Baseball Crank
"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
May 27, 2010
BASEBALL: Country Joe

Does Joe West have a conflict of interest?

Posted by Baseball Crank at 2:23 PM | Baseball 2010 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
May 26, 2010
BASEBALL: Around The Horn

Mets: The Mets' season has had a Perils of Pauline character to it, with the team kicking into gear whenever Jerry Manuel is closest to getting fired. Manuel's the classic replacement-level manager - he brings some things to the table and takes some things off the table, and probably any number of other managers would have the same results - so I still think he's not the core of the problem and not worth replacing unless you have a better candidate lined up. Of course, much of the inconsistency is just another way of saying that (1) this is basically an around-.500 team that could win 85-88 games if it gets some breaks and lose 90 if a bunch of things go badly, (2) the Mets are 16-9 at Citi Field, 6-14 on the road, (3) they've played 16 one-run games, a very large number, and gone 5-11 in them. The home/road split is more pronounced and less random than quality of opposition; they're 14-4 against the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Braves and Cubs, scoring 4.5 runs/game and allowing 2.8, but 6-15 against the Marlins, Nationals, Cardinals, and Reds, scoring 4.2 runs/game and allowing 4.6. The biggest difference? The Mets have allowed 13 homers at home (0.52 per 9), 27 on the road (1.34 per 9). They've also batted .268/.350/.417 at home, .223/.287/.351 on the road, including 19% more doubles per plate appearance at home, 38% more walks, and three times as many triples.

Jose Reyes' big game last night was an especially encouraging sign, along with the hot streak that suddenly has Jason Bay hitting .307/.395/.472, second on the team in OPS to Ike Davis. And Japanese import Hisanori Takahashi has been a revelation. The bad news: Jeff Francouer, batting .457/.535/.857 entering the 20-inning marathon in St. Louis, has hit .137/.186/.214 in 129 plate appearances since then, dashing hopes that he might have a Jose Guillen-like prime in him. Fortunately for Frenchy, Carlos Beltran's still out, Fernando Martinez is batting .244/.300/.378 at Buffalo, Gary Matthews flopped to the tune of .182/.250/.218, and Nick Evans has been buried at AA Binghamton (where he's hitting .284/.360/.518) after a disastrous 2009. But there's still Chris Carter, 27 years old and a career .307/.380/.514 hitter in the minors; Carter's mostly a first baseman, but he's played some outfield, and can his glovework out there be any worse than Francouer's bat has been?

Mariners: Ichiro is on a pace for 236 hits and 33 RBI. If you're wondering, that would tie Richie Ashburn for the second-lowest RBI total by a guy with 200 hits (even Willie Keeler managed 44 RBI the year he hit 207 singles and 9 extra base hits), second to Lloyd Waner, who drove in just 27 runs as a rookie in 1927 on 223 hits. But at least Waner scored 133 runs; Ichiro's on a pace for (a team-leading) 77. The Mariners have gotten just nothing from Chone Figgins, Casey Kotchman or their catchers, plus of course Ken Griffey has been playing as if he's already encased in bronze. Figgins has been possibly baseball's second-biggest disappointment this season, after Grady Sizemore.

For all that, the Mariners' defense is still above average, which makes this even more bizarre: in 36.2 innings over 5 starts, Cliff Lee is 2-2 with a 3.44 ERA - despite the most staggering perhiperal stat line I have ever seen: no HR, one walk and 32 strikeouts. If you're wondering, only two pitchers since 1883 have averaged less than 0.5 HR and 0.5 BB per 9 in a season of 30 or more innings - a rookie pitcher named Johnny Podgajny for the 1940 Phillies (2.83 ERA, 35 IP, 0 HR, 1 BB, 12 K; he would finish his career with a 0.78 K/BB ratio) and Dennis Eckersley in 1990 (0.61 ERA, 0.2 HR, 0.5 BB, 9.0 K).

