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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Guzzardi: Modern baseball stars are overrated — and overpaid

“Joe Guzzardi is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America.” No wonder I only hang out with the Totie Fields Appreciation Consortium.

This week the Hall of Fame announced its three newest inductees, pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and designated hitter/first baseman Frank Thomas. Even though they’re worthy candidates, my reaction to news was to yawn. Although I’m a lifelong fan, I’m pretty much done with modern day baseball.

Sure, I said the same thing after the 1994-95 strike, the third of its kind since 1972.

Then I pledged to not pay attention to baseball when the cocaine and steroid scandals unfolded.

But this time, I really mean it. The HOF is a running joke. What should be the most exclusive club in professional sports will soon admit dozens more players. Because of the backlog of candidates, the Baseball Writers’ Association of American is considering a 15-man ballot instead of the traditional 10. The BBWAA either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that a smaller HOF is a more exclusive and therefore better institution.

But the membership size and the inevitable controversies about which worthy players may be left out or which undeserving players get voted in isn’t my biggest problem.

Insane sums of money are.

...My suggestion for the HOF would be to end the annual voting and thereby spare the fans of pointless arguments the most tedious of which is whether Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens should be inducted despite their links to steroid use.

But keep the non-HOF Cooperstown Museum open so that fans can study the game’s great history. In Cooperstown, visitors can learn about the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional base ball (as it was then spelled) team that went 57-0 for the season. I guarantee you that the Red Stockings of 145 years ago are more interesting than the 2013, $2.3 billion Yankees.

Repoz Posted: January 11, 2014 at 10:28 AM | 37 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hof

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   1. dejarouehg Posted: January 11, 2014 at 10:52 AM (#4636182)
As long as someone is willing to pay you $X, then you are worth $X.

Within the scope of professional sports, generally speaking, the superstars (assuming they bring in spectators and draw eyes to the regional networks) are underpaid and the good players are overpaid.

In hoops, LeBron James is grossly underpaid but not neraly as much as Michael Jordan was.

I'm guessing David Ortiz generates a huge amount of money relative to what he gets paid, especially in comparison to a player like Kyle Lohse.
   2. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:03 AM (#4636184)
He's right about one thing: The plaque room is the least interesting part of Cooperstown.
   3. I Am Not a Number Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4636185)
What juvenile dross. I can't believe this was written by a grown man. He does SABR a disservice by making public his membership.
   4. Bob Tufts Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4636186)
This week the Hall of Fame announced its four inductees, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth. Even though they’re worthy candidates, my reaction to news was to yawn. Although I’m a lifelong fan, I’m pretty much done with modern day baseball.

Sure, I said the same thing after the introduction of radio broadcasts. Then I pledged to not pay attention to baseball when it integrated.
   5. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4636188)
Although I’m a lifelong fan, I’m pretty much done with modern day baseball.

Sure, I said the same thing after the 1994-95 strike, the third of its kind since 1972.

Then I pledged to not pay attention to baseball when the cocaine and steroid scandals unfolded.

But this time, I really mean it.


He's gonna play his trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play his trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play his trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play his trumpet NOW!

He's gonna play his trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play that trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play his trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play his trumpet NOW!

He's gonna play his trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play his trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play that trumpet!
WHAT'S HE GONNA DO?
He's gonna play his trumpet NOWWW!!!
   6. dejarouehg Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4636189)
He's right about one thing: The plaque room is the least interesting part of Cooperstown.


Actually, I think the warehouse where they keep all the items not on display is the most interesting part. Been there 3 times; each time was just a big disappointment.
   7. jacjacatk Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM (#4636190)
I guarantee you that the Red Stockings of 145 years ago are more interesting than the 2013, $2.3 billion Yankees.


This is so untrue it really needs to be highlighted. There are, probably, only a handful of people who would find the 1869 Red Stockings interesting beyond walking past a display about them in Cooperstown. There are, I assume literally, millions of people more interested in any given Yankees season.

