Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Good Morning everyone!! No new entry today. Our Volleyball team won 3-1 last night, but too many of the games were too close. Just a couple of quick notes before we head into today's entry, which is simply a repeat from an entry from almost a year ago.
If you thought Randy Moss's fake moon was classless, check this out! For more on Moss - including a picture! - check out BrentNet today!
I watched SportsCenter last night, specifically their Top 10. Did you notice that former Gophers forward Kris Humphries scored two points for the Jazz last night against the Spurs? Well, his one field goal happened to be a big dunk over Tim Duncan. Rather impressive! But the #1 thing last night was one of the most incredible dunks I have ever seen. Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick got the ball at the block. He faked a move, and then leapt into the air, high above the rim and dunked it. He was a good 5 feet away from the rim, and had a man on him and jumped straight up. It is almost impossible to describe and probably doesn't sound that impressive. But then you see it and it is incredible.
Speaking of the NBA, interesting trade between the Magic and Kings yesterday as Cuttino Mobley heads to Sacramento and Doug Christie goes to Orlando. My initial reaction is to think that this is a great trade for the Magic. Doug Christie has been very solid for the Kings. He is one of the most versatile players in the NBA. He is a great defender, handles the ball and distributes it well, can score and rebound. Mobley is more of a scorer's mentality, but he is young and probably gives the Kings more of a future upside. Good trade for both teams.
TV gives me hope! An interesting Slate article entitled Beauty and the Beast discusses how on TV, gorgeous women are being coupled up with fat men! For instance, on King of Queens, the lovely Leah Remini is married to Kevin James! The incredible Courtney Thorne-Smith is married to Jim Belushi on According to Jim. I'm always looking for motivation!
So, I guess we know how Randy Johnson is going to handle that New York media circus!! Hey Randy, it's only going to get worse!! (read about it and see it here)
Derek Lowe had an ERA in the mid-5s last year and with the help of Scott Boras, he turned it into a 4 year, $36 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. As I said last week, I think LA is a great place for Lowe to wind up and I would suspect that his numbers will come back. Of course, being a ground ball pitcher, he would have been better if the Dodgers still had Adrian Beltre and Alex Cora to go with Cesar Izturis, rather than Jose Valentin and Jeff Kent!
OK, that's enough for today. There will be a new entry tomorrow here. I promise!
I am sure you all have noticed that I frequently link to articles or thoughts of David Bergner, aka The Baseball Savant. There is a reason for that. First, his writing is incredible, thoughtful, intelligent and just very well done! Second, he is a good man and he and I e-mail each other a lot, throwing ideas off of each other. Well, for those who have come to this site within the last year, here is a discussion that David and I had about a year ago. We discuss a lot of topics. His playing career (which includes a brief stint of pro ball), favorite players, philosophies and much more are discussed below. Oh, and then I also included the next part of that day's entry, some thoughts on the luck of the Florida Marlins pitchers! (of course, Carl Pavano is no longer with the Marlins or Ms. Milano!).
I hope you enjoy this conversation. Be sure to check out The Baseball Savant's site, and I know that David is excellent to converse with, so be sure to e-mail him.
As always, if you have any questions or comments on any topic for me, please e-mail me.
And, have a great day!
REWIND (from Feb. 10, 2004)
THE BASEBALL SAVANT
The other night, I had the opportunity to have a great baseball conversation with David Bergner. David recently began to write the blog, The Baseball Savant. David also runs a fantasy baseball league that I am fortunate to be a part of for the upcoming season.
It was really fun talking baseball with someone as knowledgeable in the game as David. We discussed a few topics and some of our opinions on baseball. David was a great high school player who went on to play Division I baseball in college. He had a brief professional baseball career. So, I really appreciate his perspective because not only does he think baseball and think statistics, but also thinks baseball from a player’s perspective.
I really hope that you enjoy reading our conversation as much as I enjoyed having it! If you have any questions for myself or David, send me an e-mail. If it is for David, I will forward it to him. Or, head to The Baseball Savant’s website and drop him a line. I’m sure he’d be happy to hear from you!
So let’s get to it! Enjoy!
THE CONVERSATION BEGINS
SethSpeaks: You've been writing your blog for 6 weeks or so now, what made you want to start actually publishing your thoughts?
