December 22, 2003

Statheads in 1917. Two good articles: An excellent review of "Moneyball" and proof that sabremetrics was alive and well in 1917. Legendary baseball writer F.C. Lane loves the much-maligned base on balls: "The base on balls is indeed an outcast and a stranger in the records. The most the scorers do for the homeless wanderer is to ignore it utterly. The batter gets no credit for getting a base on balls either through his wits or through respect for his batting powers. But magnanimously, the fact that he is given a pass doesn’t react against him. He isn't fined or anything like that. His voyage to first base merely doesn't appear at all, isn't called a time at bat, plays no part whatever either for or against his batting average."

Lane quotes Hall of Famer Johnny Evers (of "Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance" fame): "I pay no attention to batting averages and no other sensible person pays much attention to them. They tell little of a player's ability. ... Some lumbering bone head who does make a specialty of hitting and nothing else may forge well across the .300 line and everybody says 'what a great batter!' ... Jimmy Sheckard didn't use to hit so very high, according to averages. But if you remember he used to get to first an awful lot of the time. ... He believed that a good share of the time he would be doing his club a better service by trying to wear down the opposing pitcher and get him in the hole all the time ... In my own case I have frequently faced the pitcher when I had no desire whatever to hit. I wanted to get a base on balls. That was what I was working for. If I didn't get it my average suffered and if I did get it my average wasn't benefited in the least. That is why I say the averages mean nothing. They don't give a player credit for playing brainy ball."

But, but, but, Billy Beane is a know-nothing stat-geek and anyone who agrees with him should put down his slide rule and actually go see a game ... blah ... blah ... blah .... Clark Booth seems to be a staunch advocate of this ostrichian world-view, but my question is: Who are these relief pitchers Kevin Foulke and Manny Rivera? Yeesh.

At Democratic Underground, Old Soldier asks: "Did "Kurds Caught Saddam" Make Your Morning Paper?" So far every answer is NO: New York Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, Newsday, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald, New Haven Register, Syracuse Post Standard, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bergen (NJ) Record, Columbus Dispatch, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Hartford Courant and Portland (Maine) Press Herald. And nothing on Associated Press radio. ... I've really had it with the liberal media. According to Google News, most newspapers carrying it are in Australia, Asia, and the Middle East.

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