Monday, October 21, 2019

Why HR Totals are Down in October

There has been some talk recently about low home run rates in October being attributed to a de-juiced ball. I don't have any data on this claim, other than, allegedly, fly balls are travelling about four feet less in distance that the regular season ball.

I'm not sure how this would translate into home run totals, but there are a number of reasons why October HR totals would be lower simply because it is October. First, during the regular season every team plays every other team in the league. By definition, the average lineup faces the average pitching staff over the course of the season. For a playoff team, their lineup would face less than average pitching because their pitching is most likely above average and their lineup doesn't have to face their own pitching staff. But in October only the top third of teams play post season ball. Each lineup would face the top third of pitching staffs. As an example from this year, the Yankees set an all time record for HRs against another team, the Orioles. And the Orioles pitching staff set an all time record for giving up the most homers in a season.

But none of the Orioles pitchers are in the playoffs, so the Yankees won't be able to hit homers off of them. Additionally, playoff series have travel days during series and between series. And if a series does not go the full number of games, there are additional days off. Playoff teams can delete their least effective starters: their number five starters. If a team sweeps their division series, they can reset their rotation to their ace for game 1 of the LCS, skipping their number four starter.

In summary, only about the top 20% of pitching will be faced in the post season. This is why home run totals drop in October.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ballparks I Have Visited

Here's a list of Major League ballparks I have visited, listed in order of visit, and the year of visitation. Some are no longer in use, and I will note that as well.

  1. Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, 1970
  2. Candlestick Park, San Francisco, 1974 (no longer in use)
  3. Anaheim/Angels Stadium, Anaheim, 1985
  4. Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, 1985 (no longer in use)
  5. Kingdome, Seattle, 1986 (no longer in use)
  6. County Stadium, Milwaukee, 1986 (no longer in use)
  7. Wrigley Field, Chicago, 1986
  8. Old Comiskey Park, Chicago, 1986 (just a few hours after Wrigley. No longer in use)
  9. Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, 1986
  10. Yankee Stadium, New York, 1986 (no longer in use)
  11. Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 1986 (no longer in use)
  12. Royals/Kaufman Stadium, Kansas City, 1987
  13. Busch Stadium (#2), St. Louis, 1987 (no longer in use)
  14. Mile High Stadium, Denver, 1993 (no longer in use. Rockies played in Broncos stadium until Coors Field was finished in 1995)
  15. Pro Player Stadium, Miami, 1998 (no longer in use. aka Joe Robbie Stadium amongst other names)
  16. Pacific Bell/SBC/AT&T Park, San Francisco, 2000
  17. Bank One Ballpark/Chase Field, Phoenix, 2001
  18. Petco Park, San Diego, 2004
  19. Fenway Park, Boston, 2017
Also, Squeeze in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, 2017, in between 18 and 19. I visited the HOF a week prior to Fenway on the same trip.

So, I have visited nine parks still in use, and ten that are no longer in use. If I visit all parks currently in use, I will have to hit 21 more. Then I will have been to 40. But that's a big bucket list.

Giants: Time to Start Over

After several years of personal analysis, I've come to the conclusion that the Giants need to blow up the team and start over with a youth movement. Here are the specifics:

  • Keep Posey and Bumgarner, as they are valuable and are on HOF trajectories. Add on the field stats plus contract stats, and Bum is the MVP of major league baseball. He has no trade value because he's already got the best contract in baseball.
  • Maybe keep Crawford under the right circumstances, but everybody else goes.
  • All the back end contracts of the veterans will make the worst franchise in baseball have the highest payroll for 2018. Read that again and let it sink in. Not only are the Giants in last place, but so are every one of their minor league teams.
  • Attempt to trade every one of these players Eduardo Nunez style, for minor leaguers. Cueto, Samardzija, Moore, Cain, Hernandez, Span, Pence, Belt, Panik. Get youth. But what about their ability to be traded, you ask? Nobody would want them. Well that proves my point. They are useless to us, too.
  • Panik and Crawford could maybe be packaged as a DP combo to another team for young pitching.
  • All players not traded should be waived immediately. But what about all that money? It would go to waste, you say. No. The money - and we're on the hook for all of it - would be better spent on these guys winning another World Series on their sofas playing MLB2017 video games than on the field as a road block to a youth movement. Getting out of the way is better than remaining in the way.
  • No offense, but I love all you guys and what you did for the fans. I will remember you forever, but I want to see another championship team built up from scratch. Hey, the 2003 Tigers lost 119 games at the beginning of a youth movement and they were in the WS in 2006. And look at the laughingstock of baseball just a few years ago...the 112 loss Houston Astros. Youth movements can win. Anybody remember "You gotta like these kids" from 1986? The Giants have a successful youth movement in their own past.
  • It's okay, don't be sad from reading the above because the Giants won't be doing this, judging from experience.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Making Instant Replay Better

The word is out from Major League Baseball that it wants to do what it can to shorten games. They have been looking at speeding up the game by eliminating things that "waste" time. I am all for that, except when it is a necessary part of the game they eliminate like actually pitching all four pitches on an intentional walk.

I'd like to start by addressing the biggest waste of time, by far, that there is in baseball: the instant replay system. I have here a five point revision to replay that should not only greatly shorten the amount of time it takes, it should also eliminate several points of nonsense along the way.

First, I'd like to share the one and only basis for instant replay that there is: to get the call right. Yup, that's correct. The call needs to be right. I'd also like to put out there up front that my five points need to be taken as a whole, so you might not understand a point until you've read all five.

Point 1: Eliminate New York as the replay center. I notice consistently on TV that the broadcasters can get the call right with help from the techs in the TV truck before NY even knows it's getting a phone call. For this reason alone NY is not needed, except for maybe as backup or support on really tough issues.

Point 2: Every ballpark should have its own replay booth. Those in the replay booth would watch the game live, first hand, with the naked eye from a distance close enough to see the game. In a good percentage of cases they could know even before a play has finished that it might be reviewed. Think about the runner rounding third and here's the throw. Or a close play at a base that you can see coming. The replay officials can be on top of the review within seconds.

