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15 Most Recent Questions

A Marvin Miller question:  
 
To me, Miller stands as the entry point fpr one of baseball's three great epochs: The Live Ball Era (Chapman and Ruth), the Post-Integration Era (Jackie Robinson), and the Free Agent Era (Miller), so he strikes me as an obvious choice for the Hall. That said, if he didn't want the honor, it does honor to no one to force it on him, and I respect your position not to have anything to do with it.  
 
Never having met the man and knowing about him only what can be read in the media, I have a question you may be able to answer: Why was he so adamantly opposed to being included?  
 
Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving.
Asked by: DanaKing

Answered: 12/5/2019
 He personalized the battle.   Marvin did battle for many years with Bowie Kuhn, and Miller won EVERY skirmish, without exception, and won the war.  It was really remarkable how LITTLE Kuhn understood about labor relations or labor law, and this lack of understanding made it inevitable that (a) that there would be serious conflicts between players and owners, and (b) that the establishment would lose the battles.  I'm understating it a little, not quite getting there.   Marvin got blamed by the public for "causing" strikes, but in Marvin's mind it was Kuhn who had caused the labor strife by trying to do things that were not in good faith and not consistent with labor law.  
 
There was a point when Marvin Miller would have been honored to be selected for the Hall of Fame, and there was a point when he felt that the moment had passed, but he could have been persuaded to accept the honor.   But when Kuhn was named to the Hall of Fame in 2008, Marvin was like "You have GOT to be #@&*CSBS(*&F KIDDING me."   It was pretty much the way that Bob Gibson would have reacted if the Hall of Fame had selected Ray Sadecki and not selected him.  Ray Sadecki is maybe too good there; maybe more like Al Jackson, or Barney Schultz.  Jay Hook.   He was personally offended.  It was not difficult to understand why.   

 

Hi Bill,  
Reading your article about the perfect mvp voting system, I was struck by the similarity to the work of the Marquis de Condorcet, esp. his Jury Theorem. Are you aware of his work?
Asked by: djmedinah

Answered: 12/5/2019
 
Never heard of him, but I did see the movie, Three Days of the Condorcet.   Sorry.  

 

Bill, are you going to have a chance to finish up greatest right fielders, greatest starting pitchers and greatest relievers?  I have immensely enjoyed your series on the ranking of the greatest players of all time. Thanks Mark
Asked by: markdiane34

Answered: 12/5/2019
 Yeah. . .well, every time somebody bugs me about it, I put it off for another week or so.  If people will stop asking me about it I'll eventually get it done.  

 

So I bought a 1941 Sporting News Record Book with complete Playing Rules at an Estate Sale a couple weeks and it is a gold mine of treasures.  Lots of cool, interesting stuff in there about the game as it was played in 1940.  But there was a rule listed in it (for the AL only, apparently such a rule did not exist in the NL) that stated "players cannot be transferred from one AL club to another club within the league after June 15, unless waivers are obtained (so far, so good, not unusual at all) CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM CANNOT MAKE TRADES WITHIN LEAGUE WHILE HOLDING TITLE (emphasis added)"  What?  How long was this rule in place?  Did the Yankees literally not make a trade within the AL from 1936 to 1964? (a little exaggerated, they didn't win every year)
Asked by: bhalbleib

Answered: 12/5/2019
 Yeah, I remember the rule; I'm not completely informed about it, but I have brushed across it before.   I think the rule just lasted a few years.  I didn't accomplish what it was intended to accomplish, and it created more problems than it solved.  

 

Marvin Miller is on the current "Modern Era" Hall of Fame ballot (the 9 others on the ballot are Dwight Evans, Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Thurman Munson, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons and Lou Whitaker).    
 
Before his death, Miller asked that he no longer be included on any ballot, and since his death, his children have expressed the same wish.  Nevertheless, Miller *is* on the ballot.  
 
The 16 members of the Modern Era Committee cast votes for up to 4 of the 10 people on the ballot.  If you were on the Modern Era Committee, would you vote for Miller with one your four "up" votes?  And would his desire not to be on a ballot -- and his family's statement that they would not attend an induction ceremony should he be nominated and elected -- factor into your decision?
Asked by: jgf704

Answered: 11/26/2019
 Marvin asked me personally, when he was within a month of two of his death, not to support his candidacy for the Hall of Fame, and not to accept the award on his behalf if I were asked to do so.  I obviously have to honor his request.  

 

In re the "twitter study" a couple of thoughts/questions:  
 
1. It strikes me that there is a bias maybe more significant in it than "recency"-- it looks to a glance as though winning an MVP elevates a candidates' numbers a chunk beyond maybe where his overall career would suggest. In particular Jeff Kent seems to have done quite a bit better than I would have expected, but there are many MVP winners who seem to have had slightly stronger support than I would have expected. (A very mushy standard, I admit.)  
 
 
Asked by: taosjohn

Answered: 11/25/2019
 I thought about this, but decided that it was not true.  If you look at the players who were included in the study but just drew NO support, they are almost all guys who won MVP Awards--Jackie Jensen, Bob Elliott, Dick Groat, Dolph Camilli, Hank Sauer.   I think that, in choosing who should be included in the study, I placed too much reliance on having won an MVP Award, and wound up including players like this who probably should not have been included in the study at all.  
 
Please don't post multiple questions in a post.  When people entangle issues like that, there is usually nothing I can do with the question except delete it without answering.  

 

Re: change to the way we say and spell Kyev or Kyiv (seen it both ways recently):  
Do you ever wish you could call Rome "Roma" or Paris "Par-ree" without some people sniffing that you are putting on airs?  
 
