It’s always fun chattin’ baseball with friends over a couple cold ones, even in a year where there isn’t a whole lot of positive topics on the North Side(Cubs). Yesterday, reader and friend Joe brought up Phil Rogers’ Tribune article in which he talked about Derrick Lee’s win shares, and VORPs(BB Prospectus stat) in relation to Dusty’s performance. Good piece by Phil.
It spawned some thoughts on statistics in general. I’ve always found Baseball Prospectus to be a fun read, but not the ‘Bible’ some writers make it out to be. When attending a BB Prospectus Pizza Feed last year, the Prospectus people were, at best, talking at you, not with you. At worst, they were downright nose-in-the-air, stuffy, and professor-like arrogant.
As statistics(and muscles) became artificially inflated during the Steroids Era, the analysis and importance thereof became inflated as well. One problem. The integrity of the inputs. We have no way of ascertaining who did what and when. The numbers are flawed. An interesting question going forward will be where these players and teams lie in the baseball history books.
There was a saying in my trading days when referring to chart-reading, or technical analysis, "Always respect the technicals, never defer to them". This simply meant do your homework, have a plan, but don’t make it so rigid or dogmatic that it can’t evolve on the field, where true learning and information gathering occurs.
Stats help us point out divergences, and if we can do so efficiently, therein lies an opportunity. That was the essence of Moneyball. There was a gap, an inefficiency, in how information was collected, translated, and used from the scout’s eyes to the General Manager’s ears. Moneyball bridged this gap. But as a concept catches on(in any arena), i.e., more and more teams started employing its tenets, the concept itself loses efficacy its original value.
I will share more in an essay for www.spikesballparks.com coming up in the next week or so. I think I’ve figured out why Moneyball teams don’t win in the playoffs. It’s not the statistical anomaly, or "fluke" Billy Beane and others make it out to be. Stay tuned.
Peace, E Maj
As the Cubs hit their low-water mark for the season(54-78), let’s summarize the state of affairs on the North Side, we have:
1)A faceless owner in a non-baseball fan corporation that tries to pimp its fans for every last penny the last few years.
2)A manager and a GM who are more concerned with what people think about them, rather than actually going out and doing their job.
3)A team that is either the poster child for the Steroids Era, or has the worst trainer/conditioning program in the majors. Either way, bad.
4)TV ratings are down big.
The silver lining is based on #4, it’s not implausible that the Tribune Co. eventually sells the team, a thought that was unthinkable just 3 years ago. We still have our Wrigley, our Chicago summer, and Carlos Zambrano to be thankful for. 🙂
Peace, E Maj
Yes, Wrigley Field is the world’s biggest beer garden. A place where a plurality of fans might see less pitches than their consumed beers. And so what. There are still plenty o’ fans that keep score, count/call pitches, and map out there foul ball strategy pre-game; although Bartman evidently wasn’t schooled in these rituals. I digress.
The Cubs won’t win until the entire psychology of Cubs nation changes. Read: independent owner = psychology change. The Tribune Co. is a corporate behemoth with no face that is more concerned with pimping the fans for every last dollar. Why wouldn’t they? They are a corporation, which is defined as a legal person, but no real person. A corporation’s main goal is to maximize profits for its shareholders. Does anyone know the face of the Cubs? Macphail? Hendry? Dusty? All lacques. This was apparent when a couple of years ago the solid ‘tell it like it is’ color man Steve Stone was not so politely shown the door. Chip *******’ Caray left the same year! People can say what they want about Chip’s broadcasting style, I’m merely analyzing the fact that Chip was Harry’s legacy and was to be the play-by-play man for the next 50 years!
Wrigley was, is, and always will be a fun experience. People will go to the games no matter how many inept managers keep the team 20 games under .500. Yet the TV ratings are down big. The Tribune Co. has milked the cow for all its worth. An owner without intention of winning will eventually lose the fan, yes, even in Wrigleyville.
It’s happening. And then maybe we can get our Cubbies back.
One day boycott anyone?
Peace, E Maj
After 3 weekends of spiritual retreats in a row(Mustang ride included), E Maj needs to vent about the incestuous abomination that is the Cubs season.
1)Wanna pay 50 bucks to learn the wrong way to stretch? http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/chc/community/workout.jsp
Baker was asked if he thought Hendry would take into account his track record.
”He said he’s going to do it at the end,” Baker replied. ”Know what I mean? So that’s what we’ll do.
”That’s how I judge myself. How others judge me is different.”
umm, Dusty, Hendry is part of ‘others’ judging….(sigh)
3)Z goes to 13-5 after 8 shutout innings and 12 men reach base. I call that Cy Young pitching. He’s the Cubs #1 starter. Duh. Can someone please tell me our #2 through #5? Rich Hill, Carlos Marmol, Juan Mateo, Angel Guzman?. Are you kiddin’ me?….Actually, this is exactly what needs to be done. See what you have, and before we all think the Cubs are forward thinkers, let’s remember they’ve come to this point via injuries through their own crappy trainers and team management skills.
4)In the ‘i want a new drug’ category: http://www.chicagosuntimes.com/output/cubs/cst-spt-prior12.html
Prior is 1-6 with a 7.21 ERA. Let us set our attention deficit minds aside and remember how hard he fought the awesome pre-season scoop of Will Carroll, Baseball Prospectus, saying he was possibly damaged goods.
