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Monday, February 20, 2012

Bill James Online

Banned in Boston: Moneyball?

Have you seen the website http://steroids-and-baseball.com/? The author challenges the conventional wisdom about steroids. He disputes that there was a huge steroid-fueled increase in homeruns (he claims that changes in the manufacturing and composition of the baseballs is a much bigger factor), that steroid pose a serious danger to health, and that other players were “coerced” into using. I can’t verify the validity of his arguments, but he seems to have considerable evidence to back up his claims.

James: Yeah, and people who believe those things shouldn’t be criticized for challenging conventional wisdom.  But I think it’s very unlikely that steroids were not the main cause of the explosion in home run numbers.

I am re reading Moneyball and know hindsight is 20/20 but am curious what the Athletics did not like about Prince Fielder for the draft other than Fielder being heavy. There is a comment about his size in the book but at the same time they draft Jeremy Brown who admittedly does not have a great body. Unless they just thought Prince Fielder was out of their price range for signing bonus. And Billy Beane had also indicated that oftentimes son’s of former major leaguers are successful. Hence Cecil Fielder and Prince Fielder. Seems like it ended up being a pretty good draft pick for “dumb” Milwaukee.

James: Don’t know anything about it.  I never read “Moneyball”, for one thing.  A player with the Fielder-type body style has to overcome a lot of resistance.  Cecil Fielder was a 31st-round draft pick who refused to sign, was taken by the Royals in the old secondary draft.    He hit .322 with 20 homers in 69 games in the low minors, and the Royals traded him to Toronto.  He crushed the ball for four years in the Toronto system, and they sold him to Japan.  People just didn’t believe he could play, based on his build.  There’s a high skepticism attached to that type of a body.

Yo.

Repoz Posted: February 20, 2012 at 10:48 AM | 90 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. TomH Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:14 AM (#4064658)
1. Bill James is well-known for playin his own tune, as opposed to commenting on others' work. That is a novel and courageous approach.
2. But yo Bill, it does help to at least read best-sellers to gain perspective on what everyone else is talkin about. Seems to me Bill plays the Lone Ranger on the far end on the pendulum. Not sure why.
   2. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM (#4064669)
Well, Bill has come full circle. I wonder if he has ever written a mea culpa essay yet. He used argue often and loudly that steroids were not the reason for explosion and that the players were not using (or at the very least there was nothing unusual about their performance) but now he has done a complete 180 from that.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:51 AM (#4064683)
Well, Bill has come full circle. I wonder if he has ever written a mea culpa essay yet. He used argue often and loudly that steroids were not the reason for explosion and that the players were not using (or at the very least there was nothing unusual about their performance) but now he has done a complete 180 from that.

We all recall James saying that future generations will wonder what all the fuss was about WRT steroids, and that eventually the HoF will reflect this changing consensus. But has he ever outright denied that steroids were at least a part of the home run explosion? Maybe he has, but it doesn't come to mind immediately when that was.
   4. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:03 PM (#4064686)
Barra devotes an entire section of one of his books on an email debate he has with Bill James, another author, and himself about steroids and BJ takes the position that there is no evidence that Bonds is using steroids.
   5. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:06 PM (#4064688)
Judging from his writings, thorough knowledge of history, and references to relatively obscure biographies, it seems to me that Bill James has read almost every single baseball book ever written. If he truly has not read Moneyball, then I think it's deliberate.
   6. Morty Causa Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM (#4064699)
I find the revelation that Bill James never read Moneyball pretty shocking. Why? I wonder if Lewis knew this?

As for there being no "evidence" that Bonds used steroids, I guess it depends on what you mean by "evidence", but even so, and even assuming he hasn't changed his mind, that doesn't have to mean he doesn't think Bonds used steroids. The two positions are no incompatible. There's no evidence my dog ate my breakfast bacon when I went to answer the knock at my front door, but I nevertheless have suspicions that rise to the level of a definite belief.
   7. Mark Armour Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM (#4064701)
I do not think James is being hypocritical about steroids, based solely on the evidence presented in this thread. I used to also argue that there was no evidence against Bonds. Of course, a lot of evidence came out subsequently which changed my mind, but that did not make me regret my earlier stance or believe I needed to apologize to the people I disagreed with. I can only deal with the information I have.
   8. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:41 PM (#4064706)
Based solely on the evidence presented in this thread I do not think the Earth is round.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM (#4064713)
Barra devotes an entire section of one of his books on an email debate he has with Bill James, another author, and himself about steroids and BJ takes the position that there is no evidence that Bonds is using steroids.

I would have, and did, say the same thing about Bonds prior to BALCO. (coke to Mark) But that's not the same thing as saying that steroids had no effect on power numbers, it's only saying that based on the lack of evidence at the time he wrote it**, steroids had no demonstrated connection to one particular player. It's little more than a reassertion of the necessity of a presumption of innocence.

**The book that McCoy refers to with the James exchange, Brushbacks and Knockdowns, was published in May of 2004, well before the BALCO revelations were made public.
   10. Greg K Posted: February 20, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4064717)
Based solely on the evidence presented in this thread I do not think the Earth is round.

I think the point he's making is that Bill James' position in the interview and Bill James' position as referenced in #4 don't necessarily indicate he's changed his mind about anything.

Perhaps in the e-mails James explicitly says steroids didn't cause the general increase in offence in the 90s. In which case that would be a demonstration that James has changed his mind.
   11. BDC Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:10 PM (#4064727)
James claims in his true-crime book that he deliberately didn't look at any academic studies of "popular crime." Which is possibly fair enough (he certainly looked at a lot of popular narratives), but is also part of his shtick: "I don't need no stinking analysis [other than my own]." He's not exactly the intellectually-curious young Bill James anymore.
   12. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4064728)
James is a contrarian. If you want to see him flip his position simply get a bunch of people to agree with him.
   13. Mark Armour Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:14 PM (#4064735)
Look, I am not speaking for James. However, he has been fairly consistent in his career, in my view, in not letting his (public) opinions get ahead of the facts. During the height of the steroids hysteria there were a few facts and a lot of shouting, but it seemed to me that pre-Balco the Bonds evidence was just a few whispers. The evidence grew substantially after that, but I, for one, would still prefer that people like James deal with that facts on the ground. I would be disappointed if he wrote a, "sorry I should have based my conclusions on the whispers" article.
   14. tshipman Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4064739)
But I think it’s very unlikely that steroids were not the main cause of the explosion in home run numbers.


