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Ok what was the best college basketball game you ever saw and why.
Asked by: mauimike

Answered: 4/10/2021
 Four or five years ago Kansas University played Oklahoma.  At the time, KU was ranked #1 in the country and Oklahoma was #2, or the other way around; I honestly don't remember which.  It was a fantastic game; my memory is that Oklahoma had a chance to win it in regulation but missed a free throw in the closing seconds.  It went to a second overtime and then a third, with each deadline being a story; you could have written several paragraphs about why KU didn't win it in the first overtime, why Oklahoma didn't win it in the second overtime, etc.   They didn't.  KU finally won it in three overtimes.  
 
The whole crowd after the game was just dizzy, just disoriented by the madness of it all.  It was an unbelievable experience, the sustained tension of that game.  I wasn't sitting with my wife; I was watching the game from the scout's seats with a friend who works in the NBA.  In the second overtime he caught the eye of another NBA guy sitting just down from us and pointed his finger at the top of the seats, circling the Field House.  I knew what he meant by it:  Look at that; we're in the 3rd overtime and there isn't an empty seat in the house.  You'd never see that at an NBA game.  At an NBA game there would be empty seats at the start of the game; by the third overtime the place would be half empty.  
 
On the way out (re-uniting with my wife) we talked to an OU fan.  "I've never seen us a win a game up here," he said.  "I came up this year because I figured this was our best change.  Came pretty close."  
 
And then. . I hate to tell this part of the story, but it's true so I guess I'll throw it in."  On the way out I ran into a guy that I play poker with; my wife had never met him, so I introduced her.  His name was Shane. He was walking with his 5-year-old son, and he pointed at the boy and said "50 years from now, he'll be able to tell his son that he was at this game."   Just a few weeks later Shane committed suicide.  Came out of nowhere; we had no idea there was anything going on with him.  
 
 
Well, since we're here, I'll go on a minute longer.  KU and Missouri were bitter rivals in basketball--and in many other ways, not just sports--dating back to the cross-border raids of the 19th century, which killed hundreds of people.  It wasn't just sports; people really hated each other, not as much now as they did ten years ago, and for the 160 years before that.  
 
Anyway, it was always described as "the oldest college rivalry west of the Mississippli"' KU and Missouri had played one another annually for 100 years or something.  Of course KU was ahead in the win count, but Missouri had had a lot of great teams, and they beat us many times.  
 
In this year.. .don't remember the exact year. . .Missouri had announced that they were withdrawing from the Big 12 and intended to enter the SEC in the following year, so this game was, in a sense, permanent.  Missouri was 19 points ahead with 9:30 to play. KU often goes into a full-on blitz press with about 4 minutes to go when we're in danger of losing.  You usually pick up two or three possessions before the other team adjusts to it, gets another ball handler on the floor and re-sets their mind to realize that every pass and every dribble is going to be under pressure.   But this time Self went to the bull-on blitz press with about 9 minutes to go, which was risky, because the "shock factor" isn't going to last for 9 minutes, but you know. . .exigent circumstances require unusual responses.   KU came all the way back, and won the game in the last seconds; I think Missouri missed a wild shot at the gun.
 
The emotional reaction in the field house for that one was even crazier than the OU game, perhaps because in the OU game we were all half-exhausted.  But the mass exhiliaration in the field house was like nothing I haver seen.  It was hot as hell, for one thing; it was a cold night, but the heat in the field house had built up over the game so that people were sweating.  Self vaulted off the bench and threw his arm in the air so hard he almost threw it out of joint.  People were screaming and jumping, and everybody started hugging their neighbors.  Hugging strangers.  It was quite an experience.  

 

Not a question but a quick correction to the premise of a recent question you answered about the new extra innings rule carried over from 2020.  The writer claimed there were 4 extra innings games on opening day, all won by the home team in the bottom of the tenth.  In fact, the visiting Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Yankees in 10 innings.  I haven't yet decided whether I like the rule change or not.
Asked by: benhurwitz

Answered: 4/10/2021
 OK. 

 

Speaking Harmon Killebrew, Don Mincher and the Twins, I notice that in 1962 the Twins' eight regulars all played at least 144 games, and the only one who missed 600 plate appearances was Earl Battey, with 591. No one else on the team had more than 157 plate appearances (that was Mincher, by the way). I'd be willing to bet that no other team has ever used such a consistent lineup as that. Do you know of any others that might qualify?  
 