Hey, I love the Mark Prior that I think may not have not done Steroids. Just as I love the E Maj that I think may not have not stepped out of the shower to take a pee today. Doh. I’m that guy. Don’t be that guy.
Come back strong Mark, and we bless you on your journey.
5)In a stunning perspective on the Cubs season, the Joe Girardi-led Florida Marlins were only 5 1/2 games out of the playoffs coming into today. I know the NL is the weak sister this year, but wow.
Peace, E Maj
Best Pre-Season Call So Far: Detroit to win the AL Central. Only one to pick them I know of. Got 7 to 1 odds on it too. Noice
Worst Pre-Season Call So Far: LA Dodgers to win the NL Pennant. Yet they’re only 4 1/2 back. Maybe it’s the Honorable Mention.
Honorable Mention Worst Pre-Season Call: Cleveland Indians on the over +/- 90.5 wins for the season(on pace for 71-72). Doh. Woh hoppen? Have to call my Cleveland sources, but I hesitate as they is salty dogs.
Peace, E Maj
p.s. Good to be back in the saddle.
"Come sail away with me."
The Hard Rock Cafe Chicago (www.hardrockchicago.com) celebrated its 20th anniversary last night with a concert performance by STYX. Enjoying the 80s rock last night were such Chicago notables as the American Samurai Greg Maddux, Glendon Rusch, Bears QB Kyle Orton, and the BBHeckler E Maj(lol. btw, many thanks to friend and manager Susan for the wonderful evening). While there was no Dennis Deyoung, the notable face of the band, (they had an acrimonious split-up years back), the night was old school fun, and had a great energy. Enlightening for this writer was finding out the knowledge I was a closet "Come Sail Away" fan, as I somehow knew all the words and was singing them at the top of my lungs. Musta been the Bud Lights(and yes, Miller Brewing, if you don’t come calling soon, the High Lifes are out). Right. Or to the woman looking at me a little funny, I could say, "It was my parents’ wedding song". More likely it is that I’ve always been moved by music of all sorts, and get attuned to certain songs at certain points when I’m plugged in. As I’ve stepped out of my finance bubble existence, there have been some surreal moments where up seemed down, forwards was backwards, etc, etc, etc. Ever have one of those days? Months? Years? It finally came down to me figuring out one word. Intent. I’m finally embracing my new creative journey w/intention, and literally am setting sail. Evolving. Transforming.
Chaos is fundamental to life – and to death. Sooner or later chaos will force you beyond your limits – and you either evolve or disintegrate. A crisis presents an opportunity to dissolve old habits and create an identity better adapted to your changed environment. If you adapt, you survive. If you adapt well, you thrive. If you do not adapt, you suffer and perhaps die. (www.soulwork.net)
Major League Baseball is in its own crisis right now, in a place it could not have imagined just a few years ago. It can evolve or disintegrate. It can get rid of the old incestuous habits, outdated rules, the entitlement, the greed, and literally adapt and re-invent itself. The new Steroid and Amphetamine policies are big steps in the right direction. Steps. There are many more to be taken. A quantum leap will occur when the people in the game of baseball, GMs, agents, players, writers, etc, become stewards of intention, who play for the love of the game, and promote the game for the next generation of players and fans.
The Steroids Era will be a black eye in the history books, and how the game evolves/adapts through its changed environment will determine whether the game is thriving in future years.
I intend on continuing this creative journey and doing my part for the fans, the game, and the world. Baseball is our game, all of ours.
"Come sail away with me."
Peace, E Maj
There are rumors that Dusty Baker already HAS an extension, but having lost 14 of 16 games the Cubs can not announce it yet. HUH!? He is one of the highest paid managers in the game, and whilst 2003 was a great ride, he HAS failed the Wrigley faithful.
Last year Dusty was paranoid most of the year(more on this later). He’s a little more centered this year, and the Cubs greet his return to balance by getting struck by the injury bug.
Bottom line: Injuries are part of the game. Dusty and the Cubs talk too much, and DO too little. What I see is the endemic corporate nature of the Tribune Co.(owner) more worried about pimping fans for a few benjamins than actually winning. The Trickle Down Effect. Jim Hendry, GM, has lost some of his P and V. inside Hendry voice after a couple yrs on the job: "Wow. I have a really cool job. I’m ON TV!!!…YES!!..I am corporate Lion, Hear Me NOT Roar!"….
Hendry is a semblance of the man who shook things up in 2003, submitting himself to groupthink, groupspeak, because that’s the culture. Just one child-man’s opinion. But what do I know? (we would like to offer all our phantom farts to the Cubs/Tribune upper MGMT—-ED.).(NOTE: since we can’t be sure that E Maj is not writing in a foot-odor induced haze, we are not obligated to subscribe to them legally–ED.)
There have been poster signs of ‘Fire Dusty’ at Wrigley. And some DumpDusty rumblings as well.. http://www.cafepress.com/tshirtsale . The man makes $4.5 million guaranteed. Please stop playing the victim Dusty. Just manage. (Sigh)
Peace, E Maj