Monthly archives: February 2004
Ok, who do we blame for this. Normally, I can just kneejerk at some Conservative or other moron, but this one requires not only thought, but some historical sensibility.
Whoever to blame, this whole saga has been a mess and really, one of the largest failures in American history.
I'm not saying I disagree with John Smoltz but he is part of the MLBPA and they set up, with the owners, the current drug testing program.
Let he who criticizes cast the first ... ummm ... urine?
Super big kudos to my father. His sports medicine program at the University of Mobile recieved a "full compliance" from his JRC-AT inspection. I know this means about nothing to most of you, but for a program like UMob, it's huge. There are BIG schools that have a hard time passing and to come out golden like this says a lot for him.
Had they not passed, anyone getting a sports med degree would not have been allowed to take the NATA Certification test, rendering their degree worthless. It says a lot about leadership to have pulled this off and really says a lot for UMob as a whole. It isn't a big school or one with a lot of money, but something like this shows it has a commitment to it's students.
Ok, someone explain this ...
It was pretty cool when Saving The Pitcher got an Amazon listing.
It was pretty cool when it made it out of the seven-digit rankings.
Today, it jumped from hanging out around 45,000 to 3,500. Is it people that bought BP wanting free shipping and figuring STP would be a good match? Is it having Jay Jaffe let me shamelessly plug it at Futility?
I'm flat stunned.
Talk O' The Town
Not only is Alex Belth the lead in a story about the explosion of blogs, he's just flat out the best one out there. I am lucky enough to call Alex a friend and now a "labelmate" here at A-B, but I'll always feel like I do with U2. I can remember walking through school with a cassette of "Boy" playing. No one else knew who the heck they were and it took another three great albums before they broke through.
It's not going to take that long with Alex. Phenomenal voice, interesting and original ideas, and just check out his connections - find me another web-based writer who can get this kind of lineup to discuss things.
I'm proud of you, pal.
Best Picture: The Return of the King
Best Actor: Bill Murray
Best Actress: Charlize Theron
Best Director: Peter Jackson
Best Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Clarkson
Best Song: Ain True Love
Documentary: Fog Of War
Best Original Screenplay: Lost In Translation
Best Adapted Screenplay: City of God
Foreign Film: The Barbarian Invasions
So, comment your own picks and we'll see how we do later tonight. The red carpet is on NOW (1.30pm EST) in HD, so that will be cool.
Maybe with Kellerman gone ...
Anyway, in the 2d round of the Moralez-Chavez fight tonight - worth checking out on the replay tomorrow - Chavez throws a WILD overhand right that catches nothing. He flinches, guards, and I say out loud "Oh, he dislocated it."
SIX ROUNDS LATER, George Foreman - the cluelessest of the clueless announcers and don't get me started on how Larry Merchant has a job - finally notes that Chavez hasn't thrown a right since the second.
In the third round, I noticed that Chavez was holding it in a guard position and said "You know, I think he tore his rotator cuff." At the end of the fight, Chavez says "I reinjured it. Tearing my cuff is what postponed my last fight."
But really, check it out. It's not Gatti-Ward III where Gatti had shattered his hand and KEPT PUNCHING WITH IT, but it's a darn good fight ... and this post didn't give it away.
Can't argue at all with TFD's Top Ten. My Oscar picks tomorrow, like you care ...
For those of you that entered the All-Baseball Yahoo League, go set your draft lists. I'm hoping to flip the switch that allows it to draft on Monday so that we have plenty of time to make deals and fix things. I'm not a big fan of list drafts, but with 20 people, I wasn't going to herd cats and try to do a live draft.
So, go to ...
We'll Be Right Back ...
... after this brief commercial announcement.
Announcing a new flavor of BP content
That's right, Fantasy.BP is now available at a lower price point. If you just want the numbers for your fantasy leagues or want to track the teams you have with TeamTracker, but can't quite scrape together the money for Premium, now there's something for you.
Premium subscribers will also get access to Fantasy content and applications, so it remains the best value, but we're always trying to give people what they want. Check it out ...
(Oh, and check out the snazzy new logo!)
Everyone knows I suck at fantasy baseball. I've set up a "bragging rights" league over at Yahoo. It's free, is roto-style with better categories, and oh what the hell, come see if you can kick my ass.
Yahoo Baseball #88795 - Password:Ruzich
If the Preznit goes through with this abomination of an idea, (page down, second item) I'm going to just come undone. The politicization of September 11th is something that is being done, but blatantly pissing on the graves is quite another thing altogether.
Don't write angry ... don't write angry ... don't give the Secret Service a reason to come by the house ... don't write angry ...
Potpourri, Will's Version
Let's do this Larry King style ...
At what point in the latest 'decency' debate does Howard Stern become Lenny Bruce? I'm not a fan - I just don't find him funny - but I'm not sure how this one will play out and where 'decency' becomes censorship. ...
Stand in the middle of a room. There can be no wall within five feet of your outstretched arm. You're fully nude. Now, with a stranger watching, urinate into a cup. See why the players had a problem with the privacy aspect of drug testing? ...
If Cheney's supposed to be the smart one, how come Bush is the one that has the Yale degree? ...
I'd love to see a deconstruction of the lyrics of "Desolation Row" by Dylan ...
Someone who's name you'd know called the Yankees the "Beatles. The late 60's Beatles after Yoko showed up." Apt ...
Steve Buscemi will be a regular on The Sopranos this season. And I thought it couldn't get any better ...
Sports Illustrated is getting a lot more interesting lately, while ESPN seems to be dumbing itself down. If ESPN didn't have Gammons, Stark, and Neyer ...
I think that a sloth would be the perfect pet, but I'd love to be Diane Fossey for a day ...
