McCotter's essay, "Cal Ripken's Record for Consecutive Innings" finishes first
April 27, 2013—Trent McCotter has been selected as winner of the first annual Greg Spira Baseball Research Award. McCotter’s 2012 essay, “Cal Ripken’s Record for Consecutive Innings,” compiled for the first time the correct total of consecutive innings (8,264) played by the Orioles’ great shortstop between 1982 and 1987. McCotter’s extensive research also created a list of every player who ever played at least 2,500 consecutive innings, information previously unknown despite the fact that the players involved had all retired many decades ago.
The article by McCotter, an attorney living in Washington D.C., first appeared in the Fall 2012 edition of the Society of American Baseball Research’s Baseball Research Journal (Volume 41, No. 2). [http://sabr.org/latest/ripken-s-record-consecutive-innings-played] It was this type of research and presentation that the Greg Spira Research Award was created to honor.
After starring for opposing teams in the Japan Series, Wei-Yin Chen and Tsuyoshi Wada will try to adjust to life in Baltimore and last place, as the Orioles react to the new CBA by plugging their pitching holes with Asian imports.
On November 12th, 2011, as Major League Baseball recovers from one of the most exciting World Series in recent memory, Nippon Professional Baseball begins its own best-of-seven championship: the Japan Series.
Much like MLB, Japanese professional baseball has two leagues—the Central and the Pacific—and much like MLB, the champions of those respective leagues play each other to determine a final champion for the entire season. As NPB has only 12 teams compared to to MLB's 30, however, the playoffs are structured a bit differently; with only six teams per league, NPB does not bother with divisions or Wild Cards—the best three teams in each league make the playoffs, with the league's top seed getting a first-round bye. The second and third seeds play a best-of-three series, and the winner faces the first seed in a best-of-five “Climax Series” that's roughly analogous to MLB's League Championship Series. The winning club from each league's Climax Series is that league's champion and advances to the best-of-seven Japan Series to determine which is the best club in NPB. The Climax Series format was implemented first by the Pacific League in 2004 and then adopted by the Central League three years later. Previously, there had been no real postseason in NPB: the team with the best season record from the Central would play the team with the best season record from the Pacific in the Japan Series, and that was that.
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At the dawn of the posting system, the arrival of the unique Ichiro Suzuki would forever change the player market between the U.S. and Japan.
Last month, I traced the early history of Japanese-American player traffic, from the Pirates’ sly attempt to sign Eiji Sawamura in the 1930s to the loophole-leaping of players like Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano in the 1990s. To close that voluntary-retirement loophole and to prevent trading players like Hideki Irabu without their permission, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) agreed on the current posting system in 1998. The system was designed to allow MLB teams to sign NPB stars without turning the NPB into another minor league, by forcing MLB teams to pay twice for NPB players, with about half of the total fee typically going to that player’s club.
During the leagues’ offseason, NPB teams can choose to post players who want to test the MLB waters. Once a player is posted, any MLB team has four days to submit a bid to the MLB commissioner for the right to negotiate with him. The highest bidding team then has thirty days to sign a contract. If they succeed, the team pays the posting fee to the player’s NPB club, but if they can’t come to an agreement, no fee is paid. The winning club thus pays for a player twice, with a portion going to the team as a non-negotiable sealed bid. This kind of blind bidding can easily lead to overpaying, benefitting the NPB club, but not the player.
Every ballplayer's in movies, it doesn't matter who you are.
I have a new favorite road trip game/bar conversation/internet time-waster: if baseball players were movies, what movie or genre would they be?
This came about because of Manny Ramirez. I was talking to a friend and one of us asked, if Manny Ramirez were a movie, what kind of movie would he be? Tragedy? Comedy? Something with a lot of explosions? We actually never did come to a satisfying conclusion about Manny, but then, he’s an unusually difficult case. Maybe something from M. Night Shyamalan post-Sixth Sense—a lot of thrills, suspense, and manipulation… and then such a silly ending.
A rundown of the starting pitchers from both leagues who have been just a tick below the level of greatness this season.
In addition to being a baseball nut, I consider myself to be a movie buff. I used to work somewhat in the field and just love taking breaks from reality to watch Schwarzennegger make silly puns after beatings, Lee J. Cobb make his patented scowl, or even the wide array of characters that Richard Jenkins and Stephen Tobolowsky can play with ease. While thinking of all the wonderful pitching performances that have been on display this year, these two passions collided, and I was taken back to the 1994 Academy Awards. In that year’s ceremony—technically, it was held in 1995 to honor the movies of 1994—the best picture went to Forrest Gump.
Picking between Jon Garland and Joel Pineiro seems a matter of picking reliability versus upside, but is it?
It's no secret that the throes of the economy have affected baseball and its free agent market, especially when an All-Star player like Orlando Hudson struggles to find a one-year deal at even half of his perceived value, and the thought of Adam LaRoche turning down a two-year, $17 million deal invokes more laughter than Kingpin. Though high-end players have certainly gotten paid this offseason, teams are acting much more conservatively, especially with a higher premium being placed on the analyses of associated risks. Two of the free-agent pitchers yet to sign a deal-Jon Garland and Joel Pineiro-exemplify this risk-analysis process, as both represent examples of consistency in Garland's case versus volatility in Pineiro's. Such archetypes are often deemed opposites when it comes to risk.
In today's music man two-fer, we run around the bases with the co-owner of Rounder Records.
When the subjects are baseball and music, Bill Nowlin is about as knowledgeable as they come. The Vice President of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), Nowlin is also a co-owner of both Rounder Books and Rounder Records, the latter of which produced the 2009 Grammy Award-winning collaboration between Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. The author of over 20 books on baseball, Nowlin also serves as the publications editor for the Ted Williams Museum.
The best at every position of those that switched squads prior to this season.
Americans are a transient lot. On average, we move 13 times in a lifetime (note: number exaggerated to enhance premise). Our ballplayers are no different; they are often found switching teams. Because of this, it became necessary for me to create the Transient All-Star Team back in 2005. In order to be eligible for this esteemed body, a player must simply be with a different franchise in 2008 than he was at the conclusion of the 2007 season. In the past, I named a player at each position for each league. This year, I'm doing something a little different: presenting the best candidates at each position, discussing their qualifications, and naming just one player overall. As we shall see, the word "best" is relative at some of the positions, while at others, the field is so crowded it is quite difficult to pick a top contender.
Will any of the 11 newly-eligible Cooperstown candidates make it into that exclusive fraternity?
What if the Hall of Fame selection process worked like this: Joe Morgan and Mike Schmidt drop by Tim Raines' dorm room to invite him over for a kegger to see how he gets along with the rest of the fellas. Things go fine. Next thing he knows, he's been kidnapped in the middle of the night with a pillow case thrown over his head. When it's removed, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver, and Sandy Koufax are standing over him, asking him to pledge. Several months of humiliation and team-building exercises follow until, one night, he finds himself in the candlelit basement of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, dressed in a black, hooded robe…