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Followup to the mystery (discussed in your series on catchers, which discussion is now officially buried in newer columns--too bad but I can't see an alternative, other than picking up the conversation here in "Hey Bill") about Hank Gowdy's strong showing, given his weak stats, in Hall of Fame voting: I just learned that in the 1914 Miracle Braves Series, he put up one of the (still) top-ten OPSes ever, a gaudy Gowdy 1.960. He may have gotten more mileage out of a Series performance ever, if that is indeed a basis for his being remembered as an all-time great. 6 for 11, with 5 walks, 5 extra base hits.  
Asked by: Steven Goldleaf

Answered: 1/17/2018


Hey Bill, what is your current understanding of the impact of managers on team won/loss records? In other words, how would you currently answer the question, "do some managers consistently move their team's win/loss record away from what would be estimated purely by the individual players?" To me, the question is impossible to separate from discussions about "clutchness" and year-to-year variance, but many fans act like it is obviously true (like clutchness). What do you think?
Asked by: HF

Answered: 1/17/2018
 Not "consistently", no.   No manager CONSISTENTLY has a positive impact on his team.   Some managers have a tremendous impact in some seasons, but it's a question of the match between the manager and the needs of the team.   Everybody has different skills.   Gene Mauch was a wizard at solving bullpen issues, so when his team needed a better bullpen, he would find somebody like Darold Knowles or Mike Marshall or somebody and fix that problem, which would have an impact.   But other times he would have no impact at all.   It's mostly a matter of finding the manager that you NEED right now.  


As I recall, the original "High Five' debuted in "the Producers"(1968). During the production of "Springtime for Hitler." Hitler, as played by Lorenzo St. DuBois (Dick Shawn) gives his "Little Joe" Goebbels a "Sieg Heill. Baby." Extending his salute he slaps Joe a high five  
Asked by: villageelliott

Answered: 1/17/2018
 I know nothing of the origin of the High Five, other than what I have read. . . .I know Sidney Wicks with UCLA claimed to have invented it, and Glenn Burke claimed to have been the first to use it in baseball.   I don't know nothin'.   


Bill, are your editors campaigning for Man From The Train to get any awards? An Edgar Allan Poe award maybe? I know you wouldn't campaign for yourself.
Asked by: Steve9753

Answered: 1/17/2018
 I would assume you have to belong to whatever organization it is that gives that award in order to be nominated, I'd assume.   Winning awards makes me feel old, honestly.  


Fyi, "Sudden Impact" was the 1982 Dirty Harry film that included the "Go ahead, make my day" line.  I think it was the second best in the series after the original.  And I know the movies have a social/cultural aspect to them due to the vigilante element, but I love them based on the entertainment value alone.  Clint Eastwood plays a badass better than most.
Asked by: jimmybart

Answered: 1/17/2018
 I didn't know that was called Sudden Impact; I remember that movie.   I would say Eastwood's movie career has four eras:
1)  The Sergio Leone/Spaghetti Western era,
2)   The violence laden/badass hero era (roughly 1971 to 1980), 
3)   The "trying to make better movies but not willing to go all in" era (roughly 1980 to 1992--Bronco Billy, the Outlaw Josey Wales, etc.), and
4)    The great movies era, which starts with Unforgiven and continues to the present. 
To me, the badass hero era is the least interesting of the four.   Coogan's Bluff is unwatchable, I think.   Play Misty For Me maybe the best Eastwood movie of that era.     Of course, the Spaghetti westerns are compelling, but not as great as the stuff he did in his 70s and 80s.  


Bill, the BTK killer is an odd duck. OK, I see that. Who is the most typical serial killer? Who else is an "odd" serial killer?
Asked by: Steve9753

Answered: 1/17/2018
 Well. .."most typical" is an oxymoron, I think.  I know that I often read books about serial murderers and think "this guy is nothing; he's just the same story I've read a million times."  I am always searching for what is unique in a story, what is NOT the same as I've seen in all the other books.   There are many stories which are weak in this respect. . .not that there is a SINGLE repetitive narrative in serial murderer stories, but that there are a few repetitive narratives, so that in reading a book you think "this is another type C" or "this is another type G", you know?  Not that I actually have a typing system. . .


As more and more runs are scored, does defence become worth more or less?    I could argue it either way, which means I don't know.  Or does the amount of runs scored not affect the value of defence?
Asked by: shthar

Answered: 1/17/2018
 Intuitively, I would argue that scarcity is value; therefore, if runs go up, the value of defense goes up.  But I'm not sure how you would prove that.  There must be a simple cards-and-dice demonstration that would answer the issue one way or the other.  