Asked by: BobGill

Answered: 4/10/2021
 I would be surprised if that would rank high on the list of lineup consistency teams.  My guess would be that that looks phemonenal compared to teams AFTER 1962, but not particularly notable compared to teams BEFORE 1962.  One that has always fascinated me is that the 1934 Tigers, who won the American League pennant, were only one game away from using the same four infielders all 154 games.  Second baseman Charlie Gehringer, third baseman Marv Owen and shortstop Billy Rogell all played 154 games, while first baseman Hank Greenberg played 153.   
 
Would be an interesting quick study. . .teams which used the most consistent starting lineups.  

 

What was your opinion of Marge Schott as an Owner?  
Asked by: Manushfan

Answered: 4/10/2021
 Oh, she had terrible faults as an owner, but she was a sweet lady and people didn't need to villify her the way that they did.  Some of the attacks on her were sexist, and there have been owners who had much worse faults and went scott free.  To me, she was one of the first victims of Cancel Culture.  

 

I was always a Chamberlain man.  After he won the World Championship with the 76er's,  I swear I saw him pick up Luke Jackson 240, and Chet Walker 220 and put them on his shoulders.  I still don't believe it and I can't find any video of it.  I was at LAX late one Sunday night and I saw Wilt standing, leaning on a wall, dressed in red.  He looked open and approachable and I was too intimidated to go and talk to him.  My of my great regrets.  Especially since he died so young.  
 
 
Asked by: mauimike

Answered: 4/10/2021
 I'd believe it.  I know that I remember reading that his Dead Lift was not far off from the standards of Olympic weight lifters.  

 

Hey Bill!  
The Ewell Blackwell question, about  him appearing in All-Star Games during mundane seasons, got me to thinking. At that time, there seemed to be much more of a competitive element to the All-Star Game. These players wanted to win, and wanted to win badly. At that time, was there less emphasis on rewarding a good first half and more emphasis on "what kind of roster will help us win this one game?" If so, I can see an NL manager thinking that Blackwell could be a really good weapon to bring in for an inning or two against AL hitters who had never batted against him - more so than a traditional overhand thrower who was 8-2 at the all-star break. (I had a friend who once batted against Blackwell in a minor league game or an Army game or something like that. Said it was the most terrifying thing he ever saw. The ball looked like it was coming from third base. He got hit by the pitch, in his lower back, and said it felt like the ball was "screwing its way into my spine.")
Asked by: mikeclaw

Answered: 4/10/2021
 I appreciate the detail; the story from the friend; it helps the reader understand Blackwell's uniqueness.   
 
It's certainly true that the game was more competitive at that time than it is now, and it could be that this made roster selections different.  

 

HeyBill re: movies. I agree with you about The Searchers being overrated. In your movie reviews do you compare/contrast you rankings with some of many Top 100 lists ranking movies, like you did in the first BJHBA?  If so, what are the largest discrepancies between your list and others: that is, what movies to you rank way low or high compared to the 'consensus'?
Asked by: FrankD

Answered: 4/10/2021
 I haven't used any other list, no.   I don't know of a directly comparable list, although I am sure there are some.  I pay attention to whether a movie wins Oscars, whether it is cited by reviewers or others as the best movie in a genre, etc.  But I don't reference a specific list.  

 

Sorry if this is a common topic, but Re: Starting pitchers & Hall of Fame. Some players just fall short, but in my opinion, the massive changes in pitching throws the entire evaluation process upside down. Example: Innings pitched per start today v. 20 years ago, or 50 years ago. More jobs for pitchers is a good thing,..I guess. For me, they changes force me to shine a renewed appreciation for pitchers like Louis Tiant.  
 
Question: How do you adjust your sliding scale to compare pitchers from the 60's/70's v. 90's/00's v. 2020's?  C. Schilling's era pulled pitchers and used bullpens when compared to Tiant's era.  Tiant rarely got pulled when compared to Schilling. But compared to today, both were allowed to at least record & collect the wins. As time goes on, will Tiant's 229 wins look more and more attractive?  For me, that 3.30 ERA and .119 WHIP jumps off the page.
Asked by: CoachWe

Answered: 4/10/2021
 That's what sabermetrics does; it adjusts estimates of player values for changes in circumstances.  But your questions seems to suggest that this is a unique problem, when in reality that's the GENERAL problem that we deal with all the time.  The fielding stats of third basemen are totally different from the fielding stats of second basemen; how do we find the comparable values?  Batting in Colorado is completely different from batting in San Diego; how do we find the comparable values?   One pitcher is 14-16 with a 3.60 ERA but a great strikeout/walk ratio; the other pitcher is 17-11 with a 2.80 ERA but a poor strikeout/walk ratio.  How do balance the accomplishments?   This isn't a new and different problem; it's a new and similar problem. 

