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Monday, February 04, 2013

Bill James Mailbag - 2/4/13

One of many interesting things here is that I don’t think the “Bard wanted to start” point has normally been hit quite so hard.

When teams make a trade, do they try to make sure that the trade works for both teams?

... It is pretty much universal that you have to protect your reputation in negotiations; in other words, you can’t say things about the players you are trading that are just not true, or it will ruin your reputation and make it hard for you to trade.  You can’t tell people that so-and-so is a great team leader if he’s really a turd. 

But to go to the next level, that you HAVE to try to make sure the other team gets value. . .not quite.  In a lot of businesses in which you make frequent transactions, you have to be sure you’re not shorting the other guy because… you get a reputation as somebody that people don’t want to trade with.  We might call it “Parity Discipline.” But in baseball, you don’t make THAT MANY trades; you might make a handful of meaningful trades a year.  You make a big trade with somebody; you probably don’t expect to make another trade with him for five years.  It’s not a big enough number of trades to enforce Parity Discipline.  If he’s dumb enough to trade you Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, that’s his problem, not yours.

[Earl] Weaver wrote extensively about [Earl] Williams in his autobiography—Weaver thought Williams had the tools to become a catcher, but Williams just didn’t want to do it, and the situation didn’t work out… How would you go about determining how a team should proceed in this situation?

It’s a mistake generally to try to make a player do something that he doesn’t want to do…

With the Red Sox, sometimes I have an idea to help the organization, and I KNOW that it’s a good idea, but I can’t get people to buy into it.  Same thing. ..you can “force” the idea forward sometimes, like putting Earl Williams at catcher, but it fails on the ground if the people who have to execute it don’t believe in it…

we had a reliever last year who wanted to start.  It was a complete bust, and he had a lost season. 

We regret the lost season, but do we second-guess ourselves for giving him a chance to start?  I don’t.  I don’t think most of us do.  Many times you CAN’T give the player the chance to do what he wants to do.  MOST of the time, you can’t give the player the chance to do what he wants to do… But when you CAN give a player a chance to do what he wants to do, you have to do it, because the players HAVE to buy into what you’re doing, or there is no chance that it is going to work.

Expansion, more divisions, wild-card, 2 wild-cards… Are you a fan of the growing opportunities for more teams to get a chance to win the World Series?

...If it was my choice, here’s what I’d do.  I’d add two teams, break them into four leagues of eight teams, and four teams would make the playoffs—period.  I think Wild Cards and small divisions, generally, cheapen the championship, and make the contest less interesting. 

It’s NOT about the best team winning.  The best team doesn’t win, most of the time, no matter how you run it.  If you put all 30 teams into one league and said that the only champion was the team that had the best record in the regular season, I doubt that the best team would win any more often.  It’s not about that… It’s about making THIS game important—the June 16 game between Atlanta and Seattle, let us say—it’s about making THIS game important because you have to win these games to earn the championship.

The District Attorney Posted: February 04, 2013 at 09:12 PM | 122 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: bill james, red sox, sabermetrics

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   1. Jim (jimmuscomp) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:15 AM (#4362833)
If he’s dumb enough to trade you Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, that’s his problem, not yours.


I so wish this example had the names Mike Napoli and Vernon Wells in there instead.
   2. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:27 AM (#4362836)
Definitely one of the better Bill James Mailbags. Although the habit of running a letter and then just saying "OK" to indicate that he agrees with it is something I have trouble getting used to.
   3. Austin Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:00 AM (#4362850)
If you put all 30 teams into one league and said that the only champion was the team that had the best record in the regular season, I doubt that the best team would win any more often.


I find this statement puzzling. He clearly means "best" in the sense of true talent, but it seems pretty obvious that the team with the best record is going to be the best true-talent team more often than the winner of an eight- or ten-team single-elimination tournament.
   4. smileyy Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:48 AM (#4362858)
[3] Yeah, I don't get it either. I don't know how better to evaluate teams.
   5. smileyy Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:52 AM (#4362860)
30 teams. 174 game season. 6 games against every other team: 3 home, 3 away.
   6. Austin Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:54 AM (#4362861)
Yeah, I don't get it either. I don't know how better to evaluate teams.

"Come watch the MS Excel World Series, where 30 spreadsheets duke it out for supremacy! Follow the riveting action as we take a weighted, age-adjusted average of each player's last three and current seasons and project team WAR totals!"

(The MS Excel World Series recently supplanted the Pythagenpat World Series.)
   7. McCoy Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:54 AM (#4362862)
He ain't the bible, folks.
   8. Cooper Nielson Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:25 AM (#4362870)
[Stan Javier] may be the best outfielder in the history of baseball who was never a regular.

I was a big fan of Javier with the A's and Giants in the '90s. He did a lot of things well, and though he was never a star, he was a guy you were happy to have in the lineup. I thought of him as a "regular" with the Giants, but I see that he never started more than 103 games in a season for them.

Any thought about James's statement here? Is he overlooking someone obvious?
   9. a bebop a rebop Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:07 AM (#4362874)
David Murphy fits that bill nicely, although he'll almost certainly be a regular this season.
   10. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:07 AM (#4362875)
With the Red Sox, sometimes I have an idea to help the organization, and I KNOW that it’s a good idea, but I can’t get people to buy into it.

Details woud be interesting. Maybe he'll write a book.
   11. Bhaakon Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:17 AM (#4362876)
Details woud be interesting. Maybe he'll write a book.


Maybe that 3-man rotation he suggested a few days ago. I get the feeling that he's more of a wild ideas guy than a hard boiled analyst at this point. I'd be more interest to see what he'd do as a consultant with a team more likely to implement some of his more off the wall suggestions, like the Rockies.
   12. Cooper Nielson Posted: February 05, 2013 at 03:42 AM (#4362879)
David Murphy fits that bill nicely, although he'll almost certainly be a regular this season.

Gary Roenicke doesn't compare to Javier in terms of defense or base-running, but he had a 117 career OPS+ over 1064 games, yet never had more than 477 plate appearances in a season.

His buddy John Lowenstein had a 108 OPS+ over 1368 games and could run the bases a bit (128 career SB -- though he was also caught 78 times). He might be disqualified under the "never a regular" condition, though, as he was pretty "regular" (132 games started) in 1974.
   13. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 05, 2013 at 04:28 AM (#4362881)
Lowenstein was never a regular because he couldn't hit lefties - lifetime .197/.255/.271 against them. Part of Weaver's genious is that he took players like that, and used him strictly against rightes, where he could do damage, and simply didn't bother trying to get him to hit lefties. He had platoon partners to do that.
   14. Honkie Kong Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:57 AM (#4362884)
Reed Johnson might be in the conversation ( best non-regular OF ).
Also depends on how you classify someone like Oquendo
   15. John Northey Posted: February 05, 2013 at 07:42 AM (#4362889)
My first thought was Tony Phillips - twice in his 18 year career he started over 2/3rds of the games at one position, the rest he was either a part timer or the super-utility guy.

