Joe Posnanski Newsbeat
Monday, May 18, 2015
Oh, yes, it was one big looney-tunes adventure in Atlanta. After the eighth straight loss, Bristol gulped: “I’m doing all I can. I just don’t know what else I can do.”
After the 10th straight loss, Turner was admonished by — of all people — George Steinbrenner. “Nobody forced Ted Turner to buy the Braves,” Steinbrenner said. “We’re all over legal age and of reasonable intelligence. And when we bought these teams, we knew what the rules were.”
After the 14th straight loss, Turner said this: “I’ve got a cocked pistol in my hand. Who can I give the Braves to in my last will and testament?”
Turner then skipped out on a sailing vacation to join the team in Pittsburgh and see what the heck was going wrong. He sat behind the Braves dugout and watched his team lose a doubleheader. That made it 16 losses in a row. “I’d do anything to help us win,” a beleaguered Bristol told the press after the game.
Turner could not hold back now. He called Bristol into his hotel room the next day. Bristol fully expected to get fired. But Turner did not fire him. Instead, he told Bristol to take 10 days off, do a little reflection and maybe go scout the minor league teams.
“Who is going to manage the club?” Bristol asked.
“I will,” Ted Turner said.
“He owns the team, that’s his prerogative,” Bristol told reporters after the meeting. “I tried to talk him out of it. It puts a man in a strange position. I must be doing something wrong. I’m going home for a couple of days to take a long hard look at Dave Bristol.”
Turner made it clear from the start — he would be manager in name only. He planned to let his coaches, Vern Benson and Chris Cannizzaro, make most of the baseball decisions. But Ted Turner felt like he knew people, and he wanted to understand what was happening with his players. He was coming to the rescue.
“It seems like I had done all I could sitting up in the stands,” he told reporters. “I wanted to see what it’s like down in the trenches. … When you’re setting records for losing streaks, it doesn’t hurt to change things.”
And then Turner offered another one of his classic quotes: “If things get sour in your love life,” he said, “you go get a new hairdo, don’t you?”
Thursday, April 23, 2015
Poz’s selection may angry up the blood.
How good was Roger Clemens? Well, yesterday I pointed out that his career is better than Sandy Koufax and Johan Santana.
But Matthew Namee — who was once Bill James’ research assistant — does me one better. He sent Tom Tango a comparison that shows that Roger Clemens is, basically, Sandy Koufax PLUS Pedro Martinez, the two greatest short-career pitchers in the game’s history.
How does he figure that? Start with Pedro:
Clemens in Boston: 81 WAR, 56 Wins Above Average, 2776 innings.
Pedro career: 86 WAR, 61 WAA, 2,827 innings…
Now, let’s bring in Koufax.
Clemens after Boston: 58 WAR, 39 WAA, 2,141 innings.
Koufax career: 53 WAR, 31 WAA, 2,324 innings…
I guess it comes down to this: Everyone gets that, whatever role PEDs played in it, Barry Bonds played baseball at a level that would put him in the conversation with Ruth, Mays, Charleston and the rest for greatest player ever. Whether he deserves to be in that conversation — whether his performance was, in Bob Costas’ word, “authentic” — is opinion, but nobody doubts that Bonds really was that good.
What people will miss is that Clemens — whatever role PEDs played in his success — is not only in the conversation for greatest pitcher ever. He IS the conversation.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
One July 10, 1962, a minor miracle happened — though only a few people witnessed it. That was the day that Andy Warhol unveiled his odd Campbell Soup Cans work of art, though that wasn’t the miracle. A company called Telstar launched into space the first privately owned satellite. That wasn’t the miracle either.
No, that day, a somewhat clunky and generally unimposing young man with thick glasses took the mound for a minor-league baseball game in Elmira, N.Y. There were, by official count, 494 people in the stands.
By this point, everyone in the stands knew about the young man on the mound. He had, as they say, a reputation. He was dangerous. But something about him that day was different. He seemed calmer somehow. Which it to say: He did not throw a pitch 20 feet over the catcher’s head. He did not knock out an umpire with some crazy rising fastball. He did not throw a pitch through a wall. He simply … pitched. Every now and again, if people listened closely, they could hear something coming out of the Elmira dugout where manager Earl Weaver sat. It was the sound of someone whistling.
The young man pitched a five-hit shutout and — more to the point — he did not walk a single batter. When the game ended a reporter asked what he had done differently. Steve Dalkowski shrugged.
