Rob Neyer Newsbeat
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
“You know, I’ve been working out, eating better. Just wondering if you wanted to get a cup of coffee, Royals. Thinking maybe we should get back together.”
Which of course is the last little piece of this: The Kansas City Royals, for almost exactly as long as I’ve had any sort of opinion about how baseball teams should be run, have been run in almost exactly the opposite way. And the unhappy (for me) truth is that if the Royals win the World Series, it will be taken as absolute proof in some quarters that the Royals were exactly right about building a winning baseball franchise, and I was exactly wrong.
I can live with that. I miss being a fan. I miss the highs a lot, and I even miss the lows a little bit.
Thursday, October 02, 2014
JABO might be able to do the hully-gully, but unfortunately they can’t imitate Vin Scully.
A few months ago we launched a new microsite, Just a Bit Outside (JABO). Now we’re gearing up for a grand experiment: Game 1 of the NLCS, powered by JABO, and broadcast on FOX Sports 1 on October 11 at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific.
Of course, FOX will provide the traditional broadcast, featuring Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds, and Tom Verducci in the booth, Ken Rosenthal and Erin Andrews on the field. Meanwhile, over on FS1 – and by the way, here’s an easy way to find FS1 on your cable or satellite package– NLCS on FOX Sports 1 Powered by JABO will focus on statistics, sabermetrics, and graphics, with plenty of debate and conversation while the action plays out on the field. We’ll utilize a double-box format, with the live game action in one box, and our studio hosts and guests in another, along with a constant flow of graphics.
FOX’s Kevin Burkhardt will host the show, and he’ll be joined at the big desk by JABO stalwarts Gabe Kapler and C.J. Nitkowski. I’ll also be tossing in the occasional observation and opinion, and interacting with viewers via social media. And finally, we’re working very hard to line up some very special guests.
Wednesday, October 01, 2014
But Neyer didn’t just turn me on to baseball writing. He turned me onto the Kansas City Royals.
Now, I am not a Royals fan: I am a Cardinals fan, which is not quite the opposite of a Royals fan, but it’s close. But Neyer was a fan of the Royals, which was something else that was new. I hadn’t read many sportswriters who openly admitted they were cheering for a particular team; my college journalism professors had told me that was against the rules. (They were wrong, by the way.) But Neyer was passionate about his team—it was easier to be passionate back about the Royals then; it had only been a decade or so since they’d last made the playoffs—and because I was passionate about reading his work, I learned about them as well. And then I realized, that, jeez, there were a ton of baseball writers who were either Royals fans, or wrote for the Kansas City Star, which had one of the best sports sections in the country.
Neyer led me to James, of course (and he was a Royals fan too), but also Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus (which led me to Joe Sheehan and Nate Silver and Christina Kahrl and Clay Davenport, none of whom were Royals fans but all of whom were brilliant) and my former colleague here at Sports On Earth, Joe Posnanski. These were all wonderful writers, but they were also wonderful writers about the Royals.
And the best part was that these devoted Royals fans and/or observers is that they were all so smart in a way that the team was so dumb.
No love for Lee Judge?
Monday, September 15, 2014
Here is where you can find the games no one will watch.
-No World Series games will be going head to head with either Monday or Thursday Night Football. If the series isn’t a sweep, Game 5 will go head to head with the Packers and Saints on Sunday Night Football….
-Five networks will be airing Postseason games this year. The two Wild Card games will air on TBS (AL) and ESPN (NL), while the entire ALDS and ALCS air on TBS. The NLDS will air on Fox Sports 1, though two of those games will show up on MLB Network. As for the NLCS, both game one and game six (if necessary) will air on Fox. The other five possible games air on Fox Sports 1, and the entire World Series airs on Fox.
-Speaking of Fox Sports 1, they’re taking a page out of ESPN’s book for Game 1 of the NLCS. While the game airs on Fox, they’ll be airing a second-screen experience fueled by their new baseball portal, Just A Bit Outside. The broadcast will be branded “JABO presents: NLCS on FOXSPORTS1″, and will be hosted by Kevin Burkhardt. The alternate feed will focus on statistic and sabermetrics, and feature Rob Neyer, Gabe Kapler, and C.J. Nitkowski, among others.
-Fox Sports 1 is also going all-in with ancillary shows, and is providing more than 60 hours of pre, post, and mid-game coverage, including 90 minute episodes of America’s Pregame.
-Keith Olbermann will not return to anchor TBS’s studio coverage of the MLB Playoffs because of scheduling issues. The studio show will instead be anchored by MLB Network Radio host Casey Stern, and feature Gary Sheffield and the long-awaited return of Pedro Martinez as analysts.
Posted: September 15, 2014 at 10:26 AM | 16 comment(s)
fox sports 1
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Hamburger Hill, in Colon’s case.
When the Rockies signed LaTroy Hawkins and said he’d be their highest-leverage reliever, we were all like, “Hey, what could go wrong? He’s only 41 and hasn’t done this job since 2004. And he’s got only two seasons in his whole career with more than 14 saves.”
Well, Monday night Hawkins collected his 21st save this season… How does Hawkins do it? Just like [Bartolo] Colon, with lots and lots of fastballs, although Hawkins does throw significantly harder, averaging around 93 miles an hour. And that’s the most interesting about him: Hawkins hasn’t lost anything off his fastball in a long time now. You’re supposed to lose something as you age. That’s what they always say, right? But Hawkins threw 93 in 2002 when he was 29, and he throws 93 in 2014 when he’s 41. He threw his slider 88 and his curveball 78 in 2004 when he was 31, and he throws his slider 88 and his curveball 78 in 2014 when heâs 41.