Rangers: Vladimir Guerrero, home: .385/.412/.688 road: .258/.299/.323. Yeah, moving to Texas was a good career move. There is definitely still room on the Justin Smoak bandwagon - Smoak still looks like a promising prospect, but strike yet another one against overhyping rookies without adequate consideration of the adjustment period they sometimes take.

Astros: Cutting Kaz Matsui is the first step, and as I noted before the season, it makes all the sense in the world for this team to deal Oswalt, Berkman and Lee if they can get value in return. Unfortunately, Lee in particular has been doing everything possible to ensure he and his enormous contract have no trade value (10 extra base hits, 9 GIDP). Oswalt has been pitching some of the best baseball of his career (8.9 K, 2.4 BB per 9); he's 32 and has some real miles on him (3.81 ERA the last two years), but he's been in the league a decade and never had a losing record or worse-than-league ERA. He's worth an investment for a contender.

Angels: Brandon Wood is looking increasingly like the next Brad Komminsk or Mike Stenhouse, a guy who was the real deal in the minors but just can't get it done in the big leagues. Hopefully, he'll eventually turn it on, as guys like Bill Robinson and Gorman Thomas did after repeated flops. Sooner or later, you stay healthy through enough opportunities, talent will out. Then there's Howie Kendrick, who looks more like the next Brent Gates: there may yet be a batting title in there somewhere, but for now it's time to admit that Kendrick has been playing for 5 years and has a career .328 OBP.

Phillies: The league-wide doubles average is down a bit from April, but it's still close enough to historic highs to make it worth watching to see if Jayson Werth can make a real run at Earl Webb's 79-year-old record of 67. Somebody gets ahead of Webb's pace every year in the early going, but Werth is way ahead now, an 83-doubles pace (22 in 43 games).

Twins: For once, he'd deserve it: if you were giving out MVPs right now, hands down it would go in the AL to Justin Morneau, batting .383/.497/.701. NL is a tougher nut: Andre Ethier's batting .392/.457/.744 with 38 RBI in 33 games and is second in total bases to Werth, but Chase Utley is a second baseman who's played in 24% more games batting .307/.429/.587, albeit in a bandbox.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:00 PM | Baseball 2010 | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: Worse Than Smear

The really damaging thing about he-said-she-said allegations in politics, especially in the weeks close to an election, is that long experience makes voters hesitant to ever totally discount the allegation. Hence, my awarding in years past of the Bedfellow Awards for particularly late-breaking hits.

We've had a doozy recently in the South Carolina Governor's race, where conservative Nikki Haley is looking to carry on the reformist, anti-establishment legacy of Mark Sanford, without the baggage of Sanford's messy extramarital affair. Haley has the endorsement of Jenny Sanford, and promoting her candidacy has long been a project of Erick Erickson at RedState, as part of Erick's broader promotion of a slate of candidates who are trying to break the GOP away from the spending excesses and related scandals that doomed the party in 2006. Haley recently surged into first place in the race for the June 8 GOP primary (there's a June 22 runoff if no candidate clears, I believe, 50%) upon receiving the coveted endorsement of Sarah Palin (Palin's endorsement was also vital to surges in the polls by Rand Paul in Kentucky and Carly Fiorina in California).

South Carolina, however, is one of a handful of states whose politics are most notoriously vicious at the retail level (Louisiana, Illinois, and New Jersey are others), and lo and behold, Haley's campaign has been hit by a sensational attack: former Haley staffer and blog gadfly Will Folks claims to have had an unspecified "inappropriate physical relationship" with the married Haley.

The left-blogs and the national media immediately ran with this story; it seems that local press in South Carolina, being more familiar with Folks, has kept a little more arms length from him, seeing this as potentially more like the guy who claims to have had a gay affair with Barack Obama. But the more we see about Folks and the more we hear from him, the less credibile he seems and the more holes appear in his story. (Speculation appears to be that Folks is bitter at Jenny Sanford, who he blames for getting him fired from speechwriting gigs in both the Sanford Administration and the Haley campaign, and/or that he's on the payroll of a rival camp).