Point 3: Eliminate the "red hanky" manager challenge system. It is a grotesquely stupid rule that comes from the NFL, as are most NFL rules that make their way into baseball. The challenge system fails because if the manager's challenge is not upheld in, let's say, the first inning, he is penalized by not being allowed further challenges until the end of the game. And this undermines the very basis of instant replay - to get the call right! "Hey, you know, because of the bad challenge you made in the first inning, we are determined to NOT GET THE CALL RIGHT for you, jackass manager, until the end of the game. No matter how blatantly we blow a call. Sorry, dude." All calls need to be right.

Point 4: Allow the replay booth to initiate its own review challenge. The replay officials that are observing the game can tell with their eyes that a call is close. If an umpire can make an immediate call on the field, a replay official can initiate an immediate review in the booth. He can notify the umpire immediately that the play is under review. No need to wait the 30 seconds for a manager to make up his mind.

Point 5: (This is the best point of all.) Each team has a TV rep in the replay booth to offer up their best "x" number of video clips within a "y" second time limit ("x" and "y" to be determined). This would give each team not only immediate input, but the incentive to make advances in video technology that will only help the replay system in the future. And with immediate input based on high technology, a decision can easily be made before the current 30 second limit that managers have.

In the mean time, I'd love to see a manager go off on the replay officials in New York when they botch a review, yelling at the camera with the red light on.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Pitching Wins Championships (2)

In my last post I looked at the all time home run leader list's top 12 hitters, and noted how few championships those players had between them. In this post, I want to mention another noteworthy fact about the link between pitching and championships. I will look at this in terms of hitting, however.

If hitting was what wins championships, then one might guess that the highest scoring franchise of all time would have a high number of championships. But one would be wrong. Very wrong. Since its inception, the highest scoring franchise of all time (which also has the most hits of any franchise ever) is also not coincidentally the franchise that has gone the longest without a championship.

That's right. The Chicago Cubs have out-hit and out-scored every other franchise throughout all of baseball history. And they have out-non-championshipped them as well.

(research from

Monday, December 7, 2015

Pitching Wins Championships

There's an old saying in baseball, "Pitching wins championships." I've believed this to be true, but only because I've assumed it to be true. As I thought about this for the last week, I did some research on the top home run hitters in baseball history and stumbled across an amazing thing. It appears from what I found that pitching really does win championships.

I looked at the stats of the top 12 home run hitters of all time. One of those stats is how many rings each player has. Wow. Here's the list, ranking them in order of home runs, and including the number of seasons played and championships won:

 Barry Bonds
 Henry Aaron
 Babe Ruth
 Alex Rodriguez
 Willie Mays
 Ken Griffey Jr.
 Jim Thome
 Sammy Sosa
 Frank Robinson
 Mark McGwire
 Harmon Killebrew
 Rafael Palmeiro

You have quickly noticed that Babe Ruth's ring total is missing from the above chart. I will leave Ruth until last because it serves to prove my point. So, 11 of the top 12 home run hitters of all time have played 229 seasons, hit 7016 home runs, but won only 6 rings between them? Six of these players never won a single ring! Lotsa zeros up there. This is nearly unbelievable.

Now for Ruth. Ruth is the greatest sports star in American history. His 714 is the most recognized stat and record in sports history. He revolutionized baseball, saving it from the damaging Black Sox World Series gambling scandal of 1919. The very next year he hit an all-time record 29 home runs. Then he hit 54 and 59 in successive seasons. He played for the team recognized as the greatest in history, the 1927 Yankees. Ruth won "only" four rings with the Yankees, in 1923, 1927, 1928 and 1932. As much as this - Ruth winning four rings as a slugger with the "Murderer's Row" Yankees - goes counter to my point, something even more eye opening goes to prove it...

In his first five full seasons in the majors, Babe Ruth won three rings AS A PITCHER with the Boston Red Sox, in 1915, 1916 and 1918. Ruth's transition from Boston to New York and from pitcher to hitter only gave him a marginal increase in rings, from three in five seasons to four in sixteen additional seasons. This, my friends, is just one of the reasons why pitching wins championships. Or is it?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Baseball Fans and the Wild Card

I followed the baseball season fairly closely this year, especially the pennant races and post-season. I picked up on some conflicting sentiments that were attributed to fans on behalf of the media.

First, during the pennant races, I frequently heard about how much fans liked the wild card format that baseball has. Now that there are two wild card teams, the fans like it even better. You see, the wild card format creates extra excitement because there are more pennant races than there used to be, and the wild card format allows more teams to be in it at the end. Their regular seasons have more meaning.

Second, during the World Series I frequently heard about how TV ratings were so low. Fans simply weren't interested in a World Series played between two sub-90 win teams. (Both the Giants and Royals were wild card teams.) They wanted the top teams to face each other.

So, let me get this straight. The teams that the fans wanted to see in the pennant races were the teams they didn't want to see in the World Series? Huh? This may seem kinda simplistic, but you can't have teams making the playoffs that have no chance of winning the playoffs.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reflections on Game 6

2014 World Series Game 6: Kansas City Royals 10, San Francisco Giants 0.

Contrary to what this looks like at first glance, this was as painless a way to lose a game 6 that there is. Why would I say that?

The loss did not prevent the Giants from winning the World Series. And, they lost no emotional energy in the process. The game was over early. Aside from Bochy bringing in Petit for a long relief appearance with the hope of still scoring, it was over. Petit was better suited to start an inning at the beginning of his long relief. As it was, he was called on to put out a fire, then hold the Royals for a long period of time while the Giants came back. When he couldn't put the fire out, Bochy changed strategy.

He switched all of his focus to game 7. He lined up all the pitchers he did not want to appear in any game 7 scenario whatsoever, and used all of them to finish out game 6. The Giants never even scored, so there never was a possibility of losing a heart break game 6. Every run the Royals scored after taking Peavy out was actually meaningless. The crowd was on fire and the Royals were loving every minute of it, but it really was meaningless. They weren't driving a proverbial stake in any further, run by run. Bochy even put in the non-regulars to get WS appearances: Susac, Arias, Duffy.

