If you were going to set out to build a successful national baseball team you probably wouldn’t select a country with most of its land sitting below sea level. Camden Depot presents a brief history of honkbal, as the Netherlands nine get ready to compete in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, exactly 100 years after the formation of Quick Amsterdam, Europe's first baseball team. Last time around, the Dutchmen knocked the mighty Dominican Republic out of the tournament. This year's Dutch team, led by veteran Andruw Jones and Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop, both natives of Willemstad on the island of Curacao, puts more Dutch talent on the field than there has been since Bert Blyleven's last game. (Blyleven is the Netherlands' pitching coach.) Don't leave it till game time -- learn to speak honkbal now!
The Hall of Fame voters have decided not to enshrine one of the greatest pitchers of all time, despite his stellar on-field performance. No, not Roger Clemens: Rick Reuschel, who, according to High Heat Stats, was one of the 50 greatest pitchers in baseball history. Bonus: Joe Posnanski on why Rich Reuschel was better than Jack Morris.
Baseball Magazine, founded by Jake Morse in 1908, was the first monthly baseball magazine in the United States. The LA84 Foundation has posted free online copies of the first thirteen years of Baseball Magazine. [more inside]
Their last winning season came in 1997. Only one member of their Opening Day starting rotation remains, a 27-year-old from Taiwan who hadn't pitched in the majors before this year. The others have been replaced by a Red Sox cast-off picked up from the Mexican League, an ex-prospect with a career ERA of 5.5 in his first three years, and the son of one of their former pitchers, a throw-in in a 2009 trade with the Dodgers. They have only one regular hitting over .270, they're missing two-thirds of their Opening Day outfield, and their 20-year-old third baseman started the year at AA. Nate Silver's PECOTA projection system reckoned they'd finish in last place, 24 games behind the Yankees. And tomorrow night, the Baltimore Orioles will play their first postseason game in 15 years. [more inside]
If you were watching the Orioles-A's game from Camden Yards tonight, you saw a guy playing the National Anthem on an electric violin made out of a baseball bat. This is how that looks and sounds. This is the guy talking about and showing off his Louisville Slugger violin. And this is the Washington Post profile of Glenn Donnellan, a violinist with the National Symphony Orchestra and the maker and player of the world's only electric baseball bat violin.
Who was the worst defender in the history of baseball? A commenter in a baseball-fever thread compiles a list of the bottom 100 career dWAR figures of all time -- in other words, the 100 players who cost their teams the most wins with the glove. (Joe Posnanski on the WAR metric, for those unfamiliar with it.) The list is an interesting mix of players whose bats allowed them to stay in the game for years despite terrible glovework (Bernie Williams, Manny Ramirez, Dave Winfield) and players who were so bad in the field that they managed to rack up a lot of negative dWAR in shorter careers (Chris Gomez, Dean Palmer.) Toby "Stone Fingers" Harrah is #14 with a -10.9 dWAR. Dick "Dr. Strangeglove" Stuart just misses at -6.1. Some active players have a chance to finish high on the list: Ty Wigginton is only 33 and has already bumbled away enough balls in 2011 to "improve" his ranking from 24th to 15th. Worst of all time? No, it's not the Captain -- Derek Jeter is #2 on the all time list with -13.4 dWAR. Can you guess the "winner"?
Who holds the longest home sell-out streak in professional sports? The Red Sox have the longest streak in major league baseball, just under 700 games (and counting.) The Washington Redskins have sold out 348 straight home games, a streak dating back to 1968. But the longest streak belongs to the Portland Trail Blazers, who sold out 814 straight home dates between 1977 and 1995. Yesterday, they were joined by the Dayton Dragons of the Class A Midwest League, whose victory over the Bowling Green Hot Rods marked their 814th straight sellout. The Dragons, despite playing in an economically troubled mid-sized city, have sold out every home game the team has ever played, drawing over 8,000 fans a game, better than most AAA clubs. Dragons manager Delino DeShields was last seen on MetaFilter as a hitting coach in the independent Pioneer League. General manager Gary Mayse explains how the Dragons have found success in hard economic times.
