Results tagged ‘ offseason ’

Survey of Adults’ Perception of Baseball

I may have mentioned this is some other entry but here’s the actual layout of the survey:

I wanted to see how the average adult viewed baseball. So, instead of running up and down Fordham Road trying to get the ideas of random adults, I asked my 19 former and current high school teachers (20 if you count the baseball team’s pitching coach). The process went like this:
1. Ask teacher who their favorite baseball player was.
1a. If yes, why this was their favorite player
2. If no, what they would like to see in athletes as role models.
3. Wait a few weeks and then follow up with them if they gave me a name for the first question.
4. Asking who their favorite player was outside of New York.
5. Again, asking why.
The purpose of asking them their favorite player instead of outright asking what they think of the game is to see how well their ideals (or lack there of due to them compartmentalizing) matched up with what they think of the game. This is most evident in why they picked a certain player over another. Oh, and keep in mind that I am doing this in a private school in the Bronx so the results will be how adults view baseball in New York.
The Results:
5 Do not follow baseball
93% of favorite players were of New York teams (shocker) leading me to make step 4 (the one teacher that mentioned a non-New York player was a coin flip away from picking David Wright)
10 of those had a favorite player on the Yankees
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5 of those had a favorite player on the Mets
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The Players chosen for question 1:
Derek Jeter 6
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David Wright 2
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Jose Reyes 2
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Mariano Rivera 2
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Jorge Posada 2
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Andy Pettitte  2
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Robinson Cano 1
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R.A. Dickey 1
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Tim Lincecum 1
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 But like I said above, this study isn’t about the players themselves but how the teachers view the game. Let’s start with the teachers who don’t follow baseball:
This was by far the most varied bunch that I can categorized. With five different people there were five different answers, connecting occasionally but still, varied.
3 were about attitude
2 were about integrity
Because they were all different I will sum them all up (this is again, what they would like to see in athletes).
  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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:
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Over 5,000 square feet). He wanted athletes to be down to earth and to play hard and work hard.
4.     He simply doesn’t follow baseball, no special story. He wanted to see more well behaved and humble baseball players.
5.    The last again did not have any special story and simply did not want to see PEDs in baseball.
I think that there is a relationship between the fact that these people don’t watch baseball and their opinions are so varied. I think that it is because baseball is so big in the country that morals are shaped by it.
The people who gave me a name were far more uniform. Probably because most of these centered primarily on one player and one team.
The top five characteristics listed are:
  1. The player tries his best 7
  2. The player is a good teammate 6
  3. The player is a good role model 5
  4. The player is a leader 5
  5. The player is a hard worker 4
Remind you of anyone? This is mostly why I think that for those who watch it, baseball shapes the person more than the other way around.
Because I was getting so many Jeter and Yankee responses, I thought I should add another question to get a truer response. I wanted to see if their beliefs for why they picked the first player held up for the second one or if they had picked the first one by his play and created a list of his positive attributes to justify it to themselves (sorry to the teachers but a lot of people do this).
Obviously I did not follow up with those who don’t watch baseball but the results were:
43% were players who played in this past World Series (counting the Lincecum fan from question 1)
36% were players from the rival of their favorite team because they had respect for what that player can do.
29% of teachers were completely stumped. Taking over 3 minutes to answer the question because they had never thought about it before.
There were three teachers that picked Albert Pujols. I think it might have been that he is the best player in baseball.
The remaining teacher picked Jeff Francouer because he used to be on the teacher’s favorite team, the Mets, and threw him a ball during bp (I have much to teach that one).
The players for step 4:
Tim Lincecum 3
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Albert Pujols 3
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Cliff Lee 1
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Buster Posey 1
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Jeff Francoeur 1
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Ryan Howard 1
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David Ortiz 1
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Josh Hamilton 1
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Carl Crawford 1
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Roy Halladay 1
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Dustin Pedroia 1
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and if you can’t believe that no one picked a certain bearded World Series hero. Well, neither can he:
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The top five characteristics for this group were:
1. The player is very talented ( it could have been worded differently like: “He is a five tool player” but the gist of the teacher’s reasoning was talent) 7
2. The player is a professional 3
3. The player is a teammate 3
4. The player is determined/persistent 3
5. The player is a family man 3
Now, there are two similarities between the two lists but the major difference shows in that the #1 attribute by far for the non-New York players was the player’s talent. This is because when a player is from your favorite/local team you are more apt to chose him as a favorite player. When the player is not on your local team, you differentiate based on the actual attributes you value in a player. The reason for the overlap of the two categories is because when amongst your local team, you find a player who fits your attributes you are more likely to see him as your favorite.
Of course, this is just my opinion of the numbers. The beauty in statistics is that as empirical and objective as the numbers themselves may be. The interpretation of those numbers is entirely subjective.
*No teacher’s names were mentioned in the process of making this blog. Any physical or emotional damage is done at the risk of the teacher for reading this entry and Observing Baseball and all of its employees cannot be held accountable for any lowering of self-esteem that occurred from this entry. However, any praise for his entry is freely accepted at fischerm@fordhamprep.org