In 1991 started...35 at 2B, 33 at 3B, 20 in LF, 17 in RF, 17 at DH, 10 at SS, and 6 in CF
In 1992 started...50 at 2B, 34 at DH, 29 in RF, 19 in CF, 14 in LF, 12 at 3B, and had 4 innings at SS

Over those 2 years he had a 120 OPS+ (279/380/412), played 305 games, scored 201 runs (led the league in 92). Talk about the ultimate team player - here was someone who could've been saying 'give me a steady position' but instead thrived while being shuffled all over the place. His next 3 years were also all over a 120 OPS+ covering age 32-36. Sparky Anderson loved having him on the team I'm sure.
   16. Walt Davis Posted: February 05, 2013 at 07:58 AM (#4362892)
Hmmmm ... with the assistance of PI

Sixto Lezcano maybe. He got a lot of starts in 2-3 seasons but otherwise not. Bake McBride was kinda similar. Another Weaver-ite, Rettenmund, had only one season over 400 PA, a 123 OPS+ and 19 WAR. Manny Mota is famous as a PH but also got 40-60 starts most seasons and put up a 112 OPS+ with 16 WAR. But I'm not sure any of them beat Javier who really did last forever for a bench OF.
   17. Soul Man Posted: February 05, 2013 at 09:25 AM (#4362903)
I wonder if he would still think Javier was so great if he realized that all of those OBPs he was quoting were actually his SLG...oops.
   18. bookbook Posted: February 05, 2013 at 09:55 AM (#4362916)
I'm sure it was Paul Abbott's career year.
But you can't quote Abbott's anomalous Win Loss record to make that point when the subject is the team's anomalous win loss record.
That's begging the question
   19. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4362921)
For some reason Brian Jordan jumped to mind despite not being qualified at all. Best outfielder to have only four seasons of 140+ games, maybe. In three of those seasons he got MVP votes. He played 15 years.
   20. BDC Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:42 AM (#4362964)
I was always a big fan of Gary Redus, who qualified for only two batting titles and played as many as 130 games only once. Redus kept materializing on teams I followed – the Phillies and later the Rangers – and did a heck of a lot of good things for a guy who hit .252 lifetime. Not sure if he really qualifies. He was a RHB who was often sort-of platooned, cutting down his playing time considerably, even though his platoon differential wasn't extraordinary (.723 RHP, .784 LHP: or is that extraordinary?)

I suspect your answer to this question will be tinged by what teams you followed. If there was some brilliant nonregular for the 1949 St Louis Browns, I'm probably not going to know his name. Or for the 2012 Arizona Diamondbacks, for that matter.
   21. GregD Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:44 AM (#4362969)
Yeah, I don't get it either. I don't know how better to evaluate teams.
I think he's factoring in not just teams' luck during the season but also the luck/chance involved in players getting injured, having unexpectedly better or worse seasons than you'd expect, etc. That at least fits with his effort to knock down the Mariners or to separate them from the late 90s Yankees, whom he thinks would have been great 98 times out of 100 (or something) if you played the season over and over in APBA.

On those terms, I see his point but it's really a point about team construction not performance. Some years the best-constructed team gets some injuries and bad luck and comes in third. Whether you want to call that the best team though depends on what you're asking.

   22. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4362978)
Jim Dwyer - 107 OPS+, never had 300 PAs in a season.

Russ Branyan - almost 200 HR, only once reached 400 PAs.

Cliff Johnson - 125 OPS+, only once reached 400 PAs.

Other good part-timers: John Wockenfuss, Greg Colbrunn, Dave Hansen, Glenallen Hill, Dave Magadan, Jerry Hairston Jr.
   23. Davo Dozier (Mastroianni) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4362986)
Rance Mullinkis? He finished his career with a 272/354/407 line (107 OPS+), splitting time between third and short. But, despite a 1300 game career, he never got over 450 PAs in a season.
   24. GregD Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:16 AM (#4363002)
I'm sure it's just a bad word choice, but I winced when Bill said Rickey Henderson and Branch Rickey were of different nationalities lie Stan Javier and Stan Musial. They not only share a nationality but a region; both were born in the Midwest.

Besides, Bill's facts seem wrong. I've read Rickey was named for Ricky Nelson, not Branch Rickey, right? Nelson is his middle name.
   25. Russ Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4363004)
First guy I thought about was Gary Redus, who was very good for the Pirates and pretty good overall... he was like Bizarro-Lowenstein, in that Redus smacked lefties and couldn't hit righties. Redus played even less often than Javier and had better numbers.

I wonder how James defines "a regular"... but Tony Phillips definitely seems to be the super-est of all the subs.
   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4363011)
randy bush
john vander wal

but bernie carbo has to be up there
   27. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4363016)
we had a reliever last year who wanted to start. It was a complete bust, and he had a lost season.

I now this is supposed to be Bard, but my first thought when reading this was that it referred to Aceves.
   28. Steve N Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:35 AM (#4363018)
Crispix, I never interpreted BJ's OKs as agreement. Just letting you have your say. Very neutral.
   29. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4363025)
Phillips was awesome, but he was pretty much a regular in his 30s wasn't he? He led the league in walks twice - hard to do that as a part-timer. I get he played all over the field though, not at just one position.
   30. Ron J2 Posted: February 05, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4363026)
#25 Redus actually had pretty normal platoon splits. 61 points of OPS (actually a smaller than average platoon split). He rarely played regularly because he had (among other things) chronic hamstring problems. (Chris Dial and I have discussed Redus fairly frequently in the past. Redus failed to turn into the player you could have hoped for in part because he lost a big chunk of his speed to an early injury -- and was rarely fully healthy after that)



Since it may be of interest: From an old study of mine. Career platoon splits.
vs Left             vs Right
Bats    BA  OBP  SLG  OPS   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS  diff  OA
Right .280 .354 .457 .811 .260 .325 .411 .736 .075 .761
 Left .273 .342 .404 .746 .296 .377 .472 .849 .103 .814
 Both .259 .325 .368 .693 .258 .331 .370 .701 .008 .698 


Diff is OPS on the better side - OPS on the weaker side
OA is overall OPS

Looks like the switch-hitters at least avoided platoon splits. Not really. It's just that the mix of switch hitters who hit better against left and right respectively is such that as a group they
produce broadly the same numbers versus left and right.

