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Nice guy.  Have some blogs.  Do baseball research.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Framing pitches by catchers: doesn't that mean there's a serious problem with calling balls and strikes?

The other night the announcer mentioned how far inside the plate umpire had his head.  It was several inches off the inside corner of home plate, which put it quite a distance from the outside corner.

Umpire Mike Reilly in Colorado
That suggests to me that the umpire is guessing about outside pitches.  The ump is also crouched low behind the catcher for protection, which makes pitches above the belt another guess.

Result: not a smaller strike zone but a wider, lower strike zone.  This allows batters to golf balls into the air for more home run opportunities.

Two rules are persistently being violated:

1. The catcher must be in the catcher's box.  The catcher usually has one foot outside.

2. The plate umpire should be directly behind the plate.  The ump travels with the catcher.

In previous posts I described how catcher's actually stood when receiving the ball:

Catchers: squat to give signs, then stand to receive the pitch? Is that the evolution?  Sunday, April 6, 2014

Here's a major article in Baseball Prospectus on framing pitches:

March 3, 2014
Framing and Blocking Pitches: A Regressed, Probabilistic Model
A New Method for Measuring Catcher Defense
by Harry Pavlidis and Dan Brooks

Instead of exploiting the problem, how about solving it?  Some suggestions:

Imaginary strike zone can be made real: a unifying theory.  Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Balloon chest protector would improve strike calling.  Thursday, February 7, 2013

Catcher? We Don’t Need No Stinking Catcher!  Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fielders should wear a glove on each hand or a glove that can be switched on the run.

It's much more natural and instinctive to catch something with an open hand on the same side as the object.  Using the same hand all the time even when forced to backhand is unique to baseball and unnecessary.

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2014/official_baseball_rules.pdf

1.12 catcher ... leather mitt not more than thirty-eight inches in circumference, nor more than fifteen and one-half inches from top to bottom ...

1.13 The first baseman may wear a leather glove or mitt not more than twelve inches
long from top to bottom and not more than eight inches wide across the palm, measured
from the base of the thumb crotch to the outer edge of the mitt...

1.14 Each fielder, other than the first baseman or catcher, may use or wear a leather
glove.
_______________________________________

I don't see anything, other than the usual lack of imagination, that prohibits or precludes a fielder from wearing a glove on each hand.  While the word glove is singular, that could easily be interpreted as a single glove per hand.

Outfielders would probably benefit most but infielders might also.  Particular circumstances, such as two outs, enhance the benefit.

The usual reactions to this suggestion include:

1. That's physically impossible.

2. What if he has to throw?

3. I'd rather backhand the ball.

Argh.

Other than catching a baseball, the normal way of catching is to use the hand closest to the object in the open position.  What football player catches the ball backhanded?

If the fielder needs to throw :

a. if the ball is to his non-throwing hand, simply drop the glove on the throwing hand and proceed as usual.

b. drop the glove on the on the non-throwing hand, catch the ball, remove the ball from the glove with the non-throwing hand, drop the glove, place the ball in the throwing hand, throw.

Only baseball people would need an explanation.  Thinking is so constipated that dealing with any change, no matter how logical, is excruciating.

Jim Abbott congratulates a player
from the Challenger Phillies
from Middletown, DE
on the South Lawn at the White House
July 11, 2004 by Paul Morse
via Wikimedia Commons
An alternative: a glove that can be switched on the run.  Some of the few switch pitchers have tried such a glove.

What!?  Switch while running?  Impossible!  Not if the fielder, you know, practices.

Find some moving images of former pitcher Jim Abbott.  Abbott played parts of ten seasons from 1989 through 1999 (not 1997).  In 1991 he won 18, lost 11.  He pitched a no-hitter.  He threw left handed because he does not have a right hand.  He placed his glove on the stump of his right arm, threw and put the glove on his left hand in time to field.  He then reversed and threw out runners.

For fielders with two hands either of my suggestions should be pretty easy in comparison.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform.

2014 Official Baseball Rules

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2014/official_baseball_rules.pdf

3.09 Players in uniform shall not address or mingle with spectators, nor sit in the stands before, during, or after a game. No manager, coach or player shall address any spectator before or during a game. Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in uniform.
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LEAGUE PRESIDENT: the term is still in the rules.

Merger: AL and NL merged years ago. How come no one noticed?  Wednesday, October 19, 2011

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2014/official_baseball_rules.pdf

George Washington 1797 portrait
by Gilbert Stuart via Wikimedia Commons
Rule 2.00

THE LEAGUE is a group of clubs whose teams play each other in a pre-arranged
schedule under these rules for the league championship.

