So I have a gap here that I have to bridge. I’m not quite in “ballhawking mode” just yet (my first game will probably in Baltimore on April 7th), so I’ll just write more miscellaneous entries until this weekend. That can range anywhere from writing entries about games that I have attended before I made this blog to just adding my opinion to MLB news.
In today’s entry I’ll do the latter. Obviously the biggest news today is that Tim Lincecum is to undergo Tommy John Surgery. If you haven’t heard the news, Lincecum injured his arm during his between-starts bullpen session yesterday. Reportedly he felt no discomfort in his March 27th start:
Anyway, I’m shocked and disappointed by this. If you’ve read this blog semi-frequently you know that Tim Lincecum is my favorite player in MLB right now. Part of the reason is that I always held the belief that he had a fantastically efficient delivery that would actually prevent him from getting arm injuries more so than the more conventional deliveries of pitchers now adays. So first I guess is the disappointment that what I believed to be true when it comes to pitching has seen its foundation rocked and all those people that diagramed how bad Lincecum’s delivery is/was were right:
I mean that’s pretty much it. All I can say is that Chien-Ming Wang, Joe Nathan, and Julio Teheran better stay healthy this year. Oh, and I just covered the basic facts, but if you want to read the whole article on what happened to “Timmy”, here is the link.
For those wondering why it took me so long to get this posted, last week (March 4th- 10th was National Procrastination Week), and I was… er… celebrating until this past Sunday. So anyway, here is the entry…
Ah, day 2. This conference couldn’t get any better, right? Well, it didn’t. It simply maintained its awesomeness from the first day, but before we delve into the events of the second day, here are some items I got on the first day that I would like to share. First, here is the ID I used to enter the convention center. It might look familiar to those of you who follow me on Twitter (If you don’t follow me on Twitter and would like to do so there is a button to do so over there —> It is near the top of the page):
Pretty self-explanatory, right?
At the door, in addition to giving us those spiffy IDs, we also got a “goodie bag” of sorts:
The lower right item is the bag all this other stuff came in. The labeled items going clockwise from the bag are: an ESPN the magazine you may recognize from my introductory entry to this conference, the “handbook” is really a book that explains everything about the conference. Mostly, it has all of the panels and bios of each of the participants, a list of all of the participants in the conference (about 2,200) sorted by organization, and finally, a mouse pad that is basically a square cut out of some thin plastic sheet ( I actually don’t know if it is a mouse pad, but I assume so with how it looks). The other two things are a metallic bottle and some book I still haven’t figured out the theme of.
So anyway, NOW let’s get to the action of the day. There was no common panel for everyone to watch this day. It was just “go directly from breakfast to your first session”. That first session for me was “Measuring Belief in Sports Performance Research”. Since it wasn’t Baseball-related, here are only a few of the slides:
Just to give you an idea of the “globality” of this conference, the talk was given by this guy, Peter Blanch:
Yeah, well he’s from Australia.
The next talk was sort of a spin-off of a talk I had heard the previous day in that Peter Fadde helped research for this company.
Anyway, it was “Training Above The Neck”. The company was Axon Performance and the talk was given by their vice-president, Jason Sada:
The idea of the company is to enact Malcolm Gladwell‘s idea of getting mastery of something with 10,000 hours of practice, but instead of having a player go on the field and wear down their body’s mileage and risk injury, the athletes master the mental aspect of the game through their products. An example of the mileage thing being the case is, for those who pay attention to football, Quarterbacks will almost always say after they’re retired that once they started figuring out the mental part of the game, their body started failing them. An example of the usage of these products is that Minor League Baseball Players, who have eons of time traveling on buses, could actually see 5,000 pitches and practice identifying the first 1/8th of a pitch’s flight instead of just being bored out of their mind. This really was a presentation meant to be experience and not read, so I actually won’t post any of the slides. For example, the presentation started off with a movie about the company.
