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15 Most Recent Questions

Your Choke Points as a concept is excellent: I don't follow Cricket (at all), but it is obviously a huge sport in parts of the world.  Matches have these absurdly high scores, and they last for DAYS.  They created a shorter version called Twenty20 (introduced, coincidentally, 20 years ago).  The match takes as long as any other North American sport, about 2 1/2 hours.  This new alternative of course upset the traditionalists, but it brought in a whole new generation of folks.    
Golf operates like this as well, with four rounds, with the scores carrying over.  This makes it that Tiger won a third of his tournaments instead of a tenth (or whatever it would be).    
So to ask a question: basketball seems an anomaly here.  On the one hand, the lack of choke points in a game limits the drama.  On the other hand, this allows basketball more than any other sport to have singular stars to carry the league.  So, who in fact does have it better: Basketball and Golf, or the others?
Asked by: tangotiger

Answered: 10/2/2023
 In basketball the shot clock is a choke point, certainly.   The shot clock says "OK, you're time's up, you've got to do this RIGHT NOW."   The quarters are also choke points, but that's a minor thing, just four of them.   
You're probably not old enough to remember college basketball without the shot clock, but the lack of choke points was TERRIBLY damaging to the sport.   Dean Smith (college basketball, UNC) had a couple of games where he just basically played keepaway.  A 1979 Duke/Carolina basketball game had a score of 2-0 with 5:43 left in the first half.   It was called the Four Corners Offense, and Smith just put four guards in four corners of the front court and passed the ball around between them, not attempting to score.  
In that same time period, Kansas Univesity coach Ted Owens would go into a delay game any time they had the lead in the last ten minutes.  It was horrible to watch, and it was also stupid, because if you have a 3-point lead was 8 minutes to play and you don't shoot, by far the most likely thing to happen is that you'll throw the ball away.   One time. . .I was at this game.   One time KU started this delay game early, about 15 minutes in the game, just passing the ball around.   I don't know how they organized this, but finally a group of 200 students shouted, in unison "DO SOMETHING."  About a minute later they took a shot, missed it, got the rebound and started the same stuff.   After another minute the fans shouted, in unison, "VERY IMPRESSIVE."   I always wondered how they organized that.   But my point is, the need for the shot close was obvious.
Before that there was. . .and still is, because officials never get rid of obsolete rules; they just overlay them with new rules.   But when I was in High School they put a new rule on one year, the 5 second rule.  The rule was (and is) that you can only hold the ball or dribble in place for 5 seconds if you are closely guarded.   That was INTENDED to be a choke, intended to keep the action moving.  It mostly failed, which forced the adoption of the shot clock.  


Hey Bill,  
In response to SteveN's post about Parker not making the All-Star team despite winning the MVP and a Gold Glove, there is only one other who had that happen: Jimmy Rollins in 2007.  
Of course there are plenty of MVPs who failed to make the All-Star game (but these guys didn't get a Gold Glove):  
Hank Greenberg (1st MVP), Don Newcombe, Willie Stargell, Robin Yount (2nd MVP), Terry Pendleton, Juan Gonzalez (1st MVP), Chipper Jones, and Justin Morneau.    
The 1945 MVPs (Newhouser and Cavarretta) are given credit for being All-Stars that season but there was no All-Star game due to the war.    
Lastly, Kirk Gibson not only did not make the All-Star team in his MVP season, he is the only MVP to never make an All-Star team.  
Asked by: ForeverRoyal

Answered: 10/2/2023
 Thanks.   Greenberg in 1935 was competing for an All Star berth with a couple of guys named Gehrig and Foxx, not to mention Hal Trosky, who hit .330 with 142 RBI in 1934.   Greenberg did not come into the 1935 season as a huge star, and he was hitting only .264 through May 23.  He heated up and was up to .317 by the All Star break.  He hit .362 in June, .364 in July and .374 in August.  


Re: Parker  
Do you have any insight as a KC guy as to why Bret Saberhagen won 2 Cy Young's and didn't make the all-star game in either season?
Asked by: Taylor

Answered: 10/2/2023
 No memory of it, no.  I think one year were a round of last-minute changes to the All Star pitching staff, but Saberhagen had pitched on Sunday.   But I don't really have any memories relating to that.  


Bill! I strongly recommend that you watch "Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese" on Netflix. It's delightful. I only presume you haven't because you asked if Joni Mitchell wrote her own music (answered "yes" in that film.)  
Also, like all of us, I'm going to miss this. I hope I was able to make your life more interesting in some small way. Cheers.
Asked by: JohnPontoon

Answered: 10/2/2023
 OK.   I'll miss you, too.  


