Friday, October 17, 2014
We’re down 2-1 in Game 7 of the 1985 American League Championship Series against the Kansas City Royals. Willie Upshaw just smashed a double to right field off left-hander Charlie Leibrandt, scoring our second baseman Damaso Garcia. I’m standing in the on-deck circle. I have a career .303 average and almost 2750 hits in the major leagues, plus three more in this series, including two game-winners – and I’m not looking toward my manager, because I know what’s coming.
The end of my life as a ballplayer.
Posted: October 17, 2014 at 12:11 PM | 15 comment(s)
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
In other news, Sports on Earth is still alive.
The Atlantic League is experimenting with rules to improve the pace of play:
In the eighth inning of a game against the York Revolution on the first weekend in August, Brendan Harris, an infielder for the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks, was intentionally walked. The free pass got an ovation from Ducks fans at Bethpage Ballpark, but the cheers weren’t for the baserunner as much as for the method used to put him there.
Rather than having York pitcher Dan Cortes throw four intentional balls to Harris, the Revolution simply informed the home plate umpire of their intentions, and Harris was awarded first base without seeing a single pitch. Fans weren’t just watching a key moment in a tight game; they were watching the beginning of grand baseball experiment.
Days earlier, the Atlantic League had introduced five new measures (including one that allowed for automatic intentional walks) designed to speed up the pace of play—ones that would be tested for the remainder of the 2014 season and then studied in advance of Opening Day 2015.
In the first 30 days, they’ve cut the average game time by 9 minutes.
Posted: September 10, 2014 at 12:08 AM | 14 comment(s)
length of games
rules of play
Monday, September 08, 2014
Major League Baseball on Monday revealed the 2015 regular-season schedule, which will begin with the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball opener on April 5 (teams TBD) and then, by the following day, if there are no postponements, all 30 teams will have participated in traditional Opening Day games.
Cincinnati, which will host its first All-Star Game since 1988 and its record fifth overall, naturally will be one of those 15 host ballparks on that first Monday of action, when the Reds will face the Pirates. The 15 Opening Day games include 12 divisional matchups and an Interleague contest between the Red Sox and Phillies in Philadelphia. Seven games are scheduled to be played on Tuesday, April 7, before all 30 teams take the field once again the next day.
Posted: September 08, 2014 at 02:45 PM | 19 comment(s)
Friday, September 05, 2014
Stand Up To Cancer, backed from the outset in 2008 by founding donor Major League Baseball and supported year-round by MLB and its 30 clubs, will stage its fourth biennial fundraising telethon live from the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles from 8-9 p.m. ET on Friday.
As somebody who knows people who have or had cancer, I’d like to say that this (and the related promotions done during the All-Star Game and World Series) is probably the classiest thing baseball does every year.
Posted: September 05, 2014 at 11:47 AM | 0 comment(s)
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Werner Brother: The Longest Most Meaningless Game in the World.
Among the many changes that Werner has in mind, he stressed the importance of pace when talking about the current state of baseball.
“Too many people are leaving games in the sixth and seventh innings because they can’t watch 3½-hour games, so they’re leaving the game at the point where the game should be getting exciting,” Werner told reporters, via the Boston Globe. “You wouldn’t make a 3 1/2-hour movie.”
Werner suggested a pitch clock, saying that he doesn’t consider the idea to be as laughable as some think. “In 1954, the NBA introduced a shot clock, and while it was considered radical at the time, it’s something that stuck through the years,” Werner said. “It would speed up play and it would give fans something to look at. Baseball is too slow and there’s a lot of inaction. If a pitcher is holding the ball for 40 seconds between pitches, you’re losing an audience.”
Eliminating warm-up tosses for relief pitchers would be another way to speed up the game, Werner said, pointing out that bullpen pitchers already throw before coming in. “Does a field goal kicker get to have a practice kick?” Werner said, via the Globe.
