A few days ago, I wrote a research paper on how athletes are expected to behave morally. Basically it was seeing if players are now held to a higher or lower standard than before. I was actually surprised by the results. So here it is:
by their Era: A case study to determine MLB’s moral standing throughout the
judging a subjective concept the results will be themselves subjective.
Therefore, one must find a point from which to base the level of the subjective
concept relative to that point. As will I do when looking at morality in
baseball throughout the ages. Through using a fixed anchor point of morality, I
will look at the case studies of Mark McGwire, Pete Rose, and Ty Cobb to
determine whether moral standards in baseball have: gone up, stayed the same,
or regressed from early to more modern day baseball.
To accurately find
how much Major League Baseball (MLB)’s moral expectation for players has
evolved I must first establish a standard against which I will measure the
players morality. This standard will be the rules for election that the writers
in the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BWAA) are told to base their
elections for players into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF) off of. The
parameters stated here are: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record,
playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the
team(s) on which the player played,” (BWAA, 1). So, the player’s morality will
be decided upon how many of these traits the player abided by or did not.
Likewise, whether moral expectation amongst the league has deteriorated in MLB
or has actually been elevated by time.
first person of interest when studying morality in baseball is, Mark McGwire.
For those unfamiliar with baseball, Mark McGwire is a baseball player who
started in MLB in the 1980′s and finished his career in 2001. He is best known
for breaking the single season Homerun record in 1998 previously held by Roger
Maris since 1961 when he hit 70 Homeruns to surpass Maris’ 61. This leads us to
McGwire’s wrongdoing. It was later revealed in MLB’s Mitchell report, which was
a study that discovered steroid users, that McGwire had used anabolic steroids
in the 98 and other seasons. This breaks the honor code in the first paragraph
by: tarnishing his record, integrity, and character. This leaves him violating
three of the BWAA’s categories for voting.
second person of interest is Pete Rose. He was a baseball player in the 70′s
and 80′s who’s greatest accomplishment is having the most hits of any hitter in
MLB history. However, he is now known equally as well for his immoral act. This
was, he gambled on games that he was playing in. This violates the honor code
in the first paragraph by tarnishing: his record, character, and MLB felt it
diminished his contributions to the team. This would leave Rose violating also
three of the BWAA’s categories for election into the HOF.
third and most antiquated personality is, Tyrus Raymond Cobb. He was a baseball
player in the early 1900′s who is most famous for the over 90 MLB records he
set in his playing career, including: career Stolen Bases, Batting Average,
etc. Unlike the other two he did not commit a singular act, he committed a
plethora. His incidents include: arguing with a black groundskeeper about the
field condition and choking his wife(N.Y. Times 13 Aug 1907), pulling a knife
on a black elevator operator in an argument that started because Cobb thought
the operator was acting, “uppity” (N.Y. Times 9 Sep 1909), sitting out the last
game of a season to win a batting
title(N.Y. Times 16 Oct 1910), fighting with his own teammates, beating
up a heckler by going into the stands (the heckler had lost his hands in an
industrial accident) (N.Y. Times 16 May 1912), and whipping his own son when he
flunked out of Princeton(N.Y. Times 20 Nov 1994).
combination of these break the following “codes” of honor which players are
based off of for election into the HOF: they stained his record, integrity,
sportsmanship, character, and contributions to his team. This means that Cobb
should not have been voted in on four accounts of the BWAA’s guidelines for
to the BWAA’s guidelines, McGwire and Rose should be admitted into the HOF
before Cobb is. However, Cobb was inducted into the HOF in its first class,
securing a higher percentage of the vote than players such as Babe Ruth and
Walter Johnson, McGwire has
not received more than 25% of the vote,
and Pete Rose was banned from baseball for betting on it. When interpreting
this, historical context must be taken into account. In both the McGwire and
Cobb situation, the environment was far more accepting of their respective grievances.
