Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life Imitates Art

Old time hockey leaves Johnstown. After ol' Reg Dunlop died, it was only a matter of time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Fighting 25th

The Twenty-fifth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion

I've been reading this off and on this month. The coolest part is that they celebrated Washington's Birthday with a ball game. Some day, when I have more free time, I'll investigate further. The Sesquicentennial is coming up and I've been on an occasional Civil War jag since I read Tony Horwitz's Confederates In The Attic last summer.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

More ramblings at Seamheads

I figure anyone who reads this blog with interest knows about my Seamheads pieces, but here's a link to the latest, Justin Case.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Another piece at Seamheads

This one connects Buffalo Bill to George Steinbrenner via Billy Southworth. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jose Reyes, Modern Day Rabbit Maranville

Joe Posnanski thinks so. Do any of you guys know the excitement formula that he and Bill James came up with? I don't think you can boil this stuff down to integers, but I like where he was going.

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.

I'd add looong home runs and big whiffs to this list. I may counter it with unexciting plays (How often is the player intentionally walked? Does he hit a lot of routine grounders?)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Another Tug McGraw Circle Change

I don't think Tug ever used a circle change. It's vogue came after him, but I think that Circle Change is a good classification for these little stories that I post. I talked about Tug McGraw before, but I have a thing for lefties. I’m one myself. One of Tug’s teammates on the “Ya Gotta Believe” Mets was Ron Hodges. If you’re a Red Sox fan, think of Ron as Flushing’s answer to Bob Montgomery. A career backup catcher who played his whole MLB career for the same team. Monty was a Tennessean and Hodges was a Virginian. But I have no clue if Ron is broadcasting AAA games.

Hodges last season for the Metropolitans was 1984. They had an outfielder who had a cup of coffee that year and the next. Went by the name of Billy Beane. He went on to more fame off the field as the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics. A lot of that fame was due to a book written by Michael Lewis. Moneyball was the title.

Although he is mainly a business writer (Liar’s Poker is a particular favorite of mine), Lewis has written about sports on other occasions. Another one of his books was The Blind Side. This discussed the evolution of the left tackle position in football and focused in particular on a young man named Michael Oher. Taken in by a family off the streets of Memphis, Oher went on to go to school at Ole Miss and was an NFL rookie last year. They made the book into a film last year, starring Sandra Bullock as Leigh Ann Tuohy; Oher’s adoptive mother.

Her husband was played by Tim McGraw, the country singer and Tug’s son.

Thanks go out to Rob from Portland for inspiring this whimsy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lousy Ten Percenters

In a thread at The Factory, Mike Webber had this to say about unwritten books:

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.

I once wrote about Bob Woolf. It was for a book on Pumpsie Green that, as far as I can tell, has not been published yet. But I think that I can give you a small taste:

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.

Upon further reflection, I might throw Robin Roberts name in that mix, too.