Here's how they break down at the career level

OPS diff       Both Left Right
176 
or more     12%  14%   3%
126 to 175       8%  27%  13%
76 to 125       17%  24%  29%
26 to 75        34%  27%  41%
25 to -25       29%   8%  12%
-
26 to -75                 2%
-
76 or more                1


EDIT: To be clear, by definition there are no switch hitters with a reverse platoon split. Only 29% of switch-hitters have an OPS differenc eof 25 points or less between their strong and weak side.
   31. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4363048)
I'd be more interest to see what he'd do as a consultant with a team more likely to implement some of his more off the wall suggestions, like the Rockies.


The second he suggested that instead of running the bases after games, little boys be allowed to shower with the coaches, he'd probably be gone.
   32. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4363050)
What?
   33. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:25 PM (#4363057)
See the thread(s) awhile back in which James was takinig up for his buddy Posnanski & said buddy's slurping idolatry of Joe Paterno by saying that when he was growing up in the Midwest, boys showering with grown men was the most natural thing in the world, & therefore accounts of Sandusky's after-hours locker-room depredations understandably could never, ever, ever have raised any eyebrows.
   34. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:33 PM (#4363071)
Bill James doubles down on the Joe Paterno defense

At the 14:10 mark Gottlieb asks James, “have you ever showered with a boy? Do you know anybody who has showered with a boy?” James says “Yes, that was actually quite common in the town I grew up in. That was quite common in America 40 years ago.”

   35. AROM Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4363078)
It was common 30 years ago, for males of all ages to use a large communal shower before going into the YMCA pool. I don't know how things are done today. We don't belong to a pool, and I've got 2 daughters, so if we went to one it's my wife's problem.

I did have to give my feline son a shower once after he knocked over some paint and got it all over his fur. I was fully clothed though, more than that, I had battle armor and thick gloves on. He still had all his claws at that point.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4363091)
See the thread(s) awhile back in which James was takinig up for his buddy Posnanski & said buddy's slurping idolatry of Joe Paterno by saying that when he was growing up in the Midwest, boys showering with grown men was the most natural thing in the world, & therefore accounts of Sandusky's after-hours locker-room depredations understandably could never, ever, ever have raised any eyebrows.

I was a young boy 35 years ago, and I never saw, or even heard of adult males showering with boys.
   37. SoSH U at work Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4363099)
It was common 30 years ago, for males of all ages to use a large communal shower before going into the YMCA pool. I don't know how things are done today. We don't belong to a pool, and I've got 2 daughters, so if we went to one it's my wife's problem.


It's still somewhat common at community pools and YMCAs, probably those with older showering facilities. It happens primarily by accident, as a young boy enters the communal facility when an older man is there, or vice versa. These are places with wide-open bathrooms, with other pool users and staff members regularly walking through the facility. Frequently, one or more of the individuals is in full bathing suit.

It was never common for a lone male to be showering with a young boy at 9 p.m. in an otherwise locked-up university athletic facility. That wasn't common ever, except maybe ancient Greece.
   38. bjhanke Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:12 PM (#4363106)
Honkie Kong (#14) - I would classify Jose Oquendo as one hell of a backup shortstop. Actually, I'd class him as one of the top shortstops in baseball, at least defensively. It wasn't his fault he was on the same team as Ozzie Smith, with a second and third baseman (Tommie Herr and Ken Oberkfell) who had very similar skills, were entrenched, and didn't have Jose's flexibility. Offensively, he had no power, although he hit for decent averages and took lots of walks, so he was actually a quality hitter. I also classify Oquendo as the single greatest waste of talent in the 1980s. There weren't six teams in the game for whom he would not have been the starting shortstop, and he'd have been the starting 2B or 3B on those teams, and on several of them, he would have been the best leadoff man despite a lack of running speed. The Mets tried calling him up when he was a teenager because he was the only guy in the organization who could actually play infield and wasn't already starting. He didn't hit, because he was too young, so the Mets just sent him back down to the minors and forgot about him. Whitey Herzog, who had been in the Mets' front office, had not forgotten Oquendo. He liberated Jose from New York to the Cardinals, gave him one minor league year to get himself settled in, and then promoted him, only to find that he had no spot for him to play. Oberkfell finally left 3B, but only to make way for Terry Pendelton, whom Whitey thought could hit for reasonable power, which he could - in the Launching Pad, not Busch Stadium.

Classifying Jose as an outfielder at all is wrong, even if that's where he played the most games. He played wherever someone got hurt, but, in the absence of Herr, Smith and Oberkfell/Pendelton, his primary position would have been shortstop, then 2B, then 3B. Herr, Smith and Oberkfell didn't get hurt all that much, and I think that Whitey made one of his few mistakes playing Pendelton ahead of Oquendo. - Brock Hanke
   39. Shredder Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:15 PM (#4363110)
I find this statement puzzling. He clearly means "best" in the sense of true talent, but it seems pretty obvious that the team with the best record is going to be the best true-talent team more often than the winner of an eight- or ten-team single-elimination tournament.
Maybe, but the problem with determining who "the best team" is at the end of the season is that the season is really long. Even a soccer style system, where everyone plays a full round robin and you give the trophy to the team with the best record at the end doesn't identify "the best team" (though the difference between the top 1 or 2 teams and everyone else in most Euro leagues is so vast, this kind of gets masked). It identifies the team that had the best season, even if they weren't really the best team at any given time. More likely, it identifies a really good team that didn't have any major injuries.

I've always though it impossible to create a system that will produce a consensus "best team" ever time. Sometimes there will be a "best team", and sometimes (most of the time?) that team may win the championship. But as long as your system produces a team that everyone can agree deserved to win the championship, it should work. That's why college football's system has always seemed lacking, especially in comparison to college basketball. The best team may not win the NCAA basketball tournament, but no one ever says they didn't deserve to win the championship.
   40. bunyon Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:16 PM (#4363111)
Yeah, I don't get it either. I don't know how better to evaluate teams.

I think he's factoring in not just teams' luck during the season but also the luck/chance involved in players getting injured, having unexpectedly better or worse seasons than you'd expect, etc. That at least fits with his effort to knock down the Mariners or to separate them from the late 90s Yankees, whom he thinks would have been great 98 times out of 100 (or something) if you played the season over and over in APBA.

On those terms, I see his point but it's really a point about team construction not performance. Some years the best-constructed team gets some injuries and bad luck and comes in third. Whether you want to call that the best team though depends on what you're asking.


