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Friday, April 13, 2012

Bill James Mailbag - 4/12/12 - 4/13/12

Hooking… HOOKING… foul.

Bill - Jamey Carroll has been a utility infielder all of his career. Well, he did have one sesaon where he had over 90 games at one position - secondbase, but now at 38 he is considered the every day shortstop for his team. Do you know of any players who were given the best jobs of their playing career at such a late age - or how I would go about looking for one? . . . other than a bunch of old guys who got their chances during World War II?

Well, I was shocked when I realized that the Twins were actually intending to make Jamey Carroll their regular shortstop, and I can’t think of any parallel for that.  You know, the Twins and Red Sox both train in Ft. Myers so we play each other all the time; it was like the fourth time I saw the Twins that I realized that they didn’t have another shortstop. 

I don’t think there is a REAL parallel for that in history.  Ersatz parallels include (and I’ll leave you to look up the details) Johnny Cooney, Al Todd, Eddie Mayo, Nixey Callahan and. . ..well, that’s about it.  I’m about done.

Growing up on the East Coast, I never heard Brickhouse, but I remember a mention in a New York TImes column of a fan’s sign saying “Brickhouse sleeps with his teddy bear.” The columnist called it “a masterpiece of at least triple entendre.” Since at 13, I did not understand this, I asked my mother to explain, which she did while turning beet red. First time (and almost last) I ever saw her blush.

Takes you a while to think it through, don’t it?

On the question of why a foul ground ball is not in play. I believe Ross Barnes in the late1800’s developed a “fair-foul” bunt that was almost impossible to field and throw him out. This resulted in him hitting in the low to mid .400’s for all of his time in the origional professional league, and his first year in the National League. The rule makers then in about 1877 changed the rule to require trhe ball to pas either first or third in fair territory to be a fieldable ball. This put an end to the “fair-foul” hit and shortened Ross’s carier. ( a fair- foul ball is one which lands in fair territory and then rolls foul) A fly ball in either fair or foul terratory, that was cought, has always been an out At leastc that is my understanding.

Right, thanks.  Occasionally you run into somebody who wants to put Ross Barnes in the Hall of Fame.  Yechh.

The District Attorney Posted: April 13, 2012 at 03:29 PM | 52 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, bill james, history, jack brickhouse, jamey carroll, ross barnes, rules of play, sabermetrics, twins

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   1. Matthew E Posted: April 13, 2012 at 04:09 PM (#4105964)
I don't get the Jack Brickhouse thing.
   2. Jack Keefe Posted: April 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4105984)
The sine says that Brick House sleeps with his Teddy Bear. I know you get it Al but let me Explane. This old guy in Chi. once told me that they called 1 of the Cubs who shall be nameless Teddy because get it he was a Cub. It is like Cockeyed Rhyming Slang. So the sine means that Brick House was in a man-loving relationship with this Teddy fellow only Ozzie Guillen says I must say Vermont Marriage. Only it does not just mean that Al. It also means that Brick House supscribed to the outmoded Progressive Party trustbusting politics of the 26th President Theodore "Teddy" Roosavelt. In other words he was In Bed with them. And for a Triple Entente it means that he is built like a Brick House. If you know what I mean Al. It means he mighty mighty. He letting it All hang out.
   3. Athletic Supporter can feel the slow rot Posted: April 13, 2012 at 04:28 PM (#4105996)
Best Keefe ever.

I've never understood the Ross Barnes thing. The guy was an awesome player with the rules of his time and then they changed the rules. Doesn't that just make him totally screwed over by the system? Why is the narrative "this guy just found a loophole, he wasn't a good player"?
   4. Copronymus Posted: April 13, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4106030)
Barnes also led the NA in doubles three times, triples and walks twice, and stolen bases once. It's not like he was some one-trick bunting pony. Injuries did much more damage to his career than changing the foul ball rule.
   5. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 13, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4106033)
Because it was a cheap way to play, as the rulesmakes of the time recognized. Imagine if someone found a loophole in the rules that allowed him to reach on catcher's interference 30 or 40 percent of his at-bats, and he put up a couple of .600 OBP seasons before they found a way to outlaw it, after which his career ended quickly. Is that a Hall of Famer? That's Ross Barnes.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: April 13, 2012 at 04:57 PM (#4106043)
Imagine if someone found a loophole in the rules that allowed him to reach on catcher's interference 30 or 40 percent of his at-bats, and he put up a couple of .600 OBP seasons before they found a way to outlaw it, after which his career ended quickly. Is that a Hall of Famer?