I guess my question here would be why he thinks it's particularly likely. I've yet to see an explanation that is rational or consistent in attempting to explain how steroids were the main cause in the increase in home runs.

The ball composition always seemed like the explanation that fit the data better.
   15. The District Attorney Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4064741)
[James] has been fairly consistent in his career, in my view, in not letting his (public) opinions get ahead of the facts.
Right. It's really no different than his treatment of Pete Rose and, now, Joe Paterno.
   16. Mike Webber Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:19 PM (#4064742)
Bill does not read things written about him, and of course Moneyball has big sections about Bill. We have never really discussed why he doesn't, but I can kind of guess why.
   17. Sunday silence Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:21 PM (#4064744)
has anyone tried to do any systematic study on the effect of the strike zone on the increased offense of the 90s? I always thought the strike zone shrunk alot at that time. Also the plate armor that Bonds et al. wore should have had some effect as well.
   18. AROM Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:26 PM (#4064749)
We all recall James saying that future generations will wonder what all the fuss was about WRT steroids, and that eventually the HoF will reflect this changing consensus. But has he ever outright denied that steroids were at least a part of the home run explosion? Maybe he has, but it doesn't come to mind immediately when that was.


I don't remember him arguing against that. But thanks Andy, for pointing out that the moral/legal/HOF implications and whether steroids caused the hitting explosion are two separate arguments.

To me the idea of baseball changes explains things better than steroids, because of the sharp dividing line from the pitcher's game in 1992, the hitter's in 1993, and the freaking bizarre hitter's game in 1994 that lasted to around 2000 before the strike zone was adjusted. I would expect steroids to show a gradual effect unless you had reason to think a majority all started in the 1993-94 period.

The change we've seen since testing started in 2005 has been more gradual. Which is a bit strange since we do have a reason for a large number of players to stop at the same time. Part of that might be the evolution of the testing process, I don't think the masking agent stuff that busted Manny Ramirez would have caused a positive test in 2005.
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4064763)
I don't remember him arguing against that. But thanks Andy, for pointing out that the moral/legal/HOF implications and whether steroids caused the hitting explosion are two separate arguments.

To me the idea of baseball changes explains things better than steroids, because of the sharp dividing line from the pitcher's game in 1992, the hitter's in 1993, and the freaking bizarre hitter's game in 1994 that lasted to around 2000 before the strike zone was adjusted. I would expect steroids to show a gradual effect unless you had reason to think a majority all started in the 1993-94 period.


My view has always been that these are two separate arguments. And I've also always thought that while it's clear that steroids were a factor in the home run explosion, to try to assign a percentage to it is a fool's game. For that reason I'd disagree with James's latest comment about steroids being "the main cause" of the HR increase, because I don't see how anyone could use the word "main" with any degree of certainty.
   20. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 20, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4064771)
1. bandbox ballparks
2. weightlifting without steroids
3. weightlifting with steroids
4. livelier ball
5. livelier bats
6. fundamental sea change in offensive philosophy

I couldn't order these from least to most important for the offensive explosion
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:01 PM (#4064783)
I couldn't order these from least to most important for the offensive explosion


Strike zone shrinkage is probably also in there, but that's a pretty good list. The reasons are obviously multiple.

I've got to say, as someone who devoured Bill James books back in my late teens, each new thing I read from him, on whatever subject, makes me want to read the next new thing even less.
   22. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4064789)
He used argue often and loudly that steroids were not the reason for explosion and that the players were not using (or at the very least there was nothing unusual about their performance) but now he has done a complete 180 from that.

I'm not sure when he flipped, but his views here are consistent with his take on steroids in 2009.
   23. Swedish Chef Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4064797)
They really should have an edition of Moneyball in plain brown covers for people like Bill and Theo.
   24. Walt Davis Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:26 PM (#4064801)
20 (and 21) are a good list of likely factors. Particularly glad to see #6 since I think this is under-recognized (although I'm not sure if the change was dramatic or gradual). The list points out one of the problems with a phrase like "main cause". By "main cause" does James mean he thinks PEDs are responsible for over 50% of the jump? Or does he mean that among the 5-10 things that likely played a role, PEDs explain the largest share (say 15-20%)? The latter is (pretty much by definition) a more reasonable position although none of us really have a clue.

I'm more interested in explanations for the decline. Ballparks haven't changed a lot and I don't think have gotten less bandbox-y. There wasn't any reason to change the offensive philosophy. Bats aren't getting less lively and players have as much incentive to weightlift. The strike zone has gotten bigger and maybe the ball is less lively. Is that all it takes?
   25. Walt Davis Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:39 PM (#4064812)
On James and Moneyball -- I'm not surprised at all. Moneyball is the popular treatment of stuff James already knows. I don't expect rocket scientists to have read the Right Stuff or psychologists to be reading Psychology Today (is that still published?) to keep up with their field.

I do find James's general unwillingness to read other research in his field atrocious.* But Moneyball wasn't really research of that sort.I suppose maybe he'd be interested to see how ideas were being put into practice and maybe he could have learned a thing or two about how to persuade GMs/owners to adopt his ideas but, generally, he had nothing to learn from Moneyball. We seemed to all be saying the same thing in the Theo-Moneyball thread -- there was nothing "proprietary" in Moneyball.

*In this regard, James reminds me of many jazz musicians I've met (and surely it extends beyond jazz, that's just my personal experience and taste). Most musicians (unless they were also teachers) didn't have a clue what was going on currently. They knew about the music of people they played with and tons about their own teachers/influences (i.e. music of the past) but they had no interest in what other current/younger jazz musicians were doing. They often knew quite a bit about what was current in other genres as they would find ideas they felt worth exploring there (i.e. it was new to them) but pretty much zippo about current jazz. And that makes sense because they're concentrating on trying to do their own thing, find their own way and, if anything, are actively avoiding their own genre for fear of sounding too much like that other guy (or maybe finding out that other guy does it better :-).