THE LEAGUE PRESIDENT is the league official charged with enforcing these
Rules, fining or suspending any player, manager, coach or umpire for violation of these
Rules, resolving any disputes involving these Rules or determining any protested games.
Rule 2.00 (League President) Comment: With respect to the Major Leagues, the functions of
the League President pursuant to these Rules shall be carried out by the designees of the
Commissioner of Baseball. The Commissioner may designate different officials to carry out different functions of a League President pursuant to these Rules.
_____________________________________

It's amazing that the title LEAGUE PRESIDENT is still used when there have not been LEAGUE PRESIDENTs for over a decade.

I was trying to find suspension rules and stumbled onto this.  My search was inspired by the recent spitball suspension of Yankee pitcher Michael Pineda.  He was suspended for ten games but with these odd anomalies:

1. He gets paid.
2. The club loses his roster spot and plays shorthanded.

Is that the same policy that applied to Ian Kennedy in 2013 when he was also suspended for ten games for hitting two Dodgers in the head in one game?

The LEAGUE PRESIDENT is supposed to suspend players.  But now the LEAGUE PRESIDENT is a designee of the Commissioner of Baseball, Allan Huber "Bud" Selig.

Ah, now it's clear.  Old Buddy working his old black magic that he weaves so well as the old song goes.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Paul O'Neill asked: this may be a dumb question but who is Bill James?

Paul O'Neill played from 1985 through 2001, 1993-2001 with the Yankees.  In recent seasons O'Neill occasionally does color commentary during Yankee TV games.

In last night's game against the Angels at Yankee Stadium announcer Micheal Kay mentioned that Bill James estimated that Albert Pujols had a three percent chance of hitting 700 home runs.  That prompted O'Neill to ask about the identity of Bill James.

Kay explained that James was prominent in the modern stats, SABRmetrics, etc.  They moved on.

I was stunned and I'm not even a SABR member and I'm certainly not one of the snooty know-it-all people.  But how could someone providing baseball commentary on television not know about Bill James?

Ironically, later in the game O'Neill mentioned WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_James

Bill James 2010
In 2006, Time named him in the Time 100 as one of the most influential people in the world.[3] He is currently a Senior Advisor on Baseball Operations for the Boston Red Sox. In 2010, Bill James was inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame.
________________

I'm guessing that O'Neill is of Irish heritage.  That gave him another opportunity to know about James.

Former MLB players as TV analysts: mostly suck!  Tuesday, March 8, 2011

During yesterday's spring training game Yankee play by play announcer Micheal Kay mentioned that two Yankee TV analysts, both former players, had been nominated for a local  New York sports Emmy award.  They are John Flaherty and Paul O'Neill. They suck!  ...

Until the end of last season O'Neill seemed to be challenging the late Dandy Don Meredith, original analyst on Monday night football, for the analyst who does the least to prepare and pretty much boast about it.  I dread when O'Neill is doing a game.  I don't need to hear 100 times a season how little O'Neill knows about computers and how much he depends on his wife and kids to use them for him.
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Paulie, come on.  Put a little effort into it.

Batters are dumber than usual this season, hitting into the shift most of the time.  Monday, April 7, 2014

Paul O'Neill is a man for all seasons.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Is the ball livelier because it's new?

After the 1994 season was abruptly ended in August with no World Series because of a dispute between owners and players, fans were very upset.  A big part of the cure was a big increase in home runs, apparently aided by performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids.

Attendance reached new heights, so a blind eye was turned.

Part of the effort to placate fans attending games was to reverse a long established practice of conserving baseballs.  Instead of making fans return balls, they were allowed to keep them.  Players were even now allowed to throw baseballs into the stands.  Ball boys and girls would hand them to fans.  Many baseballs were given away.

Result: the pitchers had a new ball much more often than ever before.  A new ball is more lively than one that has been in play.

Pitchers rubbing the ball to loosen the stitches: cheating?

After the Micheal Pineda incident former pitcher Bob Ojeda confirmed something that I had long suspected: some pitchers rub the ball very hard in an attempt to loosen the stitches.  Ojeda suggested that was a form of cheating.

It's difficult to imagine that they would not succeed at least some of the time.  Result: less lively ball with more erratic movement.

Who hasn't wondered that?  Why hasn't the league banned rubbing the ball?  What purpose does it serve other than loosening the stitches or some other objective to help the pitcher?  Making the ball dirtier, smearing something into the cover, ...

It Happens Every Spring: cheating?