But the biggest reason game 6 was painless, was that NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. There was no Dusty Baker to give the game ball to a pitcher while the game was still being played. There was no Scott Spiezio. There was no Tim Worrell. There was no career-ending arm blowout by Robb Nen. There was no Candy Maldonado losing a fly ball in the lights, there was no Bill Buckner, Don Denkinger or Steve Bartman. All the infamous game 6 collapses in history were not there. There was no psychological, emotional or physical damage. Just a looking forward to a game 7 with a stacked bullpen...the best bullpen in baseball.

Game 6 was one of the few times in this great game where it cost nothing to start thinking about tomorrow while it was still today.

Monday, November 17, 2014


Well, many people are calling the Giants' World-Series-winning ways "Dynasty." Yes, the Giants have dominated this decade, and winning three titles in five years is certainly nothing to write off. Usually, though, dynasties have consecutive championships. But I won't deny the use of the word. I simply put spaces between the letters in my title.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

That's Why You're Still In The Minors

I saw my first AAA game a few nights ago as my family was returning from vacation. We stopped in to visit family in Fresno, CA, and were treated to tickets to Friday night's Grizzlies game (our very own SF Giants AAA club). This was only my third minor league game ever, and the other two were years ago, both A level games.

I brought my 9 year old son, and we were pleasantly surprised by tickets in the front row behind the Grizzlies dugout. We immediately saw a number of players who have been up and down to and from the Giants. Catcher Hector Sanchez was there, rehabbing from an injury. Tyler Colvin, Juan Perez, Tony Abreu, George Kontos, Nick Noonan, and longtime hot prospect(ish) Gary Brown were there. Several others that weren't in the game, too. My son knew all these players, as he is an avid follower of all things Giants, as well as a star player on his own teams.

A great teaching/learning opportunity was continually in front of us. It became obvious to him that the level of play was not quite what it is in the majors. And with each mental or physical mistake the players made, the fans would react with a shout to the offending player of, "That's why you're still in the minors!"

Never having been to a AAA game, I saw stark examples of what I already "knew" to be true. It's the small things that make the difference. I pointed out a number of them to him, and he noticed a number of them all by himself. Fortunately for my son, he tends to learn these things fairly quickly, and these things often separate him from his peers.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dropped Third Strike

(written several weeks ago, published today)

Baseball's "dropped third strike" rule (on any third strike not caught on the fly and held by the catcher, the batter is allowed to advance to first base, unless first base is occupied with less than two out) has played a big part in our family over this last year, especially this last weekend. Our 9 year old son was introduced to the rule last year with a travel team he played with, then this year with his 9-10 yr old "house ball" team (regular league). The 9-10 division has the rule as part of regular play.

Now, on his 10U travel team, the "dropped third strike" is a common occurrence. I don't quite like the term "dropped third strike," as it implies that the catcher drops the ball. The majority of these cases at a young age have a batter swinging and missing at a ball that is in the dirt or somehow out of the reach of the catcher.

This weekend, the Mets visited AT&T park. A 9th inning rally was started on a dropped-third strike, as Angel Pagan started running to first. The Mets catcher picked up the ball and threw wide to first, allowing Pagan to reach base. I used the opportunity to explain to him the importance of making the putout on such a play as it could easily lead to a score.

The next morning, he was catching for his team, and the very first batter reached on a "dropped third" that was a wild pitch. We had just talked about it. Later in the game, however, an exciting play took place. With a runner on third and one out, a batter swung and missed at a ball in the dirt for strike three. The ball bounced in front of the plate by about a foot. The batter started running to first, my son picked up the ball, bluffed the runner back to third and threw to first to get the out. But the runner took off for home immediately. The first baseman picked up on the play and instead of covering first with a stretch, he swept across first base like a shortstop would and fired a bullet home, six inches off the ground in front of the plate and just got the foot of the sliding runner. Double play!

It is amazing how a rule I knew my whole life was suddenly intensified to me overnight. I'll never look at the dropped third strike the same way again.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Opening Day 2014

Opening Day is finally here. With all the rain outside it doesn't feel like it. Both the Giants and A's open tonight, barring rainouts. The G-Men open in the desert, while the Athletics are to open at home. The Giants/A's exhibition game on Saturday was rained out, and my 9 year old has had his last three games rained out, tonight's included.

Whatever happens, it is always great to see regular season baseball being played. More importantly, it will be heard on the radio. I watch a lot of baseball on the radio. Welcome back!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

MLB: Stop the Regular Season Games Overseas

I have no idea why MLB plays overseas games as part of the regular season with a week left in Spring Training. But I think it should stop.

This year, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks played two games in Australia a week ago. They were part of the regular season. Each team came back to the States to finish up Spring Training. Why do these exhibition games count? It makes no sense. That two teams are "ready" for play a week early and have to endure a flight half way around the world and adjust to a new time zone is silly.

I don't have a problem with the exhibition games, as baseball should be looking to expand into new markets elsewhere, but to make these games count is simply not necessary. They take home games away from the two teams that play, games that could be enjoyed by the fans of the teams in their normal ballparks. They take the revenue away as well. These games could easily make as much money overseas if they were simply exhibition and not regular season. They mess up the standings and the flow of the regular season. They are played in the middle of the night our time, and prevent fans from even watching or listening to them.

MLB: Please stop.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

We Could Use a Giants/Dodgers NLCS

As I pointed out a couple of posts ago, the Giants and Dodgers have played in five of the last six NLCS. The only problem with this NLCS domination is that they have not played against each other in the NLCS.

The curious thing to me is that I have not heard more fans express their desire for an orange vs. blue showdown. It would be great for baseball and it would be incredible for the long standing rivalry. To prop up my point, I will refer to history.

Some of the greatest memories in baseball history have occurred between ardent rivals. Let's look at the Giants/Dodgers past. In 1951, the greatest rivalry in baseball history produced the greatest pennant race in baseball history. That race ended in a tie on the last day of the season. A three-game playoff was scheduled. The results were the greatest home run in baseball history along with the greatest radio call in all of sports history.

Another great playoff moment came from the other great baseball rivalry, the Yankees and Red Sox. A wild pennant race ended in a tie in 1978, and a one-game playoff was scheduled. Bucky Dent had his name changed in New England. And what about the ALCS in 2003 and 2004? I'm tired of hearing that the Red Sox were the first team to come back from being down 3-0. No. They were down 3.9-0 with Mariano Rivera on the bump about to save a series sweep and came back. And we can't leave out the near-mirror 1962 pennant race between the Giants and Dodgers. A miracle in the last week of the season by the Giants to tie forced another 3-game playoff and a miracle 4-run rally in the 9th inning of game 3 gave the Giants the pennant.