It would be kind of awesome. I'm open to the idea.
   7. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 13, 2012 at 05:10 PM (#4106064)
Is that a Hall of Famer?


I'd probably vote for him, yeah.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: April 13, 2012 at 05:18 PM (#4106077)
Yeah, I can't see the 3rd entendre ... and I'm not so sure about the 2nd for that matter.

The main entendre isn't even all that clear but I assume is a reference to Brickhouse's "golly gee" broadcasting style. Brickhouse's on-air personality was the broadcasting equivalent of Radar O'Reilly.

The only 2nd entendre that does come to mind is the one Keefe raises that it suggests Brickhouse was gay. Not a clue if he was. Or maybe just questioning his "manliness" but it seems that's covered by the entendre above really.

Oh, is the third entendre, which I guess is the main entendre?, that Brickhouse was such a homer that he slept with a Cubby bear? I wouldn't consider him that much of a homer really. Sure he got "excited" when things went well for the Cubs but he was always praiseworthy of the other teams, never spoke out against umpires, didn't suggest the Cubs were being screwed over. But I was a kid for most of the Brickhouse era and maybe I just didn't notice seeing as how I'd have agreed with a homer announcer.

In essence, Brickhouse was a corporate man who broadcast as though his main audience was (to speak in stereotype terms) Peoria, kids and shut-ins -- essentially the polar opposite of Caray (except for the corporate bit).
   9. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: April 13, 2012 at 05:56 PM (#4106128)
The only 2nd entendre that does come to mind is the one Keefe raises that it suggests Brickhouse was gay. Not a clue if he was.

Nah, he announced Bears games too.(*)

Lou Boudreau "sounded" "gayer," anyway.

(*) I will confess to feeling a slight bit of ... well, something ... when the producer (Arne Harris?) would cut to a dugout shot of Herman Franks -- who made Don Zimmer look like a runway model -- and Jack would say, in a paleo-Flandersian tone, "Howdy, Herman!"
   10. Cris E Posted: April 13, 2012 at 06:45 PM (#4106162)
The third might have been bear vs bare.
   11. AndrewJ Posted: April 13, 2012 at 07:11 PM (#4106192)
I was only aware of the rumor that Harry Caray was fired from the Cardinals when he was caught in bed with (Gussie Busch's?) wife.
   12. DanG Posted: April 13, 2012 at 09:49 PM (#4106294)
Because it was a cheap way to play, as the rulesmakes of the time recognized... they found a way to outlaw it, after which his career ended quickly. Is that a Hall of Famer? That's Ross Barnes.
That version of history has largely been debunked. The more accurate story is this:

In 1877, he fell ill with what was then only described as an "ague" (fever), played only 22 games, and did not play well when he was in the lineup. The illness robbed Barnes of much of his strength and agility, and shortened his career. While many baseball histories originally blamed the change in rules that outlawed the "fair-foul" hit, of which Barnes was an acknowledged master, his illness has become a more widely accepted explanation for his loss of productivity.

When he returned to MLB (and better health) he had an all-star season in 1879.

Contemporary observers have usually described Barnes as an intelligent, graceful, all-around ball player, not some one-trick pony. He also gets high marks for his fielding; he played shortstop when not paired with the great George Wright.

