At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Archive for July, 2012

The Hall of Fame & Sinking, Stinking Sinkers

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 31, 2012

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It was a slow-but-steady 170 mile trip from 06093 to 13326; West Suffield, CT to Cooperstown.  Our trek seemed manageable compared to the thousands who came from Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina and elsewhere.

 

A dark haired 30-something man with his 10 year old son made the journey from Los Angeles.  He wore a Hollywood Stars jersey.  He saw the Red Sox beat the Pale Hose at Fenway 4 days earlier.  He was warm and enthusiastic.  He is typical of the true believers that attend to see history made each year in the mythical creation site of Base Ball.

 

Vicki Santo made the induction acceptance speech on behalf of her deceased husband, Ron.  I will always remember how thoughtful and articulate she was.  She informed us all that Ron dealt with diabetes from the very beginning of his playing career.  He hid it from the Cubs and his fans for the first decade.  He came to believe that he didn’t just have an opportunity to use his prominence to help find a cure, he believed it was his destiny.  Ron’s fans showered $65 million on Diabetes research.  Ron is a true Hall of Famer in ways unrelated to ash and cowhide.

 

Barry Larkin’s acceptance speech was a bit too long but never self-indulgent.  Larkin had many, many people to thank, including his parents, wife, family and teammates.  In the process, he spoke at length in Spanish, recognizing the many influential people of Latin descent that took the time to impart their knowledge and make him a professional.  A class act all the way.

 

Congrats to the Class of 2012.

 

XXXXXXXXX

 

 

I’m getting into the autobiography of Omar Vizquel (Omar !, Gray & Co., 2002.)  The slick-fielding, good hitting shortstop came on the scene in 1988 when Jose and Big Mac were getting the big headlines.  If Omar never really made it in a big way onto your radar screen, you should know that he is going to the Hall of Fame.  The dude is still playing at age 45 with the Jays, he has 2,861hits, 403 stolen bases, a .272 BA, and last but not least, ELEVEN GOLD GLOVES.  If he gets to 2900 hits you won’t be able to keep him out.  I guarantee it.

 

 

XXXXXXXXXXX

 

The second wild card is a meaningless bauble.  When great business minds meet, they brainstorm how to squeeze every last penny from a financial model.  That is how I imagine that the 2nd wild card was conceived.  To go a step farther, perhaps we’ll someday see the Series played in a warm weather (or domed) neutral site a la the Super Bowl so that we can fit in a full week of wild card only play. 

 

That will make the cash register ring.

 

As plastic as a neutral site World Series seems, I’ll bet you 50 cents that baseball fandom would accept it.

 

XXXXXXX

 

Aaron Cook had a remarkable line in the Monday, July 16 game at home against the White Sox:

 

IP 7.0   H 5   R 1   ER 0   BB 0   K 0   HBP 0   Bk 0   HR 0

 

I methodically chart the above stats for each Sox game and sort the data by hurler.   I can tell that only one other time this season has a Sox starting pitcher recorded 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HBP, 0 Balks and 0 HR was on June 24 by…drum roll, please….the same Mr. Aaron Cook.

 

It’s an oddity.  And it has to mean something.  I checked the play-by-play for both games.

 

On June 24, Cook faced 18 batters over 5 IP.  He faced 1.20 batters to secure an out.  There were a total of 10 ground ball outs and 5 outs by fly or liner.  Cook induced 12 batters to hit the ball up the middle, resulting in 5 hits and 8 outs.  (I realize that doesn’t add up.  It shouldn’t.  There was a double play.)  So….he got 67% of his outs on the ground, and 67% of all batters faced hit it up the middle, i.e., to the SS, 2B or CF.

 

On July 16, Cook faced 26 batters over 7 IP. He faced 1.24 batters to secure an out.  There were a total of 14 ground outs and 7 in the air.  Cook induced 18 batters to hit the ball up the middle, resulting in 15 outs, 2 hits and 1 error.  So….he again got 67% of his outs on the ground, and 69% of all batters to hit it up the middle.

 

Then again, when the Sox needed a big game from him on July 27, Cook did everything BUT hit a batter or make a balk.  He yielded 6 ER in 4 IP.

 

Sometimes the sinker sinks.  And sometimes the sinker stinks.  J

 

Go Sox. 