No pair of teams in baseball history have been in more pennant races than the Giants and Dodgers, and no pair of teams in baseball history have had more 1-2 finishes than the Yankees and Red Sox. Note: too many of the Sox/Yanks 1-2 finishes were not close 1-2 finishes so really don't count as pennant races. But my point stands. The two biggest rivalries in history have produced some of the greatest playoffs ever. And this is why I think 2014 would be a great year for a Giants/Dodgers NLCS. Hey, how about an accompanying Yanks/Sox ALCS with the winners playing each other in the World Series?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Memories of 49ers at Candlestick

A Giants Season Ticket Holder Remembers

This is the last season that the San Francisco 49ers will play at Candlestick Park.  Tonight is the last game.  The Giants abandoned the much maligned object for greener pastures in 2000 with the construction of their new downtown gem, PacBell Park, or whatever it's been called over the years.  With this last season, KNBR, the big sports radio station in SF has been airing a series of great memories of the 49ers playing at the 'Stick.  Fans have called in to give their memories.

Well, as a season ticket holder for the Giants' last 15 years at the 'Stick, I have some memories of my own on the 49ers playing in the same yard as my beloved boys of freezing cold summer.

During the 80's when the Giants totally sucked and the 49ers were winning Super Bowls, all "improvements" to the 'Stick authorized by the City were solely for the benefit of the 49ers.  Every baseball season was a 49ers construction zone.  Scaffolding, yellow tape, sections of the stadium blocked off.  Then, construction was miraculously completed and debris was removed coincidentally during the week of the 49ers first pre-season home game in August.  Wow, what an annual coincidence!

The worst slap in the face occurred in the late 80's when the box seats were eliminated.  Each aisle in the box seat sections were filled in with seats to increase 49ers season ticket sales.  Box seats traditionally had two to four seats across, then a bar to divide the small sections for easy seatability.  My box had two seats, then a bar.  Nobody ever climbed over me to reach the aisle.  But when the box seats were eliminated, the section rows grew to maybe 20 seats across.  This was a severe downgrade in seating that caused masses of Giants fans to complain.  The Giants, however, were powerless in the face of 49er-revenue-loving politicos and they caved to the cause of 9er gold.  In typical political spin fashion, the Giants issued a letter to season ticket holders assuring the mass of whiners that filling in the box seats with extra butt holders would actually increase the enjoyability of watching a baseball game at the 'Stick!  The Giants' security and usher staff, having fewer aisles to deal with, would now be better able to patrol the box seats and ensure safety, keeping riff raff out, and would allow ticket holders an increased ease in finding their seats!  What bullshit.  The writer of that letter needs to run for office somewhere.

Then adding insult to injury, after the boxes were completely eliminated from Candlestick Park, the Giants kept calling the lower orange seat seats!  False advertising at its bait-and-switch maximum.  The next season - and every season after that - were filled with drunken morons sitting in the middle of the section climbing all over me and guests to get out to the aisle to buy more beer.  Nothing against drinking beer, but the spill rate was unacceptable.  Having everybody in the middle of the section climb over you every inning for years was unacceptable.  But what could one do?  There was nowhere else to sit that was any better.  Developing a greater dislike for the 49ers was my solution.

I did see a handful of 49er games at the 'Stick, and enjoyed them, but any enjoyment I got out of football pales in comparison to having my favorite baseball team and venue compromised.  Sadly, my most vivid memories of the 49ers playing at Candlestick were negative.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Dodger Downer, Giant Upper

The past six seasons have brought us an NLCS in which we saw the Phillies play three consecutive years ('08, '09, '10), and the Cardinals play three consecutive years ('11, '12, '13).  It also showed us in their opponents the Dodgers play three times ('08, '09, '13) and the Giants twice ('10, '12). 

A curious theme has emerged.  The Giants and Dodgers have had common opponents in their five appearances, with the Phils playing the Dodgers in '08 and '09, then the Giants jumping in to play them in '10.  Likewise, the Cards played the Giants in '12 and Dodgers following in '13.  The Dodgers have lost all three series.  The Giants, on the other hand, have not only won both of their NLCS, they have gone on to win the World Series in each of those years.  And in the last six years, only the Giants of all the MLB teams have won two championships.

It's gotta be frustrating for the boys in blue to see their rivals beat the teams they lose to and bring home a trophy.  I was in attendance for the last WS game the Dodgers played in Oakland in 1988.  It really was a long time ago.  Hopefully this theme can continue, or something similar.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Phillies' Phall to Phutility Phinal

Last night the Philadelphia Phillies lost to the New York Mets - their 82nd loss of the year - clinching a losing season.  It took the Phils five years to fall from World Champs to a losing team.  They did it one notch at a time.

In 2008, they took care of the Rays in the World Series, becoming champs for the first time since 1980.  In 2009 they fell one notch, this time losing the World Series to the Yanks.  In 2010 they lost the NLCS to the Giants.  In 2011 they lost the NLDS to the Cards.  In 2012 they failed to win the division.  In 2013 they end up with a losing record.

The Phillies' fall was gradual, but steady.  Champs to chumps in five years.

The Giants, of course, only took five weeks to accomplish the same thing.  After their second world championship in three years, the G-men were once again in first place in mid-to-late May, with one of the best records in baseball.  It took only five weeks, from late May to early July, to find themselves in the NL West cellar, where they have spent most of the season.  Which team will recover first?  What's a worse way to lose?  A total collapse or a slow fade?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can Instant Replay Work?

For the longest time I have been against baseball using instant replay for any reason.  You could call this an "old school" approach.  But I have been re-thinking this in light of what I see as technologically possible now.

One reason I have been against instant replay is that, quite frankly, nobody yet has come up with a system of replay that makes any sense.  So, I'd like to investigate that here.