We watched it every spring on TV.  WOR, I think, in New York.  Commissioner Allen Huber "Bud" Selig is old enough to have watched it in the movies.  Bud was born July 30, 1934, so he would have been 15 in 1949.  What life lesson did young Bud derive?

It Happens Every Spring  1949

A scientist discovers a formula that makes a baseball which is repelled by wood. He promptly sets out to exploit his discovery.

Stars: Ray Milland, Jean Peters, Paul Douglas

Ray Milland - Prof. Vernon K. Simpson / King Kelly

A college professor is working on a long term experiment when a baseball comes through the window destroying all his glassware. The resultant fluid causes the baseball to be repelled by wood. Suddenly he realizes the possibilities and takes a leave of absence to go to St. Louis to pitch in the big leagues where he becomes a star and propels the team to a World Series appearance.

Runtime: 87 min
Sound Mix: Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Color: Black and White
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1

Vernon Simpson's career-ending injury, catching the baseball for the final out in the ninth inning of the seventh and final game...

The story is at its funniest when Milland pitches and the ball dispy- doodles around the baseball bats of all the hitters. (He had invented a substance that applied to something makes it avoid touching wood, so applied to a baseball, a bat could never make contact.....and, yes, as one reviewer points out, that is cheating.)
______________________________________________

Why Vernon isn't cheating!!!

by Turfseer Thu Oct 28 2010 23:23:59

... From Vernon's point of view, pitching with his now souped up baseball is simply another scientific experiment. It simply never occurs to him that applying a foreign substance to a baseball while pitching a game is illegal ...

When 'It Happens Every Spring' was being made, Major League Baseball refused to be associated with the film or assist the filmmakers in any way as they maintained that the story basically condoned cheating...

Finally, the films' scenarists were smart enough to allow Vernon to triumph without the assistance of his 'magical formula'. In a sense, the 'formula' is another one of his crutches. --SPOILER ALERT--When Vernon runs out of his wood repellant formula, he's forced to win the pennant essentially 'naked'--Vernon snares the screaming line drive with his bare hand. He's been 'punished' for his naivety and as a result, he'll never pitch again (the real world rears its ugly head!). At the same time, Vernon is a hero precisely because he sacrificed himself (he didn't have to grab that ball with his bare hand as he ended up doing). Vernon is restored to his native habitat, stronger and wiser. Viewing Vernon's behavior from this new angle will allow the discerning filmgoer to reject the view that the film promotes unethical behavior and is in fact, a delightful, entertaining fantasy-drama, promoting baseball as the true national pastime.
_____________________________________________

Of course Vernon would never have been in position to win the Word Series fairly had he not used the banned substance.  As I recall the story, the other players do not know that Vernon is using this stuff.  His supply is running out.  He does not know the formula as it was created by accident and he cannot create more.

Does his ignorance of the rule excuse his behavior?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Crime and punishment: Michael Pineda.

Playing for Seattle in Baltimore May 10, 2011
by Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons
Michael Pineda is in trouble.  In Fenway Park last night the Yankee starting pitcher was ejected from the game because the plate umpire found slop on his neck in violation of the Major Baseball League (MBL) rule against slop on the neck.

The umpires, of course, were oblivious until Red Sox manager John Farrell helped out by informing them that Pineda had slop on his neck.  The plate umpire then examined Pineda's hands, glove, back.  Finally he touched Pineda's neck.  Sure enough.  Slop.

Cheating: batter/pitcher; on field/PED.  Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Yankees and Red Sox just split the first two of four games at Yankee Stadium.  Michael Pineda won for the Yankees, then Jon Lester for the Red Sox.  Both were shown on camera with banned stuff, Pineda in that game, Lester in 2013.  No one seemed to care very much.  When asked about Pineda after his team had lost, Red Sox manager John Farrell seemed like he wanted to discuss anything but that...

Whom do you want to punish more, those who break the rules of play or those who use PED?
______________________________________

Pineda left without any protest and Yankee manager Joe Girardi seemed befuddled but resigned.  Both during the game and after Yankee announcer Michael Kay asked his color commentators, both former pitchers, if they had ever used anything like this.  Both David Cone and Al Leiter said yes they had.  Both insisted that it is necessary to get a proper grip on the ball.  John Farrell seemed to agree, emphasizing that his reason for taking action was that Pineda had not been discreet.

All seem to think that the rule is not realistic.  One wonders why the rule is not changed.  A resin bag is provided on the pitching mound for use.  Why not also provide a slop rag?

