Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I haven't talked about Mariano Rivera's usage pattern in a while...

...so I'm gonna let Rob Neyer talk about it for me.

I lied. I'm also gonna talk about it.

Bottom line: I think Rob is correct: Joe Girardi did the right thing by not using Mariano last night in a (superficially) close game. Perhaps, perhaps, there's an argument if the Yankees were only down one run, and certainly he should have and would have been used if the Yanks had been tied or ahead.

But down two runs in the ninth inning is not a terribly high leverage situation. In fact, it's a very low leverage situation (see here). The Yanks have games today and tomorrow. In my opinion, it's worth more having a rested Mo today and tomorrow than it is to try and keep a two run deficit at two runs, especially when your reward for doing so will just be more Cliff Lee.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

When will the madness stop?

One of these years I will actually manage to disengage the MVP discussion. This is not that year.

During two broadcasts today, I heard the same sentiment expressed: that Miguel Cabrera was obviously the MVP so far this year. This is crazy. Let's run down the list of contenders using BPro's WARP and Fangraphs' WAR, both of which measure wins above replacement:*
  • Josh Hamilton, 5.7 WAR, 5.2 WARP
  • Justin Morneau, 5.2 WAR, 4.3 WARP
  • Robinson Cano, 5.1 WAR, 4.8 WARP
  • Carl Crawford, 5.0 WAR, 4.0 WARP
  • Adrian Beltre, 4.7 WAR, 4.8 WARP
  • Evan Longoria, 4.4 WAR, 4.8 WARP
  • Miguel Cabrera, 4.4 WAR, 4.5 WARP
Note that WARP and WAR vary a bit due to methodological differences. I prefer Fangraphs' WAR; whatever. The point is that Cabrera is not obviously the MVP by these objective measures.

Let's grant for a second that Cabrera is clearly the league's best hitter, though clearly Morneau and Hamilton have cases too. He still is not clearly the league's Most Valuable Player because there's more to playing than hitting. Cabrera plays first base and not particularly well. Morneau on the other hand is an excellent fielder at first base. Hamilton plays left field, a more important defensive position (though not much) and he plays it better than Cabrera plays first. Thus, even if Cabrera were clearly a better hitter than these guys, and he isn't, he still probably doesn't deserve the MVP over them. That's why they have higher WAR scores than he does.

And what about Robinson Cano? He plays a premium defensive position, plays it well, and has been raking all year. Sure, he's not a Cabrera/Hamilton/Morneau caliber hitter, but: second base. It matters, people.

So why are people talking about Cabrera with Bondsian reverence? The triple crown stats. Cabrera has a shot at the triple crown. And if he wins it, or is close, he's probably a lock for the award.

So where are all the sportswriters out there blowing a gasket, tripping over themselves to excoriate the numbskulls who don't get out and watch baseball, who just look at numbers in Mommy's basement, who compute their Chadwick Batting Average and their Runs Batted In and don't appreciate the little things? As of right now, they are nowhere. It's absolutely insane. Once again, the people who can't wait to congratulate themselves for watching every game and appreciating the ins and outs of the sport are simply going to be blinded by three of the stupidest statistics in baseball.

If you watch a lot of baseball here's what you know: defense matters, playing a premium position matters, that there's more to the game than AVG, HR, and RsBI. WAR and WARP actually help capture these things. You know why Crawford does so well? Because his insane speed puts his defensive numbers through the roof. You know why Cano does so well? Because he's a slick fielding, sweet swinging second baseman. Miguel Cabrera is a (ahem) rotund slugger who plays first just well enough not to have to DH. Why do our self-appointed guardians of the holy baseball not see this? I have no idea.

Look, there's still two months to go. Anything can happen. Cabrera could wind up passing all these guys on the strength of his hitting. And I've ranted and raved about the MVP before only to have the writers get it right. I probably shouldn't be lumping them all together just because Michael Kay and Mark Grace haven't thought this through. Sorry, sportswriters who are competent.

Still, I just want recognition from these guys that there's more to an MVP award than triple crown hitting stats even when a guy has a chance to win it.

* I'm limiting this to hitters. Yes, I know pitchers can win, but: who cares?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lance Berkman

Rumors have the Yankees set to acquire Lance Berkman. Whatever. He'd be a DH for the Yanks and he's still got a useful bat, even if its not quite as potent as it used to be. Here's the thing though: the Yankees really should not have to give anything up to get him. He's due $15M this year with another $15M next year or a $2M buyout. And given his past performance, that's roughly what he's worth.