Ben Domenech has the best roundup, including a creepy you-have-to-see-to-believe video mock interview produced last year by Folks in which a cartoon version of Folks, who has a rap sheet for domestic violence, repeatedly refers to a desire to hit the cartoon version of Haley in the face. But make sure to follow a bunch of Ben's links to Ace, who is all over this story.

Combined with the nasty history of stalkerish to the point of criminal behavior aimed by Democrats at Palin and her family, including the latest news that writer Joe McGinnis has moved in next door to her after failing at a $60,000 bid to buy dinner with her, and you can see why this looks like the same old m.o. of character assassination.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:01 AM | Politics 2010 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
May 25, 2010
POLITICS: Of The Government, By The Government, For The Government

Great Mark Steyn column, as usual, on Greece and what it means:

From the Times of London: "The President of Greece warned last night that his country stood on the brink of the abyss after three people were killed when an anti-government mob set fire to the Athens bank where they worked."

Almost right. They were not an "anti-government" mob, but a government mob, a mob comprised largely of civil servants. That they are highly uncivil and disinclined to serve should come as no surprise: they're paid more and they retire earlier, and that's how they want to keep it. So they're objecting to austerity measures that would end, for example, the tradition of 14 monthly paycheques per annum. You read that right: the Greek public sector cannot be bound by anything so humdrum as temporal reality. So, when it was mooted that the "workers" might henceforth receive a mere 12 monthly paycheques per annum, they rioted. Their hapless victims - a man and two women - were a trio of clerks trapped in a bank when the mob set it alight and then obstructed emergency crews attempting to rescue them.

Read the whole thing. Unfortunately, we have things like this happen here, too, and yet it's the Right that gets accused of "sedition" for daring to criticize the domestic policies of the President. But the underlying fiscal problem of a private sector straining under the weight of an ever-expanding government is taking its toll here as well, as USA Today reports that private-sector paychecks have hit a historic low percentage of household income:

A record-low 41.9% of the nation's personal income came from private wages and salaries in the first quarter...Individuals got 17.9% of their income from government programs in the first quarter...Programs for the elderly, the poor and the unemployed all grew in cost and importance. An additional 9.8% of personal income was paid as wages to government employees.

In other words, that's 66 cents of spending on government wages or transfer payments for every dollar of private-sector wages. As we see from the Greek example, that's not just economically but socially unsustainable, because it creates two classes of people locked in a zero-sum pie-dividing exercise - a much larger and more lethal social problem than the traditional struggle between private-sector labor and management, in which there is at least some sense that both sides are engaged in a common productive enterprise.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:24 AM | Politics 2010 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
May 24, 2010
POLITICS: "History Happened"

Julian Sanchez actually has a perceptive column on Rand Paul and the limits of libertarian theory (he also has some wise words for liberals/progressives, who regard the civil rights movement less as a cause than an excuse for across-the-board bulldozing of private rights), which perhaps inadvertently underscores the distinction between conservatives and libertarians that I discussed here: conservatism may embrace many of the same principles as libertarianism, but ultimately it is formed by the real world, by tradition and experience. The problem I've had with Ron Paul on a whole number of fronts - aside from his shady association with conspiracy theorists, racists and foreign policy crackpots of varying stripes - is his devotion to theory at the expense of realities of various kinds. His son has made some real efforts to avoid the worst aspects of Paul-ism, and there's a good case to be made (as I did for years with his father in the House) that one guy like that can do a good deal of good in the Senate, plus of course there's the usual array of other reasons to discount the criticisms of him (such as the pervasive misquoting of his remarks and the fact that there is no practical chance that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is going to come up for a vote again), but at the end of the day, Paul does have to come to grips with the fact that his principles can't be applied in a vaccuum.

