No, I have no comment about this. It neither surprises nor disturbs me.
See how easy that is? Now we can get to the interesting stuff. Stuff like some of sabermetricians' favorite topics. Like, for example, the Hall of Fame. (D'oh! Foiled.) Via the Wall Street Journal comes a story about two college professors (one a computer scientist, the other a management systems expert) who have built a program to predict likelihood of HOF-induction:
Using a radial bias function network, a sort of neural net, Dr. Smith and Dr. Downey were able to identify statistical commonalities among Hall of Famers. As it turns out, hits, home runs and on-base plus slugging percentages are what count for hitters, while wins, saves, earned run average and winning percentage are what count for pitchers. All-Star Game appearances count for both, being especially valuable for hitters as they serve as a useful proxy for position.
It's important to realize that what they can say has nothing to do with worthiness, but rather the probability a given player will be inducted, based on previous BBWAA voting patterns.
Staying the HOF topic, incendiary neoconservative political commentator Zev Chafets has a new book about the Hall, and in classic Chafets form, he's criticizing the most basic assumptions of the Hall:
Chafets suggests that part of the problem is that the whole institution is built on a foundation of deceit: a falsified creation myth that asserts, all evidence to the contrary, that our national pastime was first played on the bucolic pastures of Cooperstown and that a leathery, rag-stuffed orb bought from a local farmer for $5 might be the game’s Holy Grail, the very first baseball.
He also takes aim at the so-called "character clause," the Veteran's Committee, the BBWAA, and even steroid moralizers:
Chafets writes that performance-enhancing drugs should be legalized, on the grounds that as currently used, they haven’t been proved to do any harm, nor any demonstrable good, either, and that there will never be a foolproof way to test for them.
Another item on the list of sabermetricians' favorite topics is Oakland GM Billy Beane. In the wake of the Moneyball movie's collapse, ESPN's Howard Bryant looks at Beane's legacy:
One of his frustrations these days is that no one seems to believe him. No one believes that he wasn't in the least bit crestfallen when he heard that the Soderbergh movie had collapsed. And no one seems to believe that he didn't envision his star entrée into the big-money world of Wall Street as a way to leave baseball behind. Beane became the de facto face of a revolution; his star power (lunch with Warren Buffett, dinner with Brad Pitt, a video-game simulation in which he is the main character) and the reach of the book catapulted him beyond his peers and created a new dialogue in the game.
Yeah the poor guy has to run (and part-own) a baseball team. It's a long article but there are some fascinating tidbits. Recently, Baseball Prospectus managing partner Kevin Goldstein talked to Beane for an interview, which unfortunately is available to subscribers only. An excerpt:
"Being a general manager today is far more difficult than it was ten years ago," said Beane. "You have lots of really smart guys running clubs, and then they're all surrounded by more smart guys," he explained, while showing that once again, the information age has changed the way baseball teams are run. "Look at Baseball Prospectus for example," he said. "Ten years ago, you were this rogue publication with numbers people didn't understand, and now look at where you are—you're mainstream."
Another item statheads love to toss around is stadium construction (especially those biz-ball types). One perennial topic has been the Marlins' new stadium (official slog: "From vaporware to taxpayer-ware in under 15 years!"), and Maury Brown has some computer renderings, including a simulated fly-through. Some ballpark facts:
37,000 seats in three seating decks
Three-panel retractable roof
928,000 square feet on the former Orange Bowl site
Field dimensions: Left field: 340’, Left field power alley: 384’, Center field: 422’, Right field power alley: 392’, Right field: 33
The pictures make it look pretty nice, and I'm sure the retractable roof will be a welcome addition. My question is, will there be any fans to attend?
I don't have much to add to this except to say that the University of California library system has an excellent collection of baseball photographs. Here's a great one of Babe Ruth (and I want that uniform!)
We'll finish up with two entertaining stories. The town of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, is having a mayoral election. Two of the candidates (and you really have to just believe me that I am not fabricating this) are Jose Rijo and Raul Mondesi. In career WAR, Rijo has a slight edge, 31.8 to 27.2. But then again, he was implicated in the Nationals bonus-skimming scandal. I'd say the election is about a toss-up when you consider both factors.
Finally, the coolest YouTube video I saw all day, Ichiro playing in high school. There are lots of home runs, and yes he used that swing even in high school.