There is also expected spread. If one team is, "true-talent" 10 games better than the 2nd place team, they'll usually win. But if it's only one or two games then, even over 162 games, the 2nd place team is going to tie or finish a game ahead a lot of the time. I think a lot of us who favor "best record" wins fail to acknowledge that there isn't a whole lot of difference between a 99-63 team and a 97-65 team.

What I think you get with fewer divisions and wild-cards is a much reduced chance of an 85 or 88 win team beating a 99 or 102 win team over a short series. I mean, if a 98-64 team beats a 101-61 team in the world series, I don't know how many of us get upset about it. It's when the 86 win wild card wins that the current system looks wonky. With a regular season only championship, you don't have that problem. You also don't have that problem with no interleague. If a 90 win AL team beats a 100 win NL team in the World Series, with no interleague one simply concludes the AL was a tougher league, even though the World Series doesn't prove that.
   41. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4363121)
It was never common for a lone male to be showering with a young boy at 9 p.m. in an otherwise locked-up university athletic facility. That wasn't common ever, except maybe ancient Greece.


Yes, this is the key here. After hours. An empty locker room. Nobody else there. The kid's parents not there. And not a locker room like the YMCA that was open to the general public or to people with a membership.

And what is the point, exactly? That when McQueary went to Paterno with an eye witness account of child sex abuse Paterno would have been justified in thinking, "Pshaw, showering with a boy was actually quite common in the town I grew up in. That was quite common in America 30 years ago.”
   42. Shredder Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:26 PM (#4363125)
It's when the 86 win wild card wins that the current system looks wonky.
But again, with injuries, trades, call-ups, etc., that 86-76 team playing the playoffs might look significantly different the team that actually played the bulk of those 162 games. I think you'd definitely see a lot less action around the trade deadline in a regular season championship league. Probably wouldn't even need a trade deadline.
   43. bunyon Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4363140)
But again, with injuries, trades, call-ups, etc., that 86-76 team playing the playoffs might look significantly different the team that actually played the bulk of those 162 games. I think you'd definitely see a lot less action around the trade deadline in a regular season championship league. Probably wouldn't even need a trade deadline.

Oh, sure.
   44. just plain joe Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4363150)
I did have to give my feline son a shower once after he knocked over some paint and got it all over his fur. I was fully clothed though, more than that, I had battle armor and thick gloves on. He still had all his claws at that point.


Is there video of this? I remember trying to bathe the dog in the bathtub. He didn't care for it and shook water all over me, my wife and the bathroom. All subsequent baths were given in the driveway using the hose (in warm weather). Surprisingly he didn't really object to this, he would stand there placidly while we shampooed him and then rinsed him off with the garden hose.
   45. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 05, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4363153)
jpj

we have multiple house dogs and the wife bathes them down in the basement in the winter. she sings silly songs to them the whole time and they just stand there with sad expressions on their face. but they stand there.

i handle the bathings when it's skunk related.
   46. GregD Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:12 PM (#4363173)
My high school coach would occasionally--not frequently--come in and shower in our communal locker room. But we were 16-18 years old, not 9, and all in there together. I never remember it making me either comfortable or uncomfortable or any more or less so than being in there with all the other guys on the team. I can't conceive of comparing something like that--which didn't strike my protective parents as odd--to what McQueary reported. Ray is correct that it is the alone and private nature--and the age of the kid--that makes the situation so bizarre even compared, I assume, to the Kansas of Bill James' youth.
   47. AROM Posted: February 05, 2013 at 02:23 PM (#4363183)
Is there video of this?


Sorry, but no. It was in 2001 or 2002. Before every phone had a video feature or Youtube. Besides, I would have needed at least 7 hands to properly handle him. Having only 2 I could not have held a camera. I was single back then so I didn't have anyone else to hold a camera.

The cat is still around, active, trim, and in good health. He learned his lesson and I've never had to bathe him since.
   48. Walt Davis Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:37 PM (#4363374)
FYI, I only tried to answer the question as to backup OF. I also assumed James was talking about all-around skill/value. A lot of the guys mentioned above were good hitters but not necessarily good at other things. For example, I thought of Vander Wal too and he was a good bench hitter, especially in his prime (then he was mostly strictly a PH which is hard on the OPS). But Vander Wal has only 5 career WAR and somewhat negative WAA. Javier had 23 WAR and 7 WAA in 5800 PA. Granted, half that WAR and nearly all the WAA came in the years when he was around 500 PA but that's still a much better player than Vander Wal.

Javier also contributed everywhere according to WAR. +50 on the bases is very impressive in 5800 PA. +13 on Rdp, + 37 in the field, essentially 0 dWAR which is roughly an average defensive CF. That really is a great bench player.

I think he's factoring in not just teams' luck during the season but also the luck/chance involved in players getting injured, having unexpectedly better or worse seasons than you'd expect, etc.

That's all true but you don't even need that. Even if God tells you a team is a "true 600 WP" team, the sampling variation (i.e. randomness) on that is quite large in a 162 sample -- one SD is about 6.5 wins. Obviously two teams' records aren't fully independent if they play each other but, quick and dirty assuming they are, the SD on the difference in victories between two teams is 9. So even if the true difference is 5 wins (pretty big gap between best and 2nd best team), the lesser team would still win more games about 25-30% of the time.

In the grand scheme of things, 162 is still a quite small sample. You'll notice that political polls tend to shoot for around 1000 respondents ... that's because that's where the 95% confidence interval (+/- two SDs) is +/- 3 percentage points. At a sample size of 162, that 95% confidence interval is about +/- 8 percentage points or +/- 13 wins. A 162 season isn't anywhere near long enough to determine the best team with much accuracy.

(Again, those numbers assume each team's record is independent of other teams' records which is not true. Technically it is also assuming they played the same schedule and their chances of winning each individual game were constant. But controlling for those things isn't going to make much difference. Just look at some of the pre-season standings simulations for an idea of the variation when those things are taken into account.)
   49. geonose Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:41 PM (#4363379)
BATHING THE CAT

1. Put both lids of the toilet up and add the required amount of pet
shampoo to the water in the bowl.

2. Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the
bathroom.

3. In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both
lids.
You may need to stand on the lid.

4.The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the
noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.

5. Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a
"power-wash" and "rinse."

6. Have someone open the door to the outside. Be sure that there are
no people between the toilet and the outside door.

7. Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both
lids.

8. The cat will rocket out of the toilet, and run outside where he
will dry himself off.

9. Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean!


DISCLAIMER: In no way do I advocate the cleansing of felines in toilets.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:43 PM (#4363382)
My high school coach would occasionally--not frequently--come in and shower in our communal locker room. But we were 16-18 years old, not 9, and all in there together. I never remember it making me either comfortable or uncomfortable or any more or less so than being in there with all the other guys on the team.