Something I have wondered for a long time is whether Sam Crawford was extremely fast or whether his triples record is due to playing environment factors that we are generally unaware of today, which (I'm guessing here) would include very large ballparks with fences quite a bit further away during the Dead Ball Era than the era immediately following it (or the present, for that matter).  In other words, are a lot of his triples, for lack of a better term, "power triples", ran than today, where triples are mostly "leg triples".  And, to follow that up, does that put him in the running for player whose career would most be improved by playing in another era (where lots of those 309 triples become HRs)
Asked by: bhalbleib

Answered: 1/17/2018
 Well. . .I don't think Crawford was EXTREMELY fast; fast, but more like Roberto Clemente fast than Lou Brock fast.   When Crawford was elected to the Hall of Fame, Ty Cobb (who had feuded with Crawford for many years) famously said that in the lively ball era Crawford would have hit 40 homers a year.   In that era, outfielders played shallow enough that you COULD hit the ball over their heads.   Crawford's triples were probably not sliced down the RF line like most triples are now, but probably over the heads of the outfielder.  


Off the top of your head, which league had the better overall talent, the Federal League 1914-15, or the American League 1901-02?
Asked by: pkkennedy

Answered: 1/17/2018
 At the START of that period--the start of the 1901 or 1914 season--the Federal League had better talent.   But by the end of that period (1902 or 1915) the American League, much better, because the Federal League wasn't able to lure true stars after a promising start.  


Bill, with regard to your observation in the current series about Biggio and Utley being the second and third players in history not to ground into a double play in a season (some minimum ABs, I presume) . . . do you think their ability to do that is a conscious skill, a change in their approach in DP situations that allows them (combined with their talents) to have achieved that record?  Or just a logical result of their game generally?  Thanks, Tom
Asked by: tkoegel

Answered: 1/17/2018
 I think it is likely that they were consciously avoiding swinging at pitches that woud create a double play risk. 


In his wonderful book The Hot Stove League (1955), Lee Allen pointed out that someone once wrote to the Pittsburgh Pirate, asking for an autographed photograph of Forbes Field. If I wrote to the Red Sox, do you think I could get an autographed photo of Mr. Fenway Park?
Asked by: wdr1946

Answered: 1/17/2018
 His handwriting is so bad you can hardly read the signature. . .


With the passing of Bob Bailey, it remains me of one of his best season in ´73 with Montreal Expos. Do you know who built this team, who were eliminated the last weekend of the season? It looks to me they were 20 years before their time. They led the major with 695 walks, way ahead if everybody (their pitchers did the same thing, that’s another story) with a handfull of noname at the time, regulars Ken Singleton, Ron Fairly, Ron Hunt, Mike Jorgensen, Bailey and a few partimer Hal Breeden, Boots Day, Larry Lintz, Bob Stinson who walked a lot, and with most of them striking out a lot too.  They also had some very good pitchers, Steve Rogers as a rookie, Mike Torrez, Mike Marshall, Steve Renko. I see very few teams built like that in the 70´s.  
A couple years after, only Rogers was left and they drafted of course a bunch of  HOF players, although with very few walks
Asked by: laferrierelouis

Answered: 1/17/2018
 Didn't Jonah Keri write a pretty good history of those years?   Seems like he did. . . 


Just a couple of miles from where I live, there is a former St. Louis Cardinal named Don Padgett buried. In 1939 he hit .399 in 257 plate appearances. I know this isn't a full season of at bats, but isn't this one of the great offensive seasons that never gets talked about?
Asked by: the_curbist

Answered: 1/17/2018
 Maybe.  It's a high average.   It's kind of like Reb Russell's season in 1922, or George Selkirk in 1937 or Ben Paschal in 1925.  Guess we could rate those seasons. . .


The linked Cobb article was written (spoken, more accurately) by Charles Leerhsen, author of "Ty Cobb:  A Terrible Beauty", which has served as the focal point for the rehabilitation of Cobb's image since its publication a couple of years ago.  It's certainly a welcome addition to the collected history of Cobb, much of which has relied on caricaturing him as a virulent racist even in the context of the times.  An idea most deserving of a Jamesian Tracer......BUT, there are a couple of troubling moments of credulity in contemporary accounts of events.  The statement "...and another time (Cobb) turned a tap back to the pitcher into an inside-the-park home run..." is not a great example of rigor.  I haven't read the book, though...
Asked by: sansho1

Answered: 1/17/2018
 I think sportswriters used to refer to events in which a player circled the bases on an error as inside the park home runs--not the term that we now use, of course, but not inherently unreasonable.  One could see. . .Cobb taps back to the mound, throw to first goes wildly up the third base line, Cobb makes second and sails for third, another bad throw and he scores.   I would guess that probably happened, although it might not be a home run in modern terminology.  


I think I can safely speak for all subscribers when I say that (a) we hope you continue the YOPDI series all the way through and that (b) it sure would seem to be a great basis for ranking players in the third Historical Baseball Abstract that we all want you to write. No pressure, of course.
Asked by: rtallia

Answered: 1/17/2018
 I appressurate your support.  


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