This being that it was a more racist friendly environment in the early 1900′s
and a more steroid user friendly environment in the late 1990′s and early
using the guidelines for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, I
have determined that the moral standards of MLB have grown for the players. I
have determined that both McGwire and Rose were held to a higher standardin
their more modern time periods than was Ty Cobb was in his more antiquated era.
From this, I determine that from the time that Cobb played in to the time that
McGwire played; MLB has progressively increased how it expects its players to
behave. However, even when compared to a static standard a study of a
subjective idea such as morality is not perfect because every static standard
is not perfect.
“BWAA Election Rules .” Rules For Election 1. National
Baseball Hall of Fame. Web. 15 Mar a 2011.
Carter, Jimmy. “It’s time to forgive Pete Rose :[FINAL
Edition]. ” USA TODAY (pre-1997 Fulltext) 30 s
Oct. 1995,USA TODAY, ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.
“Eckersley against McGwire, Sosa in Hall. ” USA
9 Sep. 2010,KidQuest Magazines, ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.
“Strike the baseball
records of players who used steroids. ” USA TODAY 15
Magazines, ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.
“Roessner, L.. ”Remembering
“The Georgia Peach”. ” Journalism History
36.2 (2010): 83-95. Discovery,
ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. 2011.
Zirin, D.. ”Redemption Is for the
Young. ” The Progressive
1 Dec. 2010: Discovery, ProQuest. Web. 4 Apr. 2011.
· “Sowell, T.. ”MLB Steroid
Scandal: Say It Ain’t So. ” Human Events
17 Dec. 2007: Discovery, ProQuest. Web. 16 Mar. a 2011.
to The New York Times. “TY COBB FIGHTS GROUNDSKEEPER:
Ball Player fights Spring Training Employee and Wife
over condition of field “New York Times (1857-1922)
13 Aug. 1907,ProQuest Historical Newspapers
The New York Times (1851 – 2007), ProQuest. Web. 13 Mar. 2011.
- “Charge Against Cobb
Withdrawn. ” New York Times (1857-1922) 9 Sep. 1909,ProQuest
Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2007), ProQuest.
Web. 13 Mar. 2011.
- “Banner 1 — No Title. ” New
York Times (1857-1922) 16 Oct. 1910, ProQuest Historical Newspapers The
New York Times (1851 – 2007), ProQuest. Web. 13 Mar. 2011.
- “COBB WHIPS HILLTOP FAN FOR
INSULTS: Detroit Player Hurdles Into the Stand and Thrashes a
Profane Commentator. ” New York
Times (1857-1922) 16 May 1912,
ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times
(1851 – 2007), ProQuest. Web. 13 Mar. 2011.
Robert Peterson. “Psychotic at the Bat: A biography of Ty Cobb,
for whom baseball — as well as life — was a blood sport. COBB A Biography. By
Al Stump. Illustrated. 436 pp. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin Books of Chapel
Hill. $24.95. ” Rev. of: New York Times (1923-Current file) 20 Nov. 1994,ProQuest
Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 – 2007), ProQuest.
Web. 20 Mar. 2011.
 arguably the
best power hitter and pitcher of all time
 75% of the
vote is required for induction into the HOF
 Rose to a
much higher standard because baseball had an extremely strict policy on anyone
involved in baseball not betting.
And I will be going to the Mets-Nationals game in all likelihood.
I may have mentioned this is some other entry but here’s the actual layout of the survey:
- This teacher actually watched as a kid but stopped in the 90′s because of the McGwire and Sosa steroids issue. His answer was: he would like to see more integrity in the game, less money, and more teams made up of non-superstars.
- I actually never asked him question 1 because he mentioned in a class that he didn’t watch sports. His answer was: An athlete should be gracious in both defeat and success. He repeated the same concept in different forms trying to get it just right. I have a feeling about what he meant. He was trying to get at that an athlete should not cry in defeat nor should he dance in victory. He should have grace no matter what the outcome. For example, if he loses, he should just walk off the field, comfort other teammates, and start preparing for the next game (professionally).
