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Archive for the ‘Baseball Musings’

Interview with Gary Darling, because Umps Care

May 02, 2014 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

It’s time for the annual UMPS CARE auction. If you haven’t heard about it before, you haven’t been reading my blog for very long. UMPS CARE is a charity run by major league umpires and this annual auction is their main fundraiser. Everything from items autographed by Mariano Rivera and Vin Scully to meet-the-umpires ballpark vacation packages is up for bid from now through May 11th. (That’s not a lot of time so if you want to bid, get over there NOW.)

The best part about the auction for me is I usually get to talk to a major league umpire, though. This year I got to speak with Gary Darling.

Cecilia Tan: Umpires already have one of the toughest jobs in baseball. Why UMPS CARE? Don’t umpires already do enough?

GARY DARLING: We do a lot on the field. But most of us want to do some good off the field. That’s part of being a human. We started it years ago and it has grown into what it is today. We do a lot of good things, but to do that we have to raise the money and this auction is one of the biggest things we do. The last couple of years MLB has hosted it on MLB.com and I think that really helps us get a bigger audience.

CT: What’s your advice for that one kid out there who goes to a game and imagines themselves behind the plate instead of in the batters box? (more…)

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)
(more…)

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*) (more…)

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
(more…)

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: (more…)

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. (more…)

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 (more…)

2011 ALDS Game 2, Second game in three trips.

October 03, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

ALDS Game 2: Tigers at Yankees: October 2, 2011

In the ninth inning, when it got dark and started to rain around the time the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate for the first time, I started writing metaphorical ledes for this story. Like “It was sunny all day for the Detroit Tigers… until it wasn’t.”

But, unfortunately, the rest of the ninth inning did not pan out the way I might have wanted. I feel sorry for the people who left early, because they missed the best part of the game, a thrilling ninth, even if the Yankees did fall short.

The day began, as I mentioned, not raining. It was partly sunny and quite windy in the Bronx today. When we took our seats for the first pitch the temperature was 61 degrees, but a stiff wind was blowing straight in from center field.

The wind was evident in the top of the first, when Brett Gardner moved to catch a high fly ball and ended up running almost all the way to the infield to get it. Not home run weather, despite the predictions, which were based on the facts that Max Scherzer was in the top three in home runs allowed this year and the Yankees were the top home-run hitting team. The only kind of homer that would go out with the wind like that would be a low line drive.

Unfortunately, that’s what Miguel Cabrera hit in the top of the first. (more…)

What? End of the season already?

September 30, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

I’m actually still breathless and full of adrenaline from the whizbang finale of this season’s last day. I would have blogged about it but really what more could I say than “wow” multiple times? Wow.

I’m writing this post from the Bronx, where I am awaiting the opening of the ALDS in a few hours. End of the regular season, though, means End of Season awards. As a founding member of the Baseball Bloggers Association, I take part in the voting. We’re not as glamourous as the ink-stained wretches in the BBWAA. I suppose as bloggers we’re the eye-strained kvetches.

Here’s what we eye-strained kvetches award:

Connie Mack Award: top manager
Willie Mays Award: top rookie)
Goose Gossage Award: top reliever
Walter Johnson Award: top pitcher
Stan Musial Award: top player

Since Why I Like Baseball is ostensibly a Yankees blog (with a healthy side of Red Sox), I get to vote for the American League entry in each category. Here are my picks:
(more…)

Brent Mayne in the news again!

May 26, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Fans and Fandom, Baseball Musings, Great Ballparks

I hear that Phillies infielder Wilson Valdez just became the first position player to win (as pitcher) a major league game since Brent Mayne did it back in 2000. This means Brent Mayne’s name is suddenly in the news again. Mayne was the backup catcher for the Colorado Rockies when he performed the feat.

I actually watched the crazy extra-innings Braves-Rockies game in which Mayne got the win on television from the Jersey Shore one night while on vacation. I wrote about it the following year, when I tried to get Mayne’s autograph one night in Seattle at Safeco Field, when he was playing with the Royals and I was there for a game. I never did get Mayne’s autograph, but I did get a batting practice ball that night, and the autographs of Mike Cameron and Brett Boone, back when they were both stars for the M’s.