Every player at that time added more extra base hits because the corners had to play closer to the lines. Barnes extra advantage lies in a combination of hitting the ball a little harder and/or placing it more accurately than other players. These were good skills to have even after the fair-foul rule was dropped.
   13. PreservedFish Posted: April 13, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4106340)
Imagine if someone found a loophole in the rules that allowed him to reach on catcher's interference 30 or 40 percent of his at-bats, and he put up a couple of .600 OBP seasons before they found a way to outlaw it, after which his career ended quickly. Is that a Hall of Famer?


I'm thinking about this even more. Supposing that every other player could have taken advantage of the same loophole, but this was the only guy that was capable of doing it more than a few times a year? This guy's a superhero! Imagine if he was the most important player on a WS team and had some signature clutch catcher's interferences under the bright October lights. He's got my vote!

Of course, it doesn't make sense. No way that one guy could take advantage of a gimmick play to such an extent, in a way that nobody else could.
   14. John DiFool2 Posted: April 13, 2012 at 10:38 PM (#4106345)
The sine says that Brick House sleeps with his Teddy Bear.


What did the cosine say?
   15. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 13, 2012 at 11:02 PM (#4106372)
When he returned to MLB (and better health) he had an all-star season in 1879.


Well, maybe. With the fair-foul hit available to him in 1876, Barnes hit .429 with a 231 OPS+. When he returned in 1879 for that all-star season with the fair-foul hit outlawed, Barnes hit .266 with a 108 OPS+.
   16. DanG Posted: April 13, 2012 at 11:34 PM (#4106381)
MLB regular shortstops in 1879

Player           WAR/pos OPS+   BA  OBP  SLG  G Age  Tm
George Wright        4.6  121 .276 .299 .374 85  32 PRO
Ross Barnes          1.7  108 .266 .301 .316 77  29 CIN
Ezra Sutton          1.4   82 .248 .252 .310 84  29 BSN
Davy Force           1.0   56 .209 .240 .237 79  29 BUF
Ed Caskin            0.6   94 .257 .261 .313 70  27 TRO
John Peters          0.2   74 .245 .247 .298 83  29 CHC
Tom Carey           
-0.1   77 .239 .250 .287 80  33 CLV
Jimmy Macullar      
-0.8   62 .211 .221 .248 64  24 SYR 


Of course Barnes' performance after the fair-foul rule change was not as good as before. He was getting old for a 1870's-early 80's player. And his illness likely diminished his play permanently.

Sure, some of his earlier dominance was probably due to the rule. But if he had a unique talent to take advantage of his circumstances, that should be a plus, not a demerit. It added extraordinary value to his teams.
   17. Bhaakon Posted: April 13, 2012 at 11:58 PM (#4106393)
Imagine if someone found a loophole in the rules that allowed him to reach on catcher's interference 30 or 40 percent of his at-bats, and he put up a couple of .600 OBP seasons before they found a way to outlaw it, after which his career ended quickly. Is that a Hall of Famer?


Isn't this basically what Ichiro does every time he chops it to the left side of the infield and beats the throw because he's already running before he's finished his swing? It may not be as blatantly cheesy, but he's found a loophole in the way the game is played that his particular talents allow him to exploit much more effectively than anyone else. Or Biggio and his HBP totals, or Pettite and his pickoff move, or Tom Glavine and the outside "strike", or Jose Molina and his pitch framing. Bending the rules, fooling umpires, and exploiting loopholes for fun and profit is well within the grand tradition of baseball (as long as it doesn't involve PEDs, M'kay).
   18. sunnyday2 Posted: April 14, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4106403)
Imagine if someone found a loophole in the rules that allowed him to reach on catcher's interference 30 or 40 percent of his at-bats, and he put up a couple of .600 OBP seasons


Barnes accomplishment is nothing at all like this. This is so flukey that nobody ever did it, not even 5 or 10 times much less 30 or 40. Barnes actually did what we are talking about.

Pitchers don't throw CG anymore either, so CGs through the years are flukey and loopholey and pitchers shouldn't get any credit for them? That's more analogous.

