An old fart who's passion is White Sox baseball. You know, when I was your age...
. . . and you can light the lamp, yesssss! . . . you have got to be bleeping me, you call that offsides? Andy McElman is killing us! . . . that'll be two minutes in the sin bin. . . . you know who was the best at getting the puck off the boards in traffic? Dirk Graham. . . . and my stick to click tonight is Hossa. . . . let's put the biscuit in the basket, boys. . . . puck snort. More at the link.
Sweet front page NY Times story on Mary Frances Veeck and Wyonella Smith, and their husband's roles in breaking MLB's color barrier.
Cool story! He may not have realized it at the time, but my brother John created the model for the Excel spreadsheet almost 30 years before Microsoft unveiled it. All because of the White Sox.
Defense in baseball has gone unnoticed for a long time. It’s time a new defense in baseball got its own name like new defenses in other sports. I expect that there will come a time in baseball where shifting by batter and even by count and pitch type will become as commonplace as NFL defensive changes based on the down and distance situation. The Tampa Bay Rays are getting close to that now, and as they continue to succeed, other teams will begin to emulate their success, as they have begun doing now. But the White Sox? Click the link.
Everyone here knows the story of Buck Weaver, one of the "8 men out" from the 1919 Black Sox tossed World Series. Buck had refused to to take the money or give anything less than his all, but was...
This a great review of what looks to be a fascinating story. Excerpt (More at link of course): In 2008, Bob Weiss, a once-upon a time NBA player, a long time coach, mostly as an assistant but with three stints as a head coach, involuntarily retired, recovering from cancer surgery, sixty-eight years old and looking without enthusiasm at turning seventy in a couple of years, took a job as head coach of the Shanxi Brave Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association. Weiss had never been to China. He didn’t speak any Chinese. He still had hopes---fading hopes, but still hopes---that his phone would ring and it would be the general manager or head coach of an NBA team calling to say, "Bob, we need you." But the Dragons’ owner offered Weiss a pile of money to come to China to teach his team how to play NBA style hoops and in the process make champions out of hopeless losers.
Unless I missed one, the White Sox have exactly ONE in the Top 101, and he comes in at #81. Read it and weep.
I hope you understand that I would never sacrifice my reputation by arguing that a player belongs in the Hall of Fame if I did not sincerely believe this to be true. Yes, Dwight Evans works for the Red Sox, and I work for the Red Sox, and I'm not saying this is not relevant to why I am writing, but … I wouldn't argue that Dwight Evans had a Hall of Fame quality career if the kinds of analysis that I do all the time did not show this to be true. It's not really that I wouldn't; I couldn't. I've spent years explaining to the public every step I take in evaluating a player. If I didn't follow those steps, the people who have read my stuff over the years would know immediately that I wasn't playing by the rules, and they would tear me a newbie over it right away.
As we assess how much we care that Albert Pujols is now an Angel and José Reyes is a Marlin managed by Ozzie Guillen, as we remind ourselves that we love baseball for the game itself, maybe a new glance backward is in order! This year’s roster of spring books on our national pastime is tilted more than usually toward the academic and the deeply historical, but there are also testaments to the game’s notable personalities and the predictable stories of fathers and sons bonding over baseball. Some things never change, no matter what uniform a player is wearing.
In total there were FORTY-SIX players on the nominating ballot in 1946 who would end up in the Hall of Fame. And do you know how many the writers voted in that year? None. Nada. Zilch. It could be that the ballot was so overwhelming, with so many great-to-legendary players backed up, that the writers could not come up with any consensus. It seems obvious from some of the vote totals that many writers were just trying to go in order — to honor the older players first — which would be the only reasonable explanation how Lefty Grove received just 35% of the vote. LEFTY GROVE. He has an argument as the greatest pitcher of all time. Jimmie Foxx (just two years retired — this was before the five-year wait) got just 26 votes. No player got more than 57% of the vote on the final ballot. The writers had legislated themselves into oblivion.
There is a nugget of truth behind this Window obsession. Smaller-revenue teams have a tougher time signing premium free agents, or retaining their own top players past their initial six years of team control. That puts extra pressure on these poorer teams to bring up a bunch of great prospects all at once, then hope they get good at the same time before they get expensive. But far more often it's a bullshit excuse. It's a vague, faraway goal that always seems several years out of reach. It's a cover for cheap, greedy ownership, lousy scouting, drafting, and player development, and myopic trades. It's a weak attempt to placate a fan base screwed over by years of management incompetence and indifference.
