Category Archives: MLB history

DONATE NOW AND GET A BOBBLEHEAD (read post)

OK, here’s the deal.
I have bobbleheads.  I want you to donate to the kickstarter (see here) to help fund our scientific study in subtle racism.  We’re 400 dollars short of our goal.  Here’s what we’re gonna do.

If you donate 35 dollars, you get the manuscript, a thank you in the publication and your choice of a bobblehead from the list below. If you’ve already donated at least 20 dollars, please donate an additional 30 dollars.

After you donate, send a message to me via kickstarter saying “My name is John Doe, my address is 123 Fake Street, Amhurst, Mass., 12345, and I’d like the James Loney bobblehead.” THIS IS ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS and I’ll be updating the list as bobbleheads are claimed.

Your bobbleheads:

-Andre Ethier

-James Loney x3

-Russell Martin

-PIRATES GREAT Kip Wells

Oliver Perez, Pirates

-Kevin Stevens, Pittsburgh Penguins

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Filed under MLB, MLB history, Scorekeeping

We’re $550 Short of the Mountain Top, Help Us to the Top

Since we uploaded the kickstarter, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response.  Adam, the PhD candidate at University of Virginia, and I have seen $1,957 raised so far and we’re closing in on our goal.

 

Naturally, Adam and I have gotten it into our heads that we’re amazing and we’re going to reach our goal and thus we’ve started getting ideas for what to do if we go over our goal.

Our main idea is expanding the data to include non-broadcasting items.  This includes print media and talk radio, although holy shit who wants to listen to Jim Rome for four hours every day.  We want more data and we want more coverage.  If we had an infinite supply of money, I think we’d keep this study going on forever.

 

With that, let’s focus on raising past our goal.  Let’s focus on a new goal: $3,000.

If you’ve been thinking about donating, do it now.  If you’ve donated already, donate another five bucks and we’ll get to our goal by the end of today. If you don’t have the funds to donate–and trust me, I know that feeling–spread the word.  Let other people know about this.  Post it on Facebook.  Tell your friends.  I’ve had a few people donate to the cause as a birthday present–those were especially sweet.

Let’s keep it going.  Full speed ahead.

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Introducing: Scorekeeping: The Official Scientific Study (AND WE NEED YOUR HELP)

This is the big news I’ve wanted to announce for about six months.  Are you ready for this?

We’re taking Scorekeeping to the scientific realm.

That’s right, we’re making The Subtle Racism Project an official scientific study, complete with a lit review, reference variables, and a whole bunch of scientific IAT shit I barely understand.  Dingers reader and grad student Adam chimed in to help a couple of months ago and helped to create the model.

For now, we’re raising the money to get 30 people to watch 30 telecasts of baseball–basically from the beginning of September to the end of the season, if we’re lucky.  Click here to see the Kickstarter page.  Once we reach our goal, we’re all set.

But we need your help.  Forward this to friends; to family; to neighbors; to baseball fans world wide.  Let’s get this thing underway.

In the meantime, if you’d like to submit random, unscientific samples to the original Scorekeeping thread, click here.  I have about 50 minor examples so far this year.

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Filed under MLB, MLB history, Scorekeeping

Martin Prado Achieves Rare 0-for-9, Almost Does Unthinkable

There was a controversial call last night in the Pirates-Braves game.  It was a brutal 19-inning game that ended with a bad call, but a few things flew under the radar.

First, there’s this.  I will never not love Scott Proctor for that.

Second, lost in the shuffle was that Martin Prado went 0-for-9 on the night without a sacrifice or a walk.  That’s a solid nine times he was at the plate and made an out.

Just to give you a sense of reference, only 86 times has a player gone 0-for-8 in 8 plate appearances.  Only 22 times has a player gone 0-for-9 in at-bats (without a sacrifice) or worse. The last player to do so was Trot Nixon in 2006. Before that, Rafael Palmeiro in 1991.

Of those 22, only six times has a player gone 0-for-10 in ABs and 10 PAs, and only once in recorded history has a player gone 0-for-11 and he did it in 11 PAs (we’re looking at you, 1920 Charlie Pick of the Boston Braves).  If you want to include sacrifices and walks, 29 have gone 0-for-9, 10 have gone o-for-10 and, again, only Charlie Pick has gone 0-for-11.

The best part?  Martin Prado was on deck after Proctor. He would’ve been the first player since John Shelby in 1989 to go 0-for-10 in 10 PAs.

I love this game.

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A Quick Thing About Your Prospect and Errors in the Minors.

A few things about errors in the minor leagues and why they happen so often:

1.  Some times it’s because the player is learning a new position and has some glaring fault that he repeats.  Sometimes this can be a throwing error to first on a repeated basis; other times it can be more serious like inability to field balls cleanly within range.  Both can be worked on with time, so long as the player takes the time to adjust.  But trust your club’s judgment (and the judgment of scouts) on whether or not he should stick there.