I mostly sat on my hands during that primary - I wasn't willing to go in for any son of Ron Paul, but his opponent seemed too tethered to the problematic status quo in Washington. In any event, either of them was always going to be preferable to yet another Democrat. But if you're looking for candidates who can contribute to the future direction of the GOP, I think we can safely leave Rand Paul out of the conversation.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:54 PM | Politics 2010 | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
May 20, 2010
BASEBALL: Moving Baserunners

It's an article of faith among traditional sportswriters and others of that mindset that winning teams are the ones who move baserunners and hit in the clutch. Lots and lots of empirical data says otherwise: the teams that win may do those things, but the better indicator of winning offensive teams is getting men on base in the first place, followed by hitting for power.

The Tampa Bay Rays are pressing the limits of that observation. The team is 29-11 despite several gaping holes in their lineup (Carlos Pena, Dioner Navarro, BJ Upton, Jason Bartlett and Pat Burrell are hitting a combined .213/.300/.337 in 671 plate appearances). Overall, the Rays are 6th in the AL in slugging and 7th in batting and OBP - yet they're second in runs scored, thanks to a team batting line of .304/.380/.484 with runners in scoring position (compared to .280/.343/.435 with a man on first and a pathetic .225/.306/.356 with the bases empty), plus excellent team speed that has them tied for the league lead in steals and next to last in GIDP. Pena is batting .250/.396/.525 with RISP, Bartlett .400/.447/.629, Evan Longoria .346/.393/.558.

The speed will continue to help them, as will their excellent pitching (2d in AL in K/BB ratio) and team defense (AL-best 71.7% of balls in play turned into outs) but that level of teamwide clutch overachievement is unsustainable. The 2001 Mariners, one of the best clutch teams in recent memory, batted .295/.385/.454 with RISP compared to .274/.340/.424 with the bases empty (as well as a ludicrous .320/.377/.494 with men on first), an impressive showing but nothing on the order of what Tampa is doing. I'd love to see a historical analysis of the widest spilts in teamwide lines between RISP and all other situations or bases empty, but I guarantee it would show no splits of this magnitude sustained over a full season.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 3:00 PM | Baseball 2010 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
May 15, 2010
BASEBALL: Rapid Robin

Meant to link to this earlier - Chris Jaffe writes an obituary for Robin Roberts, as a pitcher, that hits on the key point: Roberts' incredible workloads. When I was working with translated pitching stats some years back, there were four guys who really stood out for their workloads at their peak, relative to the years they pitched in: Roberts in the early 50s, Bob Feller in the late 30s to the season of his return from the war, Phil Niekro in the late 70s, and John Clarkson in the mid-late 1880s. But Niekro was a knuckleballer, and Clarkson was just doing what everybody else had been doing 5 years earlier; only 12 pitchers between 1924 and 1962 threw 320 innings in a season, and three of those were Roberts in consecutive seasons (in that 3-year stretch he averaged 338 innings and 31 complete games), and three others were Feller, albeit separated by four years in which Feller didn't pitch due to the war. Roberts tossed 300 innings six years in a row and less than 3 innings short of a seventh, at a time when the #2 workhorse in the game (Warren Spahn) was miles behind.

Roberts in his prime was sort of like Mariano Rivera throwing 300 innings a year, in that he threw so hard with so much movement and control that he scarcely needed a breaking ball (obviously, he was more homer-prone - Jamie Moyer may soon break his career record of 505 homers allowed, but it's a record that has withstood many challenges). Like Walter Johnson, Satchel Paige and Lefty Grove, all of whom that was true of to some extent at their peaks, he made heavier use of a curve as he got older (Paige reportedly didn't really develop his curve until he was pitching in the International League around age 50 and left the majors). As with Johnson and Paige, such heavy reliance on the fastball undoubtedly contributed to his ability to carry fantastic workloads with minimal stress.

