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Tag: "baseball"

Is it hard to make arrangements with yourself

[ 32 ] August 27, 2008 |

. . . when you’re old enough to repay, but young enough to sell?
I gather Alex Rodriguez was booed mercilessly last night for single-handedly destroying the Yanqui season. NYY seems headed towards a dodgy transitional year or three (ARod will be 34 next summer and he’s still almost the youngest guy on the team who can play), and I have a feeling that the $300 million man is going to be the target for the frustrations of many an overpriced ticket buyer in the team’s palatial new digs.
I wonder if he’s having second thoughts . . .


[ 0 ] August 26, 2008 |

Many thanks to frequent commenter Howard for generously sending me the classics Out To Lunch and Underground from the ol’ wish list. Supoib choices, and as they are now freshly loaded into ITunes will make my upcoming train ride all the more pleasant.

In addition, when it comes to my reverse-hedge bets with Howard I note that as of now I would be on the hook for $50 donations to Planned Parenthood and the anti-Prop 8 campaign, as the Yankees are missing the playoffs as well of course as being out of the division. Until we see the upcoming series, though, I’m at least not writing off the former…

The Price You Pay For Forgetting The Mute Button Is Your Friend

[ 14 ] August 25, 2008 |

In my defense, I was engaged in Real Work and had the Devil Rays/Sox game on in the background, so I needed the sound. But as bad as seeing the Rays lose after a beyond-farcical call when A.J. Pierzynski elbowing Willy Aybar resulted in an interference call…on Aybar, hearing the Pale Hose’s uber-hack announcers try to rationalize the whole thing was much worse.

Admittedly, I may have been upset because the Mets somehow managed to lose by giving up — in the same inning, I swear! — the first post-Clinton administration homer for both Brad Asumus and Darrin Erstad. Do you know what the odds of that are? It’s in the billions! It couldn’t happen, wouldn’t happen! Did you not see you were being set up after the second hit?

Roe v. Kuhn

[ 30 ] August 20, 2008 |

One way of sorting out peoples’ politics of law is to ask them if they find Harry Blackmun’s opinion for the Court in Roe v. Wade or Flood v. Kuhn more jurisprudentially offensive. (Flood held that, in order to avoid reversing a half-century-old precedent, baseball’s reserve clause would continue to be treated as legal under federal antitrust laws.) I teach the Flood case in my Legislation course, and one thing I try to bring out is the economic naivete of the opinion, which proceeds from the dual assumptions that

(a) Americans love baseball more than almost anything else; and

(b) Major league baseball can’t survive as a viable economic enterprise without special legal protections for team owners.

The Flood case came to mind this morning when I was putting together my Legislation syllabus, and I happened to notice that the major league minimum salary ($390,000) is now roughly three times higher, in real terms, than the mean salary at the time of the Flood case (the median salary was of course much lower), and almost exactly the same as what the mean salary was back in 1981, after the first great wave of free agency had driven salaries to what the owners insisted were unsustainable levels.

Class Warfare Atfter Shea

[ 10 ] August 13, 2008 |

I’ve neglected to mention that the great Roy Edroso is now blogging for the Voice. Today, he brings some of the bad news about Citi Field for those of us who like to go to the odd Mets game. What concerns me is not so much the prices of the high-end seats (which I’m never in anyway), but the much lower supply, which will make it difficult to make game-time decisions. I’m not saying I miss my Montreal days where you could buy a $7 seat at gametime and sit near home plate, exactly, but…

Future events such as these will affect you in the future

[ 63 ] August 13, 2008 |

My friend Steve is an atmospheric scientist and a hardcore baseball fan. He’s devised an ingenious simulation, in which he predicts the probable outcome of the remainder of a baseball season based on a method which involves using the Pythagorean records of teams to predict how they will do given their remaining schedules. In other words he evaluates both the strength of individual teams and of their schedules on the basis of runs scored and allowed rather than won-loss records. He (or rather his computer) then plays out the remainder of the season 100,000 times.

Here’s his current simulation results for the remainder of this season:

AL East: Rays 56%, Red Sox 43%, Yankees 1%, Blue Jays 0.1%

AL Central: White Sox 61%, Twins 38%, Tigers 0.6%, Indians 0.04%

AL West: Angels 99.993%, Rangers 0.007%

AL Wildcard: Red Sox 46%, Rays 36%, Twins 7%, White Sox 5%, Yankees 5%, Blue Jays 0.8%, Rangers 0.2%, Tigers 0.1%

NL East: Phillies 62%, Mets 28%, Marlins 9%, Braves 0.7%

NL Central: Cubs 87%, Brewers 12%, Cardinals 0.9%

NL West: Diamondbacks 57%, Dodgers 43%, Rockies 0.09%

NL Wildcard: Brewers 71%, Cardinals 14%, Cubs 11%, Mets 1%, Phillies 1%, Marlins 0.4%, Astros 0.4%, Diamondbacks 0.2%, Dodgers 0.2%, Braves 0.01%

If your favorite team isn’t listed it means they didn’t make the playoffs in any of the 100,000 simulations.

Reds exploit world distracted by Olympics and . . .

[ 14 ] August 11, 2008 |

. . . donate Adam Dunn to Arizona for a petrified starfish and two pre-owned copies of The Transformed Man.

