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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Quick Takes from the Hub

In Boston this week for Microsoft TechEd (and to catch a couple Red Sox games of course which I'll be writing about in the coming week). A couple interesting things:

  • Here's a nice article on the value of base stealing related to Corey Patterson that mentions Baseball Prospectus.

  • I assume most folks have seen the video of the bird being hit by a thrown pitch in a minor league game.

  • I published some corrections to my recent columns on big impacts and comebacks last week in my latest column. My apologies for the oversights but what can I say, math is hard and it turns out computers do exactly what you tell them. Incidentally, I also included some thoughts about Coors Field this season and speculate why it may be playing as more of a neutral park.

  • Some interesting feedback from the author of the Pawnking's Phillies Sportsbeat blog that he has posted. Essentially, I think baseball can be appreciated at many levels and the more levels you take an interest in the greater your enjoyment will be. For example, one can enjoy it from the aspect of narrative (it is a human story after all), history, statistics, physics, and skills (traditional scouting) to name a few. And where people get in trouble is when they elevate one level above all others and insist that it is the only way to enjoy, appreciate, or understand the game. One of the things I'm looking forward to at the SABR convention at the end of this month is listening in on various committee meetings where each of these aspects are focused on and hearing folks who excel at understanding them.

  • The Royals have revoked the credentials of two reporters after their questions appear to have rankled Royals owner David Glass. I listened to the press conference on MLB radio and it did sound a bit tense. That said, the questions weren't really out of line I don't think and nothing tougher than what most owners get. IMHO that's just terrible timing and puts a negative spin on an otherwise positive event for the Royals. The Royals simply don't need that kind of publicity.

    I did though think the answers the Glasses gave were within the realm of possibility as far as leaving Baird to twist in the wind. Mr. Glass said they spent the first couple weeks trying to figure out who they could trade, who they could acquire, and the state of the minor league system, etc. before deciding apparently that the problems ran so deep that the only alternative was to fire Baird. One would hope that finding they could do little to nothing in the short term they didn't make Baird the scape goat in the wake of their announcement that something has to be done. But then again you certainly can't argue that Baird has done a good job and so the end seems justified. And just to show that I don't think everything Jason Whitlock writes is bad, I enjoyed this column.

    The larger question though is how teams and the media interact. Because teams control access they have the potential to effectively censor what is written and said through that mechanism. The danger is that you end up with are beat reporters that do nothing more than act as mouthpieces for the team. And while the game could certainly use all the positive publicity it can get, obtaining it in that heavy-handed manner is not the way to do it. It seems to me this is especially an issue in professional sports where communities often have an investment in team via their facilities and therefore full disclosure is necessary.

  • I'm making my way through Rob Neyer's new book Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders : A Complete Guide to the Worst Decisions and Stupidest Moments in Baseball History and am thoroughly enjoying it. Each essay is short enough to read quickly and is of course written by someone who appreciates the game on multiple levels making it more interesting than most baseball books that are so historical in nature. I especially like the inclusion of copious sidebars that often look at the "blunder" from a different angle and the fact that Neyer includes some blunders that in his opinion weren't really blunders at all (for example the Cubs trade of Lou Brock to the Cardinals). But most of all I appreciate the premise of his selection of blunders which is not based on the result (which anybody can talk about after all), but rather on his analysis of whether a reasonable person at the time should have known that the move in question was likely a bad idea. Anyway, great reading.

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