Roberts, by his telling, became an elite pitcher in an instant and lost it as quickly. In his autobiography, My Life in Baseball, he explains that his mechanics just fell into place one day as a college pitcher in the summer of 1947, giving him great velocity with little stress on his arm; a year later, he was a major league pitcher, and he continued on carrying those eye-popping workloads until near the end of the 1955 season, his sixth in a row of 20 wins and 300 innings, when his manager, Mayo Smith, in a quest to get the team to finish at .500, pushed him too hard. Roberts threw 10 innings on August 14 against the Dodgers, albeit throwing just 123 pitches (pitch counts in that era are available only for Dodgers games, as the team tracked them (while Roberts was economical with his pitches, he cracked the 150 pitch mark twice in 1953, once in 1954, once in 1957, and once in 1958, including a 12-inning 190-pitch monstrosity on Opening Day in 1957). He threw 9 innings (90 pitches) against the Dodgers August 19, to run his record to 20-9 with a 2.83 ERA. Then, the next day - August 20, 1955 - Smith had Roberts come back to relieve, getting the save in a 3-2 win. He faced only one batter - Don Newcombe, pinch hitting - and got him. Then, Smith had Roberts warm up the next day as well, but didn't use him. After his next start, on August 25, Roberts couldn't straighten his arm, and the rest of the season he went 3-5 with a 5.37 ERA and just 17 K in 57 innings, beginning a long string of sore-armed seasons. The man who had dominated National League starting pitching for six seasons would go 74-97 with a 4.16 ERA (94 ERA+) and barely more than a strikeout every other inning from 1956-61 until the 34-year-old Roberts bottomed out at 1-10, 5.85 ERA in 1961, got cut by the Phillies and cut by the Yankees before reinventing himself to go 47-38 with a 2.98 ERA with the Orioles and Astros from age 35-38.

And that's before you get into his pioneering work in the Players' Association.

I met Roberts at an autograph event about 5 years ago - I mentioned that I'd read his book - and he sort of reminded me, in a good way, of Don Rumsfeld, a square-jawed, square-shouldered Illinoisian in his mid-70s, still looking physically strong and mentally quick. He reportedly watched the Phillies game the night before he died.


Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:40 PM | Baseball 2010 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
May 14, 2010
BASEBALL: The Vanishing 100-Inning Reliever

Tyler Clippard leads the major leagues in innings by a reliever with 25; he's on a pace to throw 115.2 innings this year, all in relief. Manuel Corpas is #2, and on pace for 111. In the AL, nobody is on pace to crack 100 innings solely in relief - Joel Zumaya is on pace for 98.2 innings in relief.

With deeper bullpens, even in the face of declining innings by starters, the 100-inning reliever has become an ever-rarer species. Looking decade-by-decade just at guys who cracked 100 innings without starting a single game (thus skipping over the guys who pass 100 relief innings plus a few starts), we see the rise and fall of the 100-inning reliever (and why Mike Marshall will almost certainly remain the only man to pass 200 innings in relief in a season):

1930s: 3
1940s: 8
1950s: 15
1960s: 67
1970s: 100
1980s: 115
1990s: 29
2000s: 6

The first guy to do it was Clint Brown in 1937, the last Scott Proctor in 2006 (what's with guys named Scott? The last before him was Scot Shields, and the last to do it more than once was Scott Sullivan in 1999, 2000 & 2001), so we've already passed three straight seasons without a 100-inning reliever. And the guys on pace in mid-May to just clear 100 are usually not great bets to keep that up all year.

As with many pitcher-usage issues, there are good reasons why innings have been declining (see my history of pitcher workloads), but no particular reason to think that managers are currently striking the right balance between avoiding injury risks and handing too many innings to second- and third-tier pitchers. Mariano Rivera and Derek Lowe both survived 100-inning relief seasons without doing any great damage to their arms. But the game continues to move in that direction regardless of whether anybody is analyzing whether it makes sense.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:18 AM | Baseball 2010 • | Baseball Studies | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
May 13, 2010

With a hat tip to the surprisingly entertaining Sesame Street Twitter feed, in honor of Stevie Wonder's 60th birthday, here he is doing a tremendous live version of Superstition in front of Mr. Hooper's store. Check the kid rocking out around 4:10:

Stevie kind of got away from this sort of funk-rock after the mid-70s or so, but this clip is a reminder of what an excellent musician he was at his peak.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:16 PM | Pop Culture | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
POLITICS: The Federal Fat Police

Hey, remember when we conservatives said that if you let the federal government into everybody's healthcare, pretty soon it will stick its peering eyes and groping hands into our personal business?

