Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is Harold Reynolds Gonna Have To Hug A Bitch?

It seems like some sort of karmic justice that a community college named after a marine mammal whose population was decimated by sea faring vessels, would defeat a professional team named after marauders who raped and pillaged aboard them.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Virgil Vasquez gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings, and Dave Davidson was charged with a blown save as a collection of the Pirates' top prospects lost to Manatee Community College, 6-4, at McKechnie Field in Bradenton.
I don't know what this says more about: The game of baseball in general or the Pirates as a franchise. Sure, the Pirates roster consisted of only Single and Double A players, but could you picture that headline with any other team's logo? My heart goes out to you, DJ Gallo.

Backhanded Compliment Of The Day

"The best in the game when it comes to a routine play. When it comes to a baseball he can get to the guy's going to be out."

~ Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge on Jhonny Peralta's defense at Shortstop


What lofty praise... Is that why you were thinking of switching him to 3B?

Speaking of Indians third basemen, what the fack ever happened to Andy Marte -- he of #9 prospect in all of baseball fame? Well, Marte has hit .211 in 513 Major League at-bats (56 OPS+), and was recently DFAed by the Indians. Nobody picked him up and he accepted an assignment to Cleveland's Triple AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers. Well, at least he has made Coco Crisp appear to be productive.

"A Night With Donald Fehr"

Last night, Simon On Sports was lucky enough to have Donald Fehr drop by his MBA Class. Fehr gave a talk for the first 45 minutes of the class and then opened the floor for questions the rest of the way. Reading through Simon's post, it seems as through Fehr let down his guard a touch and was willing to hint at his personal opinons on the Draft, and the differences between the MLBPA & NFLPA (among other things):
Someone asked [Fehr] about why the MLBPA has been more successful than the NFLPA. He at first gave a politically correct answer like "I don't think it's really fair to judge the decisions that were made when not in the room." Then he elaborated saying that the MLBPA was run by former Steel Worker Union Lead Marvin Miller, whereas the NFLPA was not. The easy to read chapters behind that are, there is no god damn way he ever would have agreed to the bullshit the NFL players are subjected to.
Fehr also elaborated on the differences between the revenue structure of the MLB and NFL and the reasons why a salary cap makes far more sense for the NFL. Check out the whole entry, as it is a unique account of a pretty high-profile guy in a pretty low-key situation.

The Fallacy Of The Predetermined Outcome

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but Lar at wezen-ball (fellow resident of Shysterville) asked one of the most loaded sports-related questions one can ponder on Tuesday: Have Two Baseball Games Ever Played Out Identically?
In other words, are there any two games in baseball history that, if I were to pick up the scorecards for each, they would be indistinguishable?
The difference between Lar and pretty much everyone else in the world is that he actually set out to crack this mystery. He created a Retrosheet database and methodically broke down the potential possibilities resulting from each plate appearance and quickly came to the conclusion that the odds would of two games playing out exactly the same would be astronomical.
If you think about the numbers involved, it's not surprising in the least: with at least a dozen possible standard outcomes available for each plate appearance (and another dozen or more possible, but highly unlikely outcomes), and with 60 or 70 or even 80 plate appearances per game, the odds become fantastic that two games would be identical.
Furthermore, if it were possible to have each plate appearance broken down by pitch, it would become even more impossible to find two identical games. Click through to see how similar the pairs of games he isolates actually were. You might be surprised.


Take into account that it is wildly unlikely that any two baseball games have ever played out in exactly the same way, and remember that the next time some tries to apply hindsight to something that almost (or supposedly should have) occurred in a sporting event of any kind. "Oh man, if the ump had called that obvious strike, then Pettitte gets out of that inning, those two runs don't score, and the Yanks would have won." Those are the same people who think "everything happens for a reason" and that everyone has a soulmate.

The title of this post comes from something that Michael Kay likes to say during Yankee broadcasts. I've had some fun with Mr. Kay 'round here, but I must agree with him on this one. There is NO chance that the game would have played out the same way and to believe so is to subscribe to the fairy tales of Destiny and/or Fate.

Lar went back over the entire history of recorded MLB game data and couldn't find anything close to two identical scoresheets. That database consisted of 100,000 games. When people try to isolate one event and keep the rest of the game the same, they are saying that not only is the imaginary divergent outcome of the game is the same as another that occurred in baseball history (essentially impossible), they are saying that it is the same as the actual outcome of THAT game (essentially impossible multiplied by 100,000+).

This is the kind of stuff that makes life endlessly fascinating. Even in a sport like baseball where things are endlessly categorized and recorded, it is almost impossible (no, fuck it, it IS impossible) to have two games which are the same, even on a scorecard.

That's why I hate the concept of "everything happens for a reason". Ironically the people who say this are usually talking about things beyond human control, which are actually the exact things that don't happen for a reason. There is plenty of stuff in life that happens without any reasonable explaination at all, and the best we can do is try to make sense of it logically.