The Yankees Wiki page, not exactly the most relevant page on the web for the Yankees, gets 30 times the traffic the 1869 Red Stockings page does (and that might actually be the most relevant page on the web for them for all I know, it's the first item on Google for 1869 Red Stockings).
   8. John Northey Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4636191)
The money issue has been complained about ever since those 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Safe bet if video existed back then and you watched it you'd think you were watching semi-pro baseball at best. Cool as it would be to see, I doubt they would've been able to beat a A+ level team nowadays largely due to them not having years of practice and competition against players at their level.
   9. Bob Tufts Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:27 AM (#4636193)
Mr. Guzzardi: No, I've decided to bring in a few ringers. Professional baseballers. We'll give them token jobs at the plant and have them play on our softball team. Honus Wagner, Cap Anson, Mordecai "3-Finger" Brown...

SABR: Sir?

Mr. Guzzardi What is it?

SABR: I'm afraid all those players have retired and... passed on. In fact, your right fielder has been dead for 130 years.

Mr. Guzzardi: Damnation! Alright, find me some good players. LIVING players! Scour the professional ranks. The American League, the National League, the Negro League!

   10. Scott Ross Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4636195)
Can't wait for his first piece on baseball in 2014.
   11. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:34 AM (#4636196)
Actually, I think the warehouse where they keep all the items not on display is the most interesting part.

You're probably right about that, though I'd also include the HoF library.

Been there 3 times; each time was just a big disappointment.

I've been there 3 times myself, the last 2 times about 10 years after the previous visit. I can't say it was exactly a disappointment, but like most of us here, I think I could probably do a better job of it.

   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:38 AM (#4636197)
I guarantee you that the Red Stockings of 145 years ago are more interesting than the 2013, $2.3 billion Yankees.


This is so untrue it really needs to be highlighted. There are, probably, only a handful of people who would find the 1869 Red Stockings interesting beyond walking past a display about them in Cooperstown. There are, I assume literally, millions of people more interested in any given Yankees season.

The Yankees Wiki page, not exactly the most relevant page on the web for the Yankees, gets 30 times the traffic the 1869 Red Stockings page does (and that might actually be the most relevant page on the web for them for all I know, it's the first item on Google for 1869 Red Stockings).


I don't think that really answers Guzzardi's point. By the standard you just evoke, Miley Cyrus is likely far more interesting than Daniel Day-Lewis.
   13. dejarouehg Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4636198)
Both football and hoops hofs are better and mlb has so much more to work with
   14. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4636202)
Even if I accepted the point that players are overpaid (I don't)... so what? Who cares? Literally who gives a flying fuck about it? Does it affect the actual play on the actual field even one tiny bit? How does it change your enjoyment of actually watching the game? Are players running around with so many dollar bills stuffed down their pants, that it is slowing them down?

It's pure pettiness and envy.
   15. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4636203)
#5 will always be funny to me.
   16. donlock Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4636206)
How does Joe Guzzardi have tome to rant about the HOF? Doesn't he have to get ready for spring training and managing the Yankees?

What? Never mind then.
   17. PreservedFish Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:58 AM (#4636212)
I don't understand why some people wear their grumpiness like a badge of honor.
   18. Bob Tufts Posted: January 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4636216)
His New year's resolution was to be crankier and less tolerant in 2014.
   19. BDC Posted: January 11, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4636234)
football and hoops hofs are better

I have never been to Canton. Springfield is interesting; I've been there several times for some reason. Building the current building with a basketball court at the center was a very smart move. It gives the place a dynamic feel. They've got an interesting approach to their "plaques" (a sort of Guggenheim effect, without the spiral) and lots of color and excitement.

Cooperstown is comparatively dignified, not to say drab; but the museum has kept up well over the years, I think (I've been there several times too, decades apart). I was first there in 1975. One of my favorite parts in '75 was a room where they had leaderboard plaques: you could walk around and look at the all-time leaders in hits, etc. updated to the day IIRC from last night's boxscores. At that point I was trying to estimate leaderboards from my 1969 Macmillan encyclopedia plus the current issue of Who's Who in Baseball. I dreamed of a site where they would update career leaderboards daily. The wish is father to B-Ref.
   20. GregD Posted: January 11, 2014 at 01:13 PM (#4636297)
Overrated, overpaid, oversexed, and over here
   21. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: January 11, 2014 at 01:19 PM (#4636301)
I'm not sure Vernon Wells counts as a "star" but he seems to have a pretty good gig this year.
   22. depletion Posted: January 11, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4636313)
Lodi.
Stuck in Lodi again.
   23. Tripon Posted: January 11, 2014 at 01:31 PM (#4636318)
I don't think Guzzardi understands how Cooperstown pays its bills. They need new blood coming in every year, or nobody will care to know about the "1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first professional base ball (as it was then spelled) team that went 57-0 for the season."

