I’m a Tigers fan, so I’m pretty excited about how things worked out the last week. Basically, everything went right for the Tigers and nothing went right for the Yankees.
The only glimmer of hope for the Yankees came in game one. Down 4-0, Ichiro Suzuki hit a line drive homer to right in the bottom of the ninth and Raul Ibanez followed with a pop fly two-run “shot” that might have been an out (or perhaps a double) in most parks. Hope turned to despair when Derek Jeter went down with an ankle injury in the 12th, ending his season, while the Tigers stormed back into the lead. Even worse for the Yankees, their near victory finally knocked Jose Valverde off his closer pedestal. The Tigers should have made that move months ago.
I want to go back to the homers though. It’s no coincidence that both homers went to right field off of left-handed bats. Here are the home/road home run splits for the Yankees lefties in 2012:
Posted in Baseball, Causal Analysis, Commentary
Tagged age baseball, age decline baseball, age decline baseball Tyler Williams Jeff Phillips, Age Issue Tyler Williams Jeff Phillips, age steroids baseball, ALCS, American League Championship Series, Andy Dirks, baseball, bottom of the ninth, chris dickerson, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Detroit Tigers, dewayne wise, Eric Chavez, ESPN Home Run Tracker, ESPN the Mag, ESPN the Mag Age Issue, ESPN the Magazine Jeff Phillips Tyler Williams, Hit Tracker, home away home run splits, Ichiro Suzuki, Jeff Phillips, Jeter injury, Jim Caple, Jim Caple ESPN, Jose Valverde, lefties Yankees, Major League Baseball, Mark Teixeira, MLB, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, quintin berry, Raul Ibanez, Robinson Cano, Sports, Tigers sweep, Tigers World Series, Tyler Williams ESPN, Yankee Stadium, Yankee Stadium unfair, Yankees can't hit, Yankees home field advantage, Yankees home run advantage, Yankees home run splits home away, Yankees home runs, Yankees left-handed bats, Yankees left-handed hitters, Yankees lefties overrated, yankees lineup, Yankees old, Yankees overrated, Yankees poor hitting, Yankees right field, Yankees short porch, Yankees struggle at the plate
During the NBA season this year, I wrote up some parameters for an alternative way to build an NBA winner: The Seattle Scientists. The idea behind the Scientists is the same old Moneyball methodology for small market teams — find the undervalued assets and spend your money there. In the NBA, my buddy Tony and I think effort, defense, and intelligence are the assets to focus on. In the the MLB, there are some related options: bunting, speed, and defense again. We settled on the Portland Peskies for this thought experiment (an over-educated city that would appreciate a non-traditional team), though the Indianapolis Institute and the Las Vegas Vig (“You can never beat the house!”) were also in the running.
It’s no coincidence that I’m writing this while my Tigers play their old nemesis the Twins. The Tigers (outside of Quintin Berry this year) never have any hitters that would fit the Pesky mold. But Twins outfielder Ben Revere (currently snagging a tailing line drive off his shoe tops) would be on the Peskies’ radar for sure, as would Alexi Casilla and Denard Span. Revere has 6 bunt singles this year on 13 tries and 16 steals Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Innovative Ideas
Tagged Alexi Casilla, athletic sport, baseball, basketball, Ben Revere, best bunt, Bunt (baseball), bunt base hit, bunt for a hit, bunt success percentage, bunt success rate, bunting for a base hit, bunts, defense undervalued baseball, Denard Span, Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball, Minnesota Twins, MLB, Moneyball, NBA, nba season, NBA small market team model, Oakland Athletics, pa announcer, Portland Peskies, quintin berry, Seattle Scientists, small market baseball team model, small market baseball teams, small market teams, speed in baseball, speed underrated baseball, Sports, steals and bunts undervalued, Tigers Twins rivalry, Twins, Twins outfielders fast, Twins speed
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?
Howard Bryant had an interesting take Wednesday on ESPN regarding the health of the MLB and NBA. Bryant’s point is that the MLB is thriving because it has embraced player movement through free agency. Unlike in the NBA, where a player’s current team can offer him more years and money (or where David Stern can just shut down a trade), the MLB has no rules designed to keep players with the same team once their contract expires.
You can skip the video rebuttal by Jemele Hill, who played the unenviable roll of defending the NBA. She compares contract numbers for the NBA and MLB, noting that Pujols makes over $200 million against $100 million or so for the NBA’s top players. This isn’t a relevant comparison; Continue reading
Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Causal Analysis, Commentary, Common Sense, Financial Analysis, Football, Hockey, Soccer
Tagged .500, 161 games, Albert Pujols contract, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, ESPN, Howard Bryant, Jemele Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Galaxy, Matt Kemp, MLB, NBA, New York Yankees, NFL, NHL, Ryan Braun PEDs, salary cap, salary distributions, sports parity, team payrolls, team salaries, Washington Nationals
You all know by now — the New Orleans Mess tried to trade Chris Paul to the Lakers (involving the Rockets as well), but the other owners, who jointly own the Mess, stepped in and blocked the trade. The trade has quickly become an argument about the small market/big market dichotomy in the NBA. My brother Conor sent me a standard response from Matthew Yglesias at Slate. Yglesias argues that artificially preserving the talent on small market teams is misguided:
It’s not clear to me why they don’t just eliminate this New Orleans franchise. Everyone knows there are too many NBA teams. Nobody wants to own this team, nobody wants to play for it, and there’s no a priori reason to believe an NBA franchise in New Orleans could ever be financially viable.
Yglesias and many others feel that the Mess and maybe a few more teams should be “liquidated” and “replaced” in some way. Ideally, they could be moved to a big market, where the financial returns to winning seem higher. However, eliminating and moving teams is bad press. I also think that keeping teams Continue reading
Posted in Basketball, Commentary, Common Sense, Financial Analysis, Innovative Ideas, Trades/Free Agency
Tagged 30 for 30, baseball, basketball, big market teams, Chris Paul, Chris Paul trade, Daryl Morey, David Aresnault, Denver Nuggets, football, Grinnell College, Houston Rockets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kevin Grier, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers, Loyola Marymount, Marginal Revolution, Matthew Yglesias, MLB, Moneyball, NBA, New Orleans Hornets, NFL, Paul Westhead, Seattle Scientists, Seattle SuperSonics, small market teams, Tyler Cowen