Monthly Archives: March 2012

Of Old Baseball Gloves and Sabermetrics

Anyway, the thing which strikes me about Baseball Between the Numbers is that it’s largely grown obsolete in just a half-decade. For almost 20 years, baseball management largely resisted serious statistical analysis. Management largely consisted of former players, and few were inclined to take outside analysis seriously. This was partly willful blindness–“He never played the game”–and partly statistical ignorance. But a generation later, baseball’s management’s (unexpectedly) become more businesslike, and a newer generation of baseball players–and coaches and field managers–includes a sprinkling of folks who grew up reading James, Pete Palmer, or authors influenced by James and Palmer. Some of those players have moved to front office jobs. And while fans still have blind spots, they’re generally more aware that many numbers are influenced by ballpark and batting order, and that there are legitimate reasons to debate baseball’s accepted wisdom.

Continue reading

Posted in Baseball CrankSpace, Life's Stories | Tagged | Leave a comment

Don’t Kill the Umpire by Peter Morris: a short review

Peter Morris reminds us of a handful of violent–or at least potentially violent–events which involved Major League Baseball during 2011, and uses those events as an opportunity to examine the history of violence in the sport. His discussion of the historical patterns of violence in baseball is generally convincing. He also explores some relationships with American culture, though he doesn’t pursue this very deeply. All in all, this is a good short essay on an unexpected topic.

Continue reading

Posted in Baseball CrankSpace, Bookworm Alley | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Dream Machine by Mitchell Waldrop: a short review

This is a terrific book. The writing is lucid, the research–though predominantly from secondary sources–is excellent. If you plan to read one book about the ARPA computing effort, this should be that book.

Continue reading

Posted in Bookworm Alley, History Scrapbook, Semi-Geekery | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Baseball Analyst Issue 4: a review

Mark Lazarus takes a look at the defensive support received by major league pitchers, as measured by error rates. He’s aware of, and discusses, the weaknesses in this analytical method. Nonetheless, this study turned out to be far more interesting than I expected. The anomalies reported in the data are especially interesting. This topic deserves more study. Not sure that I’ve seen such a work.

Continue reading

Posted in Baseball CrankSpace, Bookworm Alley | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Baseball Research Journal 1977: a review

Kleinknecht’s piece is a nicely-done pioneering historical study, by the way. Editor Bob Davids contributed a fine summary of the known statistical record of pinch hitting, and describes the need for further research. Bill Haber’s description of his successful effort to find biographical details on 1911 Cleveland pitcher George Paige is great fun; he keeps finding dead ends and false leads, but sorts it all out mostly by persisting. Bill Borst’s portrait of Helene Britton’s stint as owner of the Cardinals is excellent.

Continue reading

Posted in Baseball CrankSpace, Bookworm Alley | Tagged | Leave a comment

Thom Hogan’s Complete Guide to the Nikon 1: a short review

Ignoring a For Dummies guide, the currently-available (or soon to be available) Nikon 1 books are by David Busch (three books, all for sale through the usual channels) and this Thom Hogan book, which is available from the author’s website. This is the usual case for any new Nikon camera with serious intentions; Hogan typically gets his out quickly as a self-published ebook, then Busch’s book hits a few weeks later. Both authors produce books with much value, but their approaches–and their opinions–differ significantly.

Continue reading

Posted in Bookworm Alley, Picture Show | Tagged , | Leave a comment

I’m Feeling Lucky by Douglas Edwards: a short review

This is a better book than I anticipated. Edwards was obviously fascinated by Google’s founders, and the culture of the company they created. We watch as they repeatedly reorganize the leadership structure–an important concern for a middle manager–and as the author learns how he can contribute to the company. It’s an interesting, nitty-gritty view of the office (and its politics) from a privileged seat. This is well worth your time.

Continue reading

Posted in Bookworm Alley, Bureaucratic Whimsy, Semi-Geekery | Tagged | Leave a comment

Nikon 1 V1: after one day

Joan and I have contrasting viewpoints about the Nikon 1 menu system. To Joan, coming to the J1 from a point-and-shoot background, the menues seem long and complicated. Compared to my D300 the menues seem abbreviated and occasionally disappointing. I already know I’m going to miss my D300 presets. (I’m old enough to remember IBM’s PCjr. Some of Nikon’s design decisions have that feel.)

Continue reading

Posted in Picture Show, Semi-Geekery | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Baseball Analyst Issue 3: a review

Bill James’ introductory note takes delight in the fact that two of these are followups on articles in earlier editions. Sabermetrics was a new field, back then, and the practitioners needed to cross-pollinate; Bill’s Analyst was a way to make that happen.

Continue reading

Posted in Baseball CrankSpace, Bookworm Alley | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Bill James Presents The Great American Baseball Stat Book edited by John Dewan: a review

The player essays, written by volunteers who had obviously been watching the guy, were often glorious. Scott Segrin pointed out that the Brewers habit of always moving Paul Molitor likely contributed to his injury and playing time problems. Dennis Bretz offered a delightful portrait of an aging Reggie Jackson. Michael O’Donnell took a peek at Barry Bonds’ rookie season, and speculated about his future. Merrianna McCully used Dick Williams as a lens to examine Ken Phelps. Craig Wright reminded us how good Oddibe McDowell looked when he arrived in Arlington. Geoff Beckman differed with Dan Okrent about Cecil Cooper. Each essay’s a half page, with is long enough for an extended comment but too short for a full-blown essay. Not all of these are excellent, of course, but enough are to justify working through them. Even now, 26 years later.

Continue reading

Posted in Baseball CrankSpace, Bookworm Alley | Tagged , | 8 Comments