One problem with proposed instant replay solutions is that these solutions get their cue from football's failed instant replay system.  Many people are in favor of importing the red hanky type of instant replay, where the manager gets to wave his red hanky when he wants a call reviewed.  Of course, inherent in this system is the flaw of deciding how many challenges to calls each manager gets.  Some propose one challenge (so use it wisely!), others several.  The problem with this is that it conflicts with the idea of "getting the call right."  I take more of a "getting the call right" approach.  So, if the manager needs more than the allotted number of red hankies, then he's screwed.  So if we take the "getting the call right" approach, the manager would need an unlimited number of challenges to any call, and the game would be ruined by seven or eight hour games.

So, the idea of letting managers have challenges to calls on the field is one that cannot be used.  Period.  But what can be used instead, I think, is having umpires that are dedicated to instant replay.  It's simply amazing how often TV broadcast crews are able to review umpire's calls and "get the call right" in the TV booth before the next batter starts hacking away.  The technology is easily available to make quick calls.  One thing that completely hampers the failed instant replay systems in football and baseball, is that the on-the-field umps and refs must leave the field to go to another location to review video.  Then, they only get to view the videos that are piped into them on microscopic screens on some camera somewhere that must have a shield to protect it from sunlight, etc.

What baseball could do is have one or more umpires on the crew who are dedicated to nothing but instant replay in a booth somewhere in the park.  They could be part of the normal crews.  Baseball umpiring crews rotate around the bases one base each day.  Home one day, first the next, then second, then third, and back to the plate again.  Well, with instant replay, they could rotate from home to first, second, third, the replay booth, then back to the plate.  The ump(s) doing reviews that game would have access to all camera angles and could review every call, in hi-def on big screens, split screens, whatever, and give the correct call to the crew chief on the field in a matter of seconds. We all know what a "close call" is, and that ump could instantly (hehehe, instant replay!) check the call.

Baseball is a much easier game to call than football.  Twenty-two players plus a ball, all in motion at the same time in different and changing directions vs. fair/foul or out/safe or homer/in play.  Baseball should have little problem solving the instant replay controversy.  But they won't because as usual, idiots are in charge.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Post-Season Wild Card Success

Recent baseball wisdom holds that wild-card teams can be more successful in the post-season than their division winning counterparts because they are usually the hotter team right at the end of the season.  And, since more teams can be involved in a wild-card race than a division race, the team with the latest hot streak usually wins the wild-card.  I've been thinking about wild-card teams a lot in the past several years, so I decided to do a study of wild-card teams in the post-season.  The results were interesting.

There have been 18 post-seasons in the wild-card era; 1995-2012 (the strike in 1994 eliminated the first post-season with the wild-card format), with one wild-card team from each league.  That totals 36 wild-card teams.  For the sake of clarity, I'm only counting the wild-card team that won the one-game play-in for the 2012 season.

Overall, wild-card teams have won 34 post-season series and lost 31, for a .523 winning percentage of series.  In the NL, the results have been even better: wild-card teams have a 20-15 series record, for a .571 winning percentage.  If the Cardinals had won either of games 5, 6 or 7 against the Giants in the NLCS last year, that record would be 21-14, or a .600 winning percentage.

NL wild-card teams have fared better than AL teams overall, with NL teams going 10-8 in the NLDS compared to 9-9 for AL wild-cards in the ALDS.  Those NL teams that make the NLCS have won a startling 70% of those, compared to only 33% in the AL.  Wild-card teams have ten World Series appearances, winning 5 and losing five.  The NL teams are 3-4 in the WS and AL teams are 2-1.  One year, 2002, saw the two wild-card teams facing each other in the WS.

Looking at the data I compiled, it does seem true that the wild-card teams have an advantage in the post-season.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pitcher's Park?

The Athletics moved to Oakland in 1968 from Kansas City.  Since then, here's what the A's have compiled.  It's a startling list:

Oakland Coliseum, Oakland A's

44 seasons
15 division titles
1 wild card
6 AL pennants
4 World Championships
5 Cy Young Awards
7 MVP's
5 Hall of Famers
7 Rookies of the year
4 Rolaids Relief Awards
7 Home Run champions
4 ERA leaders
3 Saves leaders...

ZERO batting titles

Pitcher's Park?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giants Franchise - Historical Greatness

I've heard some all-time franchise stats before, scattered here and there from announcers or talk show hosts.  I've wanted to collect or calculate some franchise stats for a long time now.  Fortunately the Baseball Reference [dot] com website has some sortable data that is easily accessible.

So, in case you've wondered about all-time rankings for franchises, I can tell you about a great franchise: the Giants.  The Giants are the winningest franchise in baseball history, winning more games than any other franchise, ahead by several hundred wins.  Of course, the NL is older than the AL, so it stands to reason that the Giants would have more wins than the Yankees.  The Giants are surpassed in winning percentage by only the Yankees.  The Giants have more hall-of-fame players than any other franchise, by far.  Only the Cubs have scored more runs; only the Yankees have hit more home runs; only the Yankees have won more pennants; and by the slimmest of margins, only the Dodgers have a better all-time ERA.

The Yankees, Cardinals and A's are the only teams with more World Series championships, but looking at the Giants history, they should have won more than the A's and Cards.  But they didn't.  Maybe they will pass these teams in the next decade or so (as they owe it to their starved fans).  Go Giants!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Giants Win The World Series - Again

The Giants win the 2012 World Series!  Their second championship in three years.  I can say right now that this will never get old, as I'm sure fans of other teams have found when their teams win several in a row or in an era.

The win was in such convincing fashion, that it will be well remembered in baseball history.  They didn't only beat the best team in the AL, the Tigers were a powerhouse team with the most potent lineup, the most visible 3-4-5 hitters in the game - including the triple crown winner - and what most people consider the best pitcher in baseball.  They were picked to win it all before the season, and it came as no surprise that the Tigers put it together in the post-season.

The Giants will be remembered for winning six consecutive elimination games, three after being down 2-0 to the Reds, and three after being down 3-1 to the Cardinals.  They will also be remembered for beating Verlander in game 1, sparked by an historic three-homer game by Pablo Sandoval.  They will be remembered for pitching two consecutive shutouts against this lineup, and for striking out the triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera to win it all.  They will be remembered for Barry Zito's game 5 shutout against the Cardinals in NLCS game 5, and his victory over Justin Verlander in WS game 1.