Turk Wendell's calling out Bonds? That's pretty much it's own punchline.
One of These Things, II
Via Talking Points Memo ...
Today's chat - Undersecretary for Getting Out the Redneck Vote.
The Appropriately Named DIPS
DIPS, my eye ...
If Keith Woolner and Tom Tippett haven't knocked that theory around enough, for once, I'll listen to a player:
"Some pitchers think that you've got to throw every pitch to make the hitters miss it," Hentgen said. "Then you realize that ground-ball outs are easier, faster, more efficient. You can stay in the game longer. Teams are so conscious now of the 120-pitch plateau, so complete games are not as common as they used to be. I just think an out is an out and when you realize that you become a better pitcher."
(from this Globe and Mail article.)
Blow It Up Real Good
This is unbelievably stupid. (Registration Required.) While it's probably good publicity for Harry Caray's Restaurant - which is actually really good, esp. the Chicken Vesuvio and homemade chips they serve in the bar - I can't help but think that the money and effort could have been better used on something like the RBI program or one of a million other deserving charities.
If nothing else, a Cubs championship would end all the Bartman, Goat, and other assorted curse discussion. Then we can get into my plan of pushing the Sears Tower over after the game.
This Is Not My Beautiful Dugout!
Dusty Baker is apparently channeling David Byrne.
I'm still trying to figure out the spleen reference ...
There's no such thing as a free lunch.
It's true in all things, but I'm often reminded of it recently. In accordance with the ILBIW principle, recent baseball discussions have thrust me into the no-man's land of being an "expert" without a real expertise.
As the steroid situation gets uglier and as those under suspicion are watched with the eagle eye of the media, I get phone calls and emails asking me about it. These come not only from readers, but from media. "Is X on steroids?" they'll ask. "Is this injury steroid-related?" others will query. I much prefer the latter since I personally have no clue if any player not named Sledge or Turnbow used steroids or any other ergogenic (and can we please stop using "steroids" as the catch-all term? I'm pushing "ergogenic.")
As with the Rose story - which never seems to end - this story will also never have a proper denouement. It could follow the pattern of the Pittsburgh drug trials - a couple convictions, some suspensions, and then it fades from the public consciousness - or it could follow the Rose pattern, calling into question records and Hall-worthiness.
There's simply no good solution. There's not going to be a WADA-style testing program. There's never going to be a drug-free sport. I'll just sit here in the middle, watching the story play itself out it fits and starts and frenzies, reminding myself that if this is the price I pay for getting to do what I love, it's not that bad a toll.
Looking at the A-Rod shift from the 1001st different angle ...
I'm no statistician, but I'm smart enough to know where to look and to use what the best statisticians generate. I'm a consumer, not a producer. (Someone get George's voice out of my head!)
I wondered if players at 3B tended to have less opportunity to make plays than SS. In coaching at the levels I have (14-15 and 9-10), you get adept at "hiding" players - shifting those that are poor defensively around to places where their weakness hurts the team least. I had a pitcher that lived on the outside (br, ch, spl) and could sneak someone over at 3B.
Looking at last year's stats, the Yanks 3B had significantly less chances. I couldn't find a breakdown between Ventura and Boone and that might enter into it slightly. The Yanks SS got 651 total chances while the 3B got only 462. Across the board in MLB, 3B got less chances than SS, which makes sense. In fact, the Yanks got the least chances of any team at SS while they had the 13th most at 3B. This is clearly a factor of range, but also delineates that the 3B will have less opportunities to make plays.
Pushing A-Rod over means that a player that generated an equivalent of 34 runs (RAR2) will be moved to a position with less chances in order that a player who generated negative runs (-1 RAR2) can stay put. Assuming less chances again, though the Yankees staff will probably be more groundballish than last year's 1.2 G/F ratio, one would think that A-Rod's ability to generate would be reduced.
To check this, the best comp would of course be Cal Ripken. Ripken was significantly older when he shifted to his right, but the dropoff in generation wasn't as significant as I expected. In his last full season at SS, he had a RAR2 of 20 and in his first full season at 3B, he put up a RAR2 of 20.
Moreover, Ripken was shifted not only by concerns for his age but because Baltimore had signed Mike Bordick, mostly due to his slick-fielding reputation. Bordick lived up to it in 97, putting up a RAR2 of 29. The move, in fact, made the team a few runs better at SS defensively. Add in that Ripken replaced a group of not-so-great 3B in Surhoff, Zeile, and Billy Ripken, that move was positive as well.
The Yanks, in contrast, cost themselves nearly 30 runs at SS and don't figure to improve much at 3B (Ventura and Boone combined for 20 RAR2). Using the 10 runs equals a win, the Yanks could cost themselves three wins and in a division that figures to be as tight as the '04 AL East, that's a lot.
(RAR2 from Baseball Prospectus; other defensive and historical data from Sports-Wired.)
Did I miss anything while I was gone?
I was in Chicago for the weekend, meeting with my publisher on the final details for STP, having a Pizza Feed, and spending Saturday at Tom House's pitching clinic. Amazing experiences, all of them, but Saturday was one of the best days I've ever had in baseball. I could work with kids and pitching all day and end up with a big smile on my face. If you're remotely interested in pitching or have a child that is, I can't recommend these highly enough.
I'd give more details, but I'm going to write this up for BP.
Chavez and Blalock both sign for five years at vastly different amounts. I'm not sure why Blalock took the offer, but it's cost certainty for both parties and $15m isn't chump change. Chavez's seems pretty fair and ends speculation that he'll join the Yankees next season. It's also something of a shift for the A's. I'm curious to see how this will affect the re-signing of the big three.