That's a perfectly fine attitude for a creative musician (author, artist, etc.) and a certain amount of what James does is "creative". But mainly he's supposed to be a researcher and not being up on the latest in the field, re-inventing the wheel, not responding to criticism is inexcusable.
   26. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:41 PM (#4064814)
The strike zone has gotten bigger and maybe the ball is less lively. Is that all it takes?

And do we even know those two for certain? I'm sure that they test balls for liveliness at some point each season, but is there a site where we can see the results for the past 20 or 30 years?

And the strike zone has seemed to be as small as ever, though the variation between one umpire and another is probably bigger than any overall change. Those ####### personalized strike zones have ruined more games than I would care to count. I've never understood why a pitcher should be forced to adjust for an umpire's idiosyncrasies.
   27. Swedish Chef Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:43 PM (#4064821)
On James and Moneyball -- I'm not surprised at all. Moneyball is the popular treatment of stuff James already knows. I don't expect rocket scientists to have read the Right Stuff or psychologists to be reading Psychology Today (is that still published?) to keep up with their field.

The slight difference is that a large part of the book is about James.
   28. SoSH U at work Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:44 PM (#4064823)
I've never understood why a pitcher should be forced to adjust for an umpire's idiosyncrasies.


Both pitchers and batters do. I see it as a skill a player needs to develop, rather than a flaw in the game that needs to be rubbed out.
   29. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4064825)
From last year

Every few years, during the month of April, Nathan says, batters start hitting home runs and the cry goes up: The baseball isn’t what it used to be! It must be juiced! (Why always in April? “Because in April there’s not enough data to be statistically significant…and people start to speculate,” Nathan says wryly.) The issue of juiced balls surfaced again in 2000 when the first two months of the season saw home runs hit at a notably higher rate than the same period the previous year.

To test the speculation that something had changed with the balls, the researchers compared the bounciness of balls from 2004 with a box of unused balls from 1976 to 1980. They shot the balls at a steel plate or a wooden bat at 60, 90, and 120 miles per hour and measured their bounciness after a collision—what physicists call the coefficient of restitution.

The result? “There was no evidence that there was any difference in the coefficient of restitution of the different balls,” says Nathan. One caveat: the scientists can’t say that balls made in other years aren’t livelier.

   30. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4064826)
And do we even know those two for certain? I'm sure that they test balls for liveliness at some point each season, but is there a site where we can see the results for the past 20 or 30 years?


Here you go.
   31. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: February 20, 2012 at 02:51 PM (#4064829)

I find the revelation that Bill James never read Moneyball pretty shocking. Why?


Yes and no. I can imagine, say, a doctor not wanting to read a dumbed down for mass consumption book about medicine. Moneyball's not quite so kindergarten level, but I doubt BJ would expect to learn anything from it. On the third hand, it IS in some respects about BJ's own influence on the game of baseball, so it's weird not to be curious. The whole book itself only takes a few hours to read.

EDIT: Walt beat me to it.
   32. Brian Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM (#4064834)
Another factor is expansion. In '93 and '98 there were 25 pitchers added to MLB who otherwise wouldn't have been out of the minors.
   33. Tippecanoe Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:01 PM (#4064836)
Regarding the list in #20, I would think that number 6 is primarily a second order effect resulting from any or all of those above, especially #2 and #3. The career of Brian Downing gets people thinking about what an effective left fielder really looks like.

Has anyone published the average area of fair territory by year? How much smaller did the ballparks get, and when?
   34. tshipman Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:04 PM (#4064839)
Re: McCoy's article in 30:


Yes there was expansion, smaller parks and the 1990s ball was proven to be out of specs in a test at the University of Rhode Island in 2000. The ball contained an over the limit amount of synthetic material in the wool windings. Dennis Hilliard and others surmised that the synthetic material would resist moisture during hot damp weather. Balls from the 1960s-70s-80s were also tested and found to be within specs. Many pitchers began complaining in the early 1990s about the lower seams on the ball.


/shrug. The ball seems like the likeliest explanation for 1987 and 1994. The belief that enough people started using steroids in the 1993-94 offseason to materially affect the results of next year's offense doesn't seem to pass the smell test for me.

I guess I'd have to see a lot more tests from those years for me to believe that the ball isn't the issue.
   35. Lassus Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4064840)
Both pitchers and batters do. I see it as a skill a player needs to develop, rather than a flaw in the game that needs to be rubbed out.

Agree. It means your skill set is higher.
   36. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:11 PM (#4064845)
Hilliard and the others really had no idea what the synthetic fibers would do to a ball and it their opinion on them was pure conjecture.
   37. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4064848)
Another factor is expansion. In '93 and '98 there were 25 pitchers added to MLB who otherwise wouldn't have been out of the minors.

But they skipped the additional position players?
   38. tshipman Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:18 PM (#4064852)
Hilliard and the others really had no idea what the synthetic fibers would do to a ball and it their opinion on them was pure conjecture.


I could re-write this with steroids and Bill James and it would be just as true.

There is at least evidence that changes in the ball leads to drastic swings in offensive output in a season. There isn't any similar evidence for chemical enhancement.
   39. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:18 PM (#4064853)

But they skipped the additional position players?


They let them play in Denver.
   40. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:18 PM (#4064854)
Here is what Linda Welters said about the synthetic fibers which she tested for (which as it turned out they had only completed the test on the 2000 ball and had no results on the 1989 or 1995 ball, but did find that the 1977 ball had synthetic fibers in it)
The synthetic fibers may not be uniformly distributed in the winding, so we'll need more tests before we can say anything conclusive."
   41. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4064855)
The AL actually shot up in 1994 and stayed high with a peak in 1996 that the AL didn't approach again until 2000. Peaks are nothing unusual in and of themselves. So what happened in 1994? Well, Cleveland Stadium got replaced with Jacobs Field, Camden was in its second year, and Texas moved into their new stadium.
   42. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:25 PM (#4064857)
On the fibers.