Well, they will be remembered for lots more than that, but I'll save the detailed stats for a future post.  Keep it up Giants!  Let's try to win some more.  We can smell dynasty.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Giants Baseball Primer

For those of you who might be surprised by what you're seeing in the World Series (I'm writing this after game 2 of the 2012 series, with the Giants up two games to none on the Tigers), or this post-season for that matter, I have put together this Giants Baseball Primer to help initiate you to how Giants baseball is played.  This can also serve as a refresher course to Giants fans who are familiar with the strange happenings with the orange and black.

First, and foremost, what you are seeing is not an anomaly.  This happens all the time.  The Giants have been playing this way for a number of years now, and all their post-season accomplishments - however bizarre - have been on national TV with millions of viewers.  The Giants are not hiding anything, but all is in plain view.

The Giants have a great pitching staff.  Their 2010 World Series champion staff was the best baseball had seen since the 1965 Dodgers.  They shut down everybody.  They still have most of those pitchers here, and even though they aren't quite as good as in 2010, they can pitch the same way.

Madison Bumgarner shut the Tigers down with a two-hit shutout.  He did nearly the same thing to the mighty, mighty Rangers in 2010 game 4.  Vladimir Guerrero and Josh Hamilton were hypnotized, so it should come as no surprise that the same thing happens to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

The Giants have a mediocre lineup.  They have the fewest home runs of any team in baseball at home.  (But, for some reason, they hit the most road homers in the majors, out-homering their opponents on the road.  Go figure.) The Giants are so lame at the plate, they don't know what to do when the bases are loaded.  Most teams do better with runners in scoring position, but the Giants do worse.  They do what comes naturally to them: they make outs.  Look at last night's game.  They scored only two runs, and they made three outs on those two plays.  Grounding into a double play with the bases loaded, and a flyout with the bases loaded.  Game over.  Again, this should come as no surprise, as they beat the Reds in 2012 LDS game 3 by making outs, and did so many times against the Cardinals in the NLCS.  A great pitching staff plus a mediocre lineup plus a pitcher's park equals low scoring games.

According to the Transitive Property of Equality, if A=B and B=C, then A=C.  Let's apply this to the Giants:  San Francisco is the weirdest place on the face of the earth.  San Franciscans are the weirdest people on the face of the earth.  Twenty five of the weirdest baseball players are on the Giants roster.  Halloween is orange and black.  The Giants are orange and black.  Every day is Halloween in San Francisco.  The weirdest things happen in San Francisco.  Pitchers are blown off the mound in All-Star games.  Earthquakes happen during World Series.  Bridges collapse.  Stadium lights go out at bizarre times.  I could go on and could write a book about this.  But I think you get my point.  Don't be surprized when things happen that are normally surprising elsewhere.  They always happen here.  No exceptions.

If your pitcher is pitching a no-hitter into the late innings of a close game, YOU WILL LOSE.  This always happens.  Derek Lowe of the Braves found this out in the 2010 NLDS.  Roy Halliday of the Phillies found this out in game 1 of the 2010 NLCS.  Homer Bailey of the Reds found this out in game 3 of the 2012 NLDS.

The longer a game is scoreless, the better the odds of a Giants victory.  The Giants are used to low-scoring, nail-biting one run games.  As last night's game went scoreless into the sixth inning, I knew the Giants would win.  They KNOW late inning scoreless games.  They live them and breathe them.  The list here is too long to post.  Remember Cliff Lee vs. Tim Limcecum in game 5 of the 2010 World Series?

Our games start when the rest of the country goes to bed.  The Giants silently put together winning teams while east coast media sleeps.  They should be warning people of how the Giants play, but they don't.

Lastly, the worst strategy to use against the Giants in post season is: "We're going with what got us here."  Doesn't work very well.

This concludes my Giants Baseball Primer.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mathematical Elimination

Most websites that carry the Major League standings these days have a column with an elimination number.  Looking at this number from the point of view of the first place team, it can also be called the "magic number."  This is the number of games the first place team wins plus the losses of the team in question that will total the elimination number.

But there's a factor missing in "mathematical elimination" that I wish would appear in the elimination number.  I will explain.

Scenario #1:  Suppose Team A is in first place, two games ahead of Team B with three games left to play.  Team A's magic number (which is the same as Team B's "elimination number") would be two.  Team B can win the division if they win their three games and Team A loses its three.  Or the could tie and Team B could win a playoff game.  That's simple. 

Scenario #2:  Now suppose Teams A and B are tied for first place, and Team C is two back with three to play.  Team C has an elimination number of two, but both Team A and Team B have magic numbers of four against each other.  Well, in this case it is less likely, but if Team C wins all its games and both Team A and Team B lose their games, Team C still will win the division.  In this scenario, Team C still has a chance.

Scenario #3:  Well, there's a potential catch to scenario #2.  What if Team A plays Team B the last three games of the year?  Even though Team C is only two back with three to play, because one of the teams, A or B, necessarily will win at least two of three against the other, Team C has already been mathematically eliminated!  Their "elimination number" is still two, but it's impossible for them to win.  They were already eliminated at least from the previous game played.  Elimination numbers don't take into consideration the number of games played between multiple teams in front of that given team.  And if there are more than two teams ahead of the given team, it becomes even more complex.  In short, the problem is that guaranteed future wins are not counted in the elimination number.

A real life example came from 1989.  With a month left in the season, the Giants were 5 games up on the Padres.  A short news clip noted that the woeful Braves were mathematically eliminated the previous day.  The assumption was that the Braves could have won all their remaining games, the Giants would lose all their games, and the Padres would lose all games but at most five.  A three-way tie would result and the Braves could win a tie-breaker.  But upon looking at the schedule, I saw that the Giants and Padres still had six games against each other to play.  How could the Giants lose all six and the Padres win five at most?  Only if both teams lost the same game, which couldn't happen.  So I figured out that the Braves were actually eliminated the day before that.

How can the real elimination number be calculated?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Interleague Rivalry Matchups for 2013

In my last post, I said I would publish a list of interleague rivalries, those interleague matchups that will (or probably will) occur every year, regardless of which divisions play each other.  These rivalries in 2013 will consist of a home-and-away four game series, two games in each city, in the last week of May.  Here is a list of all rivalries, with American League team listed first.  The first five rivalries will be the five pairs of teams that play in the same metro area, followed by the rivalries that play in the same state, followed by all the rest.  Then some notes.

