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 →
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 →
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 →
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:
Below I will excerpt just a few of my favorite quotes:
“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
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 →
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 →
(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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
(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 →
(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 →
(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 →
Tonight was the most exciting night in baseball since… well, since the amazing September 28th of this season, when both wild cards were decided within minutes of each other, culminating an improbable, mind-boggling month. Tonight, though, was all about two teams, and two teams only.
The last two standing are the Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Cardinals were one of those two last-day squeak-in wild card teams who made it into the postseason as much as a result of the Atlanta Braves’ collapse as their own mojo. The Rangers, of course, have a lot of prove after getting smothered by the Giants in the World Series last year.
I have no real rooting interest in this series; I mostly just wanted to see dramatic baseball. Thus far, this postseason has had plenty of that, but tonight’s performance was over the top. Read the rest of this entry →
Well, it’s over.
I’ve been sitting here in the Bronx trying to figure out what to say about tonight’s game, or the season, but part of me says “What is there to say?” We got beat. Now I get a few free weekends I didn’t think I’d have, and I get a big refund on my ALCS and World Series tickets, which means I can buy a new oven.
Okay, I thought of something to say. I’m reminded of the 1960 World Series, which pre-dates me, but I’ve read about it, y’know. In the series, the Pirates were outscored by the Yankees by a lot, yet still managed to win the series by winning the close games. Read the rest of this entry →
To console ourselves after the ALDS game 2 loss, corwin and I decided to trundle up to New Rochelle to check out Mariano Rivera’s restaurant. (Yes, we were convinced by all the liners that John Sterling has been reading, touting the place on the game broadcasts.) “Clubhouse Grill 42″ aka “Mo’s New York Grill” is basically a sports bar/steak pub with the decor done by Steiner Sports. The walls are well adorned with giant photos, autographed memorabilia, and wide-screen TVs. When we went in both NLDS games were on, as well as the NY Jets football game.
The front dining room is mostly a bar area, brightly lit and featuring a large sculpture of a “Holy Cow” that has been autographed by tons of Yankees. (Guess who signed right between the horns.*) Read the rest of this entry →
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. Read the rest of this entry →
Well, that was the longest game I’ve ever been to. Yes, even longer than the record-breaking All-Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium (II). This one started yesterday, and didn’t finish until today.
Yesterday started usually enough. corwin and I packed up rain ponchos and scorecards and headed for the stadium at 5pm from Riverdale (the hoity toity part of the northern Bronx where a good friend and fellow fan has a welcoming fold-out couch). It takes about a half hour to travel down the Grand Concourse from here to the environs of the Stadium. On weekdays, the parking spaces around the courthouse become legal to all comers at 6pm. If you get there by 5:30, you too can sit in your car in one of those spaces until 6pm and then leave. There are even a few local characters who act like “parking attendants” directing people to park in the spaces. I presume once in a while some tourist gives them some money, but they seem to do it just for the fun of it.
On a normal day, we’d lock the doors and walk to the Stadium one hour before the first pitch. However, because this is the postseason, first pitch wouldn’t be until 8:37 pm. That meant we had plenty of time for dinner at El Molino Rojo (The Red Mill), a Dominican joint just two blocks from the Stadium. Look into that dining room on any night before game-time and all you will see is a sea of pinstripes and NY logos. And cops. A lot of the local cops eat there.
After stuffing ourselves well for very little money, we moseyed the rest of the way to the Stadium. Compared to many postseason visits to the Stadium, this was a warm night. We took a lap around the lower deck concourses, just soaking in the atmosphere. corwin remarked at one point on our walk, “Isn’t it remarkable that this never gets boring?”
It never does. Read the rest of this entry →
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:
Read the rest of this entry →