- He just thinks that professional athletes are a spoiled bunch. (Can anyone argue that this isn’t true in New York?) His answer was: he wanted to see less athletes living the fast life (he gave the example of Derek Jeter but I hope he meant it in terms of attitude because has anyone seen his mansion:
- The player tries his best 7
- The player is a good teammate 6
- The player is a good role model 5
- The player is a leader 5
- The player is a hard worker 4
Many have read the phenomenon known as Moneyball by Michael Lewis. So then, many know that Billy Beane,
used statistics such as On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage to find undervalued players. What most people don’t know is why. This is where the title “Observing Baseball” comes into play. I didn’t get why either until I applied that knowledge to games that I watched. When one truly observes baseball, everything makes more sense.
But enough of the fancy words, let’s get to explaining. I will list different Sabermetric statistics and show why they help to find the value of a player.
On-Base Percentage- For those who don’t know, this statistics measures how many times a batter got on base over the total amount of times he appeared at home plate. This is as opposed to the common statistic of Batting Average. This statistics is obviously tilted more to the favor of hitters who walk a lot:
The advantage that it holds over Batting Average is that hitting goes through hot streaks and slumps, walks are a state of mind so they are a consistent source of base-runners. For example, Mark Teixera (is that right?) has a Batting Average of around .200 in the month of April but his On-Base Percentage always stays around .100 above his Batting Average and he helps his team in that way and is not completely dead weight. The idea behind it is: the more base-runners a team has, the more chances they have to score. To them, the only difference between a single and a walk is that the walk probably made the opposing pitcher throw more pitches and is even better than a single.
Slugging Percentage- If any of you had the following question about On-Base Percentage, “Mister, isn’t there any value in the player that hits for extra bases, because you would still need four walks before you got three outs to score a single run and those don’t seem like good odds to me,” you would have a good point. Slugging Percentage is the Total Bases [(Singles*1)+(Doubles*2)+(Triples*3)+(Home Runs*4)] of a hitter over the number of At-Bats. This gives you how many bases a hitter gives you every At-Bat. This is how staisticians evaluate how well a hitter can hit for power instead of the scout’s way of watching them. I personally like both but prefer the stats if you can get them because it helps to remove yourself as an evaluator and prevents instinctual decision. Moving on… this statistic prefers players who hit doubles, triples and Home Runs as opposed to singles. So:
Instead of this:
I don’t feel like making separate categories for them but there are various statistics made out of combining the On-Base and Slugging Percentages. The simplest and most common is On-base Plus Slugging percentage which is just the two component statistics. The second is Gross Production Average which takes into account the Sabermetrician’s thought that On-Base is 180% more important than Slugging Percentage so this is (On-Base*1.8)+(Slugging Percentage). The final hybrid is Runs Created, which is like a modified slugging percentage in which Walks are entered as Singles and the Total Bases are over Plate Appearances instead of At-Bats.
Range factor- Onto the fielding statistics. Range factor is less Sabermetric in the fact that it is a low tech version of UZR (more on that later). It can be affected significantly by luck. Now, Range Factor is the number of assists and putout a fielder has times 9 over the number innings that player played. It is meant to show how much ground a player can cover by using how many plays the fielder was involved in but does not account for the plays where the ball comes right to the fielder.
Ultimate Zone Rating- The high tech Range Factor, Ultimate Zone Rating divides the field into different zones and identifies how well a fielder got to balls hit in the different zones compared to the people at their same position that year and shows how many runs the fielder either cost or saved their team. This is the statistical measurement for fielding. All the other stats are just this stat derived in different ways. For example, Ultimate Zone Rating plus accounts for the player’s home park. So a player in snug Fenway wouldn’t get more credit than a player in a more spacious park like PETCO to name one.
Pitching Statistics- There are almost no individual pitching statistics. There are three types of Sabermetric statistics
1. Ratios per innings pitched- This includes the likes of ERA, K/9, BB/9, H/9, WHIP etc. These are just to see what a pitcher would do over nine innings using the numbers that stats already show. For example, what sounds better 10 walks over 22 innings pitched or 4.09 walks per nine innings pitched.
