Twenty-five people packed the upstairs meeting room at the Original Crusoe’s Restaurant on Tuesday, August 20 for the monthly roundtable of the Bob Broeg St. Louis SABR Chapter. The attendance was larger than usual and added to the always lively discussions the chapter meetings feature about baseball.
Chapter members who attended the recent annual SABR convention in Philadelphia reported that they enjoyed the event, especially their attending a game at Citizens Bank Park and sightseeing in Philadelphia, a city with “six million years of history,” according to one of the attendees. Another attendee praised the keynote speech of Larry Bowa.
Bob Giovanni reported on the book, The Bird: the Life and Legacy of Mark Fidrych, by Doug Wilson. Giovanni, who has reported favorably in past meetings on the new baseball books he’s read, said he was disappointed with this one. He said the book lacked depth about Fidrych’s life and his tragic death in 2009, plus he lamented that the book contained no statistical recap of Fidrych’s career.
Chapter members were divided, but mostly negative, in their assessment of the impact of MLB’s decision to expand instant replays beginning in 2014. Some thought it would make games even longer and that the integrity of the umpires’ decisions should be upheld. However, one member cautioned that the issues of length of games and ensuring accuracy in umpires’ calls were separate and should not be blurred.
Members also discussed such things as how the callup of Cardinals’ second baseman Kolten Wong would have on the future of third baseman David Freese; Wong’s claiming the second base slot could mean that another player might be shifted to third. They also discussed the future of Cardinals’ starter Jake Westbrook, whether rookie reliever Michael Wacha should be shifted to the starting rotation, and how important catcher Yadier Molina’s health would be for the Cardinals’ stretch drive.
Steve Gietschier made a short presentation on how often Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver used the sacrifice bunt. Weaver, on record as opposing it, nevertheless used the sacrifice bunt often early in his managerial career, according to stats Gietschier uncovered. Weaver was tied for second in employing sacrifice bunts among A.L. managers in 1969 and second in 1971, both seasons in which his Baltimore Orioles won the pennant. From 1977 through 1981, he was near the bottom of frequency among A.L. skippers but rose to fourth in his last season in 1982.
- Related link: Download Steve Gietschier's spreadsheet with stats on Earl Weaver's use of the sacrifice bunt with the Orioles (.xls)
Bob Tiemann discussed the origin of “The Man” nickname for Stan Musial, tracing it to the reaction of Brooklyn fans in 1946 to Musial’s hitting prowess in Ebbets Field. Tiemann noted especially how Musial “was at his peak against the Bums in the late Forties,” batting .522 and .523 in 1948 and ’49, respectively, in Brooklyn.
Rick Zucker won the monthly trivia quiz prepared by Bob Tiemann. This one was on Hall of Famers.
The only downer for the night was that the membership, primarily Cardinals fans, saw the Redbirds blow a 3-0 lead and eventually lose to former teammate and Milwaukee Brewers starter Kyle Lohse in the game shown on the TVs in the meeting room. However, some of the members nursed their sorrow with a concrete (frozen custard) at the nearby Ted Drewes’ stand.
The next monthly Bob Broeg Chapter monthly roundtable will be Monday, September 16, also at the Original Crusoe’s, Compton and Osceola in South St. Louis.
— Jim Rygelski