This Week in SABR: September 23, 2011
Here's what we've been up to as of September 23, 2011:
Friday's release of the Moneyball movie, based on the 2003 book of the same name by author Michael Lewis, seems to be one of the most anticipated baseball films in years. The controversial chronicling of the Oakland A's under general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt in the movie) was called "the single most influential baseball book ever" by SABR member Rob Neyer. The story of the Beane front office and its reliance on outside-the-box statistical analysis and other sabermetric tools has drawn even greater scrutiny among baseball fans who discuss every day the best ways to evaluate player and team performances.
As Moneyball premieres nationwide, we're linking to various interviews and reviews we think you'll find interesting as you get set to watch the film, along with a look at what lessons from Moneyball remain relevant eight years later.
We're also interested in your thoughts as SABR members on Moneyball, sabermetrics and other topics. Click here to post your opinions on our SABRNation discussion thread: http://sabrnation.sabr.org/groups/discussion/view/topic/9345/groupid/1958.
We're not sure if the Hollywood-dramatized Moneyball will give us the same reaction, but we were quite impressed with the accuracy and detail in MLB Productions' effort to detail the evolution of statistics in their one-hour documentary “Behind the Seams: The Stat Story,” which premiered September 18 on MLB Network.
As many of you probably noticed, the MLB camera crew was on hand at SABR 41 in Long Beach this summer to film our national convention and interview SABR members such as John Thorn, Rob Neyer, Herm Krabbenhoft, Rich Lederer, Alan Schwarz, Steve Hirdt and others. We saw plenty of familiar faces in the crowd shots, too, as the cameras rolled during the SABR 40th anniversary panel and in the lobby of the Long Beach Hilton all week.
Derek Carty at Baseball Prospectus reviewed the show before it aired. You can read that here.
Or share your opinions in our SABRNation discussion thread here: http://sabrnation.sabr.org/groups/discussion/view/topic/9298/groupid/1958.
If you don't have MLB Network or forgot to set your DVR last Sunday night, we'll keep you posted on re-airings of “Behind the Seams: The Stat Story” so you can check it out.
Related: MLB Network is airing another new documentary this weekend that we think you'll be interested in. It's called “1941: Summer of Legends” and it's scheduled to air at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, September 24. View the video trailer here: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=19507955.
You can now check out articles from the last three decades of The National Pastime at our new TNP archives page:
Since 2009, The National Pastime has served as SABR's convention-focused publication. Published annually, this 128-page journal provides in-depth articles focused on the respective geographic region where the convention is taking place in a given year. From 1982 to 2009, the magazine was intended as a more literary outlet for SABR members to publish their research, in comparison to the more statistically inclined Baseball Research Journal.
Most past editions of The National Pastime can also be purchased at the SABR Bookstore.
(Some editions of TNP are not yet available online, but we will get them uploaded as soon as we can.)
SABR member Paul Lukas at ESPN.com writes:
“One of baseball's most iconic moments is fast approaching a milestone anniversary. Oct. 3, less than two weeks from now, will mark exactly 60 years since Bobby Thomson hit the "Shot Heard 'Round the World," which prompted Russ Hodges' famous call of "The Giants win the pennant!" and forever scarred the souls of Brooklyn Dodgers fans. Most of the artifacts from that moment are accounted for. The bat Thomson used to stroke his historic homer is in the Hall of Fame, as are the spikes he was wearing that day. And an entire book has been written about what happened to the home run ball.
But what about the uniform? Where is the jersey Thomson was wearing when he stepped in to face Ralph Branca at the Polo Grounds? In the six decades since Thomson hit the Shot, nobody has claimed to know his jersey's whereabouts. Until now.
Dan Scheinman thinks he knows exactly where the jersey is: in the climate-controlled storage room where he keeps his jersey collection. "I'm not 100 percent positive," says Scheinman, a 48-year-old tech consultant who lives in San Francisco. "I would never claim that; it wouldn't be intellectually honest. But I've gotten to about 90 percent. I think this is it."
Read the full article here: http://espn.go.com/espn/page2/story/_/id/7003406/lifelong-giants-fan-believes-found-bobby-thomson-shot-jersey.
All summer, SABR member Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com has been keeping track of a milestone that few others have noticed: Major League Baseball will play its 200,000th game on Saturday. (There's a countdown on the home page at Forman's site, and a list of all games played from 1876 to 2010 can be found here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/13112.)
As Forman cautions, the 200,000 figure is slightly arbitrary — it does not include National Association totals, nor the Federal League. If you recognize the NA as a major league, the 200,000th game was played on July 4, 2011, by the Reds and Cardinals.
In a statement released in August, SABR member John Thorn, MLB's Official Historian, wrote: "Major League Baseball's 200,000th game is an amazing milestone in world sports. No other sports league has mirrored the spirit of a nation for so long."