So here’s the flashback post from August 16, 2001, in which I recount my trip to the ballpark and Mayne’s pitching performance along the way: (more…)

Articles on the SABR Era of baseball wanted (1971-present)

April 12, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball History, Baseball Musings

So, some of you may have seen via the SABR newsletters and my other social media things, that I’m editing the Fall 2011 issue of the Baseball Research Journal, aka BRJ.

BRJ is SABR’s main research publication, and has become one of the premiere places to publish ground-breaking research into both baseball history and statistical analysis. (SABR = Society for American Baseball Research).

SABR was founded in 1971, and it’s probably not a coincidence that the society’s formation came about just as many other changes were coming to the game. So this special themed issue will have some (not all) of its articles focused on baseball from 1971 to the present. Consider the following upheavals & changes we’ve seen in our lifetimes: (more…)

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Cold. But they won.

April 11, 2011 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

So I went to Opening Day at Yankee Stadium this year, on March 31st. While I understand and appreciate that MLB wanted to start the year four or five days earlier, so that there would be no chance of having a World Series game on November 4th (grrrrrr…. the reason I wasn’t there to enjoy the Yankees’ victory in 2009 was because I was on an annual business trip that NORMALLY would not come close to conflicting), in April it’s always a statistics game with the weather man. Each day closer to May the chance of having a warm day goes up.

I’m not just saying that. I’m a SABR member after all, and part of what we do is analyze history based on the statistical record. Well, looking at that record, the chance for warm on March 31st in New York City was pretty slim. (more…)

Today is BBA Day!

December 10, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

Yes, today is BBA Day, the day to celebrate the existence of the Baseball Bloggers Association.

This coalition of baseball writers and enthusiasts includes everything from individual fan sites for teams to group blogs of analysis and specialized topics. I joined the group when it was first forming and have had a terrific time networking with this group of people who love the game of baseball in all its forms.

I started Why I Like Baseball in 1999, using old style hand-written HTML, just to express my thoughts and feelings about the game which I had followed avidly as a kid growing up near New York City, but had lost touch with in my early adulthood. The McGwire-Sosa home run race brought me back with a vengeance. I was a professional writer, so one way I expressed my love of the game was through writing. Next thing I knew, people were actually coming and reading the site on a regular basis. Advertisers began to offer me money. I happily took it and expanded what I wrote about to include not only the Red Sox and Yankees, but minor league ball, women’s baseball (which I then started playing), baseball history, baseball tourism (ballpark visits, gravesites, museums, etc…)

They say on the Internet you will always discover you’re not the only one. You’re never alone. The term “blog” was coined in late 1999 but didn’t enter common parlance until a few years later, but the concept of maintaining a readable online journal or zine existed long before that. What really came about around the turn of the millennium was the technology to make blogging easier and more ubiquitous. And so here we are, ten years after that, with a vibrant and growing network (over 200 strong!) for people like me.

So I encourage you to check out the central website: BaseballBloggersAlliance.com/ where many posts from BBA members all over the web are cross-linked. The BBA does our own version of annual baseball awards, and even a “what if we voted for the Hall of Fame”? every year. Many of the blogs are also involved in charitable efforts.

Pressing Measures

November 30, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

I read the news recently that Jim Leyritz’s trial for D.U.I. manslaughter is over (New York Times). If you’re in suspense, he was acquitted of the manslaughter charge but the jury did slap him with a misdemeanor, which could carry a few month’s jail time, but nothing as bad as the several years that the more serious charge would have carried. Among the mitigating circumstances, the woman who was killed in the accident was also driving while drunk, might have had her car’s lights off, and Leyritz’s blood alcohol level didn’t actually test as high as expected.

What irked me about this story was not the outcome, or even its existence — people including ballplayers making bad choices is nothing new. That the article points out that he is “former Yankee Jim Leyritz” is also nothing new. Heck, that’s what makes it a news story worthy of the Times in the first place.

But what rubbed me wrong is the final two paragraphs of the story:

Leyritz’s famous homer tied Game 4 of the World Series against Atlanta, a game the Yankees won in extra innings. The victory paved the way for their 1996 title, their first in 18 years.

Primarily a catcher, Leyritz also played for the Angels, the Rangers, the Red Sox, the Padres and the Dodgers. He had a career batting average of .264 and hit 90 regular-season home runs.

