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15 Most Recent Questions

I remember in the press that J.D. Drew was seen as a 'minor disappointment' or underachiever while with the Red Sox.  Now,  was that how they saw him there? What did you think?
Asked by: Manushfan

Answered: 8/8/2022
 Yes, that is how he was thought of by the press, but we never thought of him that way in the front office.  He was a very good player, good hitter, good fielder, good baserunner, he just (a) didn't have a great health record, and (b) projected a kind of laconic attitude.  But we knew what he was when we signed him, he helped us win at least one World Series, and we were never unhappy with him.  


Do you have an explanation on why there was so many serial killers back in the 70s and 80s and why there are so few of them nowadays? I haven't heard of many Jeffrey Dahmer type of killers in recent times.
Asked by: Taylor

Answered: 8/8/2022
 There was not an increase then and there is not a decrease now.   It's not a change in the underlying facts; it's a change in perception.  
Prior to the mid-1970s. . . .I have written this 100 times and I know people can't process it, but it's true. .  .prior to the mid-1970s there was no term in common usage, "serial killer", nor was there any other term in use for that kind of a person.   Police generally mocked the idea that there was any such thing as a kind-of-normal-seeming person who went around killing people because he just liked to do it.  They thought that it was a very rare thing that had happened a few times in history, but that it was basically just something that happened in fiction (although it happened fairly often in fiction.)  Not believing that any such creature existed, mocking and dismissing the idea, they did not identify and did not arrest serial murderers.  Probably SOME serial murderers entirely escaped punishment, and probably some were caught and punished for one murder, but were never connected to the other crimes that they had committed.  
When serial murderers became a recognized type of criminal, there was a fascination with them by press and public, and people like Dahmer, Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and David Berkowitz (the Son of Sam) became infamous public figures.  But for that to happen, it isn't enough that ONE journalist or reporter take an interest in the case; it is necessary that hundreds of journalists and reporters take an interest in the case.  That doesn't happen anymore; those stories have been told.   Another serial killer like Bundy is just a repeat of a story that's already been told.   
And also, you have to remember this:  that it takes time for those stories to surface.  Bundy, Gacy and Dahmer were killing people for years before anyone became aware of it, so the serial killers who are operating NOW, mostly you won't hear about until 2024, 2028 or 2040.   Some time in the future. Dennis Rader, who committed almost all of his murders in the 1970s (one in the 1980s and one in the 1990s) wasn't identified until 2005, and Joseph D'Angelo, who committed most of his murders in the 1980s, was not identified until 2017.   The real books about D'Angelo haven't been written yet; I have read three books "about" D'Angelo so far, but Michelle McNamara (I'll Be Gone in the Dark) died before D'Angelo was identified, the second book was by a detective and about his many cases, peripherally about D'Angelo, and the third book is a lightweight thing by an ex-brother-in-law who just gives us some reminicenses about him, no factual research.   The real D'Angelo book(s) is/are still to come.  
But if you do a few google searches, I am confident that you would find that there are at least 10 serial murderers who have been identified and arrested so far this year, more probably 25, and if you walk the stories back, they are every bit as terrifying and horrible as Dahmer, Bundy and Gacy.   They're just not giant public figures.    Samuel Little, who confessed to murdering 93 women and certainly did murder many of them, whether it is 93 or not. . . anyway, he was arrested in 2012, convicted in 2014, died in prison in 2020.  You've probably never heard of him; he's not that famous.  


I thought I would give you some baseball flavor to your political tweets.  Feinstein, Grassley and Shelby were born before the Detroit Tigers won a World Series.   And also they were all born while Babe Ruth was still a Yankee.
Asked by: bhalbleib

Answered: 8/8/2022
 That's great, actually.   I'm done with that, because. . .you know, don't want to beat on people.  But that would have been better than the stuff I used.  


Thanks. I re-read your comment and did a little research of my own on Brady v. Maryland, and I was, in fact, conflating two points.  
This leads me to another question: I understand how the prosecution's requirement to provide exculpatory evidence, and the defense's ability to protest not receiving it, can slow down the process, but is this not something that has to happen for justice? (Not the slowing down, but the provision of exculpatory evidence.) Is there a way to have one but not the other? (I agree, it is not justice for someone to have to wait years for a trial.)  
Interesting you should note the Smith trial. I recently read a book in which that case features prominently. Smith was eventually released, though he had to plead to a lesser charge in order to do so. Makes me wonder if maybe some weren't as sure of his guilt as others were at the time.
Asked by: DanaKing