Posted: August 17, 2014 at 10:22 AM | 157 comment(s)
Saturday, August 16, 2014
“...Starting with a homestand next week, fans at select Yankee Stadium entrances will go through metal detectors, according to an e-mailed statement. The team is asking fans to budget extra time for the added security…”
Posted: August 16, 2014 at 11:27 PM | 36 comment(s)
Friday, June 13, 2014
DAVID MAY, JR.: Toward the end of his career, Dad tended to be more of a fourth or fifth outfielder, but he gained this reputation for being one of the greatest batting practice hitters in the game. I mean, from what his friends and ex-teammates have told me and what we remember, whenever he wanted to turn it on, Dad turned it on. One of those times was during the All-Star Game in Venezuela. Dave Parker was down there, too. This was during the 1976/1977 offseason. Parker was on the verge of becoming the superstar we all know. So, of the ten players in the contest, it comes down to Cobra and Dad. They go back and forth and Dad finds himself down by seven dingers. He gets into the batters’ box, sets and just goes off on it. He must’ve hit like 15 home runs in a row. Wins the Home Run Derby. It was really here where I understood what guys were saying about his batting practice prowess.
Posted: June 13, 2014 at 02:14 PM | 2 comment(s)
Thursday, June 12, 2014
“Do you have a job,” Dr. Kerlan says, very concerned about your answer.
“Yeah,” you reply earnestly, snapping back for a moment, fighting the inevitability of this conversation’s direction as best you can, “Starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants.”
“No, John,” Dr. Jobe interjects, “That’s not what he means.” Dr. Kerlan repeats himself.
“Do you have a job? There’s only a 40% chance you’ll ever throw a baseball again.”
Dr. Jobe and Dr. Kerlan detail the nuances of the surgery. You don’t hear a damn thing for five minutes.
“You may never play baseball again” is the only phrase playing in your mind right now on an endless, somber loop.
All the joy within you dies, and you start to cry.
Posted: June 12, 2014 at 09:48 AM | 7 comment(s)
Monday, June 09, 2014
The GM Game is the prediction of the moves that will be made around the organization if YOU were the man in charge. It can look different depending on where you stand and how much information you have, but the above is how it looks if you’re a player.
Don’t play it.
The reason is, if you start trying to figure out why someone else got promoted and you didn’t, you’ll start to get bitter. Professional baseball, for all the joy associated with playing it, can be a very bitter place. That’s thanks in large part to just how crappy minor league life is, and how badly players want to make it to the top. But when you play GM, you start to assign value to your teammates, to yourself, and to your career that might not be accurate. You’ll expect to get promoted based on what little you know, and when it doesn’t happen, you’ll get angry at the situation, your employer, or even your teammates.
Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:23 AM | 8 comment(s)
Thursday, June 05, 2014
fun project by one of the authors at brewcrewball. thought folks might be interested. if you are just going to nitpick how the lists were constructed go (anatomically impossible act).
Posted: June 05, 2014 at 02:38 PM | 79 comment(s)
Sunday, May 25, 2014
...and he also invented The Steering Wheel of Death for the ‘54 Cadillac Eldorado! So let’s hear it for…..
Although Selig has deliberately and steadfastly avoided endorsing any candidate for his successor, it has stood to reason his No. 2 man, MLB COO Rob Manfred, would naturally evolve to the position by virtue of having been the point man for much of Selig’s legacy — as the chief labor negotiator for three collective bargaining agreements that were completed without a work stoppage; the drug sheriff who brokered with the players union the most comprehensive joint drug program in all of professional sports and successively prosecuted all the guilty parties, most notably Alex Rodriguez, in the Biogenesis case last summer; and the commissioner’s emissary who navigated through the courts in the takeaway and sale of the Dodgers from ruinous owner Frank McCourt.
Or as one baseball executive said to me Friday: “We’re coming off nearly 20 years of the most successful commissionership of all time and Rob’s been a very big part of it. If he’s seen as an extension of Bud, what’s so wrong with that?”