But what's the upside for the Yankees? They're already the best team in baseball, on pace to win 104 games. So Lance isn't going to get them over the hump. He's not under a favorable long term contract. The Yanks already rotate guys like Jeter, A-Rod, and Posada through the DH slot on a regular basis, so his impact there is muted. There's almost no upside in the regular season for the Yanks.

And I'm sure they know this. Getting Lance Berkman would be about October. But given that the Yanks are already loaded and that the postseason is such a crap shoot, how much value does he really add there? Still not that much, though, of course, with an extreme amount of variance, given how elevated the stakes are (note, of course, that this variance cuts both ways).

There's just no way the Yanks should be giving up something of value, like a decent player under team control at cut-rate salary for the next three to six years, so that maybe Lance Berkman might have a big postseason hit. I know it seems crazy, but given Berkman's salary, age, and performance, he's just not worth that much in a trade.

In any case, the current rumors have the Yankees sending Mark Melancon and Jimmy Paredes to Houston. If so, I suspect it's a reasonable deal. Melancon could become a useful reliever, but as far as young relievers go, he's not high on New York's list. Paredes is a C prospect but still too far from the big leagues to really have a good read on him.

Anyway, I hope these rumors are true, not because it would be a good deal (it seems pretty balanced to me), but because when I heard the rumors initially, I was scared half to death that the Yankees would actually give up a top 10 type prospect, which (again) would be a ridiculous overpay for a few months of Lance Berkman at this stage in his career and with his salary. That does not appear to be the case. Phew.

** UPDATE ** It now appears that the Astros would pitch $4M in as well. That pretty much makes the deal as even as it could be.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yankees I loved to watch

For no reason and in no particular order, here is a list of Yankees that I've loved to watch play:*
  • Derek Jeter: I could watch him shoot the ball to right field all day.
  • Robby Cano: When he's right, he makes everything look so easy.
  • Gary "Ultimate Team Player" Sheffield: An ass, but probably the scariest looking swing I've ever seen.
  • Nick Swisher: If he and Brett Gardner were rookie space marines, Nick would be the naive, amped-up show-off who can't wait to get into the action and kick some alien ass; Brett would be the taciturn, duty-first jarhead. One of them would get eaten by a giant space bug on their first mission and the other would spend the rest of the film learning to deal with the tragedy. Also, Jeter would be the veteran field commander with the stern demeanor who actually deeply cares about his men. Yes, I have thought too much about this.
  • Alex Rodriguez: I've spent so much time defending the guy that I enjoy his every success.
  • Mariano Rivera: Death.
  • Mike Mussina: So under-appreciated. Wish we could have got you that ring.
  • Ted Lilly: One of those guys I just liked for no apparent reason.
  • Joba: We'll always have 2007.
  • Phil Hughes: Keeping my fingers crossed for the future.
  • Edwar Ramirez: Does he win the worst pitcher with the best pitch competition? If he had two more miles per hour on his fastball, he'd have been unhittable.
  • Bobby Abreu: Never seen a guy work the count full from 0-2 so much. If I had a list of Yankees I hated to watch play, he'd make that list too for his fielding.
  • El Duque: There was something just so magically old school about his pitching.
* NB: Not the same as a list of favorite Yankees.

Dear Broadcasters

Dear Broadcasters,

Please stop giving us players' batting statistics against a particular team as if it were actionable information. Batters do not hit against teams. They hit against individual pitchers.

That is all.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Enjoying baseball

Every now and then, you watch a baseball game that reminds you why you love it so much. Last night's Cardinals-Cubs game was one such game. It had just about everything you could want: power, speed, good defense, plays on the bases, pitchers working out of jams, clutch hitting, strategy, and extra innings.

Hell, I even though that the broadcast crew was fantastic. Orel Hershiser and Bobby V. engaged the viewer all evening with information that is not available with a simple Google search. Orel talked about pitching strategy and mechanics. Bobby emphasized little managerial considerations that might not occur to the viewer otherwise. There were a couple inevitable rough spots, but all in all they delivered a package head and shoulders above normal color commentary.

There's really no way to describe how sublime it is to simply kick back and watch two teams play an exciting regular season baseball game. It's exciting, but not tense. It makes you smile, but not leap for joy. It's engaging, but not riveting. It was perfect.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What am I missing?