1a. Some times it can be because the player is learning a different part of fielding his position and boots a ball now and again learning to adjust.  This can include going for balls outside of his comfort range, working on glove-to-throwing hand transfers, moving his feet faster, working on fielding the ball a DIFFERENT way, etc.  Same with 1, trust the club’s and scouts’ judgment.

2.  Some times it’s because the player is a fish out of water.  Changing leagues and facing harder competition can cause a learning curve for position players.

3.  Some times it’s because the player isn’t fit for the position and the team wants to try and prepare him for the position anyway.

Three examples:

1.  The Orioles’ Josh Bell.  While there was talk of moving him off third base when he was traded from the Dodgers (he put up 38 errors in 2007), he worked hard to make his defense at 3B average and later above-average.  His bat on the other hand is not so good.

1a.  The Dodgers’ Dee Gordon has had 30+ errors almost every year in his minors career, but because he has superior range and worked on fielding the ball smoother, he was a major league short stop.

2.  I got nothing.

3.  The Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez.  Similar to Bell, there was talk of moving him off first, but because he lacked the range and was called “lazy”.  The Pirates decided to keep him at 3B though for whatever reason.

Looking at stats in the minors is an OK way to get to know your team’s prospects, but expectations have to be tempered when looking at stats.

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An Odd Baseball Death

Farbeit for me to question the death of another human being, but I was thinking about a few odd baseball deaths. Some you may have heard, like Cory Lidle and Thurman Munson. A few of you may even know Ray Chapman. Well two that caught my eye the past few days were Ed Delahanty and Jim Creighton.

First, Ed Delahanty. Delahanty was a remarkable hitter in his time and has one of the 19 seasons played in baseball history where he had an on-base-percentage greater than .499:

On July 2, 1903, Delahanty boarded a train bound for New York to go play for the Giants. Ed got hammered on the train, whipped out a blade and started threatening other passengers. The conductor kicked him off the train at Niagara Falls. A drunken Delahanty attempted to cross the International Bridge over the Niagara River and is believed to have fallen off the bridge into the falls. Any player’s death in which the deceased is found at the bottom of Niagara Falls qualifies as a mighty strange baseball death.

Hmm. OK. The dude fell over the Niagara Falls after getting off a train.

And now Jim Creighton. Creighton was one of the sport’s first superstars. In 1861, at age 21, he was a phenom at pitching and hitting and 1862 was supposedly one of the greatest seasons ever played to that point. This is where our story starts:

However, in October 1862, in the midst of his greatest season, Creighton died suddenly. Such was his fame at the time of his death, and such was the grief of the baseball community, that a 12-foot marble obelisk, topped with a large baseball, was erected at his gravesite. For the next several years, the Excelsiors’ programs had a portrait of their fallen star, shrouded in black, featured prominently in the center.

There are several explanations for his death. The generally accepted explanation, which has existed from the time of his death, is that he fatally injured himself while playing baseball. At the time, players swung massive bats almost entirely with their upper body; it is said that a particularly hard swing from Creighton – some versions of the story have it as a home run swing – caused an internal injury. Remarking to teammate George Flanley that he had perhaps snapped a belt, he continued playing but was in extreme pain hours later. A few days later, he died at his parents’ house.

In an 1887 issue of early sports newspaper The Sporting Life, a letter-writer, who signed only as “Old Timer”, sent in his account of the event. Robert Smith (Baseball in America, Holt Rinehart Winston, 1961, p. 10,13) as well as the Findagrave website [1] reported it is a ruptured bladder. SABR researcher John Thorn concluded ruptured inguinal hernia. [2] Others speculate that it was some already-present injury or disease, or that his appendix or spleen had burst after the game. Contemporary writers were vague, only stating that he had suffered a “strain”.

Huh. Which one do you think is weirder?

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So What Happens Next for the Dodgers?

You’ve heard the news by now. MLB has taken over the Dodgers day-to-day operations, wresting it from Frank McCourt, who nearly had to take a $30 million loan to meet payroll obligations.

Amazin Avenue has a great breakdown of teams in similar dire circumstances and there are two major examples: the Expos in 2001 and the Rangers in 2009. The Expos owner at the time, though (one Jeffrey Loria), up and left the team and no one was willing to buy them and the Rangers situation wasn’t dire enough to force MLB to control the team (though Selig threatened it. More about the Expos from that Amazin’ article:

In 1999, art dealer Jeff Loria bought the team and made things worse with bad personnel moves (spending way too much on middling free agents like Hideki Irabu) and worse business moves (failing to secure English language broadcast rights). He also failed to secure public funding for a new ballpark in downtown Montreal, and rumblings that the team would be moved began in earnest.