Marty Noble of MLB.com posted a nice story Friday about the first game in National League history, a Boston Red Stockings' 6-5 win over the Philadelphia Athletics on April 22, 1876.
So which game Saturday will be the 200,000th? Well, that depends on exact start times, inclement weather and other unpredictable factors. The distinction could be as disputed as the "race" to score the one-millionth run back in 1975 (officially and famously won by Houston's Bob Watson, though Cincinnati's Dave Concepcion made a compelling case, too.) Check back with Baseball-Reference.com this weekend to find out.
On Monday, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera broke Trevor Hoffman's career record with his 602nd save in a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Twins. SABR members around the blogosphere chimed in on Rivera's achievement, and here are a sample of our favorites:
- Larry Granillo looks back at how Rivera was perceived as a young Yankees prospect (Baseball Prospectus)
- Adam Darowski wonders if there's any truth to the adage that the best closers are just failed starters (Beyond the Box Score)
- Wendy Thurm: This season is the end of an era in the Bronx (SB Nation)
1964 Cardinals biographers wanted
A note from SABR Baseball Biography Project director Mark Armour:
The 1964 Cardinals project is going great guns at the moment, with Bill Nowlin helping to organize all of the great work being done. As is often the case, a "situation" has arisen which requires that we find writers for two biographies that have not come through. Specifically, Bill White and Curt Flood.
Given the importance of the two subjects, and the late hour, the volunteer must be experienced and highly motivated—ready to put all other projects aside and get to work. Both subjects are well known. Flood wrote his own book and has had at least three books written about him. White wrote an excellent memoir that I read earlier this summer. The biographer needs to understand how to turn all of this material into a readable article.
If you are interested, please contact Bill Nowlin directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Six new biographies posted: Six new biographies were posted this week as part of the SABR BioProject, bringing us to a total of 1,672 published biographies:
- Dick Bosman, by Dale Voiss
- Andy Karl, by Bill Nowlin
- Juan Nieves, by Rory Costello
- Billy O'Dell, by Nancy Snell Griffith
- Claude Osteen, by Gregory Wolf
- Dazzy Vance, by Charles Faber
All new biographies can be found here: http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=n&m=61
SABR member Jeff Campbell, co-chair of the Baseball and the Arts Research Committee, is asking for your help to fund a CD project whose proceeds will purchase new musical instruments for kids who can't afford them.
Campbell is the founder of the Washington, D.C.-based Hungry For Music, which has made it possible for nearly 5,000 children to participate in music programs since 1994. One source of HFM's funding is a series of baseball song collections called "Diamond Cuts." Artists such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon have contributed songs, and pianist George Winston has supported each of the 12 releases with a song on each, as well as performing several benefit concerts for the program.
Click here to donate to the Hungry For Music fundraiser, "Diamond Cuts: It Ain't Over Til It's Over".
A $1 donation to Hungry For Music will entitle you to a free download of a song from Diamond Cuts's 12th release, "Diamond Cuts: It Ain't Over Til It's Over". For a donation of $15 or more, you will receive a free download of all five songs, plus Diamond Cuts' "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" 100th anniversary commemorative CD, with 30 different versions of baseball's famous anthem. Other donor gifts include the complete 12-volume series of Diamond Cuts, a Nolan Ryan tribute CD and a VIP tour of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Supporters can also participate by visiting http://www.hungryformusic.com/music to vote for the last song to be included on the 12th installment of "Diamond Cuts: It Ain't Over Til It's Over." Votes will be accepted until October 15.
SABR member David Stalker has been approved to have a plaque installed at Horlick Field in Racine, Wisconsin, honoring former Detroit Tigers pitcher Ed Killian, as the 13th addition to the Deadball Era Memorial Series which began in 2005.
Killian, who was born in Racine, played a big role in the Tigers' American League pennants of 1907, 1908 and 1909.
Horlick Field was home of the Racine-Horlick Legions National Football League team in 1922-24 and the Racine Tornadoes in 1926. Later, it played host to one of the original All-American Girls Professional Baseball League teams, the Racine Belles, from 1943 to 1950. Once the plaque is completed, it will be attached to the press box in 2012 that overlooks this historic field.
For this beautiful black granite plaque to be made possible, David is asking for donations to meet the $1,095 cost. Once this cost is met, donations that come in will be put toward future memorials. A donation of $500 or more will include your name on the stone. Any amount, even as small as $1, will be greatly appreciated.
To donate via PayPal, visit Seamheads.com: http://seamheads.com/2011/09/21/ed-killian-plaque-to-be-installed-at-horlick-field/.
As we noted last week, MLB.com continued selecting the best Latino pitchers in the history of the game, as a salute to Hispanic Heritage Month.
