The Economist examines the cult of the genius GM.
In sports, just like the rest of life, the rich keep getting richer. Anyone who saw or read Moneyball knows that the deck is stacked against small-market Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. Their only hope of competing, Michael Lewis’s story goes, is to acquire brilliant, innovative general managers (GMs) like his protagonist Billy Beane, who have mastered the “art of winning an unfair game” by outmaneuvering wealthier clubs. The problem with this narrative is that there is nothing to stop the sport’s plutocrats from hiring the finest minds money can buy, just as they sign the best athletes.The deep-pocketed Dodgers have lured away small market Tampa Bay's heralded GM Andrew Friedman to find out what happens when a man who consistently builds winners with one of the smallest revenue streams in the game can do with a payroll in excess of $200 million.
Who's the hairiest team in baseball? The Washington Post weighted the style of facial hair, or lack thereof, of all active ballplayers on a scale of 0 to 8 — zero being clean shaven, eight being the grizzliest — then calculated the average hairiness of each team.
This past Sunday, Philadelphia's Taney Dragons punched their ticket to the Little League World Series behind the complete game shutout pitching performance of Mo'Ne Davis, who at 13-years-old already throws a 70 MPH fastball. Davis will become only the 17th girl to play in the LLWS in 68 years. She has become an inspiration to others as she redefines what it means to "throw like a girl".
It's easy to explain why you love a conventionally excellent player, but way, way more fun to try and explain the appeal of a top-flight athlete whose every step and twitch appeared to be bringing him dangerously close to death itself. You had this guy, St. Louis, and he was awesome and everything, but every time he hit a triple he'd pop up and have the saddest look on his face like everything he loved had died, and left him with the soul of an ancient, sad, and immortal Golem. It was like watching Buster Keaton play centerfield, and he was like that every time he played.SB Nation Reviews: Willie McGee
Major league baseball is doing something dumb. They asked fans to nominate a player from their team to be THE FACE OF MLB, whatever that means. Yankees fans picked Derek Jeter. Angels fans picked Mike Trout. Oakland A's fans picked a 4-eyed utility infielder named Eric Sogard. And he's winning.
Don't fight it. It's the year of the oral history. If there hasn't yet been an oral history on your favorite pop culture phenomenon, it won't be long. In the meantime, for your reading pleasure, how about starting with an oral history of Captain Marvel: The Series? Or perhaps you'd rather read about The Telluride Bluegrass Festival? If your taste runs more toward technology, check out an oral history of Apple design. More reading inside! [more inside]
Dan LeBatard of ESPN gave away his baseball Hall of Fame vote to Deadspin, and talking heads had a lot to say about it.
Roger Angell is the greatest of all baseball writers. Today, the game has recognized the fact. This July, along with Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa, Roger will be celebrated in Cooperstown, New York, the site of the Hall of Fame. He will receive the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, which has previously gone to the likes of Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Ring Lardner, and Damon Runyon. [more inside]
A 30 for 30 short tells the story of the husband and wife team who created MLB's schedule every year for two decades, using only pencil and paper.
Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth discusses poorly designed sports team logos throughout history.
Why Do Baseball Players Still Bunt So Damn Much?
It’s the most maddening and demonstrably ineffective strategy in baseball and has been for quite some time. So why do teams keep doing it?
It’s the most maddening and demonstrably ineffective strategy in baseball and has been for quite some time. So why do teams keep doing it?
The Sad and Rapid Decline of the Ball Cap: Including photos of the 67 hats that survived of the author's 90s-era Hat Collection. [more inside]
Héctor Espino landed in Florida on Aug. 6, 1964. A helicopter reportedly flew over Jacksonville, Fla., trailing a banner with the words ESPINO HAS ARRIVED.
The Sporting Statues Project maintains a list of statues of sportspeople in the UK and has just added one of baseball statues in the US. Everything from 18th century strongmen and still active players to fans and little leaguers can be found in their directory. They also have some links to abstracts of papers they've presented on their research into sports statuary.
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]
Today is the 85th birthday of Hall of Fame baseball announcer Vin Scully. He will be returning next year for his unprecedented 64th season calling games for the Dodgers, in a career reaching back to the team's Brooklyn days and their move to Los Angeles in 1958. The New York Yankees tried to pry him away in the 1960s, but he remained with the team and has become an LA institution. In the 21st Century, he has inspired blog names and tattoos and even dabbled in the online world himself during a game last season -- as an experiment, he asked fans to get a topic trending on Twitter about Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis, "a nice boy." Later in the broadcast he announced sheepishly that Ellis was trending across the U.S. This coming Monday, he will be taking over the team's Twitter feed to answer questions -- tag your tweets #askvin. [more inside]
"We have little trouble recognizing that a chess grandmaster’s victory over a novice is skill, as well as assuming that Paul the octopus’s ability to predict World Cup games is due to chance. But what about everything else?" [Luck and Skill Untangled: The Science of Success]
Baseball or Football? How Your Sports Choices ... Reveal your Politics. StubHub crunched their ticket data and found that baseball states tend to vote blue and football states tend to vote red. [via PostRoad's very excellent linkblog (nsfw)]
Who is the world's greatest athlete? Is it Kelly Slater? Is it Jesse Owens? Maybe. If you ask Josh Wilker, proprietor of Cardboard Gods, one thing is certain, it will be a player from his childhood baseball card collection [more inside]
Tonight, for only the third time in Major League Baseball history, a player (Kendrys Morales of the Los Angeles Angels) hit two home runs in the same inning, one from each side of the plate. Morales' second home run of the inning was a grand slam, his first since the ill-fated events of 5/29/10, when he suffered a freak ankle injury jumping onto home plate in celebration of his game-winning hit, just as his career was really beginning to take off. Morales subsequently missed nearly two full seasons of baseball, returning just this year.