 

XXXXXXXXXXX

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TED, NATS & RANGERS NOT SHORT ON HISTORY

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 15, 2012

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July 21 is a special date in Baseball history.  Some good things happened.  The Braves clinched a pennant in 1958.  Vida Blue tossed a no-no in 1971.

And some bad things happened, too. 

On Sept. 21, 1958, Ted Williams hit Joe Cronin’s housekeeper in the face with his bat after angrily flinging it into the stands.

Temperamental Ted added a chapter to his stormy career that day.  He struck out looking in the 3rd inning and whipped the bat 75 feet, giving Gladys Heffernan a left eye contusion, according to the NY Times.

Gladys immediately said she knew that Ted did not mean to do it.

Williams apologized profusely and squarely accepted the blame.  He visited Gladys in the 5th inning.  He pulled himself together and doubled in a run in the 6th.  Still, the incident added to Ted’s legacy of self-absorption and anger.

Ted’s behavior aside, July 21 is a day upon which another bad thing occurred, the very worst thing possible.  It happened to the Washington Senators & their fans.  And Ted was involved in that, too.

It was the day that Washington lost its baseball team. 

Shelby Whitfield’s 1973 book, Kiss it Goodbye, details how a trucking millionaire from greater Minneapolis sold a community of baseball fans down the river for some gold.  And not for the first time, either.

Ted Williams was the Manager of the Senators, having been recruited out of retirement by team owner Bob Short for the 1969 season.  This immediately worked out swell.  Ted won AL Manager of the Year in ’69.  His hitting techniques, his effusive support for all, and his intentional distancing of himself from the coaching of the pitching staff resulted in a sea change for the Senators.  They went from 65 – 96 WL in 1968 to 86 – 76 in 1969.  The Nats’ team BA jumped 27 points.

Unfortunately, Bob Short’s secret agenda was to move the Senators to Texas within 3 years, before the 1972 campaign, and end 71 years of baseball in the Nation’s Capital.  Hiring Ted was part of his plan.  With Ted as his field Manager, he not only had a keen baseball mind in the game, he also had a man who would call Tom Yawkey to ask for his support when the AL owners would vote to approve the Senators move to Texas.

Short purchased the Nats for $9 million.  He increased ticket prices by 125%.  He stopped donating tickets to kids and wounded servicemen.  He traded away his best young talent for has-beens with injuries or declining skills.  He signed faded stars.  After the resurgence of 1969, his player personnel moves sank the team back to the bottom of the AL East.

All the while Short complained about how much money he was losing because D.C. was a lousy baseball town.  He built his case for 3 years and forced a vote to approve the move.

In the weeks before the decisive owners’ meeting the outcome was in doubt.  A three-quarter majority vote among 12 voting teams was required.  The Orioles, Angels, Athletics and White Sox opposed the move.  The rest had their reasons for supporting it.  Cal Griffith of the Twins was a Yes because Short’s departure would make his own 1961 abandonment of D.C. seem more acceptable.  The Detroit Tigers had been bribed by Short’s sending of Joe Coleman, Aurelio Rodriguez and Eddie Brinkman in one-sided trades. New York, Kansas City and Cleveland owners were in the Yes column because they, too, were threatening to leave their homes for more lucrative pastures. Milwaukee was supportive because Short had supported them when they wanted to leave Seattle in 1970.  Counting Short’s vote, that made it 7 – 4 in favor, with Boston in play. 

In the days before the vote, writes Whitfield, Williams called Yawkey on Short’s behalf and secured his support.  That made it 8 – 4.

On Sept. 21, the AL owners met at the Sheraton Plaza Hotel in Boston to vote on whether Short could move.  Yawkey was in the bag.  Gene Autrey, lying in a hospital bed across Beantown, was persuaded to back Short, too.   The final vote came down 9 – 3.  Bowie Kuhn was soon advised not to overturn the vote.  He certainly could have blocked the move.  He was concerned he would lose support and his job in the long run.

Near the end of 1971, Short accepted a $7.5 Million payday from the City of Arlington, Texas.  Then, in 1973, Short sold 86% of the Rangers to Brad Corbett for $8.3 million.  It is safe to assume Short pocketed several millions in profits in the process by selling food and broadcasting rights in 1972, and his 14% ownership stake.

It was a premeditated shakedown.  Buy a team, cut salaries, cut staff and other operating costs, double ticket prices, stop paying rent & phone, stop paying vendors, complain about lack of fan support, and accept money to move the team to a new market in which you can reap millions through the sale of new media rights.  Bingo.