Steroid story is getting interesting and there's some pretty major rumblings about names. I've also heard very vague rumors that I haven't been able to substantiate that the cups will be coming very early in camp. I think the free pass given by the drug policy on a first offense is going to really come back and bite MLB and the players in the butt. Some players and their reps have asked me if there's any reason to worry about that first offense.
I'll be hard at work on the THR's over the next week, trying to catch up a bit. Just wait until you see all the things happening here and at BP in the coming weeks. EXCEPTIONALLY exciting and Im proud to be a part of both.
Over the past couple weeks, I've found myself nodding in agreement with Al Sharpton (on Bill Maher, not in any substantive debate). Now, I find myself reading Pat Buchanon and agreeing.
I know nothing about Australian papers. In Britain (and New York) there's some where you just ignore them out of hand and others where you pick and choose what to believe. That said, I'm curious what the status is of the The Age. It looks respectable, but I want serious context on this article. The only excuse for these kinds of statements are being drastically misquoted, being insane, or simply being the kind of crank that tests my love for the freedom of all speech.
I watched David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr." today. Actually, I finished watching it, having stopped and started over a couple sittings. I don't understand a minute of it. I loved Blue Velvet, but that was coherent. David Lynch is an amazing visual director and among the best at sustaining a mood, but even if one of you could explain this to me, I'm not sure I want to know.
The Astros are actively trying to move Richard Hidalgo. Only Drayton McLane's reluctance to eat any of the contract is holding up a deal at this point and Hidalgo may not open the season in Houston.
I've said it before, I'll say it again, and unless you know the circumstances right now, you have NO idea ...
Jay Jaffe is the MAN.
In 24 hours, he's really, really saved my bacon on something that could have crushed some of the impact of STP. Go to his site. Read his stuff. Buy him beers or large gifts. I know I will.
Wrath of Glee
I doubt Bill Plaschke will even notice that the blog world's equivalent of a boy band just hit him with a baseball version of "You Got Served." (or whatever it is the kids say. Back in my day, it was just the old-school "burrrrrrrrn!!!!!")
Aaron Gleeman dropped a bomb on the LA Times columnist and regular on the abysmal Around The Horn. (Don't get me started on that topic.) The war seems to continue with the bloggers and the inkers - something I've been a part of and has been discussed here. Aaron's clearly in the right as far as I can see, but we're setting up a barricade mentality.
I was able to ask a quick question of Joel Sherman (NY Post) when we taped today for BPR. After seeing esoteric stats like UZR on the pages of a NY tabloid seemed impossible just a few years ago, but Joel sees it as an evolution. There are a lot of good inkers - guys like Joel, TR Sullivan, and Mike Berardino - who are willing to open their minds, to learn, and not react against the new thinking as if it was a personal affront.
This isn't a war of revolution, I've decided. Bill James and his ego lashed out at being the "only one right" twenty years ago, recounted in Moneyball, but while Aaron reminds us that Rickey and Roth were driving down this road first, not everyone will make the journey. It's a war of attrition. Just look - while there's great "older" writers, many of the usual targets will be in the old writer's home soon.
I'd also like to, as usual when I read Gleeman, take it just a step further. Bringing up Rickey as a GM with an open mind in relation to the recent hiring of Paul DePodesta reminds me of another great Rickey quality. He had guts and vision. I said recently to Alex Ciepley that there might be no Jackie Robinson without Branch Rickey and while I'm no student of history, it still makes sense to me.
I know as much about Frank McCourt as you, perhaps less. I know what I've read and heard, but it seems like with this hiring, he's showing some of the same qualities that Rickey possessed. He's not going to be backed down by the press, by the bleatings of the press, or fear of change. If I were a Dodger fan, I'd be happy that quality is back in the front office.
Moneyball The Clown
I'm sorry ... this just begs for satire.
It's one thing to think of Billy or Paul at one of these "thought leader" forums, but entirely another to make it sound like Billy might be available as entertainment for little Shlomo's bar mitzvah.
I wish I was one of those sites that could go "Geeks! To your Photoshop, ho!"
Preznit Cain't Do VORP
Sorry, just couldn't resist something that starts with "Bush isn't a statistician."
The term "replacement level president" keeps coming to mind ...
And the first name ...
The first name to come out in the BALCO steroid scandal is ...
... well, read for yourself.
Nothing like missing a redaction, but this is a bit odd. I know we have a lot of lawyers that are big baseball fans - Lee Sinins, Doug Pappas, Keith Scherer and Jamey Newberg come immediately to mind. Everyone else is referred to as "professional baseball player" and in one case "prominent baseball player." Why the "slip" on the one name? Would this be someone that does or does not have the limited immunity?
As always, there's certainly more to come. I alluded earlier to these names being put into play but Smoking Gun - always a great source - pushed at least one out sooner than I expected. If any of the media has been able to confirm any of the other names, we'll see them.
(Thanks to Al for the link.)
Happy Birthday, Happy Hannukah, and whatever you say for Kwanzaa too. If you're a Cubs fan, it's almost as good.
Greg Maddux will sign with the Cubs, I've learned from multiple sources, and the signing could be announced as soon as tomorrow. Delayed slightly by the A-Rod deal, Maddux returns to the Cubs on a 2 year, $15m deal that may include an option, depending on the source.
Don't expect Maddux in camp immediately, but he should be there when it counts. For Cubs fans, that's October. While I dont think the "Maddux as mentor" stuff is as valuable as some make it out to be, I certainly don't think having him around will hurt anyone. The best part is that he'll allow Zambrano to shift down to the five slot, taking a bit of stress off his arm after a hard workload last season and hopefully allowing him to go deep into the post-season, rather than come in gassed like '03.
