Baseball On My Brain

Please check the number you called and try your call again.
January 13, 2009, 11:53 am
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Effective immediately, I’m phasing out this address:

and am moving everything over to:

Please join me at the new site and make sure you have the correct address bookmarked – I don’t want you to miss out on anything!

Thanks –



Tuesday quickies
January 13, 2009, 11:42 am
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Woke up a bit later than I wanted and have some reading to catch up on, from yes, a book!?!? So a couple things:

-I’m slowly tweaking the site…please send or post comments as you feel necessary.

-Ever been to Shea Stadium? Then you need to see this slideshow (courtesy of and Alan Tompas).

-My backlogged Freakonomics RSS feed had this piece with sports economist Andrew Zimbalist…short with some decent insight.

-Mike Sciosia will apparently be a thorn in my side for a long time.

Everything else I’ve come across so far doesn’t really rattle my cage, so thus, no post here.

Happy Tuesday.

The philosophical side of positions
January 12, 2009, 6:24 pm
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The following post was sent out by fellow SABR member Bob Wilson to the subscribers of the SABR e-mail list:

“About the current thread on switching positions, I had been under the
impression that the rules specifically allow the defensive players
(except the pitcher & catcher) to be anywhere on the field. Actually
that seems a logical necessity anyway since there are no lines to mark
position boundaries. So just now I looked through supposedly official
rules on the internet and found nothing that addressed the issue (maybe I
missed it), but at least there wasn’t a rule limiting where the defenders
could be. So that would mean that concepts like second baseman,
right fielder, etc. are not even defined in any official sense. The
“positions” are useful but not in any way definite. But line-up
cards list a position for each player, so who writes line-up cards? The
managers of course. That tells me that the left fielder is whoever the
manager says is the left fielder, regardless of that player’s location.
Whether the left fielder might be stationed at first base and performing
the traditional role of a first baseman has to be irrelevant – if his
manager considers him the left fielder, that’s the end of it.

To me, this means that if players exchange locations, whether
temporarily or for an entire game, they retain their original “positions”
unless their manager re-assigns them. For things to be otherwise would
require making up a rule that’s not in the book.”


Here’s the response I sent back:

Some notes on Bob’s question – which by the way I love because it brings in the philosophical side of baseball.

Looking through the Definitions of Terms in Rule 2.00, the only positions explicitly outlined are the pitcher and catcher. There are provisions for infielder and outfielder, and fielder in general, but no specifics as to actual defensive positions, such as first baseman, second baseman, etc.

My inclination is to agree with Bob’s general direction. We’ve become so locked into the traditional definitions of positions because they comprise the general ideal of a defensive layout, but ultimately, a manager could tell his players to position themselves darn near anywhere on the field without requiring them to change the name of their position.

Certainly the naming of the positions serve a purpose, especially in our statistical and analytical world, but ultimately they just help serve a purpose of distinguishing who is where on the field.

Great question Bob –

Now…I’m going to hunker down on this one for a minute and see what comes up…but I think Bob is accurate in his question and answer. What do you think?

Thoughts on the weekend, and why not – Monday as well
January 12, 2009, 4:15 pm
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First off, congrats to Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice on getting in to the Hall of Fame. That is major – and I commend them both.

Interesting to see the numbers on the other guys – Mark McGwire’s vote count went down from last year, which I was a bit surprised about. I’ve been intrigued by the voting process when it comes to McGwire, because there would seem to be the debate about how to vote for him if you sat in the undecided camp. While you don’t want to risk him getting in until the substance use is cleared up, you also don’t want to see him drop off the ballot if he gets less than 5% of the vote. So how do you vote? Or is there a e-mail that goes around amongst the undecided and picks who votes yes and who votes no?

Speaking of potential Hall of Famers…Roger Clemens is under the microscope again, which is just a good reminder – don’t lie under oath to Congress. Sometimes you have to take things like this as a lesson…don’t do drugs, don’t make it look like you’re doing drugs, and when people ask you if you’re doing drugs, don’t lie about it.

So to look back over the weekend, it started with some sad news on Friday afternoon when it was announced that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is on the clock to be sold, and as most analysts concur, unlikely to find a buyer and thus either taken online as a stripped down version or shut down completely.

P-I sports columnist Art Thiel has a nice reflection on the developments in this morning’s paper – worth a read.

As I think about it, the more I feel like an old-timer in a 30-year-old’s body. I get four newspapers a day, which I always read cover-to-cover, and I still listen to the occasional LP. In fact – I couldn’t tell you the last time I played a CD…I either listen to online radio, traditional radio, or pop on a record.

The newspaper world has changed so dramatically – I’m not going to lay any blame here, things change and new products and opportunities emerge. But from someone who grew up the son of a newspaper editor, and always had both Seattle papers in the driveway every single day, to know that in the near future one of those papers won’t even exist is a scary thought. There is something special about the tactile sensation of reading a newspaper, that unfortunately I fear is going away. I wish I knew what I could do to save it.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending an event here in Seattle put on by the guys that run the USS Mariner and Lookout Landing blogs that featured four members of the Mariners’ front office and I’ve heard over 200 audience members.

While I’ve been sworn to secrecy as to the exact topics that were discussed, you can read a recap of the event here.

Some thoughts did cross my mind at the event though…

-First and foremost, good thing I didn’t come here looking for a date.

-But the more important one that stuck with me pertains to the World Series, and the desire to “have a World Series winner.”

I’ve been reading and enamored with Eckhart Tolle’s work lately, particularly The Power of Now. He reminds us that material things are always fleeting in our enjoyment of them because material things are rooted in time. I thought about that as it pertains to World Series championships – no matter how many a team has, they always want more. We all talk about wanting to win a World Series, but does it really fill a void in an individual’s life?