Dunn is a free agent in six weeks, so if the Reds would have gotten two first round picks if they had kept him, assuming they would have offered arbitration and he would have walked (which seems like a safe bet).

Obviously you can’t really evaluate the trade without knowing who the two propects to be named later are, but as it stands now it looks like something of a giveaway and I don’t understand why the Dodgers let him clear waivers.

The King of Nothing

[ 58 ] August 6, 2008 |

A couple commenters here (and I’ve heard this elsewhere) compared Mark McGwire to Dave Kingman. This really couldn’t be more absurd. Let’s start with their lifetime OBPs:

Kingman: .302
McGwire: .394

So, except for the fact that McGwire is vastly better at the most important hitter’s skill, they were very similar. Or compare the OPS+s from their first seasons up to age 30:

Kingman: 113, 109, 102, 117, 128, 96, 131, 146
McGwire: 164, 134, 129, 143, 103, 176, 138

And even this understates McGwire’s superiority, because OPS substantially overvalues power and undervalues OBP. With a better metric, the gap would be even larger than this. Comparing the two is like comparing George Bell with Ted Williams.

In addition, McGwire was a decent first baseman when he was younger, while Kingman was a complete butcher. True, McGwire was a slow slugger, and lost his defensive value early. But even if he was largely “one-dimensional,” so what? Derek Bell is more “multi-dimensional” than Frank Thomas. Who cares? The point is to win, and the enormous amount of runs McGwire created (in addition to adequate defense when he was younger) was extremely valuable.

Reasonable people can disagree about how much PEDs should affect Cooperstown. I, personally, would but virtually no weight on it, but I understand people differ. But unless all alleged steroid users are removed from consideration McGwire is not merely a Hall of Famer but an overqualified Hall of Famer.

Say It Ain’t So, Barry

[ 59 ] August 5, 2008 |

After various rumors that he might sign with some sufficiently desperate team failed to pan out, it seems increasingly likely that Barry Bonds has played his last major league game. If so, then Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa will all be appearing on your Hall of Fame ballot for the first time in 2013. Raphael Palmiero will show up the year before (correction — in 2011).

Are any of these guys going to get in? Should they? Sosa and Palmiero are strongly if not overwhelmingly qualified according to the traditional voting criteria. (I think these criteria need to be adjusted somewhat to account for the offensive explosion of the last 15 years — for example I doubt many people would rank Palmiero as one of the top 50ish players in history, given that he’s a first baseman who never led the league in almost any major offensive category). Bonds and Clemens, of course, are arguably the greatest player and greatest pitcher in the history of the game, respectively.

The most relevant evidence so far is the voting for Mark McGwire, whose overall level of qualification is similar to Sosa’s and Palmiero’s. McGwire has been on the ballot for two years, and received shockingly (to me) little support, appearing on just 23% of the ballots (75% is necessary for election).

In fact all these guys certainly would have made it absent the steriod thing, and Bonds and Clemens would have been very close to unanimous first-ballot choices (there are always a handful of Typical White Middle-Aged Sportswriters — TWMAS for future reference — who won’t vote for anybody on the first ballot because Babe Ruth wasn’t a unanimous pick or somebody slighted Jim Bunning in the balloting or whatever).

My guess is that the only guy who makes it out of this group is Clemens. This will lead to a big argument about how much Bonds’ race was a factor, which will be just one more domestic crisis that President Obama will have to deal with.


[ 18 ] August 5, 2008 |

Apparently it’s possible that greatest pitcher athlete in Yankee recorded human history will be going on the D.L. Overhype aside, that’s a pretty serious hit, especially given their upcoming schedule. Maybe the Yankees will miss the postseason after all! Of course, I’m sure the Yankees will be able to come up with some complete stiff with no major league credentials to go 11-0 in his place anyway.

Brad Ziegler

[ 16 ] August 3, 2008 |

This is a pretty nice stat line. Ziegler’s story has Billy Beane’s and thus Bill James’s fingerprints all over it. A 20th-round draft pick out of college who spent a few years struggling in the low minors, the A’s converted him to a submarine-style pitching motion last year (James has always been a big believer in the theory that submarine pitching motions aren’t used enough, mainly because of old-time baseball men’s prejudice against throwing under-handed. Hmmm, does the use of the term under-handed to mean devious encode this semantically?).

Well now the guy has given up one earned run in 56 innings of AAA and MLB pitching. His major league career is 32 innings long and no one has gotten an extra base hit on him.

An odd footnote to all this is that his skull has been fractured twice in the last four years — once by a line drive in a game, and then this past January in a freak accident at a baseball camp by a stray baseball.

Subtraction by Addition…

[ 18 ] August 2, 2008 |

Given that the White Sox appear to have been historically terrible in terms of center field defense this year, I suppose that the Griffey acquisition makes sense, even allowing for his demand to return to center. I’m kind of glad, though, that I didn’t take time out of my precious DC visit to go and see the Nationals and my beloved Reds last night, although I suppose that attending while wearing my Griffey t-shirt (which bears Griffey’s 2005 number, to boot) would have had some anachronistic value. In any case, dumping any of Griffey’s salary for anyone who might contribute in any way to a future Cincinnati playoff team is a good move for the Reds…

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