By In Stuff

The King of Fouls

On Sunday, San Francisco’s Brandon Belt had an at-bat for the ages against Los Angeles’ Jaime Barria. First inning, Belt was the second batter of the game. He fouled off 16 pitches. Yes, Belt fouled off 16 pitches, including 11 in a row. He eventually flew out, but that 21 pitch at-bat is the longest at-bat since we started recording such things.

Naturally, instead of qualifying it like that — longest since we started recording such things — people started calling it the longest at-bat EVER, which brought out the history folks, including Keith Olbermann.

Sure, you may have heard this one before — Hall of Famer Luke Appling supposedly fouled off 24 pitches in a single at-bat. Is that real? Did it happen?

Sounds like a rabbit hole to me.

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In & of Itself

I have this vivid memory of a moment that may not have happened. I can’t be sure. My father doesn’t remember it at all, and he would be the only other person who would remember. I still see it though, and feel that in a way that it altered my life.

It would be strange if it never actually happened.

My father, I’ve often thought, must have gone to Dad school in the years before I was born. He knew how to do all the Dad things, or anyway the things I always associated with fatherhood. He could juggle. He could fix anything. He could throw a baseball as high as my imagination could climb. He bowled 200 games with regularity, and he won the Cleveland Open Chess Championship, and he burped with gusto, and he could hit every target at an amusement park shooting gallery. He also could do magic tricks. That’s the whole Dad tool kit.

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By In Stuff

Bunting against the shift

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By In Stuff

Is this an error?

… and should anything be an error?

Jeff J. Snider on Twitter retweeted this Pillar steal of home to grump that this is clearly an error. To be clear, he was not saying that it should have been RULED an error — he understands that baseball tradition credits players who attempt to steal with the stolen base even when the throw is terrible — but he still believes it’s an obvious error.

First the rule 9.12(a): The official scorer shall charge an error against any fielder:

5. whose wild throw permits a runner to reach a base safely, when in the scorer’s judgment a good throw would have put out the runner unless such wild throw is made attempting to prevent a stolen base.

But you can see Jeff’s point which is that while this error definition might make sense on a stolen base of second or third where it is likely to be a very close play, the Pillar steal was different. You or I likely could have thrown out Pillar given enough advance warning and certainly, any college baseball player would be expected to make this throw.

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By In Stuff

Opening Day Pack!

Every Opening Day, I buy a pack of baseball cards. I usually buy several packs of baseball cards because I have no self-control, but always at least one, and I open it slowly so I can try to feel what I used to feel as a kid.

To be honest, it’s hard to recapture the feeling, in large part because when I was a kid, baseball cards were the most important thing in the entire world and now baseball cards are behind … you know, my kids or whatever. So, no, the feeling isn’t quite the same. But it’s close enough.

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By In Stuff

Crazy Predictions

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By In Stuff

The Legend of Ken Brett

Before there was Shohei Ohtani, there was another pitcher who could really hit. He might have been Koufax. He might have been Maris. But he was happy being Ken Brett.

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By In Stuff

The Run Differential Breakdown

*Re: above graphic — I suppose this was in 2016. Unsurprisingly the Cubs did not quite hit that 579 run differential pace (no idea when in the season this graphic ran). They finished the year with an excellent but not all-time record 252 run differential.

When it comes to advanced stats, we often talk about wins — wins above replacement, wins above average, win shares. Let’s try something else here and go even more basic. Let’s break down runs … and more specifically, run differential.

To do that we have to start with the obvious: Every baseball game has a winner and a loser, and because of that there is a run differential. In one game, it really doesn’t matter if you win by one or 10 runs, it all counts the same. It’s all equal to one win.

Because of this, there was long a feeling that only a subtle connection existed between run differential and won-loss record. After all if you beat a team by 10 runs, and then lose the next 10 games by one run, you have a 0 run differential but your record is 1-10. (more…)

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The Greatest Game

Over on Twitter — and I did this as a lark, really — I asked people, “If you could go back and see one baseball game, anytime in history, what would you watch.”

And while it might have begun as a lark, so many people have responded — and the responses were so much more emotional than I expected. I figured there would be lots of people would would want to go back and see if Babe Ruth really called his show, see what it was like in 1908 when Fred Merkle forgot to go to second base on the game-winning hit, see Satchel Paige face Josh Gibson for real. And many people did say those things and they included many, many other great moments in baseball history — Larsen’s perfect game, Koufax’s perfect game, our pal Brandon McCarthy wanted to go back and see Roy Halladay’s playoff no-hitter against the Reds, on and on.,

But as I read more and more of these responses, I realized that what many people wanted to do was simply go back and relive the greatest sports moment of their lives — go back and see the 2014 Royals wildcard comeback or relive Game 6 of the 2011 World Series or be there again when the Mets came back in Game 6 or when Carlton Fisk waved his home run fair in 1975.

And even more simply wanted to be young again and go to that first game with Dad or Mom or both of Grandpa …

I was planning on writing a quick hit on this but now I want to delve deeper. So I ask you a favor. If you would, in the comments, write a few word about the game you would love to go back and see. Include your name if you wouldn’t mind being named in the story, leave it out if you prefer not to be named. And someday in a few weeks, after the Opening Day hoopla has faded, I will write the story, your story, my story, about what it would be like to go back, just for a day, to see a baseball game.

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Tiger and Browns

 

Well, yes, it has been a little while. Sorry about that. It’s been kind of busy around here lately. OK, I’m not going to lie to you — it’s been a madhouse (did I mention that I’m writing this book on Harry Houdini?). I’m not quite out of the craziness yet … but there was no way I could let this moment pass with the Browns going trade crazy and Tiger Woods rising from the ashes. I’ve probably spent 46 percents of my mind power the last 15 years on those two topics alone. If Yuni Betancourt came back, that would basically cover my entire oeuvre.

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