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SABR 43 Research Presentations

August 04, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Baseball Musings, SABR

After only making it to one research presentation yesterday, I hit three in a row today. I was too fatigued upon waking this morning to make it to the Media Panel. Having made myself rather ill last year by pushing too hard and doing too much (at all conventions, not just SABR’s), I made the decision to go back to sleep and hope that the audio or video of the panel will be online later.

Including yesterday, here are four of the RPs I saw:

* What About Solly Hemus? (Mark Armour)

* Analyzing Batter Performance Against Pitcher Clusters (Vince Gennaro)

* Baseball in the Age of Big Data: Why the Revolution Will Be Televised (Sean Lahman)

* Statistical Predictors of MLB Players’ Proneness to Long Hitting Streaks (Alan Reifman and Trent McCotter)
Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 43 Lunch Keynote with Larry Bowa

August 03, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I couldn’t come up with a good way to transcribe the luncheon keynote and still eat lunch and have room for my computer, so instead I tweeted just some of the choice comments from Larry Bowa and his interviewer Barry Bloom from my phone! Here’s the text of those:

@whyilikebb So we have a pinch hitter for the keynote. The MLB rep (Rob Manfred who was supposed to, I guess is tied up with BioGenesis stuff? So we got Larry Bowa!

@whyilikebb Apparently Barry Bloom will actually be grilling Bowa for the talk. This should be good.

@whyilikebb But first a standing ovation for John Zajc, SABR’s former director, who is here. :-) Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 42 Panels, Morning of Friday August 2

August 02, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, SABR

Two panels this morning:
* Scouts & Front Office Panel
* Imagining Baseball Panel

Whew! Made it to the SABR Scouts panel! I was 5 minutes late thanks to loooong Starbucks line, but the panel were 5 minutes late starting. Perfect timing. (And the team at Starbucks was really crack, four on the register, including one just on pastry duty, and four baristas working the steam. I now have a Soy Green Tea Latte, Unsweetened, because you know I’m sweet enough.)

Now to the first panel. Here’s my transcript, typed on the fly as it went along:

SCOUTS PANEL

Barry Bloom presiding. Introducing the legendary Roland Hemond (Diamondbacks now, formerlyWhite Sox, etc), Tom Tippett (director of information for the Red Sox), and Ian Levin (who is in analytics for the Mets and now is doing more international stuff with them). Tippett is one of the instrumental figures in building the analytics approach for the Red Sox.

Bloom: Roland, what do you do as Special Assistant for the GM with the Diamondbacks?

Hemond: Well, I get to come to the SABR convention. (*big laugh*) Read the rest of this entry →

SABR 43 Thursday August 1 2013

August 01, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, SABR

Hello, my baseball-loving friends. I’m at the annual SABR national convention, where the presentations, research, connections, and interests run both wide and deep.

Unlike in some past years, where I’ve literally taken in 5-6 research presentations AND liveblogged the keynotes and panel discussions, this time I’m having to slow down a little. I was so tired this morning I had to sleep through the SABR business meeting and the keynote opening by Phillies CEO David Montgomery. (Fortunately for me, Montgomery’s speech can be heard live on SABR.org. The audio and a recap can be found here: http://sabr.org/latest/sabr-43-listen-phillies-ceo-david-montgomerys-opening-remarks).

The result was I started my day not with a brain-bending dose of stats or an eye-opening look at a sliver of fascinating baseball history, but with a bowl of crawfish ettouffee from Beck’s Cajun stand in the Reading Terminal Market, which is right across the street from the hotel. It was pouring down buckets, but I brought an umbrella with me!

I may have to accept the data that my umbrella-carrying habits are not, in fact, causal to the weather. Usually if I bring an umbrella it doesn’t rain, but if I forget one, we get poured on. This time I brought one and it poured, but the good news is… that meant I had an umbrella in the rain. The ettouffee was delicious and very filling.

Then I saw three presentations:
* RP06: Rube Waddell and the Great Straw Hat Mystery of 1905
* RP12: A Probabilistic Approach to Measuring the Excitement of Baseball Games
* RP14: Markerless Motion Capture Technologies For In-Game Player Performance Assessment
Read the rest of this entry →

Baseball Prospectus 2013: Like the phone book in more ways than one

March 05, 2013 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Book Reviews

So now you guys know what I was doing all winter. I was co-editing the new, more massive-than-ever Baseball Prospectus 2013 annual. The tome this year is 592 pages and contains capsule descriptions and stat projections for over 2,200 players, more than ever before.

