Diamond Dollars author Vince Gennaro on the economics of winning in baseball.
Monday, June 22, 2009
My understanding is that a million years ago pitching meant throwing underhand.
1. Change the rules and impose underhand throwing to the batter.
2. Failing that, try some softball pitchers, including women. They could mix fastballs with arc and might be more effective than expected. If your team stinks and your relief pitchers are worse than that, what have you got to lose?
Monday, June 15, 2009
This would be cool and it supports my contention that many of baseball's problems could be fixed by starting at bats with the count 3-2. I'd also limit the batters to three swings. Now that I have this in my head games are becoming unwatchable. All that dead time before the at bat could be eliminated. Argh!
Those pointless visits to the mound would become even more silly. What could they possibly discuss? The lakers latest NBA chamionship? Candlesticks? The pitching coach can't tell the pitcher to work carefully: one ball and the batter walks. It would be simpler if MLB would ban all meetings and replace them with three one minute time outs. However, MLB, Inc. is run by Bud Selig and he is incapable of such elegance.
The new video service could parallel the game, eliminating much of the dead stuff. This would make watching a game at the ball park unbearable. Home viewing would be the ideal.
If this seems too radical or too whimsical, try it backwards. Suppose baseball had the functional equivalent of this all along? Games played in 90 minutes, with action actually flowing. Suppose that someone then suggested baseball change to 4 balls for a walk and three strikes and unlimited fouls. You'd think he was nuts!
In the 1970s I was so annoyed about that stupid left field wall in Fenway Park Boston that I wanted the Yankees to draw a white line, like the foul line, across the Yankee Stadium outfield where the wall would be in Boston, just to emphasise the absurdity of the Red Sox home park.
I still think it's a good idea but it should be applied differently and for all parks. Let's decide on a reasonable distance from home plate for the batter to get credit for a home run. Let's say 380 feet. The line would be drawn from foul line to foul line 380 feet from home plate, across the outfield and through the stands where necessary. At least that would provide a way to judge whether a fly ball deserves to be a home run.
My previous post about my all time Yankee team provoked private messages insisting that Joe DiMaggio was a better player than Mickey Mantle. Here is my response in brief.
Mantle 18 in 273 PA; most WS homers
Mantle walked a lot, DiMaggio did not. Mantle struck out a lot, DiMaggio did not.
I don't think we can measure fear by walks, nor team play by strike outs or lack of them. They had very different attributes as batters.
If you just glance at their batting stats, the Mick has WAY more black ink. Mick lead AL in OPS+ in his first full season, 1952, NINE times total. Joe lead once. Career OPS+: Mantle 172 (6th best), DiMaggio 155 (22nd best).
For those of you still hung up on BA, check the first two tabs:
Percent above AL BA by season: Between the two, Mick has two of the top three spots, six of the top ten. Joe's .325 career BA is really not an advantage over Mick's .298.
AL BA during seasons played by Mantle and DiMaggio, NOT weighted by player AB:
DiMaggio - .269
Mantle - .251
It's amazing how even in 2009 people still simply jump to Joe's .325 BA as proof of his superiority. Joe has a slight advantage over Mickey in percent above AL BA: 21% to 19%, NOT weighted by AB per season, which would be more accurate but probably not much different.
Two tabs have the same comparison on slugging average, Joe's claim to fame relative to Mick. Same story as BA: Joe's Slugging lead of .579 to .557 evaporates. Mick takes the first three seasons and splits the first ten with Joe. Joe's highest slugging percentage above AL is 65%. Mick exceeds that with 78%, 74%, 74%.
AL Slugging during seasons played by Mantle and DiMaggio, NOT weighted by player AB:
DiMaggio - .391
Mantle - .377
Joe has a slight advantage in percent above AL Slugging: 32.42% to 32.21%. Basically dead even.
I'm not much on fielding stats but contrary to Joltin' Joe's rep here are some of his error totals: 1937 - 17, 1938 - 15, 1948 - 13. Hardly someone who never made fielding mistakes.
For his career Joe had 30 SB, 9 CS. That's for his CAREER! No steal attempts in his final two seasons. NONE!
It wasn't until 10-15 years ago that I realized that Mantle was clearly better than Joe D. That's how much even a lifetime Mickey Mantle fan had been brain washed.