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/downloads/y2014/official_baseball_rules.pdf

8.02 The pitcher shall not—  ...

(a) ...

(2) expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove;
(3) rub the ball on his glove, person or clothing;
(4) apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball;
(5) deface the ball in any manner; or
(6) deliver a ball altered in a manner prescribed by Rule 8.02(a)(2) through (5) or
what is called the “shine” ball, “spit” ball, “mud” ball or “emery” ball. The pitcher is allowed to rub the ball between his bare hands.

PENALTY: For violation of any part of Rules 8.02 (a)(2) through (6):

(a) The pitcher shall be ejected immediately from the game and shall be suspended ... for 10 games...

If a pitcher ... did not intend ... to alter the characteristics of a pitched ball, then the umpire may, in his discretion, warn the pitcher in lieu of applying the penalty ... If the pitcher persists ... the umpire should then apply the penalty...

(b) Have on his person, or in his possession, any foreign substance... immediate ejection ... automatic suspension ... 10 games 
___________________________________

Ten games for slop on the neck.  Hmm.

Crime and punishment.  Friday, March 28, 2014

Alex Rodriguez and Ian Kennedy, a tale of two offenders...

Crime:
Rodriguez: violated MBL policy on use of performance enhancing drugs (PED), including steroids; never failed drug test.

Kennedy: hit two batters (Yasiel PuigZack Greinke) in the head in one game: Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 42,844 witnesses in Dodger Stadium, plus team members and media, and TV viewers.  Puig was hit in the 6th inning, Greinke in the 7th, after which Brad Ziegler replaced Ian Kennedy who was not ejected...

Punishment:
Rodriguez: suspended one season (2014); currently serving.
Kennedy: suspended 10 games,one start.

It seems absurd.
___________________________________

Absurd indeed.

Some fine points:

1. The rule goes on about when the opposing manager may appeal to the umpire and whether an ensuing play should count.  Farrell does not seem to have used this to his best advantage.  Why not wait until David Ortiz strikes out with the bases loaded?

2. Why not simply warn Pineda?  Girardi seemed asleep at the wheel.

3. Recidivism.  Pineda had been observed with slop on his hand in his previous game this season against these very same Red Sox.  Had the umpire considered this in deciding to eject and not warn, that Pineda had a previous incident?

Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez sits by his lonesome, a cheating pariah.  Albert Pujols hits his 500th home run and receives sympathy because the likes of A-Rod have cheapened that achievement.  And Ian Kennedy lives to hit two more batters in the head during Michael Pineda's upcoming suspension.

Nice league, Allen Huber "Bud" Selig.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Most records: Ruth, Aaron, Rose, ...?

Babe Ruth set a new career home run record for every homer after number 138 when he passed Roger Connor in 1921.  That's 714 - 138 = 576.

Ruth broke the old season home run record of 27 in 1919 and went on to reach 60 in 1927.  Each homer after 27 was a new record: 60 - 27 = 33.

That's 576 + 33 = 609.  Ruth had a few other records, including some in the World Series:
- most consecutive shutout innings pitched: 29.66; broken by Whitey Ford: 32
- most career home runs: 15; broken by Mickey Mantle: 18
- most home runs in a game: 3; tied by Reggie Jackson and Pablo Sandoval.  Ruth did it twice.

Hank Aaron
Baseball Digest December 1960
via Wikimedia Commons
Hank Aaron set the record for most outs in 1972 when he passed Rabbit Maranville who had 7,906.  Aaron finished with 9,136.  9136 - 7906 = 1,230.  Plus, Aaron had a bunch of positive records.  Aaron passed Ruth in career homers: 755 - 714 = 41.

Pete Rose passed Aaron in outs in 1982 and soared to 10,328.  10,328 - 9,136 = 1,192.  Rose also broke the career hit record of Ty Cobb in 1985: 4,256 - 4,189 = 67.

Rickey Henderson had 468 more stolen bases than Lou Brock: 1,406-938.

OK, you get the idea.  Who set the most records?  Beats me.  Too much work.

Parity roller coaster.

14 of 30 teams are within two games of .500 after about 20 games.

12-10: Rockies
10-10: Mets, Phillies, Rays, Angels
11-10: Nationals, Giants
9-10: Orioles, Twins
10-11: Marlins, Padres, White Sox
9-11: Reds, Indians

Brewers are 9 games over .500: 15-6.

Braves and As are 6 games over: 13-7.

Diamondbacks are 13 under: 5-18; 8 games behind the Dodgers (12-9).