Rob Neyer has been one of the few people defending Bud Selig's decision not to overturn Jim Joyce's safe call. Here he quotes Craig Wright who I will also quote:
You now know that the Commissioner is not going to change the call, which is absolutely the right decision. That would have been totally unprecedented and it would not really be in the spirit of the broad powers given to the Commissioner. The rules are very clear that this decision is to be the judgment of the umpire at that point in the game. What if it had been the other way around, that umpire Jim Joyce had called the batter out but the replay showed he was safe? Would you take away the perfect game and replay the game from that point somewhere down the road? No, of course not.
I love Rob and usually agree with him, but I do not understand people who are hiding behind the precedent argument.

First, as noted by Keith Olbermann, league officials have overruled umpires' calls on the field in the past. They've even done it when it means erasing the results of games and replaying them from the point of the bad call. Pine tar game, anyone? So the idea that this is without precedent is nonsense. You may not like the precedent, but it's already there.

Second, it's easy for the commish to overturn this call without establishing unwanted precedent. Simply say that you reserve the right to overturn any call that would not require the game to be replayed and would not alter the outcome of the game. There! Simple! The number of situations when this would apply are limited by definition to those situations when what's at stake is merely of historical interest and not of importance to the outcome of the game.

Note that this kind of rule means that you would not reverse the incorrect out call that preserves a perfect game. And that's fine. People clearly understand the difference between overturning a call that means a game has to be replayed and the outcome potentially changed and overturning a call that has none of these implications.

So I ask people who are using the precedent argument: what the hell am I missing?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


This is the only proper reaction to Stephen Strasburg's curveball.

Monday, May 31, 2010

A simple formula

Here's how to calculate perception of Derek Jeter's defensive value:
  1. Take a reasonably objective measurement of Jeter's defensive value.
  2. Negate it.
  3. Report this result as Jeter's true defensive value.
Seriously, how else to explain this article? Here's the summary on ESPN's front page:
It's been on New York's mind for a while now. Derek Jeter is getting older -- and his defense has seen better days. Is it finally time to talk position switch?
Here's a slice of the article itself:
The recent stories and rumblings have harped once again on Jeter's range. The sabermetricians are out there again, taunting Jeter with their numbers.

The statistics say Jeter is still going to his right fine, but in the early part of the season, he was having more trouble going to his left.

Remember the recent Sunday night Mets game, in which two balls to his left rolled under his glove? Those helped lower his plus-minus rating, according to Baseball Info Solutions (which looks at how often balls in play are turned into outs), to minus-7 on balls hit to the left of the typical shortstop's spot.

He's since improved that to minus-3, a slight drop from last season. Going left has been an issue for Jeter before -- one he's improved upon greatly after posting ratings of minus-25, minus-10 and minus-14 from 2005 to 2007. The early struggles this year again raised questions.
Note the common trick of taking a small sample, making it even smaller, and then casually noting that once you add the data you removed back in, things don't look as extreme as you want them to, though none if it should matter at all anyway given the sample size involved. And let's just brush away the whole oh-by-the-way-his-defense-has-been-improving-for-the-last-couple-years thing. Classic. Also, is going to his left all that matters? Who cares about one facet of his defense? It's the whole package that matters.

Anyways, according to the UZR numbers at Fangraphs, Derek Jeter's defense has not seen better days. This is thus far Jeter's second best season defensively on a rate basis. Last year was his best. So why is it that now that defensive metrics are actually showing Jeter to be a net positive on defense the media have decided the time has come to bring up his defense as a negative? After all the years of praising his defense when the number showed it was not great, it's now time to make an issue out of it? What gives?

The answer, of course, is that it is driving the Derek Jeter contract story. The Captain's contract is up at the end of this year and he's not getting any younger. This is a legitimate story and a big question and concern for the Yankees. Still, I would prefer if the real reason, risk associated with aging, were driving the story and not a generic-yet-somehow-still-sensationalist take on how a shortstop normally ages. Jeter is not normal. Let's not simply break out the boilerplate aging story because we're too lazy to tell the real one.

A simple formula to calculate perception of Derek Jeter

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Gardenhire gets it

So. Last night, Alex Rodriguez hit a come from behind grand slam in the seventh inning after the Twins walked Mark Teixeira to face him. Good for A-Rod. Of course, the press couldn't help but report that the man that Ron Gardenhire brought in to face Alex, Matt Guerrier, had surrendered three home runs to A-Rod in only six at bats.