I can just wikipedia that if I want to know basic info, but I'd go to Cooperstown in order to see one of my favorite players get elected to the Hall of Fame.

   24. Gamingboy Posted: January 11, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4636401)
Due to better nutrition, medical treatments (and I'm not talking about steroids, I'm talking about surgeries and such), equipment and the ability to spend almost their entire time on baseball instead of working off-season jobs, I'm going to say that even the worst player on the 2013 Yankees is probably much, much better than the best player of the 1869 Reds.
   25. BDC Posted: January 11, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4636419)
even the worst player on the 2013 Yankees is probably much, much better than the best player of the 1869 Reds

That's a fascinating proposition: if you put George Wright directly in a time machine, he would be much, much worse, than, say, Reid Brignac.

In his NA days, Wright was about 7 wins above average per 162 games. Brignac was about 7 below average (extrapolated) in 2013. And the span is helpfully about 140 years, so we're talking an increase in average league quality of about 1 win per decade. But that's just for Wright to be even with Brignac; the proposition is that he's much, much worse.

If Wright is even with Brignac, then Honus Wagner couldn't play today. Babe Ruth would be an OK hitter, somebody like Mike Napoli. Mickey Mantle might be a pretty good player, Ben Zobrist or that vicinity. Shift that to "much, much" worse and then Wagner can't play in the minors, Ruth is an average player, Mantle just a decent one. One does hear claims like this. It could be true.

Of course, much of the improvement might be concentrated in jumps between the NA and the NL, the 19th-century league systems and organized ball, and the integration decade or so, leaving Wagner still a bum but Mantle still a star. But the overall trend would leave Wright completely unable to take even Brignac's miserable job away.

Maybe so. Wright is listed at 150 pounds. OTOH he'd have a lot smaller strike zone than Brignac. But given a piece of lath held together with horse glue and nails, he might not outhit Reid Brignac. And if Wright had to play SS in 2013 without a glove … I'm still unsure :)

   26. DL from MN Posted: January 11, 2014 at 05:55 PM (#4636480)
Pitchers were hitting 90+ MPH going back quite a ways. I don't think the raw contact skill level is that different now than it was then.
   27. Gamingboy Posted: January 11, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4636490)
I remember a book, BDC, that was basically about calculating how well players would have done in modern days. One of his main things he noted was that the book was being written with the caveat that it assumed that in the simulations he run that every player from 1900 onward basically "grew up" in modern times and thus had that modern medicine, training techniques, etc. This was because apparently his initial calculations that *didn't* run on that assumption made Honus Wagner looks like a replacement-level player etc.

Can't remember the book or the specifics, but...
   28. TJ Posted: January 11, 2014 at 07:07 PM (#4636507)

That's a fascinating proposition: if you put George Wright directly in a time machine, he would be much, much worse, than, say, Reid Brignac.


George Wright today would still be better than Reid Brignac, which is really saying something since Wright's been dead for 76 years...
   29. PreservedFish Posted: January 11, 2014 at 07:41 PM (#4636523)
And the span is helpfully about 140 years, so we're talking an increase in average league quality of about 1 win per decade.


Of course, the change wouldn't be linear. I would guess that speed of improvement must have been greatest in the sport's infancy. When George Wright started playing the mound was 45 feet from the plate and the pitcher threw underhand. If you put Wright up there in front of 6'4" Aroldis Chapman throwing 102 mph, assuming that he didn't flee from what he might have thought was Satan himself stalking the earth, and assuming that he actually recognized the sport as baseball, I don't know if he'd stand a much better chance than any good high school hitter would. I think I would take Brignac.
   30. SoCalDemon Posted: January 11, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4636609)
Not only would the change not be linear, but in fact there would have been huge changes in talent, even within individual players, between 1869 and the end of the 1871 season. Against other "professional" teams, the Red Stockings went 19-0 against professional teams (total dominance) to 27-6 in 1870 (dominance, but they could be beaten; worse winning percentage than the 96 Bulls for instance), then in 1871, George Wright had a 198 OPS+ (at age 24), then a 151 OPS+ from 1872-76 (144 OPS+ in 1872), then a 94 OPS+ OPS+ from 77-79 (but who knows; injuries get to us all). Cal McVey (also on the 1869 team) had a 175 OPS+ in 1871 (at 21), then a 112 OPS+ at 22, then rebounded to a 173 OPS+ from 23-25. These are all small sample sizes, but suggest that there were huge changes in talent level between 1869 and 1872. I would bet, based on my experience in high school, that it was not just an increase in available talent, but also big increases in the abilities of individual players as they start consistently playing against other top-level talent (I am sure George Wright in 1869 frequently brought his D game and still went 7 for 9 or whatever).
   31. SoCalDemon Posted: January 11, 2014 at 08:52 PM (#4636620)
In contrast, Cap Anson was awesome in 1872, and was awesome in 1890, and still above-average in 1896 at 44, which is at least one data point that while I am sure players were getting better over that time span, it was at a slower pace than 1869-1876 or so.
   32. TR_Sullivan Posted: January 11, 2014 at 09:16 PM (#4636645)
1. One of my all-time favorite baseball books is If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock. I am sure some in here have read it. It is a fictional account of the 1869 Red Stockings and is absolutely fascinating

