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Reading a SABR publication about Nap Lajoie, when he got what was thought to be his 3,000 hit (now it is considered to be his 3,009th) in 1914 umpire Bill Dineen stopped the game for a minute  (in defiance of rules) to give Lajoie the ball. Newspaper accounts casually mentioned he was the third to do so.  
Asked by: ZachSmith

Answered: 1/21/2017
Thanks. But I happen to know that was only his 2,989th hit.


One more bowling note,,,  
My dad owned a bowling alley in upstate NY, Albany. His was the first one in NY ( so I'm told ) to use automatic pinsetters. Before then the neighborhood teenagers did this job.  
He used to oil his lanes evenly so as to not give an advantage to one bowler over another. He told me about how some places would leave the outside parts of the lane dry so that the ball would " catch " the lane and hook in towards the head pin. If there was too much oil on the outside the ball would just slide like a car on an icy street.  
And those places would use more oil towards the center of the lane so that the ball's hooking action would dissipate as the ball approached the head pin.  
When ever a bowler hit a 300 game a sanctioning body representative had to come and inspect the lanes, the pins and the ball to make sure everything was legit.  
Hated it when someone would call and ask if I had 16 pound balls. I'd say "yes", then he'd say " don't they drag on the ground"
Asked by: Allen Schade

Answered: 1/21/2017
Thanks. My apologies for all the   notes. I don't know where those come from.


I was a Yankee fan during all those title runs and loved Posada. I think Posada's lack of love for the HoF is a little easier to understand when you consider that most of the people reading this think of Posada as being about 97% of the way there. If WE don't think he deserves the Hall of Fame, then why should we be surprised that the writers agree? Another way of stating this is that there is some daylight between "underrated" and "should be in the Hall" that Posada is actually in. Getting bumped is harder to understand when a player obviously exceeds many of the metrics one would want to see.
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 1/21/2017
They'll find a way to get him back on the ballot. In the immortal words of the great Roger Miller, Everything changes a little, and it should, The good ain't forever, and the bad ain't for good.


What do you think the odds are that Trump serves out at least his full four year term?
Asked by: Ben from New York

Answered: 1/21/2017
Probably 70, 80%. Why. . .you a betting man, or an ordinary communist?


You were talking in your HOF article about the lack of information with which to compare players back in the day. I still remember my 1st baseball encyclopedia. It was the 1964 edition. In the player register, the only stats it contained were games played and batting average. Things have changed a bit.
Asked by: metsfan17

Answered: 1/21/2017
The Barnes Encyclopedia, I think. Wasn't a lot there. Daguerreotypes was really the main source of information for Hall of Fame quality stars.


Bill, regarding Posada, who do you think is the best player to get under 5% and drop off the HOF ballot their first year? Lou Whitaker comes to mind.
Asked by: Steve9753

Answered: 1/21/2017
I haven't followed it. Anyone?


When did career stats become widely available enough (and/or important enough in people's minds) that big milestones developed--300 wins, 3,000 hits, those types of things? Were there particular players who were the first to be widely watched in terms we take for granted today: "Hey, he's almost at 300 wins!"  
Asked by: Rob T.

Answered: 1/20/2017
 The importance of 3,000 hits traces directly to Stan Musial, I think.    There was SOME awareness of 3,000 hits as a career goal going back to about 1908.   I have an old, old Reach guide which has an article about the only players to get 3,000 hits in organized ball.   As I recall, they thought that somebody named something like Emil Frisk was the only player to do it, most of the hits coming in the old PCL and other west coast leagues, and I think the article overlooked Cap Anson.    There was an awareness of career totals, but very disorganized information and disorganized thinking about them. 
When Cobb got his 4,000th hit I think there was SOME awareness of it, in the sense of notes in the newspaper, that sort of thing.   But I believe that when Paul Waner got his 3,000th hit in 1942, there was relatively little attention focused on it.  
Musial was the first player after Waner to get 3,000, about 15 years later, and for some reason Musial's 3,000 became a huge deal, a huge news event.    It just evolved gradually until there was an opening for it to become an event, and then it did. 


I find it kind of interesting that while people talk about attitudes towards steroid users softening, Sosa got less than 9% and barely stays on the ballot for another year.  I've never been a big Sosa fan, but 609 home runs is a lot of home runs, even in Wrigley.  Do you think he is being treated differently for some reason, or do you think he really doesn't merit much HOF consideration?
Asked by: pablo

Answered: 1/20/2017
 Yes, I think he is being treated differently for very good reasons.   The argument against steroid users is not ONE argument; it is several different arguments tied together.   They apply differently to different people.  