Two thousand names is a lot to work with as an editor, but keeping the data on these players, and getting their names right, is a huge part of the editing process. Of course, some guys recently changed names, like the Player Formerly Known as Fausto Carmona, and Giancarlo Stanton… but we manage.

In the long dark winter months, as we toil in the serial comma mines, some names jump out like an opal in the coal. Names like Kevin Quackenbush, Beamer Weems, and Max Fried. As I mentioned in this interview with me at Bugs & Cranks about BP, let me tell you, at three in the morning, when your co-editor IMs you to say “Did you realize there are TWO players named Guillermo Pimentel?”–you feel Max(imally) Fried.

Then there’s that moment when I realized that Gavin Cecchini and Garin Cecchini were two different players, not a typo. They’re brothers, and I wonder what their mother was thinking. (While we’re at it, why was the mom of Jayson and Laynce Nix so fond of the letter “y”?)

I think the most oxymoronic name, of the 2,210 in the book, is that of Sonny Gray.

Are they selling the naming rights to players now, as well as stadia? Viz: Ehire Adrianza.

As an editor, the names that catch my attention the most, though, are the ones I’m absolutely certain are misspelled the first time I see them. There are a lot of them.

Top Names That You Think Must Be Misspelled: Read the rest of this entry →

Fannish karma: everyone and no one deserves a win (ALCS Game 1)

October 14, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Great Games

Fans are as much a part of the game of baseball as stats are. Without the fannies (no pun intended) in the seats, the RBIs, ERA, and wins would mean nothing. Part of being a fan is having an emotional connection to the game and your team, and emotional reactions which don’t always reflect logic.

One of those is a sort of concept of fannish karma, in other words, did a team “deserve” to win? In particular, did their fans deserve it? Read the rest of this entry →

An evening with a bunch of knuckleballers

September 22, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball History

So I mentioned in my recap of the SABR convention this summer that I saw an advance screening there of the film KNUCKLEBALL! And that I loved it.

Well, I am happy to report the film easily stands up to a second viewing. Tuesday night I had a chance to attend a terrific event at the Regal Cinemas over by Fenway: a screening of the film followed by a live Q&A with Tim Wakefield, Charlie Hough, Phil Niekro, and Wilbur Wood, as well as filmmakers Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern. (And then a VIP reception after that, but more on that later.)

First, let me gush about the film a little, because totally awesome as it was to have the players there, and to shake Phil Niekro’s hand and tell him I played women’s hardball and thank him for the Silver Bullets, the film itself is so superlative that it was still the best thing of the night. Read the rest of this entry →

SABR42 Day Three

July 02, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

The last three research presentation slots were on Saturday, along with the player panel, the reprise of the Case Competition winners from the Analytics Conference, and a bunch of committee meetings, as well as the Trivia Contest finals. (By all accounts the Trivia Finals were a blast–I followed them on Twitter from my room.) Between trying to sleep off my cold and publications-related meetings, I managed to miss just about everything Saturday except for the research presentations themselves:

Andy Andres: The Effect of Temperature and Humidity on Pitching
Heroes at the Mike: Baseball’s Longest Serving Broadcasters
Michael Humphreys: We Have Underestimated Fielding Value. A Lot.
Read the rest of this entry →

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SABR42: Day Two afternoon presentations

June 30, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I saw five research presentations yesterday, one before lunch and four after, before it was time to walk over to the ballpark. On the slate:

Steve Steinberg: on the crazy end to the 1908 season for the Giants
Alan Nathan: what have we learned about bats (aluminum/wood) in 10 years
Mark Armour: on the history of artificial turf
Benjamin Wiggins: on DNA testing of prospects by MLB teams
Bryan Soderholm-Difatte: on just how much effect did the 1951 Giants spying help them?
Read the rest of this entry →

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SABR42 Day Two: John Thorn’s keynote speech

June 29, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I overdid it yesterday. As I was posting my blog entries last night, my nose started to run and my throat started to hurt. Blame the freezing cold AC in the ballrooms. Blame Neal Traven: he came up to me in the bar last night and said “I have a cold.” More likely, the blame lies with the fact that I’ve been so overworked and underslept in recent months that every time I travel I can’t fight off whatever viruses I come into contact with.

