Tag Archives: New York Yankees

New York is Lefty Land

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:

Continue reading

Advertisements

Part 2: The Return of Adrian the Canadian

Yesterday, Adrian reasserted himself on the blog with a clear proposal to reduce diving in soccer.  Today, he shows off his versatility with a response to my recent thoughts on fairness in U.S. and European professional sports leagues (written in relation to my brother Conor’s defense of talent concentration in European soccer). For a taste of the historical, economic, legal, and political, set aside 10 minutes and read on:

How long has it been? Too long, I think.  But Tyler’s recent post has compelled me to withdraw from my self-imposed hibernation and away from the stultifying process of studying for the Ontario bar exam. In short, I disagree with the capitalist/socialist, American Sports/European Sports dichotomy or, rather, I think it abstracts away from the real issue – that cartels make a heck of a lot more money than entities that exist in competition with one another. In short, the NFL and MLB are not staunch defenders of equality values; Dan Snyder and Hank Steinbrenner are not driving the train to the Finland Station.

The standard argument goes something like this: isn’t it ironic that America, land of unbridled capitalism, home of animal spirits on free and open fields, has “socialist” sports leagues that redistribute resources from winners to losers while red, socialist, pinko Europe has a free and open market for sports talent? It’s a cute argument and one that elicits a nice “hmmm…” from readers and there are certainly large elements of truth to it. American sports are, at least nominally, more redistributive, and there is a larger perception that American sports are organized more “fairly” than European sports from a competitive standpoint. Still, it’s far from clear that European sports are more aristocratic than American sports if we look at the highest levels and, more importantly, I think this distracts us from a deeper, more thorough comparison of why European sports and American sports are organized so differently.

Barcelona’s greatness is undeniable, but it’s not a greatness that has translated into a dynasty at the highest levels of competition. While Barca has been the dominant team in La Liga, it’s only won three of the last ten Champions League titles despite making each of the last ten tournaments. This means that the Champions League may not even be as “aristocratic” as the NBA:  eight different teams have won the Champions League while only six have won the NBA championship in the same span. And, unlike La Liga Continue reading

Adrian the Canadian fixes the MLB playoffs

“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

The hitting streak

I just finished reading “56,” a retelling of Joe DiMaggio’s hit streak by Kostya Kennedy (thanks to my buddy Jake for the book!). He unfolds the 1941 streak like a story, complete with what the players were thinking/saying and lots of contextual details concerning DiMaggio’s family life, World War II, Italian American immigrants, etc. The book has a bit too much typical baseball nostalgia, perhaps (witty newspaper reports, grand ballparks and announcers, exaggerated personalities), but the story is undeniably fascinating and the writing is pretty good. Kennedy also sprinkles in some discussion of other hitting streaks and finishes with a good summary of quantitative work that’s been done on streaks.

The big debate about both good and bad streaks is whether they arise due to chance alone or whether they reflect Continue reading

Head to head: MLB vs. NBA

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

Big contracts and little contracts

Major League Baseball’s winter meetings are generating as much talk as ever. Today, the Angels engaged in some economic stimulus with over $300 million in contracts for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Pujols’s deal is $252 million over 10 years. In ten years, Pujols will be 41.

This is basically the same deal that Alex Rodriguez got from the Yankees before the 2008 season (10 years, $275 million, age 32). Predictably, people are writing that Pujols’s contract is too long. I think this is the wrong view. I bet both sides Continue reading