This is more like my day job as an attorney, but there is some good writing being done, especially by Tom Verducci.
Start with Verducci’s “‘Clean It Up. It Must Stop’: MLB Is in an Ethical Crisis” Sports Illustrated (Jan. 16-17, 2020) [link]. You can follow the links until you get tired of it.
But maybe this will burn out in a few weeks. Nah, probably not, but we can hope.
As Verducci says:
In one month we hope to be restored by the pictures from Arizona and Florida of youthful ballplayers under the winter sun lazily tossing baseballs to one another and giving us once again the beautiful sound of bat meeting baseball, which for us is what the chirp of a bird is to an ornithologist. This is why we watch. It’s the simplicity of the game that soothes us. Every game has a binary outcome. Every event is definable. Runs, hits and errors. Wins and losses. Its beauty is in its simplicity.
We don’t want championships that make us do mental gymnastics to decide whether they are inauthentic. We don’t want player analysis to be derivative valuation. We don’t want ethical dilemmas to test our fandom.
We want a clean game decided by fair competition. Clean it up.
I’m sure that anyone who is interested is already aware of the punishments handed down to the Houston Astros by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. I would encourage the reading of the actual decision [20200113 STMT MLB Commissioner Manfred] (a very manageable 9 pages) for an understanding of what was found and some sense of why neither the owner nor the players involved were punished directly.*
*The cynic in me would point out (with many others) that the Commissioner “answers” to both the owners and the MLBPA and would be loathe to offend either group in the last days of labor peace, but the report suggests (correctly) that it would be tough to come up with carefully calibrated punishments for either group. The deterrent effect of these punishments should be significant, and indeed reports are that both Hinch and Luhnow have been fired by the Astros.
©2019, Allan F. Brooke II
(Alas, the Yankees are missing some of their biggest shoulders.)
With baseball season comes baseball writing — two interesting pieces on pitching:
Tyler Kepner focuses on the coefficient of friction, and things (substances?) which affect it (“The Secrets of Pitching’s Outlaws,” The New York Times (Mar. 29, 2019) [link]):
Next time you go to a game, notice all the surfaces a pitcher touches with his hand. Pitchers are fidgety creatures, constantly tugging and swiping and scratching their caps, their sleeves, their skin, something. Corey Kluber, the two-time Cy Young Award winner for Cleveland, grabs his tongue on the mound before every pitch — which became legal again years ago — then wipes his hand on the side of his pants.
(Kepner does not suggest that Kluber is doing anything illegal.)
Tom Verducci turns to spin rates and pitch shape (“From Trackman to Edgertronic to Rapsodo, the Tech Boom Is Fundamentally Altering Baseball,” Sports Illustrated (Mar. 28, 2019) [link]):
Pitch shapes, break charts, leveraging the ball, hoppy fastballs, sloppy wrists . . . this is part of the language of the game now, a language that didn’t exist a few years ago. [Houston Astros’ minor leaguer Forrest] Whitley speaks it fluently, not because he picked it up as a high school requirement, but because he grew up with it, organically. He and his fellow disrupters are only getting started.
Time to brush up on your scorekeeping skills! Need a refresher? Go to Keeping Score for all the details.
In 2018 I read an old book of miscellaneous addresses and essays by my favorite Canadian curmudgeon Robertson Davies called The Merry Heart (1998 [amazon]), and in previous years enjoyed similar compilations of material from Neil Gaiman (The View from the Cheap Seats, 2016 [amazon]); and Neal Stephenson (Some Remarks, 2012 [amazon]).
This year’s delight is certainly going to be Scalia Speaks (2017 [amazon]), a compilation of speeches by the late justice known for his staggering erudition, his biting wit, and his personal warmth. One of his sons (Christopher J. Scalia) and one of his former law clerks (Edward Whelen) have chosen and introduced a number of addresses given on many occasions. They are marvelous! Scalia’s good friend and fellow justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Notorious RBG herself) wrote the forward.
Here are a few tidbits:
Continue reading The Delightful Scalia
Sevy was amped last night, but kept himself under control for the most part. Good to get a dangerous Oakland team out of the way at home. A .pdf of the scorecard:
20181003 Wild card scorecard Yankees
20181003 Wild card scorecard Athletics
The reward is to now play the best team in baseball. Should be fun.
Here’s a blank scorecard for the ALDS: Scorecard 2018 ALDS
For the Yankees, it has been a long season to get back to October. Despite the injuries, it has been fun with a fresh crop of rookies (Gleyber, Miguel, and Luke).
We will see how it goes.
We need twelve wins.
Here is your AL wildcard scorecard pdf: Scorecard 2018 wildcard
I read this about 10 days ago. I continue to think about it. Eric Dorman, “Of Cubs and Humans and Good Thieves,” Mockingbird (July 30, 2018) [link].
It reminds me of “If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won’t consider possibilities that aren’t annoying and miserable.” David Foster Wallace, “This is Water,” available many places on the Web, including [link] and [audio link].
Even with the modern emphasis on statistics (“sabermetrics”), attempts to speed up the game, and scientific measurements, baseball is one of the most pastoral of sports.* It is also one of the most traditional.
“Keeping score” is a core baseball tradition — a way of taking notes during the game. Like taking notes in class, the main purpose is to help you slow down and concentrate on the event. It pushes you to process the event and condense it into a few marks of lead or ink. It may later serve as an aid to memory, but that is not the sole purpose.
Here’s a primer on keeping score, though I am going to give you an alternative blank scorecard that I designed and that I think works better than the traditional format:
Here’s a full size .pdf you can download: [Scorecard 2018 full]
Continue reading Keeping Score