SABR Celebrates 50th Birthday in Baltimore
ALSO: OUTCOME OF TITLE CHASES WILL BE DICTATED BY INJURIES
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The Aug. 11 IBWAA newsletter contained this line: "Any team in the majors would benefit by signing free-agent infielder Andrelton Simmons, still a Gold Glover at short or second." Chicago-based reader Al Yellon had this reaction:
“I'm here to tell you I watched Simmons play for the Cubs this year and... no, just no. First, he reported to camp with a shoulder injury which apparently never properly healed. He can't hit -- at all. He had a .431 OPS this year! That's awful! He had a .538 OPS in 451 PA last year, which is also terrible. And with the injury, his defense is just average, not Gold Glove, one of the reasons he hasn't actually won a Gold Glove since 2018. While his defense used to be elite, it no longer is, and his bat cannot rate even a bench spot with a bad team (the Cubs). He's done.”
Did you know…
The Braves came thisclose to beating Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom in succession and sweeping their critical four-game Truist Park series against the Mets . . .
Former All-Star and Rookie of the Year Mike Soroka, a starting pitcher who tore his Achilles twice, has been promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett after making his first rehab start at Rome and telling coaches he’s ready to return to the Atlanta rotation . . .
Although the Mets have invited 61 former players and four former managers to their Old Timers Day Aug. 27, they could have trotted out their current team, the oldest in the NL. Among the Old Timers coming to the ceremonies are original Mets Ed Kranepool and Ken MacKenzie, the only pitcher with a winning record, plus Jay Hook, who could explain a curveball but couldn’t throw one, and fellow pitcher Craig Anderson.
Mets starting rotation salaries could be $143 million next year –- more than entire payroll of 14 other teams . . .
Edwin Diaz should top Liam Hendriks’ $18 million AAV with White Sox . . .
Starling Marte has a pact that calls for a $5 million increase to $20.7 M next year . . .
Catcher James McCann still owed $24 million through 2024 but likely-to-be-promoted backstop Francisco Alvarez will cost the rookie minimum of $720,000 . . .
Max Scherzer’s career record when given a four-run lead is 101-0 . . .
Scherzer and Hall of Famer Randy Johnson are the only pitchers with a 20-strikeout game and two no-hitters in their careers . . .
From ASG through Aug. 13, Red Sox pitchers had a combined ERA of 6.25, worst in the American League and second-worst in the majors . . .
Francisco Lindor will be the first shortstop in Mets franchise history with 20+ homers in multiple seasons.
Baseball Diehards Gather For 50th SABR Confab
By Dan Schlossberg
This column is coming straight to you from SABR 50, the 50th annual conference of the Society for American Baseball Research.
I joined in 1981 — before I found out that this organization consists of people who are even more rabid baseball fans than I am.
Since I follow baseball 12 months a year and have absolutely zero interest in football, basketball, or hockey, finding these people — both men and women — was a revelation. Many of them can cite 19th century baseball history as if it happened yesterday.
Don’t get me wrong: I love talking baseball. I also love sharing face time with friends who eat, sleep, and think baseball 24/7, 365 days a year.
SABR has contributed much to the sport — starting with the advent of analytics, which traces its origin to the intricacies of SABRmetrics. Mathematics professor Bill James is both the godfather of SABRmetrics and the guru behind the best baseball reference book on the planet, The Bill James Baseball Handbook.
Published about a month after the end of the World Series, it is the one book no writer can be without. In addition to detailed team stats, it has alphabetical year-by-year player records of everyone who played at least one major-league game in the preceding year.
SABR has succeeded in changing long-standing baseball records, from Ty Cobb’s batting average to Walter Johnson’s victory total, and has had enormous influence in team operations, even convincing general managers involved in contract and trade negotiations. CEO Scott Bush suggests membership could reach 10,000 within the next five years.
The SABR convention puts some 600 members in the same place at the same time, always includes a major-league game, and invariably features presentations, posters, lectures, and appearances by authors, writers, broadcasters, team officials, and others who either love the game or earn their living from it.
This year, headliners include former Orioles slugger Boog Powell; authors Tim Kurkjian, Mar Armour, Brad Snyder, and Bill Jenkinson; baseball broadcasters Kevin Brown (Orioles) and Joe Castiglione (Red Sox); former Orioles president Larry Lucchino; ballpark design director Janet Marie Smith; Orioles team historian Bill Stetka; Orioles director of field operations Nicole Sherry; Babe Ruth Museum historian Mike Gibbons; and Curt Flood’s widow Judy Pace Flood, who will speak about the Flood vs. Kuhn case 50 years later.
There’s also a Vendors Room where publishers, editors, and author will sign and sell their books from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I’m bringing three of my books, including The New Baseball Bible and the 2021 World Championship edition of When the Braves Ruled the Diamond. Yes, Ron Blomberg’s Designated Hebrew will be there too.
The SABR 50 schedule also includes a historic ballparks bus tour, an awards luncheon, a Women in Baseball Leadership panel, and a Red Sox-Orioles game at Camden Yards.
SABR produces publications, including The Baseball Research Journal, and has the respect of many baseball insiders, especially those from the Baseball Hall of Fame. It helps that the organization was founded in Cooperstown, where the late Cliff Kachline, the Hall of Fame’s historian, was an original member in 1971.