1963 and 1970: less than 5% non-wool material in all three windings
1989: 18+% non-wool materials in windings 1 and 2; 16% in winding 3
1995: 19% non-wool materials in winding 3; 15% in winding 1 and 6% in winding 2
2000: 22% non wool materials in winding 3; 16% in winding 1 and 8% in winding 2

I do not know if MLB specidfications would apply the 15% +/-3% limit to each winding layer or to the aggregate of the windings. Curtis Rist, the author of the Discover Magazine article provided the 15% number but no details. When we told him that the results were greater than 15%, he came back with the+/-3%. I assume he got that number from Rawlings. Since the specifications list the windings as separate, I would assume for quality control that the limit would be applicable to each layer, but that’s my opinion.

Layer of poly/cotton yarn on pill
1st wind: 4-ply gray woolen yarn
2nd wind: 3-ply white woolen yarn
3rd wind: 3-ply gray woolen yarn
4th wind: white poly/cotton blend yarn

The weights of the pills are as follows:

1963 24.89 grams
1970 22.44 grams
1989 26.53 grams
1995 27.57 grams
2000 26.32 grams
   43. Mike Webber Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4064858)
I'd also add Questec as a reason for offensive explosion. When strike zones are more uniform, I'd guess it would be easier to hit too.
Noting that this is a small reason, not a larger one. But notice we aren't coming up with a lot of things that help pitchers.

I'll throw video in here too, though if you argued that pitchers gained as much benefit as hitters I wouldn't argue. Though you don't hear about pitchers running down the tunnel to see the batters coming up in the next inning.

About the only thing that I can think of that really has hampered offense, is the defensive shifts that are more prevalent.
   44. Mike Webber Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:32 PM (#4064861)
Oh, and Lasik surgery. There is an item that likely helps hitters more than pitchers.
   45. tshipman Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:33 PM (#4064862)
The AL actually shot up in 1994 and stayed high with a peak in 1996 that the AL didn't approach again until 2000. Peaks are nothing unusual in and of themselves. So what happened in 1994? Well, Cleveland Stadium got replaced with Jacobs Field, Camden was in its second year, and Texas moved into their new stadium.


The ballpark explanation would be more persuasive if the exact same thing hadn't happened in the NL as well.
   46. Walt Davis Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:35 PM (#4064863)
To put some numbers around 24:

One thing the mainstream media at least hasn't (publicly) noticed about the offensive decline is the jump in K-rate:

2011 AL: 1 K per 5.55 PA, 1 per 4.98 AB
2000 AL: 1 K per 6.35 PA, 1 per 5.61 AB

So this is not your 1980s style offense, this is still in many ways TTO take-and-rake, just with a higher K-rate.

2011 AL: BA 258, ISO 150, BABIP 297, BA_contact 323, ISO_contact 187

2000 AL: BA 276, ISO 167, BABIP 307, BA_contact 336, ISO_contact 204

Playing with those numbers a bit, if they had maintained the same BA_contact and ISO_contact from 2000 but with the 2011 K-rate, the overall numbers for 2011 shift to 269/432. So the jump in K-rate explains about 40% of the drop in overall BA and about 25% of the drop in overall ISO.

Some other numbers ... there's been an increase in GBs (per contact) but also a sizeable drop in HR/FB. So more Ks leading to fewer BIP, and maybe pitchers keeping the ball down more so fewer FB on the BIP explains a bit of the power drop but that's a big drop in HR/FB. Less lively ball? Batters "forced" to swing at more pitchers' pitches and making worse contact?

2011 GB/FB .80; HR/FB 7.7%

2000 GB/FB .72; HR/FB 8.6%

Then there's this ... numbers which simply look wrong but, if correct, surely "explain" the rest of the difference:

2011 LD% 18
2000 LD% 26

WTF? The 1999 AL was "just" 20%; but the 2001 was 25% and 2002 was 24% but then 2003 was down to 18% and it has been 18-19 every year since. Even if PEDs help you hit line drives, why that 3 year surge? Note 94-98 are in the 20-22 range but that's true back to 88 which is as far back as LD% goes. The LD%s of the last few years (in the AL) are the lowest we've seen in at least 20 years (assuming they're accurate).

So I learned something -- that LD% drop is massive. Even the 2-3% drop of today relative to pre-2000 has to account for, what, 8-15 points of BA (need to be careful of rounding error here as b-r doesn't report any decimals in LD% but that's 2-3 fewer LD per 100 BIP and LDs are hits at something like 80-90% of the time vs. (say) 20% for other BIP* and you're talking 1.2 to 2 extra hits per 100 BIP.

*Quick and dirty math: if overall BABIP is 300 and 20% of BIP are line drives and 80% of LDs are hits (I think that's roughly correct, somebody plug in the right number) ... 20*.8 = 16 hits; 14 hits in 80 other BIP = .175
   47. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:38 PM (#4064866)
The ballpark explanation would be more persuasive if the exact same thing hadn't happened in the NL as well.

Denver.
   48. Walt Davis Posted: February 20, 2012 at 03:58 PM (#4064879)
EDIT to #46: oops, not sure if that should be BIP or on-contact with the LD% and all. Probably the latter so the exact numbers will be off but the basic idea should hold.

(anybody else having issues with the edit function?)
   49. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 20, 2012 at 04:14 PM (#4064888)
And do we even know those two for certain? I'm sure that they test balls for liveliness at some point each season, but is there a site where we can see the results for the past 20 or 30 years?