“I wish I knew,” he said.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Pace of play: Both Joe Posnanski and Michael Schur dislike the new pace of play rules. They fear that they will detract from the feel of the sport, and from the hitter/pitcher “chess game.” They believe it is pointless to address the pace of play without addressing the main problem, which in their opinion is pitching changes. Since pitching changes are opportunities to run commercials, they are pessimistic that anything meaningful can be accomplished on this front.
Playoff picks: In the AL, Poz has the Red Sox beating the Angels in the LCS; Schur has Mariners over Red Sox. In the NL, Schur has Dodgers over Nationals; Poz has Cubs over somebody.
Draft: This week’s draft is “great things about baseball.”
- Poz - The ball
- Schur - No clock
- Poz - Baseball caps
- Schur - Baseball cards (This leads to both deciding that Matt Szczur, of whom neither of them had previously heard, is their favorite player)
- Poz - Statistics
- Schur - Non-uniform playing field dimensions (Schur pulls off an impressive combination of knowledge and ignorance when he mentions “John McGraw Stadium”)
- Poz - Baseball on the radio, especially Vin Scully
- Schur - “Homer” announcers
- Poz - Triples
- Schur - ? Draft ended early.
Thursday, March 05, 2015
Annnd, we’re back!
There is no satisfying way to compare ancient players from Deadball to the players today. For instance: There is an argument to be made, a strong one, that Eddie Collins was one of the ten best player in baseball history. If you treat the baseball of his time as equal to all other times, you almost have to rank him in that stratosphere. He ranks tenth In wins Above Replacement. He hit .333 with more than 3,000 hits, more than 700 stolen bases, more than 1,800 runs scored — only Ty Cobb has that combination…
How can you guess what Eddie Collins would be in 2015? He was a 5-foot-9, 175-pound competitor, a peerless bunter, a breathtaking base runner, a player with a brilliant baseball mind. Would that game play in 2015? Collins averaged — AVERAGED — more than 20 sacrifice hits per season over his 25-year career. Last year, no player had more than 13 sacrifice bunts. We don’t have complete information, but based on what we do know it seems Collins routinely would get thrown out 30 times a season attempting to steal. That obviously wouldn’t play these days. Collins seemed to get on base a lot with bunts … but even his admirers would say that he wasn’t breathtaking fast, he was just a great bunter. Would that work in 2015 against specialized defenses?
Then again he was just such a smart player — you have to believe he would adjust to modern times. Would have become a faster Dustin Pedroia? A Joe Morgan type? Your guess is probably as irrelevant as mine.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Tabs was clutch man.
I think about Tabler now because of an email sent by Tom Tango referencing a contradiction in my Strat-O-Matic post. On the one hand, I say I don’t like the horseshoes on Strat-O cards that reference a players ability to hit in the clutch (I have been told by several people that these were actually added to regulate a player’s RBI totals so that they somewhat mirror what happened during the season but it’s the same general thing). On the other hand, I say that I did like the fact that Statis Pro gave Matt Alexander a ridiculously awesome card in 1979 when he only had a few plate appearances. “Pick your poison,” Tom writes. “Do you want to reflect that card relative to what we observed? Or do you want to reflect the card after removing the ESTIMATED random variation?”
I told Tango that I fully embrace that I’m being inconsistent … but it’s mainly because I was 11 years old when I loved the Matt Alexander card. I think that card was ridiculous but wonderful at that point in my life.
In any case, Tango brought up Pat Tabler and I thought back to a question: How much of what Pat Tabler did those three years was luck and random variation? When I was a kid, I was pretty confident that NONE OF IT was luck. The guy was Mr. Clutch. It said so right on his card. Something came over him when the bases were loaded. True, the year the card came out he hit .200 with the bases loaded, which I recall was talked about quite a bit. It’s also true that in 1989, he went 1-for-11 with two double play grounders — and it seemed that whenever he came up with the bases loaded that year, the radio announcers talked about how he was Mr. Clutch which just accentuated the disappointment.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Non-Strat-O-Matic fans who are curious about the subject can try to follow Poz’s attempt to explain the game mechanics. I have no idea if that is actually possible to do in this format. He tried, anyway.
Strat fans can presumably nod along, and appreciate this:
Monday, January 05, 2015
But after asking around, I decided to stick with what Bill James advised: Vote for the 10 best players. “I don’t believe in trying to outsmart the system, no matter what the system is,” Bill said. “I think it backfires on you much more often than it works.”
So, here are the 10 players I voted for:
I offer deep apologies to Craig Biggio, who might really need my vote. But at the end, it came down to Smoltz, Piazza and Biggio for the final two spots, and Biggio was third of the three for me.