New York Yankees / New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels / Los Angeles Dodgers
Chicago White Sox / Chicago Cubs
Oakland A's / San Francisco Giants
Baltimore Orioles / Washington Nationals

Tampa Bay Rays / Miami Marlins
Cleveland Indians / Cincinnati Reds
Kansas City Royals / St. Louis Cardinals

Seattle Mariners / San Diego Padres
Boston Red Sox / Philadelphia Phillies
Toronto Blue Jays / Atlanta Braves
Minnesota Twins / Milwaukee Brewers
Detroit Tigers / Pittsburgh Pirates
Texas Rangers / Arizona Diamondbacks
Houston Astros / Colorado Rockies

Notes: The Texas Rangers and Houston Astros were longtime interleague rivals, both being from Texas, but now the new realignment has moved them into the same division. Each of them has a new National League rival.  The groups that don't have a natural rivalry built-in seem a bit forced, but what else can baseball do?  I'm not sure long lasting rivalries will be created between these teams, but you never know.  Detroit and Pittsburgh are only a few hundred miles apart, and the Twins/Brewers pairing might be helped by the already existing Vikings/Packers rivalry from the NFL.  Not to mention college football.  Toronto and Atlanta played against each other in the World Series, and Seattle and San Diego share an ocean.  Boston and Philly are large east coast cities that could make a good rivalry.  The last two sets I have no hope for.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The 2013 Season Schedule

The new 2013 season schedule is out!  I've checked it out (for all 30 teams to some small degree) to see how it deals with the new realignment.  The Houston Astros will be moving from the NL Central to the AL West next year, and each league will have 15 teams, and each division in baseball will have 5 teams.

I believe in an unbalanced, yet symmetrical, schedule.  Baseball history was full of such a thing until 1977 when the American League expanded from 12 to 14 teams.  Well, the new schedule has a number of surprises, some seem good, others not so.

I believe in an unbalanced schedule simply because if you have divisions and a balanced schedule, the divisions are meaningless.  You simply need to play more games against teams in your own division.  Otherwise, just have one league and x number of playoff teams.

I believe in a symmetrical schedule simply because it fosters a level playing field for all teams.  If the schedule is asymmetrical, there will be built-in bias for some teams.

Okay, enough of that.  Let's get to the schedule.  The schedule is unbalanced, and slightly asymmetrical.  The schedule retains the traditional 162 games for each team.  It seems that each team plays the other teams in its own division a total of 19 times each.  Ten in one park, nine in the other.  Nineteen games times four other teams equals 76 division games.  Each team plays the other ten non-division teams in its own league either 6 times (against four of the teams) or 7 times (against six of the teams) for a total of 66 out-of-division league games. 

Interleague features for the very first time that each team in a division plays each team in the other league's matching division, and only that division.  (Except for "rivalry" matchups which I will get to next.)  Each team in a division plays the teams in the other division a mix of games: three games each against four of the five teams, then two separate two-game series - home and away - (for a total of four games) against the fifth team.  This totals 16 interleague games against the selected division to be played that year.  In addition, because each league has an odd number of teams, every series during the year will see at least one interleague matchup, including opening day and the last series of the season.

Finally, the "rivalry" interleague games.  For the first time ever, every team in baseball has a rivalry team in the other league.  This is because the number of teams in each league are the same.  I will provide a separate post listing those rival matches.  Here's the cool thing about the rivalry matchups.  All rivalry series in baseball will be played simultaneously.  The last week of May, starting with Memorial Day, will see a four game series (M, Tu, W and Th) between each rivalry.  But, it will be a four game home-and-away series!  The first two games on Monday and Tuesday will be in the park of one team, and the second two games will be in the park of the other team!  This means that the metro areas that share two teams (and thus are rival teams) will play four games completely within the metro area.  I will develop this, again, in a subsequent post.  Also, I noticed a scheduled day-night double header during one of the rivalry series.  I'll tell which teams at a later time.

So, each team it seems will play 76 division games, 66 inter-division games, 16 interleague divisional matchup games, and four interleague rivalry games, for a total of 162 games.  As strange as some of the things are in this schedule, the relative symmetry compared to schedules past is far preferable to there being an interleague matchup each day of the season, as an example.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Giants All-Star Game Pitchers

As a life long Giants fan, I am grateful for their discovery of pitching in the last ten years.  Prior to the end of the Bonds era, the Giants were known for one thing: hitting.  Their long time fight song, "Bye Bye Baby" (please click on the link and treat yourself to a one-minute classic) is about the home run.  And their players have shown this.

Jason Schmidt ended a multi-generational fixation with the bat.  He was the first ace/stud/stopper the Giants had since Juan Marichal.  And the Giants were the only team in baseball during this era without one.  This one-sided approach to baseball - all time slugging greats amassing zero World Championships - showed its colors well in the Mid-Summer Classic.

In the 20 year period prior to Jason Schmidt's transformation of a franchise, some pretty amazingly abysmal statistics can be found for Giants pitchers in the All-Star game.  And I found them.

In the 20 years from 1983 to 2002, 13 Giants pitchers were selected to the NL All-Star team.  They made 10 appearances, for a total of 9.1 innings.  That's less than an inning per appearance!  And they were horrifying.  Almost all of them.  Only Mike Krukow pitched an inning without allowing the AL to score.  Okay, imagine those 9.1 innings as one nine-inning game.  Check out these statistics:

   G    W    L   ERA    IP    R    H    ER    HR  OPP     AVG
  10    0    3 18.32   9.1    21   24    19     5*  .462

(*Including the only grand slam ever)

And check out these ERA's:

 Mike Krukow   0.00
 Rod Beck   4.50
 Robb Nen   9.00
 Rick Reuschel  18.00
 Shawn Estes  18.00
 John Burkett  40.50
 Jeff Brantley  54.00
 Atlee Hammaker  94.50

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Giant All-Star Game

I've watched nearly every All-Star game of my life.  I've attended two.  And I have never seen the players and situations surrounding one team dominate the game in the way the Giants dominated this year's Mid-Summer Classic.