Besides, anybody who knows Bill James' books (specifically the HA and WS) knows that James hates 19th century baseball and concocted in WS a system that is totally unfair to 19th century players.
   19. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 14, 2012 at 12:30 AM (#4106404)
What? Complete games haven't been banned by the rules of baseball. This is nothing like that.
   20. Monty Posted: April 14, 2012 at 12:34 AM (#4106407)
I don't care if it involved a loophole. Wins are wins.
   21. Ebessan Posted: April 14, 2012 at 12:35 AM (#4106408)
More worthless information. The two Angel catchers, Chris Iannetta and Bobby Wilson, were born on the same day, April 8, 1983.
Asked by: mauimike
Answered: 4/12/2012


Livy says that Romulus and Remus eventually descended into warfare (and Romulus killed Remus) because, since they were twins, they were born on the same day and so could not decide which of them should be Rome's first king. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.


That one was really good.
   22. PreservedFish Posted: April 14, 2012 at 12:55 AM (#4106411)
It's much more like the spitball than either of those analogies.

"Loophole" is a poor and prejudicial term for it. Everyone else had the same opportunity to benefit from the rule.
   23. The District Attorney Posted: April 14, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4106569)
Followup:
Just curious, how many "Hey Bill" posts have defended Ross Barnes? I have the over/under at 17 1/2. How many have basically agreed with you? I'll put that at around 34 1/2. I'm one of the 17 1/2, if you are counting. He didn't invent the rule, and he wasn't the only one who played under the rule. Hall of Fame is a red herring anway, because he didn't play 10 years; but does he deserve any respect at all for what he accomplished? He was born when he was born, and he played when he played, under the rules in place. He helped his teams win. I wouldn't call him a great player compared to Babe Ruth, but "Yegghing" him seems excessive.

He deserves respect, in the same way that a kid who hits .429 in high school deserves respect--and no more.
   24. ASmitty Posted: April 14, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4106571)
It's not a loophole, he put pitches into play with his bat that defenders couldn't get to.

If MLB decided that all homeruns were henceforth foul balls because it was unfair to hit the ball where defenders couldn't reach it, would Babe Ruth suddenly suck because he was exploiting a loophole?

It's not like every other hitter in baseball couldn't have tried the fair/foul bunt.

EDIT: I do not, however, think Barnes should be in the HOF.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: April 14, 2012 at 05:51 PM (#4106681)
Was he fair-foul bunting for lots of doubles? I don't have a clue about 19th c baseball but in addition to his high BA, Barnes had to have been one of the best "power" hitters of his day. In 1872 the man had a 153 ISO in a 66 ISO league; in 1873, he had a 185(!) in a 73 league; and in 1876 he had a 161 in a 60 league. For his career, he was a 108 in a 70, kind of the equivalent of a 200 ISO today. He has 3 of the top 12 and 4 of the top 25 ISO seasons prior to 1880 (min 150 PA in a season) and looks like the only player with multiple top 20 seasons. The dude was demolishing the ball.
   26. The District Attorney Posted: April 15, 2012 at 12:29 PM (#4106979)
More followup:
Seriously, 1871 baseball is high school? There were high schools in 1871, and Ross Barnes wasn't playing for them because he was too busy playing with the best ballplayers in the world and kicking their butts.

1871 baseball was about the level of modern high school ball, yes. A big, high-quality high school in 2012, with a strong program, would, in my opinion, consistently beat any team from 1871.

There were high schools in 1871--but very few people went to them. I don't know, but I would bet 80% of the American population in 1871 did NOT have 12 years of formal education.
It sure seems to me that comparing 1871's general level of competition to 2012's is a totally different issue (and probably a more pointless one to argue about) than the specific issue of how to evaluate Barnes' career in light of the history of the fair-foul rule.

Also, Neyer wrote about the Jamey Carroll point.
   27. bunyon Posted: April 15, 2012 at 01:09 PM (#4106999)
Cool, I get some respect from Bill.
   28. dlf Posted: April 15, 2012 at 01:53 PM (#4107032)
Besides, anybody who knows Bill James' books (specifically the HA and WS) knows that James hates 19th century baseball and concocted in WS a system that is totally unfair to 19th century players.


