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Baseball and we (us?) aren't the only ones who've had issues or fun with "deliberate." It is said that after Brown v. Board of Ed. (of Topeka, Kansas!) said that communities had to integrate "with all deliberate speed," some communities justified their snail's pace by interpreting "deliberate" as meaning deeply considered, and therefore slow.
Asked by: MarisFan61

Answered: 7/21/2017
 I think that's a different meaning of "deliberate", but. . . OK.   


"Uber" stats are very good at differentiating players who are in different classes.  If someone has a 10 WAR we can tell right away he's not similar to someone with a 5.  when it comes down to 10 vs 9, only 10% difference, we're in an area that is highly susceptible to imperfections in the statistic.  
But looking at MVP votes from the 70's for instance, we can see how useful the methodology is, and just how much understanding of the game has advanced.  Earl Weaver didn't need an advanced stat to understand how much Bobby Grich contributed, but for the fan base it's extremely useful.  
Asked by: Christopher

Answered: 7/21/2017


Hey Bill, recent hires to the President's legal team include Ty Cobb (a Kansas-born descendant of the Georgia Peach) and John Dowd (author of the Dowd report).  
If Pete Rose Jr. or Eric Show's ghost is revealed to be a source of anonymous leaks to the New York Times, can we safely assume that we are living in a simulacrum or alternate timeline of some sort?  
Asked by: RyanTheMover

Answered: 7/21/2017
 If I told you not to, you would anyway.   I have no control over people who use words like "simulacrum".   If that is a word.   


One way of looking at intentional vs. deliberate is that an animal will act intentionally, but without a conscious mind, it cannot act deliberately. A crocodile doesn't deliberate when it sees an antelope on the riverbank, but it does intend to kill that antelope.
Asked by: arnewcs

Answered: 7/21/2017


Back in the Hall of Fame book you did 20 years ago--you had a long Don Drysdale article,  about whether or not he should be in the Hall.  And you said no,  he was missing by THAT much.  Out by just a little.   What's your take on his being in there now,  what have your newer methodologies shown that you didn't know then about Big D?  
Asked by: Manushfan

Answered: 7/21/2017
 I think I was a little too hard on him.   I am more inclined now to believe that he deserves to be there than that he doesn't, I think.   


To what you said about "Free Trade" I would say he same thing about the statement that "smaller government is always better." This is just a bedrock article of faith among most people and politicians yet it seems to me at best a massive oversimplification of an incredibly complex multifaceted issue. (And one not based on empirical evidence. Taking it to extremes, the list of successful anarchies is surprisingly small).
Asked by: Steve

Answered: 7/21/2017
 Yes, I agree with that.   I am a person who believes, in general, that smaller government is better.    I believe that we should do locally all of the things that we can do locally, that the region of the state should govern what it can govern, and that we are all (in general) better off if the state and the federal government stay the hell out of the way and allow us to take care of our own problems.   Or better yet, if their inactivity FORCES us to deal with our own problems.   Just like your kids.   Make them deal with their own damned problems as much as they can; they wind up better off that way.  
But in my book coming out this fall, The Man from the Train, we deal from beginning of the book to the end with a situation is which this is obviously and dramatically not true.    The murderer travels around the country by train, killing people here, there, and yonder--and since ALL law enforcement in that era is local, there is nobody in charge of stopping him.   The only people trying to stop him are local officials, and, since he is in almost all cases a hundred miles away before the crime is even discovered, they have no chance of finding him.   


HeyBill:  loved yer answer to Steve about WAR. I agree we will never know all - hell, in the old Newtonian Physics days it was thought if you know all info at a certain moment then everything to follow was predictable. You're right too, to state that we get very full of ourselves thinking we know something, and we get "fuller" the less we actually know. Baseball is a microcosm, bounded by physical restraints and self-imposed rules. Given all that - we still struggle to understand our own created micro-verse of baseball.  If we struggle to understand a bounded model of our own creation how in hell do we expect to understand something we are still exploring?
Asked by: FrankD

Answered: 7/21/2017


The distinction you make between intentional and deliberate (between "why" and "what") has a long history not only in law, but in religion.  Manslaughter vs first-degree murder.   Jesus vs the Pharisees (epitomized by the Good Samaritan who breaks the letter of the law to fulfill its intent or the debate over whether "faith" or "works" were what mattered to God).  In the absence of the context of a rule ("criminal" intent), the words are nearly synonymous.
Asked by: Robinsong

Answered: 7/21/2017
 So nearly synonymous that it is difficult to pry them apart.   


The problem with ignoring rules is, obviously, that it leads to arbitrariness.  For example, there is such a thing as jury nullification, in which a jury simply decides that it either doesn't like how a law is written or how it would be applied in a given case and decides, in effect, to ignore it.  In some cases, that may mean a more just decision, but it other cases, it's just the opposite.  For example, in the Jim Crow South, a lot of juries would simply ignore the law (and the facts of the case) in order to either convict a black person or acquit a white person.  
On the other hand, as you suggest, it's also possible to use the language of the law to do something which it is not intended for.  For example, RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) is largely intended, I think, to go after the mafia.  But, using a strict reading of the language has enabled prosecutors to use RICO to prosecute actions that, while probably corrupt, are not mafia-related.
Asked by: Marc Schneider

Answered: 7/21/2017
 Yes, I think I would agree with all of that except the implication that all of the things prosecuted under the RICO act are in fact corrupt.   But if we assume that that is true, where does that leave us?
It leaves us here:   are you better off relying on the letter of the law, or better off relying on. . . well, "Trusting" is a better word. . . are you better off trusting others to be fair?   
In general, but not absolutely, you are better off trusting others to be fair.   In negotiating a contract, for example, I never negotiate at all; I simply trust the other party to be fair, and if I cannot trust the other party to do what they say, then I don't enter into the contract.   You can use that principle in your day to day life, but if you're in business and you are forced to deal with a muliti-billion dollar business which cuts corners every day--Sprint, let us say, or Delta Air Lines--then obviously you can't operate that way.    