Unless you're Juan Cruz, there's no downside to this deal. The Cubs have the money to spend, it won't limit them from making some deadline deals if need be, and there's little reason to think Maddux's streak of 15 win seasons won't continue. Talk "Big Three" of Pedro, Schilling and Lowe or Zito, Hudson, and Mulder or even Brown, Vazquez and Mussina ... this Big Three is as good and I think the Cubs go five deep better than any rotation.
(EDIT - Gleeman's a buzzkill, telling me ESPN had this on SportsCenter. I guess I should start watching that occasionally. I don't think I've watched it ten times since I was on it in August. Here's a tip - show highlights.)
(EDIT 2 - ESPN is saying 3/24. As I said above, I heard that the third year was an option, but we'll see soon.)
Just The Start
Where it's going next is the names. Knowing that Greg Anderson has already named them is important, but expected. I'm no lawyer, but I watch enough Law & Order to know a strategy when I see it - they're driving a wedge, hoping that someone will cave or blurt out a confession. Watch enough Tivo and it's amazing what you learn ...
In all seriousness, this is an expected thing and the six names have been circulating for a while. Like any rumor, I'd like to see MLB (and perhaps the players) try to get out in front of it. What would happen if a player came out and said, "Yep, it was me. I took steroids." Would they get the first offense counseling penalty? Certainly there would be a thrashing in the media, but if a player could get away with just counseling, well, that's not really much of a deterrent, is it?
Maybe Bud could grab a confessional ... "I need an old priest and a young priest."
Everybody's got one, so I want one too ...
Despite the fact that I have a horrible track records with such things, I'm asking for suggestions on a tagline, something to go just under the prosaic "Will Carroll Weblog" and give everyone an idea what goes on here or at least a laugh.
Formerly, I tried to come up with a nickname ("King of Pain," didnt stick) and a slogan for BPR ("You only think you know baseball," also didn't stick), so maybe third time's the charm.
I'm tempted by the easy "Diary of a Madman" or something precious like a takeoff of the Garry Shandling Show theme, but I'm hoping someone can do better. Post away, boys ...
Do I really need to announce that the new design is up?
Still debating the whole TFD colour thing. I'd really like to think that everyone's smart enough to look at the bottom for a by-line, but we all miss thing sometimes. Along with the new All-Baseball family, this is still a pretty new endeavor for TFD and me, so you'll get to see all the growing pains.
Someone you'd know recently said to me "You've got it worse than most. You're going to make the same mistakes we all make, but you're going to do it in front of a national audience."
Damn, Secret's Out
Steven Goldman pops up the first in his series of articles about 1984 over at BP. I've already said in this space what a great addition he's going to be. Unfortunately, after this line "1984 was the year baseball first discovered it had an extensive drug problem. Had Will Carroll been out of the CIA then, he would have had to write as much about the psychological aspects of addiction as he now does about groin pulls and frayed rotator cuffs," he's going to have to be killed.
Some quick thoughts on A-Rod:
You read Moneyball, didn't you?
2002 - Anaheim Angels
2003 - Florida Marlins
The Red Sox and Blue Jays are still very good teams.
All those retorts aside, I'm looking forward to some BP-style analysis of how this trade really works. How much does the positional setup cost? How many more runs will this team score? How does this team compare historically?
To me, this trade is about drama. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry was already epic, but this saga with the best young player in baseball takes it up a notch or two. No curse of the Bambino this time, it's just the one that got away. I don't think it can get much more intense than it was last season, Game Seven ALCS, but it just might.
I'm beginning to think that the Yankees may want to go back to their old "Highlander" nickname .... with the Sox and Bombers, there can be only one!
Please be sure to see "Advancing, Part II" and make suggestions for an upcoming BP series.
The different text colour expiriment is continuing. You should all see a new site design this week as the All-Baseball family of blogs does a full-on redo to make the association between this and some of the other great blogs hosted here at A-B more apparent and usable. We'll also be doing some more things like the "C&C Baseball Factory" from last year's Cub Reporter, some roundtable discussions, and some other interesting things.
My first commitment will always be my work at Baseball Prospectus, but I'm proud to be a part of both the best and second-best team of writers in baseball. Once again, ILBIW.
Advancing, Part II
While this has been in the works for a while, my previous post on "Advancing The Field" and the discussion makes the upcoming series on BP even more important. Starting Tuesday with an intro, we'll be starting a "Baseball Analysis Basics" series, attempting to explain not only the how but they why behind what we do and some of the statistics. I think it's important to make sabermetrics and analysis as open to as many people as possible.
I know some of the best studies are so opaque and technical that I have to either commit to educating myself, trust the author and hope his outcome is right, or ignore it. To use one example, I love David Pinto's defensive work and trust him, but I honestly can't follow some of the internals of the system. I know there are a lot of people that don't read the best research and ignore it because they feel intimidated. This is a partial answer and one to build on, I hope.
So, my question to you is - what would you like to see in this series? We already have about twenty pieces in the works, but this should be an evolving, constantly useful series, so - especially those of you that are new to performance analysis - please speak up.
Not again ...
Well, this should be good ...
Jamey Newberg, Alex Belth, et al - this is your wakeup call.
The A-Rod talks are on again and Brian Cashman is the one talking. While he softpedaled it in the post, the talks are ongoing and involve a star, a prospect, and a big contract. Sources are split on A-Rod's potential position in the Bronx, but this will be a MAJOR story over the next few days.
Or is that compassionate conservatism?
Another Trojan Horse
Ron Shandler of Baseball HQ has been hired by the St. Louis Cardinals. While details remain murky, Ron has confirmed this on a story on his home page. Shandler follows Keith Law, Bill James, and one other from the pages of baseball writing to the front office. Ron will be the first "pure fantasy" guy to make it and with some of the St. Louis press (Jeff Gordon comes to mind), I doubt this will come off well at first. "A roto geek running our scouting department?" or something will kick in and of course, be wholly wrong.