I think this is one of the most inaccurate statements possible. His writing, in both the original and subsequent versions of the HBA brought attention to lots of little known players from the 19C. It was his advocacy in Politics of Glory that caused George Davis to be inducted into the Hall and his advocacy in his managers book that got Frank Selee enshrined.

He just doesn't take the silly nonsense 'a pennant is a pennant' to the same extreme that some do pretending that Joe Start was a better player than a run of the mill all star like Fred McGriff.
   29. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 15, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4107069)
dlf:

I think the quote in #26 goes far beyond that.
   30. The District Attorney Posted: April 16, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4107628)
Continuing:
Oh, Bill - Barnes often led the National Association not just in batting average, but doubles and triples. Is that indicitive of a player owing his success to fair-foul hits? According to wikipedia, around the same time as the fair-foul rule change, Barnes had "ague" - a serious fever - and that likely had more to do with his complete collapse of ability than the rule change. (And some think Adam Dunn's collapse is incomparable?)

Well. .. .and not ALL of Gaylord Perry's success is due to the spitball. Not ALL of Mark McGwire's success is attributable to steroids; there were some other factors.
And a little more discussion of the quality of 19th century ball. Some pull quotes:
Because we have designated 1870s baseball as "major league" baseball--erroneously, in my view--people assume that it rested atop a pyramid of organized competition. In fact it did not. The lower levels of competition were rapidly being organized (from the end of the Civil War to 1900), but there was no substructure of organized competition below the National League in the 1870s--in my view a necessary condition of "major league" sports.
NO ONE in 1915 regarded 1870s baseball as major league competition. The notion that 1870s baseball was "major league" competition was invented in the late 1960s by people who weren't thinking clearly about the issue.
And regarding the Jamey Carroll phenomenon, although I don't think it's really the spirit of the question:
Concerning players who got a late start, George Crowe, obviously because of the segregation situation, didn't play a 100 games in a season until he was 34 and was 36 in the one season he played enough to qualify for the batting title, when he filled in for the injured Kluszewski.

Right. .. and Luke Easter, almost the same story.
   31. BDC Posted: April 16, 2012 at 12:48 PM (#4107815)

The issue of whether a 2012 high-school team could beat an 1871 National Association team is beset by a whole bunch of problems, making it more fun to think about the problems than the thought-experiment. For one thing (as the Barnes case shows) the rules were so different as to make the two sports close relatives rather than the same thing. 80-MPH overhand fastballs did not exist in 1871, and it would probably have taken Ross Barnes a while to deal with them. OTOH, asking a 2012 high-school catcher to get behind the bat under 1870s rules would be tantamount to lethal endangerment. All these questions have to be surrounded with all-else-equal assumptions. Give each team a set amount of time to learn and practice a given version of a sport, and who's going to win? I think the team of twentysomethings would win, though if we're talking a really well-coached top HS power versus a haphazardly assembled bunch of pros from a smaller talent pool, then ... then, who knows, which is in itself an interesting conclusion. If we're talking the 1869 Red Stockings versus Random Northeast Wherever High School, my money is on the Red Stockings.
   32. zonk Posted: April 16, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4107859)
I was only aware of the rumor that Harry Caray was fired from the Cardinals when he was caught in bed with (Gussie Busch's?) wife.


I believe it was Gussie's daughter or daughter-in-law...
   33. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: April 16, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4107878)
Randy Velarde was 33 when he became the Angels regular 2nd baseman, the first time he'd been a full time player primarily at one position for a team. That's the nearest one I can think of.
   34. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 16, 2012 at 01:12 PM (#4107883)
I think the high school question is a bit of a red herring. If a traveler from the future came back and scoffed that a team of high-schoolers from 2134 could easily best the Angels at baseball, and that the 'old-fashioned' use of only three bases besides home plate made our version a bit simplistic, would anyone feel any less respectful of Pujols?
   35. Random Transaction Generator Posted: April 16, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4107890)
The sine says that Brick House sleeps with his Teddy Bear.




