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Wrigley Field


You know, you're absolutely right when you said that
the Cubs should have
been punished
because of the lax security around the bullpen, which could
have prevented the brawl. You're right the Cubs shouldn't allow their fans
to get hammered beyond comprehension (maybe instituting a "No Beer after the
Seventh Inning" rule at Wrigley would work). You're right that
this brawl
shouldn't affect a playoff race
, and it would certainly suck if this became a regular
occurrence at Wrigley, where fans tried to goad players into charging into the
stands, to get them suspended. And you're right that the Cubs should
increase security around such areas where the fans and opposing players are
so close to each other and take some responsibility for what happened.

But no Dodger player should have ever gone into the stands. No matter
how unruly the fans were, the players should
have been professional enough to know that you should never, ever attack the
paying public, especially if they just steal your baseball cap. The reason,
I think, that Frank Robinson placed such high penalties on the Dodger team
was because he wanted to make sure that no other player would feel the urge
to start fighting with fans. It's horrible enough that players still fight on
the field.

Frankly, there's a line that should never be crossed, and if a
player is wearing his uniform, then he should be mature enough to complain
about over-abusive fans to the right places, and not take the law into his
own hands.

I do agree with you that the Cubs should have been punished, too
(but not more harshly than the players), and this episode should persuade
organizations to put up barriers between fans and opposing players so that
fans can't abuse players, and vice versa. But no Dodger player should have
ever gone into the stands.

--JL

I agree with your point about the Dodgers going into the stands,
but with adequate security (skip the lame liquor policy for the
moment, even if it were enforced or enforceable), the entire
situation would never have occurred. The Cubs have a responsibility
to ensure the security of the visiting team and they failed. Worse yet,
baseball isn’t holding them to their responsibility.

What really bugs me about the Cubs’ situation is that they’re not
being penalized in the least, and yet their incompetence or
indifference is what has marred the season for fans of every team
in the playoff hunt this season. That’s unforgivable, every bit as
much as the Dodgers making the mistake of going into the
stands.

–Chris Kahrl


I agree with your article about Wrigley security. The question I have
is if they shut down beer sales in the seventh inning, where did all the beer
that was thrown at the players come from? I can't see fans saving beer for
three innings to have some in the tenth inning to throw at the players.

--AZ

That’s because you don’t have to buy just one beer at last call. Despite
Cub claims of a liquor policy that restricts fans to two beer
purchases each time they buy, you can buy as many as four without
a problem, hook them up in the convenient carrying straps the Cubs
graciously provide so that you can take your stash back to your seat
and drink all the Old Style you can hold.

Now that we know, the Cubs’ response–punishing the vendors–is even
more gutless than the old baldfaced lies about their security and
liquor policies, and a reflection on their unwillingness to take any
responsibility for this, or to institute any real changes.

A seven-figure fine plus potentially establishing the precedent that
any attack on visiting players leads to an automatic forfeit might
be a necessary dose of medicine to force ballclubs to act in a
responsible manner. Tough talk in a Frank Robinson memo obviously
isn’t going to do it.

–Chris Kahrl

Support-Neutral Win/Loss


Any idea when the
SNWL updates
will resume? I find them the most interesting aspect of the work you do.

--RJ

Sorry for the problem with the reports. There was a hiccup in
my source for play-by-play data, and I’m still trying to recover
from that. I don’t know exactly when I’ll be able to get the report
back up to date, but I will give you a very non-specific "soon".

Rest assured I’m working on the problem; check back occasionally.
Thanks very much for your interest in the reports, and for your
patience with this glitch.

–Michael Wolverton

Fonzie Bichette


I realize that Dante Bichette has been the Prospectus
whipping boy forever.
Bichette, during his Rockies career--like every hitter in the National League
who ever stepped into the batter's box at Coors Field--benefited from the
altitude and the huge outfield. No argument there.

However, your
comment that his inclusion on a "disappointment list" would
indicate a "lack of careful analysis"
actually indicates a complete absence
of analysis on your part.

- Bichette's 3-year *road* BA/OBP/SLG from 1997-1999: .272/.308/.420

- His 1999 *road* stats: .287/.342/.502/

- His current stats at Cincy: .219/.285/.372

This dropoff is in fact disappointing by any measure. No one--at least no
sane person--expected him to match his Coors Field stats, but a one-year
130 drop in OPS is significant.

--ES

Thanks for your note about Bichette.
I stand by my original statement. First of all, I
would quibble with your use of last year’s road stats as the baseline
for Bichette’s performance. The three-year numbers that you also
included were substantially lower than last year’s road numbers, which
leads one to suspect that last year might be abnormally high for
Bichette. If you compare his numbers this year with the three-year
average, it represents a drop of 071 in OPS. Now for some players–such as
the Reds’ other big off-season addition–this might
legitimately be called a surprising drop, but there’s an additional
factor here, one I failed to mention. Bichette is 36 years old.

The reality is that it takes an
exceptional athlete to continue performing at his previous level once
he gets past his mid-30s. While it’s impossible to predict exactly
when a player’s performance will collapse, it’s inevitable that it will
happen sooner or later and the odds of it happening get better with
each year. While it might be foolhardy to predict in advance that it will
happen in a given season, it shouldn’t be a surprise when it does
happen in a situation like this.

–Jeff Hildebrand

Scabs


Can you all point me to a list of replacement players?
I can make guesses by way of nameless cards in Strat-O-Matic
(Rick Reed, Brian Daubach, Kevin Millar et al.) but I'm also interested
in minor leaguers, such as Ricky Magdaleno.

--JP

According to the MLBPA, they don’t maintain a list of who
scabbed and who did not in 1994/5, at either the major-
or minor-league levels. They seemed perplexed by my
question of how they sort out if a callup is allowed to be
in the union or not, but stressed they don’t have lists.

This wouldn’t be the first time that I come to the conclusion
that the only difference between MLB and the MLBPA is that
the union has better lawyers.

–Chris Kahrl

Curt Schilling


Based on the success of Curt Schilling's rehab starts, he seemed poised
to come back better than ever. He had all of his velocity back, had
developed a change, and seemed to be oozing confidence. It seems that all
Schilling is doing is giving up many more jacks than he ever has. Why has he
struggled so?

--DS

The most likely answer to your question is that Schilling has
been the victim of his manager’s inability to learn a lesson.
Schilling’s problems last year were either caused or brought on earlier
than they would have otherwise by Terry Francona’s willingness to leave him
out there to pitch complete game after complete game. Schilling placed
8th on our list of most abused pitchers in Baseball Prospectus 1999,
and last year he was well on his way to placing higher when his
injury cut his season short.

This year, in his second start back,
Francona let him throw 126 pitches in a complete game against the
Braves. Since then he’s given up 19 runs in 22 1/3 innings while his
strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up. That looks suspiciously
like the consequences of a pitcher being pushed too hard too fast.

To be fair, it is possible that the problem is more involved than
that, but that high-pitch-count game is looking like the culprit at
this point.

–Jeff Hildebrand

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