I hope Ron's successful and wish him the best of luck. He's among the leaders in the field (even if he's not a big fan of mine) and he deserves the shot.
Zach Manprin passes on this interesting article about the historical value of baseball cards.
We Link, You Decide
Jimmy Breslin apparently doesn't believe in my 'don't write angry' line. I haven't seen a column so brutal since ... well, I'm not sure I ever have.
Good to see that John Ashcroft has no murders, no terrorists, no leaks, and no other problems to deal with. He's now taken personal control of the steroid problem.
Last time he announced something like this, he wanted the death penalty against someone in Virginia -- and they ended up not only not having a strong enough case to go for the needle, but so weak of one that the case was dropped.
Steroids are serious, but I think the locals - or the IRS - can handle it. Go sing some more ... or maybe, just maybe, do your damned job, Johnny.
Is This Thing On?
Man ... is it quiet in here or are comments not working?
How's this? Maddux will report to spring training on time.
Mo' Nugget Blues
Bad idea #37.
Taking on Rob Dibble in a Chicken McNugget eating contest. On air, live.
We tied with 45.
Believe me, you do NOT want to try this ... probably slow posting for tonight. Oy.
Man, this is getting funny. Almost.
Look, I could honestly care less about whether or not Shrubya got preferential treatment. When I can get preferential treatment, I take it. Press pass to the NLCS? Yes, please. Parking pass for Indians games? Yes, please. Free copies of books and assorted shwag? Yes, please.
What it's about is honesty and a bit of payback for all the Clinton witch hunt. (Don't start. It's over. Move on.) This post quoting Charlie Pierce , a TFD fave, is perfect. Cohen lyrics are always fun in blogs.
It's always been my dream that there would be a bunch of medheads out there writing about 'my kind of stuff.' Tom Gorman at Fog Ball (a Giants blog) has a neat article (and followup) about the ongoing Robb Nen saga. In conversations with Tom and others, Nen is throwing in the high 80's, so ... well, I'll save that discussion for UTK and the Giants THR.
Tom also has a really interesting link to a UC Davis study about curves and homers. I really want to see this study. Keep up the great work, Tom.
Wow. When I started this little side project, I had no expectations and no idea what I'd actually do. It was fun, a goof, and nothing anyone would pay for. We've had interesting discussions, talked about a little of everything, and become something people seem to enjoy or at least read.
So, to all 100,000 of you over the last six months, thanks. Now, if you'll all just buy a book ...
I've had an ongoing discussion with someone who's name you'd know about several things, but they recently emailed me discussing the latest Rob Neyer column and how he's "advancing the field" by discussing some current research and a recent NY Post article that discussed advanced defensive metrics.
I'll be honest - and this is no secret: I'm no sabermetrician and calling me one is something of an insult to the field. Keith Woolner's "Hilbert Question" column was re-published on BP today and it's timely. Sabermetrics might be advancing the knowledge base of objective facts, but I don't know that more links in Rob's articles does much to advance anything.
Rob's probably the most widely read writer that actively discusses sabermetric priniciples and while I know he can do the math, he often 'plays dumb' rather than going through advanced explanations. This is both device and time-saver, but it points out what I think is the single biggest problem facing sabermetrics over the next couple years: presentation.
It was a big wake-up call for me when the Mets announced they had hired Ben Baumer as their stats guy. I knew two solid people were in the final group and more had inquired that I think could handle the job. Like most, I heard Ben's name and went "who?" Now, from what I've learned about Ben, he's very qualified and I hope he does a great job, but what got him the job was not smarts or data, it was presentation.
Ben created a program called "Pinch Hitter" that takes a lot of sabermetric analysis and puts it into a format that people with no knowledge of correlations or r-scores can follow. We should learn from that lesson. In spite of over thirty years of work starting with Palmer and Thorn, continuing to James and his descendants, to BP and other sites, there's no end of good - even great - work being done.
Ever mentioned your favorite sabermetric site to a friend who's also a baseball fan and got that look of "huh?" BP might be in the Amazon Top 100, but there are people I met at the Winter Meetings in high positions that have never heard of it. I've never once said "Baseball Prospectus" - even in the days after the Pete Rose media storm - where someone didn't need an explanation.
Rob Neyer is clearly the vanguard of getting things out there and there's plenty of good work, so the next step is marketing. Knowledge without application is intellectual masturbation and no iteration of OPS or runs created is going to be what pushes sabermetrics into the "mainstream." I thought Moneyball would be the tipping point, but it's not ... at least not yet.
Right now, baseball doesn't need another Bill James, Mitchel Lichtman, or Nate Silver - we have those. Baseball needs more Michael Lewis', more Danny Deutschs, or Mark Cubans. In tech terms, sabermetrics needs to add a GUI to the command line. Where's our Steve Jobs?
I've posted on this before, but in the midst of discussions about the place of Net baseball writing that's exploded in the last few weeks, I'll discuss my policy of links. Some have exhaustive links, some will link to anyone that asks and both have their merits. I do something a little bit different and yes, it's quirky. I link what I read *daily*. This isn't a comment on quality - there's a ton of good writing I don't link to - but more of a comment on me and my interests. You can have the best Mets blog in the world and you probably won't end up on my link list. I just don't follow the Mets. In my research for UTK, I may end up reading it, but it's not daily, at least not yet.
So, that's my story. It works for me. Links will come and go and being there's no comment on quality of content. It's just me.
Working feverishly on the final writing touches for STP. One final snag to get over and life will be reasonably back to normal.