Not to belittle the other sessions, but next was by far my favorite session of the day and quite possibly the conference. Actually, though, it wasn’t as easy a choice as you might have thought. Right up until the end of Axon Sports’ presentation, I still didn’t know whether I was going to either: Franchises In Transition, or Box Score Rebooted. Right at the end of the session I thought to myself, “Hey, doofus, what are you even debating? You are a stat-oriented Baseball fan. Go to Box Score Rebooted!” So not only did I go to that one, but it was boxed lunch time so I was able to out-race people and get in the first row of seats. Check out the view I had:
Mind you, this shot was taken with the camera zoomed all the way out.
You may be able to recognize one of the panelists, but let me introduce them all:
John Walsh (moderator):
- Executive Vice-President ESPN.
- I already introduced him in the previous day‘s entry.
- Director of Production Analytics ESPN ( if you have seen TQBR in football used, he was part of the team that invented it).
- The founder of STATS Inc.
- Official Historian for MLB.
Trust me when I tell you they had some very interesting things they talked about, but unfortunately I don’t have my notes with me as I lent them to someone else who wanted to know about the conference. Like the Ron Shapiro video, I’ll tweet it out when I update the entry. However, here is a video if you want to watch the whole panel:
Also, here’s the panel I was thinking of going to. You can tell me if you think I made the right choice:
Next up was a session that I really didn’t expect, and it was disappointing as a result. It was a competition between business schools when I thought it was going to be a presentation or panel on business. So, I’ll show the competitors and that’s it.
Here are the three people from the first school I forgot the names of, even though they were sitting right next to me prior to, and during the competition:
University of Chicago Booth School, the eventual winners:
So anyway, after that it was time for “Building the Modern Athlete: Performance Analyitcs“. This panel was made up of:
Peter Keating (moderator):
- Senior Writer for ESPN the Magazine.
- CEO of Athlete’s Performance.
- Co-Founder of BASE Productions.
- Legal Analyst for Sports Illustrated.
- Director of Player Personnel for the Indiana Pacers.
- Four-time Olympic Ice Hockey Medalist.
This panel really didn’t talk a bout Baseball at all, so I’ll refrain from writing about the content of it.
The next panel I went to was entitled, “Fanalytics“. It was either that or “Fantasy Sports Analytics”. The deciding factor was that the former was held in the Ballroom, so I would have an easier time finding a good seat for the closing ceremonies. So, I left the previous session a tad early and managed to grab a seat in the section directly in front of the stage. Unfortunately, it was towards the back so all of my pictures were taken through the heads of people in front of me and some of the “good” pictures were ruined as a result, but anyway, here are the panelists:
Bill Simmons (moderator):
- Writer for ESPN. Listed, though, as the editor-in-cheif for Grantland, which is that mysterious book in the middle of the second picture of the entry.
- President of the Kraft Group.
- I already introduced him in this entry.
- CEO of Ticketmaster.
- Executive Vice President of Business for MLB.
It really wasn’t a Baseball panel per say, but I think its better moment came from the Baseball related banter going on between Bill Simmons and Tim Brosnan. For example, Bill complaining about the fact that you can’t watch Baseball clips on Youtube and then Tim responding to it. If I ever get around to posting the footage I have of this panel, I’ll tweet it that the entry has been edited, but it’s pretty crumby because of all the people’s heads I had to constantly move my camera out of the way of. So if you want to watch it just for the entertainment value of that (and it was entertaining to those of us present), here is the video if you want to watch:
Next up was the First Annual Alpha Awards, which were awards in the field of analytics made for the conference. There were a bunch of them, so I’ll just highlight the most notable ones.
First (I believe), was Bill James winning the “Lifetime Achievement” Award. Here is a video I took of the occasion. I apologize for the blurriness, I had a telephoto lens all the way zoomed-in, so I wasn’t exactly close, and the camera was feeling heavy at this point:
Next was the Tampa Bay Rays winning the prize for best-run organization (this being in terms of analytics, of course):
The last notable award was for the University of Chicago Booth school winning the business competition I was at earlier:
I really have no idea whether those events actually took place in the order I presented them, but I do know that after the awards, there was a “Live B.S. Report” with Mark Cuban.