Here you go


There was some interesting stuff on that page you linked to, including your comment on why the ball didn't really liven up until 1920 rather than 1919. But I didn't see any test results for the past 20 or 30 years, which is what I was looking for. Would it be on one of the next nine pages of that forum, and if so, which one?
   50. eric Posted: February 20, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4064894)
WRT LD%, who officially tracks those things? Something like those results could be just a result of a change in philosophy of the person in charge of tracking those things (or of a literal change in the person). I understand 2000 was the offensive peak but was it really that different from 1999? Was 2003 that different than 2002?
   51. formerly dp Posted: February 20, 2012 at 04:44 PM (#4064901)
I've got to say, as someone who devoured Bill James books back in my late teens, each new thing I read from him, on whatever subject, makes me want to read the next new thing even less.

This is my opinion too. I managed to snag a bunch of the old Abstracts at an estate sale and re-discovered how much I enjoyed him while in grade school. But I can also see why he's not much worth the energy at this point. I also wouldn't be surprised if he has read Moneyball but prefers to say he hasn't, just to keep a pugilistic tone.
   52. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: February 20, 2012 at 04:58 PM (#4064913)
In '93 and '98 there were 25 pitchers added to MLB who otherwise wouldn't have been out of the minors.

Also, between 1990-2000 the size of the pitching staff jumped from 10-11 to 12 for almost every team. That's another 25-50 pitchers added to the pool.
   53. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4064961)
Would it be on one of the next nine pages of that forum, and if so, which one?

Look in the middle sections. MLB sponsored a study of 1999 and 2000 balls that was quite revealing in that minor league balls are horribly inconsistent and MLB baseballs are very consistent though on the high range of the specs.

From there there are either links to articles from the 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, and 90's or the articles themselves posted to the thread. That stuff is mostly in the back of the thread. It is tough to say which page since the page number depends on your setting.
   54. McCoy Posted: February 20, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4064971)
This is my opinion too. I managed to snag a bunch of the old Abstracts at an estate sale and re-discovered how much I enjoyed him while in grade school. But I can also see why he's not much worth the energy at this point. I also wouldn't be surprised if he has read Moneyball but prefers to say he hasn't, just to keep a pugilistic tone.

I didn't even know who Bill James was until long after he left the scene. I discovered him by reading Rob Neyer in the summer of 98 through 99. So the Bill James I knew was the Bill James as told by Rob Neyer, the occasional guest column by Bill, and the few books he put out after breaking the wand. Most of that stuff I really enjoyed and it spurred me on to getting his yearly abstracts from the 80's. Of the non paper and staple versions I think I am missing just one. I didn't really enjoy them. Baseball studies had very clearly moved on since those publications and I didn't find enough there to interest me. Since 1998 to 2002 or so I pretty much agree with SOSH and DP in that the more new stuff I see of his the less I want to see. He just doesn't seem relevant anymore.
   55. Mark Armour Posted: February 20, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4064999)
The principal cause of the statistical revolution is that Bill James was not willing to believe anything people told him unless they provided evidence. When no one was willing to do this, he (untrained in statistics or math), decided find the evidence himself. What he found, using a pencil and paper, were most of the building blocks of sabermetrics. Thirty years on, computers and a community of math and statistics majors have been improved some of his formulas.

But James remains a skeptic. This, I believe, is fundamental to his genius. He is no more willing to accept WAR as he is to accept batting average. I recall when McCracken published his article claiming that pitchers had no effect on balls in play, James went off and created his own independent study of the matter. He was not willing to believe it. When he found that McCracken was mostly right, he said, essentially, "damn, I wish I had thought of it."

I still want to read James because I think we still need skeptics. We know a lot more than we used to, sure, but more often than not analysts or analytics writers oversell what their evidence is showing.
   56. Something Other Posted: February 20, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4065112)
James claims in his true-crime book that he deliberately didn't look at any academic studies of "popular crime." Which is possibly fair enough (he certainly looked at a lot of popular narratives), but is also part of his shtick: "I don't need no stinking analysis [other than my own]." He's not exactly the intellectually-curious young Bill James anymore.


While this could be the case, there's a lot to be said, as a writer, for not reading certain things. At least one of the great poets has said he doesn't read poetry since he doesn't want other poets thoughts in his head, coloring his own work.
   57. GregD Posted: February 20, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4065193)
At least one of the great poets has said he doesn't read poetry since he doesn't want other poets thoughts in his head, coloring his own work.
I would be curious who said this and if it turned out on investigation to be true. Writers say lots of things, most of which are egregiously false. More to the point, most writers are voracious readers, though many of them turn off from contemporary work to focus on the best of the old stuff. But a serious poet who didn't dive back into Shakespeare or Virgil or Chaucer or Dickinson or (insert name here) from time to time? I'd have to see it to believe it.

The notion that you can write better about crime by not reading anything anyone has written about crime is absurd. Unless--as James perhaps does--you think that everyone else is a dunce and you are the world's only genius. But the certainty that you can't learn from other people is a brake on growth, even for geniuses.
   58. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 20, 2012 at 10:55 PM (#4065201)
Unless--as James perhaps does--you think that everyone else is a dunce and you are the world's only genius. But the certainty that you can't learn from other people is a brake on growth, even for geniuses.


As Mark Armour notes in #55, I don't think James does what he does because he doesn't think he can learn from anyone else, but because he doesn't want to be swayed by what other people think until he's had a chance to look at the evidence himself. The downside of doing this when you're doing analytical research is that (a) you can spend an awful lot of time on something that adds little or nothing to the pantheon and (b) you don't have the benefit of learning from other people's mistakes.

-- MWE
   59. Ron J Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:17 PM (#4065213)
#20 As I've pointed out before, one thing that is clear is that a specific type of player -- the fast, low power switch-hitter was largely driven from the game in the 90s.

The percentage of plate appearances given to switch-hitters was steadily rising and peaked in 1992 (at 20.4%). After that it steadily dropped. Down to 16.5% by 1998 (and continuing to drop since then)

That may not look dramatic, but what is dramatic is the change in frequency that these guys attempted to steal. This actually peaked in 1986 when they attempted a stolen base just over 21% of the time they reached first (not adjusted for open bases, that's stolen base attempts divided by singles, walks and HBP). By 1998 it was down to 12%. (Also, triples by switch-hitters were way down and switch-hitters were being asked to bunt less)

So while the number of switch hitters hasn't declined all that much, one specific type is much less common and that rates to have an impact on league HR totals.
   60. Dale Sams Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:20 PM (#4065220)
Watch an AS game in 78, 98 and today.