In other words, terrible, costly moves cost the team more money which was eventually the reason the team moved to DC (damn you, Loria).

The Dodgers do have some things going for them, so this won’t be as brutal as the Expos, but it won’t be as seamless as the Rangers.

So what’s the first thing that’ll happen?

Cost-cutting. And yes, we’re talking about the MLB payroll.

It certainly won’t be pretty, but the only young, talented player the Dodgers lose to FA after this season is Jonathan Broxton. That’s the fortunate thing. The bad news is that Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Jamey Carroll, Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla will be gone too. That’s three position spots to fill and two starters.

The line up will look like this:

C AJ Ellis/Barajas again?
1B Loney/Sands
2B Uribe/Ivan DeJesus
SS ???/Uribe?/Gordon?/DeJesus?
3B Uribe/cheap FA guy
RF Ethier
CF Kemp
LF Sands/Tony Gwynn Jr.

SP Kershaw
SP Billingsley
SP Lilly
SP Fill-in/de la Rosa?
SP Fill-in

RPs staying for sure: Blake Hawksworth, Kenley Jansen, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier.

Which, effectively, isn’t all that bad. Really depends on the replacement players that are brought in.

In the event of a freaking panic fire sale, which isn’t altogether likely, but not out of the picture, things get more complicated.

Of those that are going to arbitration this coming off-season:

Arb 1
Clayton Kershaw

Arb 2
Tony Gwynn Jr.

Arb 3 (final year)
Kuo
Loney
Kemp

Arb 4
Ethier

In the 2011 year, Rafael Furcal is making the most money ($13 million), followed by Kuroda ($12 million), Ethier ($9.5), Lilly ($8.2) and Kemp ($7.1).

Of people who’ll potentially be back in 2012, Lilly is the biggest money maker at $11.5 million–whether he gets traded until then remains to be seen. Ethier’s the second biggest in the group (likely $10 mil in 2012). After that, Billingsley (9 mil), then Uribe (8 mil), then Kemp (likely > 7.1 mil).

I know almost everyone who’s a fan of the Dodgers is praying for Uribe to be traded off, but that’s not happening for two reasons: 1) nobody goddamn wants him for that price tag and you’re delusional if you think otherwise and 2) organizational depth is shallowest at the three positions Uribe plays: 2B, SS and 3B.

On the flipside, it won’t be too hard to keep Kemp and Kershaw, the only problem is they’ll be the easiest to trade. Colletti will get the most phone calls about them and Kemp is the easier of the two to let go because he’ll be making more in 2012. Yes, this sucks. But Colletti has stuck to his guns on Kemp, so while I’d understand Kemp being traded away, I’d still be shocked if it happened.

Assuming the team’s core sticks together for next year, with all of the arbitration payoffs, the team’s payroll will likely be at $65-70 million, which is still too much, but trading away one of Ethier or Billingsley will balance that to about $60 million. Add in a few minor league players and some waiver wire acquisitions and you have a full major league roster. The only real problem with this is if McCourt was so highly leveraged that the team still had to make payments on his debts, but declaring bankruptcy would be a good start in that case.

With market sharing, ticket sales and TV revenues, that’ll put the team into the manageable payroll area until the end of 2012, when basically everyone on the team is a free agent.

After that is complete chaos, but let’s hope it doesn’t get to that.

The best solution is clearly getting potential buyers organized ASAP and have the team sold by January 1, 2012.

In conclusion, it’s possible that an MLB-run Dodgers squad can at least keep together the best players on the squad for the next year and maybe a bit more–at least ideally. But in practice, that’s a little more difficult. The three big questions are:

  • How fast is MLB going to act to cut costs? (The answer is probably immediately)
  • How dramatic will those cuts be?
  • And what will be the market be for trading away players?

I get the feeling the market for pitchers will be better than the market for OFs at the trade deadline or even before it. Of major contenders this year, the Giants and Phils seem to be the only two with a solidified staff. Meanwhile, the Rockies, Braves, Rangers, Yankees, Rays, White Sox, Twins and Tigers could use an SP of Kuroda or Lilly’s stature down the stretch.

So players who are likely gone: Lilly, Kuroda
Players who probably are gone: Ethier, Uribe (if anybody will take him)
Players who might be gone, but probably not: Billingsley, Kemp
Players who are staying: Kershaw, James Loney, Jerry Sands

It seems the Dodgers’ scouting has served them well.

These cost-cutting measures also mean the team will draft at slot, which hurts Logan White and Dejon Watson quite a bit, but hopefully it’ll be only for one year.

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Filed under Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, MLB history