Don't you think it would be better if the regular season ended on a Wednesday? No competition from football, play Game 163 on Thursday night if needed, and then start the postseason on a weekend. Also I hate November baseball, and moving the regular season back 3 days would help take this away--until they expand the playoffs again.
Asked by: jimmybart

Answered: 10/2/2023
 Well, the point about November is TOTALLY bogus, since the first Wednesday in October on average is going to be exactly the same day of the month as the first Sunday in October.   You'd be moving the season back toward November exactly as often as you would be moving it forward away from November.  Any year when the last Sunday in October was September 28-29-30, ending the season on Wedenesday would make it end of October 1-2-3.  It only makes a difference in a year like this one, when the Sunday falls on October 1-2-3.   If what you want is for the regular season to never run into October, then what you need to propose is that the regular season should never run into October.   Having it end on Wednesday doesn't do anything at all to advance that goal.  
If the season ended on Wednesday, when would the playoffs start?   Saturday, right?   Do you REALLY think it is a good idea to have the first playoff games played opposite Saturday and sunday football games?  


I believe that the seedings for the baseball playoffs should be based entirely on records, regardless of who wins the division.  Right now, either Tampa Bay or Baltimore, both of whom might win 100 games, will be seeded below Minnesota, whic won't even win 90 games.  It seems to me that the divisions are basically arbitrary and I don't see why a team should get an additional reward for being in a lousy division.  Do you agree with this and, if not,what are the downsides to this idea?
Asked by: Marc Schneider

Answered: 9/29/2023
 ALL the rules are arbitrary.  Four bases is arbitrary.  Three outs in an inning is arbitrary.   So No, I don't agree, and in fact I think it is crazy.   Why have a post season at all?   It's just arbitrary, having a World series.   Just play until the end of September and then whoever has the most wins is the World Champion.   Why should a team get an additional reward for winning games in October?   
Because THAT'S THE RULE.   If you play in the SEC, you play Alabama.   That's the rule.  
Trying to clarify.   Any sport, but BASEBALL MORE THAN ANY OTHER SPORT, is composed of arbitrary rules and abitrary choke points.  The funciton of those arbitrary choke points is to create form, and to create drama within the form.   The "Game" is an abitrary choke point.  Why count the runs separately by each game?  If team A scores 750 runs and allows 650, why does it matter if they only "won" 88 "games", while some team with fewer runs scored and more runs allowed has "won" 90 "games".   Why should that matter?  
Within the game, the inning is an arbitrary choke point.   Why should a team be able to win a game 5-4 when they are out-hit 11-6 and outhomered 2-1.  Why don't the things you did last inning count for you in this inning?   
Within the inning, the strikes and balls are arbitrary choke points.   Why doesn't it matter that THAT team had 12 balls and 16 strikes in the inning, while the other team had 15 balls and only 11 strikes.  Shouldn't ALL the balls and strikes be counted, rather than counting one batter as "out" because he individually got 3 strikes?
But the choke points matter, because what the choke points say is "Right now, Goddamnit."  It's too late to do this tommorrow; it is too late go get that runner home next inning.  There are two men out; you've got to deliver RIGHT NOW.  
And the same for the pennant race.  It is far better to say to the teams "you have got to do this RIGHT NOW", rather than just pouring all 162 games and all 30 teams into one big, bland stew, as if one game was no different than the others.  


Hey Bill!  
In an effort to get starting pitchers to stay in the game longer, what about making a rule that the designated hitter only hits for the starting pitcher? Once the starter comes out of the game, so does the DH ... the relievers have to bat for themselves, or the team has to use a pinch-hitter. Would that have a significant effect on how long starters stay in the game, or would teams just shrug it off and pinch-hit?
Asked by: mikeclaw

Answered: 9/29/2023
 I would think it would have an effect.   


Hey Bill,  
I read that David Crosby claimed he thought that Joni Mitchell was a better overall musician than Dylan...without getting into the comparison, do you also connect strongly with her music?
Asked by: waisanhart

Answered: 9/29/2023
 No.   Nothing against her, but no particular interest in her.   Did she write her own music?  Does writing your music make you an "overall" musician.  What is an "overall" musician?  Do you have to play multiple instruments?  Do you have to do a little opera on the side?  


Hey Bill, prompted by the true "World" series idea… Do we have a good sense by now of the strength of the Japanese leagues based on the performance of players moving between there and the Majors and vice versa? I recall Ichiro’s numbers barely changed when he transitioned at 27 — surprising, but I’m not sure how big an anomaly.
Asked by: PB

Answered: 9/29/2023
 Somebody has a good idea, I'm sure.   It's not me, but I'm sure somebody has a system.  


Yeah, my "fun with numbers" splatted faster than a 55 foot Sutter splitter :-).  
The numbers part were the years apart of having two OF assists in one inning for the Mets.....the first being tbeir first franchise game in 1962 by Gus Bell, that stud horse for MLB players (son and two grandsons). Then nothing until 34 years later.. then the third instance last week, 27 years after that. Are OF assists sort of a random stat, credit given for things like relays, for instance?  
Do you think that paucity of two in an inning for the franchise is extraordinary?  
Numbers: 2, 1962, 34, 1996, 27, 2023.  
Thanks, and thanks for the 12 years of education,  
OldBackstop (Greg)
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 9/29/2023
 Well, it's not ORDINARY.   "Extraordinary" implies more than ordinary.  How about LESS than ordinary.   Maybe this is a less-than-ordinary occurence.  