Nevertheless, there is a small cadre of owners, headed by White Sox board chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and the Angels’ Arte Moreno, that evidently does not view Manfred as the right and natural choice to succeed Selig.
...Reinsdorf has made no secret of the fact that he wants the owners to take advantage of the seemingly greatly weakened players union, which has lost control of the agents, and push hard for a salary cap in the upcoming labor negotiations. In that respect, however, he has a rather strange bedfellow in Moreno who, more than any owner in baseball other than possibly Detroit’s Mike Ilitch, has contributed to the latest escalation of salaries.
“Believe me,” said another baseball official, “the owners have no stomach for a labor fight. Arte Moreno a champion for a salary cap? What a joke! Who put a gun to his head to give Albert Pujols $250 million and Josh Hamilton $123 million? Even if they got a salary cap — which, even in their present state, the union would never agree to — don’t they realize that would require minimum payrolls of $150 million? How are all those teams like Tampa Bay, Miami, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Kansas City or even Jerry’s White Sox gonna be able to do that?”
Posted: May 25, 2014 at 07:11 AM | 20 comment(s)
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Are we having fun yet!?
With a new crop of uber-talented power pitchers, the cyclical nature of the game and, probably—though we couldn’t prove this and pitchers were using the juice, too—the major crack-down on performance-enhancing drugs, offense continues its decline in baseball.
Heading into Tuesday’s action, MLB hitters were posting the lowest batting average and on-base percentage since the 1972 season. That year has some historical significance, which we’ll get to in a bit.
The 4.19 runs per game clip is actually up ever-so-slightly from last season, but both 2013 and 2014 to this point rank as well-below-average offensive seasons in baseball history, post-Dead Ball Era.
This continues a trend we’ve been seeing for the past several years. Offense is clearly in decline as the pitchers become more dominant.
...We should be applying this line of thinking when examining numbers this season, too. If there’s someone hitting, say, .265 and you hear someone scoffing about the guy being “only a .265 hitter,” maybe let that person know this is pretty well above average right now. Meantime, there are 17 starting pitchers with an ERA of better than 2.50. Thirty-four are below 3.00. Only 26 qualifying starters are at 4.50 or worse.
Contrast that to just a decade ago and it’s easy to see how much context the raw stats—rate or counting—need in any given era.
Baseball right now is a hell of a lot closer to the worst offensive season than the best. If things continue on this path, we’ll need to re-adjust how we define the best pitchers and hitters based upon the traditional stats. Again. Because the offensive numbers right now are downright offensive.
Posted: May 20, 2014 at 01:53 PM | 26 comment(s)
Monday, May 12, 2014
Spector: Power to the people…to vote online!
The American League has a pair of elite third basemen in Josh Donaldson of the Oakland Athletics and Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays. There is a rising slugging star in Seattle, Kyle Seager. In Baltimore, Manny Machado has returned to action for the Baltimore Orioles. With All-Star voting open, voters have plenty of choices for their Junior Circuit representative at the hot corner.
Plenty of choices, but not enough. The man leading American League third basemen in wOBA and wRC+, two vital advanced batting statistics, Yankees sparkplug Yangervis Solarte, is not on the All-Star ballot. The New York player up for voting at the position is Kelly Johnson.
... It would be easy to fix the All-Star ballot if all voting took place online. Major League Baseball could just set a minimum number of games played at each position, then populate the ballot accordingly. The problem is the paper ballot — that thing that has been teaching American children about hanging chads since long before Bush v. Gore was part of the nation’s history.
The paper ballot is going nowhere for two reasons. One is respectable and also totally not a real reason that a multibillion dollar business does anything: it’s a fun tradition. The real reason is that the All-Star ballot draws corporate sponsorship, putting advertisements in the hands of millions of fans for more than two months. Major League Baseball is not about to give up easy money simply for the benefit of Yangervis Solarte maybe getting a crack at a career highlight or Alex Gonzalez not getting laughed at.
