The 2013 Baseball Thread

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The Cid
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The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:25 pm

Now that it's Spring Training, it's time to retire the old baseball thread and get the next one started up.

Josh Hamilton says what baseball fans outside of Texas have been thinking forever. I can't disagree because I've often felt that way, but I don't live near Texas so I could very easily just be stereotyping.

The bottom line is that it is never a good idea for an athlete to leave one team for another and immediately start talking about things they dislike about their original organization's fans. Honestly, I wouldn't have expected that out of a guy who has been so image-conscious ever since his comeback.

-In ten years, sabermetricians have done the following:
1) Destroy the competitive imbalance in baseball that used to come from big-market teams having more resources than their competitors.
2) End the Boston Red Sox' 86 year championship drought in 2004.
3) Deliver San Francisco's first and second World Series trophies.
4) Predict two presidential elections and a midterm.
5) Get a movie about baseball executives nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
6) Vault Bill James and Nate Silver to become two of the most recognizable nerds on the planet.

I keep waiting for this crowd to spill into other sports, but maybe they're busy trying to save the entire world instead...

-Can't quite stress enough how big of a deal it is that Pedro Martinez is working with the Red Sox again. The case could be made that Pedro is the single best pitcher in baseball history. (The 1998-2004 stretch where he put up dominant numbers against a league on steroids is pretty much unmatched by anyone. That's at least enough to put him in the conversation, isn't it?)

I'll put it to you this way: Rock stars, hit theater shows, stand-up comics, conferences like PAX East and the Sloan Conference, championship-level teams in each major sport, and small-batch release independent films have all come through this town many times since I've lived here. Despite all that, the hardest ticket to come by in that time span was a ticket to see a Pedro Martinez start. You know, despite that happening some fifteen times per year.

-It's a World Baseball Classic year again, which means that a tournament that should be good but is still in its infancy will interrupt Spring Training just long enough to make Americans angry that we can't win the World Cup in our own national pastime.
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The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by Deacon » Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:59 pm

I didn't grow up with baseball. I know it a lot better than say rugby or cricket, and I got to be there in the stadium for Nolan Ryan's 7th no-hitter, but much like NASCAR or the NBA I don't really pay much attention till the playoffs and then really only if the Rangers are in play--and there were many years in a row without much in that regard.

They play about 1.6 million games per season, many of them during the day in the work week, so it's often difficult to follow by actually watching the games. Sportscenter highlights are cool sometimes, but I just don't watch much TV live these days regardless.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:22 pm

Deacon wrote:I didn't grow up with baseball.
Often overlooked point about baseball: Often, a fan's connection with the sport is hereditary. Baseball fandom is often a father-son thing, which manifests itself constantly in the way the sport is talked about and portrayed in media. Fathers and sons playing catch. The amount of professional players whose fathers were also players at some point. Field of Dreams. A lot of baseball fans are baseball fans because their dads are/were as well and it rubbed off on them. This is absolutely true for me.
Deacon wrote:I got to be there in the stadium for Nolan Ryan's 7th no-hitter
This statement should be bolded and followed by many exclamation points. No amount of mental math can account for "you saw this game and you're not a crazy baseball fan." I remember more about the two no-hitters I've seen in person (Derek Lowe's 2002 no-hitter, and a college game I had the pleasure of announcing) than I do about my high school and college graduations combined.

Also, Nolan Ryan's seven no-hitters are baseball's legitimate and unbreakable record. Don't want to hear about Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak, because it happened prior to the integration of Major League Baseball and to me those pre-integration records are more meaningless than any amount of steroid inflation has made any home run record. I just nominated a guy for "best pitcher ever" that never had A no-hitter. What are the odds someone else is going to bag eight?
Deacon wrote:They play about 1.6 million games per season, many of them during the day in the work week, so it's often difficult to follow by actually watching the games.
It is not difficult to follow Major League Baseball. Ask, and I will give you a list of things to look up that will catch you up completely with the Rags at any given point in the season. Fifteen minutes at any time, that's all you need. I am not kidding. You can thank the sabermetricians.
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The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by Deacon » Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:58 pm

I didn't grow up with baseball (my asshole grandfather is an absolute die hard Rangers fan though) and I was in 4th grade at the time. Maybe the second pro baseball game I'd ever attended, and we didn't watch it on TV much. I didn't play little league either. It was exciting, and I remember a few things about it and some particular moments, and I consider myself lucky to have been there to experience it, but on its own as a singular event unlikely to ever be repeated doesn't necessarily equate to a rabid fan.

