Why I Like Baseball

an online journal of baseball enthusiasm

Archive for July, 2011

SABR 41: Final panel! Tommy Davis & Al Ferrara story time

July 10, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

The final event of the SABR convention was the player panel with Tommy Davis and Al Ferrara. (Del Crandall was unable to make it, because his wife fell ill.) This was one of the best “story time with former players” I can remember. Each of them had great stories to tell, and was very personable and.

The moderator opened the event by giving each of them the gift of some old scorecards that a SABR member had left for them, in which each of them had hit a home run. Both men were born in Brooklyn in 1938, and both played for the Los Angeles Dodgers (as well as other teams).

Both of them talked fast, and I only got down maybe half of what they said, but they told some great stories. Read on: (more…)

SABR 41: Day 3 research presentations

July 09, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Some strange statistical anomalies show up in my SABR research presentation attendance this year. For example, somehow I ended up seeing everything in the Catalina Room and didn’t see anything in the Pacific Room. I also didn’t see anything on the New York Yankees except Herm Krabbenhoft’s one about correcting the RBI record for Lou Gehrig and Hank Greenberg. And I didn’t see any stats analysis until the third & last day of presentations, which is also unusual.

But that’s baseball, sometimes it just doesn’t go as expected.

Last night’s game at Dodger Stadium went in some ways exactly as expected For example, everyone was predicting a low-scoring game given that the Dodgers and Padres are both a bit anemic in their lineups this year. The score was 1-0. And that one run took three hits to bring in. And then there are the things no one expects, like the “closer” (Broxton is on the DL) Guerra coming in and loading the bases on a leadoff double and then two consecutive hit-by-pitches… and then wiggling out of the jam with two strikeouts and a line drive caught in center field.

Tonight we’re off to see the Angels and I don’t know whom to root for. My usual policy is to root for the home team whenever I’m not seeing the Yankees on the road, but I like the Mariners and I have never liked the Angels. I suppose I’ll see how I feel when I get there.

I saw four research presentations today. (more…)


SABR 41: Day two, a panel and more research presentation

July 08, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Friday Morning at SABR 41: The “40 Years of SABR” Panel and research presentations

This morning was taken up with a panel discussion and then three research presentations. I could have seen a fourth as well, but the presenter I wanted to see couldn’t make it and I wasn’t that interested in the pinch-hitter. So I am going to check out the poster presentations and then grab some lunch (since I’m too broke to actually pay for the awards banquet). I’ll hopefully slip into the banquet room when its time for Dennis Gilbert’s speech, and take some notes there.

The morning kicked off with a high-powered panel of experts in which a distinguished historian showed the strength of his convictions and a distinguished player showed that having won several Gold Gloves is no protection against what I can only attempt to charitably describe as embarrassing mental lapses.

Read on. (more…)

SABR 41: Day one research presentations

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I saw five research presentations today at SABR 41 (there were six slots, but I missed one of them while chatting with people, go figure…). I took notes, but am only presenting the gist of each one here. Some of them will have more extensive versions published in SABR publications and other publications in the future.

Herm Krabbenhoft
& Trent McCotter
“Most Runs Batted In: By an Individual Player — During a Single Season — In the American League”

Don’t let this dry title fool you; this presentation is a bombshell. And first thing in the morning on the first day of the convention, too!

I don’t think Trent was here, and Herm gave the presentation. Herm is an old pro at these SABR presentations, and beyond that he is a maniacal researcher. Which is excellent, because his near-obsessive attention to detail may have uncovered one of the most significant errors in the official MLB record books. Herm laid out the details of the RBI records kept for the 1931 Yankees and the 1937 Tigers. He found several games lacking accurate records. In the Tigers alone, 7 players had their records affected, including Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Rudy York, Marv Owen, some that year by as many as +3 or -2. The records were transmitted to the leagues each night by hand-writing the results in a ledger and errors could be introduced. Herm then took us play by play through a specific game in 1937 for which multiple newspaper stories existed (along with newspaper box scores) that attributed one RBI to Greenberg, one to York. However the official day-to-day record of the league records zero for Greenberg, three for York, and seven total for the game when other box scores have only six. There were nine such “RBI-error games” recorded in that year. If this is correct, then Greenberg would have a total of 184 RBI for the year.

