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phorton01 wrote that:  
 
"Usually a country has to qualify for certain events, and is limited in the number of competitors.   When you host, you end up participating in many more events than you normally would.    More opportunities, more medals."  
 
I don't see it. You may be on a good team because your Dad is the coach, but it ain't gonna make you the MVP.
Asked by: Gfletch

Answered: 8/4/2021
 I think you are falling for a peculiar type of magical thinking there.  Wins are not a magical event which only happens to the right people.  Wins are an outcome of opportunities to win.  If you increae opportunities, you will increase the wins.
 
 

 

I was recently sent on an errand to buy cotton candy. That reminded me of Mike Kopf's essay about taking his four year old niece to a baseball game and getting cotton candy in his beard, and of his valiant and futile efforts to keep score. He had an immensely enjoyable afternoon at the ballgame, and worte an enjoyble article.
Asked by: tickeno

Answered: 8/4/2021
 I'll tell him you remember.  

 

I'm glad you mentioned J.D. Drew's 2007 playoff grand slam for the Red Sox (game 6, you meant to say).  After the Sox had loaded the bases with no outs, Manny Ramirez struck out and Mike Lowell popped out, bringing up Drew, who had not lived up to expectations in the first year of his contract.  It really seemed like the Indians would wriggle out of it.  With one swing, J.D. won over all the Sox fans and became a local hero.
Asked by: benhurwitz

Answered: 8/4/2021
 OK if you say so.  I don't know that JD ever replaced Trot Nixon in the hearts of a lot of Red Sox fans, but. . .no point in arguing it.  

 

Hi Bill,  
Not going to weigh in on Apocalypse Now except that you (and others) may enjoy Hearts of Darkness, the 1991 documentary about the making of the movie.  It's full-on bonkers and very fun, although less fun if you're a bull.
Asked by: Michael P

Answered: 8/4/2021
 OK.  

 

Hey Bill,  
Your tweet mentioning Warren Spahn sent me down a rathole (this happens often!) and led me to a curiosity.  
 
Spahn retired after the '65 season, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in (supposedly) his first year of eligibility in 1973.  
 
Yet Koufax retired a year later (after the '66 season), and was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1972.  
 
Do you (or any readers) know why Spahn wasn't on the ballot until 2 years after he would have been expected to be eligible?  
Asked by: phorton01

Answered: 8/4/2021
 No, I don't know anything about it.  I was in the Army at the time, so I wouldn't have been seeing a lot of newspapers.  

 

Hey Bill, I was reading about the ancient Olympics. Apparently, the Greeks conceived of all athletic competition in terms of local head to head match ups and never went the extra step of, say, measuring the winning discus toss and declaring it "the longest of all time" or "shorter than last year’s" etc.  This was a level of abstraction that either wasn’t interesting to them or never occurred to them, as they had the means to measure. This got me wondering if this conceptual leap is a fairly modern one, lifting performance (or elements of performance) out of its immediate context and into a more global context. Even in just baseball, I would guess that the farther back you go, the less intuitive of a process it was.
Asked by: PB

Answered: 8/2/2021
 Tnat is certainly correct.   The idea of two guys having a race is instinctive, intuitive; I think I can run faster than you can.  I think I can pin you to the ground.  I think I can throw this rock further than you can.   The other stuff requires a frame of reference that is not intuitive, thus requires a history, requires record-keeping.  It takes time. 

 

Watching the White Sox today, they were wearing the throwback softball uniforms from the early 1980s. What do you think was going on with the 1983 White Sox, who won 99 games under LaRussa (with a 20-game lead on the 2nd place Royals) but then slipped back to 5th place, 74 wins the next year? A lot of people having career years? Just one of those things? According to baseball-reference WAR, 3 of the team's top 5 performers were starting pitchers; the top everyday players were Carlton Fisk and Scott Fletcher. The team's Pythagorean win total was 96.
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 8/2/2021
 Yeah, the starting pitchers are the first thing I would have focused on.  Larmarr Hoyt and Richard Dotson went 46-17 between them; otherwise it was kind of a .500 team.  Neither of them was really that good, you know.  Hoyt was a big fat guy and a criminal, sorry to say it, but he never walked anybody.  They had four guys who had 20 to 35 home runs and 85 to 100 RBI, which was more of a standout thing then than it is now.  Pitching fell about the next year and Harold Baines was the only hitter who continued to put up numbers.  

 

Hey Bill.....the Mets did not sign their first round draft pick (number 10 overall) due to emergency health concerns. The deal on the table was said to be $6 million, and they get the number 11 pick next year, in addition to number 30 as Champs.  
 
Apparently everyone else slotted, meaning the Mets have a significant unspent amount. Do the millions not spent carry over to next year?
Asked by: OBS2.0

Answered: 8/2/2021
 I do not know.  

 

I saw your recent answer that you haven't studied the Negro League stats closely, but I have a general question about Negro League baseball.  Did only black media (newspapers and radio) cover them, or could you read about the Negro Leagues or hear broadcasts of their games in mainstream, i.e., white, media?  I realize that must have varied, at least to some degree, from city to city, but in general did a city's major newspaper cover the games or new of the leagues?  Thanks.
Asked by: marbus1

Answered: 8/2/2021
 I would doubt that they had any broadcast outlets at all.  On the other issue, I don't really know, but I'll give you a guess.  I would guess that the Chicago papers at least covered the All Star game, which I think was in Chicago every year or most years, and I would guess that probably there was some secondary or limited coverage in the places that had good teams.  
 
