If a Home Run is Hit and No One Sees It, Did It Really Happen?

Without commenting too much on the insanity of choosing to play a baseball game in front of no fans while a city simmers at the boiling point of years of continued racial and class inequality (like I said, I wouldn’t comment too much), I find this box score to be sort of amazing.

Box Score

Time: 2 hours and 3 minutes
Attendance: 0

In 10 years, thousand of people will say they were there.

Raining on the Pre-Victory Parade

“You do understand that there is zero chance that the Red Sox repeat, right?

Last year was fun, but it’s not going to happen again. Not this year, anyway.”

Thanks, Eric Wilbur. You mean it’s hard for a baseball team to win the World Series, let alone win them back to back? Well, I’ll be. I never would have figured.

This shit is why people hate sports writers. There is zero in this article that is worthwhile. This is a contrarian article to get page views, and generate some ad dollars for boston.com, and maybe get Wilbur a few a couple more spots on radio or local tv.

Yes, it’s hard to win the World Series. Yes, the Red Sox are not a dominant team, going to steam roll the league (that just doesn’t happen in baseball any more). Are they the most likely team to win? Not by the odds—Baseball Prospectus has them the 6th best odds to win it all, Vegas has them 6th as well).

But, this tripe:

Boston still isn’t viewed as the best team in the American League. It probably even has to surrender that honor to the Tampa Bay Rays in their very own division. The Tigers are more complete. The Rangers have more firepower. The Royals are young, hungry, and ready to burst onto the scene.

The Rays are absolutely a solid team, betting on a very young rotation once again. Definitely one of the best teams in the AL. The Tigers have no shortstop, but have put together a great (if defensively flawed team), and have one of the best rotations in the AL. They have little depth to handle injuries. The Rangers … the Rangers? They’ve got a pretty horrible rotation (topped with their ace being on the DL), a questionable bullpen, and an offense that is very different than last season’s. They’re a good team, but not one most folks are even betting on to win their division (that’d be the Oakland A’s or Los Angeles Angels). And, jeez, the Royals? Now you’re just trolling. They’ve got one of the worst hitting infields in the American League, and have one starting pitcher on their staff likely to have an ERA under 4.

The Sox? Well, they’ve got a hole in the outfield, no matter how you slice it. I wasn’t a huge Ellsbury fan, but his 2013 is likely to be better than the Sizemore/Bradley combo (though not for as much as he got paid). Bogaerts is a rookie, and Middlebrooks is Middlebrooks. What the Sox have is depth. Depth for call ups and depth for trades. Sizemore gets hurt? Bradley is there. Bradley not cutting it? Bring up Brentz, or trade for an OF. Bogaerts scuffling at SS or Middlebrooks not getting it done? Drew is still out there …

Are the Sox going to win it in 2014? Probably not. There’s just no way you can say that any team is going to win it. But to say they aren’t going to win it, and to mention the Royals and Rangers as reasons why? That’s just being a douchebag.

(Via Boston.com.)

Some Links and Info

I’m not in a place particularly conducive to writing anything of a meaningful length, so here are a few things that might be worth reading.

  • Joe Posnanski on the late Johnny Pesky – As always, Joe Posnanski pretty much nails it.
  • Going between planes, wifi, 3G, no service, etc, I noticed my iPhone’s battery dying rapidly. Turns out, I had a stuck iMessage. If you see iMessage always saying “sending” on a particular contact, start deleting your messages until you find the “stuck” message. Saved my battery.
  • Getting your vim config under git – As a web dork, keeping my config synced across machines has been painful. I’d tried keeping them under git before, but never had gotten it quite right. This is the right way. So easy, and makes my life much nicer.
  • TextMate 2 goes open source – I’ve never quite gotten into TextMate, but this is an interesting move. Will it keep being developed and supported commercially? (Maybe, given he GPLv3 license.) Regardless, building it to play around is pretty simple and probably worth it.
  • WordPress 3.1 for iOS – For the first time, the WordPress iOS app is meaningfully usable, i.e. I typed this in the app.

