Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat
1 hour ago
Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.
The human beauty we’re talking about here is beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty. Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.
3) "Oh, I suppose you could do better?" No, I couldn't. I'd be a lousy announcer, for sure. But I don't need to know how to make a movie to know that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is a stinker. I don't need to know how to play guitar to know Loverboy was a lousy band. I don't need to know how to cook a really good burger in order to know when I'm eating a crummy one. (As it happens, I do know how to make a really good burger, but that's another story.) In short, I know an overmatched broadcaster when I hear one, and Hagin fits the bill.
3) Drop the arrogance of specificity. Use ranges when possible.
We’re measuring luck. Luck isn’t exact. So we’ll never be right on the money. You’ll never be able to find a season where a significant number of players have an xBA equal to their actual batting average. That makes us look stupid, when in fact, we’re just being arrogant — by being so exact.
We should use ranges. xBA should be the 50% confidence interval, not the midpoint thereof. More made up numbers: If a guy’s xBA is .285, it’s probably better expressed by saying that it’s between .279 and .291, or whatever. It makes that .290 BA not seem “lucky” (it really isn’t) but tells us that a .274 is really unlucky. In other words, it does the job — without the excruciatingly nerdy exactitude we are (wrongly) associated with.
It’s our job to communicate this stuff. It’s not their job to get smarter (they’re not dumb) or to figure it out themselves (they’re busy) or that they don’t respect us (true, but fixable). The problem is semantic, not logical, and semantic problems can — and indeed, must — be fixed by revising our language. It’s time to stop using BABIP.
By the time my friends and I started our sports blog, FreeDarko, I had done a decent amount of music criticism, and was in grad school for American studies. Typing for a few minutes when I had a stray thought about Kobe Bryant didn’t strike me as anything particularly special... Out of college, I wanted to write about music because writing seemed like an act of love or devotion. Criticism was a necessary corollary of art, a way to get at the meaning underneath the visceral experience, or at the meaning of that experience. While I sometimes dismiss my stuff as “music writing about sports,” I wouldn’t balk at the label “sports criticism.”
My all-time favorite piece of sportswriting is Woody Allen’s 1977 essay on New York Knicks guard Earl Monroe, which appeared in Sport. It helps that it’s Woody Allen, but it’s just as important to me that Woody Allen is not a traditional sportswriter, and that his take on Monroe is anything but traditional.
I’m also a huge fan of Tommy Craggs, senior editor at Deadspin. Tommy is a simply phenomenal writer who could also go toe-to-toe with any sports nerd anywhere. His longer stuff is just fantastic; these Slate pieces on the interpretation of Kevin Love, and the myth of Stephen Curry, remind you why “essayist” is a title one has to earn.
Bill Veeck, the legendary Chicago White Sox owner and showman, who also was no gentleman, saw a kindred spirit in Steinbrenner. "I like George," he once told me for a story I was writing for the Journal. "He breaks all the unwritten rules."
MYSTIC, Conn. – Artifacts of a battle between a Native American tribe and English settlers, a confrontation that helped shape early American history, have sat for years below manicured lawns and children's swing sets in a Connecticut neighborhood. A project to map the battlefields of the Pequot War is bringing those musket balls, gunflints and arrowheads into the sunlight for the first time in centuries.
A long, detailed analysis of the (Cliff Lee)deal on Monday probably has some value, but it’s so greatly diminished by the volume of things we’re going to see between now and then makes it near zero. I think the time part of the analysis is shrinking. What used to be 48 hours is now maybe 12. Anything beyond that, no matter how good, isn’t going to matter.
Also, just like so many other Red Sox fans, Daisuke drives me nuts. He works slowly and walks way too many batters. In his final four seasons for the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka averaged 2.3 walks issued per nine innings. For the Red Sox, his 162-game average BB/9 has jumped to 4.3. Combine the walks, his inefficiency and his unreliability from a health standpoint and it’s all just very maddening.
Don Coryell's offensive-minded approach helped spark a passing revolution in professional football.
Mr. Coryell, who died Thursday at age 85, was the designer of the "Air Coryell" offense for the National Football League's San Diego Chargers. His teams never made it to the Super Bowl—a fact that may have kept Mr. Coryell out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame—but they exemplified a wide-open style of offense that fans loved.
"He helped give the game the entertainment value that it has today," said Kellen Winslow, a Charger tight end who played for Mr. Coryell. "Before that, the NFL was three yards and a cloud of dust."
P.S. Do you like the shorter posts? This was a topic discussed during the panel on sports and blogging at the Western Economic Association. Justin Wolfers says the posts at Freakonomics are supposed to be 400 words or shorter. I responded that I struggled with the 800 word limit at Huffington Post. Although this is true, I am going to start trying to make whatever point I am trying to make (as if I am always trying to make a point) a bit quicker. And one last note… I am now back in Cedar City. So all the stuff I promised to post might appear soon.
Liberated fandom is something I first saw on Free Darko – the wildly successful and pretentious basketball site of some acclaim. I’ll never fully divorce myself from rooting for laundry but I refuse to shut myself off from Joy dressed as the enemy.
I have nothing but love and respect for Mariano Rivera and couldn’t possibly imagine a world in which Manny and Papi are villains. I couldn’t bring myself to cheer for David Eckstein during his time as a Jay because it just didn’t feel right.
Basically, my bastardized version says listen to your guts. Cast off the shackles of us versus them and embrace greatness in its every form. Appreciate and understand the team in the other dugout because the wins and losses fade over time. It isn’t too far from the “All Joy” concept, just with a wordier name.