First of all, it was a completely non-baseball “session”, so I won’t share anything besides the pictures, but it was a unique situation that I want to describe in that this was Mark Cuban’s only session of the conference (it was the last session of the conference period). Even though he was supposed to be there the whole weekend. So he basically flew out from wherever just for this session. The only other panel I attended he should have been in was the “Fanalytics” panel. So, here are the pictures:
After the BS Report itself ended, Cuban and Simmons got mobbed on the stage by all of the MIT students who organized the event and personally thanked/ shook the hand of each one of them. If you are a Basketball or aspiring Sports Business person, it may be a session to listen to as both involved are “personalities”. So for those of you who do want to take a look/listen, here is the video:
They were then nice enough to pose for me to take a picture. Don’t let their eyes fool you, the whole set-up was for me:
Oh and when I say “mobbed” it’s not that much of a stretch. The stage was pretty small and there were a lot of people. This next picture is just me moving the camera to the left to show all of the people outside of the shot, and that’s not including the people out-of-frame to the right:
…and that was your conference. I went out in the halls to film a video you will probably never see and went back to my hotel room already planning to comeback next year.
So obviously, I extremely recommend this conference if you are really into sports and live in the North-eastern region of the United States. Even if you don’t, it might be worth it. It was just THAT amazing for me.
Lastly, there may be a few more entries regarding this conference coming up, so if you’re waiting for the rest of the “Offseason Recap and Preview” entries, bear with me. I wanted to keep writing them all the way up until the beginning of the season and this conference provided the perfect excuse to do so. I will actually be doing an in-school internship involving this blog, so expect entries done during the month of April to be a tad more developed along with me experimenting with a few things. Also, if you want to check out the video page, here, is the link. They used some of my pictures as the shots for the videos. See how many you can pick out that are my pictures from these two entries.
P.S. I really didn’t want that to be the last word, just because the conference was so awesome so here are the final word: What a way to spend two days.
Ah finally. The MIT Sports Analytics Conference:
As those of you who read my last entry know, I’d been waiting for this day for a while. I bought my ticket in October, but I had known, and therefore wanted to go to this conference ever since Moneyball came out (whenever that may have been).
First of all, here is the video showing me taking a tour of the halls of the third floor of the convention center where this was being held:
Anyway, the day was action-packed, so let’s get to the action, why don’t we. The first panel, which was the only panel everyone attending the conference saw was the ” In the Best Interest of the Game: The Evolution of Sports Leagues” panel:
This panel included five people. Those five were:
Michael Wilbon (Moderator of the panel):
- Commentator for ESPN. Most notably a co-host of the program “Pardon The Interruption” of PTI for short.
- Commissioner of the NHL. On a side note, the first two look kind of nasty in the pictures I caught them, but I can assure you, they were nothing like that during their presentations.
- COO of the NBA.
- Executive Vice President of Labor Relations and Human Resources for MLB.
- Chairman and Executive Vice President of the New York Giants. Also I learned that he won an Oscar for his work on Forrest Gump.
- President of Boras Corporation (he’s a Baseball agent and that is his company).
I won’t bore you with all the details since this IS a *Baseball* blog and the panel wasn’t entirely Baseball comprised, but there was a discussion brought up on Labor Negotiations of MLB alone. There only Boras and Manfred talked and both made good discussion. Obviously, Boras was on the players’ side and Manfred was on the league’s side for most of the all of the labor conflicts the two have gone through, so they discussed this. There was no actually “arguing” during any of the panels i went to yesterday, but the panelists did give a better view of their side than the average fan usually gets. During this portion, Boras made an interesting point that the actual average career of a MLBer is 3 years and the players have this in mind during negotiations.
