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Regarding jimmybart's take on franchise moves . . .  
It always bothered me when the city of Cleveland made a big deal about keeping the tradition.  It's not as if fans in Baltimore were going to lament the days of Otto Graham and Jim Brown.  The tradition and history are already there as far as the city is concerned.  But if the franchise moves, they move.  They're gone.  The biggest difference I can tell is that the NFL tried to treat it (and still does) as if the Browns took three years off and then just magically came back.  
What bothered me more was that the new team HAD to be the Browns and HAD to have those colors.  If I was married for 20 years to a woman named Heather and she had blonde hair and green eyes, and she leaves me for a rich guy on the east coast, does that mean the only type of woman I can date has to be named Heather and has to have blonde hair and green eyes?  This bugged me as an 18-year old then and bugs me as a 40-year old now.
Asked by: dboy13177

Answered: 10/18/2017
 I don't know.  Heather says hello, by the way.  


Another rather strange point about the Train murderer has occurred to me. On p. 98 you note that he probably/almost certainly had a change of clothes ready to change into after committing his murders, or he would be splattered with blood and gore and be noticed. Now, what about the blood-and-gore splattered clothes he has just changed out of? What became of them? If he had time, I imagine that he would throw them into a river, bury them in a forest, throw them down a well, or burn them- but it was the night- he wanted to get away as quickly as possible, and, sooner or later, some of the blood-stained clothes were sure to be found. But none were ever found (I think). Is there an explanation? Thanks.
Asked by: wdr1946

Answered: 10/18/2017
 In Villisca there were clothes found floating in the local river (which is actually more of a creek). Local authorities for some reason decided these were NOT related to the case, but I think they probably were.  If they were, then in that case he discarded his clothes in water.    Probably the more usual thing would be that he would throw the clothes onto the train and discard them two hours later and 50 miles away.  It's a good question, though. 


I finished reading The Man From The Train a few days ago. The crimes and your descriptions were unsettling, to say the least. I really enjoyed, though, how you explained the environments of those days, how people lived and coped with the technological level of their societies. It's fascinating especially because I am old enough to be very aware of the changes that have happened just in the last 50 or so years.  
A question: the 'axe murderer' is kind of a cliche, a character in urban myths, horror stories and even jokes. Was that the result of the Man From The Train and especially his activities around 1910-1912?
Asked by: Gfletch

Answered: 10/17/2017
 It may be, yes.   Rachel is into that issue.  While she was working on the book she was also employed by the Boys and Girls Club, and, while working with a class of 7 years olds, she had to straighten one of them out, and he said something llike "Geez, you would think I was an axe murderer or something."  She was struck by the fact that that phrase "axe murderer" is so common in our culture that this 7-year-old would use the phrase, although the axe is probably not one of the top 30 murder weapons now.   
It seems to be, to an extent, a consequence of this episode, this 1910-1912 era when The Man from the Train and at least two other people were running around murdering people with axes.   So yes, it is, to an extent, a result of what he did.  


Have just finished The Man from the Train-it will be seen as a classic of true crime reconstruction- congratulations. The hardest thing about unknown serial killers (like Jack the Ripper) is figuring out why they stopped. In the case of the Train Man, I would be willing to bet this was because his luck ran out. He tried it again in late 1912 or 1913, and was killed by the man of the house (I assume), either by knocking the crap out of him or shooting him with a rifle. The local authorities and the local press of course thought that this was an intruding tramp bent on robbery, not a monster of evil without parallel, and gave it one or two paragraphs in the local paper. I would think that of you looked for a killing of this type in 1912 or 1913, with the usual characteristics- a small town, by a train line, etc.- you may well find the identity of the monster.
Asked by: wdr1946

Answered: 10/14/2017
 We looked.   We looked for that.   We didn't find it.   The problem with your theory is the axe.   When he broke into the house, he would have been carrying an axe.   
It is POSSIBLE that that's what happened.   But the thing is that unless you KNOW what happened, you don't know.   So I'm sticking with what I said in the book. 