New York Yankees Offseason Recap and Preview

Another year, another playoff. The only time the Yankees have missed the playoffs in my life time was in 2008 and they were closing a historic stadium:

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I mean even Manny has to accept the simple truth that the Yankees will always be at least good:
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Grade: C-
Notable Additions:
 
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Raphael Soriano, Russell Martin, Pedro Fecliciano, and Freddy Garcia.
Notable Subtractions:
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Andy Pettitte, Javier Vasquez, Austin Kearns, Chad Gaudin, Kerry Wood, Lance Berkman Marcus Thames, and Dustin Moseley.
Why?:   Another season of the Bronx is burning? I must have had at least half a dozen people ask me “Do you think the Yankees are making the playoffs this year?” My answer, I ‘m not sure. It isn’t because the Yankees aren’t a playoff caliber team but I see the Red Sox beating them for the division. As for the wild card, there are 3 really good teams in the AL Central, 3 great line-ups, and 3 solid pitching staffs. I don’t see this division as a purely “win it and in it” division. The wild card race will be competitive this year because there are three teams that will keep the pace up all year.
However, let me get something straight. The Yankees are not a horrible team all of a sudden because of the losses they took. Yankee fans see eight names in the “Notable Subtractions” section I see mid summer pick ups and easily replaceable players (except Pettitte) but losing Pettitte will not destroy this team. I will remind people that this team won NINETY FIVE games last year. I know they lost Pettitte but they didn’t have him for half of last year and he is not worth ten games in and of himself.

As far as the other players lost go. Most were the product of mid season trades anyway. Meaning, the Yankees were not afraid to lose them. The Yankees will almost always have mid season acquisitions because they will almost always be in the hunt (how they always have trade pieces is another issue).

Predicted Record Range: 87-92 wins They will slow up a little. Maybe I’m just a spoiled Yankee fan but I think they will indeed contend once more. Another thing to take into account is the impact Jesus Montero will have on the line-up which I cannot account for.

To parents: recaps of our last two games will be up tomorrow. To everyone else: the study I mentioned in some entry I can’t remember about adults’ perception of baseball will be up before next Sunday.

Tampa Bay Rays Offseason Recap and Preview

They did win the most games out of anyone in the American League:

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because I knew the they won the AL East but it is still shocking in retrospect.

Grade:D- F

Notable Additions:

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Manuel Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Casey Kotchman, Felipe Lopez, and Dirk Hayhurst.

Notable Subtractions:

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Carl Crawford, Dan Wheeler, Rafael Soriano, Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Randy Choate, Carlos Pena, Dioneer Navarro, Gabe Kapler, Brad Hawpe, and Chad Qualls.

Why?:  Well, let’s see where to start? For one, that is the first three line notable subtractions segment I have written. Normally, its about five guys that are notable and then ten or something minor leaguers that they lost to free agency. Here, it was just the opposite. I think everyone knew that this was the year they would lose most of their top talent but they lost the barn with the cows, losing so many people in their bullpen:

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They did sell the barn to strengthen the farm though. They definitely know what to do with high draft picks. There was a book written on the subject. I think that the Rays will be better in the future because of not paying for their core but the grade is still how they helped their team THIS YEAR.

So, will they one up last year? No, but will they have a solid “time waste” year? What does that even mean?

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3rd Place? 4th Place? Or just surviving the year with minimal financial loss?