What did the cosine say?

Stop it. Don't take this discussion off on a tangent.
   36. Poulanc Posted: April 16, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4107933)
That's the nearest one I can think of.


Messing around with the play index at baseball reference, I found Lee Lacy. He hadn't topped 400 PA in any season before becoming a regular corner outfielder at age 36 in 1984.
   37. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 16, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4107947)
I believe it was Gussie's daughter or daughter-in-law...


More interesting, really.
   38. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 16, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4107967)
Chris Coste got to the majors at 33, and started 46, 25, 69, and 22 games in his 3.5 years with the Phillies.

Gregg Zaun was a career backup (games started 31, 36, 38, 77, 21, 65, 31, 40, 38) until he signed with the Blue Jays and started 91, 121, 59, 93, and 67 games at ages 33-37.
   39. DanG Posted: April 16, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4108032)
I think the high school question is a bit of a red herring. If a traveler from the future came back and scoffed that a team of high-schoolers from 2134 could easily best the Angels at baseball, and that the 'old-fashioned' use of only three bases besides home plate made our version a bit simplistic, would anyone feel any less respectful of Pujols?
This. It's exactly the point where Bill James goes wrong. Playing these time travel "could Ross Barnes hit my kid brother" games are pointless.

We're talking here about deserving inclusion in the National Baseball Hall of fame and Museum. They proclaim they're all about "Preserving history - Honoring Excellence - Connecting Generations". These ideals can be expressed in no better way than in honoring the best players and contributors from every era of baseball history.

Unfortunately, the Coop has never made a serious attempt to identify and honor the great players from the first generation of professional baseball. At the time the Hall opened its doors those players were already 50 years in the rear view mirror. Then as now, the voters were more interested in honoring the heroes of their childhood, 25-40 years ago. They had little interest in the star pioneer players who excelled despite needing to adapt to a rapidly evolving game. Who cares, those old-time fellers wouldn't have a prayer against Dizzy or Lefty in today's game.
   40. The District Attorney Posted: April 16, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4108164)
Yeah, I don't see how it went from discussing Barnes' ability to take advantage of the fair-foul rule, to a general discussion of the 1870s level of competition. It seems pretty clear that James thinks Barnes would be a joke HOFer not primarily because his leaguemates couldn't hang with athletes from 150 years later, but because he finds the idea that the rules would allow a player to bunt .450 to be goofy. If that's the case, then I dunno why he's just focusing on the level of competition issue.

Now, I do think it's relevant that it was the 1870s, in this sense: There had only been organized baseball for six years, and one year of the National League, before they decided to scrap the fair-foul rule. I don't think it's seriously comparable to banning homeruns now and then saying that Harmon Killebrew sucked. You can plausibly say that the fair-foul rule was "never really baseball". You can't say that of the homerun.

So it's not a crazy argument, but ultimately I tend to think that the greatness of a player is best defined by how much value he had to his team in the games that he played. Otherwise the discussion gets beyond what evidence can tell us, IMHO.
   41. Morty Causa Posted: April 16, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4108229)
Posts 39 and 40:

Well, if you're going to take the easy way with logic and reason, to hell with it.
   42. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: April 16, 2012 at 05:53 PM (#4108241)
Randy Velarde was 33 when he became the Angels regular 2nd baseman, the first time he'd been a full time player primarily at one position for a team. That's the nearest one I can think of.

Isn't Scutaro pretty comp-y to this scenario? Started 106 games at 2B for the A's in 2004 (his age-28 season), aside from that never more than half his team's games at any one position until 2009 at age 33, starting 143 games at SS for Toronto, then 131 and 102 (injury) at short for Boston.
   43. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: April 16, 2012 at 06:07 PM (#4108253)
A good 2012 high school team could beat an 1871 team at 2012 baseball.