In 2009, Sports Illustrated investigated the strange and perilous financial lives of professional athletes. [more inside]
Former major leaguer and current minor league manager Wally Backman says some very colorful things. The full censored episodes are online (starting with Episode 1: Where's Wally Backman?) Mostly NSFW. [more inside]
NYTimes: The Glory and Pain of Pitching. Bobby Ojeda, starting pitcher for one of the greatest games in the history of Major League Baseball, takes us into the mind of the career athlete and his relationship with a constant companion -- pain.
"I'm just looking for a second chance. Other people get second chances. Alcoholics. Drug addicts. Spousal beaters. Not gamblers, though. But, if you want to put something on my tombstone that was very important to me, it’s 1,972. That’s how many winning games I’ve played in. So that makes me the biggest winner in the history of sports. No one else can say that." Here, Now is a short documentary that looks at baseball legend Pete Rose, as he lives his life today. [more inside]
"A great ballclub, a beautiful demonstration of what talent can do when assembled with planning and guided by intelligence." - Bill James, on the 1986 New York Mets [more inside]
Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities. So wrote John Updike in his moving tribute to Red Sox legend Ted Williams -- an appropriately pedigreed account for this oldest and most fabled of ballfields that saw its first major league game played one century ago today. As a team in flux hopes to recapture the magic with an old-school face-off against the New York
Highlanders Yankees, it's hard to imagine the soul of the Sox faced the specter of demolition not too long ago. Now legally preserved, in a sport crowded with corporate-branded superdome behemoths, Fenway abides, bursting with history, idiosyncrasy, record crowds, and occasional song. [more inside]
What do in-state college baseball rivals do when there's a rain delay? Two words: dance off. [more inside]
In 1990, the avenues of information we have today weren't around. So what was a baseball fan who wanted to know the score of a game elsewhere in the country to do? Compile a list of pay phone numbers at stadiums and get the score from passers by who picked up.
You may not know who the Costacos Brothers are. But if you were a sports fan in the US during the 1980's, chances are that you had one of their posters up in your room.
Cleveland Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona was arrested today in the Dominican Republic and charged with using a false identity. [more inside]
a human being as plated with artisanal finesse at a Michelin-star restaurant, with a head as garnish
Here's the deal: If you don't play for, or you are not an employee of, the team in question, "we" is not the pronoun you're looking for. "They" is the word you want.Why "We" is the most overused term in sports.
The Invisible Fastball. "Six decades ago, a minor league pitcher accomplished something we'll never see again." (Single page version)
Kei Igawa arrived in the US with a lot of fanfare in 2007. After failing miserably with the Yankees, he was sent to the minor leagues. Since then, he has existed in an uncomfortable limbo, not completely part of either world.
After beating the Texas Rangers on Sept. 3, the Boston Red Sox were 84-54. Although half a game behind the Yankees in the American League East, the Red Sox had a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the wild card and roughly a 99.6 percent chance of making the playoffs. Fast forward one excruciating month to a dead heat with Tampa coming into tonight's bitter imbroglio. Boston struggles ahead of laughingstock Baltimore by a single run until a rain delay clears the field, leaving them in the surreal position of rooting for the hated Yankees playing down in Florida. They can only watch from the sidelines as the rival Rays, tied with Boston in the pennant race but down 7-0 against New York, roar back to life with six runs in the eighth inning and a tie run on the final pitch at the bottom of the ninth. And then, after blowing two different strikes that would have salvaged the game, Boston loses to Baltimore, completing what is arguably the worst late-breaking collapse in the history of major league baseball.
Fun While It Lasted is a blog that details the histories of long-dead sports franchises, including the Hawaii Leis/Sea-Port Cascades/Seattle Cascades, the Portland Lumberjax, the Columbus Minks, the Denver Comets, and the Phoenix Fire -- a professional soccer team that never actually played a game. [more inside]
The Peoria Chiefs, the Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, are hosting a 2011 Lebron Championship Ring giveaway at their ballpark tomorrow night.
Before his death, Mickey Mantle spoke to Sports Illustrated about the effect that alcoholism had on his life and career. [more inside]
Bartolo Colon, now of the New York Yankees, underwent a controversial stem-cell treatment in the Dominican Republic to regain his old form.
Bill Gallo, longtime NY Daily News Sports Cartoonist, is dead at age 88. If you grew up in the NYC area anytime from the the 50s until this April, you've probably seen one of Gallo's cartoons in the Daily News. Although he covered all sports and their fans, blue collar sports like boxing and baseball were his real love. Gallo was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, NY as part of the Class of 2001 and some of his work hangs in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. [more inside]
The recently retired Manny Ramirez was one of the most inscrutable players in recent history. Ben McGrath of the New Yorker attempted to figure out Ramirez's motivations in this 2007 piece.
Every Hall of Famer is a blog where Summer Anne Burton is drawing pictures of all 295 members of the baseball Hall of Fame. She started in January and plans to finish by the end of the year. Here's an interview with her about the project. The drawings include telling bits of information and cool quotes. It's a fun way to learn about baseball history. Here are three of my favorites so far: Charles Radbourne, Dan Brouthers and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Donnie Moore was the California Angels' relief ace in 1986. After he gave up a home run that began the Angels' collapse in the ALCS, Moore's life and psyche steadily deteriorated, until he committed suicide in 1989. Steve Hofstetter wrote about Moore and the divergent paths taken by other athletes in similar situations.