In past discussions with friends over "What is a sport?", it became quickly apparent that the discussion became circular.    
Whether an activity is a "sport" - golf, darts, figure skating and the like - depends entirely on how you define "a sport", so THAT becomes the nub of the matter.
Asked by: wilbur

Answered: 1/20/2017
 Intuitively, that wouldn't strike me as an impossible task.   


Is there not a seeming contradiction between saying that a catcher's (Posada's) defense was poor, and that his getting only 3.8% of the Hall of Fame vote indicates that he's tremendously undervalued? Everybody knows that Posada was a very good player and a key factor in his team's success. I don't see how that would mean the lack of seeing him as a Hall-of-Fame-worthy player means he's tremendously undervalued; it just means not many people are inclined to see a not-so-good defensive catcher as a "great player." And besides, it's hard to know exactly how much value to put on degrees of badness or goodness as a defensive catcher, isn't it....
Asked by: MarisFan61

Answered: 1/20/2017
 The existence of doubt does not destroy all knowledge.   I think Posada was a great player.   I normally expect more than 3.8% of the baseball writers to agree with me, although I acknowledge that I would have had difficulty squeezing Posada's name onto a 10-man ballot. 


I hope your audience doesn't split after another bowling comment. I'm a league bowler, over 200 average. Bowling alleys typically oil the lanes in a pattern for house leagues that maximizes scores, for reasons given earlier: people are more likely to come back if they do well. But the oil for the lanes is expensive, so alleys do not bother to re-oil the lanes with an easy pattern just for "open" bowling...they make their money off of the leagues. The oil moves around on the lanes as people bowl on them, so after a league finishes the lanes are no longer conducive to high scores. Hope this email strikes a chord with you, Bill, and you don't regard it as a turkey.
Asked by: waisanhart

Answered: 1/20/2017
 I suspect there is a pun in there that I can't quite pin down.  


Regarding the effects at Coors Field, Alan Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois, who has a website dedicated to the physics of baseball, did a comparison between Coors Field and Fenway Park in anticipation of the 2007 World Series. In that comparison, he finds that a pitched baseball, due to air resistance, will lose 10% of its speed on the way to the plate at Fenway and 8% of its speed on the way to the plate at Coors, with the net effect being about a 1 mph increase on pitches at Coors. He also finds that spin will lose 18% of its effectiveness at Coors. Thus, a curveball that will break 18 inches at Fenway will break only 14-15 inches at Coors. (Balls hit with spin at Coors would presumably be affected the same way). Finally, regarding batted balls, he finds that balls travel approximately 5% farther at Coors than Fenway. Thus, a ball hit 380 feet at Fenway would travel 399 feet at Coors. (The Rockies claim it is 9%). Coors appears to favor the batter.
Asked by: pebblyjack

Answered: 1/20/2017
 And the beer vendor.   Thanks.  


Joe Torre may be less outspoken than Sandy Alderson, but he has taken some action against rogue umpires. In 2013, Fieldin Culbreth was suspended for 2 games for an incident against the Angels when he allowed the Astros to change pitchers even though the pitcher hadn't faced a batter. Culbreth didn't reverse his stand even when Mike Scioscia protested that the pitching change was illegal. MLB upheld the protest and suspended Culbreath and fined Culbreath and his crew. Back in the day, I don't recall umps ever being suspended for refusing to enforce the rules.  
Asked by: JackKeefe

Answered: 1/20/2017


You must be pleased about this year's HOF voting.  The last of the three candidates (Santo, Blyleven, and Raines) that you campaigned for has been elected.  Bagwell - who you memorably described rooting for every day after your published projections had him winning the batting title his rookie year - got in.  Selig - who you described as the greatest commissioner in any sport ever - made it.  Pudge got in, validating your prediction that suspicions of PED use would not ultimately block players who were qualified by on-field performance.  Bonds, Clemens, Mussina, and Martinez - all of whom you have said are well qualified - got above 50%.  I remembered your story about beating Raines in a footrace to the urinal, and was reminded again about how much your writing has enriched my appreciation of baseball and its people, as well as entertaining me for 35 years.  Thanks!
Asked by: Robinsong

Answered: 1/20/2017
 Thank you.   You win some, you lose some.    Mostly it has little to do with me.   


Sorry to bring up another 'clutch' question, but I'm just curious about something. Is this a long-time belief, back to the early years of the game? Or a recent invention of television, first when replay started and they could replay a key hit several times (and of course have to over-analyze it) and then on to the 24-hour news cycle, where people didn't necessarily have to watch the game, but could see selected highlights over and over. And of course, be told by the talking heads how much more important one event was over the entire game? I started watching about the time replay came out, so that's always been part of the game for me. Was it a current theme before this?
Asked by: 77royals

Answered: 1/20/2017
 Is WHAT a long-time belief?   I'm not following you.  


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