“But he’s Canadian,” you say, “So what does he know about baseball?” Well, he’s from Toronto, the team most screwed by the current system, so let’s give it a shot:
A few days ago, the MLB announced that it was expanding its playoffs to include a second wild-card team. Under the new system, the two wild-cards will play a single game that determines who goes to the divisional series. Response has been, at best, mixed. The strongest criticisms, like this one from ESPN’s Joe Sheenan, have taken a traditionalist perspective. Sheenan worries about what this new system will mean for deep-seated, and still exciting, elements of baseball like the pennant race. He sees the wild-card system as debasing what has historically been one of the most exciting parts of being a baseball fan: following your team through a tense September race to win the division. By Sheenan’s estimation, the old system encouraged top teams to play their best throughout the whole season. If you happen to be one of the two best teams in the league by regular season record but can’t win your own division, tough grapes.
I sympathize with Sheenan and other traditionalists. Baseball’s regular season is long and arduous and does a pretty good job of determining the “best” team (or, at least, a better job than other pro-sports at determining the best team). Meanwhile, baseball playoffs, due to the nature of the game, are pretty close to random. As Billy Beane said, “my shit doesn’t work in the playoffs” – seven and five game series are simply too short to give us a good idea as to which team is best. In the 17 post-seasons since the advent of the wild-card, the wild card team has won five times Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Common Sense, Pop Culture, Probability Analysis, Rules Analysis
Tagged Adrian the Canadian, baseball, Billy Beane, Boston Red Sox collapse, coin flip game, coin flip game is dumb, Division Series, ESPN, George Will, Joe Sheenan ESPN, League Championship Series, Major League Baseball, MLB playoff system is stupid, MLB playoff system proposal, MLB playoffs, MLB playoffs new rules, MLB playoffs new system, New York Yankees, pennant race, playoffs, probabilities, St. Louis Cardinals wild card World Series, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto, Toronto Blue Jays, Wild Card, wild cards, World Series, World Series odds
Sports (especially baseball) has a number of well known curses. The Red Sox (Curse of the Bambino) and White Sox (Curse of the Black Sox) broke theirs last decade, but the Cubs (Curse of the Billy Goat) struggle on with no championship since 1908. My new favorite is the Curse of the Colonel: apparently Colonel Sanders cursed the Hanshin Tigers of Japan after they threw his KFC statue in a river during a championship celebration.
I don’t believe in curses, of course, but the Curse of Bobby Layne is one that came true. My Lions traded quarterback Bobby Layne to the Steelers in 1958 after he won the NFL championship the previous year because he was getting long in the tooth. Incensed, Layne told anyone who would listen Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Football, Humor
Tagged baseball, Bobby Layne, Bobby Layne 50 years, Bobby Layne Lions trade, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Curse of Bobby Layne, Curse of the Bambino, Curse of the Billy Goat, Curse of the Black Sox, Curse of the Colonel, Curse of the M's, Detroit Lions, football, Hanshin Tigers, Martin Mayhew, Marty Mornhinweg, Marty Schottenheimer, Matt Millen, Matt Millen worst GM in history, Mike Martz, MLB, NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rod Marinelli, Steve Mariucci, why did the Lions hire Matt Millen?
Here’s one potential career “arc” for Prince Fielder:
I call it “the Prince Heavy Side Function,” after the famous Heaviside step function. The graph above certainly has a “heavy side,” though Oliver Heaviside himself was not heavy at all.
Oliver "Not So Heavy" Heaviside
Thanks Brother Evan for suggesting the graph above!
Posted in Baseball, Humor, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged baseball, brother Evan, Detroit Tiger, Evan, Major League Baseball, Miguel Cabrera, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Oliver Heaviside, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder career, Prince Fielder ffat, Prince Fielder overweight, Prince Heaviside Function, Tiger, Victor Martinez
David Schoenfield put up a fairly useless blog post about the Tigers signing Prince Fielder yesterday. It just became even more useless, as ESPN confirmed that Cabrera will shift to third base to accommodate Fielder (Schoenfield said this would never happen). I knew about this way before ESPN, thanks to Brother Evan passing along a local news link.
The real issue with Schoenfield’s post Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Financial Analysis, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged Albert Pujols, baseball, brother Evan, Cabrera moving to third, Cabrera too fat to play third, Cabrera will play third, David Schoenfield, Detroit Tigers, ESPN, Fielder, Fielder contract too big, Fielder contract too long, Fielder signing, Los Angeles Angels, Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Ilitch dumb, MLB, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder bad contract, Prince Fielder contract worth it, Prince Fielder too much money, Tiger, Victor Martinez, Victor Martinez ACL, Victor Martinez injury, Victor Martinez out for the year, World Series
My boyhood memories are coming back full force: Prince Fielder is coming to Detroit to play for my Tigers! Fielder’s dad Cecil (former Tigers masher) might be the most surprised, since they don’t get along. The money is huge (9 years, $214 million), but my immediate reaction had to do with the logjam at first base and DH. The thick brothers (Cabrera and Fielder) should be able to share this year (except at the buffet), but what about when Victor Martinez (the Tigers’ third best hitter) comes back from his ACL injury next year? He’s primarily a DH at this point. This signing makes me think more news is on the way. Maybe Martinez is secretly 41 years old. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that Cabrera will have to move — Fielder doesn’t want to play DH.
Is the contract reasonable? Once the details come out, some dummy will comment that Fielder won’t be worth the money at the end of the nine years. That’s not really relevant (as I’ve written before) Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Financial Analysis, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged baseball, Cabrera is going to play third, Cabrera moves for Prince Fielder, Cabrera third base, Cecil Fielder, Detroit, Detroit can't afford Fielder, Detroit Tiger, Detroit Tigers, fat, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Ilitch, Mike Ilitch spends too much money, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, Prince Cecil Fielder don't get along, Prince Fielder, Prince Fielder contract, Prince Fielder hates his dad, Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers, Prince Fielder Tigers, Prince Fielder too much money, Tiger, Victor Martinez, who will play first base in Detroit, who will play first base Tigers, why did Prince Fielder sign in Detroit?
In my post on Friday about the DiMaggio hit streak, I mentioned the old hack-a-Shaq strategy. With Dwight Howard playing for Shaq’s old team, I’m surprised that teams don’t try the hack-a-Howard (Howard is a 60% career free throw shooter). Friday night’s Bulls-Magic game was a potential opportunity; the Bulls led for the entire fourth quarter. Here are the Bulls possessions inside of 4:30 remaining: Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Innovative Ideas, Probability Analysis
Tagged 56 games, baseball, basketball, Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, hack-a-Howard, hack-a-Shaq, Hedo Turkoglu, hit streak, intentional foul off the ball, intentional fouling, J.J. Redick, Jameer Nelson, Joe DiMaggio, Kyle Korver, Luol Deng, Orlando Magic, poor free throw shooter, Shaquille O'Neal, Taj Gibson