Now, you and I know that that stat is nearly irrelevant. A-Rod has faced a ton of pitchers and has hit a ton of home runs. He's gonna have some stats against pitchers like that purely by chance. And naturally, we expect the press not to understand this point. But Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire? Usually I expect managers to also not understand this point, but here's what he said after the game:
"We're always aware of the numbers," Gardenhire said. "I know he has been good against Matty. Sometimes you can't do anything about the numbers. We're going to go with our best pitcher at the time."
The best part about this quote is that Gardenhire didn't say "we went with out best pitcher." He said, "We're going to go with our best pitcher." He wasn't rationalizing his decision ex post. He was describing how the Twins make decisions and will continue to make decisions ex ante. My respect for Ron Gardenhire has grown.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Back in the saddle

After an extended weekend of Yankee baseball, I feel like I finally have my baseball legs under me again. Some thoughts:
  • I'm really fine with Joba in the bullpen. This may surprise some. However, the Yanks did what I wanted them to do: they gave Joba a real chance to start and he just didn't seize the day. They've only got five starting pitcher slots and so it's time to give Phil Hughes a chance. I have no problem with that. But:
  • Let's not kid ourselves, this is emphatically not the same Joba that everyone remembers, despite all the assertions to the contrary from ESPN's crew this evening. A few years ago, Joba hit triple digits out of the pen. Tonight, he was 95-98. That's great, but it's not awesome. More importantly though, his slider is just not the same pitch. To my eye, his slider a couple years ago had a brutal, slashing, darting late action. It was hard, heavy, and just bored in on batters' feet. The pitch he was throwing tonight was nothing like that. It was a decent change of pace from his fastball: an 86-88 MPH pitch with good break, but much more arching than biting. With that stuff, Joba can be a good relief pitcher for many years, and maybe be a great one for a few, but he's not gonna be 2007 Joba with it.
  • Magglio Ordonez really bailed Jim Leyland out with his nice catch in the eighth. Leyland, in my opinion, really turned in a headscratching performance managing his pen. I thought extending Joel Zumaya into the eight was fine, but then I thought he was only doing it for one batter, since the next two guys were a lefty and switch hitter. Zumaya faces the righty, finishes with 25 pitches, and then Coke gets the next two. Then you can get Valverde to close it. Easy. Instead, Leyland had Zumaya go after the righty, lefty, and switch hitter. He got none of them out, and so Leyland ended up extending Zumaya too far, burning an extra pitcher on top of Zumaya, Coke, and Valverde, and got bad matchups to show for it. Bizarre. Why extend Zumaya so far without a reasonable backup plan?
  • Small sample size disease lives. ESPN is doing a nice job introducing viewers to some more saberesque concepts this year, but it's just amazing how much people continue to treat 100 plate appearances as meaningful. They just aren't. *sigh* That said, when Bill Simmons announces that he's aboard the sabermetric bandwagon, it makes you realize that we've come a long, long way.
  • I've given a lot of thought to my baseball fandom over the last few months. Work and other interests (video games, economics) have crowded out a lot of my baseball consumption. There's nothing wrong with that; I love my job (and video games and economics), but since I only write a baseball blog, it means that I just don't have a lot about which to blog. I've come to two realizations. First, I think all the analytical low-hanging fruit is gone in sabermetrics. There is a lot of awesome work being done out there in the sabermetric community, but it now takes ten times as long to fully understand all of it, not to mention actually doing it. I think this is a normal progression for most fields of scientific inquiry. Anyway, I just don't have that kind of time anymore, if I ever did (or maybe I'm just not as motivated to understand it). Because of this, I find myself just wanting to watch baseball, unencumbered by the feeling that I'm falling behind the curve. I'm not quite there yet; I really felt naked watching the game tonight, realizing that I didn't know any of the relevant analytical measures for the players involved or even just basic baseball news from the last few weeks. It was odd. I haven't been in that position in years. I haven't switched into a state where I can just check news and stats without being compelled to also read for a few hours about the latest research. I've lumped the two together for so long that when one goes, the other goes with it. But it didn't matter. Baseball is still awesome even when you don't know Austin Jackson's WAR or Jose Valverde's Fair ERA. I suppose I always knew this, but it's good to have it confirmed.
  • I should be going to a game Wednesday. I'm excited about that. I've got plans to see a game or two in Toronto and a game or two in Cleveland. I'm excited about that. Heck, there's an off chance I could get to New York or Chicago. That would be exciting. I'm just not that excited about baseball analysis right now, and I don't know why.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ernie Harwell, 1918-2010

"Whatever happens, I'm ready to face it," Harwell told The Associated Press on Sept. 4, 2009. "I have a great faith in God and Jesus."
Rest in peace, Ernie. Not many people hold a cherished spot in the memories of thousands and thousands of total strangers, but for me and so many others, you will always be the voice of baseball.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's prediction season...