Using his "how many runs scored on each hit" system, he figured out that: A single is worth .46 of a run. A double is worth .79 of a run. A triple is worth 1.15 of a run A home run is worth 1.55 of a run. Pause once more to think about this. He only looked at 1,000 hits in 1916. He came up with a quirky system to figure out how many runs scored. Now, jump ahead 50 years. John Thorn and Pete Palmer wrote "The Hidden Game of Baseball," an all-time classic. In it, they introduced the Linear Weights system. For it, they used computer simulations and ALL the data available going back to 1901. And this is what they determined. A single is worth .46 of a run. A double is worth .80 of a run A triple is worth 1.02 of a run A home run is worth 1.40 of a run Numerous other people — Friend of Blog Tom Tango among them — have looked at Linear Weights, tweaked it, worked with it, and the numbers move a bit here and there. But the point here is that what F.C. Lane did through sheer will power, limited data and some rudimentary math skill was REMARKABLY accurate and at least a half century ahead of its time.
The AL Central still exists. I know this, because I checked. However, the five teams in the division certainly have done their best to make that an open question this offseason. The five teams...
Cool story/interview with both.
A scientific look at what brain neurons are doing when we watch, our physical reactions to same, and, as a bonus: What makes KenWo credible! Why you shouldn't listen to Hawk while watching! Hee.
A look at how fans followed baseball during the olden days.
"Every year," Chase Lambin said, "I think, 'This is the year. This is the year it's going to happen.'" He's played in Brooklyn, Port St. Lucie, Binghamton, Norfolk, Zebulon, N.C., Albuquerque, Japan, Syracuse, and now Rochester. He's played in more than 1,000 games. He's been up to bat more than 4,000 times. He's been an All-Star in Class A, in Double-A, in Triple-A. He's never made it to the major leagues. He turned 32 in July. He walked out of the clubhouse and through the tunnel to the dugout and onto the field to stretch. He jogged to a spot in shallow center and knelt in the grass and said a short prayer. This was how he started the last day of his 10th season in professional baseball.
If we take the comparison from the beginning of this century, baseball still comes out ahead. From 2001 through last year, both MLB and the NFL saw 14 different teams place in the 20 slots for their championship game. But football has had just seven different winners over those ten seasons, while baseball has had nine. Why is this? One might argue that pro football's policy of wealth distribution discourages some teams from even trying to compete. After all, the Pirates did win the Series in 1971 and 1979, while the Cleveland Browns (either in their old manifestation or rebirth in 1999) and Detroit Lions have never even been to a Super Bowl. And it is no small point that a large part of NFL football's seeming parity is an illusion: The league has 12 postseason spots for it's 32 teams, so 37.5 percent of the clubs will get a playoff berth. Baseball has room for just eight playoff teams out of 30, or 26.7 percent. So, yes, Major League Baseball does have a problem trying to get teams like the Pirates into the Fall Classic - and the Bucs, who are currently 16.5 games out of first place in heir division, won't be going this year, either. Meanwhile, the NFL has a problem just as serious which few even acknowledge, namely how to get teams without much economic incentive out of their mediocrity mode. The New York Jets play in sport's biggest market, yet they haven't won the Super Bowl in 41 seasons. Even Bill Maher might concede that after more than four decades, Jets fans are ready for a little more free-market stew and a little less commie pie.
The Financial Times recently interviewed Diego Della Valle, the chief executive of the Italian luxury goods manufacturer Tod's. Della Valle owns the celebrated Italian football club Fiorentina. "I ask if the decision to buy the club was made from the heart, or for business reasons," the Financial Times interviewer writes. Della Valle replies: "With football, business reasons don't exist." Exactly. Yawkey did not have "business reasons" with the Red Sox either. Why did he care that keeping the club lily white cost him millions of dollars? He inherited $40 million from his grandfather when he turned 30 in 1933 (which is roughly $700 million in today's money). He fell in love with baseball growing up in Detroit. Ty Cobb was one of his best friends. The Red Sox were his heart's desire, and in his case his heart's desire — so the story goes — included things like running out on the field during Jackie Robinson's tryout and yelling "Get those [expletive] off the field." In case you were wondering how this kind of thing goes over with the baseball establishment, Yawkey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1980.