I played HS baseball, and no one ever showered in the gym. We all just went home. I mean we were going home anyway, why change out of your uni at school?
   51. Greg K Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:46 PM (#4363388)
I played HS baseball, and no one ever showered in the gym. We all just went home. I mean we were going home anyway, why change out of your uni at school?

I played on a couple high school teams, and of course took gym every year. Our school had showers, but I don't recall ever seeing a person use them.
   52. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:49 PM (#4363392)
I played on a couple high school teams, and of course took gym every year. Our school had showers, but I don't recall ever seeing a person use them.

same
   53. smileyy Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:52 PM (#4363395)
At a sample size of 162, that 95% confidence interval is about +/- 8 percentage points or +/- 13 wins.


I'm having a little bit of a hard time buying this, but its possible that I'm not smart enough and/or educated enough on this topic. But it sounds like you're saying that we can't tell if an 81-81 team is a .500 team, or a really lucky 68 win team, or a really unlucky 94 win team? That doesn't sound right, but I'm willing to be educated :)
   54. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 05:57 PM (#4363400)
I know we showered after 7th-grade basketball practice, but if the coach (or Bill James) had walked in & joined, we'd have been pretty taken aback.

This was (& of course still is) a very small, very poor town; I suspect that for some of those kids, this was the only hot shower they were going to get. Hell, it was for me, too; we had a bathtub, but no shower.
   55. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4363403)
Yeah, I played on my HS baseball team too. Nobody used the showers. We just went home after practice or a game.

I play tennis now at a club in NYC. I'm not a member, but have access to the facilities. (FYI, the locker room doesn't even have a door.) Sometimes -- always before 7pm or 8pm and never late at night -- there are kids in the locker room with their father or with their father milling about in the lounge outside waiting for the kid. The kids are never alone per se, and never use the showers. The men use the showers, but the kids don't.
   56. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:00 PM (#4363404)
"Come watch the MS Excel World Series, where 30 spreadsheets duke it out for supremacy! Follow the riveting action as we take a weighted, age-adjusted average of each player's last three and current seasons and project team WAR totals!"


Funny, but I bet at least a dozen Primates read this with one hand under the desk.
   57. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:05 PM (#4363409)
Our school had showers, but I don't recall ever seeing a person use them.

Showers were a mandatory part of our gym class from 7th grade through high school. That was back in the day when there was (occasional) vigorous exercise, and we also had a swimming pool. And the YMCA had just a bank of showers used by all the males of whatever age were present. Of course, as noted above, the fact that was common doesn't mean the Penn State shower scene wouldn't have raised suspicions.
   58. Shredder Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:10 PM (#4363412)
I played HS baseball, and no one ever showered in the gym. We all just went home. I mean we were going home anyway, why change out of your uni at school?
Ditto for high school cross-country. And in the spring I played golf, and usually we didn't even go back to school after practices or matches. We were "required" to take showers after P.E. in junior high, but that basically consisted of putting a towel around your waist, walking into the shower area, and walking directly back out.
   59. Gonfalon B. Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:13 PM (#4363417)
I've read Rickey was named for Ricky Nelson, not Branch Rickey, right? Nelson is his middle name.

Henderson was a travelin' man who made a lot of stops all over the world.
   60. zonk Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:17 PM (#4363420)
If there was a Primey for "Threads you absolutely, positively must read from the top down, rather than bottom up" -- this one would win....
   61. bunyon Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:21 PM (#4363423)
I think it depends on when your gym period is. In junior high, our gym period was immediately after lunch (not good timing) and most of us (occasionally) showered before going back to class. In high school, it was last period, practice (if you were on a team) went long and everyone just went home. As stated above, if you're just going home, why shower? But if you're going back to class, it's not a bad idea.

And, along with everyone else, it was always a group. Adults may be around and maybe infrequently showering, but no kid was ever alone with an adult in the shower.
   62. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4363427)
But if you're going back to class, it's not a bad idea.

I don't know, but we all did it. Even with gym in the morning, we just got dressed and went back to class.

The logistics alone made showering impractical. There were no towels or supplies provided, so you'd have to schlep your own towel, soap, shampoo. And then, what do yo do with all the wet towels afterwards? Really don't want to leave them in your locker all day.
   63. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 05, 2013 at 06:28 PM (#4363428)
I think a lot of us who favor "best record" wins fail to acknowledge that there isn't a whole lot of difference between a 99-63 team and a 97-65 team.


And most of the time, the top teams are tightly bunched at the top of the standings. Over the past decade, only three teams have led MLB in wins by more than three: The 2004 Cardinals, the 2009 Yankees, and the 2011 Phillies.
   64. LargeBill Posted: February 05, 2013 at 07:46 PM (#4363471)
The whole nonsense about communal showers being common or uncommon is meaningless. We had them at school at the Y and in the military. Doesn't matter. Rule number one is key your eyes to yourself (not to mention your hands). Sanduskey was an old guy naked wrestling (and then some) with pre-teen boys. No where is this or has this been acceptable.
   65. Greg K Posted: February 05, 2013 at 07:53 PM (#4363475)
Rule number one is key your eyes to yourself

That's just silly. How else am I supposed to keep up to speed on all the new showering techniques?
   66. zonk Posted: February 05, 2013 at 09:41 PM (#4363523)

That's just silly. How else am I supposed to keep up to speed on all the new showering techniques?


That's what the internet is for -- as I constantly have to remind my boss whenever he shows up at my desk unannounced.
   67. DanG Posted: February 06, 2013 at 12:06 AM (#4363592)
[Stan Javier] may be the best outfielder in the history of baseball who was never a regular.
The premise is not literally true. Javier qualified for the batting title in 1994, 95 and 97. He played in 130+ games in five seasons. In 1994 he was the A's everyday CF, the starter there in 97 of their 114 games that year. Again in 1995 Javier started 111 of the team's 144 games in the OF (CF/LF).

You'd have to have an extreme definition of "regular" to say that Stan Javier was never one in his career.
   68. Walt Davis Posted: February 06, 2013 at 01:27 AM (#4363620)
In 1994 he was the A's everyday CF, the starter there in 97 of their 114 games that year. Again in 1995 Javier started 111 of the team's 144 games in the OF (CF/LF).

Eh, we all get thrown off by the strike years. Outside of that ... Javier did indeed qualify for the batting title twice ... with 504 and 510 PAs. One of those was 95 and you could add 94 when he would have hit 600+ but, like I said, we often forget that the totals in those years will be low.