Now, if we want to argue that being bulked all to hell doesn't do anything for your offensive skills, okay.
   61. Ron J Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4065223)
#26 I do recall something a few years back from one of the higher ups at MLB that amounted to a tacit acceptance that the ball was in fact livelier than it should be and that they were going to do something about it. But I've been unable to find a link.

That the ball in the 90s was livelier than it had been in the past is frankly beyond dispute. Eric Walker (the steroids-and-baseball site mentioned in the James article) has very solid evidence on this point.

As for testing, what's shown up is that the balls consistently tested at the higher end of the allowable range during the early 2000s. You don't actually have to deaden the ball to have a large impact on the game, just eliminate that skew towards liveliness.

EDIT: Should have refreshed before posting.

And the only problem I have with edit is that the time limits don't seem to apply to me. I can edit anything no matter how old.



   62. AROM Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:47 PM (#4065228)
When he found that McCracken was mostly right, he said, essentially, "damn, I wish I had thought of it."


He was so close too. Bill James invented team defensive efficiency. He just didn't realize how good a fielding statistic that was. I think he treated it as merely an interesting data point.
   63. Repoz Posted: February 20, 2012 at 11:55 PM (#4065232)
Despite the record number of homers flying out of parks, the balls weren't found to be "juiced." Even so, balls from all three seasons were close to being too lively by major-league standards.

"The balls today are at the upper end of the spectrum," Sandy Alderson, the commissioner's executive vice president of baseball operations, said Tuesday after meeting with Sherwood. "We know where we are in the spectrum, but how does that relate to five years ago, 10 years ago?"


From .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
   64. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 21, 2012 at 12:22 AM (#4065248)
And the only problem I have with edit is that the time limits don't seem to apply to me. I can edit anything no matter how old.


Have you tried to edit really old posts? Unlike the past, the edit tab seems to remain open forever now, but when I've tried to make changes to older posts, the changes didn't stick.

   65. McCoy Posted: February 21, 2012 at 12:57 AM (#4065265)

That the ball in the 90s was livelier than it had been in the past is frankly beyond dispute. Eric Walker (the steroids-and-baseball site mentioned in the James article) has very solid evidence on this point.


Well, no it isn't beyond dispute and Eric's stuff is opinions not facts. It isn't like Eric actually tested the balls. He makes the case that it can't be A, B, or C thus it has to be the ball.
   66. Ron J Posted: February 21, 2012 at 01:48 AM (#4065281)
Eric's stuff is not opinions (or just opinions at any rate) Here is Walker's links to a couple of important studies on the balls.

Now MLB has disputed (but not refuted -- a difference) the finding of the studies Eric links. I suppose you can choose to see that as "opinion". I don't.



   67. Ray (RDP) Posted: February 21, 2012 at 02:06 AM (#4065284)
The problem with James's view on this ("But I think it’s very unlikely that steroids were not the main cause of the explosion in home run numbers.") is that in the 2000 HBA he wrote a lengthy essay on the reason why offense exploded in the 90s. He listed several factors. Not one of them was steroids. Now, perhaps it was because he didn't know that steroids were so prevalent in the game. Fine. But that still doesn't give much confidence that what he's saying now is accurate; he spoke with conviction then, also. And listed several plausible factors.
   68. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 21, 2012 at 03:20 AM (#4065301)
If juiced balls were responsible for the offensive explosion, we would expect that increase to come all at once. Between 1988 and 2000 offense increased by a full run per game. The single largest Y2Y increase was 0.48 runs per game. But that overstates the jump, since the year immediately prior appears to be an uncharacteristic down year. The two years before that were 0.19 and 0.14 higher.

So at the very best, we can make juiced balls responsible for about 0.3 runs per game, or about 30% of the total increase. And that's assuming that all the increase in a single year was down to the balls and nothing else. That leaves a lot of increase unaccounted for. The notion that his somehow disproves that steroids had any impact on scoring is pure fantasy.
   69. Ron J Posted: February 21, 2012 at 04:07 AM (#4065307)
#68 You kind of touch on what I see as the biggest single problem with the steroids as the explanation. 1992.

I accept that steroids were in the game by then. And I find it improbable that there were fewer players using PEDs in 1992 than there were in 1991.
   70. Ron J Posted: February 21, 2012 at 04:34 AM (#4065311)
Also to #68 it doesn't follow that there was a single change to the balls. From what I can gather from the studies I linked to above the ball has been constantly changing. Not so much in manufacturing process as in the subtle changes in the materials. To me this is a plausible explanation,

For example, the yarn used in Major League baseballs all comes from one company, which recovers the fibers as waste from carpet manufacturers worldwide. Says Professor Welters: "My guess would be that they're somehow getting a lot of polyester mulched into the mix, since it's very hard to find all-wool carpets being made these days."


And as he notes, balls with what amounts to polyester winding rate to go further than those with wool winding -- something MLB doesn't test for at all.

   71. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: February 21, 2012 at 04:43 AM (#4065312)
I accept that steroids were in the game by then. And I find it improbable that there were fewer players using PEDs in 1992 than there were in 1991.

But that viewpoint assumes that steroids can control all the other factors that can influence run scoring. Here's the Y2Y change for 1970 through 1980, picked randomly on the basis of it's safe to assume that the impact of steroids during that time is marginal.

-0.45
-0.2
+0.52
-0.09
+0.09
-0.22
+0.48
-0.37
+0.36
-0.17

That's a lot of Y2Y volatility. And it precludes you from being able to draw any conclusions based on a 1 year decline of 0.19. 1992 could have been in line for a 0.2 increase, but due to other factors it came in 0.4 low. How would you know?