Ty Cobb can be a cruel man, and at the same time be a misunderstood hero. Detroit can be both a ravaged, bleeding city and an inspired place where creative people are imagining new ways for an urban center to be successful. In fact, that's exactly what is true.
For you youngsters and hipsters who find the written word less interesting than pictures, this site is for you! Graphics that even old folks can appreciate too.
No one forced Clemens to talk to Congress that day. He could have exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination--just like Mark McGwire did--and refused to answer any questions. Then he could have slinked off into the sunset--just like McGwire did--to be resurrected by the baseball fraternity, if nothing else, at some future date. But Clemens chose to speak--and to contradict much of the narrative offered by others. He chose to do so for his own strategic and tactical reasons. And he should be held to account. Words matter--especially under oath. Actions have consequences--especially under oath. This trial will outline for us what the contours of those consequences are for Clemens. I have no problem with any of that.
Allen Barra writes about Pujols mainly, but highlights our own Minnie Minoso. More at the link, great article: Here's a thumbnail sketch: there is some dispute about Minnie's actual age, so we'll go with BaseballReference.com on this. In 1951, when he was officially a rookie, he was 25 years old and had already lost about three years of his prime. Playing for the White Sox, he made a spectacular bid, for Rookie of the Year. He hit .326 with ten home runs, 76 RBIs, and 112 runs scored. Gil McDougald of the Yankees hit .306 with 14 home runs, 63 RBIs, and 72 runs. Minnie led the AL in stolen bases with 31 (McDougald had 14) and triples with 14 (Gil had four). Minoso had an on-base percentage of .422 and a slugging average of .500; McDougald was, respectively, .396 and .488. McDougald won. Minoso's 1951 season was a red flag to Latin players that they would have to do better than non-Latin players just to be noticed, and far better if they wanted to win awards. Minnie Minoso was a far superior player than many white players who are in the Hall of Fame; he is also better than a few non-Latin black players who are in the Hall. Doby and Enos Slaughter were, for the most part, Minoso's contemporaries, and both, finally, were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Minoso, though his numbers were in every way better than Doby's or Slaughter's, has never made it. He is no longer even considered a serious contender. He was a terrific outfielder and a scrappy player whose nickname was "The Cuban Comet." He never hesitated to take one for the team: he lead the AL in getting hit by pitches an eye-popping ten times. I'd take him over the Boston Red Sox's slugger Jim Rice, who made it into the Hall two years ago, in a heartbeat.
Joe Pos on Adam Dunn: You could argue -- what the heck I will argue -- that Adam Dunn in 2011 is the single least enjoyable player to watch in baseball history. He still has a half season to go and in that half season he could turn things around, whack a few home runs, lead the White Sox on a bit of a charge, it's not impossible, not even wildly improbable. He's hit 38-plus homers every single year since 2004. But watching him the first half season has been so dreary, so depressing, that after seeing him play a couple of games in a row I feel like I need a shot of Vitamin D or a vacation to someplace sunny.
Well written and researched look at the physical decline of athletes, baseball players in particular, Jeter specifically. I don't think the paywall will be an issue. Snip: At 90 miles per hour, average major-league speed, a baseball leaves the pitcher’s hand and travels about 56 feet to home plate in 0.4 seconds, or 400 milliseconds. The batter’s eyes must first find the ball, Adair writes, then sensory cells in the retina encode information on its speed and trajectory and send it to the brain. This all takes about 75 milliseconds, during which the pitched ball has traveled nine feet. The brain then sends messages through the spinal cord that tell muscles to initiate the swing. Adair writes that the first such messages go to the batter’s legs to prompt him to step into the ball. (Jeter, at the beginning of this season, tried to hit without a stride. Instead of making his own actions quicker, he basically tried to buy himself some milliseconds by retraining his brain to skip the first part of the swing process. He wasn’t comfortable with it and is taking a stride again, though it’s a short one.) The batter continues to track the ball as muscles in his arms and upper body begin to bring the bat around, but once the pitch is halfway to the plate, it is too late for him to change the swing plane. He must instantaneously form a mental picture of the ball’s course, then direct his swing to where he believes it will be. This is why batters are fooled by sliders and other pitches with so-called late break. If it weren’t "psychologically upsetting," Adair writes, a hitter could just as well close his eyes once the ball is halfway to the plate and get the same result.