Baseball Savant: Maybe a year and a half ago, I wrote an article for Baseball Primer for it's visitor's dugout section about Pythagorean projections and how the new playoff format, expansion, and interleague play did more to help the Yankees be as dominant as their financial advantage over other teams. I don't buy into the poor small-market teams can't compete theory (as most sabermetricians don't), but I wanted to look at things from a purist perspective when I wrote that article. I based that article essentially if we were to go back to the days where the A.L. was just one big division and it was winner take all to the World Series instead of two rounds of playoffs. To me, that is what's great about baseball; the regular season meaning everything. Anyhow, that sort of piqued my interest in writing about baseball. I've always kept a journal, and that helped out a lot. What really put me over the hump was that during the last couple of months of the season of 2003, I was e-mailing my best friend daily updates from the previous night’s games, and what I thought was happening, and what I thought was going to happen for the rest of the season. I noticed that I was writing a ton of e-mails and just figured that some other people might be interested in what I was writing.
SethSpeaks: That sounds so similar to mine too... I would write people my thoughts and take the time to do that, and they didn't seem to mind it.
Baseball Savant: hahaha. that is true. I one time told my best friend that he could just delete the e-mails if he wanted to without reading them, because I just enjoyed writing them so much. He actually told me he wouldn't mind more of them!
SethSpeaks: OK, SABRmetrics... You acknowledge being a follower of SABRmetrics, what would you say your philosophy would be regarding stats and how they fit into the game?
Baseball Savant: I think it's a hard road to go down. From an evaluation standpoint, it intuitively makes sense and it seems folly for any baseball executive not to rely on statistical tools when evaluating ballplayers. Evaluation and projection should be the cornerstone of any business, and to just rely on subjective analysis of scouts seems ridiculous. Past performance is always an indicator of future performance. It goes back to the old adage of history repeating itself. Why it has taken baseball executives so long to figure that out, I have no idea. The other side of the coin is that every time you reduce something to a series of math equations or actuary tables, it takes a tremendous amount of romance out of the game, if not all of it. And isn't that what separates baseball? The romance of the game and just how beautiful a game it truly is? I just got done reading "THE TEAMMATES" by David Halberstam and you just get caught up in the romance of the book and the romance of baseball, and you start to wish that you could go back in time where you knew your favorite player was going to be on the same team for more than two years. Baseball is a business, however, so you have to take what you can get I suppose. There is a fine line between baseball and sabermetrics. The more hard core you are a fan of baseball, the more difficult it is to draw that line clearly. I'm a REDS fan and I love Barry Larkin. Part of me wants Barry Larkin forever playing SS, but the other part knows that he isn't very valuable there any longer.
SethSpeaks: I completely 100% agree that stats should be used by the GM or others in the organization that make moves in the offseason or in trade decisions. Do you like managers to make game-time decisions based on staring at numbers while they're in the dugout? I prefer that the manager know some of the numbers, but also just get a feel for the right decisions to make. What do you think?
Baseball Savant: Yeah, I agree with you. I think that is the line separating baseball evaluation from a purely mathematical concept from the human element of actually playing the game. The statistics might tell you that catcher x has a better chance at throwing your runner, y, out if he tries to steal, and that is all well and good, but there are about a million more variables to the game than just what a percentage says on a computer printout. It's like I was saying about "THE TEAMMATES". There is a part in the book where they talk about Enos Slaughter playing for St. Louis and the Cardinals’ manager just telling him to do whatever he wants to. This was back in the 1947 World Series where Slaughter scored from 1B on a bloop double that really should have been scored a single. If you are playing by the statistics, Slaughter doesn't try to score and maybe St. Louis doesn't win the World Series.
SethSpeaks: well put... OK, speaking of playing, did you play in high school? Did you play other sports?
Baseball Savant: Yes, I played baseball in high school. I played football and basketball as a freshman in high school but just baseball after that.
SethSpeaks: What position(s) did you play?
Baseball Savant: I played 3B.
SethSpeaks: Then, you played baseball in college? Where at?
Baseball Savant: I played at Butler University in Indianapolis. It's in the Horizon League.
SethSpeaks: Where are you from? Are you from the Indianapolis area?
Baseball Savant: I'm from Southern Indiana. Actually I'm from as southern a part of Indiana as you can get. I currently reside in central Indiana.
SethSpeaks: You mentioned previously that you also played some pro ball, so you must have had a fairly decent college career? (aside - it's ok to brag!! Ha!)
