Tag Archives: baseball

Jersey Ethics

Chuck Klosterman, replying to an inquiry regarding the use and sale of Negro league jerseys in the MLB, The New York Times:

What makes this instance complicated is not just the specter of race but also the fact that M.L.B. doesn’t have any institutional continuity with the Negro leagues. It would be different if the National League had merged with the Negro Southern League or if the American League had annexed the Kansas City Monarchs franchise. But that’s not what happened; instead, the various clubs simply folded, and the players moved on. So when Major League Baseball celebrates the Negro leagues, it’s celebrating a past that technically doesn’t belong to it and that exists only because of its past prejudice. Does that make the celebration unethical? Considering the league’s espoused motives, I would say no. But it is a little strange. Your discomfort is not without merit.

Enlightening read on a topic I am shamefully undereducated on but have always felt uneasy about. There is a giant gap between trendy and respect. I fear many purchases are made for the former.

This short Q&A is worth the read. And if anyone has any good reads on the Negro leagues (man, that is a tough term to say/write/use), I’m all ears.

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RBI

2014 World Series, Game 2, Bottom of the 6th: Billy Butler’s single brings Lorenzo Cain home, putting the Royals in the lead 3-2, kicking off an inning long rally that would lead to a game winning victory.

Watching this, I was immediately reminded of the wave of pride felt when landing Little League RBIs. The pride was not from the run per se. In my 11th Little League season, I averaged .016 at the plate. I wasn’t expected to hit. I was a decent fielder and had a good arm. It’s likely I was left in to bat simply because I was not the worst of the 10-12 man team. Close, but not the worst.

I’m not sure what it was about specifically about Butler’s RBI, but the memory of this feeling came racing back the way they do when the smell of ABS hits your nose after opening up your first action figure since 1992. There was something potent about it.

In an instant, I was reminded that I’ve always been a supporter. Whether it is acting as consigliere, assisting behind an email account, or starting a record label solely because I believed in the record, I’ve always been one to recognize deserving talent and do my best to help said talent get where they need to be. Even with a .016 batting average, I never tired of trying to get my teammates home. And there was no better feeling than getting the star player across the plate. For a moment, Number 1 needed Number 9. Bunting with a man on was infinitely more fulfilling than swinging for the fences with none. (Yes, even I expected to put one over. Every kid does.)

Thanks for the sense of identity, Butler. Congrats on the win.

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Stats v. Story

Love this.

John Gruber with Ben Thompson on The Talk Show:

JG: I have a good friend, Matt, who’s a fellow Yankee’s fan. His theory is that there’s two types of sports fans: Stats fans and story fans. Now, anytime you try to say there’s only two types of people, of course there’s a grey zone. Some stats guys are a little bit into the story side and some story guys are still interested in some of the stats. I’m a story guy though, in his telling. I just don’t get into the numbers that much. I believe in clutch hitting. I believe in clutch performance. I know that’s one of the stat’s guys’ things, like the baseball prospectus guys (Bill James, etc.), that there’s a theory they try to backup that there’s no such thing as clutch hitting.

You say there’s no such thing as clutch hitting, and I say Derek Jeter. I don’t see how you could deny it.

The whole Jeter “Farewell” thing is just chock-full of all sorts of statistics and stuff like that. But one of the most amazing ones is (and this is off the top of my head, I’m not going to look it up), he’s played 158 post-season games. A regular baseball season is 162 games and most guys would be lucky to play 158. Even players who aren’t insured take a game off here and there. So he’s played easily the equivalent of a full regular season, all post-season. Which by definition is only against the very best pitchers and opposing teams. Every post-season game is against a team who was good enough to make it to the post-season. And he’s got like a .320 career post-season batting average. Enough that it would win the batting title most years. And that’s in the post-season.

BT: That’s really impressive because batting averages drop significantly in the post-season.

JG: Right. Because the pitching is so much better. So much better. Really, that’s the way to win post-season baseball games, is to have amazing pitching.

Remember the White Sox, when they won in 2006? Whatever year it was. Whatever year the Chicago White Sox won a decade ago, they won the World Series in four games. Their four pitchers pitched four complete games. It was unbelievable. They had four pitchers who caught fire, were just unhittable, and they just went “one, two, three, four. The World Series is over.”

BT: It’s like having a hot goalie in hockey or something. You can just shutout everything else.

JG: And tech is exactly the same. There’s story guys and stats guys.

Reading it back, I am reminded of Jon Hamm’s brilliant opening monologue to the 2013 ESPYs.

I am also reminded why I remain focused on the games industry. I have been fortunate enough to grow along side a budding industry from its toddlerhood (1985) to the behemoth it has become. The video game industry has yet to shake it’s growing pains but its effect on pop-culture at large has been breathtaking to watch. (While writing this, Pharrell released the video game inspired music video for “It Girl”, (and it may be a good indication of what is wrong with the culture).)

Over the course of the next-gen launch, the focus has been on story. None more so than Nintendo. Focus all you want on stats, Nintendo’s story is still one to believe in.

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The Gimmick Girl

Jack Moore on Mo’Ne Davis and Emma March:

The narrative of the gimmick girl in sports is doubly damaging. Not only does it foster a lower expectation of women’s abilities — in both genders — it also creates an assumption that women aren’t earning their spots when in reality they are almost certainly facing even higher standards than the men they compete against.If the sports world is truly going to house gender equality, we need to give girls the freedom to choose their sports. We need to stop pressuring them to take the path of least gender resistance. And we need to stop holding them to a higher standard when everything else is already working against them.

Great read on gender equality in sports. Bring me right back to the Finnish Hearthstone Tournament and gender segregation in chess. A very interesting conversation.

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NYT: ‘Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball Video Game Tests Haggling Skills’

Stephen Totilo, The New York Times:

This is where Nintendo toys with convention. You’re supposed to haggle with Rusty, who, remember, is a virtual dog, not a living person. You’re supposed to get him to lower his price for the rest of Bat and Switch and for his other nine games. According to the plot, Rusty is stressed. His wife has left him. He’s overwhelmed by his 10 kids. He’ll bend to make a sale. One of his kids even coaches you about how to haggle with his dad, how to flatter, cajole or hardball your way to a lower price. Press Rusty well enough, and each game can be had for less than $2.

After playing along with Nintendo for a moment, I saw myself buying up every mini-game in this entry. Every hook seems perfect. This game will be a hit.

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People of a certain age

Excerpt from “Three Strikes, You Shout” by Philip Michaels:

The people who read Moneyball as teenagers and had enough talent to play baseball are just coming into their own as Major Leaguers. The ones who became sportswriters are working their way up the chain in journalism, where they’ll eventually supplant the columnists who see advanced stats as something to be derided instead of understood. And the rest, the vast majority who simply remain fans of the game, will wonder why anyone ever argued about something so obvious.

‘The world is run by people of a certain age,’ [Rany] Jazayerli said in his podcast. ‘And once people who grew up with these principles reach a point in their life where they are naturally in positions of influence, that’s when you’ll start to see changes made.’

My thoughts on the importance of video games and the influence on those that play to a tee.

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