Baseball is amazing. We can find a million ways to fall in love with it, no matter our interest. We root passionately for our side, and make arguments for our favorite players or against our enemy teams. We can sit at the ballpark day after day, or we can listen to the broadcasters of our youth on our AM raido, or watch our MLB.TV package, or just read the game story in the morning paper. We still are fans.
Today, I was trying to catch up on some reading, and I found this Colin Wyers Baseball Prospectus piece about Jon Heyman’s question about a stat-WAR. Its a question of sample size, really, but Wyers goes into a long rambling bit of writing about sabermetricians vs doubters, before he gets to the gist of why Heyman’s question created was warranted.
The next piece I went to was a piece by my favorite Joe Posnanski about the magic that exists with the Yankees. No doubt, the bombers do seem to be blessed. And Posnanski’s friend, and executive producer, Michael Schur, makes the case that there is magic in the Bronx. And there is. Somehow, we count them out and they rise from the ashes. And I fully believe there is something that happens to these athletes when they step into that clubhouse, something that makes them believe that they can perform at the highest level.
I have a scout friend who, whenever I call a player terrible, tells me, doesn’t matter what I think he’s a big leaguer. When I make the case that he shouldn’t be, or that if there were fewer teams he wouldn’t be, he says it doesn’t matter- because he is a big leaguer. And I think that is something that comes into play with the Yankees. Maybe they perform because they are Yankees. They must be good, if they are Yankees and so they step up. There is something special that happens, no doubt. But for those who want to measure it, well, that has to be nearly in comprehensible.
And for me, that is what makes baseball so special. While we can quantify so much, to explain so much, there is still some things that are unexplainable. Sample size may be it. But it doesn’t matter. There is something to believing- both in your team and in you guy and in yourself. And if you needs stats to make that true, you probably can find them. Or you can simply watch the ball move from the pitcher towards the plate and the batter make that snap decision to swing or not to swing, and you can smile.
The reality is those marginal Yankee players only have to sustain excellence for part of a season. Sample size. The Yankee stars, who are older, will be back, but they too will now only have to perform for a part of the season. Mariano and a good bullpen shortens a game. A good bench shortens the season.
Baseball is magic, just like nature and the unfurling of green leaves, and the blooming of flowers is. Yes, there is science behind it all. Does that mean that we need to love the science to love the game? Nope. We just need to smile.
Due to this ongoing health issue, today’s trivia is not for any prize but just for some bragging rights. Be the first to answer either of these questions, and you will get some props from the LMT crowd.
First Question: On this date in 1986, Reggie Jackson, playing for the Angels, hits a home run off this young Boston hurler to pass Mickey Mantle on the all-time list. Name the hurler who would go on to play for three more teams, including the Yankees, during his 24 year career.
Second Question: At the age of 19 years and 211 days, Nationals’ rookie Bryce Harper becomes the youngest player in franchise history to hit a home run breaking the mark established by Gary Carter, who was 20 years and 173 days old when he went deep as an Expo before the team left Montreal to play in Washington. Harper is not the youngest to ever hit a home run for a Washington team, however, can you name that player- who might be better known once his Senators became the Twins.
Money lost to the disabled list has been a hot topic the last couple of years among baseball researchers, but now for us layman the New York Times has created an amazing graphic. Like atomic clock, the graphic is continually adding up the dollars lost to the disabled list this season by team. The graphic also shows the number of players, and the percentage of the total payroll.
Take a look and then let me know what you find the most impressive- the amount of money wasted by the teams at the top? Or the percentages of payroll on the DL for the teams near the bottom of the list?
Sorry gang, but I am still under the weather- fighting to get back on track and missing seeing live baseball.
In the meantime, I am just linking you through to some big, or at least interesting, stories in baseball. Such as this ridiculous story about Joba Chamberlain getting mad at Mariano Rivera. Like that is ever OK. Thanks to Mark Feinsand for the details.
The Cubs, who sit at 15-22 today, are locking up their young players to long-term deals. This MLB Traderumors piece gives some details of the Anthony Rizzo deal due to be announced today. And while the piece doesn’t note how early it is to lock a player like Rizzo into a long-term deal, it should. Rizzo could achieve super-two status after the 2014 season, but a lot can happen between now and then. And to sign a player to such a long-term deal who hasn’t even played a full season at the major league level seems to be an example of short-term thinking, not long-term. While Rizzo is hitting .288 this season, that brings his career BA up to .255 only. And while he projects high, and is often advisable to buy out the arbitration years, and the first couple of free agency, this deal has huge upside for Rizzo, and not much at this moment for the Cubs.
That being said, once called the future of the Mets rotation, Philip Humber has been designated for assignment by the Houston Astros of all teams. He was the team’s #3 starter out of spring training, and had pitched a perfect game last year for the White Sox, but after three good starts followed by three abysmal starts, Humber is no longer an Astro. Will someone else pick him up? That is a great question. But as a former phenom that has had a rocky road in his first years in the majors, he sits as a counterpoint to anyone who thinks it always makes sense to sign a player to a longer term deal early.;
Been terribly ill this week, so apologies for the lack for the lack of writing. Just going to send you to this editorial about umpiring from Bob Nightengale. Nightengale is right, they should be allowed to speak after games.