Baseball Savant: To be honest, I had a very sparingly college career playing division 1 baseball. (ha!!! no bragging necessary!) I was actually recruited to play baseball at some other bigger name division 1 schools, but out of high school I was all of 5'9" and about 147lbs. I had a rocket of an arm, and my bat speed was easily major league caliber, but I was just so small. I'm sure you are well aware of the perceptions of smaller ballplayers, and I don't think I would have had much of a chance to play much at a big time college program. I went to Butler, but the bad part about playing at Butler for me was that the same year I came in to play 3B they brought in another player to play 3B on full scholarship. Incidentally I wasn't recruited by Butler because they didn't think they had a remote shot at landing me to play there, so I walked on. I was happy with that. I grew an inch to 5'10" during my freshman year, but I quit growing after that. My big claim to fame was having a Houston Astros scout tell me when I was 14 that I had the fastest wrists in the Houston organization if I was in that organization at the time I was 14. Talk about a swelled head!
SethSpeaks: I can totally understand that!!! It's nice to hear though!
Baseball Savant: I had a couple of tryouts with Philadelphia and Houston after college, but by that time I was terribly slow, and they told me that it was just too much of a weakness to overcome no matter how good I was. They told me I graded out to be a top college player but that was about it.
SethSpeaks: So, are you a player that Billy Beane and other "Moneyball GMs" would consider drafting, and most of the "old-time" scouts wouldn't?
Baseball Savant: Yes that is exactly right. To be honest, when I read "MONEYBALL" this past summer, I couldn't believe a lot of what I was hearing in the book. Too bad I wasn't 10 years younger or else I think I could have at least had a shot to play at the major league level.
SethSpeaks: What years did you play at Butler? (or is it rude to ask how old you are?)
Baseball Savant: not at all. ‘94-‘98. I'm 27.
SethSpeaks: So, when did you develop your current philosophy on baseball and baseball stats? Did you think of that stuff when you played, or have you just developed these philosophies since then? For instance, did you think "quality at bat" and OBP when you were playing?
Baseball Savant: No I NEVER thought that. It's interesting in a way. When I was playing, I intuitively thought that it was in my best interest to walk if I couldn't get a pitch to hit. There were quite a few games where I'd go 1-1 with 3 walks or walk 2 times in 4 plate appearances, and I think to some degree it would unnerve my coaches to the point of them not wanting to play me. I'd be hitting .400 but it would seem like it wasn't doing a lot of good because I was just walking so much. However, I didn't start developing my philosophies of the game until I started reading Rob Neyer in 1999. That seems a little late to get caught up in stats, but I'm a math guy and seeing people make baseball into a stats game was great. I played a lot of the game called "PURSUE THE PENNANT" as a kid and I loved it. It's odd in a way because when you are playing, and heck I played high school ball in the mid-90s and college ball in the mid to late 90s, you really only think of batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. The stat craze is still a relatively new thing even though guys like you and I talk about it every single day.
SethSpeaks: I was always overly aggressive. I was always a #3 hitter and figured it was my job to drive in the runs, not let someone else do it. I think that is part of why I am so hesitant to think that a "walk is as good as a hit", when I really think that a two run single is better than a walk to load the bases and set up a DP.
Baseball Savant: That makes sense. I wasn't real aggressive so I was more prone to walk which is more sabermetrically inclined I suppose. Even when I played pro ball, I didn't ever hear the word OBP or quality at bat or plate discipline.
SethSpeaks: Oh yeah, I forgot to continue with the playing-days questions. OK, so, what happened after college? Who did you sign with, and what was the process like to sign?
Baseball Savant: After college, I got contacted by an independent league team to come and try out for them. Mainly it was due to me having a very strong arm and muscling up quite a bit. I entered college at 5'9" and 147lbs, but I left college at 5'10" and 210lbs. I got invited to play with the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League, and I was probably in the best shape of my life. I came in as a 3B, and the signing process was about as unromantic as it could have been. The manager gave me a contract, and I signed it and that was that.
SethSpeaks: I would have loved that option, romantic or not!
Baseball Savant: Yeah, it was nice
SethSpeaks: So, how long did you play there?
Baseball Savant: Not long enough. I only played for about a month and barely at that. When I went into camp, they were clocking my throws from 3rd to 1st at about 93-94 mph. The hitting coach said that I was playing the completely wrong position and that I was a sure bet to succeed as a pitcher. That is a long story in and of itself, but the hitting coach really went to bat for me with the manager. The manager, who also doubled as the pitching coach, just wouldn't listen. He thought I was too short at 5'10" and too muscular at 210lbs to be any good. I actually threw a harder fastball than anyone on the team, but the manager had already made up his mind. Back to the days of traditional scouting.
SethSpeaks: yeah... to me, that is a definite ridiculous thing about the traditional scouting. OK, you mentioned Barry Larkin being one of your favorite players. (mine too!) Who have some of your other favorites been from the past?
