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Today's box score features articles building electronic baseball systems of all types.
The fraternity of internet baseball lost a good analyst when Dan Fox was hired away from Baseball Prospectus by the big bad Pirates. I was curious what he was up to over there in Pittsburgh (aside from helping GM Neal Huntington make some pretty good trades), and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is here to help. Fox has been building the "Managing Information, Tools, and Talent" (MITT) system.
"The task is to unify our player system to where you can drill down and see scouting reports, medical and contract information — pretty much everything you can collect on a player — search it quickly and have it support the decision-making," said Fox, the Pirates' Director of Baseball Systems Development.
The article claims there are similar systems in Cleveland and San Francisco. Really? Sabean uses a computer?
Speaking of San Francisco, there's another way in which they are integrating technology into their organization. At AT&T Park, fans have internet access from their seats. But not only do the Giants provide free WiFi at the park, they also stream up-to-the-minute replays to smartphones, even on controversial calls.
For AT&T, moving people to a Wi-Fi network saves precious space on the cellular network and gives speedier connections to users accessing everything from video highlights to player statistics, closed captioning of PA announcements for the hearing impaired and even a "food finder" application that provides information on nearby food booths. After AT&T began supporting the feature earlier this month, the number of people accessing the park's network nearly doubled over night.
Between this and the Sportsvision BASEBALLf/x technology, which is being tested at AT&T Park, San Francisco is probably the most wired park in baseball. As a season ticket holder put it:
"Baseball is all about statistics, as it has been since the Civil War. Just being able to look up that stuff — I love it,"
Amen, brother. Just don't forget to watch the game.
Sean Forman is as close to a sabermetric celebrity as you'll ever find. I can barely remember what it was like back in the dark, lonely days before baseball-reference went live and sapped precious hours of my life. But for Forman, it's just a side job. He spends his days as a math professor at the St. Joseph's University, in Philadelphia. The NY Daily News visited him at his office:
[A]s a kid Forman would lay baseball cards out on his bedroom floor and categorize them based on the most compelling stat on the back of each card. At the ballpark, he'd roll his eyes whenever teammates would swing at pitches without first taking a strike, which he always did himself.
"I'm a little obsessed, that's probably safe to say," admits Forman. "I always tracked my on-base percentage in Little League."
Good eye, Sean.
It's pretty much a disaster scenario:
Lockouts and strikes loom large in all four major team sports as an era of relative peace on the sports labor front ends and owners begin to exercise their new power over player unions.
Sounds pretty bad, right? At ESPN.com, lawyer and columnist Lester Munson says it could happen, depending on the outcome of a case set to be argued in front of the Supreme Court this fall. The case, American Needle v. NFL, is a broad referendum on whether sports leagues are a single entity or a confederation of discrete teams. If the NFL wins,
the development will be more important to the sports industry than Curt Flood's battle against the reserve clause in the 1970s; than baseball's collusion cases in the mid-'80s; than the NFL players union's epic fight for free agency in a series of antitrust cases that stretched over a decade; and even than the enactment of the Sports Broadcasting Act in 1961, which is the legislation that is the foundation of the NFL's television riches.
Sky, you might have to throw out that trade value calculator if they do win.
Do you sometimes wish you could build your own PITCHf/x spreadsheets, but don't want to dip your toe into the wild world of SQL, Perl, or PHP? Bill Baer has a shoestring method of scraping the MLB Gameday archives. You can find a video of his method over at Crashburn Alley.
You have a choice between Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael Bourn. Whom would you rather have? I'm guessing most of you said Ellsbury, right? Well, not so fast. A few days ago, the Crawfish Boxes argued that Bourn was at least Ellsbury's equal. Since then, Bourn has edged out Ellsbury in both OBP and SLG, while trailing in BA by only .013. Bourn's wOBA (.348) bests Ellsbury's (.345).
Even the superficial difference in SB (40 to 33 in Ellsbury's favor) is misleading, as Bourn has been worth 8.0 runs to Ellsbury's 4.7 on the base-paths (hey, there's Dan Fox again!). Ellsbury is nine months younger than Bourn, but the tiebreaker may be defense, as Ellsbury is at -8.5 in CF for the season versus Bourn's +2.4. Somehow, though, I don't think that's going to convince the New Hampshire couple I met this week who named their chocolate lab puppy "Jacoby."
Finally, for comic relief, Rany Jazayerli has some breaking news on Joakim Soria:
"He’s too rested to pitch," manager Trey Hillman announced prior to Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. "If he’s too rested to pitch today, then obviously we can’t pitch him today. And if he doesn’t pitch today, then he’ll be even more rested tomorrow, so he can’t pitch then either. After sitting down and doing the math, we realized that if you extend this line of reasoning into the future, that Soria will be too rested to pitch for every game the rest of the season. So we felt it was best to send Soria home and have him rest up for next year."
Better to let Gil Meche pitch all those innings.