Given 502 PA is a pretty low threshold for "qualified", requiring only about 2/3 of a season, I wouldn't hold that strict a guideline for a statement like the one James made, especially since Javier barely cleared it. (The strike year objections, especially 94, are legit.)
   69. Walt Davis Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:16 AM (#4363632)
I'm having a little bit of a hard time buying this

It's the binomial distribution if you want to go searching further. There's an excel function =binomdist if you want to play around with it.

Remove baseball and make it coin flipping and assume that it's a fair coin tossed in a fair way (50% probability of heads on every flip).

You are going to toss this coin 162 times. You expect to get 81 heads. But, of course, you usually won't get exactly 81 heads -- that's the randomness. About 2.5% of the time, you will toss 68 or fewer heads; about 2.5% of the time you will toss 94 or more heads. The "95% confidence interval" is the bit in-between. About 2/3 of the outcomes (assuming you had an infinite number of sets of 162 flips) will be within one standard deviation which is about 6.5 heads, so 2/3 of the time our 500 team should finish with roughly 75-87 wins.

It gets more complicated in trying to determine how likely it is that one set of flips (with say a 55% chance of being heads) will be beaten by a set of flips from a 50% coin. That requires a "joint" confidence interval but I just guesstimated. Also, the sets of flips aren't completely independent -- i.e. when the Yanks beat the Red Sox, the Red Sox lose to the Yanks. The standard deviation on the difference probably is less than 9 wins but not by much I'd guess.

Anyway, the binomial is pretty easy to figure out:

p = probability of "success" (heads, win)
n = number of trial (flips, games)

expected successes (or average over an infinite number of sets of n flips) = p*n
variance of the number of successes = p*(1-p)*n

The standard deviation (SD) is the square root of that variance and an approximate 95% confidence interval is:

p*n +/- 2*SD

If you want to do it in terms of proportions, there are related formulas or just take the SD and divide it by n.

So for p=.5 and n=162

expected = 81 wins
variance = .5*.5*162 = .25*162 = 40.8 (the unit here is technically wins-squared which is useless)
SD = 6.4 wins

A nice thing about the binomial in baseball. See the p*(1-p) part. That reaches its maximum a .5 -- i.e. .25 -- but note its value when p=.6 (or .4) ... then it's .24 which is nearly identical to .25. So for any reasonable range of "true" team winning percentages, the variance and SD are going to be essentially the same.

Now, the assumptions. The binomial distribution assumes that the probability is constant with each flip. It also assumes that the outcome of one flip has no effect on the outcome of the next flip. The first certainly does not hold (today you're facing Verlander, tomorrow you're facing Volstad or just home/road). The second may not hold (i.e. yesterday's win created momentum). But that first one isn't going to matter very much -- as long as the p of any game is in the range of about .3 to .7 (see the equal variance statement above)* and as long as the overall mean probability is p, the standard formula will provide an excellent approximation. Similarly, unless there is a strong relationship between yesterday's outcome and today's, adjusting for that lack of independence is not going to matter very much.

What does potentially matter is injuries. Let's say Miguel Cabrera probably adds a true 5 wins above an average player but that otherwise the Tigers are a true 500 team. So we expect them to win 86 games coming into the season (p=.530) and he's healthy for the first half of the year. Then he gets hurt and they have to replace him with a replacement level player. Now they've lost his 5 wins above average plus his 2 wins to get to average and are now a "true 79 win (.490 WP)" team for the second half. Now, obviously, any projection that assumed they'd be a p=.530 team for the whole season is likely to overestimate their number of wins. In replaying the season, you would simulate them as a true .51 team.

The binomial is probably a better approximation to something like OBP than team records because the independence assumption, both within a batter's PAs and between batters, is probably quite close to being true (esp if you controlled for pitcher). So a "true 350 OBP" hitter in 600 PA:

expected times on base = .35 * 600 = 210
variance = (.35)(.65)600 = 136.5
SD = 11.7

expressed in OBP terms, the 95% confidence interval is 311 to 389. That's all purely due to randomness, nothing to do with injuries, PEDs, being in the best/worst shape of his life. That's strictly God rolling dice with the universe.

This is why one season of 600 PAs is not enough to base accurate projections on. Well, if 600 PA is not enough to do accurate projections, wouldn't 162 be even less accurate?

If you didn't understand any of the previous, then think of it in those terms. You know it's a "given" in baseball analysis that last year really doesn't tell you too much about this year because of "small sample size". Well, that small sample size is 600. 162 is a lot smaller than 600. That's the point I was trying to make about election polls. 1000 respondents gets you +/- 3 percentage points. 162 respondents obviously gets you nowhere close to that level of accuracy but even 3 percentage points is still 5 wins in a 162 season.

So, alas, to say with 95% confidence that a team is truly better than a 500 team, you need about 94 wins. Now, there's no law that says you need 95% confidence. For 80% confidence, you might only need 8-9 wins.

* In terms of single games. a true 600 team vs a true 400 team is probably something like a 70% chance of victory for the true 600 team -- who would have about a 50% chance against the other top teams in the league. A true 600 team at home against a 400 team might even get to 75-80%. But even when the occasional game is greater than .7, that won't have too much impact on the variance across the whole season.
   70. Shoebo Posted: February 06, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4363664)
"Ken Phelps !! Ken Phelps!!
   71. BDC Posted: February 06, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4363675)
Walt's excellent and clear post in #69 helps explain my enjoyment of playoffs and title games, and my distrust of metrics that attempt to state with confidence that a given team is superior over a regular season in most sports. Unless you get to the point of the '72 Lakers or the '96 Bulls – indeed, the NBA seems to be the only major sport where the regular season is truly "long enough" to produce such teams semi-regularly – even a very long regular season is not long enough to produce a single definitively superior team. (Well, maybe the '27 Yankees, but as noted, baseball produces such teams very, very rarely.)

So my philosophy is, accept that. Live with it, love it. Stop feeling betrayed when an 88-win team beats a 95-win team in a short series to win a pennant. It's just a game, after all; they play them for the fun of seeing who will win.

This also helps explain my bewilderment at people who tell me that the current BCS system is ideal because it clearly identifies the two strongest college football teams, as if two given 12-0 and 11-1 teams from a pack of ten or twelve 12-0, 11-1, and 10-2 teams have miraculously distinguished themselves thanks to the power of mathematical analysis. I'm for more meaningful football games! If they are not definitive either (no single game can be), they become meaningful by virtue of having meaning assigned to them: i.e., this game is for the right to play in a national semifinal, rather than the right to have your name inscribed on the Meineke Car Care Trophy.
   72. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 06, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4363692)
I played on a couple high school teams, and of course took gym every year. Our school had showers, but I don't recall ever seeing a person use them.