Aaron Gleeman wrote more questioning me about my Twins THR than the actual article. I may start a campaign to get Aaron a girlfriend, just to see if he can keep up the frenetic pace. Damned eBay ruined my first idea ...
Online chats rule. Did one over at BP earlier today. So where were you?
I'm the only American male that said "Awww crap, not Beyonce!" last night when she came on stage with Prince. I'm okay with that. Prince rocked and seeing Wendy and Lisa behind him ... priceless. If he's touring behind the upcoming album, go see him. YBGYD.
For the record, I'm a registered Independent and have never voted for a Democrat in a presidential election. During my legal voting years, it went: 88 - no vote; 92 - Perot; 96 - no vote; 00 - traded my vote and pulled the Nader lever.
I've adjusted the links you see on your right slightly. There's a little motion and a few additions. John Perricone is back on the scene and back in the groove. Clifford's Big Red Blog has moved from occasional to daily on my web-run, so he gets added in. NKOTB (and how many of you don't have to think what THAT is) Robb Sloan is a comer with his Clemson-slanted site. Worth checking.
Pure fluff, but Las Vegas is the best new show on TV. I don't even feel guilty.
At what point do CSI and L&O run out of stories? Ever?
I haven't had a porn link in a while, but I honestly don't have a good one for you. Suggest one in the comments. iTunes is the new porn. Or the new black, I can never keep those straight.
Pitchers and catchers this week? Ahh, magic words, since I can only do so much on entertainment. I did see "Return of the King" finally. Well worth the time and Oscar worthy.
TFD started it, Cliff kept it going, so in the year that belongs to iTunes, here's my Top Ten list of best albums:
1. OutKast, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
2. The Drive-By Truckers, Decoration Day: OutKast will be wondering how to follow up a classic double album after they finish their HBO musical, but DBT answers the question with a great album. It's not the classic that Southern Rock Opera is, but to follow 'classic' with 'great' isn't bad. Dreadfully ignored band that's as good live as in the studio, a rare combination today.
4. Fountains of Wayne, Welcome Interstate Managers
5. Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head
6. White Stripes, Elephant
7. Joss Stone, Soul Sessions
8. Jesse Malin, The Fine Art of Self Destruction
9. Joe Strummer, Streetcore
10. Radiohead, Hail To The Thief: An off album for this band is better than 99% of the other things forced out by record companies.
Lies, Lies, Lies
Bush, from the Washington Post, on Meet The Press:
"Bush addressed himself to relatives of the more than 500 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. "For the parents of the soldiers who have fallen who are listening, David Kay, the weapons inspector, came back and said, in many ways Iraq was more dangerous than we thought," he said. "We are in a war against these terrorists who could bring great harm to America, and I've asked these young ones to sacrifice for that."
Bush is now parroting the long-disproved Iraq-al-Qaeda link from Cheney. Five hundred dead and the President damn near ... what was that I said to Jay Jaffe? Oh yeah, don't write angry.
Sure, the soccer one's a pretty big deal everywhere else, but World Cup baseball would be pretty damn fun to watch, especially for those of us without the all-too-common xenophobic leanings. Tim Kurkjian has had the first discussion on this, but he links in Yahoo and USA Today also manages to cover this, so I can't believe that Kurkjian could have just missed this. Did the Worldwide Leader edit something out that they didn't think their MLB partners wouldn't like seeing? It's not an unheard of policy. While the show "Playmakers" was laughably bad television, it's disappointing that ESPN would censor itself at the behest of the NFL.
Kurkjian does good work and in the few times I've met him has been very nice, so I expect more from him than a puff piece stroking baseball's fantasy. I also wonder if a Dominican or Japanese win would be their version of Miracle or if American isn't the one that would be surprised to be a winner.
The Phillies THR has been up for a couple days - and more coming starting next week - but as I said, I'm taking "questions from the peanut gallery" on them. The first one out there is from John Yuda who has a new Phillies blog. Me as traffic generator - who knew? Twins, Expos, and A's coming next.
The ongoing Schilling/SoSH situation can be civil, believe it or not. I've had some emails with Eric Christenson, the founder of SoSH, and while we don't agree on the situation, that's okay. He's relayed to me that he's not interested in Schilling's draw factor and I believe him. My statement that Schilling was a "draw" wasn't intended to be public, but since it's out there, it's worth correcting.
Anyone else addicted to the show "Charmed"? It popped up as a TiVo suggestion and I've ended up watching from the beginning with the TNT reruns via TiVo. It's not "Buffy" (but few shows are as well written) but it's not complete fluff either.
Even Better Than An Open Letter
You go, Jay Jaffe.
He may only have one arm, but he comes out swinging. I don't think I'm the only one that's got his back.
Signs, Part 36
Sign of the Apocalypse, Part 36:
I think this shit isn't parody.
Edit: It gets BETTER! Evidently the "brains" behind this is the dude that hooked up Michael "Dammit, Billy Jean Was A Great Song and Now I Can't Listen To It Without Headphones" Jackson up with the kid he allegedly molested.
I need a light-hearted thread for a break ... ok, what's the best looking lid, major or minor league? The most fun? The worst?
My votes: Best: Love the new Jays lid.
Via Atrios, there's a great article on rethinking sources. It's an issue I often deal with since most of my sources are basically "on background" - not willing to be named as more than someone "close to the player" or a "team executive." I understand this, but it does undermine my reports slightly.
Worse, I've often wanted to 'out' one of my sources on the Rose story. I never will, but I've often said it would make people's head spin to know who it was. In one of my "don't write angry" moments, I almost did it, after the source did something that simply stunned me, but I'm glad I didn't. I simply can't do my job without my sources.