You can't draw any meaningful conclusions about the true offensive levels based on a single year of data, there is too much volatility. The data in the surrounding years supports the notion that 92 is nothing more than an outlier against the overall trend. And one that is well within reasonable expectations.
   72. Ron J Posted: February 21, 2012 at 05:25 AM (#4065316)
#71 I appreciate your point. I've been brooding on it for some time. Still, the decade of the 70s have some pretty obvious explanations for some of the deltas that aren't an issue for 1992. Most obviously the introduction of the DH. Plus new teams changing parks.

I've actually been working on a study to try and figure out how much of the change in offensive levels can be attributed to parks. Rates to make other studies more meaningful. Of course the problem with this is that park factors are pretty noisy in themselves.

Another thing I've been looking at is the year to year variation of the guys who played regularly. As I mentioned, there are pretty clear issues of player selection.

I should note that there's a study in the 1994 Stats Scoreboard that suggests that the hitters who were added by expansion were better (relative to the league) than the pitchers. I've rarely been happy with a study done by Stats and this is not really an exception, but it is an idea worth looking in to. Seems to me that the ever increasing number of pitchers being used by each team plus an increase in the number of teams might have had a big impact.

I did one study and found that the pitchers in 1993 added were quite a bit wilder than the regulars of 1992. No real surprise there.
   73. McCoy Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:09 AM (#4065330)
Eric's stuff is not opinions (or just opinions at any rate) Here is Walker's links to a couple of important studies on the balls.

Yes, I've seen the stuff and even talked to one of the guys who ran one of those studies and I'll say it again it isn't beyond dispute.
   74. McCoy Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:12 AM (#4065331)
And as he notes, balls with what amounts to polyester winding rate to go further than those with wool winding -- something MLB doesn't test for at all.

They didn't really do much in the way of testing for what kind of wool/material was in the ball but they did do COR testing which will let them know how lively the ball was.

It isn't like nobody on the planet knows what the balls will do before they get into a game. These baseballs were not some kind of mystery ball before every season.


Also, the 1989 ball suffered from the same problem as the 1995 and 2000 but to a worse degree.

Bottom line for me is that they tested 5 balls with unknown history spanning 4 decades and a lot of people are hanging a lot of hats on their inconclusive findings.
   75. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 21, 2012 at 10:51 AM (#4065369)
I haven't read every post here so if I'm doubling up on something others have said I apologize. One thing that seems to be true is that the last 20-25 years the idea of using anything other than a pristine, white baseball has become impossible. I was watching some of the 1986 ALCS over the weekend and there was a pitch that bounced and Gedman just scooped it up and tossed it back to the mound.

Today Gedman would have discarded the ball or handed it back to the umpire. It seems that cleaner balls are used and it seems reasonable to think that a clean ball is easier for the hitter to pick up than a dirty ball.

I don't know how much of an impact this would have had but it seems like something that belongs on the list in #20. Probably lower on the list but on the list all the same.
   76. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 21, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4065382)
Given the controversy about the resiliency of baseballs that's been going on since Babe Ruth's day, and given the ongoing and evolving interest in everything related to home run production, I still find it amazing that nobody ever took it upon themselves to go to a sporting goods store at the same calendar point of each season, buy a random box of AL Reach / NL Spalding and then ML Rawlings baseballs, take them indoors to a climate-controlled climate, drop them onto a uniform hard surface, measure how high they bounce, and enter the results. Where were the Bill Jameses of yesteryear when the controversies about "rabbit balls" were all over the Hot Stove League, and more to the point, why isn't this being done now on a yearly basis? We all agree that the resiliency of the baseball is a major factor in the home run rate----why are we left to testing balls that have been sitting around for decades?

And yes, I know, "small sample size" and all that. But I was describing only what a person who could afford one box of baseballs might be able to do. Presumably others with greater resources could conduct tests that were more rigorous than that.
   77. Ron J Posted: February 21, 2012 at 04:51 PM (#4065706)
#76 Andy, doesn't rate to help. Remember, we know that the balls used by MLB tested differently than those in use in the minors.

It's consistent with a QA process that sorts the balls into several categories: rejected, good enough for general sales, good enough for use in the minors (these two categories might overlap -- that's the one thing testing off the shelf balls would tell us), good enough for the majors.

Note that there's no reason to think the balls selected for majors were chosen for their liveliness. Might be appearance, they might feel "better" to the person doing QA. And for that matter, it's a flat out guess that it's happening in QA. It's just something that's both plausible and consistent with the available info.
   78. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: February 21, 2012 at 05:16 PM (#4065725)
Good point, Ron, but couldn't someone figure out a way to obtain a decent sampling of "good enough for the majors" balls each year for independent testing, without Selig (or anyone else with a potential stake in the results) being able to slip in a bunch of ringers?
   79. Something Other Posted: February 21, 2012 at 05:41 PM (#4065752)
@78: For it to be reasonably conclusive, though, we're seeing from your exchange with Ron how involved such testing gets. Over a number of years, getting something like a dozen boxes of balls each year in order to minimize randomness, from a source that doesn't want you to have them?

It would take someone with a multiyear interest and ten grand to address the issue.
   80. AROM Posted: February 21, 2012 at 05:44 PM (#4065755)
That's for one person. Get enough people to sign up to help the study at a website like this, and ask them to go to as many games as possible and try to catch some foul balls.
   81. AROM Posted: February 21, 2012 at 05:48 PM (#4065759)
How far back could you test the baseballs anyway? If I had some game used baseballs from 1972 would I have any reason to think any test results done in 2012 would be the same as testing the same ball 40 years ago?
   82. JPWF1313 Posted: February 21, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4065766)
I've got to say, as someone who devoured Bill James books back in my late teens, each new thing I read from him, on whatever subject, makes me want to read the next new thing even less.

I've got to say, as someone who devoured Bill James books back in my twenties, almost any new thing I read from him, on whatever subject, makes me cringe.

That's a perfectly fine attitude for a creative musician (author, artist, etc.) and a certain amount of what James does is "creative". But mainly he's supposed to be a researcher and not being up on the latest in the field, re-inventing the wheel, not responding to criticism is inexcusable.