There is a solution that includes the paper ballot, and it is to wait. Push back the start of All-Star voting to Mother’s Day, launching it with a series of commercials in which major leaguers, with their moms, urge fans to vote for them. Make the beginning of All-Star voting into an event, and an adorable one at that. The increased sponsorship exposure would make up for having two fewer weeks of paper ballots circulating, while also allowing the ballot-makers the chance to put out a more valid slate of candidates.
Posted: May 12, 2014 at 05:37 PM | 48 comment(s)
EPSTEIN: Randy, going back to what you said about staying the Bellevue-Stratford hotel in Philly during All-Star week, and then there’s that breakout of Legionnaires disease two weeks later. How did you feel about hearing that news?
RANDY JONES: Yes I remember that well. That happened a week after we left. Myself and some of the Padre players couldn’t believe our luck at not getting sick. Figured it just wasn’t our time. Very freaky.
AL OLIVER: I remember the Legionnaires disease thing all too well. About two weeks after the All-Star break, I came down with an inner ear problem, balance problems. I was hitting .360 at the break, the best first half of my career-
EPSTEIN: You were leading the league in hitting at the time-
AL OLIVER: That’s right, and soon after that, I came down with the inner-ear problem. Got so bad I had to ask out of a couple games. They ran tests on me but didn’t find anything. Their conclusion was the inner-ear infection was causing my instability. I ended up not qualifying for the batting crown that year. I thought, some way, I got some kind of strain. I just wasn’t the same in the 2nd half.
Sunday, May 11, 2014
So we’re just going to drop whether or not Heironymus Merkin can ever forget Mercy Humppe and find true happiness? You might. I won’t!
However, based on his career stats—Tulo is a .295 career hitter—publications like the Washington Post have projected his chances of finishing the season .400 as 1 in 889,710. While that’s obviously not something you’d bet on, is it more or less likely than Alexei Ramirez making it all the way through the season as the best hitter in the American League?
Since 1941, there have been two hitters who have had lower career batting averages than Ramirez’s .280 who have won the AL batting title. The first, Snuff Stirnweiss, was a bit of an outlier. Stirnweiss led the AL in 1945 as a member of the New York Yankees. This was during the last year that saw most prominent players fighting in World War II, and his .309 average is the second lowest to lead the league behind Carl Yastremski’s .301 average in 1968 in that time frame.
The other was Norm Cash, who led the AL as a member of the Detroit Tigers with a .361 batting average in 1961. This was a full 90 points better than his career average, his only season hitting .300 and only one of five seasons where he managed to hit above .270 at all.
And unlike Tulowitzki, there have been players close to Alexei who have won the title, like Fred Lynn and the aforementioned Yaz. In fact, while it’s a different league, as recently as last year, the batting champion in the National League had a career average below that of Alexei and managed to hit .331 to win the title.
That player? Michael Cuddyer of, you guessed it, the Colorado Rockies. And what were the chances of that?
Posted: May 11, 2014 at 10:52 AM | 21 comment(s)
Saturday, May 10, 2014
Listens…pops batch of Sternbach’s finest.
The Rangers’ official scoring decision of an error—charged to Texas right fielder Alex Rios—sparked a contentious debate on MLB Network, which was simulcasting the game. Emmy-winner Harold Reynolds approached berserk levels as he tried to reason with Mitch Williams, as Reynolds asserted Rougned Odor’s starting position (playing in an extreme shift against David Ortiz) made the play non-routine, while Williams insisted Rios’s failure to call off Odor constituted an error of communication, and thus a “legal” error.
Reynolds wasn’t right, either—he insisted that because the ball never touched a glove, the decision was “garbage.” By the letter of baseball’s rules, sure—it’s an error. But by convention, official scorers almost never assign an error unless a fielder makes a physical mistake in the fielding process (which generally means the fielder touches the ball).