Here is a look at the panel via the video screen since I couldn’t fit all of them in one picture without a couple being blocked by some person’s head:
Here is a video of the whole panel if you so wish to watch what actually went on during it:
After the panel ended, I walked up to the stage and photographed it to give you a better idea of how it looked. Here was the result:
I also went to the back of the room to take a picture of the control booth/platform:
I then left the room to explore a little more since there is 20 minutes between sessions. The most interesting thing I found on this little venture. If you want to read the actual presentation, the picture is high enough quality to click on it and zoom in to read it, but for me to actually explain the idea behind the presentation would be too long to write out. Anyway, here is said picture:
The next panel I attended was entitled, “The Business of Sports: Winning Off the Field”, which was also held in that main Ballroom. The panelists were:
Jessica Gelman (moderator):
- Vice President of Customer Marketing & Strategy for the Kraft Sports Group.
- SVP Corporate Development for the NFL.
- CEO Manchester United.
- Co-Owener of the Boston Celtics (that spelling is of whoever put together the book not my own).
- President of MSG Sports. One story for him is that during the panel, he gave a signed Jeremy Lin T-Shirt to a Houston Rocket’s personnel to thank that specific person for releasing Lin (I assume that person was the GM, but I don’t pay enough attention to the NBA to know the name). Edit: After going to the second day, I realized that it was one of the co-chairs of the conference O’neil gave the shirt to. Who was this co-chair, and what did he have to do with the Rockets? It was actually Daryl Morey, the GM himself. So this whole exchange makes much more sense now that I know this information.
- Executive Vice President, Business Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Again, I won’t go through of any of the details, because there were no MLB panelists. However, if you really want to watch it, here is the hour-long video of the panel:
If you want to see the Jeremy Lin Jersey Exchange, it can be seen starting at around the 7:00 min mark of the video.
Next I went to the Research room for a couple of PowerPoint Presentations. Let me just clarify one thing, there was no set route for a person to go. At anytime there were at least 4 different sessions going on at a time and it was your job to decide which it was that you were going to.
The first Presentation was entitled, “Big 2′s and Big 3′s: Analyzing How a Team’s Best Players Complement Each Other”. It was a Basketball Presentation, so I won’t share anything, but I will show that it was presented by this guy:
If you do, however, have an interest in this research paper and what the presentation was like, here is the video:
The next presentation was entitled, “Predicting the Next Pitch”. This was a completely Baseball study looking at whether some students at MIT could develop a method for predicting pitches. The presentation itself was done by the professor, John Guttag (I assume that’s his name as it was on the cover slide):
Since it was a Baseball Presentation, here are some of the slides:
If you want to have a look at the presentation itself, here is the video for ya:
Next was definitely one my favorite sessions of let’s see if you can guess which panel it was:
If you guessed Baseball Analytics, you are correct. Oh yeah and if you read this tweet before answering it’s cheating:
“They just claimed this is, ‘The best Baseball Analytics panel assembled’. A bold one, but looking at them, I believe it.”
Anyway, the panel itself went as follows:
Rob Neyer (moderator):
- Editor for SB Nation.
- I’ve introduced him already.
- Special Assistant in charge of Scouting and Player Development for the Tampa Bay Rays.
- President of the Cleveland Indians.
- GM of the Houston Astros.
- Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox.
The panel discussed many things, so I will share what it is I wrote down.
- Jeff Luhnow used to work with the Cardinals, but when asked he said he liked the Astros, because it let him start from scratch in terms of implementing analytics.He also mentioned that analytics was a part of why the Cardinals won the World Series this past season.
- I have a note simply labeled “Sports Psychology”. I guess that means he was focused a lot on the mental part of a player.
- Rocco Baldelli said he would like to know why certain guys hit and certain guys don’t.
- Mark Shapiro commented after Bill James spoke that it reminded him how little he knew.
- Scott Boras made a great argument against the implementation of an International Draft.
- He also said that Baseball has an advantage because everyone plays, but they then release the kids into other sports.I personally played Soccer before Baseball, but I get the point.
Next up was a presentation in the “Evolution of Sports Room”:
Actually I missed the best part of that banner in that particular picture, but see if you can spot it in any of the pictures from either this entry or the next one.