I don't care about sabremetrics. I don't want to have to look stuff up. I don't do that with any sport I follow at all. If it's relevant or interesting I kind of figure the commentators or pregame guys will bring it up. So those things mean little to me. I want to experience the season with the team, not see some box score spreadsheet or game recap article.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Wed Feb 20, 2013 2:44 pm

Deacon wrote:I don't care about sabremetrics.
Not even in as much as "it's a fun word to say?" (And, as I've admitted for years, way too cool of a word for baseball statistics.)
Deacon wrote:I don't care about sabremetrics. I don't want to have to look stuff up. I don't do that with any sport I follow at all. If it's relevant or interesting I kind of figure the commentators or pregame guys will bring it up. So those things mean little to me. I want to experience the season with the team, not see some box score spreadsheet or game recap article.
Okay, but if you look at this thread thus far you'll notice that maybe Josh Hamilton has a point. (And by the way, I don't think his point is the least bit dismissive of or insulting to the people who have supported the Rangers. You're not Chicago, New York, Philly, or especially us when it comes to baseball. Boo freaking hoo, and people up here don't quite care as much about the NFL is they do in your neck of the woods, as evidenced by "did you ever hear anything from any Patriots fans prior to the discovery of Tom Brady?" I love sports and I love cars, but I haven't sat through an auto race in its entirety since I was seven years old. So if someone called me a subpar auto racing viewer, I'd be inclined to agree with them.)

But hey, you don't like math, or reading, or capitalism, or watching a three-plus hour game with no contact while announcers prattle on about family and generally make things feel like an old Pepperidge Farm ad, then fine. Hate fun all you'd like. :lol:
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:12 pm

Hey, quickly: I'm starting a fantasy baseball league this year. It's a keeper league (meaning you can hold on to your team and certain players going in to next season as well) that keeps track of insane statistics (my favorite is pitches per plate appearance) in the hopes of making sure that the best players in this fantasy league are actually great at baseball as opposed to just hitting or striking people out. Not drafting until very close to Opening Day, so there's plenty of time, but if anyone's interested in possibly getting in on this, send me a private message and I'll get you the details.
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The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by Deacon » Sat Feb 23, 2013 3:43 pm

How much would it piss you off when I beat you because I liked the sound of their name or whatever :)
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:32 pm

A) I'm not great at fantasy baseball. I know a lot about the sport, and that helps in that I know what the players I'm drafting look like on the field, but that doesn't necessarily translate to fantasy baseball and I've only played a handful of times.
2) Everybody chooses players based on random crap like how cool their name sounds. I do it every time. I once rode out a month with Yorvit Torrealba as my catcher just so I could say his name as an exclamation whenever he came to bat.
iii) A lot of awesome players have funny or cool names, so that's not a terrible strategy most of the time.
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The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by ampersand » Sat Feb 23, 2013 7:42 pm

This is the year the Yankees don't make the postseason, and Deter Jeter decides to retire at the end of the year.

This is the year where the next level of performance enhancing drugs gets noticed because of a statistical anomaly.

This is the year where the Dodgers gets into the wild card game and the Rangers get screw again.

This is the year Toronto wins the World Series and no one notices because someone stolen maple syrup reserves again!

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The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by ampersand » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:27 am

And it starts with Granderson out for 10 weeks. I hope Yankees fans learn to enjoy duct tape. It's holding their team up.

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:46 pm

ampersand wrote:This is the year the Yankees don't make the postseason
I agree. I get the sense they're in for something a lot like we had in Boston last year. It gets bad, then it gets worse, then there's a lot of head shaking and wondering how exactly they arrived in the cellar.
ampersand wrote:and Deter Jeter decides to retire at the end of the year.
I'm imagining a German accountant now. Dieter Jeter. I hope the revered Bavarian firm of Schwarzelheim and Clockenreich gives him a nice gold watch.

Don't forget Mariano Rivera, who is a candidate to retire at any moment because he's starting to develop that vague resemblance to Yoda that we already see in Tony Dungy. But yeah, wholesale changes are coming to the Bronx.
ampersand wrote:This is the year where the next level of performance enhancing drugs gets noticed because of a statistical anomaly.
This is my personal final ruling on performance enhancing drugs and Major League Baseball: If pre-integration statistics count for anything--and they really shouldn't--then the modern enhanced performances have to count as well. Seriously, how is it any more complicated than that? If Joe DiMaggio's hit streak in an all-white league with virtually no foreign influence and all but a handful of players working offseason jobs to make ends meet counts as a valid record in today's league, then what Barry Bonds did should absolutely stand. If any .400 or better season still stands up, then so does 1998. I won't even consider ignoring "the steroid era" until we get rid of pre-integration baseball as anything but a collection of tall tales.