Back in the 1980s, ELIAS was trying to position itself as THE Baseball stats guys, they were the "official" records keepers, I swear to god baseball announcers must have been paid to flack fro ELIAS, rarely a game went by when an announcer trotted out some junk stat (usually a too small a sample size situational stat- trivia really) and attribute it to the "analysts" at ELIAS, and ELIAS did its damned best to A: ignore Bill James; and B: ignore nay developments in sabrmetrics in general.

James has slowly become in some way like his old nemesis at ELIAS, aside from a momentary fascination with DIPS, he hasn't shown any interest in, let alone understanding of, metrics devised by anyone but himself the last 20+ years. And he can be rather dismissive, saying he's wholly disinterested in whatever some new stat is trying to measure, and can't imagine why anyone else would be interested in it either.

Young Bill James would take a question, does trading for/ signing a star player boost attendance, does playing against a star player boost attendance, and he would study it, he would research box scores and attendance data. Who produce more runs a slow slugger, or a punchless high average speedster- he spent YEARs devising and tweaking run estimators to tackle that question- he would mentioning that other people hated his approach, they didn't want to study an issue they wanted to debate it, they would say that "of course Nolan Ryan attracts more people in attendance, even casual fans know who he is, so they will buy tickets whereas if Joe Schmoe is -pitching they might go to the beach. Or, they wanted to say of course Rod Carew creates more offense than Eddie Murray, not only does Rod Carew hit .330, but he's a threat to steal and throws pitchers off rhythm, thereby helping everyone else...

James would take these arguments and study them, usually debunking a goodly portion of them (which pissed off the geezers in the MSM to no end).

Now James has essentially become the same type of writer/analyst he used to attack, he simply wants to state his opinion, backed by his reasoning, he seemingly no longer has the time or patience for doing the analytical research or work he used to do. What's worse is that the less reliable he has become, the more certain he presents himself in his "conclusions."

   83. McCoy Posted: February 21, 2012 at 07:29 PM (#4065795)
COR throughout the years.

2004: .55 to .556
2000: .554
1999: .548
1998: .551
1982: .57
1980-1976: .53 to .56*****
1977: .563
1973: .559
1970: .556
1963: .559
1961: .5638 to .574 Popular Mechanics tested 12 balls as well and got a range of .50 to .68 while using a bat.
1960: .5517**
1953: .569
1952: .548**
1943: .42 for reclaimed rubber. .40 for balata*
1938: .46*
1936: .5672***
1927: .5534****
1925: .56
1923: .57
1914: .56


*: Briggs tested the balls by flinging them at 104 mph while MLB tests them at 58 mph.
**: Balls tested were 1 year old.
***: 25 year old tested ball
****: 34 year old tested ball
*****: Exact year unknown since Charlie Finley's family donated them 25 years later.
   84. Danny Posted: February 21, 2012 at 07:41 PM (#4065798)
From an interview with Bill James in 2003:

Q: To begin with the obvious question, what did you think of Moneyball? More specifically, what did you think of the book's account of your own work and of sabermetrics in general?

A: I tried to skip over the parts about myself. I established a policy many years ago of trying not to read anything written about myself. Mr. Lewis was very kind to me, and I appreciate his kind words, but ... it is unhealthy to base one's self-image on what other people say about you, even if they are generous.

...

Q: Did you learn anything about baseball from Moneyball?

A: Yes; I didn't have a real good idea of some of the things the A's were doing until I read the book. Actually—shouldn't admit this, I guess, but ... I had been working for several years on a book about baseball history, and thus, for several years, had not paid an awful lot of attention to what was happening in our own time.

I didn't, until reading the book, have any sense of who Billy Beane was, who J. P. Ricciardi was, or how they had been able to sustain the A's organization through difficult times. Some of those things I didn't know because I hadn't really been paying attention, and some of them I didn't know because, until the book came out, they hadn't been reported.
   85. McCoy Posted: February 21, 2012 at 07:47 PM (#4065801)
That should be .55 to .56 for 2004. Edit button apparently timed out on me.
   86. zenbitz Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:33 PM (#4065820)
It's hard to reconcile @55 with the statement "But I think it’s very unlikely that steroids were not the main cause of the explosion in home run numbers."
Although it's possible that James (as a Red Sox insider??) has evidence that he is not revealing to us.
   87. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: February 21, 2012 at 08:57 PM (#4065831)
It's hard to reconcile @55 with the statement "But I think it’s very unlikely that steroids were not the main cause of the explosion in home run numbers."


It's harder to reconcile "I never read Moneyball (2012)" with "Yes; I didn't have a real good idea of some of the things the A's were doing until I read the book (2003)."

Ron said that James remains a skeptic. But I'm with McCoy. But the more I read from him, it seems the healthy skepticism that fueled his early work has been replaced with simple contrarianism.
   88. Something Other Posted: February 21, 2012 at 11:06 PM (#4065879)
Now James has essentially become the same type of writer/analyst he used to attack, he simply wants to state his opinion, backed by his reasoning, he seemingly no longer has the time or patience for doing the analytical research or work he used to do. What's worse is that the less reliable he has become, the more certain he presents himself in his "conclusions."
The fate of all men, alas.

I imagine most of James's time is spent on his work for the Red Sox (they probably don't ask him for just 10 hours a week), which he can't disclose, and the hours he was left for work he puts into continuing his side businesses. And he's old. His day in the analytical sun has passed, at least publicly.
   89. jingoist Posted: February 21, 2012 at 11:54 PM (#4065897)
Every dog has his day....and eventually his day is done.

Don't blame James for jumping at the chance to make some real cash.
When you get to a certain point in your life and you have yet to have a real payday, you jump at the chance of a consulting job for an MLB team.
This helps make the declining years more comfortable
   90. Danny Posted: February 22, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4066078)
It's harder to reconcile "I never read Moneyball (2012)" with "Yes; I didn't have a real good idea of some of the things the A's were doing until I read the book (2003)."

Yeah, I also don't really believe Theo when he says he hasn't seen the movie.

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