The presentation was entitled, “The Sixth Tool: Training Baseball Recognition”. The presentation was given by this guy, Peter Fadde:
Since it was a Baseball related presentation, here are a few slides:
Basically, the idea was to train hitters to recognize the pitch based on the first .150 seconds of flight. It was a very interesting idea for me as a manager of my high school baseball team. If it is interesting to you, here is the video:
The next presentation was yet another Baseball presentation and I’ll also show the extent of what I paid attention to:
It just wasn’t THAT interesting a presentation. The slides were monotonous, both speakers were uncertain in their words, and the demo site they put together for the conference was pretty unimpressive and basic. I really wanted to leave and got to “Art and Analytics of Negotiation”, but didn’t want to be rude in such a small room so I stayed for the whole thing. A fun fact, though, the first presenter, Mike Attanasio, is both an MIT Sophmore and the son of the Brewers’ own Mark Attanasio, or so I am told. Basically, the only thing I would possibly use the site for is looking up stats if I wanted to know how a specific player performs in a certain temperature. The example they used, Carl Crawford, stunk in cold weather last year, but did well in warmer weather. Anyway, it might be interesting for you, who knows. If that is the case, here is the video for this presentation:
The next session I went to was one entitled, “Competitive Advantage: Sports Business Analytics”. I really didn’t like this one, because it was four presentations instead of a panel and I once again wished I were in the ballroom. This time the panel taking place was “Coaching Analytics”. Anyway, here are the faces of the people who presented in this session. I don’t know their names, because they’re not in the book I got since they weren’t a panel:
Next was the final session of the evening simply listed as “A Systematic Approach to Sports Negotiations”. I didn’t think it was possible, but it competed with the Baseball Analytics panel for my favorite of the day. The speaker was Ron Shapiro. TH first thing he did once he got up on stage was that he complained that his son, Mark Shapiro, and his son-in-law, Eric Mangini had already spoke (both were present for this session) and “thousands of people showed up, but now that the old man was finally up there were only a few dozen (to be fair, he did have the room filled. It was just that his room was significantly smaller than the Ballroom where both of them spoke. It is very interesting for anyone looking to get into the business side of sports. If you have any such inclination, or just want to watch this presentation, here is the video. Some of the presentation goofs are pretty entertaining:
In addition to being a baseball session, sort of (Shapiro does a bunch of things. He was/is: Cal Ripken’s and Joe Mauer’s agent among others, has worked in/for the front of the Baltimore Ravens and San Antonio Spurs, and was originally a lawyer.) It was also an amazing talk. So, I will put up every picture I have of him. I did take some video in this session and once i have it on YouTube, I will announce it via twitter that this entry has been updated, but I don’t know how long that could take since my home computer is nearing its disk limit and videos tend to take up a lot of space on that:
So that was my first day it was a great day and now that I’ve gone through it, I can say that the second day equaled it, so stay alert, because that entry will be published either tomorrow or Monday and then I will resume the Offseason Recap and Preview entries with the Washington Nationals, the Atlanta Braves, and some team from whichever division you select.
First of all, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. As I type this, it is already halfway through said holiday her in France. I hope, though, no matter what a anybody believes, that this be a good day for them. Now, here, is the link to the first entry predicting the then Florida Marlins’ 2011 season.
Predicted Record: 75-80 wins
Actual Record: 72-90
So I was a little off on this prediction. Though, I was a LOT closer than I thought when I initially looked at the discrepancy between the two records. That is because, I failed to put Josh Johnson in the Notable Subtractions column. Does anyone remeber the first two months or so of the season? Josh Johnson had about 3 or4 starts it seems that he had a no-hitter for the first 6 innings of a game. He was THE best pitcher in baseball when he got injured, and that is with Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw included. Johson was their bonafide Ace and had I known he would have been down for most of the season, I would have down graded the Marlins about four wins. Case in point, the second to last video on Johnson’s Player Page is entitled, “J.J. is key to Marlins’ success.”