There's some net coverage of the SoSH/Schilling/Pinto situation that includes a personal, non-public email from me. I said nothing in there that I remotely regret, but I want to be clear that what I do as "Will Carroll" has nothing to do with the positions of my employers. Call me what you want - I can take it - but focus any criticism on me.
Top 50 Albums
You know, I really can't argue with this one much. While I could quibble with placement, there's really nothing egregious on list or left off.
Stunningly, at lunch today, I found out TFD had never heard "Pet Sounds." The Beach Boys (and Brian Wilson specifically) don't get nearly as much credit for the influence they have in the muscial world, but that album at #1 wouldn't have been made if not for Pet Sounds and everything from Van Halen to Barenaked Ladies, from Prince to OutKast owes a lot to Wilson.
It's certainly not the best-seller that BP2004 is shaping up to be, but STP is certainly selling some. This page shows the path from the two millions up to the top hundred thousand. Not sure why the spike or what it means in terms of sales, but hey, if I can get this into the hands of the right people, I can prevent injuries. That's pretty cool.
No Cup For You
Bill Conlin gets a bit of a scoop on why there probably won't be a baseball World Cup anytime soon. With Dubya's callout to Bud, this issue isn't going away and I'll have more on this in the next UTK, but baseball's doing more than we think, but not nearly enough.
Simply put, baseball must adopt the IOC (WADA) standards or continue answering this question ad infinitum. Worse, so will I.
Romenesko - a must-read for those who wish to be writers - offers up an interesting article on one columnists response to some respondents.
I always hated lectures. Remember, for me, this IS a dialogue. You won't always agree with me, you won't always like what I say, but I'll defend your right to disagree with me and to have your own opinions.
Honestly, I really was putting together some script/response emails for THR season. I think I'll hold off on that ...
The Japanese appear to have a bit of everything in today's paper. (Note - I have no idea when this page might change ...)
Let's see ...
Commissioner in Yomiuri's owner's pocket?
All this and Bobby V has yet to really get going. Wow, now this could be a fun year in Japan.
I've been called arrogant so many times that like "irresponsible" or worse, it rolls off my back. I'm sure Lee Sinins and any other writer with an audience of more than ten is probably somewhat used to it. However, attacking someone with this claim is pretty lame. This post from a
The answer, of course, was better said by Dayn Perry than anyone else I've heard. Beer or tacoes , he said, indicating that there should be some balance between sabermetrics and scouting. Indeed, scouting should be just another piece of information, but dislodging it's lofty place in baseball has caused something of a rift. This rift is as unnecessary as it is counterproductive.
Unless something can be measured, you need someone who can understand and filter, assigning it some sort of arbitrary value. There are men in baseball - and elsewhere - that can do this with some measure of accuracy. Chemistry? You won't help it by attacking Lee. Lee's a guy who is all ... hmm, which is beer and which is tacoes? ... he's all stats and unabashedly so. Rich is probably a nice guy and I hope I read him wrong or maybe he really did just get up on the wrong side of the bed, which is good, since the last thing we need is more arrogant pricks.
(Note: This post edited from the original.)
Why isn't this everywhere in the media? Why don't we know this? Why can't we see the bodies at Dover? Why hasn't Bush or Cheney gone to one single funeral? (Granted, I haven't seen John Kerry at one either. How did we end up with the wrong Kerr(e)y?)
Interestingly, there's no one on the list named Bush, Cheney, Kerry, Dean or even Edwards. How can we, the American People, make this hit home more?
Blogging The Future
Kid Gleeman has a good (and, for him, terse) post on the emergence of blogging. When I got to the end of the column, I was left hanging, wondering where Aaron was going. He has some good examples and catalogs the explosion of blogs, but he doesn't finish it out. Where is this thing going? What does it mean? Who wins?
I think the 'acceptance' of the format by larger media outlets is a bit dangerous for those in the smaller format. If the Times and ESPN get to blogging, will it knock out the more normal newspaper/magazine metaphor? I doubt it, simply because they are, for the most part, competing against hobbyists. Alex Belth, Christian Ruzich, and Zach Manprin, as far as I know, don't make much off their blogs besides good karma and they're among the best in the genre despite being three very different guys and very, very different writers.
I'm a bit more surprised that some writers aren't being co-opted by larger formats. The Post-Intelligencer does a Mariners blog, but wouldn't it be easier and certainly better if they let the USS Mariner crew or Peter from Mariners Musings do it? While I can't speak for them, I don't think cost would be a major issue. Ed Cosette moved the Bambino over to the regional Fox for a while and I have to think that was win-win. Most teams have at least one good blog and last I looked, most towns are down to one daily fishwrap.
(Off topic for a second ... I got a bunch of emails late last week about me leaving BP for the Indy Star. Not even remotely true.)
So if a newspaper or TV-associated blog can't knock someone out of existence in the normal competitive marketplace, it can take away mindshare. It'd be much easier for WGN to start up some sort of Cubs blog than it would be for Cubs Reporter to gain the type of eyeballs the former would start with.
Aaron also leaves out the lack of quality in the blogging world. Sure, there's 150+ blogs in the baseball part of the sphere, but how many are worth reading? How many differentiate themselves on quality (Belth, Jaffe), niche (Dugout Dollars, Ball Talk), or something like journalism or research? Sadly, very few. Part of that, as Aaron rightly points out, might be the lack of editing. Lord knows an editor might have saved me some grief over the last couple days! In some cases, a passion simply doesn't equate to an interesting viewpoint or isn't enough to make up for a lack of writing talent. It's also extremely difficult to write something every day. I have an immense amount of respect for guys like Joe Sheehan or Rob Neyer who create something out of whole cloth and don't often have it handed to them on a platter. (UTK might be daily, but I don't have to go looking for material.)