Lead for division leaders:
Brewers 3
Braves 2.5
Yankees 1
Tigers 1
As .5
Dodgers .5

Deficit for teams in last:
Diamondbacks 8
Cubs 7
Astros 6.5
Red Sox 3.5
Marlins 3.5
Indians 2.5

With six divisions there are six first place teams ... and six last place teams.

With two wild card spots for the tournament in addition to division winners many teams will be contending at the end of the season.  Most will be disappointed.  Even the teams that get into the tournament with low seeds will not have much success.

Will fans and players become fatigued from this roller coaster dynamic?

At Coney Island's Luna Park in Brooklyn, New York, a new $10 million steel Thunderbolt will sit on the site of the original wooden Thunderbolt that terrified thrill-seekers from the 1920s through the '80s. The coaster, expected to open in May, is seen here in a rendering.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I oppose both hot dogging and vigilante violence.

The recent confrontation between Milwaukee and Pittsburgh precipitated by the Pittsburgh pitcher mouthing off unnecessarily resulted in dysfunctional commissioner Allan Huber "Bud" Selig suspending five players but not the one who initiated the brawl.

More and more I hear media types advocating for more hot dogging, particularly for Latin players, as if that is an integral part of their cultures.  Even if it is, they are playing in our culture where I'd like to delude myself that hot dogging is anathema.

I think that boxer Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali popularized hot dogging and mocking opponents in the 1960s and it has spread throughout our team sports.  Too many NFL players are preening jackasses and NBA players taunting thugs.

That's what media clowns want baseball players to be?

Baseball players should behave properly:

Don't hot dog.

Don't dog it.

Don't show off.

Don't taunt.

The Major Baseball League (MBL) should enforce behavior rules.  Individual players should not try to impose violent vigilante justice for violations of unwritten protocols.

This stuff should finally be written down and not left to the imagination.  It's about time.

Brian McCann is an asshole and Yanks should not sign him.  Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday, April 21, 2014

Home runs hit in Roosevelt Stadium 1956-1957.

Eddie Mathews led the visitors with two homers in two games in Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ.


Rk I Player Split From To G HR GS PA AB R H 2B 3B RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB ROE BAbip
1 Eddie Mathews JER02 1956 1957 2 2 2 8 8 2 2 0 0 3 0 1 0 1 .250 .250 1.000 1.250 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
2 Duke Snider JER02 1956 1957 14 2 14 58 51 7 12 1 1 4 0 2 5 13 .235 .304 .412 .715 21 1 0 2 0 1 1 .278
3 Ernie Banks JER02 1956 1957 2 1 2 8 7 1 3 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 .429 .500 .857 1.357 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 .333
4 Carl Furillo JER02 1956 1957 12 1 11 46 36 6 9 2 1 5 0 0 8 2 .250 .386 .444 .831 16 2 0 2 0 3 1 .242
5 Jackie Robinson JER02 1956 1956 6 1 5 20 17 2 5 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 .294 .294 .471 .765 8 0 0 3 0 0 0 .286
6 Hank Sauer JER02 1956 1957 2 1 0 2 2 1 1 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 .500 .500 2.000 2.500 4 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 Frank Robinson JER02 1956 1957 2 1 2 8 8 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 .250 .250 .625 .875 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 .167
8 Harry Anderson JER02 1957 1957 2 1 2 9 9 1 3 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 .333 .333 .667 1.000 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 .286
9 Wally Moon JER02 1956 1957 2 1 2 8 8 1 2 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 .250 .250 .750 1.000 6 0 0 0 0 0 0 .143
10 Joe Adcock JER02 1956 1957 2 1 2 8 7 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 1 2 .286 .375 .714 1.089 5 0 0 0 0 1 0 .250
11 Willie Mays JER02 1956 1957 2 1 2 9 8 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 .250 .333 .625 .958 5 0 0 0 0 1 1 .143
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 4/21/2014.


Dodgers down under. What the heck, mate?  Wednesday, March 19, 2014


The Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season but they tested the west by playing 15 games in Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ during their final two seasons in Brooklyn.
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It was used for fifteen "home" games by the Brooklyn Dodgers during their last two seasons in Brooklyn - seven in 1956 and eight in1957.[6] The games were played partly as a negotiating tactic with the Borough of Brooklyn, in pursuit of a new stadium to replace Ebbets Field.[7] While it had just 24,000 seats as opposed to Ebbets Field's 31,497, Roosevelt Stadium had 10,000 parking spaces compared to Ebbets Field's 700. The Dodgers' negotiation came to naught, and the team moved to Los Angeles, California in 1958.
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Circa 1940