The result was I slept through Terry Ryan’s GM speech this morning in an attempt to make myself functional for the rest of the convention. I got up in time to catch the first research presentation and then the awards luncheon, though. So… here is my writeup of John Thorn’s keynote speech.

John Thorn, who is one of SABR’s most distinguished members, was recently appointed as Official Historian of Major League Baseball, and was asked to give the keynote speech at the awards banquet at the convention. The topic he chose was SABR itself, or perhaps meta-SABR: nerdhood. (Nerddom?) A subject close to my heart, as just as the game of baseball is something more than a bunch of guys running around on grass, SABR is–socially and sociologically–something more than just a bunch of smart people who like numbers and letters.

I did not come close to capturing all of Thorn’s speech. Normally when doing the kind of note taking I do with simultaneous typing, I can capture up to 80% of what someone says. But Thorn is so articulate, and the logical threads of his thoughts carry through so long from paragraph to paragraph, that I would say this represents no more than 50% of it and I may have dropped some important connections. I think audio and/or video of it may be on the SABR website later for those who wish to hear the whole thing more accurately represented.

UPDATE: John has posted the entire “Nerd Manifesto” on his MLB.com blog! Check it out here:
http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/06/29/nerd-is-the-word/

Below I will excerpt just a few of my favorite quotes:

JOHN THORN:
“I like talking off the cuff, but I figured if I did that to you guys AND the lunch was disappointing, that would put the burden too much on the culinary side. So I did prepare a little talk just for you.” Read the rest of this entry →

SABR42 Day One: Afternoon Presentations & Knuckleball movie

June 29, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

SABR42 Day One: Afternoon

I saw three research presentations (out of four possible) this afternoon, and then went to meet up with my fellow panelists for the Women in Baseball panel, which I had the honor of speaking on. I can’t really blog that one since I was on it and couldn’t take notes! So someone else will have to write up what that was all about, haha.

This afternoon I saw:
Vince Gennaro: Value Strategies for Building A Roster
William Spaniel: The Fear of Injury, Explaining the Delay in Contract Extensions
David W. Smith: Shutting Down the Running Game by Limiting Steal Attempts

Here are detailed descriptions on each: Read the rest of this entry →

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SABR 42: Day 1 Morning Research Presentations

June 28, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

SABR42 Research Presentations: Day One, morning

Saw four sessions this morning:
-Herm Krabbenhoft on correcting the AL RBI records
-Steven Glassman on how the Hall of Fame selection process has changed
-Tom Harney on how the development of baseball since 1895 in Taiwan related to their national pride and politics
-Rob Fitts on the 1934 Japan tour of Babe Ruth, Moe Berg, and the All American team.

Read the rest of this entry →

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SABR42 Official Scorer’s Panel

June 28, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

(I was getting some hot tea since this one is back in the freezing cold ballroom. So I missed the first few sentences of introduction and Stew’s intro. This panel has David Vincent, Stew Thornley, and Gregg Wong, all of whom do scoring for MLB teams.)

Stew Thornley: This year they (MLB) got all the official scorers together in New York, which was great, and it’s all well and good to try to have more consistency. We watched 56 plays together that had been sent to the league office, 18 of them were overturned, and it was great to watch them all together. There was a lot of disagreement among us, which isn’t a surprise. There are a lot of plays out there that even with the push for consistency, there is still subjectivity. That needs to be accepted. There are going to be calls that could go either way. We call them fifty-fifties. We have very qualified people making those decisions. Those are the ones we get paid to make. Read the rest of this entry →

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SABR42 in Minnesota! Dave St. Peter, president of the Twins

June 28, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Here I am in Minneapolis for the 42nd annual SABR convention. Let me tell you, I am glad to be liveblogging if for no other reason than my laptop is warm! And these hotel ballrooms are BLOODY FREEZING. I’m already wearing long sleeves AND a wool sweater.