One more note about Hawkins ... As you might recall, he began his career as a highly regarded starting pitcher. Except that didn’t work out well, at all. After five seasons that included 98 starts and a 6.11 ERA, the Twins finally shifted Hawkins to relief duties, and in 15 years as a fireman— he hasn’t started a single game in the last 15 years— he’s posted a solid 3.25 ERA. Of course, many failed starters have enjoyed long careers as relievers. But I’m not sure many have done it as dramatically as LaTroy Hawkins.
Monday, August 25, 2014
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Look, I admire fans who have stuck with the Royals throughout the last 30 years. I mean, really stuck with them. Based on the Royals’ attendance over that span, there really can’t have been many of you. But if you’re one of them, I do admire you. I’m just not exactly like you.
My obsessive passions might have been able to survive my relocation from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest. They might have been able to survive my profession. They might even have been able to survive management’s gross incompetence for some decades. But my obsessive passions could not survive all three.
Okay? You got me. I’m a fair-weather fan who moved away 20 years ago and is supposed to write with some degree of objectivity. Don’t tell me how to enjoy baseball, though. Frankly, my friends, I don’t give a damn what you think about my passions. I love my fiancée, I love my dogs, I love Portland, I love the birds that visit my backyard, I love baseball stirrups … and somewhere, way down deep, it seems I still love the Kansas City Royals, at least a little bit. If that bothers you ... Well, I can’t really say that I’m sorry, because I haven’t done anything wrong. Instead I will ask you, politely, to keep your thoughts to yourself. After nearly 40 years of thinking about the Royals nearly every day, I think I should be allowed to enjoy this little stretch in my own however-foibled way.
Maybe he’d have loved the Royals all this time if they put a bird on it.
Monday, August 18, 2014
Get that dunce cap off your head and put it on Pedro Guerrero’s!
If I gave you a choice of any non-Kershaw major leaguer for the rest of the season, who would you choose?
Right: Mike Trout. Get that dunce cap off your head and move a little closer to my desk, right this minute.
And your second choice?
I’m not going to make you put the dunce cap back on if you don’t immediately think of Alex Gordon. But by this measure, he’s actually been the best player in the major leagues this season... [but] There’s no functional difference between 5.7 fWAR and 5.6 fWAR. Better to say those two have been the two best in the majors this season…
this is where I caution everyone, quite carefully: None of this means that the people at FanGraphs believe Alex Gordon is one of the two best players in the majors, or is as valuable as Mike Trout.
Every method has limitations, and we’re simply looking for the method with the fewest limitations. Wins Above Replacement is really good. But this version, anyway, seems to overrate really good corner outfielders like Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward. I think Gordon’s a great player. I’m just not sure he’s this great.
Friday, August 01, 2014
Gambit always fails.
Last winter, Matt Murphy noticed that a bunch of teams were signing veteran closers to good-sized contracts, even though the clubs already had impressive young closers-in-waiting. Was this merely fealty to Proven Closers run rampant? Or was something else going on?
Murphy focused on the A’s and found something else. Something really interesting. Murphy found that paying a veteran now means saving millions of dollars later, because your impressive young closers-in-waiting, if kept in setup roles for an extra season or two, won’t make as much money in the arbitration process. Because the arbitration is skewed, however ridiculously, toward saves.
Running the numbers, Murphy figured the A’s would save roughly $7 million on closer-in-waiting Ryan Cook’s salaries during his arbitration years, merely by keeping him out of the closer role in 2014. They’re paying [Jim] Johnson $10 million this season. But $10 million minus $7 million equals $3 million ... or Johnson’s effective cost in 2014…
I like the theory. But relief pitchers, leaving aside the elite, might just be too unstable for testing a theory that might cost you $10 million. Not to mention a few critical victories.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The future in sports journalism here - flannel-based reporting!
Welcome to Just a Bit Outside, coming to FOXSports.com on Wednesday. I’ve been doing this “work” for a long time now, and over the last 70-some years I’ve developed some pretty strong opinions when it comes to covering baseball on the Ultranet. You know, I was there at the beginning, covering such luminaries as Gus “No Shoulders” Wagner and Dale “Murderer” Sisler for the website of the Baltimore Picayune-Democrat, and I’ve seen it all. Having strong opinions is both a blessing (confidence!) and a curse (intolerance!). But it’s difficult to edit a website if you don’t know what you like….
What will you see here? You’ll see some familiar names and faces. Mine, of course. More than you would like, maybe (can’t complain about the price, though). But also two of the game’s top reporters, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi. And two of our smartest former players, Gabe Kapler and C.J. Nitkowski. We’ll be featuring, nearly every day, the best work of our partners at FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus. And we’ll have some surprises, too. You’ll notice that our masthead includes Jeff Garlin, a brilliantly talented actor, comedian, and filmmaker ... who also happens to love baseball as much as anyone you’ll meet. Jeff’s going to be contributing regularly to this page, and I just can’t wait to see what he comes up with.
I’ve grown tired of the term long-form ... isn’t that just the hipster’s way of saying good, well-developed story? But I’ll tell you right now, Just a Bit Outside is going to feature some really terrific stories in the next few months. I mean, I know it’s best to under-promise and over-deliver ... but damn if I’m not really excited about some of the stuff you’re going to see.
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