The premise of the argument is legitimate. The way these MLB Network broadcasters go about it, though, is embarrassing. Harold Reynolds, at one point, states the scoring decision is “the worst ruling in Major League Baseball history.”
Posted: May 10, 2014 at 08:15 AM | 140 comment(s)
Wednesday, May 07, 2014
In one of the more disappointing things we’ve seen out of them lately, MLB is reportedly requesting that iTunes pull several team-related podcasts from their service. Among the affected podcasts are Twins podcast Gleeman and the Geek (hosted by Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports), Pirates podcast Pirates Prospects, a second Twins podcast in Talk to Contact, Mets podcast Mets Musings, Cubs podcast Bleacher Nation, and Yankees podcast It’s About the Yankees, Stupid, among many others.
Tweets from Aaron Gleeman:
- “Gleeman and The Geek” was removed from iTunes after 144 episodes because we’re told MLB requested several team-related podcasts be removed
- Hopefully it’ll get resolved, but it’s scary that MLB can just tell iTunes to remove a three-year-old show with 15,000 listeners an episode.
- OK, so MLB won’t get back to us and iTunes won’t get back to us. Not sure what to do other than make a big stink about it. So let’s do that.
Monday, April 28, 2014
Over the last two weeks, we polled the Awful Announcing readers on their opinions of each local broadcast team around the majors…Each “A” vote received 4 points, 3 points for a “B” vote, down to 0 points for an “F” vote. The total points scored were divided by the total number of votes to calculate what amounts to a GPA for each broadcast booth.
30) Chicago White Sox – 1.37
-Hawk Harrelson (play by play)
-Steve Stone (analyst, play by play – select)
-Aaron Rowand (analyst -select)
-Mike Huff (analyst – select)
-Tom Paciorek (analyst – select)
Most popular grade: F (46% of voters)
Posted: April 28, 2014 at 05:52 PM | 123 comment(s)
Friday, April 25, 2014
Baseball Fixer…catch it!
Major League Baseball has adjusted the transfer rule, effective immediately, the league has announced. Things will essentially go back to the way they were before this season. Here’s the announcement:
Major League Baseball announced today that the Playing Rules Committee has provided its official view of how Umpires should apply the Official Playing Rules when a fielder loses possession of a ball when attempting to transfer it to his throwing hand.
The Committee’s interpretation of the rule has been discussed and agreed upon by MLB, the MLB Players Association and the World Umpires Association. Beginning with games played tonight, Umpires will enforce the rule according to the standards below.
The Committee has determined that a legal catch has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Catch”), or a valid force out or tag has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Tag”), if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand. There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch. If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer. The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.
The Official Playing Rules Committee consists of the General Manager of the New York Mets, Sandy Alderson, who serves as Chair of the Committee; Sam Bernabe, the Chairman of the Pacific Coast League; Hall of Famer Rod Carew, a 19-year Major League veteran; Umpire Brian Gorman, a Crew Chief with over 22 years of experience at the Major League level; John McHale, Jr., MLB’s Executive Vice President of Administration and Chief Information Officer; Terry Ryan, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Minnesota Twins; John Schuerholz, the President of the Atlanta Braves; Bill Stoneman, former Vice President and General Manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim; and Joe Torre, MLB’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations.
Posted: April 25, 2014 at 12:53 PM | 35 comment(s)
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
MLB Advanced Media, the league’s digital arm, has released a baseball video game for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Apple mobile devices. The game itself, RBI Baseball ‘14, is fairly conventional, but its release is not: It marks the first time a major professional sports league has developed its own console game.
“MLBAM has done some games before, but online mobile games,” said Samit Sarkar, reporter for the video game news site Polygon. “It’s something new for a league to do a bigger console title like this.”
Monday, April 21, 2014
Here’s a nasty open secret about pitching: Young pitchers don’t get better as they age. There is no peak age. As soon as they start firing bullets they start running out of time. They’re born and then they start dying.
Posted: April 21, 2014 at 07:32 PM | 4 comment(s)
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