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The fifteen most recent questions are listed here and will change almost every day.

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15 Most Recent Questions

Does the ending of the Cardinals-Reds game bring new meaning to a "walk off hit" when the umpires left?
Asked by: Christopher

Answered: 9/30/2016
 I don't know, but the rule makes perfect sense to me.   Ordinarily you may want to study the video before you ask for a review, to conserve your percentages, but if the play ends the game, it is axiomatically true that an appeal improves the chances of the (otherwise) losing team, so there is no reason to delay, and you would have to appeal IMMEDIATELY.   That makes perfect sense, and that's what the rule says.  
Actually, I was at a game last night which ended on an appeal play. . .odd coincidence, but I was.   Two out in the ninth, the Royals are down a run with a man on first base.  They pinch run a fast man, Gore, but there's a pickoff play at first.   Umpire rules him safe.   Twins appeal.   Twins win the appeal; game over.   
By the way, VERY impressed with Byron Buxton.   I just mentioned to my wife that we've been hearing about him since he was 18; he hasn't hit yet but he is really fast.   A quarter of a second later he sliced the ball into the left field gap to the wall.   MY GOD, is he fast!   He's one of the fastest men I have ever seen.    


The subject of boycotting was brought up, it's something my sister and I go back and forth on. She boycotts WalMart, Chick Fil A and number of other places. I guess my point on the matter is, when I shop somewhere, I'm not doing to benefit the company, I'm doing it to benefit *ME*. If I can get a TV of the same quality for $100 cheaper, I but it because *I* benefit from it, obviously that in turn helps the company, but that's never the reason I shop anywhere to begin with.
Asked by: MattD1

Answered: 9/30/2016
 Well. . .that's not exactly a boycott, is it?   If I don't drink in a certain bar, I am not boycotting that bar; I am merely not drinking there.   Your sister may be PARTICIPATING in a boycott, but her actions are not a boycott in and of themselves.    It seems like it confuses the issue to contemplate a one-person boycott.  


Really enjoyed the article on variable replacement level. I was curious about your thoughts on guys with partial playing time, and how they fit in to the overall theory of variable replacement level (which I'm entirely on board with).  
The thought is essentially this: Should we not adjust the playing time of players while imagining putting them on other teams? I think of a situation like Ryan Howard / Jim Thome in 2005, where Howard certainly had 135 games' worth of value to many MLB teams, but only played 88 for Philly. Is the reason you didn't do this for some theoretical reason, or simply because of the data issues involved with separating injuries from coach's decisions from fatigue, translating minor league stats effectively, etc.?
Asked by: Drew

Answered: 9/30/2016
 Not while calculating VALUE, no.   Value is games won.   You can't create value out of thin air by projecting playing time which doesn't exist.   The entirely analytical construct falls apart if you do.   


Bill, how does the Red Sox outfield of Benintendi, JBJ, and Betts compared defensively to Lewis, Speaker, and Hooper?
Asked by: 78sman

Answered: 9/30/2016
 Harry Hooper couldn't carry Mookie Betts' jock strap. . ..


From a common sense perspective, you would think that veteran hitters do better than younger players when the bases are loaded. Veterans (say a player with 4 or more years of big league experience) are more accustomed to being up in pressure situations, they may be more likely to wait for a good pitch, less apt to try to do too much, etc.  If the bases were loaded and the game on the line, and  I had to choose between a veteran pinch hitter with a .240 batting average and a rookie with a .270 average, I might go with the vet. But this could be one of those things that seem to make sense but actually have no basis in fact (like batting-order protection). Do you know if there is any evidence of this?
Asked by: pablo

Answered: 9/29/2016
 No.   You say that it makes common sense, but the belief actually rests on specific assumptions. . .ie, that pressure interferes with a hitter's ability to hit, that veterans have more ability to resist pressure than younger players.    If ANY of those underlying assumptions is false, the conclusion is likely to be false.   


Re equal pay: One other factor that hasn't been touched on yet is the possibility of gender differences in negotiating pay. I remember reading about a study Johns Hopkins did, I think in 1999 or 2000... if I remember right, they strongly urged all their MBA students to negotiate their starting salary, and then followed up later to see who actually did it. Most of the men did, most of the women didn't. Over the course of a career, this seems like it could make a big difference. Not all economists are buying it, however, from what I know.
Asked by: RipCity

Answered: 9/29/2016
 Sounds like you would have small-sample AND bias problems.   


Can you imagine what a draw a star quality female pitcher would be? It would be like Satchel Paige and Fernando Valenzuela put together.
Asked by: bobfiore

Answered: 9/29/2016
 One of the most powerful things I have ever seen at a baseball game was that when Jim Abbott would pitch, you could walk through the stands and see dozens and dozens of people who were missing an arm.    