Maybe I am realizing that I’m just not a competitive person…the desire to go out and fight for the win just isn’t in me. While I would never say that competition is inherently bad, I think it provides a point upon which to analyze things. Think about the Yankees – they have 27 World Series titles, more than any other team. What do they want this year? Another one. And when they get that one, will they want another? Of course.

When all you want is more of something, it seems to prove that there is no real value to one, or any quantity. How many World Series rings would you want to have before you’d say you we re truly happy? Just one? Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, as the old saying goes? Better to have one hit and be called a one-hit wonder than to never have a hit and never be called?

It was one of those thoughts that came to me as I thought about the shared desire of probably everyone in that room – to see a winning baseball team. Yet is ultimately something that none of us control – even though some have more a role in the process than others. Yet we visit blogs, we write posts, we buy tickets, schedule our days around watching a baseball game, and so on – all with the hope of seeing a winner. And what does that winner provide for us – not just at the surface level of a fleeting moment of pleasure – but at the deeper level of true happiness?

That is a question that I have yet to find the answer to.

The baseball community has come up with more and more ways to try and craft a winner – advanced stats, scouting, video, data analysis and so forth, and the task is still just as hard as it was 100 years ago. There is no magic combination to putting together a World Series winner – simply because there is the variable called real life to contend with between game 1 and game 162. Sure – some teams may be better constructed than others, but even still, something happens that takes the favored team out of contention and creates a spot for someone else.

And as the saying goes – isn’t it the journey that’s supposed to be more enjoyable than the destination?

It’s late, it’s raining, and I finally saw the Kathy Griffin CNN video

Surprisingly, I wasn’t tuned in to see Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper hosting “CNN’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve Special.”

And even if I had, being a West Coaster, I would have missed this hilarity that got edited out in the rebroadcasts.

Damn Eastern Time Zone people…getting the good stuff, once again. Oh well – I’m still not moving.

And just what does that have to do with baseball, you may ask? Absolutely nothing. But I saw mention of it as I was perusing the papers looking for baseball stories, and it made me laugh when I saw it, and some days, you just need something to laugh about. Especially when it’s been raining all day, people are concerned about floods, and it’s 2:40 am.

As you may have heard, the Phillies’ J.C. Romero was one of two players who got suspended for violating MLB’s substance abuse policy.

But to me – or Mr. Schmidt – that’s not where the story is.

The issue at hand is MLB’s handling of the suspension, in particular the timing since it could have impacted the World Series. And nothing says MLB public relations fiasco like having to suspend a player during the World Series, especially when that player is playing in the World Series.

But isn’t that what it takes to get the point across that MLB is serious about fining and suspending players who break the rules?

Now I feel absolutely no sympathy for Romero – especially if all the facts in the article are true. I am so tired of players trying to excuse their behaviors by not knowing the ingredients in the supplements they are taking.

Here’s my suggestion…if you’re taking a supplement, figure out the ingredients. Ask someone. Do your homework. It’s part of the gig.

However, I am all for a player’s right to appeal a ruling – which Romero did in this case. I understand that those things can take time, so I can even live with that part of the story.

But how convenient for baseball to once again, sit on an issue that would be damning to its image and self-interest due to the time of year and game being played. To me – this is when baseball needs to step up and lay down the law, regardless of the PR mess it might create.

While I won’t contest the legitimacy of the Phillies’ World Series victory, it does leave a bit of a tainted story, as I’m sure the historians, journalist and chroniclers of baseball history will duly note.

What do you think – was baseball right to sit on the issue until after the postseason? Vote and voice your opinion in the comments.

Only 45 days?
January 3, 2009, 1:47 am
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I’m a member of a bunch of groups on LinkedIn, and one of the posts earlier today announced that there was only 45 days or so left until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

While I’m unquestionably looking forward to the upcoming season, I find myself not so wrapped up in the who’s playing where and which team will finish atop their division discussions this year as I have been in previous years.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a fantasy player, and ultimately I realize that I can’t control who signs whom and what happens to come off the Hot Stove. I can only trust that those in charge of my favorite team are able to make decisions that will bring postseason play and a World Series trophy.

In fact, I just went to the Mariners’ website and there is nothing on there that screams 2009 will be a good season – something that I think most fans already understand given how bad the club was last year and how little has been done this offseason to make them better.

But with that being said, I find myself looking forward to the season with the same level of deep-rooted interest and anticipation – to get back to the yard and out in the sun, watching my favorite sport and our country’s national pasttime. Having endured several inches – maybe even a foot by now – of snow, let me say that the spring and summer months can’t get here quick enough.

I’m sure lots of Yankees and Mets fans are looking forward to the season because of the new faces on their clubs. But what about you – what are you looking forward to most about the 2009 season?

Baseball Prospectus’ year in quotes
January 2, 2009, 11:24 am
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If you’re a serious baseball fan but not a member of, you might want to reconsider, as they put out some pretty useful information and statistical analysis, as well as some generally well-written pieces about prospects and the trends they see in baseball.

They also run a regular feature called the Prospectus Q&A, where they sit down with a player, coach, or front office person and talk about various angles of the game. As a result, they gather a good amount of quotes that run the gamut – as would be expected given that baseball is a very quote-friendly game.

So if you have a free minute, take a peek at this article — you should be able to see some of it even if you’re not a subscriber to the site.

My personal favorite? Orlando Hudson’s about the way folks used to go to the ballgame. I love that old-timey stuff, when folks seemingly acted a bit better and treated the game as a real event.