...so I want to link back to this old post of mine addressing the right way to interpret predicted performance. I'm sure some brilliant writer out there on the Internet can express this concept more clearly than I can, but I've not seen that article yet, so you're stuck with me linking to myself.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What caused the "Steroid" Era?

That's the question that J.C. Bradbury asks in this post. If you've followed my thoughts on steroids here, you'll be familiar with his answer. Nonetheless, his post is worth reading as a concise, focused, and effective primer on what happened and why in the 1990s.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Valuing wins

Baseball Prospectus' Matt Swartz posted a fantastic article this week on the valuation of player contracts in Major League Baseball:
If baseball free agents were in a typical, perfectly competitive market like those you see in the first chapter of your introductory economics textbooks, the price per win would have to be linear. Basic economic theory of perfectly competitive markets would say that anything other than the same price for all wins would create arbitrage opportunities where teams could perpetually trade their way to the top of the league.
Later on:
In the case of baseball free agents, there are two main reasons why the baseline’s assumptions don’t apply. First, these markets aren't thick enough that teams can sign and trade players so easily and quickly swap out players for others like investors can do with shares of Microsoft. There are only so many teams, and there are limits to making this kind of move in general. Second, you can't employ 60 Garret Andersons on a team and suddenly become the best team in baseball. There are only 25 roster spots, and only so many players can realistically get enough playing time to realize their true value.
This a subject that I've given a lot of thought lately, to the point where I may actually do some original research on the matter in the near future.

In any case, my intuition is that teams should pay disproportionately more for a seven win player than a five win, three win, or one win player. I have a hard time seeing a team trading Alex Rodriguez for ten or twelve players barely above replacement level unless they are also saving money in the deal. I think Matt's reasoning is spot on: there are only twenty-five roster spots. You can't show up with sixty one WAR players and expect to make the playoffs.

That being said, I think there are really two questions here:
  1. What do teams pay for wins?
  2. What should teams pay for wins?
Any approach that uses existing contracts as its basis, like Matt's, is going to end up answering question number one. I'm really more interested in question number two. Unfortunately, answering question number one is much easier: we have a whole lot of data on how players performed (and how they were expected to perform) and what they were paid. The question is essentially positive. Question number two is a normative question that involves a variety of assumptions about why teams pay players. I'm not going to delve into those here.

I'm not sure if Matt's article is subscriber only or not, but if it isn't, it is worth your time.

Twenty-five days until pitchers and catchers report!

**EDIT** I had originally misspelled Matt's last name. I've fixed that.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A brief basketball note

I'm not a huge basketball fan, but I do enjoy the occasional University of Michigan game. This was the case on Sunday when I watched Michigan beat the University of Connecticut. It was a very good game and an important win for U of M.


After the game was over, University of Michigan fans rushed the court to celebrate. This is embarrassing. The University of Michigan is not some small town university that just pulled of a once in a lifetime upset. We are large university that has no excuse for not being at least a minor contender in any major sport year in and year out.* That the basketball program has suffered as it has over the last decade is shameful.

UConn was ranked 15th. 15th! The University of Michigan itself was ranked that highly earlier this year. This is a Michigan team that is viewed to be underachieving! We made the second round of the NCAA tournament last year! More was expected this year. This wasn't some scrappy underdog rising up to take down an elite, once-in-a-lifetime, superstar team. It wasn't even a program in an off year beating a hated rival. It was a non-conference game at home against a good quality opponent. We should expect to beat a team like UConn. Indeed, here is the AP's first sentence in their writeup (emphasis added):
Michigan looked like the team it expected to be while No. 15 Connecticut struggled -- again.
Rushing the court sends the message that you viewed your team as massively inferior to the team you just beat. It says that you view the victory as one of the greatest victories in school history. It is something that should be reserved for wins that define an entire program, not wins that ought to be a matter of course for a team that should be in the NCAA tournament more often than not.

I sincerely hope that Michigan fans, especially the student fans, will learn how to behave as if they root for a team that aspires to be "the leaders and best," not just a bloated, underachieving, has-been in college basketball.

* Here pause and weep for the football program.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

On making predictions

If you're up for reading an economics post from the most verbose writer on the Internet, try this post from Scott Sumner.
Yes, but if we don’t have standards, if we aren’t going to hold people to their words, then what do we really have? Suppose I said; “I predict a major 20% to 30% drop in the S&P500 within the next 4 years. And if it doesn’t happen, but happens sometime later, I should still get credit.” Would you take me seriously? People don’t seem to understand that unless a prediction is both accurate and timely, it really isn’t of much value.
I would phrase this differently. I would say that the timeliness of a prediction is part of its accuracy.