Different sports teams have taken different approaches to franchise moves.  In most cases, the franchise history moves with the team, even if the name changes.  Washington had the Senators from 1901-1960, but the history of the franchise moved with the team to Minnesota in 1961.  The 'new' Senators were an expansion team, and their history moved with them to Texas in the 70s.  The Nationals have had the Expos' history move with them, so when they showed blown Game 5s in franchise history on TV last night, the Expos in 1981 came up along with the most recent National history.  
The Cleveland Browns move in 1995 was different.  They were able to keep the history, and given an expansion team three years later.  So, in theory, anyway, the Ravens' history started in 1996, even though the organization had in reality existed in Cleveland previously.  Charlotte has done the same with the Hornets.  
I get why teams want to do that, but isn't it 'city' history more than 'franchise' history?
Asked by: jimmybart

Answered: 10/14/2017
 When the Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961, it was announced by the team and by the American League that the Twins would be regarded as a "new" team, that everything that happened there would be a new record, and that the team in Washington would have the team records, that Walter Johnson would be a part of their team history.   I kind of think that that was a better plan, but for some reason people just ignored them, and treated the history as staying with the franchise, rather than the city.   It has never been clear why that happened.  


Bill, how long did it take you to write Man From The Train?
Asked by: Steve9753

Answered: 10/14/2017
 I think I started on it in 2008, but wasn't committed to making a book out of it at that time.  I may have committed myself to writing the book possibly in 2011 or 2012, and sent it to the publisher in 2016.   A lot of work to be done after you send it to the publisher, but it's "written" by then.  


Anything you can say about your reaction to Trevor Bauer being picked as Cleveland's Game 1 starter, over Kluber and Carrasco? I mean at first or second blush, not after the game. :-)
Asked by: MarisFan61

Answered: 10/10/2017
 I try really hard not to form opinions about issues like that.   I just assume that the manager knows more about it than I do.  


Thanks for all your work in Thinking and Writing.    
My age determines I did not really see Mickey Mantle play much.  So, I do not know who he played with beyond Maris.  I did see Murray, and Chipper, and Rose (although I seem to mostly remember him hitting LH), and many others that had nice runs for shorter periods as effective Switch-hitters.  As I was listening to the Cubs/Nats game and thinking what a nice RH/LH combo Bryzzo are for the Cubs, that led me to think about Lindor/Ramirez as a great young switch hitting duo.  Then I realized Santana is a switch as well. A trio not a duo.   As I looked them up, Santana did not reach 90 RC in 2017, but Lindor and Ramirez were high enough themselves that the three players, all switch-hitters on one team in 2017 had 300 Runs Created in one season. I imagine Murray and Chipper must have had someone overlap on this for short periods, not sure if Texeira overlapped with Chipper, but don't think it a full season. Is this rare ?
Asked by: gejerz

Answered: 10/10/2017
 Is what rare?


HeyBill, would you really want to introduce an economic incentive outside winning and losing? Pitching changes and mound visits and throws to first are time consuming, but.....  
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 10/7/2017
 A player can be fined for using unauthorized equipment, or for being out of uniform, or for wearing the wrong shoes.   These are economic incentives not connected to winning and losing.  If a player has a contract to endorse a product, this is an economic incentive not connected to winning and losing.  
This benefit goes not to a player, but to the team.   Teams ave economic incentives for all kinds of things.   


Hey Bill, I just heard someone on the radio say that in Yankee stadium, there are police snipers stationed on the roof. Do you know if that's true of most stadiums?
Asked by: manhattanhi

Answered: 10/7/2017
 No idea. 


Honestly, this isn't related to my query of a coupla days ago-- I only just thought of this.  
Fall River 1892 isn't that far from Old Sturbridge Road in time or distance, and the Borden House was only a short block or two from the tracks.  
Of course that was a hatchet, and the blade was used, and it was in town and a fairly substantial one, and not timber or mining country; but it sure solves a lot of problems in that one if you can get comfortable postulating an intruder with the competence and cool to stay undetected and quiet inside the house for the forty or so minutes necessary...  
And it seems to me I recall that Fall River was the destination for cheap passenger lines from North Europe. And wasn't there a small, dark, long haired teen aged male seen around the Borden house that day?  
I'll get the Ouija board?
Asked by: taosjohn

Answered: 10/7/2017
 Also, the Borden house is right by the railroad.     But the crimes are not similar enough to be plausibly linked.   It's basically the criiminal equivaent of arguing that Madison Bumgarner must be Babe Ruth's grandson because they're both left-handed pitchers and hit homers.