Man, am I glad I didn't go to your school, unless all you did in gym was sit around and analyze baseball statistics. What's the point in having showers if nobody uses them?

I played HS baseball, and no one ever showered in the gym. We all just went home. I mean we were going home anyway, why change out of your uni at school?

You wore your uniforms home? What about after an away game? Did the team bus just drop you off at home as if it were the end of the school day? Or did your transportation to games consist of 25 players, 25 cars?

And if these showers weren't used after practice, after games, or after gym classes, then who did use them? The faculty skank? The resident Sanduskys? Anyone else?
   73. bunyon Posted: February 06, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4363696)
And if these showers weren't used after practice, after games, or after gym classes, then who did use them? The faculty skank? The resident Sanduskys? Anyone else?

Well, I do know of at least two people who lost their virginity in the gym shower. So, they had some use.


And, yeah, where I lived it was 25 players, 25 cars (or, rather, 11 players, 10 cars, as we only had 11 players and two were brothers). Actually, make it 9 cars as I lived a block from the field.
   74. BDC Posted: February 06, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4363699)
I suspect some generation gap here. I'm 54; I know Andy is d'un certain âge :) There were showers in my high-school gym in the early 1970s, and we showered after gym, after cross-country runs. And as I've noted before, there was not the slightest chance in hell that any teacher or coach would ever shower along with us. There was no need, anyway; those guys notoriously did nothing but stand around looking at clipboards. Perhaps there was some earlier generation where men bathed with boys, maybe in the time of Cato the Elder, but it wasn't in the United States in the mid-20th-century. That's the main point here. God knows what Bill James is remembering.
   75. Russ Posted: February 06, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4363725)
That's all purely due to randomness, nothing to do with injuries, PEDs, being in the best/worst shape of his life. That's strictly God rolling dice with the universe.


If He's rolling them independently, which He likely isn't. However, I'm not sure if the dependence on outcomes in baseball should be negative or positive.

Case for positive dependence (which means actual variance is actually higher than you've calculated): You tend to see clusters of lineups in a season, teams play series against other teams in close temporal sequence, hitters typically have at bats against the same starting pitcher / pitchers are seeing the same batters multiple times through the lineup.

Case for negative dependence (which means the actual variance is lower than you've calculated): Team strategy in adjusting to hot / cold streaks, teams swapping out players for better players, teams trying to improve during the season. The negative dependence would force the observed winning percentage to cluster more tightly around the true ability of the team.

And of course all of this assumes that a team has constant ability over the course of the season, which is likely to be not true (which would mean the variance is even bigger than you would expect). In other words, trying to use the data from baseball for anything but prediction is hard, e.g. trying to estimate the true ability of a team or player. It's much easier (although not necessarily easy) to simply try to predict what they'll do next year than estimating their true ability in a given season, because in some sense you don't care what their true ability is if you're interested in prediction (and you can readily evaluate the performance of your model).
   76. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: February 06, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4363792)
bdc

i have worked to be restrained because i want to think that james has some basis for this contention but as someone who did manual labor from age 5 on up including working on threshing crews as a lad of 12-16 i don't have a d8mn clue what the h8ll he is using as reference

i lived in the midwest (and still do). group showering is and has been a very foreign concept save perhaps in the depression or lice outbreak (or similar)
   77. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4363809)
It's still somewhat common at community pools and YMCAs, probably those with older showering facilities. It happens primarily by accident, as a young boy enters the communal facility when an older man is there, or vice versa. These are places with wide-open bathrooms, with other pool users and staff members regularly walking through the facility. Frequently, one or more of the individuals is in full bathing suit.


Yeah, this. I was on the swim team all through school, and the coach would sometimes shower in the same communal shower that we used after practice. No big deal. Swimming has, as you would expect, the sort of culture where nobody really thinks much about being half-naked around lots of other people - it's just the way things work.

It's the specific circumstances (after hours, locked, nobody else there, etc.) that make Sandusky's shower hinky, not the mere fact that he was showering with a kid.
   78. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 06, 2013 at 12:39 PM (#4363847)
I suspect some generation gap here. I'm 54; I know Andy is d'un certain âge :) There were showers in my high-school gym in the early 1970s, and we showered after gym, after cross-country runs. And as I've noted before, there was not the slightest chance in hell that any teacher or coach would ever shower along with us. There was no need, anyway; those guys notoriously did nothing but stand around looking at clipboards.

Just to be clear, that was the case in my school, too. Their biggest form of physical exertion was to shout "200 BURPEES, HERSH!" at the top of their lungs, which mostly seemed to be an exercise of the veins in their necks.
   79. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 01:22 PM (#4363898)
You wore your uniforms home? What about after an away game? Did the team bus just drop you off at home as if it were the end of the school day? Or did your transportation to games consist of 25 players, 25 cars?

The bus dropped us off at the HS, where we either had our cars parked, or someone came to pick us up. We had to wash our own unis, so no reason not to wear them home.

I was driving a '79 Chevy Nova, so wasn't concerned about getting sweat on my lovely vinyl seats.
   80. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: February 06, 2013 at 01:40 PM (#4363917)
And if these showers weren't used after practice, after games, or after gym classes, then who did use them? The faculty skank? The resident Sanduskys? Anyone else?

Don't ask me, I didn't put them there. I went to HS in the mid-90's and as far as I know this was universal. Every gym had a locker room and showers, no one knew anyone who had ever used them - not after practice, definitely not after games, and certainly not after gym class. I'd guess the ones at my school didn't even work. Swim team was probably different, but they swam at the pool, not at school.
   81. Austin Posted: February 06, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4363924)
Yeah, the only use the showers got in PE classes in my middle or high school was after swimming, where people could wash the chlorine off themselves without actually undressing. (I believe many of the athletes actually did use the showers regularly after practice.) I think it's the kind of thing where a culture gets established and either everybody showers after gym class, or nobody does. Our school was definitely the latter - at that age, we were all too shy and/or worried about taunting to undress completely. And the sweat was really never a problem; that's what deodorant and a change of clothes are for, right? I don't remember ever detecting B.O. from anybody, which in retrospect is fairly remarkable.
   82. Greg K Posted: February 06, 2013 at 01:46 PM (#4363928)
There was no need, anyway; those guys notoriously did nothing but stand around looking at clipboards.

Lucky. My high school gym teachers were either
A) the current captain of a World Championship lacrosse team
or
B) Insane long-distance runners

Every class started with a few miles of running. After that they more or less ignored us. The gym was divided in two and half of us played floor hockey the other half basketball. Come to think of it, I very rarely saw the teacher after the run.
   83. Greg K Posted: February 06, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4363933)
I suspect some generation gap here.