 

On valuing catchers:  We all know that no catcher is going to be behind the plate for 162 games.  That gives a shrewd manager chances to optimize their use.  Two ways to optimize would be to start your main guy in games vs your key division rival, and to start them in games that are more likely to be close.  You can rest your guy when you have your Ace going against the 5th place team in the other division(s), or when you have your 5th starter going vs their Ace.  
 
Is there any evidence that Managers do this sort of thing?
Asked by: 3for3

Answered: 4/10/2021
 I would certainly be surprised if they did not.  I would also be surprised if you could demonstrate a measurable increase in the probabiity of winning the pennant resulting from that strategy, but maybe you could.  

 

Hey Bill, a quick follow up on the ump’s blown call when Conforto leaned in to get hit by the pitch... Is there anything that constrains an ump from reversing a call that, a few seconds later, they understand that they must have blown? In this case, the ump conferenced with his fellow umps, and one would assume it dawned on him then, if not before, that he got his wires crossed since he was initially ringing Conforto up. Is there something specific that would have had to happen in the course of the conference to get him to reverse himself, like another ump saying "I saw it; he leaned in"?
Asked by: PB

Answered: 4/10/2021
 No; within the rules, the umpire could simply realize in time that he had blown the call, and reverse himself.  

 

HeyBill ... recent ending of Mets game on HBP on strike three. If the Mets end in a tie for the playoffs will this incident be called: "Conforto's Elbow" or "Kulpa's mea culpa" .... ala Merkle's Boner or Snodgrasses' Muff ??????
Asked by: FrankD

Answered: 4/10/2021
MLB will auction off the naming rights to the highest bidder.  It will wind up as "The 2021 Flub of the year. . .Brought to you by LensCraft!!". 

 

If you had only two data points, 1) a player's exact age, and 2) his OBP on the day he played his 400th MLB game, how accurately do you think you could predict his career OBP? Crapshoot?  As well as you can predict the weather six weeks from today? Within .010-020 OBP points?
Asked by: Steven Goldleaf

Answered: 4/10/2021
 I would guess I could get within 10-20 points 80% of the time or more.  

 

Speaking of movies shot in terribly inappropriate locations and starring John Wayne, the 1969 version of TRUE GRIT was shot in Colorado and California, though the book (and both movies) is set in Arkansas and (eastern) Oklahoma. The movie locations look nothing like Arkansas and Oklahoma. (The later movie gets that part right. I think it's a very good movie, in very different ways, in both iterations.)  
 
The movies are very good, as I said, but the novel, by Charles Portis, is even better. And all of Portis' novels were very good. And funny. (I would call Portis "underrated" but he's been called "underrated" so much that by now I think he's pretty well "rated"!)
Asked by: hortonwho

Answered: 4/10/2021
 Both versions of the movie are on my 500 list.  Probably the only time a movie and its re-make both make the list.  

 

My special extra inning memory is also in St. Louis, in 1988. The Cards played the Mets on May 14. The game went into extra innings and in the 16th the Cards ran out of pitchers so Jose Oquendo (the "Secret Weapon" because he could play all nine positions) had to go in. He pitched 3 scoreless innings, and the Cards loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the 18th and couldn't score. Oquendo gave up 2 in the 19th and the Cards lost 7-5.  
 
My wife and I and our friends stuck out the whole game, which lasted (according to the box score) 5 hours and 40 minutes. It was fun and gripping while we were there, and it remains a special memory of 30 years later.
Asked by: hortonwho

Answered: 4/10/2021
 Thanks. 
 
Image result for Photo Jose Oquendo Pitching. Size: 151 x 204. Source: stlsportscollectors.com

 

I got to see Wilt Chamberlain in action, just once. My high school's basketball coach managed to get some tickets for his team to see a game at Chicago Stadium, sometime during the 1967-68 NBA season. I was the team's scorekeeper and publicist, and was invited to go along. The Chicago Bulls were in the second year of their existence, and weren't given much chance against the Philadelphia 76ers. We had really nice seats, just a few rows back just behind one of the baskets.  
 
Chamberlain was in the playmaker phase of his career – he averaged just 24.3 points per game that season. However, Wilt was called for a couple of fouls that he strenuously disputed, and we could see that he was getting angry. Indeed he was, and he took it out on the Bulls.  
 
He cut loose and scored 68 points that night. Many of these were on impressive dunks, and when it was the basket at our end of the court, we noted how the iron supports would go on vibrating for a time after the score. (The Bulls lost 143-123.)
Asked by: DJ_Man

Answered: 4/9/2021
 That's wilt.  He could score 50 points a game, but having proven he could do that, he went on to the next challenge.  

 

 
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