First, your fans step up to the plate and help vote three starters in.  Then, your pitcher is picked to start the game.  In the first inning, one of your players gets the first hit of the game.  He then scores the first run of the game.  This sparks a rally.  Later in the inning, another of your players walks to load the bases, then immediately after that another of your players hits a three-run triple.  He then scores on the next play.  All this is done against the other league's best pitcher, who is starting for them.

Because of this first inning eruption, and the fact that the game results in a shutout, your pitcher gets the win.  And, the player that got the first hit and run later hits a two-run homer.  Every run of the game but one is either scored, knocked in, or both, by players from your team.  A player in the dugout from your hated arch rival is overheard on national television note that this game has become your team's show.

Finally, your player that scores the first and last runs of the game wins the MVP award, and you have just obtained him this off season via trade from the team that is hosting the game.

I'm not sure how it's possible to do more.  Hopefully they just earned home field advantage for themselves.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How To Heckle Tony Gwynn, Jr

"Hey, Gwynn...your dad was a good player."

I tried this out last night in the centerfield bleachers at the Giants/Dodgers game.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Moving Down

A rite of childhood is moving down to the box seats in the late innings once all the rich people have gone home.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Today being Cinco de Mayo, the Giants wore their Spanish language jerseys with "GIGANTES" appearing across the front.  Now, I wonder why the Brewers didn't wear their "CERVECEROS" Spanish jerseys.  Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Ballpark in Miami

Watching Opening Night in Miami and the new Marlins' park, Marlins Park.  It looks comtemporary and I'm glad it has a Miami flavor.  I haven't been able to look at all the features as the game progresses, so I'll have to visit someday.  I'll have to visit regardless.  I've also updated my ballpark list.

Now the Oakland A's are the only team remaining in MLB that share a ballpark with an NFL team.  Wonder how long that will last?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Granny Ramirez Coming To the Ballpark Closest to My House

Manny Ramirez is coming to the Swingin' A's?  With being much older and with much less testosterone, I've decided to call him "Granny."  And yes, living east of both San Francisco and Oakland means that Oakland has the closest ML team to my place.  So, I'll endeavor to attend a few A's games and see Manny, my seven year old's birthday and Christmas card money saved to buy Giants tickets notwithstanding.

It is a low risk move by Guillermo Frijole, even with the 50 game suspension to be served out of the green and gold.  And I can't wait to see if Manny will wear a green bandana or a gold one.  Maybe he'll wear both, alternating the complimentary color matched with the uniform color.  And I would die laughing if he led the Athletics to a World Series title, even though I would accept it.

Let's see what excitement he will bring to the city by the other side of the bay.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Game 6 Collapses Lead to Temporary Game 7 Hope

The Texas Rangers' historic 2011 Game 6 collapse - two of them in one game, actually - is one of the all time greats.  It will be remembered forever.  The Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series two innings in a row with two run leads to start each inning.  Yet the ultimate in horrifying took place.  Not only did they crumble to lose Game 6 in devastating fashion, the Rangers seemed to do the inevitable: lose Game 7 as well.

After such a Game 6 collapse, a Game 7 win seems as doomed as the Game 6 choke was shocking.  But upon further review, something interesting happens.  With the four most famous Game 6 collapses (that I can remember), the losing team went on to take an early lead in Game 7.

In the 2011 World Series, the Rangers shook off the loss to take a 2 run lead in the top of the first inning in game 7.  But fate overcame their lead and the Cardinals won.

Now for the other three Game 6 collapses I remember.  In 1986, the Boston Red Sox, up 3 games to 2 over the New York Mets, took a two run 10th inning lead.  In the bottom of the frame, they got the first two outs before disaster struck.  Three straight Mets singles scored a run and put the tying run at third.  With two strikes, the Sox were one strike from winning the World Series.  A game-tying wild pitch uncorked by Bob Stanley was the replacement.  The third out then went through Bill Buckner's legs, completing the Game 6 catastrophe.  But the Sox shed the pain and took an early 3-0 lead in Game 7 that lasted until the 6th inning before the Mets completed their comeback.

In the 2003 NLCS, the ever cursed Chicago Cubs held a 3 games to 2 lead over the wild-card expansion Florida Marlins.  With their ace on the mound, the Cubbies took a 3 hit shutout into the 8th inning with a 3 run lead.  Five outs from their first World Series in a million years, Cubs fan Steve Bartman interfered with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou's attempt to catch a foul ball at the wall.  The Marlins answered with 8 runs, dashing the hopes for the evening, and no doubt for another several decades.  But although the Cubs were the only one of these four teams to not score first in Game 7, they did score five unanswered runs to take an early 5-3 lead before the Marlins completed their comeback.

Now for the largest, latest collapse in baseball history.  The 2002 San Francisco Giants were thrashing the Anaheim Angels (or whatever they were named back then) in Game 6, 5-0.  Their ace was on the mound with a two-hit shutout in the 7th inning, just 8 outs away from their first World Championship in almost 50 years.  A couple of singles brought a pitching change.  A brain-freeze low-inside target given to a low-inside hitter resulted in a 3-run homer, cutting the lead to 5-3 before getting out of the inning.  The 8th inning saw the best bullpen - and most overworked - melt down for another 3 runs to the surging Disneylanders after cutting the countdown to five outs away.  Robb Nen's career ending arm blowout was the red carpet to the G-Men's crash and burn.  In Game 7, the Giants scored first, early, but that didn't last as Livan Hernandez responded with a Psychology 101 mental breakdown case study, giving up four runs to eventually complete the flushdown.

[Note to whiny Cubs fans: Quit complaining that Dusty should have taken the pitcher out during Game 6.  He DID take the pitcher out in Game year earlier, and look at the results!!!  You were doomed either way.]

These Game 6 meltdowns seem to reveal that the teams could rebound, take the field the next day, and perform well enough to take the lead in Game 7.  But the ultimate result is a less extreme come-from-ahead loss in Game 7.

[Update: I neglected to include the umpire induced Game 6 meltdown of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1985 World Series.  Essentially two outs away from a Cards ring, Don Denkinger botched a call at first base that triggered a 2-run Royals game winning rally.  The Redbirds were shutout the next day 11-0.  I guess this shows my theory is only good from 1986 on.]