I suspect the same. Never in my life would I have thought that trends in group showering among adolescent males would be interesting...but the fact that the experiences related in this thread seem to suggest a generational shift in (to use the dreaded term) cultural norms, I find at least mildly interesting. (Perhaps a 0.5 out of 10 on the fascination scale)
   84. smileyy Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:01 PM (#4363963)
[69] Thanks for the explanation, Walt. I was a math major in college, but I skipped the entire statistics side of the curriculum (Calculus rules! Stats droolz!) Anyway, I suspect what's not sitting right are my own assumptions -- mainly that I'm inferring a "true talent level" from results, which as you've pointed out, is flawed.
   85. smileyy Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4363966)
[81] This was my experience with high school as well.

Also, unless the school is providing towel service, nobody wants middle/high school students dealing with their own damp towels. I'm picturing rows of lockers encased in mildew.
   86. smileyy Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:05 PM (#4363970)
Also, re: showers, nudity, as I grew older, I was shocked to find out that semi-casual nudity wasn't the norm among families. Its not like we would hang out with our bits out but neither did anybody really worry about walking naked from the shower to the bedroom after drying off.
   87. philphan Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:11 PM (#4363980)
Yeah, the shower issue definitely has a generational aspect to it. I graduated from (a small-town) high school in 1973, and both in junior high and in high school, you were expected to shower after gym class. Many kids had vinyl "gym bags" (with the school mascot/logo) that you carried around with you, or just a bag that you chucked into your locker until the end of the day.

And the baseball team generally showered together after home games and then went our separate ways. Probably at least half of the guys walked home afterwards, but the school washed your uni, so it wouldn't make a huge amount of sense to walk home (or be driven home) still wearing it.

I believe that the coaches would also often take showers along with the team, because between hitting fungos before the game and getting worked up like raving lunatics during the game, by the end they were pretty sweaty also. But nobody thought much about it.
   88. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4363988)
Also, re: showers, nudity, as I grew older, I was shocked to find out that semi-casual nudity wasn't the norm among families. Its not like we would hang out with our bits out but neither did anybody really worry about walking naked from the shower to the bedroom after drying off.


We didn't all grow up on communes, you filthy hippie.
   89. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4364017)
No showers at my tiny high school, but there were definitely showers in junior high (late 70's). We were supposed to shower after gym class, and some did but others avoided it (like me).

Never, ever saw a teacher in there while we were in there. That would've been weird.
Also, re: showers, nudity, as I grew older, I was shocked to find out that semi-casual nudity wasn't the norm among families. Its not like we would hang out with our bits out but neither did anybody really worry about walking naked from the shower to the bedroom after drying off.

Definitely haven't seen that before. Those who have to walk from shower to bedroom (meaning: the kids, since we have a master bath w/shower) either get dressed in the bathroom prior to exit or wrap up in a towel. Was the same when I was growing up.
   90. Greg K Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4364035)
Also, re: showers, nudity, as I grew older, I was shocked to find out that semi-casual nudity wasn't the norm among families. Its not like we would hang out with our bits out but neither did anybody really worry about walking naked from the shower to the bedroom after drying off.

More fascinating stuff! In that this is something I imagine rarely gets talked about outside of a family. We're really narrowing down here, from school ethnography to family ethnography.

If it's any consolation smileyy my family sounds the same as yours.
   91. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: February 06, 2013 at 02:58 PM (#4364071)
Born in '73, showered communally in school (where we had no pool/swimming), at the Y, etc..., felt weird about it as I grew up in a family where you would get dressed or wear a towel post showering. Didn't realize that wasn't the way everyone lived 'til my mid-20s. Don't remember where I stored the towel, think it was my locker in a plastic grocery bag.
   92. Zach Posted: February 06, 2013 at 03:14 PM (#4364111)
Interesting discussion. At my school career (Kansas City in the '90s), middle schoolers and high schoolers showered after gym class. Towels were ratty white things provided by the school that smelled strongly of chlorine, and you tossed them in a hamper after you were finished. Worrying about how you would deal with being naked around a group of guys was a fairly standard anxiety in 6th or 7th grade, but died down as people figured out there was absolutely nothing sexual about it. Teachers were not present, and it would have been extremely weird if they were.

The only time I ever showered around adults was after bike rides like the MS 150, when the destination school would often open up a locker room. As there were 20-30 people present at any given time, this was more akin to showering in the proximity of adults than showering with them, and could not possibly be mistaken for anything else.
   93. dlf Posted: February 06, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4364178)
Born in '67. Grew up in the Midwest. Community showers at the pool and gym would not infrequently have naked adults and children. Thought nothing of it even as the Village People's song still popular 35 years later made glamorous the sexual highjinx of adolescent boys in public gymnasiums.
   94. zonk Posted: February 06, 2013 at 04:19 PM (#4364216)
Heck, I'm naked right now!

However, I'm getting some strange looks here in the office so perhaps I'd better put my clothes back on...
   95. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4364230)
Come to think of it, an ex-gf of mine who grew up in NW Arkansas had a friend whose stepdad was Benjamin Spock, of all people. I gather he thought nothing of walking around in the buff after a shower, or perhaps at any other time, including during the stepdaughter's slumber parties. That would've been ... the mid-'70s, maybe? She's 5 years younger than me, & I was born in '59.

Maybe that's who Bill James used to shower with in the days of yore; Spock was from New England, it seems to me, but if he was living in the Fayetteville area, that's not too terribly far from Kansas.
   96. bunyon Posted: February 06, 2013 at 04:33 PM (#4364251)
but if he was living in the Fayetteville area, that's not too terribly far from Kansas.

It is, however, a long way to walk naked.
   97. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4364270)
Perhaps he bicycled.
   98. McCoy Posted: February 06, 2013 at 04:43 PM (#4364272)
Showers in a school were always just a weird thing. I went to Jr high and high school in the early to mid 90's and I can't recall a single person taking a shower after gym class outside of a few times in the beginning of the school year in 6th grade when they tried to make kids take showers. One, who had the time, and two, who was getting so sweaty and dirty from 30 minutes of light activity that they needed to take a shower? It simply didn't happen.
   99. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 06, 2013 at 05:15 PM (#4364336)
Also, re: showers, nudity, as I grew older, I was shocked to find out that semi-casual nudity wasn't the norm among families. Its not like we would hang out with our bits out but neither did anybody really worry about walking naked from the shower to the bedroom after drying off.

I see no reason why anyone besides your wife or girlfriend, and your doctor ever needs to see you naked.
   100. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: February 06, 2013 at 05:20 PM (#4364355)
Not in my case, at least.
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