Just a side note, as much as I like Josh Johnson, I don’t think he will get over his injury woes. Last Year, when Stephen Strasburg was coming up, everyone and their mother had their eyes on him. Curt Schilling was no exception. He did a segment with ESPN or MLBN where he looked at both Josh Johnson side-by-side with Stephen Stasburg because he wanted to look at a Pitcher of the same height of 6’5″ (Strasburg is 6’4″ and Johnson is 6’6″, but whatever)
Had Josh Johnson been out from the beginning of the season, I would have adjusted my prediction correctly. So all things considered, I predicted the Marlins’ season pretty well. They were who I thought they were! A team that was above average offensively, but not so spectacular to overcome any lack in pitching. I’m not saying their pitching staff was horrible without Johnson, but they have a lot of slightly above average homegrown Pitchers and some below average mercinaries. All in all, this is a well run organization for the funding it provides its GM with.
Wow. I truly cannot believe it has been only a year. When I created this blog last year, it had been a thought brewing in my mind for a few months. When my birthday came around (the night of October 12th/ the morning of October 13th)I figured I would just try something a little out of my comfort zone. I created the blog and named it Observing Baseball just because I like to see past the surface in things and it was going to be a baseball blog. I made the link mateofischer.mlblogs.com, not because I thought I would some day have 100 hits on the site each day, but because the blog was going to be me. More specifically, it was going to be my opinion on baseball. I then wrote the blog’s first entry at 12:52 on the morning of my birthday, the 13th.
October 14- My next entry is still one of the ones I have most pride in where I delved into all the great pitchers that were in the playoffs last year and broke them down showing the world and Ace they may not have considered before.
October 16- After that, the world got its first taste of Mateo Fischer randomness when Cablevision and News Corp engaged in a price negotiation at the Bronx’s expense. By the way, if you actually look carefully at the title of the entry, the blanked out word is actually “freaking” and not the word everyone would think to be blanked out. This is also where I got my first comment.
October 20- My next entry was my first taste of both the ballhawk style of blog entry and ALCS baseball. Thanks to the enormous generosity of my dad, I went on Ebay three days before the game and got us both a ticket for this game. It was one of the most unique experiences I have ever experienced and has really contributed to my entries this year. I am amazed by many things in this entry. First, when I re-read this entry, I was both impressed and disgusted at how quickly I got an entry of that magnitude up and how sloppy my writing is. Secondly, I am amazed by how good some of the pictures were for it being my first time blogging about a game and how random some of the other pictures were. Sure, I still have some random pictures in my entries but in this entry, the time I spent outside the gates had almost as much coverage as the time I spent inside the stadium. It was like I took pictures so I felt the need to use them in the entry.
November 1-30- Here is where I got my first taste of other thing getting in the way of blogging. In both entries, listed here and here, I found myself in the position of having to explain to the readership why I hadn’t been posting entries that often. The problem was that I was too ambitious but in retrospect I wish I would have finished the entries because there were maybe five people reading at this point and so I should have held future readers in mind because looking back on it, it just looks sloppy.
December 19th- This is the point where I realized that I didn’t have that many viewers and so I actually stuck through it and finished the whole entry. Sadly, I did write other entries in December but this is the only one that survived the WordPress conversion. Fortunately, this is another one of those entries I am very proud of. It is completely conspiracy theory but it does make sense when you think about it from the standpoint of a GM (which I aspire to be). The name of the entry is Pure Genius. It deals with the Cliff Lee acquisition by the Phillies last offseason and the moves that, intentionally or unintentionally, made that move possible (I argue that they would have been intentional if I were the GM of the Phillies and imply that Reuben Amaro might have done them intentionally).
January 2-6- New Years Resolution/Revision I initially made all of my all of goals for the 2011 ballhawking season in the New Years Resolution entry. Four days later in the New Years Revision, I went back on these goals because my dad’s test came back and his cancer looked much worse than I had perceived when I wrote the first entry.