Predicted Record Range: 65-70 wins Even if they can get a lot of runs. I see this being like the 2007 season. If anyone remembers, they would get ahead of very good teams and then give up afew runs late in the game because of their bullpen and lose. Their bullpen is even worse now but I think that their offense is much better as well. That year they didn’t have Evan Longoria in their line-up.

Kansas City Royals Offseason Recap and Preview

Well they didn’t do that well in 2010:

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… again but the Royals have never been about winning today (seriously, have they won since George Brett was there?). They are building for tomorrow. Take that into this preview with you.

 

Grade: B

 

Notable Additions:
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Vin Mazzaro, Joaquin Arias, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, Lorenzo Cain, Zack Miner, Jeff Francis, and Pedro Feliz.

 

Notable Subtractions:

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Zack Greinke, David DeJesus, Gil Meche, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Brandon Duckworth.

 

 

Why?:  I know that they lost Zack Greinke this off-season. However, even though the grade is for how well the team set up for their immediate future, I lessen the penalty of losing a star player if the team got something good in return. The Royals definite deserved this slight bump for what they got back for Greinke. Also, they added some crazy depth everywhere. Although, am I the only one to notice that Robinson Cano’s best year came after Melky left? We’ll see what impact he has on players like Alcides Escobar.

I would like to point out that KC’s rotation overall did improve because of names like Vin Mazzaro amongst others. Although they did come in last in their division last year and lost their ace in the offseason, I see a solid transistion year. Let me make an argument for a better rotation in 2011. They traded for Vin Mazzaro and must have seen something in him to give up a piece like David DeJesus. Zack Miner is a solid back of the rotation starter that constantly hovers around 4.00 ERA.

 

Now… the Jeff Francis case. Does anyone remember that he was the ace of the Rockies’ World Series run in 2007? Anyone? Well, he was. He had 17 wins and had an ERA of 2.21 until the World Series (where the whole Rockie team shut down). He did horribly in 2008 but it was later revealed that he had an injury in his shoulder. He didn’t pitch in 2009 because of arthtoscopic surgery. Pitched badly again in 2010 with an ERA of 5.00 on the dot. I think that this may have been because of the recovery from the surgery. For most shoulder surgeries, it is usually takes a few years to fully recover. If he can get anywhere close to where he was before, the Royals have a much better staff than last year.

 

Predicted Record Range: 68-73 wins Like I said, this depends on the pitching staff because their young defense will be unpredictable and can fluctuate ( so their wins will fluctuate). We have yet to see how the offense will come together but with solid pitching they can improve a bit on their win total last year.

 

For those of you who did a little link clicking and wonder why I am so behind on game recaps, I have a lot of homework which is also why this entry took so much time. I have yet to see how baseball will affect my blogging but I can’t post the game recaps of games last weekend until next Monday because my pictures for those games are in a computer that I do not have access to.

Detroit Tigers Offseason Recap and Preview

Any time your team is most remembered for a failure than its successes. It’s not good:
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Grade: B+

Notable Additions:
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Victor Martinez, Joaquin Benoit, and Brad Penny.

Notable Subtractions:
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Armando Galarraga, Zack Miner, Adam Everett, and Gerald Laird.

Why?: Although they did make some improvements, they did so in a way that managed to anger the other 29 teams for what may be years to come.  Now, I’m not saying that it wasn’t inevitable but whoever gave the first big multi year deal to a middle reliever was going to be hated. It just so happens that the Tigers made that move. From now on, acquiring and developing middle relief talent will be changed forever in that it is now a more valuable asset.

The losses, although insignificant in talent could come back to bite the Tigers if they keep the injury bug with them in 2011. Although they upgraded the spot of fourth and fifth starters with Brad Penny and Phil Coke, they sacrificed depth when they let go of Galarraga and Miner. Now if any starter goes down (and who ever heard of a rotation going through the season completely healthy) they will have to turn to Mr. AAA instead of a proven starter like Galarraga. This might cost them just enough spots to be edged out by one of the other strong teams in the Central.

Also, they did get rid of defensive depth in Laird but took care of that by getting Omir Santos. Everett on the other hand, should have been kept. I know the Tigers like to think optimistically but when was the last time he played 120+ games. I’ve got the answer, 2007. Again, I like Everett significantly better than a AAA shotstop or second baseman or even Ramon Santiago.