Perhaps in the hope of triggering one last point-counterpoint between you and Mr. Tango, I ask your views of NL Cy Young.  Posnanski's blog post/email this morning highlighted last night's Logan Webb vs. Blake Snell battle in San Francisco, where Webb came out on top (in the win column and in IP) by posting a CG 2-1 victory.  Snell was limited to 6 innings that, while flawless, were just 6 innings.  Posnanski has been noting Webb's advantage in IP and musing about what the crossover point is between higher quality innings and more innings.  I looked up their WS and Baseball Reference WAR, and it comes out like this:  
Snell (WAR 6.1, WS 16.3, IP 180)  
Webb (WAR 5.7, WS 16.6, IP 216)  
You've educated us over the years that measures like WS (and presumably WAR) are not so refined such that a couple decimals make a real difference.  Would you consider Webb for Cy Young, if you were a voter?  As a GM, would you rather have a Webb or a Snell (assuming same age).  Thx for all the fun at BJO!
Asked by: tkoegel

Answered: 9/29/2023
 There are no decimal points in Win Shares.  Win Shares are decimals.  .1 of a Win Share would be one-thirtieth of a win, or about 1/3 of a run.    Less than the value of a walk, probably.  
I'd go with Snell.  


Hey Bill,  
I just noticed that in 1978 Dave Parker won the MVP award and got a Gold Glove.  Pretty good, but, he didn't make the all star team.  This seems odd.  Is it?  
Thanks for the years of good reading.  
Asked by: SteveN

Answered: 9/29/2023
I think there have been some others, but I don't actually know.   Anybody?   Post it as a response to my Big Jawn comment if you know. 


You often embrace different ideas so here's one. I think it would improve many sports, particularly kids and recreational. At lower levels, there is often a big disparity in skill levels.  It isn't unusual to hear of a 92-28 basketball game or 17-1 baseball game.  To make it more 'even' most sports segregate by gender.  Kids sports segregate by age.  High School and college segregate by school size.  And different sports have weird unwritten rules that say you aren't supposed to play as hard when you have a certain size lead.  But I'm a believer that everyone in every sport should play their hardest for every minute of every game.  I'd like to see rules that disadvantage a team that has a lead.  When a basketball team is leading by 20, all subsequent baskets are only worth 1 pt, until the lead drops to a certain point. Baseball has intentional walks - how about each team gets 3 intentional strikeouts, but they can only use them when behind. Or behind by 5 runs or whatever.  
Asked by: MattGoodrich

Answered: 9/29/2023
 I'm afraid I am not seeing the advantage of the intentional strikeout.  


Did you ever get the opportunity to meet Brooks Robinson?  He was always extremely nice and generous with his time.  In his prime, could he have played shortstop at a Hall of Fame level?  
God Bless Brooks.  
Asked by: ForeverRoyal

Answered: 9/29/2023
 I don't think I ever met him, no.   But as to the other. . . the Orioles signed Brooks and Wayne Causey at almost the same time, I think within a week or so of one another, and there was clearly a point very early in their careers in which the O's thought that Causey was ahead of Brooks.   Brooks pulled ahead and Causey went to KC, where he became their third baseman.   Then Dick Howser got hurt, and the A's moved Causey to shortstop, where Causey played for 2 or 3 years.   So I don't know about the term "Hall of Fame level", but certainly he could have covered the position.   


Hey, Bill,  
One of the delights of BJOL Reader Posts are the golden nuggets of baseball history one can find when doing research on or for a post.  
While researching the beginnings of the amateur draft, I discovered contemporary news reports that in Nov. 1964, with the blessings of owners Judge Roy Hofheinz and Bob Smith, Houston Colt .45s GM Paul Richards was willing to trade his entire 40-man roster and $5 million for the 40-man roster of the Milwaukee Braves. The Braves leadership, new chairman William Bartholomay and club president John McHale, turned the offer down. (Only two years earlier, Bartholomay's group bought the Braves for $6.2 million)  
The butterflies on baseball history would have been profound. Hank Aaron playing in the Astrodome for a decade? No way does he get to 714. Joe Morgan may never end up in Cincy. Jimmy Wynn and Rusty Staub may be in the HOF, etc.  
Are you aware of any other similar attempts in MLB history?  
As always, many thanks for all that you do for us.
Asked by: DefenseHawk

Answered: 9/29/2023
 Hell, let's put Larry Dierker in the Hall, too.   Some support for Sonny Jackson. . . .
Thanks.  It's a cool note.  


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