Top honors went to San Francisco Giants great Juan Marichal. Pedro Martinez, Luis Tiant, Dennis Martinez and Fernando Valenzuela rounded out the top five.
The voting panel consisted of SABR members Peter Bjarkman, Adrian Burgos, Dick Clark, Leslie Heaphy, Larry Lester, James A. Riley and John Thorn, along with Raymond Doswell, Bob Kendrick and Luis Rodriguez-Mayoral.
Click here to read the articles in the series: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110912&content_id=24584918&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb
Registration is still ongoing for the third annual SABR Arizona Fall League Conference on November 3-5, 2011, at the Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa.
The schedule is expected to include:
- Four AFL games, including the premier Rising Stars Game on November 5 in Surprise and games at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick and Hohokam Park in Mesa.
- Major League Alumni Awards Dinner: Roland Hemond will receive the AZMLA Legacy Award
- A tour of the "Play Ball: The Cactus League Experience" museum exhibit at the Arizona Historical Society in Tempe
- A tour of Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks
- Research presentations and guest speakers
Two of baseball's top prospects, Bryce Harper of the Nationals and Mike Trout of the Angels, reportedly will play in the same outfield for the 2011 Scottsdale Scorpions.
Registration for the conference is available now at the SABR Store: $125 for SABR members and guests, or $159 for nonmembers. The conference is open to all baseball fans.
The Hilton Phoenix East/Mesa is at 1011 West Holmes Avenue, Mesa, AZ 85210. SABR has reserved a block of rooms for $99/night (plus tax) for the nights of November 3-5. Click here to book your room online or call (800) 544-5866 and tell them you're registering for the SABR Arizona Fall League Conference. Conference attendees will receive complimentary parking, complimentary breakfast buffet (for up to two people per room) and complimentary wireless high-speed Internet in guest rooms. Please book your room by October 18 to guarantee a spot.
Chapter meeting recaps
(If you would like to include your chapter meeting recap in "This Week in SABR", please e-mail a notice to Jacob Pomrenke.)
Upcoming SABR events:
- September 23: "Moneyball" viewing with Halsey Hall Chapter (Roseville, MN)
- September 24: Auker-Seminick Chapter meeting (St. Petersburg, FL)
- September 24: Rogers Hornsby Chapter meeting (Austin, TX)
- September 24: Baseball Heritage Museum open house/author signings (Cleveland, OH)
- September 26: Rabbit Maranville Chapter meeting (Springfield, MA)
- September 29: Andy Strasberg presentation on Roger Maris (New York, NY)
- September 29: Cooperstown Baseball Film Festival (Cooperstown, NY)
- October 1: Allan Roth Chapter meeting (Los Angeles, CA)
- October 1: Andy Strasberg presentations on Roger Maris — 50th anniversary of 61 HRs (Montclair, NJ/New York, NY)
In other recent SABR news:
- Mike Fast with a fascinating study on how catchers earn extra strike calls (Baseball Prospectus)
- Richard Hershberger on the long-lived Olympic Ball Club in 19th-century Philadelphia (MLB.com)
- Phil Birnbaum analyzes whether BABIP is luck or skill as it relates to this year's NL Cy Young Award (Sabermetric Research)
- Tom Ruane has an enlightening and surprising list of the best hitters by lineup position (Retrosheet)
- How Dave Dombrowski's off-field deals have triggered the Tigers' on-field success (Crain's Detroit Business)
- Rob Fitts relates the story of Wally Yonamine and the integration of Japanese baseball (Seamheads)
- Chad Dotson says the Cubs' future could match the Cardinals' past (ESPN.com)
- Vintage baseball with a twist: A group of Wisconsin women are re-enacting 'A League of Their Own' (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- Graham Womack has an interview with sabermetrician Dan Szymborski (Baseball Past and Present)
- Nick Diunte reports that Negro Leagues catcher Bill 'Ready' Cash has died at 91 (Examiner.com)
- Touring the bases with Norm Coleman, producer of a one-man play on Ty Cobb (Seamheads)
- Saul Wisnia's book on Fenway Park's upcoming centennial is previewed (Hardball Times)
- Ron Shafer re-creates the 1889 major league American Association pennant race on his website (Brooklyn Dodgers History)
- Scott Simkus has teamed up with Seamheads.com to offer a two-years-for-the-price-of-one discount for his “Outsider Baseball Bulletin” (Seamheads)
- Gabriel Schechter reviews a new Charles Conlon photography book (Never Too Much Baseball)
All previous editions of This Week in SABR can be found here.
Find more information about SABR and SABR.org at the Members' Info page here: http://sabr.org/about/members-info.
If you would like us to include an upcoming event, article or any other information in "This Week in SABR", please send an e-mail to Jacob Pomrenke.
This page was last updated September 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm MST.