2. Defense independent or Park independent statistics- This would include DIERA which takes your defenses range or arm out of the equation. So this stops your right fielder’s incredibly heavy feet from affecting your ERA if he doesn’t quite get to a ball that turned into a double. It would also include ERA+ which takes your home ballpark out of the equation so a Rockie’s pitcher can compare to a Twin’s pitcher.
3. Component Statistics- This would be CERA which calculates what a pitcher’s ERA should be by using his Strike-outs, Hits, Doubles, Triples, Home Runs, Hit Batters, and Walks. My only complaint about these is that they tend to favor pitchers that strike out a lot of hitters. So under this system a Trevor Cahill should do worse than Jonathan Sanchez every season. It discounts the fact that a pitcher can make a ball get hit softer and will then have less hits on balls in play than a pitcher who gets hit harder.
I hope this explains any questions you have about stats, and for the record, I haven’t been lazy the past… what has it been, twenty days. It’s just that nothing that important happened.
First, Happy New Years to every one.
Second, I was thinking of my new year’s resolutions and realized that they were all ballhawking related. So, I thought I should share them with anyone who cares. Hey! I heard that thought. You don’t hear me thinking mean thoughts like that about your hopes and aspirations. Then again, you don’t have my powers of super awesome mind reading.
Anywho, here are my goals for the following season in ballhawking. Not necessarily in this order.
1. Go to AT LEAST 40 baseball games.- I went to 20 games last year and started about half way through the season so this should be do-able.
2. Average 4.0 balls per game.- I was hovering around 3.5 in the last two months. So, I think this could be achieved. Note: at this point I am still a pitcher. Ergo, I am absolutely horrid at tracking balls in the air and catching them. For example, my only game ball was a ball that I overran and then scrambled to get. This can obviously be improved by pure experience.
3. Go to 10 stadiums.- I am definitely going to the 3 South-East stadiums. There are 8 stadiums that I can get to otherwise. That is eleven by my count. This definitely depends on how my dad is feeling in the summer (whether or not he is in the mood to schlep me or not) . However, the 3 South- East are a definite as this is the Marlins’ last year in Dolphins… no Land Shark…. whatever that Stadium is called now, and I want to get me a commemorative baseball.
4. Get 100 baseballs.- This is dependent on how many games I go to, but if I go to 40 and keep my pace for last season. I would… finish… just… shy… of 100. Wow, that was deflating.
5. Catch a game homer at Citi field (preferably, before anyone else does it).- It has never been done before by a mygameballs.com member because of the ballhawk’s death valley that is right field and the left field furthest from home plate in the major leagues, but Citi Field ballhawks tend to lie closer to the dugouts and therefore there is no professional competition in left field. However, there is an over hang that prevent a home run from going more than ten rows back. So, I can see why they are by the dugout but, I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
6. Get five game-balls total.- Now this one, I’m not too sure of. If I sit in a spot to do it, t’will be a piece of caketh. But if I don’t, then it will be near impossible because only 7 people achieved this feat last year. And that, is why you never start a sentence with a conjunction.
7. Lead the mygameballs.com community in Umpire balls for my first full month of ballhawking.- The only reason this would be difficult is if I am going for Home Runs in Citi Field there is an evil gate that prevents fans from going to the dugout seats (umpire tunnel) from the outfield. Therefore, I would have to get to the dugout seats by getting tickets from exiting fans, a fickle source. Besides that, I have a secret weapon to get umpire balls. This is why I only expect to lead for my first month because I know Citi Field ballhawks will want to know where I got it and then have just as good of a chance to get an umpire ball as I do.
8. Be in the Top 10 for mygameballs.com at some point in the season (preferably after the last game of the world series).- Now if I average 4.0 balls per game. I would only have to go to… 35 games to be in the 2010 top 10. Like I said, many of these (if not all) are dependent on the degree to which the first goal is accomplished.