If I predicted every year from 1919 through 2004 that the Boston Red Sox would win the World Series, should anyone give me credit for a successful prediction in 2004 despite being wrong in each and every other year?

The answer, of course, is that it depends. If my predictions were based on an objective model with independently demonstrated accuracy, then, yes, I should be given credit. Of course, this is an extremely unlikely scenario, since we would probably never be able to identify a model that fails in a such a spectacular fashion as this one as actually being accurate. Nevertheless, it's the process that's important, not the results, because the process is what we can control ex ante. If I am known to have the correct (or most correct, given available information) prediction process, then the results don't matter; I have made the best prediction I could.*

On the other hand, if my predictions are unsystematic and wildly subjective, then I should be vigorously laughed at for making such predictions. I should receive no credit for a successful prediction in 2004. As the saying goes, "Even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day." We don't give the stopped clock any credit for this.

I think most people know this intuitively, but I think a couple things happen that cause people to take unsystematic predictions more seriously than they ought to:
  1. We have a cognitive bias that causes us to remember successful predictions more often than unsuccessful predictions. Unsuccessful predictions are everywhere. Successful predictions, especially successful predictions of really spectacular events, stand out to us. We then grant undue expert status to the successful predictor causing us to overweight his analysis in the future.
  2. We are fooled into perceiving patterns and systems where none exist, giving us the illusion that we are operating systematically. For example, there were people who argued that the Yankees would never win a World Series with Alex Rodriguez for any number of reasons. Most if not all of the reasoning in these predictions involved extrapolating from small sets of data to proclaim large significant patterns. We see how well that worked out.
So you have to have a system, but you also have to let the system speak for itself. You can't say, "Well, I predicted the Red Sox would win sometime between 2000 and 2003, but they won in 2004... hey, I was pretty close!" If your system did not predict this, then you cannot call it a success because your system provided no useful information ex ante.

It's important to keep all of this in mind when you hear experts going on and on making wild predictions, whether those predictions are about baseball or economics. We must insist that we operate with in an objective, systematic framework or we will find ourselves falling victim to a whole host of epistemological charlatans and stopped clocks.

* Of course, the best way to evaluate or process is by the results it produces. A process that consistently produces poor results must eventually be rejected. The key is that any one outcome of a process is not sufficient evidence. We must have a large sample of unbiased outcomes before we can make a correct determination on the efficacy of a particular process.

**EDIT** See also: Robin Hanson. He's talking about economics, but the lessons are applicable everywhere.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Let's talk some baseball

I'm starting to get my baseball juices flowing again. So here's some notes on some stuff that happened at some point in the past month or three:
  • The Hall of Fame gained a new member: Andre Dawson. I probably would not have voted for Dawson. Indeed, I've written against his candidacy in the past. Still, it isn't an atrocious choice. Nonetheless, the most positive development of this year's voting is that Bert Blyleven is now only five votes shy of enshrinement. It's highly likely he'll make it in next year and pass the title of "Most Clearly Deserving Player Not In The Hall of Fame" to someone else.
  • Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids during his career. I wish Mark would have said this to Congress five years ago. I don't know why he felt he could not. Nonetheless, his statement is one of the better ones you'll read on the subject, keeping in mind all of the problems that plague these sort of things. Even though it's been suspected for a long time that he used, it was good to see him come forward more or less of his own volition. See also: Rob Neyer's take on the situation.
  • The Yankees traded for Curtis Granderson. There's not much to say: in short, it was, in baseball terms, a good deal for New York, though the nature of it did prolong my apathy by a few more days. I have two essentially incompatible wishes: for the Yankees to win a gazillion World Series and for them to do it with a ton of homegrown players. And since the latter wish is dependent on the former, they might as well do their best at winning as many World Series as they can and let my feelings on the nature of their victories sort themselves out.
  • Ditto for Javier Vazquez, though I will root harder for him than Granderson, given his shoddy treatment in New York the first time around.
  • There are only thirty-seven days until Christmas in February. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I'm looking forward to watching a baseball game with no implications other than the sublime meaning in taking the extra base, turning a double play, hitting a triple into the gap, painting the corner with wicked curveball, drinking an extra beer, putting Stadium Mustard on a grilled Kosher hot dog, and doing nothing all weekend but basking in baseball, glorious baseball.