Whitfield does a great job explaining the progression of Short’s plan and he fills it with lots of colorful misbehavior by Short, Ted, Denny McLain and others.  Whitfield also devotes a chapter to The Gentle Giant, Frank Howard, so this book is not all about exposing dirty laundry.

The 40th anniversary of the vote to leave Washington will be on Sept. 21, just 62 days from today.  

33 painful years with no major league baseball followed that vote until the Expos decamped for D.C. in 2004, becoming the Nationals.

And 40 years have passed since the Rangers began play in Texas.

Are the Baseball Gods lining up a mystical World Series in 2012 between the Rangers and the Nationals, two teams related illegitimately by bribery and greed in a shady corner of baseball’s family tree?

I would love to see it.

Go Sox.

BULLPEN:

Here are a few nuggets about other events that went down on September 21 in BB history.

In 1916, rookie Tris Speaker went 4-for-6, helping the Indians down Walter Johnson and the Nats, 3 – 2.

In 1901, the Senators and Indians combined for a total of 22 errors in one game.

In 1907, Fred “Boner” Merkle made his first appearance in a NY Giant uniform.

In 1966, just 440 fans saw the Cubs beat the Reds at Wrigley.

In 1971, Dave McNally shuts out the Yankees for his 20th win.  4 O’s starters won 20 that year.

In 1963, Yogi Berra hit his 358th and last HR.

In 1958, The Braves clinched the pennant in Milwaukee.  The same date that Ted hit Gladys.  🙂

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Sox Broken at the Break, but there is Hope

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 8, 2012

 

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I am a firm believer that bad precedes the good, pain precedes pleasure, and sacrifice precedes reward.

 

There are so many painful things for which to be grateful.

 

When I heard that Bobby Valentine was named Sox Skipper I thought, What a relief.  They picked the perfect short term manager to be the bridge to a new team in 2014, the Post-September Collapse team,.

 

I was certain that the curse that settled on the Sox last September would have Katrina-like effects, with long term damage both obvious and mysterious.

 

The damage was quite evident in yesterday’s line-up.

 

Nava, LF

Ciriaco, 2B

Ortiz, DH

Gonzalez, 1B

Gomez, 3B

Kalish, CF

Aviles, SS

Shoppach, C

Lillibridge, RF

 

Morales, SP

 

I count five out of nine starting position players as replacement parts for Ellsbury, Pedroia, Middlebrooks, Crawford and Reddick.  Of the four MIA players, 3 are on the DL and 1 is resting with an injury.  Josh Reddick, of course, was traded on Dec. 28 to Oakland for closer Andrew Bailey, who is on the DL with Red Sox pitchers Buchholz, Carpenter, Hill, Lackey and Matsuzaka. 

 

Josh Reddick is hitting .265 with 20 HR and 42 RBI for Oakland, by the way.

 

Yesrday’s starter, Franklin Morales, is a career relief man pressed into starting service due to the decimated starting staff.

 

With all this pain, boy are we in for good times.

 

Our Sox limp into vacation time with a 43 – 42 WL record.   The starter in tonight’s game with the Yankees on the eve of the AS break is John Lester, who has a string of 7 quality starts intact.

 

Let’s root for ending this half with a W.

 

We saw some crazy stuff happen in June and July.

 

 Clay Buchholz shined like a CY Young candidate for 3 starts, had a shaky game, and then disappeared to a sick bed with a mysterious stomach malady.

 

Daniel Bard was sent to Pawtucket after allowing 1 hit, 2 HBP’s, 5 walks and 4 runs in just 1.2 IP’s on June 3.  The one time ace set-up man has looked terrible (8.78 ERA) for the Paw Sox ever since.

 

We were swept at home by the Nationals, with Bryce Harper (3 hits) and Stephen Strasburg (13 K’s) dazzling the Fenway crowd the first night.

 

Listless Sox bats were shut down on various dates by Ryan Dempster, Bruce Chen, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman, Jair Jurrjens, Aaron Laffey, Felix Hernandez, Jason Vargas, Jerrod Parker and Bartolo Colon.  All in one month.

 

At one point in June, the Sox scored just 14 runs in 7 games.

 

On June 24, Youkilis tripled and was traded to Chicago because Will Middlebrooks had delivered .298 BA, 10 HR & 37 RBI  in about the same at bats that Youkilis produced .233 BA, 4 HR & 14 RBI.

