Baseball Primer Newsblog
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Monday, February 18, 2013
Seems perfect for the Red Sox.
Have you read My Baseball Diary by James T. Farrell? He wrote a ton of books, most notably the Studs Lonigan trilogy. His baseball memoir has a lot of great reminisces about baseball during the teens. Apparently one of his first literature essays was a high school paper called The Fall of Prince Hal, written in 1920 after finding out that Hal Chase, one of his favorite players ,had been involved in fixing ball games.
I generally dislike the genre. . ..personal reflections on my history of being a baseball fan. There are a hundred books like that, and my friends often recommend them to me, but they always seem to me self-centered and precious.
So, if you became a baseball manager, what current orthodoxy would you go against. Use your closer like a 60’s closer? 4 man rotation? Chocolate donuts in the dugout?
... Let’s say that the manager brings in a lefty reliever to face a lefty 200 times over the course of a season, which sounds like a lot; I doubt that any manager actually does that 200 times in a year… A lefty hitter would typically hit. . .what, 30 points higher against a right-handed pitcher? That’s six hits…
Six hits and some number of them extra base hits, yes, and maybe a walk or two, and let us assume that these tend to be high-leverage situations… Let us say, to be generous… By making that move 200 times, you save six runs.
But what do you give up? You’ve shrunk the bench to where you can’t platoon. I would argue that you can gain much, much more than 6 runs by platooning, in many cases…
Right or wrong, it is my opinion, until somebody can show me where I’m wrong, that carrying left-handers in the bullpen is a complete waste of time and resources. You not only don’t need THREE left-handers in the bullpen; you don’t need one…
I would even argue that platooning SAVES more runs than using lefty relievers, because when you have platoons one of the players will usually be better defensively than the other, so when you have a lead late in the game you can go with the better defender.
Another way to state my essential thesis is that you can control the platoon advantage much more effectively if you control it from the offensive side than if you try to control it from the pitching side. But. ...I can’t convince anybody.
Just an observation, Bill, but sports fans have funny hot buttons. (Perhaps, it’s not just sports fans, but all of us.) Tell them Al McGuire doesn’t quite meet your criteria of “great”, and you get a wave of upset readers, at least, one of whom accuses you of denigrating him. In a Scoresheet forum, I mentioned Jose Altuve and Robbie Alomar in the same sentence (they both happened to be N.L. all-star second-basemen shortly after turning 22, then became Americans Leaguers the next year.) . . . and I get thrashed for saying Altuve is going to the Hall of Fame. I guess my question is, how do you keep yourself from getting totally discouraged with your public?
It is a challenge, and I actually appreciate your asking that exact question. My audience includes many people who are brilliant, incisive and disciplined thinkers. But DISCUSSIONS, by their nature, are rambling, incoherent events that wander backward and forward. Discussions among groups of people, by their nature, tend to take sweaters and turn them into strings of yarn. The challenge of leading is a discussion is to construct the discussion in such a way that it advances our understanding of the issue; in other words, to try to take yarn and make a sweater, rather than the other way around. It’s very challenging, and I have to discipline myself, sometimes, to ignore very interesting things that people say, ignore them and not publish them, because, while the comment is interesting in itself, it unravels the discussion.
I think you are a proponent of baseball having non-standard dimensions for its parks. All the other major sports however have taken the opposite view of standardizing everything… would you support the idea that each team can set those dimensions as they want, within a league-imposed min/max range?
From the standpoint particularly of basketball, I wouldn’t think of it as one of baseball’s charms; I would simply argue that it is better. It is better from everyone’s standpoint. If you make the court wider, for example, you favor a smaller team with more quickness, and put a premium on ball-handling skills. If you make the court more narrow, it favors big, burly guys, puts a premium on passing, and minimizes the importance of dribbling.
Allowing different teams to experiment with different sized courts allows the game to breathe, allows the game to search out the most satisfying combinations. Mandating one size for all courts makes the game rigid, unable to adjust.
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