70 games in 75 days in the Northwoods League. Andrew Barna, a varsity baseball player at Davidson College during the school year, is spending the summer playing first base for the Madison Mallards. The Mallards are currently a half game back of the Eau Claire Express in the Northwoods League, a summer developmental league where NCAA athletes play for room, board, the adulation of devoted Upper Midwest fans, and the slim hope of making it to the bigs. (Northwoods alums in the majors include Ian Kinsler (Mallards), Ben Zobrist (Wisconsin Woodchucks), and Juan Pierre (Manitowoc Skunks.) Barna's blog offers a look inside the real life of very-minor-league baseball: The best way to sleep on the team bus. Getting caught picking your nose on the field. Welcome back Jumpy Garcia. Signing your first breast.
"Value-added modeling is promoted because it has the right pedigree -- because it is based on "sophisticated mathematics." As a consequence, mathematics that ought to be used to illuminate ends up being used to intimidate." John Ewing, president of Math for America and former executive director of the American Mathematical Society, criticizes the "value-added modeling" approach used as a proxy for teacher quality, most famously in a Los Angeles Times story that called out low-scoring teachers by name. A Brookings Institution paper says value-added modeling is flawed but the best measure we have of teacher value, arguing that the metric's wide fluctuations from year to year are no worse than those of batting averages in baseball. (Though the weakness of that correlation is mostly a BABIP issue.) Can we assign a numerical value to teacher quality? If so, how?
Chicago Cubs outfielder Fernando Perez has published his poems in Poetry and The Southern Review. He studied creative writing at Columbia, just like James Franco. He is into Robert Creeley. He has a twitter feed. His career batting average is .234 but he's hitting only .161 in the Cactus League and might not make the big league club. Spring Training is the cruelest month.
Sabermetrician in Exile. Voros McCracken's radical idea -- that pitchers have very little ability to induce batters to hit into outs, and succeed mostly insofar as they can strike out a lot of hitters and give up few home runs and walks -- has changed the way baseball teams are constructed. (Heard of BABIP? That's him.) Every major league team has employees who rely on McCracken's insights. McCracken, struggling to make his rent in suburban Phoenix, isn't one of them.
A touch screen you don't touch. From Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, a gesture-controlled handheld device that responds thereminically to the motion of a finger held above the screen. Watch to the end for the remarkable 3-d painting app. From the people who brought you the pitching, batting, and dribbling robots. Previous Ishikawa awesomeness on Metafilter.
"Feel sorry for the people who never got to see us," he once said. "We were good." The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City faces a $200,000 shortfall for 2009. The museum is battling both the recession and its own backers, as new management tries to distance itself from founder Buck O'Neil, a move that induced long-time supporter Joe Posnanski to announce that he would "never set foot in there again." Will this chapter of baseball history be forgotten? Or can Strat-O-Matic save the Negro Leagues? (Previously on MetaFilter: Buck O'Neil denied a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.)
In an age where baseball heroes are reviled as frauds, one player's reputation remains secure. His won-loss record and career ERA set standards that will never be matched; the same is true for the character he displayed on and off the mound. But, unbelievable as it may seem, no one has ever set down the exhaustive account of this lion of the diamond. Until now. Charlie Brown's career statistics, 1951-1960. Charlie Brown's career statistics, 1961-1970. Previously on MetaFilter: action-packed four-panel drawings of some of Charlie's greatest games, with material from his personal life as well.
Where have you gone, Delino DeShields? Seven years ago, Delino DeShields was released by the Chicago Cubs, ending a 13-year, 5-team journey through Major League Baseball during which he earned almost $29 million. He's now the hitting coach for the Billings Mustangs in the rookie-level Pioneer League, making as much money for the season as he used to make per game. The Washington Post goes to Montana to find out why. [more inside]
In May 2006, we discussed switch pitcher Pat Venditte on MetaFilter. Many wondered: what kind of bizarre game-theoretic catastrophe would occur when the switch pitcher faced a switch hitter? Two years later, it has come to pass. (video)