 

Overall, the consistency of the last 8 years is gone.  The Sox were 11 -11 in April.  15 – 14 in May.  15 – 12 in June.  2 – 5 in July.  Pathetic.

 

But help is on the way.

 

Ellsbury, Crawford and Buchholz will be back soon.  Salty has been hot.  Big Papi is still raking.

 

The starting staff, which has used 8 different hurlers so far, has provided 52 starts in which they pitched well enough for the Sox to win.  Give those hurlers a steady offense and this team is 52 – 33 instead of 43 – 42.

 

The Sox may be in 4th place and 8.5 games behind the Yankees, but they are just 4 games behind the Angels in the Wild Card.

 

Let’s see where they take us.

 

Go Sox.

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Youkilis on Target in Minny

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 5, 2012

 

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I just made my first trip to Minneapolis.  It was easy to get around and I liked what I found there.

The Light Rail into Minneapolis from the Airport could not have been better.  It took 30 minutes.  It cost $1.75.  It was safe and clean.  It deposited me 2 blocks from my hotel.  I made 2 new Baseball friends, both SABR members, on the train.

One of them, Don from Illinois, said he would join me at the 1:00 p.m. game between the Chi Sox and Twins at Target.  After checking in, we rallied in the lobby and walked to Target Field.

The Downtown Marriott City Center is ideal for a Twins excursion.  It is 3 blocks from the ballpark.  You can walk on the street or take the air conditioned Sky Walk to avoid the elements if you like.

The heat index was 106 degrees.  I should have taken the Skywalk.  Heatwave, baby.

We scalped $47 tickets for $30 each and sat 9 rows off the field, about 40 feet from Kevin Youkilis, the new Chicago first baseman.

I bellowed Youuuuuk several times. The 20-something guy in back of me responded with Youuuuk, You Suck ! .  When the guy yelled Go Back to Boston ! I replied with Come back anytime. We still love You !

Youk responded with 3 hits that day, including a CF/RF gapper for a double that failed to turn into a triple when the Kevin was tagged out at 3rd Base on Justin Morneau’s relay to Trevor Plouffe.  Youk went 3 –for-5 with 2 RBI, well on his way to what (to date) has been a .308, 2 HR, 10 RBI start in his first 10 games with the pale hose. 

The White Sox won 12 – 5.

Beautiful game.  Beautiful Park.

I attended a day and a night game that week.   I sat down low and up high.  The upper deck looks steep but when you sit in the highest row you don’t feel like you’re on a mountain top.  The view is great.  Leg room and cup holders are abundant.

Target has its share of premium seating.  It also has a large sweeping lower bowl which provides wonderful sightlines.  I have a weakness for the standing room rail in center and left, where you can set your beer on the bar and look over Denard Span’s shoulder.

I was introduced to Grain Belt brew at Target Field.  Brewed in North Minneapolis since 1933, the red amber lager was mighty tasty.  Not at all hoppy. Not too heavy.  Not too light.  D-E-E-L-I-C-I-0-O-U-S.

The regional menu was a hoot.  You can buy Pork Chop on a Stick, Walleye on a Stick, and deep fried Cheese Curds in the State Fair concession in centerfield.

The hired help was as pleasant and helpful as the food choices were unique. 

I’m glad I checked Target Field off my bucket list.  I enjoyed Miller Park more on this trip, though.  Target is as pretty as any of the new parks but there are no eccentricities.  It doesn’t have the character of Camden Yards or Anaheim, for instance.

Of course, as a devout Soxaholic, I recognize that the Baseball Gods did me a favor by dropping me into Minneapolis to witness a multi-hit game by one of my favorite baseball players of all time.

I wish Kevin a long and prosperous career.  May he bring a pennant to Chicago.

Go Sox.

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At Miller Park: An ugly win in a beautiful place.

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 2, 2012

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As my old film professor said, today we will start by focusing on the Mise En Scene.

My Miller Park experience was above expectations.  The stadium monolith rises from its place adjacent to I-94, steel ribbed dome plates forming a giant glistening V atop the structure.  The field is beautiful.  The interior is big and quirky.   It is somehow intimate.  The fans come early and stay late, and tailgate.  They chant Go Brewers Go !

On foot from my car, I watched dozens of happy tailgaters on a bright Sunday afternoon.   I spotted a home-made Brewers Fan Van festooned in a surreal paint job and flags.  Soon I reached Miller Park and stood before the statue of Alan Bud Selig.  Many a SABR member or purist would wretch standing before this homage, no doubt.