January 27- This was one of those entries I am most proud of. When I first read Moneyball, I sort of understood the statistics themselves and how they worked but I didn’t truly understand why they worked better than the usual statistics. This is an explanation to those people in that fuzzy zone that get Sabermetric stats but don’t get why they work better. I will be the first to admit that I would probably do a much better job now of explaining the stats and that this entry is a bit awkward and confusing. The entry is aptly named, Sabermetrics (the explanation).
February 16-April 19- Offseason Recap and Review entries. This stemmed from me looking at things from a GM’s perspective. I just thought to myself that it would be fun to grade how the teams had done in the offseason. Little did I know, it would also be a great tool for communicating with the different fan bases of Mlblogs because I did do all 30 teams.
March 9-30 Fordham Prep Baseball I tried writing about Fordham Prep Baseball because I am already the manager for the team and I could have some insight along with recapping the games. It started with posting the varsity roster on the blog. I then recapped some games but it faded out because there was some criticism as to how I recapped the games and it was just taking up too much time so I stopped writing the entries. I will NOT be resuming this on this blog. If at all I start recapping games, it will be on another blog created specifically for Fordham Prep Baseball, but will most likely not happen.
March 10- In the first week of March, Zack Hample’s “The Baseball” with a subtitle I’d rather not write out, came out. I “Pre”-ordered and several days later on March 8th, it arrived. I then went onto do my first ever book review. I know absolutely nothing about how to review a book. So, I just went over each of the sections and added my own little commentary to go with that particular section. Here is the review in all of its overkilling-ness, The Baseball Book Review.
March 17- This was just a play I had in my mind forever and wanted to get out into the world. I realized that I could put it on my blog and so the Super Bunt became a blog entry. What do you think? Could it actually work?
March 27- I know you are sick of entries that “I am very proud of” but here’s another. The Survey of Adult’s Perception of Baseball is close to, if not the entry I have/will put the most effort into. It is basically me seeing how adults view baseball as a sport through asking my teachers who their favorite players are and why.
April 27- I copied and pasted a research essay I did for English on the moral standard held by baseball throughout the years. I did this by examining who was being let into the Hall of Fame and whether or not they deserved it according to the rules for the BWAA for voting. I looked at Mark McGwire, Ty Cobb, and I believe Pete Rose. The entry was called, Case Study on the Morality in Baseball. It may be a bit drier than you are used to from me because it was for a class but it certainly has some interesting information. You might be surprised by what you find.
May 6- about June I was going to games fairly infrequently as you can see from the distance between blog entries. This was because my dad was in hospice care and I was trying to spend as much time as I could with him after Fordham Prep Baseball ended. He died May, 17, 2011. To show how much I love baseball, I went to a game that night. Granted it got rained out but still.
June 19- August 4 I don’t want to say that I caught fire because that carries the implication that I was overachieving but something certainly clicked for me in all the games between these two points. Coincidentally, (this is sarcasm) I was not in New York for any part except for but one game of this hot streak. The schedule consisted of: June 15-16 Nationals Park, June 24 AT&T Park, July 2 Tropicana Field (where I snagged my 100th ball), July 4-6 Turner Field, July 7-9 Sun Life Stadium, July 18 Citi Field, July 22-24 Camden Yards, and July 27-29 Nationals Park.
August 4- September 23 I went on an even colder streak than the last one was hot. Not coincidentally, there were a whole bunch of Citi Field games. The streak was so bad I actually ended my consecutive games streak at 56. I think my average for this stretch was a little over 1 ball a game. This included a trip to the Midwest where I wasn’t as prepared as I would like for games because I was visiting like 10,000 colleges.
Now we are pretty much up to date. Like I said, it was a crazy year. This blog started out as just something to do but it has evolved into something so much greater. I have been able to be in communication with so many more people because of it and now can’t imagine my life without it. It has even affected my college search so much as that I am actually considering Journalism as a serious major. Last year, I would have gone on a hunger strike before I applied to a school for Journalism. This year, I am actually applying to Northwestern, the top Journalism school in the country.
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.