Baseball Savant: Oh man, I'm from the same town as Don Mattingly, so I grew up loving Mattingly. I was a huge Eric Davis fan. I loved Jose Rijo, Rob Dibble, Barry Larkin.
SethSpeaks: I wrote a posting last summer saying that Claudell Washington was my favorite (non-Kirby Puckett) player. So, do you have any of those types of favorite players, the guys that aren't the biggest of names, but something about them made them a favorite to you?
Baseball Savant: Oh, man, that is a good question. I loved Kevin Seitzer as a kid. He had a couple of good years with Kansas City and then that was it.
SethSpeaks: He was a Twins killer too! And, he always looked funny on baseball cards!
Baseball Savant: Yeah he did!
SethSpeaks: So, obviously you're a Reds fan?
Baseball Savant: I really liked Kirby Puckett too. You know what is interesting about me as a fan was that I was more in love with the uniform than the individual player as a kid I think. You hear this all the time in the NFL and not as much in baseball.
SethSpeaks: I don't even know how to respond to that!!!
Baseball Savant: They say that is why the NFL has become so wildly popular. It wasn't so much as a kid that I wanted to be player X or player Y. I just wanted to wear the uniform every day. As a kid I always got WTBS and WGN so I could probably recite the starting lineup for the Cubs and Braves for the past 15 years, but I don't remember thinking about the individual players as much as the team as a whole.
SethSpeaks: ah, I understand!!! That makes sense. I was the opposite, I was all about players. And the reason that is interesting to me is because I really don't really have favorite players any more either.
Baseball Savant: You see, I have favorite players now!!!! Plus, my family wasn't in to sports at all. Neither my mom nor my Dad cared for sports.
SethSpeaks: Your parents weren't sports fans? So, where did your "love of the game" come from?
Baseball Savant: I have no idea where my love of sports came from!
SethSpeaks: That's interesting to me. I always ask myself what I would do, what my life would be like if my family and I weren't so involved in sports.
Baseball Savant: Yeah, life without sports would be dull indeed!
SethSpeaks: OK, quick response on the Pete Rose situation, if that is possible. Mine - he should not be allowed to regain entry into baseball, and definitely should not be allowed to coach or manage ever again. What do you think?
Baseball Savant: In total agreement. That should be short enough!
SethSpeaks: Cool! OK, so, what are your plans or goals for your website?
Baseball Savant: Honestly, I don't have any plans or goals. I enjoy writing immensely and just love doing it.
SethSpeaks: What do you do now?
Baseball Savant: Currently I'm a chemist. However, I'll be attending medical school next fall in 2005.
SethSpeaks: Are there any topics or anything of interest to you that you would want a reader to read or know about you?
Baseball Savant: Why yes. I'd like people to know that yes Nomar Garciaparra is indeed better than Alex Rodriguez!!!!
SethSpeaks: How do you figure????
Baseball Savant: What do you mean? Nobody is better than Nomaaaaaaaaaaaah!
SethSpeaks: How do you figure that Nomar is better than A-Rod??
Baseball Savant: Because nobody is! Nobody includes A-ROD! See what having a favorite player does to you!?
SethSpeaks: So, if I were to ask, who your favorite current player is, it would probably be the Red Sox shortstop?
Baseball Savant: Of course. Seriously though, let me respond to that.
SethSpeaks: is it the uniform?
Baseball Savant: lol. One thing I'd like for people to know is just how good the players are who play the game. I think getting into the world of baseball blogging and loving sabermetrics sometimes gets us into saying things like "Neifi Perez sucks" and I guess you could say Yes, he does. I only got to play briefly for a professional team that was unaffiliated. I heard a scout tell me once that the independent leagues at their best resemble AA ball and at their worst, low-A ball, but from my standpoint of playing, the guys were just amazing. I couldn't imagine playing at the major league level. I might have had a good arm or great wrists, but nothing prepares you for just how fast the game moves. It's what's amazing when people think that baseball is boring. People say that and don't really know what they are watching. The game is unbelievably complex, and I would love for everyone to know that the athletes playing the game are just playing at a whole different level with talent that is other-worldly.
SethSpeaks: I completely agree!!!
Baseball Savant: I played with some guys that spent time in affiliated baseball and got drafted out of high school only to wind up in the indy leagues hanging on just trying to make it. I played during the year that Morgan Burkhart won the triple crown in the Frontier League hitting something like .420 and that guy barely made the majors, and even then for not very long.