Answered: 8/7/2022
 Edgar Smith, after being released, attempted to murder another young girl, after which he confessed that he had killed Vicky Zielinski and went back to prison for the rest of his life, so everybody now has pretty much the same position on his guilt vs. innoncence.  
Referring to this part of your query;
I understand how the prosecution's requirement to provide exculpatory evidence, and the defense's ability to protest not receiving it, can slow down the process, but is this not something that has to happen for justice? 
Well functioning people and well functioning insitutions routinely deal with competing goals.  Married people have to spend time with their families; they also have to make a living.  Schools have to educate children; they also have to care for their needs, and they also have to respect the expectations of the children's parents. Politicians have to advocate for what they believe in; they also have to get elected.  Baseball managers have to try to win today's games; they also have to protect the health of their players.  Baseball owners need to make a profit, for the good of the game; they also need to spend enough money to put a competitive team on the field.  This is normal. 
When you start saying "But don't we have to do this FIRST; don't we have focus on this right now". . . .when you start saying those kinds of things, you're not really thinking, and you're losing balance on the competing goals because you're not really thinking.   And our justice system at this time has COMPLETELY lost the sense of balance in regard to the concept of a speedy trial, specifically mandated in the US Constitution.  


Hi Bill, my 2nd question of the day but it’s been awhile. In your opinion, as long as a player can pitch and hit like Ohtani does that make them the de facto MVP every year unless someone else has a historic season? His value perhaps can’t be fully captured by Win Shares or WAR.
Asked by: RichEddy44

Answered: 8/7/2022
 Why in the world would you say that?   What's the logic to that? 


While number of long lasting stars is an indication of a better league, isn't the opposite true of short lasting stars? A league that has a couple of players way way better than the rest - isn't that what high school divisions have? Perhaps, another way to look at this might include are leagues where the best hitter is also the best pitcher or shortstop tend to be weaker leagues, yes? (Sorry three questions, but they are all sort of one question.)
Asked by: hotstatrat / John Carter

Answered: 8/7/2022
"isn't the opposite true" is always an awkward construction, because it is rarely clear what the opposite a thesis would be.   But if what you are saying is that short-term star turns are indicatve of a weak league, yes, that's certainly true.  It's probably MORE true than my original assertion.  Easier to prove, I think.  


Yordan Alvarez comps:  I remember seeing him on TV right after he came up.  AJ  
Pierzynski was doing the game.  I didn't like him as a player, but my estimation of him as an announcer went way up when he said Alvarez reminded him of Carlos Delgado.
Asked by: WarrenJohnson

Answered: 8/7/2022
 Yeah, he's in the group.  Always hard to know where to stop.  Ryan Howard is in the group, but he struck out so much. . .


Bill -- Question someone on my message board passed along from Twitter this morning:  
Which team would win a seven-game series?  
A. 26-man roster of only MLB pitchers  
B. 26-man roster of only MLB position players  
(for these purposes Madison Bumgarner and Shohei Ohtani are ineligible)  
Does the answer seem obvious to you, or do you find it as intriguing as I do? I wonder if defense--the team of pitchers also has to man the other eight positions in the field--would tip the scales towards the position players?
Asked by: Phil Dellio

Answered: 8/7/2022
 That could be a good point.  An infield of four relief pitchers could be ugly. 
Your query excluded Shohei Ohtani and Madison Bumgarner, but there are a lot of good-hitting pithers in every era--Zack Greinke, whose career OPS is 75 points higher than Bumgarner's, Jacob deGrom Grom, Noah Syndergaard, Adam Wainwright.   It might come down to which pitchers you chose.  On the other hand, there are also a lot of position players who were pitchers (and good pitchers) in college--ie Bobby Dalbec, Jon Papelbon, Mark McGwire.  So I don't know.  
In re your argument. . . baseball is not 50% pitching; it is less than that.  It is 50% offense, 50% defense, but defense includies fielding, so the pitching is just 40-42%.   So the batters/fielders might win, 58-42.  


I'm curious about your comment on the Joba Chamberlain question, that being overweight typically limits a pitcher's ability to throw strikes.  Is this something you've studied systematically/seen studied systematically?   My first thought was that David Wells was neck and neck with Maddux as the best control pitcher of his era.   Then I looked at the list of the best seasons in fewest walks per 9 innings in recent years, and there are a lot of heavy guys on the list -- Carlos Silva, David Wells, Bartolo Colon, LaMarr Hoyt.
Asked by: tjmaccarone

Answered: 8/7/2022
 No, I couldn't say that I have studied it systematically.   It's basically impossible to study weight records systematically, because a person's weight changes day to day, changes dramatically year to year.   Baseball Encyclopedias list a player's "weight" as if that was, like height, a permanent thing.   But of course it is WILDLY variable, and also the reports of it are not particularly accurate, so the same player will be listed at 170 in one source and 235 in another.  
David Wells was a freak of nature.   He kind of had what you could call a Babe Ruth/Tony Soprano body, with trim legs but carrying a certain amount of extra weight in his upper body--a certain amount of extra weight, along with a LOT of muscle.  A lot of muscle, starting at his shoulders and running down to about his belly button, and the extra weight was very high, not down around his waist line like most people, and not much on his lower body.  He was a phenomenal athlete, absoultely phenomenal, as well as a unique and sometimes annoying personality, but certainly unique.  When he was with us (the Red Sox) he was about 40 years old, and he threw 80 curve balls a game, and I never saw anything REMOTELY like it; he threw a big 12-to-6 curve ball, and he could drop that thing at the very bottom of the strike zone pitch after pitch after pitch.   Tremendous strength in his shoulders and in his hands, and just phenomenal balance.  
On the general issue. . .I don't know how you could study.   You name a few heavy guys who had good control, but I've seen 100 heavy guys who couldn't find the strike zone with a map, a compass and a geiger counter.  I really wouldn't know how to study it///resolve the issue.  