Predicted Record Range: 84-89 They made some significant additions and are getting players back but the Tigers’ players do tend to ebb and flow (Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera). Will they finally all have good seasons at the same time? If so, this team has enough talent to win the division but the mean of the ebb and flow is the predicted range.

Next Up: Cleveland Indians

Tomorrow is a double header for Fordham. So the data from this game might back me up over part of the weekend. I will get the first entry by end of Saturday but make no promises about the second. I will try and get the player bios on the roster entry as soon as I can but baseball season can be hectic. We’ll see.

“The Baseball” book review

When I first heard of the fact that Zack was doing a book on the baseball itself I thought to myself, ” now why is he doing a book about the creation of the baseball. He should sell a second book solely on the topic of snagging baseballs. The other stuff will just come across as fluff to his fan base.” Boy was I wrong. I was hooked in the first few chapters of the predicted “fluff”.

 

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If you notice, my book might be the most worn 1 day old book I at least have ever seen.

Let me show you the anatomy of the book.

Part 1: Baseballs in the news

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80 pages

Contains:

Ch 1: The Souvenir Craze

Ch 2: Foul Ball Lore

Ch 3: Death By Baseball

Ch 4: Stunts

Ch 5: Foul Balls in Pop Culture

 

Part Two: Historical and Factual Stuff

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110 pages

Contains:

Ch 6: The Evolution Of The Baseball

Ch 7: The Rawlings Method

Ch 8: Storage Preparation and Usage

 

Part Three: How To Snag Major League Baseballs

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112 Pages

Contains:

Ch 9: Before You Enter The Stadium
Ch 10: Batting Practice

Ch 11: How To Get A Player To Throw A Ball To You

Ch 12: The Game Itself

Ch 13: Top 10 Lists and Other Things Of Interest 

 

I must say that every part seems like its own separate book. Each begin at the beginning of time for that respective subject. So will I in encompassing this book.

 

In the beginning, the world was a dark void where fans could not keep the baseballs they caught. That’s basically how the book starts, by introducing the fact that baseballs were too expensive for teams to replace. Then goes on to explain the fan revolt caused by this fact. Personally I would have had this section elsewhere in the book, but more on the structure later.

 

We then start to read the effect the value had/has produced many controversies amongst fans because of the greed of fans. Examples range from, Steve Bartman having to be transferred by his company to The Up For Grabs  controversy. From there, he shows how the price of baseballs has evolved, showing the 10 most expensive baseballs.

 

Move on to chapter 2. He again builds the chapter from beginning to end. Starting with the effect of the institution of the “foul balls are strikes” rule and what had happened prior to that. Leading all the way up to Denard Span hitting his own mother with a foul ball in 2009 spring training. This is a chapter of crazy stories that was extremely well researched and was not the summaries of the incidents but the whole story.

 

Then a more in a ( somewhat) more somber version of the previous chapter ( Hample was not himself somber as he took the role of reporter but the stories were obviously sad) retelling the tales of deaths by the baseball ranging from Ray Chapman to the seagull that almost had Dave Winfield incarcerated for six months in Canada ( Why would he kill a seagull *on purpose*? He’s from Minnesota). This was essentially the same as the last chapter but I get the separation to create the effect of an in memoriam.

 

The next is the scientific experimentation section of the book with stunts ranging from Myth Busters in baseball to Pakistanis trying to smuggle heroin inside of baseballs ( dang dogs!).This provides practical knowledge and some great fun facts about how things in baseball were proved and some of the crazy things the lull of baseball has made its players attempt. This was again really fun to read and great for retrospective reference ( I love when I can actually use big words and they make some sense together).

 

Then come the more relevant facts of the book to today. Of the past chapters you might say ” but Mateo, how do they affect the price of tea in China”. They don’t. This chapter might not have an affect on anything in China but it sure does have more to do with the modern world. First Hample undergoes the endlessly critiqueable ( that is a word… right?) job of choosing the most relevant foul balls in movies and TV shows. He analyzes the logistical flaws with each of twelve scenes such as, did the extras reacts in Movies from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off to shows like  CSI: NY. Although, the critiques were even more uniform than my team recaps and previews (ok, so maybe they weren’t that uniform). The next section in this chapter was a personal highlight, celebrity ballhawks. I don’t really care about the significance of the ball as much as the human element that it added to the celebrities. The Celebrities ranged from Charlie Sheen to Justin Bieber totaling 9 . The section was done like the others with fun in the section and loads of background information.