Vijay Singh got caught with juice-related stuff this year. This is interesting, because Vijay Singh is a professional golfer. That's not only the sport that used to be dominated by pudgy white guys (and now suddenly everybody's in fighting shape on tour, which happened like overnight, which really should have set off every alarm we have), it's also the sport with a ridiculously long and cumbersome code of ethics. And they do it. So all bets are off. Poker players probably do something. Snooker. Everyone. How did we not get to this realization twenty years ago? There are "statistical anomalies" in every sport right now.
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by Deacon » Mon Feb 25, 2013 4:57 pm

The Cid wrote:This is my personal final ruling on performance enhancing drugs and Major League Baseball: If pre-integration statistics count for anything--and they really shouldn't--then the modern enhanced performances have to count as well. Seriously, how is it any more complicated than that? If Joe DiMaggio's hit streak in an all-white league with virtually no foreign influence and all but a handful of players working offseason jobs to make ends meet counts as a valid record in today's league, then what Barry Bonds did should absolutely stand. If any .400 or better season still stands up, then so does 1998. I won't even consider ignoring "the steroid era" until we get rid of pre-integration baseball as anything but a collection of tall tales.
The only way for that to work is for performance enhancing substances to be made acceptable. The all-white league was acceptable at the time, as was the idea of some players having to work outside jobs to make ends meet because they weren't being paid well. In your context, it would be a lot more like it turns out that DiMaggio was actually a black guy in whiteface, basically a method of cheating, covertly gaining a perceived advantage in violation of the rules--though in our society that would be treated as a lot cooler than steroids of today.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:34 pm

Ah, but Mark McGwire never broke any rules, nor did Barry Bonds by the letter of the law. Before 2005, there was no testing, so steroids were ostensibly legal in baseball. Not generally accepted, but legal. (And actually, since MLB's ratings went up because of the home runs, it kind of was accepted. Fans still refuse to acknowledge that we had a hand in this steroid mess, but we definitely did.)

The argument for throwing those numbers out isn't about rule violations, save for the few cases where players have been caught, such as Alex Rodriguez. What fans talk about more often is this strange concept of statistical purity, that somehow Bonds' home run records sully the memory of guys like Ruth and Hank Aaron, when that's not at all true. Part of that is because nobody should take Babe Ruth's statistics to mean anything in the context of today's MLB landscape. Another part is that discussions of baseball greats rarely take stats into account anyway. Ruth wasn't great because he hit 714 home runs, he was great because he called his shot and he promised to hit dying kids home runs and all that other tall tale crap. Aaron didn't just hit homers, he hit homers while dealing with death threats based on racism while playing home games in Atlanta.

In the end, that will be the punishment that the steroid guys deserve. The other baseball greats get tall tales, but Mac and Bonds and Sosa will just be a pile of numbers that don't really add up. Meanwhile, Greg Maddux and Pedro Martinez will become exaggerated further as small in stature people who humiliated a league pumped up on steroids, and you can throw guys like Jeter and Ken Griffey Junior in that pile too. We'll tell our grandkids about Pedro and Griffey, and Bonds will just be a strange spike in the record books.
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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by ampersand » Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:12 am

The solution across all sports will eventually be codifying what's legal and what's not legal with some sort of genetic "passport" identification that tags anyone from age 8 all the way up to he's retired from playing sports period with continual upgrades every year at least. It will be an invasion of privacy headache at the very least, but I can really see where this becomes the norm, say fifteen years from now.

Sports will run out of money to catch up with the drug's creators, so they will join up with them to create a standard and let everyone opt-in.

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Re: The 2013 Baseball Thread

Post by The Cid » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:58 pm

Ideally, I'd like to hear more from actual doctors about all of this. We're not talking about street pharmaceuticals, these performance enhancers are medicine and are made for a specific medical purpose. Let's hear more about what these things are, what they are intended for, and why they are not intended for use by healthy athletes. A lot of it sounds like it just helps people heal from injuries faster. In those cases, I hardly understand what's "cheating" about it. It sounds like people taking advantage of modern medicine to heal themselves, which is sort of the point of modern medicine. Team doctors and guys like Doctor James Andrews, obviously, can't and shouldn't talk about their clients. But they can tell us what a certain substance does to an athlete, why they take it, what it was intended to do, who it is intended for, and why it should or should not be banned by professional leagues.

Seriously. What the Hell do we even know about all of this stuff? We hear names of drugs, and we have this picture in our heads of Barry Bonds turning into the Incredible Hulk, but it is clearly way more complicated than all of that. Look at how baseball fans are now. We accuse people based on their hat size. We start talking absolute shit that we're making up as we go along. We only have a vague idea of the advantage being attained here.

That's not to say there isn't one, or that performance enhancers are good, it's to say that I really don't know what's going on here and I don't think any of us really do. Game of Shadows didn't spend a lot of time on the science of it all. Neither did the Mitchell Report. We don't know what this stuff is. How are we so damn sure we hate it?

I also think that team medical staffs need to be a bigger focus of attention. What are teams telling their doctors to do to combat the spread of the juice? Shouldn't we know who the team physicians are on the teams that stay healthiest and have the quickest recovery times? (Shouldn't the Ravens' team doctor have been mentioned a few times in their title run? I mean, they did win in part because of their freakishly short recovery times.) Announcers talk about teams "getting healthy at the right time" like that's a matter of luck. There are people whose job that is. When a team has common injury problems for multiple seasons, shouldn't their medical and training staffs take some heat for it? We never talk about these people and they have a tremendous impact on every sport. They might hold the key to what to do about all these enhanced performances, too.
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