“For 150 years, ‘clubhouse chemistry’ has been impossible to quantify,” the article Chemistry 162 in the latest ESPN The Magazine begins. If you’ve read anything on sports analytics, you know what this means: the impossible to quantify has finally been quantified, and you, the reader, are one of the lucky people to receive this wisdom from on high.
Posted by Jack Moore under Los Angeles Dodgers, Play of the Week on Mar 24, 2014
Posted by Jack Moore under Oakland Athletics, Primary Sources on Mar 21, 2014
“As I have said hundreds of times in the past, Mr. Finley owns the ball club and he can do whatever he likes.” — two-time Athletics manager Alvin Dark.
The second time Alvin Dark was fired by Charlie O. Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics, his club had just finished the 1976 season with 98 wins and a fifth consecutive American League West championship. Dark was fired, as United Press International reported, because the manager said Finley was a sinner who “was going to hell unless he mended his ways” at a gathering at a Pentecostal church in Hayward, California. Charlie Finley had fired men for less.
The first time Alvin Dark was fired by Charlie Finley, nine years prior, his Kansas City Athletics players had called Finley’s meddlesome ownership style into question. A’s pitcher Lew Krausse had been suspended for an incident involving alcohol on the team plane. In response, the Athletics issued a statement:
“We players feel that if Mr. Finley would give his fine coaching staff and excellent manager the authority they deserve, these problems would not exist.”
Dark was fired the next day.
Posted by Jack Moore under Arizona Diamondbacks, Play of the Week on Mar 18, 2014
Kevin Towers is telling his pitchers to hit batters. This is simple, this is obvious, and Major League Baseball is doing nothing about it.
On March 14th, the Diamondbacks faced the Rockies in a Spring Training game. Rockies minor leaguer Tommy Kahnle, a 23-year-old with no experience above Double-A who has never appeared on a top prospects list and who has next to zero chance at making the Rockies club out of camp, hit Mark Trumbo in the back with a fastball. These things happen.
In response, Wade Miley threw at Troy Tulowitzki. Miley hit Tulowitzki in the calf, and the Rockies’ star shortstop will miss a few spring games as a result. There was concern, thankfully unrealized, that Tulowitzki had suffered a hairline fracture in his tibia.
The Rockies, according to Denver Post writer Troy Renck, were “privately convinced that Miley’s pitch was on purpose.” I wonder where they could have gotten that idea…
Posted by Jack Moore under Moneymoneymoney, Primary Sources on Mar 14, 2014
A few times in this space, I’ve covered the rhetoric of owners threatened by the specter of rising player salaries. When the major leagues had their antitrust exemption challenged in Congress in the early 1900s, National Baseball Commission president August Herrmann sounded awfully similar to NCAA president Mark Emmert today. Both claimed the current way is the only way, and that any changes (calling baseball a trust or paying NCAA athletes) would destroy the game.
And as the early days of free agency led to players becoming millionaires, owners and writers alike fretted about the potential consequences of players earning increasingly higher salaries. As Jerry Green wrote in 1979:
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Posted by Jack Moore under Barry Bonds, Play of the Week on Mar 10, 2014
Barry Bonds is back in baseball today, coaching up the San Francisco Giants at spring training. Before attending to his duties — seven days of coaching with his former club before he heads back to his home in San Francisco — Bonds addressed the media for the first time as an official baseball man since his retirement.
An ominous headline graced the title page of the June 10, 1967 issue of The Sporting News: Athlete Union? STORM BREWING:
Posted by Jack Moore under Jeff Francoeur, Play of the Week on Mar 04, 2014
Jeff Francoeur will never be separated from baseball’s statistical revolution, if only because of an ill-fated decision in 2009, when he opened his mouth and promptly inserted his foot. I refer, of course, to this immortal quote:
“If on-base percentage is so important, why don’t they put it on the scoreboard?”
It was a very silly thing to say. Even ignoring the fact that getting on base is half of the batter’s job, some ballparks were already putting on-base percentage on scoreboards by the end of the 2000s. Francoeur tried to be a smartass about something he didn’t know about, and he looked like a fool as a result.