An 1871 baseball team would stomp a 2012 team at 1871 baseball.

There isn't much to be learned in the comparison.
   44. Zach Posted: April 16, 2012 at 06:10 PM (#4108255)
Now, I do think it's relevant that it was the 1870s, in this sense: There had only been organized baseball for six years, and one year of the National League, before they decided to scrap the fair-foul rule.

I think this is the key point. It was early in the game's history, and the rules as written allowed a goofy loophole. The league took one look at it and decided that's not really what the game was about. I give him points for gamesmanship, but no more than the guy (Eddie Stanky?) who decided to back up and get a running start down the third base line for tag plays.
   45. DanG Posted: April 16, 2012 at 07:17 PM (#4108316)
I think this is the key point. It was early in the game's history, and the rules as written allowed a goofy loophole. The league took one look at it and decided that's not really what the game was about. I give him points for gamesmanship
Again, this assumes that Barnes owed all his greatness to the fair-foul rule. There is little evidence for this view in either the statistical or narrative profile.

You want to talk about players exploiting a "goofy loophole", look at players like David Ortiz or Travis Hafner, who would have had very marginal careers in a non-DH era.
   46. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 16, 2012 at 07:21 PM (#4108321)
John Vander Wal was pretty much a professional pinch hitter til age 34 when the Pirates made him a regular.

At age 33, catcher Jeff Reed made 97 starts, a career high.

Scott Hatteberg was pretty much a backup catcher til he got to Oakland at age 33.

The only time Charlie O'Brien ever eclipsed 100 games played was at age 36 with the Blue Jays.

Tom Paciorek was a career backup who became a starter at age 33 with Seattle.

Dave Bergman was a long-time backup who got to start at age 36 with Detroit.

Someone should make Russ Branyan their fulltime DH and give him 500 ABs for the first time in his career.
   47. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 16, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4108393)
Growing up on the East Coast, I never heard Brickhouse,


Hey. We're not allowed to say this.
   48. Chicago Joe Posted: April 16, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4108502)
What did the cosine say?


Harry Caray slept with Brickhouse's teddy bear, too.
   49. Ron J Posted: April 16, 2012 at 11:05 PM (#4108550)
An 1871 baseball team would stomp a 2012 team at 1871 baseball.


That depends on how much time you give the modern athletes to adjust. And I'm not arguing "breed has improved" so much as a much lower percentage of the elite baseball players were playing in the NA/NL. A good chunk of the guys Barnes played against were at best AA players by the standards of their day. The networks that were required to identify the best talent and direct them to the higher leagues simply were not in place yet.

As I've pointed out before, as late as 1878 the IL could field teams as good as or better than all but the best two or three teams in the NL.
   50. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 16, 2012 at 11:15 PM (#4108556)

That depends on how much time you give the modern athletes to adjust. And I'm not arguing "breed has improved" so much as a much lower percentage of the elite baseball players were playing in the NA/NL.


Well, I think it would be over the moment one of the 2012 players got spiked and was bleeding profusely or broke a finger catching a hot line drive without a glove and realized there are no substitutions.
   51. Ron J Posted: April 17, 2012 at 12:20 AM (#4108583)
#50 Hot line drive? With an 1870s ball? Color me skeptical.

There would obviously be some time required to learn the specifics of the game, but the players of the 1870s simply wouldn't have that big of an advantage. They were by and large learning as they went too.

But it's entirely possible that cricketers (particularly 20/20 players) would adjust more quickly to the conditions of 1870 baseball. Don't know. I do know that we were often short of gloves when I was growing up so I played a lot of baseball with no glove. I don't think it would be that tough to find elite players who could play without a glove. Besides, as far as I know there's nothing in the 1870 rules preventing the use of gloves.
   52. mex4173 Posted: April 17, 2012 at 01:17 AM (#4108601)
I could see some 2012 kids being willing to trying playing catcher like the 1870s. How willing they would be after the first one leaves with a couple broken fingers, I'm not sure.

1870s would demolish the kids over a series.

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