The representative modern case isn't one where evidence gets excluded because of an authentication issue. 
Asked by: AS-in-VA

Answered: 8/7/2022
 I never suggested that it was. 


Hi Bill,  
I just wanted to pass along to you, that a friend of yours from Ball Park Baseball days in Lawrence, Jack Turcotte passed away this week.  
As you know, he was such a fan of baseball and especially the Red Sox. I am trying to find a copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia that you dedicated to him. What year was that? He gave me a copy as a kid, and I lost it a fire long ago. I also want to find a copy for his daughter.  
The funeral is Sat in Lawrence. Another one of your common ballpark friends came to the visitation tonight.  I believe his name was Bill too, a professor from KU.  
Jack always talked about how much fun he had playing ballpark  with you guys. He was like a Dad to me, and we would often play games together. His wife Trisha, worked at Ballpark. I told I would post a message here.  
Thank you for any response.
Asked by: Kbost33

Answered: 8/7/2022
 Yes, I had heard about Jack's death, and was hoping to attend the funeral, although I didn't make it.  That was probably Phil who attended the funeral; Phil was Jack's roommate when he (Phil) was a freshman at KU.   
Jack when I knew him was.. . well, he is more or less my age, so we were both 25 to 30.  He was a highly competitive Ballpark manager.  Obsessive, and very smart.   We played in a league with a 42-game schedule: i remember he went 36-6 one year, 33-9 the next.  He was a nice-looking young man with a lot of charisma.  He was exuberant, a little loud, very enthusiastic.  He had always researched the league more thoroughly than anyone else, and he would call you with a trade proposal that had six paragraphs.   
That level of obsession isn't entirely healthy.  His Ballpark obsession interferred with his ability to launch his career, identify what he wanted to do, form relationships.   I think he finally realized this and quit Ballpark more or less cold turkey, devoted himself to the church, found a girlfriend who became a wife.   I did not know her, have never met her.   I just heard from Jack once or twice after that.   We were sorry to lose him, but understood that it was necessary for him to move on.   I was shocked to hear about his death.  He was just about my age, and. . .you know, they'll be five obituaries in the paper every day, two guys older than me and three younger.   It wears on you.   


Hey Bill, Juan Soto often draws comparisons to Ted Williams to the point that he is sometimes said to be on a par with the latter as a hitter at age 23 (an article today on si.com does that very thing, although it compares only HRs and walks). Does that seem to be an overreach to you or do you agree? Williams' raw numbers dwarf those of Soto, even at similar ages. I'm well aware of all the sabermetric adjustments that can be made, but after four years, Williams was hitting .356/.481/.642; Soto is currently at .292/.428/.539, and is not even hitting .250 this year at the 2/3 point.  
What do you think? As good as he is, with an uncommonly good eye, plate discipline, and power, is Soto really in Williams' class as a hitter?
Asked by: bobroyster

Answered: 8/7/2022


Fun facts from Reader Posts courtesy of ForeverRoyal and W.T. Mons:  
Most plate appearances with a career OPS of 0.000: 29, Eduardo Rodriguez  
Highest career OPS (no minimum PA): 4.000, Eduardo Rodriguez  
(both are tied with others)
Asked by: jgf704

Answered: 8/7/2022


HeyBill, I wondered what the highest batting average was for somebody with 10 or more career at bats.  
I figured there would be ton of guys at .700 or .800  
Actually there are only two over  500, both from your neck of thecwoods. Joe Taylor batted .600 in 10 at bats in 1937 for the Kansas City Monarchs:  
...and Luis Servino batted .545 in 10 at bats in 1978 for the Kansas City Royals.  
Not sure about Taylor's story, but Severino was with the Royals organization for nearly three decades. Any idea why that tear didn't get him another look?
Asked by: TonyClifton

Answered: 8/7/2022
 He was injured in spring training in 1979. . .or the next year after he hit .545, whatever that was.   As I recall he rounded third base (in a spring training game), tried to stop suddenly, and his legs just exploded, more or less.   He was a real prospect that the team was excited about, probably would have made the team in 1979.  


George Crowe. I remember Crowe from his fine 1959 season with the Cards, and my memory of him as a hitter is just like yours, but I have no memory of him as a pitcher. I checked him out, and could find no reference to him pitching in either the white or other major leagues. Just a check; that's all.
Asked by: Brock Hanke

Answered: 8/6/2022
 He certainly didn't pitch in the white leagues.  I thought he pitched in the Negro Leagues, but if the record says he didn't, OK.  


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