I took copious notes during the business portion of the opening business meeting, but if you want to know what goes on at the annual business meeting of SABR, you will have to join the organization and show up. The one thing that was announced which I will mention here is that SABR has a new partnership with MLB Advanced Media, commonly known as MLBAM (pronounced “em ell bam”), the folks who run MLB.com. There will soon be SABR-branded content on MLB.com and more promotion and coverage of SABR’s annual conference and the Analytics Conference in Arizona in March. (Next one will be March 7-9, 2013)

Brenda Himrich is the current president of the Halsey Hall Chapter (for the next two days anyway), and also the wife of Stu Thornley. Both are longtime SABR members and were among the first two people I ever met at my very first SABR convention back in 2002. (Stu is the official scorer of the Twins and is a fixture in Minnesota SABR circles.) The session opens with her comments:

Brenda: I’ve been waiting for you all to get here for the past four years! What took you so long! (laughter) I look out over the crowd here and I see great intelligence, some of the greatest analytical minds here who can retain incredible amounts of information and trivia. Let’s face it, we’re all geeks, but now it’s cool to be geeks! But I want you to know it’s always been cool the be geeks in Minnesota. We’ve bragged for a long time that all our children in Minn. are above average and the most popular TV show is the Big Bang Theory. So welcome and feel at home!”

Coming up, the president of the Minnesota Twins. Read the rest of this entry →

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Second exhibition game at Marlins Park

April 03, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Great Ballparks, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

I have now visited my 21st major league stadium, Marlins Park in Miami. For the second game in a row, we made our way to the park, this time by public transit. We’d spent the afternoon on Miami Beach for some very pleasant walking around looking at nice buildings and eye-popping cars and motorcycles and then did the Transit Experiment.

The Transit Experiment consists of using one’s smart phone to try to get somewhere. In this case, it wasn’t that difficult at all. We hopped the Route 120 bus to he Adrienne Arsht omni transit center, switched there to the free Metromover to Government Center, where we caught the Metrorail train to Culmer, where we got on a shuttle bus direct to the ballpark.

Okay, looking at that list now–bus to mover to train to bus–it seems like it was really complicated. But it wasn’t really more difficult than many of the other ballpark-via-transit jaunts I’ve taken, including Seattle suburbs to Safeco, Silicon Valley to then-PacBell Park, or even my own house to Fenway Park.

All told from when we left Miami Beach to when we reached the ballpark was just under an hour. After the game we took the shuttle back to the Metrorail to the South Miami stop which is near to corwin’s parents’ house, and his Dad came to pick us up there. From time of last pitch to walking in the door here in the Coral Gables area was just over an hour. Very decent time, and the total cost was $7 per person. (It would have only been $5 per person, I think, if we’d bought the one-day Easy Ticket before getting on the first bus, but we hadn’t and so paid $2 cash to get on there, and then Easy Ticket thereafter.)

But you didn’t really come here to read about public transit, did you? You want to know how the Marlins Park was at night.

Let me tell you, it was gorgeous. Read the rest of this entry →

Exploring the new Marlins Park! April 1 2012 with the Yankees

April 01, 2012 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks, Spring Training, Yankee Fan Memories

The Miami Marlins know how to throw a party. As any good party-thrower knows, one of the keys is to invite lively guests. The Marlins picked a good one with the New York Yankees, who brought legions of fans to the dress-rehearsal exhibition game at Marlins Park on April 1, 2012.

Some were expatriate New Yorkers who have been in Florida for years. Some were spring training pilgrims from all over.

But the Marlins had no shortage of supporters there today, and for all the complaints there have been about the team bilking the city, the mistreatment of the local residents over parking issues, and so on, there were throngs of people in brand-new Marlins colors ready to fly their Fish flags. Many of them were hispanic families, with three (or four) generations in attendance together. If this team wins, it appears there will be plenty of folks on that bandwagon already.

A UFO LANDED IN MIAMI!
The park does look a bit like a spaceship just set down in the midst of a residential neighborhood. But the first impression of the place came not from the visual, but from the sound. From a few blocks away it sounded like the biggest, loudest block party on Earth was going on, and we soon discovered why. Read the rest of this entry →

Would you give digital books this holiday? Why not?