I think. . . this is from memory.. . .I think that Satchel Paige had exploded as a media star in the late 1930s, perhaps due to an article in LIFE or the Saturday Evening Post, perhaps an article by Hal Lebovitz; this is all hazy memories.   Satchel being a crossover figure probably attracted some attention to their games.  I don't think any white newspaper regularly carried their box scores.  

 

Hey Bill,  
I see what you mean about Apocalypse Now. There were some good scenes and good dialogue but overall it's way overrated. In addition to the "bandwagon effect" that's been talked about on here, critics tend to overrate movies that have an epic scale. I've also read that there are different versions of the movie or at least different endings. The one I saw was 3+ hours. That might've been part of it too.
Asked by: manhattanhi

Answered: 8/2/2021
 The 3+ hours was related to the message of the movie.  The message of the movie was "We are making a great movie."  it felt preachy.  To me.  

 

I was looking at the 2007 ALCS, Red Sox vs. Indians. You probably remember this one pretty well. Indians took a 3-1 lead, Red Sox won the last 3 games by the scores of 7-1, 12-2, 11-2. Those numbers are a little astounding to me, and I think the impressiveness of that comeback has been lost a little bit to the sands of time. After 2004 nothing looks impressive! Anyway, can you tell us some stuff about that series from your insider perspective?
Asked by: wovenstrap

Answered: 8/2/2021
 I don't know about insider stuff.  As you mention we were down 3 games to 1.  In 2007 the top two contenders for the Cy Young Award were Josh Beckett and CC Sabathia.  Beckett was 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA, Sabathia 19-7 with a 3.21, identical WHIP (1.141), Beckett's ERA was 145, Sabathia 141.   At the time I remember that I had some reason that I felt Beckett should win, although I don't remember now what it was.   
 
Anyway, the Cy Young Award (won handily by Sabathia, not sure why) . . . that Award had not been annouonced.  Beckett and Sabathia squared off in Game 5, which the Red Sox won 7-1, Beckett pitching great, but that seemed more like a personal dual than it did like a game that was going to change the outcome of the series.  Beckett had also beaten Sabathia in the first game of the series.  
 
Then in the 5th game, the Red Sox loaded the bases in the first inning.   Two men out.  Fausto Carmona, as we called him then, had had a great season, 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA.  He was way better than our #2 starter that year, so we still weren't wildly optimistic.   First pitch to JD Drew, JD just CRUSHED it.  Just gone from the instant of contact, no doubt about it.  Grand Slam. 
 
It may be the most memorable moment of my Red Sox career not authored by David Ortiz.  It was just. . . instantly we KNEW that we were going to win the series.  I never had anything like that at any other time with the Red Sox, that we went from dreading defeat to being almost certain of victory just in an instant, although I guess Damon's grand slam against the Yankees in 2004 was comparable.  Of course, sometimes you're sure you will win and you don't, but.  . . .it was just an incredible moment.  Jake Westbrook was pitching the 7th game; he was 6-9 with a 4.32 ERA, we thought we could beat him OK.   Carmona was the obstacle, he was the mountain we had to climb.  JD blew up the mountain, and the pathway to victory was wide open.  

 

Would you be in favor of an earlier trade deadline?
Asked by: 3for3

Answered: 8/2/2021
 No.  Why? 

 

Hey Bill,  
 
Looking through the box scores, as I have done since I was a kid, I've always been curious about the LOB - Left on Base.  
 
Does this really matter? Is it something that teams actually look at?
Asked by: Joe_Start

Answered: 8/2/2021
 People obsess about it.  If you do talk shows you get questions about all the players left on base all the time.  I did anyway. 
 
I wouldn't say that we ever worried about it, with the Red Sox.  LOB, as a stat, are kind of like Saves.   People often think that a good team will have many more save opportunities than a bad team, but they actually don't, because good teams win games by wider margins.  Good teams sometimes win games 11-2 and 9-1, which weaker teams very rarely do.  But the number of close games you win is. . .well, larger for a good team, but not greatly larger. 
 
Sort of the same with LOB.   People will kvetch about it when you leave 10 runners on and lose, but, in general, having high LOB is more indicative of a good team (I think) than a bad team.  If you have a good team, you have more LOB because you have more runners on base and not all of them score.  The PERCENTAGE of them who score incrases, but the net effect is marginal.  

 

bhalbleib mentions the unusually high medal count for Japan as the Olympic host.  
 
This effect is heavily driven by a rule the Olympics have that allows the host country to have a competitor in every event that they want to.  Usually a country has to qualify for certain events, and is limited in the number of competitors.   When you host, you end up participating in many more events than you normally would.    More opportunities, more medals.
Asked by: phorton01

Answered: 8/2/2021
 Thanks.  

 

re villageelliot's comment on Belushi's Brando as being the best, I think perhaps he has not seen this:  
 
 
That impersonation was good enough to earn Burt Reynolds Brando's everlasting hatred, which is a good benchmark.
Asked by: LoradoTaftWright

Answered: 8/2/2021
 Thanks. 

 

 
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