30 feet to the west of the Commissioner’s likeness is a statue of the magnificent Henry Aaron.  There is no more classy a player than Henry.  No one deserves our good wishes more than he.  No one did so much so consistently with a pair of massive wrists, and without Pharmacist’s Helper.

The Brewers give further props to the past heroes of Milwaukee baseball in a bronze plaque filled area called The Hall of Honor.  It is beautifully done.

The crowd inside Miller was distinctive.  Wisconsin is not New England.  An old wag told me that the reason Fenway has so many beauties in the stands is because Boston was where the Irish landed.  I guess Milwaukee is where goodlooking Norwegians, Slavs and Poles made their homes.  Miller Field denizens are alabaster-skinned, with tow headed kids at their sides.   The adults look fit enough to run a 5K or pull a 10 pound walleye out of a lake barehanded. These were not the brazen bad boys of Dodger Stadium or the Mall kids that cruise Anaheim.  They were more like the wholesome crew you see in Arlington, with a touch less religion, and a touch less pigment.

They do The Wave counter clockwise at Miller Field.  That isn’t the way we do it back east, but I have seen it done that way at other MLB Parks.

There are fantastic bar seats in left-center with a killer view.  There are killer views everywhere.

This is a Baseball heaven, giving 81 days of grace to a franchise that has won just one Pennant (1982) in 42 seasons.

Before the game started, the game ball was delivered by a leather clad coquette riding a Harley in from Right Field.  After making the delivery, she waved to the crowd and lapped the field.  As she rode the warning track in Left, fans drank from their seats above her in the Harley Deck, which displays three colorful hogs on its roof.  Harley is manufactured here.

In the Top of the 5th, the PA started to play Sweet Caroline, and just like lemmings going off a cliff, the crowd sang along and did the bum bum bums.

Settling into my seat in the first row of sec 418, I found the view to be sweet despite the altitude.  Surveying the retired numbers, I pondered an irony.  The numerals are those of Aaron, Jackie, Fingers, Yount, Molitor and Uecker.  Uecker. Uecker ?

I enjoyed my first Leinenkugel’s honey weiss.  I watched the sausage relay race.  There was a 20 minute delay as medics tried to save a heart attack victim in the Bullpen before an ambulance took him away, crossing the outfield.  I hope he made it.

Near tragedy aside, I enjoyed the day.

I chuckled when the P.A. played the Godfather theme for Cody Ransom’s at bats.

It was the coolest.

And there was also a damn good baseball game.

Arizona’s Josh Collmenter and Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo locked up in a beauty that the Brewer’s won 2-1 on a walk off error in the 9th.  Josh and Yovani were as stingy as my Italian papa with a newly baked pie.  They allowed just 6 hits and 1 run while recording the first 36 outs of the game. 

The Brewers took a 1 – 0 lead into the 8th.  The D Backs then tied it on Jason Kubel’s homerun.

In the bottom of the 9th, score tied, Aramis Ramirez got a 1-out walk.  Carlos Gomez came in to pinch run.  Gomez stole second.  The catcher’s throw sailed into centerfield.  Seeing the errant peg, Gomez continued to 3rd.  Then, Gomez trotted home with the winning run as Gerrardo Parro’s heave from centerfield flew past 3rd base and into the D Backs dugout.

It was ugly, children.  But it happened in a beautiful place.

And a win is a win is a win.

Go Sox.

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Scandal, Murder, Errors (discussed) at SABR National

Posted by athomeatfenway on July 1, 2012

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The header on this post may be a little more dramatic than needed but, still, scandal, murder and errors took the stage at the National Convention of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, which was held in Minneapolis, June 27 to July 1.

Michael Fallon gave the 34th and last presentation of SABR 42.  It deserves to go first here.  It was one of the best.  The Dodgers’ Class of ’68 was a study of a remarkable draft orchestrated by Al Campanis.  The free agent draft was launched in 1965 over the objections of the Yankees, Dodgers, Mets and Cardinals.  The Dodgers struggled in the first 3 drafts.  Dodger brass placed the responsibility for finding a new approach in the hands of Campanis.  The future Mr. Intangibles made an inspired decision to pick the brains of NFL draft experts.  The footballers stressed 3 things:  Be organized.  Set standards.  Select a ton of players.  The result was a draft of 101 baby Dodgers that produced 9 major leaguers who averaged 16.4 year MLB careers.  The nine included Garvey, Buckner, Alexander, Cey, Lopes, Valentine, Zahn, Ferguson and Paciorek.   No other team has drafted a class that produced a higher number of service years.