December 10, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Book Reviews

So, my mom and I got my Dad an iPad for Father’s Day. I know a lot more of those, as well as Amazon Kindles, will be given out this holiday season. Chances are your mom, dad, or other family member who is just getting their hands on one of these nifty devices has never read an ebook before.

Why not pre-load their virtual bookshelf with some ebooks to get them started? Suggestions for baseball titles available in ebook form are welcome in the comments below, but here are a few of my own. Read the rest of this entry →

Flashback: I was there for Game 19 in the Oakland A’s 20-game streak

November 02, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom

(And here we have the consummation of my 2002 affair with the A’s, in which I skipped out of a business trip to go to the Coliseum… Originally posted on September 3, 2002.)

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m married to my childhood sweetheart (the Yankees), and live with an annoying roommate (the Red Sox), so sometimes I yearn for something new and exciting. Last summer I had a sweet dalliance with the Seattle Mariners. This year, on Opening Day, I decided to flirt with the A’s.

It’s been quite an interesting long distance relationship. There were thrills in April–the hot start, Carlos Pena equaling former-A Jason Giambi’s home run total, the resurgence of David Justice, and Eric Chavez’ fascinating habit of making every hit an extra base hit. But then the A’s turned cold on me, went into a slide–what, don’t you love me anymore? Next thing you knew, Carlos Pena was gone, the other Giambi as well, and I wondered if my A’s would ever be the same.

Interleague play brought the fun and passion back. Did they lose a single game to the NL Central? Noooo….. And how about them Giants? Hah! Watching Barry Zito facing Barry Bonds I knew I’d made the right choice.

It’s been a torrid affair since then, and finally consummated.

That’s right, consummated. Read the rest of this entry →

Flashback: April 16 2002 : Summer Love Affair (Oakland A’s)

November 01, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings

(Continuing my re-posts of old blog entries about the Oakland A’s. Now we’re getting into the Moneyball year. This post originally appeared on April 26, 2000)

I don’t mean to shock anyone, but I’ve always believed in "open relationships." Sure, of course I believe in true love and having a special partnership with that special someone, but I also think experiencing the fullness of life means leaving the door open to other things as well, so long as everyone involved agrees it’s okay. I know a lot of people disagree with me on this. Especially when it comes to baseball.

I have my first love–my deep, abiding, long-term love–and that is the Yankees. If I had to choose between the Yankees and another team, there would be no question who I would choose. I fell in love with the Yankees before I ever even looked at another team. When I was a fan in the seventies, I could name you the whole Yankees starting lineup, but I could probably only name you four or five players in the rest of the league. I’m more mature now, and have expanded my tastes a bit.

Last year, I had a summer fling with the Seattle Mariners. I had picked them during the offseason, when A-rod had jilted them for the Rangers’ money Read the rest of this entry →

Flashback: Oakland vs. Yankees September 14, 2000

October 30, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Great Games, Yankee Fan Memories

(I figure since MONEYBALL is still in the theaters, I would finally get around to re-posting some of my old posts about the A’s of those days. This was originally published at Why I Like Baseball on August 14, 2001, on the events of the game August 12, 2001. Just to be sure, I checked with Retrosheet.)

I may be a Yankees fan, but I can appreciate the intensity and devotion of fans of other teams. That’s why I’m so fascinated by Red Sox fans, even though they make my life hell from time to time, and why I can’t understand Giants fans, who I’ll tell you all about in a future entry. Last month, however, I got my first look at Oakland A’s fans in their natural habitat, the largely maligned Network Associates Coliseum.

Having heard many a radio broadcast and watched many a postseason telecast from the coliseum, you’d think that the place was some kind of a pit. Well, it’s not. In many ways, the Coliseum is to Yankee Stadium what the Bay Area is to the New York Area–there are some striking similarities, and yet some sharp distinctions. Two of the most cosmopolitan and colorful cities in the world, both famed for their diversity, culture, their place in American history, with lots of Old World blood mixed with an always future-minded fashion sense. There are moments when I’m there when I, as an urban-born New Yorker, feel right at home. But there are times when a familiar situation suddenly seems odd. California is undeniably different.

Read the rest of this entry →

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