Readers paying attention to sportswriting for the past few months have had ample room for excitement. Not only have we been treated to great takes on the Super Bowl, March Madness, new seasons for baseball and tennis, the specter of an NFL lockout, NBA and NHL playoffs, and an upcoming Barcelona-Manchester United UEFA soccer final at Wembley Stadium — we’ve also seen the launch of several important publishing experiments on the web deliberately breaking out of sports’ traditional press box.
The gentleman the sportswriters somewhat desperately called "Killer" was just 23 years old in 1959 -- but by then Harmon Killebrew already had played parts of six seasons in the major leagues. Six seasons. He was of that peculiar bonus baby time, when owners (as owners tend to do) went looking for convoluted and spectacularly destructive methods to control their own spending. Certainly, they might have controlled spending by not spending as much money. But that was deemed unrealistic. The point is that by 1959, Harmon Killebrew was no phenom. He had been up and down so many times that his name was achingly familiar to Senators fans (and this was right in the prime of the Senators "First in war, first in peace, last in the American League" glory). Killebrew had hit .224 in 280 plate appearances scattered over the years. He is the only Hall of Fame player to get fewer than 500 plate appearances total in his first five years. This is not to say that anyone in the game had given up on Killebrew's future. It's more that his promise had dulled. Albie Pearson won rookie of the year in 1958. People were more excited about him. Then, the blossoming of Harmon Killebrew happened. It was not gradual. It was instant. On May 1, 1959, Harmon Killebrew hit two home runs at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. There were fewer than 2,000 people in the stands -- the Tigers were dreadful, they had lost 13 of their first 15 games. Killebrew homered in the second inning off a good young pitcher named Jim Bunning. In the 10th inning, with the score still tied, Killebrew hit another homer off Bunning. Killebrew's amazing home runs stretch in 1959 more or less carried on for the next dozen years. It was his fate to play baseball in the worst hitting era since Deadball, and yet from 1959 to 1970 -- 12 years dominated by pitchers -- Killer hit a home run ever 12.7 at-bats. Up that point, only Babe Ruth had hit home runs so often. Forty-five times in his career he hit two homers in a game. Six times he led the league in home runs. Eight times he hit 40-plus homers in a season. He was a low average hitter -- he spent a career fighting to make more solid contact -- but he was a ferocious worker, and he developed remarkable plate discipline. "If it isn't a strike, don't swing," he said years later when asked his philosophy of his hitting. He led the league in walks three times, and despite those low averages, from 1966-1971 he led the American League overall in on-base percentage (.401). He wasn't fast or particularly nimble and so playing defense was always a challenge, but he played five different positions, and he played hard, and observers will say he wrestled first base to a draw. As a hitter, he was ahead of his time. His high-walk, big-power numbers would anticipate the 1990s, when various factors -- steroids not being the least of these, though weight training and advances in diet and so on played their role -- would give many players the superhuman strength of Harmon Killebrew. At the time, though, Killebrew was different. He was apart. He was larger than life. Much more at link.
Makes sense to me and I couldn't care less (fewer). Compelling though.
Home teams had a .266 batting average on cloudy days, the researchers found. That slipped to .259 on clear days. For the visitors, the batting average was .256 when it cloudy and .251 on clear days. Obviously, if cloudy days are better for hitting, sunshine should benefit the pitcher, and that's just what they found. Earned runs allowed by home pitchers were lowest on clear days at 3.93, climbing to 4.26 on cloudy days. For visiting pitchers the ERA was 4.50 in the clear and 4.68 under the clouds. The analysis is based on statistics from 10,758 major league day games obtained from STATS LLC and weather data collected by the National Climatic Data Center, showing the conditions at the nearest National Weather Service office to each stadium at game time. The findings are published in the current issue of the journal Weather, Climate and Society. Kent said he had expected to see better hitting in cloudy conditions but was surprised by how strong the effect was on strikeouts. Home pitchers averaged 6.65 strikeouts on clear days, but in cloudy conditions that fell to 6.22. For visiting pitchers, the drop from clear to cloudy was from 6.14 to 5.67. "I was also surprised with the increase in home-team winning percentage from cloudy day games to clear day games. While I had anticipated that the home team would be better equipped to compensate for any potential disadvantages caused by increased sunlight, I did not foresee the increase in winning percentage that resulted," he said. On clear days, home teams won 56 percent of their games and visitors 44 percent. When it was cloudy, that fell to 52 percent home wins and visitors 48 percent. More at the link.
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