SethSpeaks: It annoys me when people talk so negatively about Neifi Perez or Luis Rivas or other guys with poor stats, especially if said people never played above Little League.
Baseball Savant: Yeah it's nuts. I played against Scott Rolen in high school a couple of times, and I was a pretty good ballplayer. Most of the time I was probably the best ballplayer on the field, but when we played against Rolen, it was like he was already in the major leagues and I was still in Little League. That was just how huge the difference was, and I was able to at least get to the professional level. Rolen is a great player, but could you imagine having the talent of an Alex Rodriguez or a Chipper Jones? I mean, it's almost unexplainable.
SethSpeaks: I can't even imagine that! That's why I admire them so much. And, I think Chipper is incredibly underrated because he is so consistent!
Baseball Savant: Yeah, Chipper is one of the top 5 or 10 players in the game. I don't care what his stats are. I've watched him a lot on TV and at Turner Field and it's like the game has to be in slow motion for him.
SethSpeaks: He has one of the smoothest swings I have ever seen.
Baseball Savant: If you've played at a relatively high level it's just amazing at how it looks like he's doing everything so free and easy. Chipper Jones is just an amazing breed of baseball player. That is for certain.
SethSpeaks: So, who would you have voted for as the AL MVP in 2003? A-Rod or Delgado, or someone else?
Baseball Savant: You know, probably Alex Rodriguez. The guy is the best player in baseball (my love for Nomar aside) by a pretty decent margin. You could say that Bonds is a better hitter I guess, but hands down, A-Rod is just amazing. I went down to watch him in Spring Training a couple of years ago and seeing him is amazing. There isn't one thing he does that doesn't look smooth or doesn't look like he's the very best at it.
SethSpeaks: My thinking is that his numbers were very similar to Delgado's, and at least Carlos's team was above .500. A-Rod just does everything. Like Chipper, he makes it look so easy.
Baseball Savant: Yeah, one thing I think that is amazing about A-Rod that you don’t hear a lot about (or you heard more about it with Ripken) is just how big A-Rod is as a man. He's 6'3 and about 230lbs. He's one of the biggest guys in the league when you look at both height and weight.
SethSpeaks: I completely agree! He's not a SS like Mariano Duncan or Houston Jimenez!!!
Baseball Savant: Yeah you are totally right. The guy is a mountain and built like a brick outhouse!
SethSpeaks: Do you watch other pro sports?
Baseball Savant: I watch pro football and I really like college football and college basketball.
SethSpeaks: What, to you, is the allure of fantasy baseball?
Baseball Savant: I think the big draw is for people to get a chance to see if they are good talent evaluators. Can you put together a team that will win? If you are a really big fan though, it's hard to be satisfied with fantasy baseball. You are reduced to making winning based on R, HR, RBI, W, SV and stats like that. Your team really isn't playing.
SethSpeaks: I agree. It's hard for fantasy owners to understand that it's not all about those things on the field.
Baseball Savant: Agreed.
SethSpeaks: OK, I won't take up any more of your time. I love doing this. Talking baseball is the best!
Baseball Savant: No doubt! Alright bro! Man, I enjoyed it!
Baseball Savant: Oh, one more thing…
Baseball Savant: DUDE, MY BIG FAT OBNOXIOUS FIANCE IS STINKING MUST SEE TV!!! I love everything you are writing about it! (SETH NOTE - Last night, there was a new episode of MBFOF. Again, I laughed the entire time. The show should continue to get better in coming weeks.)
SethSpeaks: I completely agree!!!! I had to watch it three times last week.
Baseball Savant: I seriously can't get enough of it!
Baseball Savant: Alright man! This has been a blast!
SethSpeaks: Alright... Thanks again!
Any thoughts, be sure to e-mail me. Thanks again David, we may have to have a sequel at some point!
LUCKY MARLINS PITCHERS
Remember last week when I mentioned that Marlins pitcher Carl Pavano is incredibly lucky because he is said to be dating Alyssa Milano.
Well, last night, I was watching Fox Sports Net’s Best Ummm… Sports Show Period. Todd Walker and Kevin Millar were on, and in the end, they had them hit wiffle balls… against Marlins pitcher Josh Beckett. When they were done, they had Beckett pitch to the show’s Leann Tweden. They announced the Tweden is Beckett’s girlfriend!!!
Wow! I so want to pitch for the Marlins!!! No wonder Armando Benitez was willing to sign there for less money!
And on that note, I encourage any of you to write me any time. If you have any comments, opinions, or ideas for future articles, please e-mail me. Have a great week!
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