Some things to take away from the chart:
Power hitters are far more "inconsistent" than other kinds of hitters. Doubles, triples and home runs by far have the highest standard error.
Walks are very consistent, showing very little standard error compared to other events. Outs are also very consistent. So, all else being equal, players with either very high or very low on-base percentages would tend to have less error in their linear weights estimates.
And speaking of books, most baseball players really aren't interesting enough to write about. Not in a serious biography, anyway. But Dykstra's different. Between his baseball career and his business adventures and the fractured relationship with his baseball-playing son, there's the makings here of a Shakespearian tragedy. The only problem is that you sort of have to wait until the ending, to really do the story justice.
The last Founding Fathers were James Madison and John Marshall, with Madison outlived Marshall by almost a year.
The only possible F.F. to outlive them both was Aaron Burr. His Founding claim to fame was involvement in the 1775 invasion of Quebec. Pretty much everyone else of note from that period was dead by then.
American Tabloid by James Ellroy was a giant curveball by the hard-boiled detective writer. Those of us who loved his L.A. Quartet didn't know what to expect when Ellroy finished with the 50s and started on the 1960s. The writing stayed as hard-boiled as ever, but Ellroy upped the scope from Los Angeles to the entire nation with a book that covers Kennedy's campaign through his death. And what a ride we are on.
Bill James and I plotted out formula (admittedly the formula is a lot more me than Bill — he just offered suggestions) to try and determine the most exciting players in baseball. I lost that original formula, but I tried to recreate it, taking into account triples (the most exciting play in baseball!), stolen bases, batting average, defensive excitement (subjective) and a couple of other things.
Some biographies I haven't seen yet,
Willie McCovey, Dazzy Vance, Hoyt Wilhelm, Home Run Baker, Kid Nichols, Zach Wheat, Rickey.. and that just a few Hall of Famers.
As far as great unexplored areas... Agents? There has been a fundamental change in the game with agents, but is there a book that describes the who, what and why?
Cuban baseball will be very fertile when the wall finally comes down, and it seems to be thinning.
Woolf was an attorney who got his start in sports agentry through the pitcher Earl Wilson. He would go on to represent Carl Yastrzemski, Ken Harrelson, and Reggie Smith. He would also branch out into other sports and represent Larry Bird, Derek Sanderson, Russ Francis, and others. This was innovative at the time. The MLBPA was young. Thanks to the American Football League, some football players had options; those good enough to be drafted by both leagues. But even in football, agents weren’t always accepted. Basketball players had a rival league bidding for their services starting in 1967 when the ABA debuted. Baseball players were still serfs. Thanks to antitrust exemption, baseball players couldn’t take competitive bids. At least they used to be able to do that when they came out of school, but a draft was instituted in 1965.
Much has been written about how Marvin Miller helped players gain economic independence. It would be worth looking into the role of Wilson, Koufax, and Drysdale; as well as Bob Woolf and Bill Hayes.
"I have always found it immensely pleasurable to watch David Eckstein play baseball. There probably isn't a ballplayer alive who couldn't benefit from adapting something Eckstein does to his own game. (The last guys I remember who were like this were Ozzie Smith and Tony Fernandez). I hope Aaron Hill absorbed a lot of the lessons visible in Eckstein's play while he was able to play with him this year - noted the furious commitment (to the moment and to the cause of winning) that carries ordinary players and ordinary teams to the top of the heap.
That said, Eckstein is not a major league shortstop anymore and since he still delivers value with the bat he really should be playing second base (presumably with the D-Backs he will). It's been difficult to watch Eckstein struggle to make his body respond to the demands of a position it can no longer handle. I imagine Eckstein could still play a very fine second base... his feet are definitely not too slow, his footwork is still very fine and his arm, now a total liability at short, is plenty good enough for second.
Much like Mike Bordick before him, David Eckstein was an utter class act and the great thing about his time here is that he's undoubtedly made tens of thousands of more fans for life. Players like David Eckstein actually deserve the hero worship that people give to athletes. I say that without knowing a thing about his personal life (he could bite the heads of baby rabbits for all I care); I mean he plays baseball like a religious mystic in the throes of a frenzied ecstasy."
My old girlfriend once took a bunch of troubled kids from this craphole to see Woodsville host Tilton in high school basketball. A fight ensued, and it ended with the dramatic scene of her escorting the group out past bleachers full of people all screaming at them.
Police said some players started the fight allegedly after a player who didn't play in the game shoved an opponent while the teams shook hands. A police officer assigned to the game broke up that fight but then had to radio for backup when more fights broke out and parents spilled from the bleachers, police said. The officer then saw one parent attack another and then more parents joined the fray.
Sgt. Daniel Casale of the Enfield police department said that “The heckling started before the game was actually over.’’
Heckling? One team entered the game with a 3-12 record. The other entered the game with a 1-14 record. With those kinds of records, everybody needs to just shut up and play, or shut up and sit on your hands if you don’t know how to root properly at a high school event.
Re more Maranvillains - Pudge Rodriguez, the way he used to intimidate basestealers. That was awesome. Baseball fans just a little older than me, though, the guy they rave about is Johnny Bench. I have probably heard more raving about the incredible, eye-popping all-round play of Johnny Bench than anyone else I can think of.
Nolan Ryan, another Maranvillain by the way. While I am thinking of it.
The guy in Pudge's mold who impresses me the most now with his play behind the plate is Yadier Molina. I love watching that guy play baseball.