Kachline once said SABR’s main contribution to the game was correcting old records, such as the 1910 batting race between Cobb and Napoleon Lajoie. “We’ve added to the so-called trivia of the game,” he once said, “and pointed out things that intrigue even the very casual fan.”
The late Bowie Kuhn, who surprisingly reached the Hall of Fame gallery himself, refused to recognize SABR’s well-documented findings that Lajoie’s .383 mark in 1910 topped Cobb’s average by a point — stopping the latter’s streak of nine titles in a row.
At the convention, presentations last 10 minutes and often cover little-known aspects of baseball. The group has even awarded retroactive Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards, recognizing freshmen before 1947 and pitches before 1956.
Meeting in Baltimore for the first time since 1982, SABR makes its meetings dovetail with the baseball schedule. If there’s a work stoppage, an impromptu softball game makes a great substitute; the 1981 Toronto convention featured a game between American and Canadian members.
This year, that won’t be an issue, although time could be.
The hotel is on the waterfront, not far from the National Aquarium, B & O Railroad Museum, Babe Ruth Museum, and the bustling harbor, with its omnipresent water taxis.
Tonight, the SABR group will walk en masse from their Inner Harbor hotel to nearby Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the 30-year-old ballpark that started the trend toward new stadia with retro looks.
Because it has numerous local chapters and committees, getting involved with SABR in simple. To learn more, check out www.SABR.org.
Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has been a SABR member since 1981. He’s also been an active baseball writer since 1969, when he joined The Associated Press [AP]. Dan’s byline appears on forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and 40 baseball books. E.mail him with a compliment, complaint, or criticism at email@example.com.
Injuries To Dictate Outcome Of Divisional Races
By Dan Schlossberg
It’s no surprise: injuries — or lack of them — will be the major factor in determining who wins the 2022 divisional title chases in baseball.
Take the National League East, for example.
The New York Mets made do without pitching ace Jacob de Grom for half the season and co-ace Max Scherzer for seven weeks.
The Atlanta Braves, seeking their fifth straight NL East crown and second consecutive world championship, lost second baseman Ozzie Albies (fractured foot), left-fielder Adam Duvall (broken wrist), and outfielder Eddie Rosario (eye surgery) for months but still stayed right on the tail of the front-running Mets.
Photo credit: Dan Schlossberg
Now that they’re playing each other at Truist Park, the Braves don’t know if Max Fried or Kyle Wright, their two best starters, will be able to pitch after missing a turn with minor injuries. They’ve also lost Orlando Arcia, who replaced Albies, with a hamstring issue and third-stringer Ehire Adrianza to another annoying but unexpected ailment. Catcher Chadwick Tromp, another third-stringer, collected three doubles in one game, the went off to the sidelines with an injury.
New York reported injuries to infielder Jeff McNeil (thumb), pitcher Carlos Carrasco (left side), and jack-of-all-trades Luis Guillorme (hamstring), not to mention top defensive catcher Tomas Nido, out with Covid-19 for the second time.
It’s the same story all around the majors.
The New York Yankees went into a serious tailspin after losing slugger Giancarlo Stanton, starting pitcher Luis Severino, versatile Matt Carpenter, and newly-acquired center-fielder Harrison Bader, another former Cardinal.
Boston’s biggest problem proved to be Chris Sale’s inability to stay healthy. The erstwhile lefty ace, who once started three straight All-Star Games, is out for the year after breaking his wrist in a bicycle accident.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have done well without pitching ace Walker Buehler for so long that they may not notice his absence now that he needs season-ending surgery.
And the surprising San Diego Padres, without Francisco Tatis, Jr. all season so far, will now lose him well into 2023 because of an 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing substances.
With a solid six weeks left to the season, much can happen. And none of it will be expected.
Teams with the best benches and best farm systems will be in the best shape.
Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ covers the game for Latino Sports, forbes.com, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, and Sports Collectors Digest. His 40th book, Baseball Zeroes, will be published next spring. E.mail Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Every good team goes through a moment like this and times like this. We’ll come out on the other side and be better for it. It’s good it happened now in August and not in September going into the postseason.”
— Yankees slugger Aaron Judge after the team’s slump erased the chances of tying an AL-record 116 wins or a franchise record 114 wins
With the Field of Dreams complex slated for construction in 2023, the “Field of Dreams” game could be replaced by a “League Of Their Own” game in Evansville, Indiana, home of a field used in the filming of that game . . .
Loved Amazon Prime’s new six-part “League Of Their Own” series, which started streaming August 11 . . .
Good to see a great crowd at the “Field of Dreams” minor-league game between the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Quad City River Bandits two days before before the Cubs-Reds tilt . . .
When Clayton Kershaw posted a save as a Rookie Ball reliever in 2006, his catcher was future closer Kenley Jansen . . .
The Boston Red Sox are thrilled with the tightened infield defense offered by Eric Hosmer, acquired from San Diego at the trade deadline . . .
New Hall of Famer Bud Fowler, a 19th century black baseball pioneer, was targeted by white teammates as well as opponents.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.
Nice tribute SABR, Dan. Preaching to the choir, though, I have to think. But if any IBWAA members don't belong, I hope this makes them join.