As for announcers, as a Vancouver BC boy, I am a big fan of Jim Robson, who did the Mountie games in the 50s and 60s, later, Dave van Horne of the Expos was very good.  
He had a good partnership with Duke Snider. I much prefer van Horne to anyone the Jays have ever had.
Asked by: DavidTodd

Answered: 9/29/2016
 I think the Jays guys on TV now are realy good. . .Buck Martinez and the regular guy, whose name I can't remember.   When we play the Jays I will often watch their telecast rather than ours.    I remember there used to be a guy with the jays named Dave Howerth or something like that who was just really awful.   


Hey Bill, do you have an explanation for when a pitcher has a sudden improvement upon joining a new team. I'm thinking of Addison Reed last year and Fernando Salas this year. It can't be simply a matter of their new team--the Mets--being better than their old team, because both pitchers had sudden and dramatic improvement in their K/9 and K/w.
Asked by: manhattanhi

Answered: 9/29/2016
 We talked about this just a month or two ago.   


Hey, Bill!  I'm a long-time Braves fan, dating back to their really wretched days of the 1970's and 80's.  And I never thought that Skip Caray was an especially good announcer.  (Until his son Chip came along...)  But the last fifteen years or so Skip came up with a nice little "running gag" (I guess you call it) where...whenever a ball would be fouled into the crowd...Skip would pretend to know exactly where the fan who caught it was from:  "High foul pop up into the stands right behind third base, where it's caught by a fan who drove down from Cherry Log, Georgia, to see the Braves!"  And pretty soon, on his pre-game radio show, everyone who called in would be asking him exactly HOW did he know where everyone was from.  And he would spin the most outrageous explanations...a different one every time.  Some of the callers would be skeptical, and some would be absolutely amazed and gush over his ability to do so.  Skip would just pass it off as something you pick up with experience.
Asked by: Davidg32

Answered: 9/29/2016


Worst announcer?  I don't know of anyone I detest but I never warmed to Joe Morgan.  He seemed to know a lot about baseball but was too condescending and dismissive to make him tolerable.
Asked by: zachtruitt

Answered: 9/29/2016
 I never warmed up to him as an announcer, either, but. . .well.    I guess I'll tell the story.   One time GWBush had a baseball dinner at the White House; we all met the Prez and ate dinner in the East Room and listened to some little guy with a big hat sing some songs. . . Kenny Chesney or somebody.    Anyway, there was assigned seating, and my wife was seated next to Joe Morgan.   Joe and Susie just got along great, and after that Joe called me to be a guest on his podcast a couple of times, and I talked him to a couple of other times.   We also got along great, once we got past the fact that we had different views on a few issues.   I did a podcast with him, was supposed to go 45 minutes, but we went about 90 because we were both just enjoying talking baseball.   


"Swung on and BELTED ..." You could actually hear his voice trail off in the distance, as if his words were being carried away with the screaming baseball.  
In my book that was the best homerun call ever. Dave Niehaus, who called Mariners from their inception until his death, shortly after the 2010 season, was at his best on the radio. I used to listen to the broadcasts, and you could let the narrative work on you in the background because Niehaus' vocal inflections could tell the story, even if he hummed the tune.  
"Get out the rye bread and the mustard, Grammaw ... because it's a GRAND SALAMI!"  
Ok, he could be a little cheesy, too. :)
Asked by: ventboys

Answered: 9/29/2016
 Very nice man, as well.   I did his pre-game radio show several times.


In general, I agree with your point about boycotts being counterproductive in most cases, but there is one obvious counterexample:  the Montgomery bus boycott (ie,Rosa Parks) in the 1950s that eventually led to changes in segregation on the buses.  Of course, there were specific factors that made the boycott successful: (1) a large proportion, if not a majority, of bus riders were black and they obviously all had the same interest in ending segregation and (2) whites who supported segregation weren't going to start riding the bus to make up the lost revenue.  So, in fact, the bus system did lose a lot of ridership that it could not make up. (3) Many people in the North were not aware of the degree of discrimination in the South, so publicizing it had the effect of mobilizing northern public opinion.    As a corollary, the southern business community was beginning to oppose segregation as a harm to southern economic development.    
Asked by: Marc Schneider

Answered: 9/29/2016
 Right. . .the segregation era boycotts were the reason that I left open the possibility that boycotts could work in my original answer, that they did work not only in Montgomery, but in other areas in the civil rights era, such as the lunch counter boycotts.     The success of boycotts in the segration era have deluded the left into believing that this is a tactic that will work much  more generally than it actually will.  
I didn't address earlier the issue of the right or wrong of it.   I don't object to boycotts on that basis.   If you don't want to do business with Hobby Lobby, that's your right.   


What do you think of MLB scheduling Interleague play during the last week of the season ?
Asked by: clambeau

Answered: 9/29/2016
 It is unavoidable given the 15 teams in each league.   


Bill, did you ever listen to/have an opinion on the Phillies' broadcast team of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn? They were in the booth when I first became a baseball fan, and thirty years later, the archetypal play-by-play voice I hear in my head is still Kalas's--rich, sonorous, and in a sort of permanent state of measured heightened interest.
Asked by: matt_okeefe

Answered: 9/29/2016
 What, no youtube link?   


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