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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pitchers and Catchers: Humbug!

Am I the only one who is sick of hearing the lame phrase "pitchers and catchers" thrown around this time of year as some sort of identifier: hey, we know baseball? We, the morons who haven't had an original thought in decades. We know the "pitchers and catchers" tend to report before other players and that it signifies the long awaited start of baseball spring training. Hey! Grow the heck up! Who the heck cares? This reminds me of some jerk on a Fox TV series who is showing what a baseball genius he is by explaining to some bimbo that the box score is the perfect form, telling one everything there is to know about a particular baseball game. Yeah, if you're a moron! I bet this guy uses the phrase "pitchers and catchers" enough to make his victims vomit. I'll bet he even says "old School" and "back in the day". Plus, once the long awaited first game of spring training finally starts how long is it before you are bored out of your mind? Is there an NBA game to watch? When?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Twitter

Radical Baseball is now also on twitter, though I don't know why.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Steroids are only an issue for home runs.

Those people who care about performance enhancing stuff, steroids for short, are almost exclusively concerned about baseball and, specifically, home runs. That's it.

Since 2000 the NFL record for touch downs scored in a season has been broken FOUR times. I'm a pretty good football fan but I could not have told you that without looking it up.

The NFL record for points scored in a season was broken in 2006 after standing since 1960 when Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers scored 176 points: 15 touch downs for 90 points and the rest as the Packers place kicker (15 of 28 field goals and all 41 points after TD).

Does anyone think that Paul Hornung was using steroids? Maybe, but probably not. Does anyone think that the guy who broke his record in 2006 was using steroids? Almost definitely? Where is the outrage? Let's look just at baseball. I have already written that circumstantially Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan almost definitely used something to enhance his performance starting at least as early as 1987.

Ryan holds the MLB career record for strike outs: 5,714, 839 (17%) more than the recently retired Randy Johnson.  Johnson leads in Strikeouts per 9 IP, Ryan is fourth.

What about the MLB record for most hits in a season? It's been challenged in recent seasons twice, same as the home run record.

1998: Mark McGwire broke the MLB record for home runs in a season (Roger Maris 61 in 1961) by hitting 70 home runs. This was the most followed record breaking attempt in team sports since Maris and Mickey Mantle chased Babe Ruth's record of sixty homers in 1961.

2000: Darin Erstad took a run at the MLB record for most hits in a season (George Sisler 257 in 1920); Erstad drew very little interest and fell short with 240.

2001: Barry Bonds broke McGwire's record by hitting 73 home runs with about as much attention even though the record was only three year old.

2004: Ichiro Suzuki broke the 84 year old MLB record for most hits in a season with 262 hits. He received more attention than Erstad, in part, because of the Japanese media. However, media and fan interest paled in comparison to that in 1998 and 2001 for the assaults on the home run record. When you factor in the unique absurdity of MLB having non-uniform playing areas the home run record is the last thing about which people should get upset. And yet they do. They get very upset.

Baseball fans are at once the best and worst. Baseball fans are more likely to know the records. Baseball fans are the least likely to break with tradition, modern metrics not withstanding. There is still too much attention given to batting average. If Ichiro Suzuki was attempting to bat .400 for a season that would get far more attention than his 262 hits. .400 would not be a record, merely an interesting number. It would be the 29th best.

So if batting average is more important than hits, why isn't home run average more important than home runs? How about home run average+, weighted by park and seasons? Thinking about this is where the performance needs to be enhanced.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

All Stars: choose the best, not those who are hot early in the season.

The NBA is getting heat because the fans have voted Allen Iverson a starter on the all star team despite the fact that he was retired early in the season and has played in fewer than half the games. Plus, he is well past his prime. The same type of logic is usually applied to MLB. I think it is incorrect. The best players should be chosen as all stars, not the players who happen to be hot in the early months of the season. The classic case is that of Joe DiMaggio in 1949. Joe was injured most of the first half of that season. He did not hit his first home run until June 28 when he climbed out of his sick bed and went to Boston to personally demolish the Red Sox. Joe hit two more homers June 29 and another June 30, all in Fenway Park. The 1949 all star game was played in Ebbets Field on July 12. Fans had just started to select the players in 1947. "From 1935 through 1946, the manager of each All-Star squad selected the entire team." (wikipedia) Joe DiMaggio was selected, obviously not because of what he had done in 1949 but because he was a great player who was again available to play. Joltin' Joe started in CF. His younger brother Dom moved to right to make room. Joe rewarded that decision by going 2 for 4, including a double, scoring one and driving in three. After Joe's double in the sixth, Larry Doby pinch ran for him. AL won 11-7. http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NLS/NLS194907120.shtml Maybe to make the point we should vote for Joe DiMaggio to start in CF on the AL all star team this season. And Babe Ruth in RF.