 

Now to the negative. Chapter six starts off Part Two of the book, Historical and Factual Stuff. This is a great reference book on its own but feels like your are reading every single plaque in Cooperstown on a section dedicated to the history of the baseball from 1847 to 2009:

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The content which obviously cannot be avoided was about exciting as Irish history. That being: the English kicked them around, things got a little better, then they got kicked around some more, then they lived a little more happily in poverty, then there was black 47. Except in this section, after the initial architecture of the ball it was: hitters were complaining that the ball was dead, then they made livelier balls, then the pitchers complained about that, then they conducted some tests, then not much evidence showed up on the tests, and the last three steps repeated for about 100 years. Did I mention this section lasts for 62 pages? Had I been the author I think I would have merged this with various other sections but that’s just me. My advice to any reader is to read around it in some way shape or form. Either read it before or after the rest of the book and segment it so you don’t have to read it all at once. It definitely accomplishes the goal of being a history of the baseball’s evolution but might be best served as a reference when information is needed, as it might be tough for the more ADD readers ( I normally pay very good attention for long periods of time and still struggled sticking with this section).

 

The next section was based on the actual construction of the ball and is taken mostly from Hample’s trip to the Rawlings Baseball Factory in Costa Rica. The chapter goes from how to deconstruct a baseball( which is awesome if you ever get the chance to do it. Though I would not use nail clippers but an object similar to an awl to get the stitches off as they were too deep for me to get with the clippers) to the process to what commemorative baseballs are and how they are made. This is a great section, very informative with pictures to explain most things that a person would have questions about.

 

We are now on chapter 8 of 12 and the last of chapters on the baseball itself. This chapter is about how the balls are kept so that they are in prime playing condition at game time. This starts with the story behind the creation of now commonly used Lena Blackburne mud that helps pitchers grip the baseball.It then goes on to explain how teams started keeping balls in temperature and humidity controlled rooms starting when the Rockies used a humidor to counteract the arid nature of Coors Field.

 

Now ow ow the moment you have all been waiting for or or (well most of you anyway), How To Snag Major League Baseballs alls alls. Even though the rest of the book was great, this seemed to flow with a little more life than the previous two. First, this part has its own introduction.

The section starts off with chapter nine, the pre-game preparation. This was a great tutorial in what to do before you get in covering all the basics it ranged from how to choose a game to what to do when you arrived at the stadium.

He then goes on to explain the intricacies of the most important snagging time, batting practice. This was a bit more descriptive than the original namesake of part three. For example, when I started going early to batting practice I was hung up on the idea of hitters from both sides of the plate being able to hit the ball to me and so I stood in foul ground. A strategy I learned was almost completely wrong and should only be used on occasion when the situation demands it. You will have no problem if you have gone to batting practice but for the more inexperienced ballhawks there are technical problems such as the failure to mention that most rails block you from moving to a specific side if you are not standing in a place where there is a gap like here:

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You see how the railing prevents movement to your opposite side if you are not in the gap. This definitely messed me up in my earlier days. The book even taught me why my string is always tangled in the glove trick.

The next chapter is the toughest to put into practice, getting a player to toss you a ball. This is because the form in which you get different players to toss you a ball can vary so much from player to player. What I do like is that he does not write an aggressive strategy but one more along the lines of “it caint huit” or ” it can’t hurt” for those who don’t speak Brooklyn. He wrote the strategies that will always put you in more favor with the players and don’t have the possiblity of a backfire (although if you change hats right in front of players from either team “it caint heylp”). I guarantee that if you follow these instructions you will get at least one baseball  for every two games you go to ( and I say this reluctantly because that is an average of .5 balls per game, meaning that my skill only accounted for 2 balls a game which is pretty sad).