What about "Fee-REN-Say" for Florence (Firenze), "Vuh-NEET-SEE-ya" for Venice (Venezia), and "MEH-hee-coh" for Mexico? I think those places sound better in their native languages and are not difficult say.  
 
"Moh-ree-AL" is more difficult to get right (Montreal) and that's a bilingual city, anyway. Then when you get into Germany and further east, it gets increasingly obscure to American listeners. Moon-chin? (Munich), Prah-hah? (Prague), Muss-kwah? (Moscow).  
 
Will we North Americans ever start pronouncing these places closer to the way their natives do?  
 
Am I asking too many questions in one post?
Asked by: hotstatrat / John

Answered: 11/25/2019
 Well, yes, of course we move closer to the native pronunciation over time; it just takes time.  The pronunciation of Kiev as we have pronounced is rooted in the way the English have pronounced it for hundreds of years; it's not necessary to beat up Americans about it.  
 
The ones that always puzzle me are the "correct American mispronunciations", like Jean-Paul Sartre and Antonin Dvorak.   If you pronounce Satre as "Sarter" or "Sart-ree" people look at you as if you were stupid, but if you say "Sart" you are OK.  But "Sart" is not actually how the French pronounce it, either; it's just the propoer American mispronunciation.   The same with Dvorak, which we pronounced Duh-VOR-zhock; if you say D-vor-ack people look at you like you stupido, but Duh-VOR-zhock isn't actually the Czeck pronunciation, either.  

 

Mr. James,  
 
I am a new subscriber to your page.  Where can I go to learn more on how to compute the new metrics that are being used?  I hear the terms WAR, DRS, and the other new statistical metrics.  I want to learn how these are figured.  Is there an online class or spreadsheets I can download?    
 
I am a visual learner, so I want to breakout my spreadsheets and learn how these are compiled.    
 
Thank you!  
Gerard
Asked by: Gerard Kwilecki

Answered: 11/25/2019
 I'll throw the question to the audience; I'm not a good source on those things.   In my way of thinking about WAR, the question you pose is the third major question we get to, the first being "What does it mean?", and the second being "Can I believe that this might be true?"   The issue of how it is figured only really occurs to me in cases where it seems to fail.   WAR might give credible representations of value 90 or 95% of the time, but then there are the cases when it just looks screwy.   When that happens, then I get interested in how it is calculated and in what might have gone wrong, what options were passed by in the process.   Until then I don't really worry about how it is figured.    Anyway. . .if anyone can answer your question, I'll try to publish their answer.  

 

HeyBill! Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Something happened the other day that rang a strong bell in my head re the Jon-Benet case. I think I have read everything out there and I haven't seen this.  
 
While caught out of the office, a client reached me and started dictating a press release off the top of his head while I scrawled his thoughts. It occurred to me that this is what seems a good possibility for the note -- that things went south on the kidnapping, and the intruder called an accomplice, who dictated the rambling note. When you can't see what you are writing, it tends to be rambling, inconsistent, overly long, repetitious, etc  The intruder taking the dictation probably wasn't in a position to debate and argue.  
 
Just a thought.
Asked by: OldBackstop

Answered: 11/25/2019
 I appreciate your thought. 

 

Thanks, Bill. I didn't know that about Mahomes .... or Elway, come to think of it. I'll keep an eye out.
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 11/24/2019
 Elway is retired.   Well, he's not on the field anymore.  

 

Hey Bill - looking at the definition of WinShares you state "The quality of a team does not affect an individual player's Win Shares", which is difficult for me. E.g., the '62 Mets with only 40 wins (120 win shares) would provide so little opportunity for win shares vs, say a 110 win team (330 win shares).  I could imagine that often it is the case that team quality doesn't matter, but not always. What am I missing? thx
Asked by: snerze

Answered: 11/24/2019
 It may be difficult for you to believe, but it is nonetheless true.   It's an 11 to 4 ratio.   It's difficult for me to understand why that would be difficult for you to believe.   What is hard to believe about there being a 3-to-1 ratio of individual accomplishments between teams, in the most extreme case?  

 

In going through my journalism files, I found a laudatory review I wrote of your Historical Abstract back in 1986 for the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va.  It’s not a very good review: "For several years, James has been turning out an annual Baseball Abstract, taking as many statistics as he could find and creating computerized rankings." I’d like to think my prose has improved.  
 
Asked by: DaveNJnews

Answered: 11/24/2019
 I blame your youthful material on too much time reading Baseball Abstracts.  

 

Hey, Bill,  
Congratulations. THE MAN FROM THE TRAIN received honorab;e mention on the Crime Reads web site for best true crime book of the decade. Here's the link.  https://crimereads.com/the-10-best-true-crime-books-of-the-last-decade/
Asked by: DanaKing

Answered: 11/23/2019
 Thanks.  I didn't know that.  

 

Hey Bill, you say "Joe Biden has no chance whatsoever to win the Democratic nomination." Do you mind spelling out your reasoning here? My guess is that it's something like, "once people start paying closer attention, they'll notice his brain is faltering," but his numbers are holding up fine among people WATCHING these debates. I'm not saying he WILL win, but it's an extraordinary claim to say he has no chance.
Asked by: PB

Answered: 11/23/2019
 I have spelled out my reasoning at substantial length on many occasions.  

 

A modest proposal . . . in the "I'm Moving On" article on the front page, could you add "(from the Red Sox)" to the title?  I have a little involuntary heart murmur when I read "I'm Moving On" . . . worried you are going to study the sabermetrics of soccer or some godawful thing.  
 
Tom
Asked by: tkoegel

Answered: 11/23/2019
 Starting with 6-year-olds playing soccer.  

 

 
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