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 →
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: Read the rest of this entry →
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. Read the rest of this entry →
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. Read the rest of this entry →
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.
& Trent McCotter
“Most Runs Batted In: By an Individual Player â€” During a Single Season â€” 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. Read the rest of this entry →
SABR 41 MEDIA PANEL
“Where weâ€™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? Read the rest of this entry →
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). Read the rest of this entry →
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 Read the rest of this entry →