Random question here:  Have you ever run across an unusual number of players through the years that have come from the same small town?  I wonder what small towns have far outperformed their expectations in producing MLB players?  Thanks.
Asked by: marbus1

Answered: 7/21/2017
 There are clusters like that, yes.    There's a small town in Iowa, forget what it is, that has produced players from Hal Trosky to Mike Boddicker, several others.   


My client, Ernie Bonham, comes before you, Appeals Justice James, complaining that he has been stripped of his rightfully earned ERA title. My client in good faith under the rules of MLB pitched his 10th complete game at considerable risk to his continued good health knowing that he needed 10 complete games under current rules to qualify for an ERA title, and in fact my client blew out his arm doing so and can never pitch in MLB again. But in stripping my client of his ERA title and awarding said title to someone else with a higher ERA, MLB has behaved arbitrarily and contrary to its own rules at the time, leaving my client with neither an ERA title to his name nor a functioning pitching arm. We seek redress, Your Honor, and ask that you consider our appeal.
Asked by: 337

Answered: 7/21/2017
 Well. . .(a) Ernie Bonham won 21 games in 1942, so that part of the point is BS.   The rules also say that the league has the authority to act as it did.   A subordinate rule cannot take precedence over the authority of the league itself.   


Regarding your comment - "we all refer all the time to theories, concepts and ideas which, in truth, we but dimly understand."  
A couple years back Jimmy Kimmel did a segment where he did "man on the street" interviews with folks who identified themselves as gluten-free. And he asked them a simple question: what is gluten? The answers (at least the ones that made the air) were all over the place. The interviewees - almost all of them stereotypical West Coast New Agey types - hemmed, hawed, spewed nonsense. The audience yukked it up. It was, admittedly, kinda funny.  
And yet - I wonder how well Jimmy Kimmel, or the audience, or I would do if we had to tell someone what a protein is. Or vitamin C. Or circadian rhythms, or interest rates, or the Affordable Care Act. And yet we make life choices about these things all the time. We constantly act upon best guesses, makeshift reasoning, and leaps of faith, which, as you point out, is necessary, and human.
Asked by: Brian

Answered: 7/21/2017
 That's right.   That is the point I was trying to make.   The world is more complicated than the human mind; therefore, we have no choice except to act on the basis of concepts that we do not actually understand.   


(Not for publication, please) Intentionally and deliberately are synonyms.  He deliberately changed direction, and he intentionally changed direction.  You created the distinction by changing the objective, from deliberately having changed direction to intentionally having interfered with the play.
Asked by: Cypher

Answered: 7/21/2017
 This is a for-publication place.   Don't send me crap that's not for publication.  


The Mariners just traded for David Phelps.  Being just a tad bit older, I have a hard time thinking of any Mariner named Phelps who isn't Ken - and despite him being in his 60s, I still hold out hope that one day he'll get a full time job and bang 40 homers while also walking 120 times ...  Question: in these days with more analytically inclined front offices, is there still room for a Ken Phelps All Star team?  Guys with skills that may be a little more obscure that don't get a chance?
Asked by: dlf

Answered: 7/21/2017
 Well. . .the difference is not SIMPLY that front office people understand analytics.   Another difference is that the market now is more fluid than it was in the 1980s, so young players are less likely to get trapped in a place where there is no job for them.  
But here's the thing to remember:  there will never be a shortage of ignorance.   There will always be blind spots in the market.   No matter how sophisticated stock market analysts become, there will always be stocks that are under-valued and stocks that are over-valued.  


Why is the sabermetric field working toward a "uber stat"? Why bother trying to flatten out the complexity of an athlete's multifaceted performance and abilities into a single number to be used on a linear scale? Is there any utility in it? It seems like a step backward in understanding. I see music magazines publishing lists of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time," and they wind up trying to justify how Chuck Berry is "better" than Andres Segovia or Wes Montgomery or Chet Atkins. I don't get it.
Asked by: Fireball Wenz

Answered: 7/21/2017
 It's a part of the process of building understanding.   We have to try to understand how many of these are equal to one of those.   How many runs are equivalent to a win?   How many errors are equivalent to a run?   How many double plays do you have to turn to save one run?
The process of forming an uber stat forces you to address those questions with discipline and research.    Also, you have to pay the player something.   Let's say that you have a budget for talent next year of $180 million.    Are you better off paying that money to player X, or to player Y?   If you have an accurate Uber stat, that helps you to make that decision.  
A third benefit of an Uber stat:  the uber stat is not, in all cases, the end of the discussion.   In some cases the Uber stat is a necessary step toward additional research.   Suppose that I am studying "Do corner outfielders whose central skill is speed age better than corner outfielders who are slow but good hitters?"  Yes, they do, but one thing you have to do to study that is to find slow corner outfielders who have the same overall value as fast corner outfielders.   This is actually a common benefit in research.   It happens a lot.  


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