Finally, most casual fans don’t care about bp balls. They don’t mean anything. A game homer(or foul)’s where it’s at. In this chapter Hample goes from what the real odds are for catching a foul ball to how long NYC security guards will kick you out after the game. This section goes into great depth because great depth is required. It is well written but I am surprised he didn’t have any fun with his home runs celebrations given the informal atmosphere of the book:
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The last chapter was, at least for me, the best chapter of the whole book. It was a chapter going from the top 10 ballhawks of all time to how to document your collection. I found this chapter to be more informative of the whole book. The interviews with the ballhawks were fantastic because I knew of them but did not know them as a person. For example, I found out that I share a birthday with Minnesota’s best ballhawk, Greg Dryden. I know that the 10 best ballparks section will help me get a few extra baseballs at the respective stadiums.

All in all, like I told the author yesterday, this is one of my favorite books top 5 if not higher. The book was great and I would recommend the book to any mildly interested in baseball.

If you want to buy it, the paperback is $14.95 discounted on Amazon and Ebay though ( I don’t think I have a Canadian following) and is available in most bookstores. Hope you enjoyed and find the review useful.

Seattle Mariners Offseason Recap and Preview

In any sport, when you lose 100 games in a season it ain’t good. When you lose that many and have the best defensive player (pitcher in baseball) in the game it’s even worse. You may have remembered the lofty predictions for this team at this time last season:
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and actually those three players did do well this season. Lee became the highest paid pitcher in the game, Ichiro just went onto hit another 200 hits for the tenth time in his career (he has only played 10 seasons), and King Felix became a King to sabermetricians everywhere when he won the Cy Young award with only 13 wins.Unfortunately, they had a histroically pathetic offense, despite Ichiro.
 
Grade: C-
 
 
Notable Additions:
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Jack Cust, Brendan Ryan, Miguel Olivo, Nate Robertson, Chris Ray, and Manny DelCarmen.
 
 
Notable Subtractions:
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Jose Lopez, Chad Cordero, Jack Hannahan, Ian Snell and Ryan Rowland-Smith( for the people that will now see the Astros because they know RRS is so fan-friendly).
 
 
Por Qua?:  They lost some and added some. Not really much improvement or depletion. They lost a lot of depth in the bullpen but made up for it in their added depth in the field and rotation. Not really much to report on this team as far as transactions are concerned.
 
I do feel that they will win more games because of their young talent. There is a lot of room for growth in the form of Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley. Justin Smoak has now spent close to two years in the majors and I don’t see him hitting 50 homeruns but I do see him improving for next year and helping the run starven Mariners. Dustin Ackley, forever entrenched in the shadow of being the guy picked after Steven Strasburg (it could vice versa if Strasburg is a bust like Greg Oden and Kevin Durant but whatever), he is the Mariner’s top prospect and could fill the hole left by Jose Lopez as early as this year. Both have great hitting talent but have yet to translate it into statistics. When (if?) they do, they could anchor the middle of this line-up for years to come.
 
One thing I would worry about if I were the Mariner’s fans is the status of Felix Hernandez. His contract is back loaded and if the Mariner’s don’t get it started quick enough we could see another Zack Greinke. This is because the front office won’t want to pay big money for a star if they are not yet in contention. They realize (at least I hope they do) that they could save up the money that they would have normally paid Hernandez and buy a few good pitchers to solidify the staff or an Ace when their young players come around.
 
 
 Predicted Record Range: 61-65 wins. The seasons like the one after the one the Mariner’s just had are always difficult because there is such a range of factors going into the season and how they do. I expect them to be at least a little better but how much better… I don’t know. Long Story short, dont’ kill me if this isn’t true ( Well actually don’t kill me if anything I write doesn’t come true. Us atheists tend to value our lives.).
 
Up next: Minnesota Twins

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Offseason Recap and Preview

One word to describe this team, disappointment. So, what did the front office do?
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Well … let’s see, they disappointed. They actually worsened a team that really needed to improve. It could help them in the future, but looking at this season through a microscope it was horrendous.
 
 
Grade: D-
 
Notable Additions:
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Vernon Wells, Scott Downs, and Hisanori Takahashi
Notable Subtractions:
Mike Napoli, Juan Rivera, and Hideki Matsui.
Why?: Like I said, disappointment. This team was left at .500 after being projected to be the division winners. They needed to improve at least slightly and they actually worsened. Believe it or not, what has me disappointed (there it is again) with this team is their “big splash” not lack of more splashes.
 