Small point regarding Tillerson being a "replacement-level CEO" - if the organization you ran is continuing to do well 6-12 months after your departure, that's a big point in your favor, not a mark against you. Baseball has been good about acknowledging the contributions of predecessors, especially here in Boston - in politics, not so much due to partisan considerations.
Asked by: Fireball Wenz

Answered: 10/7/2017
 Right. . .those who went before were building blocks of what we have now. 


I enjoyed your article on the Oakland A's.  
Back in the late 1980's, my family had tickets behind the A's dugout.  Special memories of a special team.  And such a beautiful ballpark at the time. Some random things I remember:  
1)  Rickey Henderson in left field was always stretching his hamstrings between pitches.  
2)  Dave Henderson in center field would catch a fly ball, freeze his mitt for a few seconds, bend his legs, and then break into a smile.    
3)  Carney Lansford, who played third right in front of us, always set up shallow, well in front of the base.    
4) Dave Stewart, Mike Moore, and Bob Welch were studs.  And on the fourth day, it was Storm Davis and company.  Storm would pitch 6 innings and give up 3 or 4 runs.  Then the relievers locked it down -- Gene Nelson in the 7th, Rick Honeycutt in the 8th, and Dennis Eckersley to close it out.  
5)  The public address announcer was Roy "The Voice of God" Steele.  "Now batting, number 33, Jose Can-SE-Co!"  
Miss those days
Asked by: Riorunner

Answered: 10/7/2017
 Rah rah rumble seats and running boards. . . 


I saw an article that the average time between balls in play is now 3:48 seconds, which has to be due at least in part to the high numbers of walks and strikeouts. I remember reading in one (maybe both) of the Historical Abstracts about baseball in the 50s being baseball of the ticking time bomb, where hitter stood around waiting for either a walk of a pitch they could hit out. I don;t recall your exact words, but I remember you figured it must have been some boring baseball, peoples' fond memories of the New York teams notwithstanding.  
Strikeouts and steals are higher now than in the 50s, but do you see the game slipping back into that pattern. Frankly, I sure hope not.
Asked by: DanaKing

Answered: 10/5/2017
 Well...the problem of baseball's expanding waistline attracted quite a bit of attention in the 1950s,ending in 1962 when the rule was put in place requiring a manager to remove the pitcher on the second mound visit.   Before that some managers would visit the mound constantly.   Banning that ended THAT problem.
THe problem now is far worse than it was then.   The essence of the problem is that there are many, many, many things which CAN be done inside of a baseball game to waste time, and it is always in someone's interest to do these things.   Pitchers can stand on the mound without pitching.  Catchers can visit the mound.  Pitchers can throw to first.  Managers can change pitchers.   if you limit pitching changes they will start changing outfielders in the middle of the game, or holding up the inning to move the outfielders around.  Batters can ask for time and step out between pitches.  Baserunners can ask for a sliding glove. Batters can change bats.  Networks can sell more commercials between innings.  
Baseball is trying to address a GENERAL problem with remedies targeting one issue or another.  This is never going to work, because there will always be something else that can pop up that will waste even more time than whatever you were trying to stamp out before.   I mean. . .I'm glad they are TRYING to fix the problem, but it is never going to work.   It's like swatting mosquitoes.   There will always be more mosquitoes. 
What WOULD work is to establish a reward fund for quickly played games. . .I mean a serious reward fund.   Figure the expected length of a game based on the number of half-innings and the number of batters; you and I can do that if they can't, right?    Then let's say you have a $200 million reward for pace of play.    Each game is scored 10, 9, 8. . .etc.; if the game is very quickly played, 10 points for each team.   If it is very slowly played, no points for each team. Total up the points at the end of the year, and divide up the reward fund based on the points.   With a $200 reward fund, each "point" would have a value of about $8,000.   It creates economic pressure not to waste time. 


Bill, I want you to know I read the entirety of "The Man From the Train" today, and it's easily the longest book I've ever read in a single day. I found it absolutely riveting, though deeply tragic. If there is a hell, that man surely is on its deepest level. And the opportunist who tried to railroad an innocent man in Villisca is not far above him.
Asked by: thoughtclaw

Answered: 10/4/2017


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