Mantle 18 in 273 PA; most WS homers
DiMaggio 8 in 220 PA; tied for 7th with Bill Skowron (141 PA) and Frank Robinson (106 PA).
Mick 12 (2 with the team behind)
Joe D. 4 (all with the score tied).
Plus, Mantle hit a walkoff homer in game 3, 1964 WS.
Saturday, June 13, 2009
My recent guest got me thinking about this, so here are my all time Yankees.
C- Yogi Berra (Hall of Fame); that was easy, even with Bill Dickey (Hall of Fame) a close second; most over-rated: Thurman Munson (MVP); under-rated: Jorge Posada, borderline Hall of Famer. Honorable mention to Elston Howard (MVP).
1B - Lou Gehrig (Hall of Fame); over: Don Mattingly; under: Wally Pipp who won first two Yank home run titles.
2B - Tony Lazzeri (Hall of Fame); over: none; under: Bobby Richardson, who set batting records in TWO of his five World Series. Willie Randolf gets honorable mention.
3B- Graig Nettles (Obviously Alex Rodriguez will replace Nettles but there's no rush); over: none; under: Red Rolfe. Point on Nettles: in his two biggest home run seasons, 1976-77, his splits do not suggest that he got a big boost from the short porch in Yankee Stadium: 32 - 18 home, 14 road; 37 - 18 home, 19 road.
CF - Mickey Mantle (Hall of Fame); over: Joe DiMaggio (Hall of Fame); under: Earl Combs (Hall of Fame). Honorable mention Bernie Williams.
LF - none; Charlie Keller was on his way to the Hall of Fame but injuries defeated him. No one over-rated. Under, maybe Bob Meusel or Roy White. Ricky Henderson (Hall of Fame) played only 4.5 seasons with the Yanks and some of that was in CF.
Pitcher - Whitey Ford (Hall of Fame); over: none; under: Lefty Gomez (Hall of Fame), 6-0 in WS, TWO triple crowns. I looked at Herb Pennock (Hall of Fame), Waite Hoyt (Hall of Fame), Red Ruffing (Hall of Fame), Allie Reynolds and Dave Righetti but could not label any as over-rated as a Yankee.
Manager - Casey Stengel (Hall of Fame); over: Buck Showalter; under: Joe Torre. Honorable mention Joe McCarthy (Hall of Fame), Miller Huggins (Hall of Fame) and Ralph Houk.
General Manager - Ed Barrow (Hall of Fame); over: Brian Cashman; under: Gabe Paul. Honorable mention George Weiss (Hall of Fame).
Owner - Three way tie: Col. Jacob Ruppert (Hall of Fame), Dan Topping/Del Webb, George Steinbrenner. Worst: CBS.
Friday, June 12, 2009
How many times have I written this? How many ways?
Last night the Yankees extended their losing streak against Boston by being swept for the third time this season. The Yanks had just taken their first lead v. Boston in 49 innings, 3-1, on a rare clutch hit by Alex Rodriquez, a two out two run rocket double off the center field wall.
Bottom of the eighth, stopper (what exactly is CC stopping?) CC Sabathia allowed new Yankee killer Nick Green, batting NINTH, to single, then walked Dustin Perdroia. Tying runs on, no outs. Yankee manager Joe, I'm no different tactically than Torre, Girardi visited Sabathia on the mound even though there is not yet a water cooler, nor coffee machine out there. Lefty batter JD Drew was due to face lefty Sabathia. Girardi told Sabathia to empty the tank, that this was to be CC's last batter. I'm not going to criticize Girardi on this. Drew singled to load the bases.
Here's where I go ballistic. Because ace reliever Mariano Rivera had shoulder surgery in the off season Girardi said later that he does not want Rivera to get six outs. Remember, it was the eighth, not ninth, inning. Never mind pitch count. SAVE the game NOW!!! Then take your chances in the ninth if Rivera's pitch count precludes him from finishing.