9. Post entries regularly. This is the hardest goal yet. This goal depends not on whether I know Spanish or can catch a baseball. It is a matter of pure sit-down-and-write-itness. I was previously known as the “if only he applied himself he could do well” kid. This might shine through if I am tired from running around and blogging on back-to-back-to-back-to-back games which will probably happen if I want to go to forty games (considering I will lose most of April, May, and September to Fordham P Baseball).
10. Aaand a Paaartriiidge iiin a peaaar treee.- I like round numbers and nine doesn’t really accomplish this goal. So, I wanted to have a tenth goal but had no actual tenth goal and so this is just to fill up space and satisfy my round number goal and… Why am I still writing?
Anyway, I hope your New year’s resolutions are accomplished as well (unless they make mine even a degree harder ’cause like I said, I don’t feel like applying myself that much more.) and I’ve said it a million times to other people but what ever you never, ever, exaggerate anything, especially your goals.
Tis’ the month of formulating a business plan and the Phillies have certainly done that. Where others see the disgust inducing spending of millions on already rich baseball players, I see a work of art. I am a General Manager in Training (well GM hopeful at least). So, when a string of moves is made, one to complement the previous, I see the Venus De Milo being constructed before me (that is before all the breaking etc.).
The explanation for the following series of moves involves conspiracy theory on the part of the Phillies. I only use this as an explanation because of the wishful thinking on my part that general managers are now coming to the realization I came to when Johan Santana was traded from the promise land to the abyss (I know I said I wouldn’t be biased but it’s so hard when you experience such awfulness on a daily basis). I realized that an unhappy but loyal player could work out a way to stay with a team he likes and yet help them.
I asked, “Dad, couldn’t a team just: trade a player with one year left on his contract, get the prospects from the trade, then resign him the next off-season, and have a team with both prospects for the future and a great player now.” I needed no answer in return to realize yet another idea, besides Animal Baseball patent pending, had come from too much boredom and a radio with New York sports talk radio on. I had created the ideal momentum turner in a league.
I thought no one would dare to even attempt something similar… until now. Well, let’s drop the story telling mood and add some actual baseball to this entry. The deal was indeed pure genius, conspiracy or not. For the sake of argument, we will say there was no conspiracy:
There were a series of four transactions that enabled the current pitching rotation of the Phillies to exist. The numbers next to the names are where those players were ranked as prospects in 2010, that would be overall.
The obvious Roy Halladay trade:
Roy Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies and P Kyle Drabek(15), OF Michael Taylor(38), and C Travis D’Arnaud (UR) to the Toronto Blue Jays. So you see they gave up some pretty good talent, need I explain further?
Next came the Cliff Lee trade:
Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners and P Phillippe Aumont (29) and OF Tyson Gillies (50) to the Philadelphia Phillies. An important note is that the Phillies would have had to give up their #1 prospect at the time, Dominic Brown, had they not traded Cliff Lee.
The conspiracy, if in existence, would be that the Phillies agreed that they would trade Cliff Lee and try and trade for a Pitcher i.e. Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, or Zack Greinke, and he would come back to them for less money if this was done. To me, this was indeed pure genius, conspiracy or not.
I know I haven’t written anything in a while. I started a world series preview but this was as far as I got by the first game
I personally prefer a good pitcher’s duel to a shoot out. That’s why I love this series. Four good pitchers for the Giants, three for the Rangers, it will be amazing.
MVP: Matt Cain-
This may seem strange as a choice for MVP. Now, I am not saying that he will be voted MVP of the series or even that he will be the best pitcher on his team. I do not think Cain’s scorless streak will last the world series but will pitch close too that quality. I predict Tim Lincecum will pitch almost as well as Cain if not as well. However, Tim Linceucum is going against Cliff Lee two, possibly three times. I think that Lee will pitch better than Lincecum and beat him in at least one of those games. Cain on the other hand, is pitching against C.J. Wilson twice and will not have to pitch as well as Lincecum to win a game. I think the Giants will get two wins out of cain, which is pretty valueable in a best of seven series.