FWIW, here’s the top 10 players on this ballot on his Best of the Rest column a few weeks back: Bonds, Clemens, Johnson, Pedro, Bagwell, Raines, Schilling, Mussina, Biggio, Piazza
Posted: January 05, 2015 at 09:17 PM | 3 comment(s)
hall of fame
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Never take “We’ll owe you a favor” for an answer. Ask CM Punk!
I’m beginning to wonder if the Royals just gave us that incredible postseason run last year so that they could spend the next few years trolling us with the sorts of signings that used to make them baseball’s laughing stock…
I can’t in good conscience do anything but grumble quietly. The Royals were a Bumgarner away form a World Series victory. I wish they wouldn’t celebrate that magical season by paying way too much money for declining 30-something players. But, you know, winners are entitled to celebrate however they want.
I don’t get why the Royals are doing this and not just, you know, going all out to sign James Shields. Understand: I don’t think the Royals SHOULD sign James Shields. He’s 33 years old and, as such, will undoubtedly get way too much money for his declining years. But, then, I’m not as big a fan of Shields as the Royals are. The Royals LOVED him, I mean all caps LOVE because of his leadership and mentorship and all that. If the Royals already planned to plunk down $48 million for three old players who have been dumped by teams in the last year or two and have a combined negative WAR, why not just put that into a big-package deal to keep Shields? That would have made WAY more sense.
There are times, I think, that the Royals just get excited when anyone says they are willing to come to Kansas City to play baseball — and especially excited if it is a player who they heard of once…
none of the recent signings they have made in their celebration tour are club-crippling gambles the way, say, the Jose Guillen signing was. They’re all short term…The Royals haven’t burdened their future with any of these deals. And, who knows? Maybe they get lucky. Hey, it’s happened before.
Thursday, December 04, 2014
Cool kids never have the time… but we do!
In the Hall: Frank Thomas, Robbie Alomar
Talked about: Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Jeff Kent, Bernie Williams.
Best of the rest: John Olerud…
Based on the way the BBWAA has voted, there was not a single Hall of Fame hitter born in 1961 ([Don] Mattingly cannot get any traction), 1962, 1963 (maybe Edgar Martinez gets some love over time), 1966 or 1967.
But in 1968, there are EIGHT viable Hall of Fame candidates (nine if you consider Olerud, whose career does demand consideration).
And then, before you say, “Well, that’s just the steroids,” go on to the next year, 1969, only Ken Griffey will get elected. In 1970, there were two Hall of Fame candidates born, and I’m not sure either [Jim] Thome or [Jim] Edmonds will get the support I think they deserve. Go to the next year, 1971, only Pudge Rodriguez will get elected from that group…
I do wonder if this is crazy boom of super players has a subtle impact on voters’ mentality… a historic rush of talent like what happened in 1968 doesn’t compute easily. It just doesn’t FEEL right…
I suspect four of the nine will get elected to the Hall by the BBWAA, though Bagwell’s support did take a dip last year. Four Hall of Famers in one birth year is still a lot, but I don’t think it quite captures just how remarkable a year that was.
Here’s one version of what the BBWAA and Hall [of Fame] could do: Create a Hall of Fame nominating committee… The finaly ballot would have a limit — 15 players on it, 20 at the most. The committee would have to work very hard to limit it that much. But that’s good. What they would end up with is a ballot of legitimate Hall of Fame players who deserve real Hall of Fame consideration. It would be a REAL honor to be on that ballot.
And — this is important — the committee would have the opportunity to put ANYONE on the Hall of Fame ballot who deserves to have his case heard, even those who might not have received five percent of the vote the first time around. Let’s face it: Don Mattingly’s case has been heard clearly. He has been on the ballot for TWELVE YEARS. I love Mattingly, he’s one of my all-time favorite players, but how many times do the voters have to say no? Meanwhile, Lou Whitaker never really got his case heard.
The 5% rule [for elimination from the ballot] is ineffective and arbitrary. It’s a poor way to build a ballot. It gives us cacophonous ballots stuffed with cronies who the voters have already dismissed time and again. It encourages a kind of strategic voting that shouldn’t be a part of a an upright Hall of Fame process. It also creates the same conversations every year. Even I was getting tired of the Jack Morris arguments.
There are many things the Hall of Fame and BBWAA could do, I think, to make the process better. But I would begin here: Create a real nominating committee with the power to create a compelling and changing ballot.
for his generous support.
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