Could Girardi be a bigger imbecile!? Instead of Rivera, who was rested, Girardi brings in one of the faceless, nameless relievers who goes single, single, sac fly, Red Sox lead 4-3.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Joe Jackson was a weasel. That seems to be his defense or his defense by others. Jackson was paid $6,000 in salary for the 1919 regular season and took $5,000 in bribe money from his White Sox teammate and friend Lefty Williams. It was half of the $10,000 that Williams had received from the gamblers to throw the World Series. Williams paid Jackson probably no later than game four of the 1919 World Series, the World Series that seven players on the Chicago White Sox were paid to throw, dump, tank, i.e., intentionally LOSE.
That's his defense? That he was a weasel who took the money then played to win, leaving his friend Lefty Williams and the other six conspirators to bear the burden of actually throwing the games? Joe Jackson was the star player on the White Sox, a sure Hall of Famer, and he took money intended to fix the WORLD SERIES. Why did he accept it? What did Jackson think the money was for? Then he may have tried to report it, sort of. Then he played to win. Weasel!
Taking the money makes Jackson guilty. That he claims to have tried twice to return the money does not absolve him, especially if that gesture was to spin things in his favor. Returning money stolen from a bank does not absolve the bank robber, especially if it's done when the cops are closing in.
Spin is the word applied to Charles Comiskey, the White Sox owner, when with three games remaining in the 1920 regular season and his team still in contention the scandal breaks and Comiskey suspends the seven crooked White Sox players still on the team. Spin is used to describe Comiskey when he pays his ten honest players $1,500 each to account for the $2,000 difference between the winner and loser shares of the 1919 WS: $5,200 v, $3,200. Spin is used to describe Comiskey when he offers $10,000 reward.
And what does Jackson do with his ill gotten gain? It appears that he uses at least some of it to start businesses: dry cleaning and later liquor. He could have given it to his ten honest White Sox teammates to make amends. That would have demonstrated some small act of contrition, which is a prerequisite for our noble American trait of forgiveness to be warranted.
Were the players equally guilty? No, but so what? As I understand felony murder, if your partner in crime pulls the trigger you are both equally guilty.
Federal judge Landis was appointed by the owners to be the first sole commissioner of the American and National Leagues. Landis made mistakes in later years (racial segregation continued on his watch) but he was basically correct in his handling of the 1919 WS gambling scandal. To have shown any weakness would only have encouraged continued gambling and the undermining of the integrity of the game, that baseball was honest competition.
Reviewing the 1919 scandal shows why current MLB, Inc. continues to have an absolute policy against gambling and against consorting with gamblers. In the 1980s Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays were banned from MLB activities for as long as they worked as greeters at Las Vegas gambling casinos. That is why the banishment of sure Hall of Famer Pete Rose because of his gambling while he was the Cincinnati Reds manager is warranted, just like the banishment of the 1919 White Sox players who dumped the WS. The admonition against consorting with gamblers and against gambling itself has been posted in every clubhouse for decades.
There are clear parallels between the old gambling scandal and the current steroids scandal with one exception: the gamblers played to LOSE, the steroid users played to WIN. The two things that they have in common:
1. management looked the other as long as it could then covered up;
2. innocent/honest players did virtually nothing to end it.
The 1920 White Sox played as if nothing had happened. Didn't the crooked players cost the honest players the difference in WS shares, $5,200 v. $3,200? That's specific dollars, not some vague reference heard today that steroid users are getting an unfair advantage over non users and therefore costing them money.
Why don't we apply the commissioner Landis standard, which seems to be that of the U.S. military academy honor code:
"A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do."
Monday, June 8, 2009
Author Peter Handrinos discusses his newest book, The Truth About Ruth (And More): Behind the New York Yankees' Most Popular Myths, Legends, and Lore.
Date / Time: 6/11/2009 6:30 PM
Call-in Number: (646) 595-2649
Also, download it to a PC or iPod.
Gene, thanks. It went really well.
Some things I learned:
1. White Sox players approached the gamblers.
2. White Sox owner Charles Comiskey gave the players raises for the 1920 season, maybe to silence them.
3. Comiskey may have been concerned about being indicted himself.
This evening I will have a special guest on my Internet radio program: Gene Carney, author of the 2006 book Burying the Black Sox, How Baseball's Cover-Up of the 1919 World Series Fix Almost Succeeded.
Here is some of what I will use for the program:
Gene Carney has continued his research and begun analyzing new material.