2. Been to Canton but over 20 years ago. Not very good...a dearth of good stuff

3. I have been told by the Baseball Hall of Fame people that the "warehouse" which I think is actually the basement, is incredible. They only display a fraction of what they have.

4. There ain't nothing on this earth that ain't nothing like it once was as the San Joaquin Valley and the old Class A California towns. The Valley is being overtaken by polluted urban sprawl in places like Bakersfield, Stockton, Modesto and Fresno.... And Lodi
   33. BDC Posted: January 11, 2014 at 09:33 PM (#4636656)
George Wright in 1869 frequently brought his D game

Or as he would have called it, "a less than sockdollager approach to baseballistics."

If I Never Get Back is sharp both as a historical novel and as just a plain old adventure/romance story. It's a treat, TR, I agree.
   34. rb's team is hopeful for the new year! Posted: January 11, 2014 at 11:24 PM (#4636713)
So you're saying that if I go the SABR convention in houston i could possibly slap this moron and the VP of the BWAA?

/books ticket
   35. Booey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:54 AM (#4636745)
Even if I accepted the point that players are overpaid (I don't)... so what? Who cares? Literally who gives a flying #### about it? Does it affect the actual play on the actual field even one tiny bit? How does it change your enjoyment of actually watching the game? Are players running around with so many dollar bills stuffed down their pants, that it is slowing them down?


This has always been my exact thought as well. I'll never understand why player salaries should bother fans AT ALL, let alone so much. How much an actor, rock star, or author makes has no bearing whatsoever on my enjoyment of their movies, music, or books. And it doesn't seem to matter for most other fans of their work, either. Why should it matter with athletes? The product on the field is all I care about. A 450 ft homer is just as fun to watch when it's hit by a guy making 25 mil as it is when it's hit by a player making league minimum.
   36. jacjacatk Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:58 AM (#4636785)
This is so untrue it really needs to be highlighted. There are, probably, only a handful of people who would find the 1869 Red Stockings interesting beyond walking past a display about them in Cooperstown. There are, I assume literally, millions of people more interested in any given Yankees season.

The Yankees Wiki page, not exactly the most relevant page on the web for the Yankees, gets 30 times the traffic the 1869 Red Stockings page does (and that might actually be the most relevant page on the web for them for all I know, it's the first item on Google for 1869 Red Stockings).


I don't think that really answers Guzzardi's point. By the standard you just evoke, Miley Cyrus is likely far more interesting than Daniel Day-Lewis.


Well, I don't know that the wiki page hits is a good metric for any of them, but DDL is about 1/5 as popular by that metric than Miley, which is better than the distance between the Red Stockings and Yankees.

And really, my point was that millions of people invest some portion of their day/week/month/year in the Yankees season every year. Relative to that, almost no one ever thinks about the Red Stockings. To the extent the same applies about Miley and DDL, well, I guess she is actually more interesting. Though if you counted the number of people who'd spent money on something DDL helped create and something Miley did, maybe it would be different.

Probably not though, every teen girl on the planet's probably spent enough hours on Hannah Montana (the wiki page for which almost matches DDL's wiki page traffic) to outweigh all the time spent watching DDL movies.
   37. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 12, 2014 at 04:35 PM (#4637109)
As always, the Onion has the definitive word on this subject.

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