Cy Young: Tim Lincecum-
“But mister, why would you have one pitcher as the most valuable player and the other as the Cy Young while they are on the same team?” Well young grasshopper, the logic behind this is that I predict Lincecum will pitch better but Cain’s preformance will be worth more because he will get more wins out of pitching to the quality that I think he will pitch to. Thus, he will be more valuable to his team than Lincecum. If Lincecum wins 2/2 or 3/3 games in this series against Cliff Lee than this all changes but I think winning 2/2 games is more valuable than 2/3.
Silver Slugger: Tim Lincecum!!! … Or maybe Buster Posey/Pat Burrell
Some of the old with some of the new. Pat Burrell will get many more at-bats with the DH spot in three out of the first five games. He had the second highest slugging percentage on the Giants despite being close to the end in batting average. Buster Posey has shown only improvement under pressure and shouldn’t stop now.
X-Factor: Brian “fear the beard” Wilson
This article is not about that. This article is an end of the year review of my ballhawking. This one will be interesting for the fact that I only blogged about one game but here it is.
Avg: 2.8 balls per game
Retriever: 0 (no retrievers allowed in NYC) but for those who are wondering I will use both a cup and a glove trick. For some things I have a really unimaginative mind.
Hit: 0 ( At the end of September I went to games in which bp was rained out and stayed in the habit of getting thrown balls into October which you can see on my mygameballs.com profile http://www.mygameballs.com/baseballdata?db=fischerm )
Avg: 4.33 ( wow how’d I do that)
Competition factor for the year: 1,985,159
I will blog about the off-season moves of the different teams but the volume of articles will pick up very much in the spring and summer when baseball starts up again.
When has this ever happened? By my count, (whatever that’s worth) we have eleven potential aces and four of the best pitchers in baseball heading the four different teams.
1. Cliff Lee
-Twenty-one strikeouts without a single walk in Rookie ball is impressive much less the playoffs.
2. Christopher John Wilson
-Now he may not be the most obvious ace but out of his thirty three 2010 starts, TWELVE were of seven innings or more and two or fewer runs allowed, EIGHTEEN were of six innings and two runs or less.
New York Yankees
1. Carsten Charles Sabathia- I watched this guy throw what should have been a no-hitter two years ago in Pittsburgh.
-For a good part of the year, this was the best pitcher on the best team in the Majors.
1. Roy Halladay
-One Postseason start, One postseason no-hitter. It is scary to think what would have happened had he been with the Phillies for the last five years. His sinker, cutter scissor effect rules supreme.
2. Roy Oswalt
-Is one of the most accurate fastballs in the game supported with an absolutely hittable curve (opponents are hitting just .125 off of it) makes him an ace wherever he is if not the number one pitcher.
3. Cole Hamels-Remember, he was the star of the playoffs just two years ago
and with the same nasty change and a rejuvenated fastball he is ready to regain that spotlight.
San Francisco Giants
1. Tim Lincecum- Scouts were impressed with the fact a 5’11″ kid could hit 100 mph.
Lincecum showed a curve that was even better. The MLB hitters couldn’t hit him, he then added a change up that could dive to either side of the plate. He won a Cy Young in his first full year in the MLB.
Everyone thought he couldn’t get better, he added a slider and won his second Cy Young.
2. Matt Cain- Is something like 48-0 in games where he is given four runs or more of run support. Of course, the Giant’s offense is not know for that.
3. Jonathan Snachez- Like Wilson, he won’t pitch a shutout every game but who could forget he pitched a No-Hitter last year
and could any day with an amazing slider.
4. Madison Bumgarner
-He is the reason I pick the Giants for the World Series this year. He had some difficulty in adjusting to the Majors but in his last seven starts he has an ERA of 1.78. If he stays healthy, I predict another Matt Cain waiting in the wings.
Well, I just love this because I prefer pitchers above hitters by a sizable margin. However, this is just my opinion. If anybody has started reading, first thank you, but secondly give your opinion of who is an ace or not and why.
P. S. just to preview I will most likely be going to Yankee Stadium for Game 4 of the ALCS