Meanwhile in 1931, there are 9 such games for the 1931 Yankees, which if taken into account, would give Lou Gehrig 184 RBI for that season. Thus Greenberg and Gehrig should be considered tied for the record for the most RBI in a single season.

One audience member exclaimed during questions, “This undermines everything in the official record!” Yes, yes it does. (more…)

SABR 41: Media Panel: Baseball media in ten years

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

“Where we’re going to be getting our baseball information a decade from now?”
moderated by SABR President Andy McCue

Bill Squadron, head of Bloomberg Sports, former pres. of Sportvision inventors of K-Zone
Russ Stanton, Editor of the Los Angeles Times
Sean Forman, Founder and Guru of Baseball-Reference.com
Dave Cameron, Managing Editor of FanGraphs.com

Andy (Moderator): 10 years ago I got up the morning and read the LA Times and then looked at the mailbox to see if Baseball America had arrived and when I had a question I would go to the bookshelf and pull down a copy of Total Baseball. Nowadays I still read the LA Times, but then I check on Fangraphs, and if I have a fact to check I probably go to Baseball-Reference, and I’m probably representative of people in this room. It’s changed a lot in the last ten years, what’s it going to be in the next ten years? (more…)

SABR 41: Scott Boras Keynote Speech

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

Here I am at the SABR national convention. I wasn’t able to get here early enough last night for the Medical Panel, but am up bright and early for the keynote opening speech by Scott Boras.

At 8:29:40 am, Andy McCue stepped to the microphone to call the first meeting of the morning to order. He delivered us a scouting report on Scott Boras, amusingly starting with his minor league stats (bats right, throws right, etc… a good on-base percentage but not much of a slugger, resulting in an average OPS). Mike Fischlin was his first client, an old friend from high school who needed representation, and then later a minor league teammate, Bill Caudill, for whom he won a large contract that shocked everyone. “He’s been shocking people in the baseball establishment ever since.”

Boras steps up to the mic and proposes a new stat: ORR, owner retention rate. (Making a very topical joke about the McCourt situation with the Dodgers.)

[What follows is more or less a transcript of about 70% of Mr. Boras's remarks. I don't type fast enough to get it all. Disclaimer: I'm posting this more or less raw with only very minimal editing at this point. Corrections on the spellings of people's names would be appreciated. Places where I had to paraphrase I have placed in parentheses.]

We get calls all the time from football players, boxers, golfers, steel companies, you name it, people who want you to represent and negotiate something. I’ve turned them all down. I’ve had people offer to buy my company, and I could have made a lot of money that way. But baseball gave me everything I had. A baseball scholarship put me through school, and baseball is the reason I am where I am. You can run along the beach, and go to a game at Dodger stadium, and lay your head down on your pillow at night and know that baseball is everything.

I was asked to give you some information about my company today (and what we do differently for the game of baseball). (more…)

SABR 41: Intro Post! Long Beach Here I Come!

July 07, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: SABR

I’m writing this on an airplane on my way to the forty-first SABR convention. It’s a long flight, since I’m coming from Boston and the event is in Long Beach, California this year. Fortunately for me, I am being kept well occupied by the fact that I’m on Jetblue, which has DirecTV at every seat, and it so happens to be Wednesday. This all works out to mean I’ve been watching the Yankees at the Indians on ESPN for pretty much the entire flight so far. Unfortunately for me, seeing as I’m a Yankees fan, Justin Masterson was masterful, and has so far pitched eight shut-out innings. I think he has given up maybe three hits at most.

One of those hits was to Derek Jeter, though, one more on Jeter’s recently resumed march to 3,000 hits. (It was #2,997.) Philip Hughes also returned to the mound for the Yankees. He had to knock off some rust in the first inning, when he gave up two runs, but otherwise was pretty good until the fifth, when he started to get wild again. Sergio Mitre just gave up two more runs, though, so it’s not looking very good for the Yankees, who are down to three outs left and down 5-0 at this point.

Still, even if they lose, there’s little better way I can imagine to start a four day weekend of intense baseball geekery. Assuming there’s wireless Internet at the hotel, I’ll be reporting from the SABR convention all weekend. I’ll recap various presentations and events as I’ve done for the past few years here at Why I Like Baseball.

SABR, in case you don’t know, is (more…)

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