NFL Stands “Not For Long” (will we cut away to the 4:15 game)

“In researching the kickoff time shift, the NFL analyzed games from the 2009-11 seasons and found that 44 games required part of the audience to be switched to a mandatory doubleheader game kickoff,” a release from the league reads. “With a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff time, that number that would have been reduced by 66 percent to only 15 games”

Butchered, awesome Jerry Glanville quote aside, the NFL is probably the most fan-friendly, forward thinking professional sports league (at least when it comes to non-concussion-related topics). Sunday Ticket, NFL RedZone, and NFL.com give you almost anything you could possibly want to see on Sunday, if you’re willing to pay a bit. If you don’t want to pay, you still usually get at least three games on Sunday, and now, if the early game is close, you won’t get yanked away before seeing the final plays of the game.

If the NFL would follow MLB and the NBA’s lead and put out an app (at say $10-20 a season) that let you listen to the radio broadcasts of any game, it would probably make a gajillion dollars.

MLB, with its At Bat app and web service, Apple TV/Xbox Live integration, and really well done MLB.com and MiLB.com sites, would be a shoo-in for fan friendly behavior, but their continue adherence to their absurd YouTube and blackout policies mean that, no matter what they do, they’re always going to be second place.

(From Awful Announcing.)

Fantasy Dork

My AL-only fantasy baseball auction is tomorrow. I’m, sadly, incredibly excited. Auction leagues are so much more fun than straight drafts because you can go in with very different strategies than the normal “pick the best player at a position I need” strategy.

Strategies include:

  • “Suggest the hometown players early so people over pay”
  • “Suggest young, intriguing players early so people over pay”
  • “Bid up the last good shortstop/second baseman/catcher so that someone wastes a bunch of money on Ian Kinsler/Derek Jeter/Jason Varitek”
  • “Save all your money to the end of the draft and clean up on the guys everyone forgot about”

Basically, it’s open season to be a dick. For my “keepers,” I’m keeping 5 guys from last year who I got cheaply and save me money versus what they would cost me this season (Jered Weaver and Clay Buchholz are probably 2 of the top 10 or 12 pitchers available and I’ve got them for a combined $20 auction dollars).

Giddy up. Baseball season is here (just in time for the Celtics to go into their normal end of season hibernation).

–Ryan

Baseball Prospectus | Baseball ProGUESTus: Scorecasting Review

I finished up reading Scorecasting: The Hidden Influences Behind How Sports Are Played and Games Are Won a couple of weeks ago. I recommend it whole-heartedly, but this is a pretty good summary of how I feel about it:

When Moneyball came out, it didn’t take long for the importance of on-base percentage to become part of mainstream conventional wisdom. It would be great if some of the findings in the book did the same—the debunking of the ‘hot hand,’ for instance, or ‘icing the kicker.’ However, I’d hate for ‘home field advantage is caused by biased referees’ to do the same—because that’s a huge claim, and I don’t think it’s true. Ideally, the authors would have consulted some of the practicing sabermetricians in the various sports—the Prospectus writers, Tom Tango, Brian Burke, Gabriel Desjardins, and so forth—who would undoubtedly have pointed out some issues and advised the authors to temper some of their conclusions.

It’s possible that having to qualify some of the results would make for a less popular book. In any case, Moskowitz and Wertheim are outstanding at getting their ideas across effortlessly. With a little more collaboration from others who study this stuff, this could have easily been the best popular sabermetrics book since Bill James. As it stands, it’s still recommended reading, but I wish it came with a warning to take some of its conclusions with a grain of salt.”

(Via Baseball Prospectus.)

Scorecasting is a great read. And, if you’re reading it with a somewhat open mind, you’ll learn a lot, but also pause a lot and say “wow, I feel like I’m missing a whole side of this argument.” Which is pretty much exactly how I felt reading Freakonomics.

(Note: If you buy the book from the Amazon link above, I get like 12 cents.)