Is it just me, or does that all seem really… reductive and inappropriate? I think I could have lived with just the final sentence, but the “famous homer” one just feels absolutely muck-rakey to me when juxtaposed with the content of the story.

I know it’s there for those with short memories who read the article and said “Jim who?” but I just cringed when I read it. There’s an edge of sensationalism there (“World Series Hero Driving While Drunk!”) that is just unseemly for the New York Times… or for anywhere, really.

Tis The Season

November 19, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

Just got my annual letter from the New York Yankees with my invoice for 2011′s season tickets.

The good news is that my seats are staying the same price, as they have for the past 5 years, going all the way back to the Old Stadium.

The bad news is that in 2010, with the economy still limping along, I didn’t come close to breaking even on the cost of my seats. I even ended up eating the cost of two postseason tickets I couldn’t dump except to a scalper outside the McDonald’s for less than half of face value.

I have been seriously considering either dropping my plan, or dropping from all 81 games to a partial season plan.

I’m sure I’m not alone, which is why the letter to me from the Yankees does things like praise my “unwavering loyalty.” Hoo-boy. Yes, they know better than any other sports franchise on earth that love = money.

At least they aren’t hypocrites, though. Here’s why: (more…)

ALCS Game Three Recap

October 19, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Yankee Fan Memories

It was a sad night at the Stadium tonight, and not just because of Cliff Lee and Josh Hamilton. Prior to the game the Yankees announced on the scoreboard that Freddy Schuman, aka Freddy the Fan or Freddy “Sez,” passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

It’s amazing to think Freddy outlasted Eddie Layton, Bob Sheppard, and George Steinbrenner himself, but still heart-wrenching to realize he’s gone. Freddy was a fixture at the Stadium (and even sometimes in Tampa during spring training), making his way through the entire stands in the course of a game to let as many kids (and the kids at heart) bang on his lucky frying pan with a spoon.

I banged on the pan just last week, before the ALDS clincher at the Stadium, and now I’m so glad I did. I never would have guessed that would be my last chance to do it.

I also wouldn’t have guessed it would be the last time the Yankees looked dominating this postseason. Coming into tonight’s game they are 1-1, but they could have easily been down 0-2. (more…)

Zombies are hip

August 25, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Xtreme Columns

Zombies are in these days. There are zombies in Jane Austen novels, in movie after movie, and even in romance novels now. Zombies are hip. That’s what I think every time I look back and see the Red Sox are still clinging on without completely fading this season.

This is remarkable given the sheer number of players they’ve had on the DL or lost for the season. With a 73-55 record, they’d be in FIRST PLACE in either of the other two American League divisions as of today! (And be only half a game back in two of the NL’s divisions, as well.) This is not exactly the usual showing of a gritty team barely holding it together.

Maybe it’s that Terry Francona finally picked up the Bigelow Green Tea sponsorship that Joe Torre started in New York. (more…)

SABR 40: awards and John Schuerholz speech

August 07, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings, Xtreme Columns

Here we are at the SABR Awards Banquet. The eating is mostly over with, and now president Andy McCue is reading off the results of various awards that were given earlier this year, including some to high school students for historical society prizes and the like, and working up to the Seymour Medal. We’ve just been reminded that next year’s convention will be in Southern California, and that miraculously, we got a weekend when both the Dodgers and the Angels will be at home, and that a lower room rate than this year has been secured. What they didn’t do was announce what the actual date was, or I’d put it here.
(more…)

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SABR 40: day two, post three

August 06, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

Do Batters Make Slumps Worse by Trying to Escape Them?
Jeff Switchenko, with several co-authors

Hitting with RISP: Real differences between players
by Eric Van

Are Outs Made on the Bases More Harmful than Other Types of Outs?
David W. Smith

(more…)

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Jim Joyce reactions

June 03, 2010 By: Cecilia Tan Category: Baseball Musings

  • RT @ed_price: When will Major League Baseball hold umpires accountable? Why can't they be demoted or fired like players, managers or GMs? #
  • RT @BloggingBombers: Wow. The entire press box at Yankee Stadium is howling about the worst call ever made. #
  • (more…)

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