David Pinto slightly shifted his blog to be associated with BIS, his new employer. While there aren't any visible changes yet, I'd imagine David might just get better access to stats and might start being a good marketing tool. There's NOTHING wrong with that. Lee Sinins uses his ATM Reports as a marketing tool for his SBE (go buy it!), using his proprietary stats to educate the rest of us. That type of marketing arrangement could work, but I'm also curious about blog aggregation. I'm sort of part of it here at all-baseball and there are other efforts doing similar things, but none of them have worked the model into something sustainable.
So what's next for blogs and net based baseball writing? I'm not sure. I'm reasonably sure that it might follow the dot-com or worse, the Napster (Fanning, not Roxio) model, but then again, that would take a massive shift in public awareness. It will probably be tested by the path that politics and blogging blazes in the 2004 election, especially if some blogger has a Drudge-Lewinsky moment.
To me, the biggest issues are quality and marketing. The first happens naturally in any endeavor of the virtual pen, but the latter is often beyond the reach and skill set of the writer. Someone will solve that issue - or bring in funding - and then the game will truly be on.
Mistah Tony had a much funnier take on this yesterday, but good lord ...
The most common side effects with Cialis were headache and upset stomach. Backache and muscle ache were also reported, sometimes with delayed onset. Most men weren't bothered by the side effects enough to stop taking Cialis. Although a rare occurrence, men who experience an erection for more than 4 hours (priapism) should seek immediate medical attention. Discuss your medical conditions and medications with your doctor to ensure Cialis is right for you and that you are healthy enough for sexual activity.
I'll bet a lot of guys won't consider that much of a deterrent. "Backache or a four hour wood ... roll the bones!" Time to buy some Lilly stock ... or, hey Dan, think we could hop that wall down on the southside?
Don't Give Him Any Ideas, Kerry
From Cubs.com :
"I don't know if you can describe what it's like to play for Dusty," Wood said. "All I know is I will play until my arm falls off for that man."
Let's just hope that's not this year ...
From Cynthia Turner:
° Comcast and WGN Superstation have signed off on a multi-year carriage agreement which will include additional carriage for WGN on the Comcast systems. The two companies have all reached retransmission consent agreements for Tribune's terrestrial TV stations in both analog and high definition (HDTV) formats that cover stations in the top 50 television markets. Over the course of the next two years, Tribune expects WGN Superstation to increase its carriage from 59 million to 66 million via this Comcast deal as well as other deals pending.
Comcast is my cable and net provider so you can imagine how excited I am about this one. Now all I need is a hi-def TiVo and my life is complete ...
Phoning It In
On the subject of linking, I'm on the horns of a dilemma. I recently read a piece that seemed to me to be an interesting idea. Not original, but interesting. It's an interview with a team official and I love seeing these, whether it's Gary Huckabay's "anonymous GM" or Jonah Keri's amazing interview with Kevin Towers or even just someone getting a line into the front office like Batter's Box has with the Trio (Ricciardi, Law, LaCava).
So this interesting but unoriginal idea has to have some information in it that tells me something for it to be successful. I want to hear something I haven't heard or an angle that hasn't been covered. I want the writer to be different than some talk radio angle or beat writer. Heck, I'm often just curious to see how a team official treats a writer. Anything.
But with this one ... nothing. It took a while to even find a quote from the official. I can't tell if it was intended to be a narrative interview - a form I've used before with mixed results - or whether the interview was much shorter than the writer expected. Did he get cut off or was this puffed a bit to make a few quick questions seem like an actual sit-down.
I'm not sure what this accomplished and while I believe in giving credit where credit is due, I'm also going to go Dragnet and say "names have been obscured to protect the innocent." We all have bad days, bad columns, and ... still, I worry. There aren't enough good writers to lose one in our small universe.
Open Source Idiocy
Every once in a while, I write something so boneheaded that I stun myself. I have a couple rules ... don't write angry, don't write based on one source unless that one is unassailable, don't write when I'm drunk, and read things through before hitting send.
My comment on "not giving things away" was combined with something else to make for something exceptionally poor sounding. While this isn't an excuse, consider my idiocy open source ... everyone can see my mistakes. While both tired and with a connection that was at best balky, I got a series of emails from someone named "Jesse" who pretty regularly berates me. In the midst of blasting me for not writing enough, he/she said that if I didn't release the formulas and results of last year's THRs, that I was ... well, the terms were colorful. Even better, after I sent a reply saying I had no intention of doing what he/she asked, very coincidentally, my email got pounded with virus emails, filling it to the brim and, for the first time ever, filling my base account. That sucked.
While I believe in transparency and STRICT sourcing/linking/quoting/crediting, I think everyone can understand that giving away my formulas, database information, and especially my sources is something that's not going to happen. I understand why some people would prefer that it's all open, but I'd prefer to be judged on my results or a comparison than anything else. (One of the things that will be a part of the IBWA is a rule or code for ethical sourcing, linking, and crediting.)
Results? That's something you're going to see. I've had the THR results for a while and I've intended to work on that article, but presenting statistics is a weak point of mine and with STP, I've just let it slide. It's coming and soon.
So, I hope I've cleared that up. I have never and will never take credit for anyone else's work. I realize that I'm lucky to be here and that that luck is largely the result of people helping me - great people like Peter Gammons and Lee Sinins - and I want everyone to have the chance to be as blessed as me. I've always said this was a journey that I wanted to bring as many people as possible along with me. I know not everyone can do the things I've had the chance to do, but when I do my job well, I can help you feel like you were there with me.
Sometimes, I do it right. Sometimes, I'm a moron. I think it's part of my charm.
Societal Critic at Large: Scott Long
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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