why, and how.

In trying to understand home-field advantage, we have asked what home-field advantage actually makes a team do better, and we have asked who has the biggest home-field advantage. The first article of this series answered the question of what home-field advantage actually makes you do better-everything, as home teams do better on walks, strikeouts, balls in play, and errors. They are better at pitching, hitting, baserunning, and defense, and all aspects of their games seem to improve. The second article of this series showed that most teams have pretty much the same size home-field advantage, with the exception of the Rockies. Even though natural luck can make a team look like they are particularly good or bad at home, the 29 non-Rockies teams are pretty much right around eight percent home-field advantage, plus or minus a little statistical noise.

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Just like it oughta be—the AL's best go head to head for the pennant.

It had to come to this, the league's two best teams from the league's strongest division, squaring off to see if the American League's going to stomp all over the National League one more time. The Rays as a representation of all that can be right about an organization on the way up, the Red Sox as a representation of all that can be right about an organization that already has it made. To extend the rhetoric to its most overstated, it's something fresh from the land of snowbirds and retirees going up against the newly-established evil empire. Whether as a matter of scouting, utilizing performance analysis, or how effectively they keep their players in action, these are two teams that attack every potential organizational problem with every management tool possible, matching their assemblages of playing talent on the field with exceptional talent off of it, in the dugouts, the executive suites, and the trainer's rooms. Every bit as much as the NLCS, this year's ALCS promises a tight, exciting, and hard-fought matchup.

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February 8, 2008 12:00 am

Prospectus Matchups: The All-Time Matchup Record Book

0

Jim Baker

Tallies over time tell us which matchups have that extra bit of history in them.

I've been diligently checking the papers and, for some time now, have not been able to find any major league ballgames scheduled. When one does a column with "Matchups" in the title, this can be problematic. So, in order to stay thematically relevant, I've hit the record books and come up with some of the more extreme matchup results of all time. These records involve extant teams only, and all references to them encompass their entire history, including the time they were in other cities. So, for example, a reference to the Braves includes their time in Boston and Milwaukee.

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David expands on his five-division realignment plan.

The previous column on rearranging the majors into five six-team divisions elicited many favorable comments and a number of questions and suggestions. The main questions concerned how to arrange the divisions and how to schedule the season. This article addresses those issues.

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Who's up and who's down? Find out on this week's Hit List.

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April 12, 2005 12:00 am

Prospectus Matchups: Reveling in Rivalries

0

Jim Baker

Tired of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry? Jim has some criteria for some new ones.

So, you say you're not a member of either Red Sox Nation or the great Yankee diaspora and you're sick to death of hearing about these two teams. You say there's got to be another rivalry out there that can get you excited. There is the obvious choice of the Cardinals and Cubs. There are many parallels between the two rivalries. Each has its successful partner and, before 2004, its seemingly snake-bitten partner. There are the Dodgers and Giants, but jeez, they play ball pretty far from one another. In fact, Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix is actually closer to Dodger Stadium than is SBC Park.

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June 29, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Matchups: The Empire Strikes Last

0

Jim Baker

Best Matchup (Best combined record with both teams being over .500): Boston @ New York Yankees We seem to have reached a point in baseball history where it is--what is the word?--understood that the Yankees somehow deserve to get the best available player on the trading block. When they don't, their owner and fans appear shocked. With Freddy Garcia gone to Chicago and Carlos Beltran now in Houston, it will be interesting to see how firm Arizona's resolve to keep Randy Johnson will be. The Newark Star-Ledger has also been kicking up some Tom Glavine-to-the-Yankees talk. It stands to reason. Glavine has been the best pitcher in baseball so far in 2004 (39.3 VORP, besting runners-up Mark Mulder and Carl Pavano), so it only makes sense that he should be on the Yankees. Why? Because it's the Yankees' world and we're just the extras sent over by Central Casting to fill in their background.

We seem to have reached a point in baseball history where it is--what is the word?--understood that the Yankees somehow deserve to get the best available player on the trading block. When they don't, their owner and fans appear shocked. With Freddy Garcia gone to Chicago and Carlos Beltran now in Houston, it will be interesting to see how firm Arizona's resolve to keep Randy Johnson will be. The Newark Star-Ledger has also been kicking up some Tom Glavine-to-the-Yankees talk. It stands to reason. Glavine has been the best pitcher in baseball so far in 2004 (39.3 VORP, besting runners-up Mark Mulder and Carl Pavano), so it only makes sense that he should be on the Yankees. Why? Because it's the Yankees' world and we're just the extras sent over by Central Casting to fill in their background.

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June 10, 2004 12:00 am

Prospectus Today: Institutional Imbalance

0

Joe Sheehan

It's no secret that I don't like interleague play. It's a gimmick that throws the schedule into chaos for the sake of letting the Yankees play the Mets six times. If that's an exaggeration, it's only a slight one. The selling point of interleague play is the eight or nine "natural rivalries" that are played out each season, with the rest of the interleague schedule built around them. Whatever nonsense is spread about allowing fans in cities of one league to see the stars of another is just smoke and mirrors, because in some places, it will take 30 years for the entire other league to make a visit. I wouldn't mind as much if MLB would just admit that interleague play exists for the natural rivalries. Ratchet it down, make interleague just those games each year and force everyone else into two matchups built around those two weekends. MLB would rather sell the idea that interleague is hugely popular, publishing context-free attendance figures--four of six interleague series are on the weekend again, all are in June, and the natural rivalries will drive the attendance gains--as part of the perpetual misinformation campaign.

If that's an exaggeration, it's only a slight one. The selling point of interleague play is the eight or nine "natural rivalries" that are played out each season, with the rest of the interleague schedule built around them. Whatever nonsense is spread about allowing fans in cities of one league to see the stars of another is just smoke and mirrors, because in some places, it will take 30 years for the entire other league to make a visit.

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June 1, 2000 12:00 am

The Wild Card

0

Derek Zumsteg

The Yankees and Red Sox played a great series last weekend. And while there are 159 other games in the season, those three had the kind of drama that baseball lives on: a long-standing rivalry, bred in neighborhoods, handed down from parent to child like a family heirloom, nursed by patriots in foreign cities. This is the joy of divisional rivalries, a boon of the unbalanced schedule...and a great argument for the elimination of the wild card.

If the season had ended Monday, both teams would still have made the playoffs. And that playoff entry is just as good as a division title. That's not right, for a couple of reasons.

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