        I see the Vernon Wells move as one out of desparation and not very well thought through. Although Wells may have been a very good player last year he still has a contract that averages 18 million a year. Up to this point, he has not made significantly more than 10 million a year and so will start making figures in the 20 millions. This is for at best a very good player and at worst what he was early on in the contract. The upside to this offseason’s low spending was that they could make a run for Albert Pujols next but the Wells move effectively washed that away. Second, I am pretty sure the Blue Jays would have given him away for free. Instead, the Angels gave away one of the top five power hitting Catchers in the game. Is he better than Wells, no but it is still a bit much to give up.
 
 
          Sure, they sure-ed up their bullepen but whatever they gained in bullpen they lost in Matsui and Rivera leaving. The grade might seem a bit harsh but what I am going on is the fact that they were expected to be one of the biggest spenders: read improvers, in the game and lost out on everyone they bid on. Had they been the Marlins I would have been a little more lenient but they are in the biggest market in the west.
 
Predicted Record range: 80-85 wins. I know I said that they essentially tred water in their moves but they do get Kendry Morales back and he will get them at least a few games by himself.
 
Up Next: Well who’s the only team left in the AL West.
 
Baseball tryouts were this weekend so I will start blogging about that. To the people who read for entries like this one I apologize but it is mostly for parents who don’t want to come to the games but still want to know about how the team is doing. 

Texas Ranger’s Offseason Recap and Preview

Well, they are the defending American League champions:
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Grade: CNotable Additions:
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Adrian Beltre, Yorvit Torrealba, Mike Napoli, Arthur Rhodes, Brandon Webb, and Dave Bush.

Notable Subtractions:
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Cliff Lee, Jeff Francoeur, Rich Harden, Frank Francisco, Jorge Cantu, Bengie Molina, and Vladimir Guerrero.

Why?: Well actually, after losing out on Cliff Lee I thought the Rangers had a pretty good off-season. They certainly increased the depth in their line-up. Despite this, the reason I give them a C and not higher, is that Cliff Lee’s role as a role model for a very young rotation might have been greater than his individual contribution to the team. When Nolan Ryan first joined the Rangers as an executive, he wanted to have the pitchers throwing more innings and more strikes. Well, no one this side of Roy Halladay does this better than Cliff Lee. Although, Yorvit Torrealba did have some experience in managing a budding staff with the Padres last season and he will probably be the starting catcher for the Rangers for most of this season. As Mike Napoli’s defense behind the plate is a concern for the coaching staff and front office.

I see the Ranger’s becoming a better version of their 2005-2009 clubs, an offense that has to score more runs than the starters give up. True, they have more depth than those teams had, but they still have no clear cut #2 after CJ Wilson. I do like best, their acquisition of Brandon Webb more than that of Adrian Beltre. I think that he could get back to being a top of the line starter. Will he? Probably not but if he doesn’t, you are only paying a million dollars for most likely a veteran who contributes in the back of the rotation. This is dependent on the fact that Michael Young is staying but, I think that the only team without a weak roster spot ie the Yankee’s fourth and fifth starters or the Red Sox’s Catcher.

Predicted Record range: 86-91 wins and 76-71 losses. Which will be good for either 1st or second place in the West depending on the Athletics’ record but I don’t see them reaching the World Series if they do win because of the lack of a dominant ace, though they do have a plethora of depth in the rotation. There is always the possibility that they have the World Series loser syndrome, which is to say that they will fall off substantially but I think that they will keep the pace because of their youth. True that this could be a reason for their demise but… where was I going with this? Can I change my mind now? Oh well, I already wrote the entry.

Up Next: Oakland Athletics

P.S. I know this isn’t a letter but, did anyone notice that even though I wrote a pretty extensive entry on Spring Training beginning. I was not featured on the Mlblogs home page (for those who don’t know how to get there click on the Mlblogs Network in the upper left corner) I mean there were entries that were only three sentences and even one that only had eight views when I saw it (#15).

Sabermetrics (the explanation)

Many have read the phenomenon known as Moneyball by Michael Lewis. So then, many know that Billy Beane,
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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:
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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:
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Instead of this:

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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.

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