Robert Garratt regaled us with The Scandal of Candlestick.  Robert detailed how the Giants played for 40 years in a windy & cold hell because a San Fran construction magnate succeeded in a money grab.  Charles Harney first bought 41 acres on the Stick peninsula from the City for $2,000 an acre and then sold it back to the City at $65,000 per acre.  Harney only agreed to sell the land back to the City at the inflated price after he was hired to build the ballpark, which cost $15 million.  Could Harney have cleared $6 million on the deal ?  Yes.  Did he try to have the stadium named after him?  Yes. Did he succeed in doing so ?  No, thank God.

The Former MLB Players Panel featured Tim Laudner, Frank Quilci, Rocky Johnson and Bill Davis.  There were many laugh lines, including this one from Davis about his many Managers:  “When I did something wrong, different Managers had different explanations.  Birdy Tebbets would say it was because of something my mother did to me as a child.  Alvin Dark said it was because I didn’t go to Church on Sunday.  And Joe Adcock said it was because I wasn’t doing it like he would do it.”

 Mark Kanter defined the News events which caused the cancellation of baseball games in history in The Decision Making Process of Canceling or Postponing Games Not due to Weather.  These events include the Al Queda terrorist attacks (2001), the death of Charles Ebbetts (1925), the World Series earthquake (1989), the assassination of President McKinley (1901), the suicide of NL President Harry Pulliam (1909), the Work or Fight Decision by Secretary of War Baker (1918), and the Allied Invasion of Europe (1943). 

Mark Pankin detailed the 4 year track record of using instant replay in Baseball in Reviewing the Reviews.  70% of all initial home run calls (for HR and not HR) have been upheld in review.  Fenway Park, with its problematic homer ledge atop the Green Monster, leads all MLB ballparks in Instant Replay useage.  Target Field is #2 on the list.

Alan Nathan took us down the scientific path about wood and metal with What Have We Learned From a Decade of Bat Research ?  Every bat has a BBCOR (Baseball Bat Co-efficient of Restitution).  BBCOR reflects the degree of “trampolining” that occurs on collision.  Metal bats have a high BBCOR.  Wood bats have a low BBCOR.  After the NCAA forced Colleges to use metal bats with BBCOR’s equal to those of wooden bats starting in 2009, HR’s by College players fell by 50%.  If that does not sate your bat related curiosity, please also know that the next time you hit a home run it is perfectly OK to just let the bat go on the follow through.  Nathan explained that the impact wave does not reach the bat handle until after the collision is complete.  Once the ball is struck, your grip has nothing to do with the ball clearing the fence.

Terry Ryan, Twins GM, was the featured speaker at the General Manager Panel.  Two of his more quotable thoughts:  “Sometimes dealing with Scott Boras is good, sometimes it is bad.  We drafted Jason Varitek in 1994 and Scott was his agent.  We could not sign him.  That one still hurts.”   And……“Rick Aguilera was one of my favorite players. (Beat.)  I traded him 3 times.”  J

 The Official Scorers Panel was flat out out-of-sight GOOOD !  Greg Wong, Kevin Hennessy and David Vincent participated.  They are, respectively, the official scorers of the Twins, St. Paul Saints and Nationals.  These men were frank, knowledgeable, and funny.  With regard to a perceived recent decrease in error calls, Vincent said, “There was a rule change 5 years ago.   We were told that when in doubt, help the hitter out.”   In regard to the David Wright play in the R.A. Dickey non-no-hitter, the panelists effortlessly replied that the scorer made a perfect call when they ruled the play a hit, and not an error.  Vincent elaborated that the batter, Upton, is a fast man and that had Wright attempted a conventional (non-bare handed) approach it would have been an easy single.  Thus, the fielder shouldn’t be penalized with an error for attempting a low percentage bare handing of the ball.

The above is just a short and vastly incomplete post about the National.  The pleasure was ten fold.  Games at Target Field, just 2 blocks from the hotel.  John Thorn delighting all from the podium with masterful imagery on the nature of geeks.  500 Baseball loving men and women chatting, debating, laughing and making friends. 

Hope I see you in Philly next year.

Visit www.sabr.org 

Go Sox.

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