Welcome to "pretty soon," thanks to Wisconsin Democrat Ron Kind.

Kind has introduced a bill that would commandeer your health insurer to report to the federal government the body mass index (BMI) - i.e., height and weight - of your children every year from age 2 to 18:

States receiving federal grants provided for in the bill would be required to annually track the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. The grant-receiving states would be required to mandate that all health care providers in the state determine the Body Mass Index of all their patients in the 2-to-18 age bracket and then report that information to the state government. The state government, in turn, would be required to report the information to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for analysis. The Healthy Choices Act--introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee....amends the Public Health Services Act by stating that health care providers must record the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. "The provision relates to all children in states that accept grants under the bill," a spokesperson for Rep. Kind told "....BMI will be taken at times when the child makes an otherwise scheduled doctor’s visit."

Let's leave aside the many methodological problems with BMI as a measurement of obesity (such as the fact that muscular, athletic males are almost always classed as obese). The bill requires federal taxpayers to lay out yet more money to create yet another intrusive apparatus for tracking and storing information that, for example, your 16 year old daughter might regard as rather personal:

To pay for implementing BMI data gathering, Sec. 102 of the bill states that the federal government will give grants to states that meet certain criteria, including having "the capacity to store basic demographic information (including date of birth, gender and geographic area of residence), height, weight, and immunization data for each resident of the state." The grants also will pay for personnel and equipment necessary to measure patients' BMI.

And naturally, any child with a BMI over a specified percentile will be nagged to get government help. Of course, Rep. Kind swears that "any data used to generate a report on the BMI data collected would not include patients' names," but even if the data-security provisions are foolproof in that regard, there's still going to be an awful lot of identifiable information that will be required to be stored in government databases. And passed on to "Congress and other government officials, including the secretaries of education and agriculture," for that matter. The same people who go into shrieking tizzies at the idea of requiring adults to show a valid driver's licenses as proof of citizenship if they get stopped for traffic violations want to create a gigantic database of children's physical proportions. This is, by the way, the same Ron Kind whose GOP opponent in 2006 went after his history of supporting, uh, interesting government studies:

The ad states Kind doesn't have a problem spending money per se, but that "he would just rather spend it on sex." The ad then details-with citations to various NIH grants-legislation Kind is said to have voted for that included funds to:

1. Study the sex lives of Vietnamese prostitutes.

2. Study the masturbation habits of old men.

3. Study the bisexual, transgendered, and two-spirited Aleutian Eskimos.

4. Pay teenage girls to watch pornographic movies with probes connected to their genitalia.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is government without limits or a sense of personal space. It's Michelle Obama's and Ron Kind's America.

Kind's district is the classic sort of district that has been safe in years past (it went 51% for John Kerry, 58% for Barack Obama), but is rated D+3 by Charlie Cook, which puts it within reach if the GOP wave this fall rises high enough. Voters in Wisconsin's Third District will have to decide if they want Uncle Sam ogling their children and nagging them to put down their cheese and bratwurst.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:05 PM | Politics 2010 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
May 12, 2010
POLITICS: Nuke The Spill!

Somebody please tell me this is satire: I'm not even sure where you'd start listing the reasons why using nuclear weapons against the oil spill in the Gulf would not be a good idea, and the fact that it was - if this report is to be believed - policy in the Soviet Union is not an endorsement of it as environmentally responsible or even sane. If you want an illustration of why a government-directed economy ultimately creates problems that make mine and well safety issues in a free market economy look like peanuts, consider this:

[S]ubterranean nuclear blasts were used as much as 169 times in the Soviet Union to accomplish fairly mundane tasks like creating underground storage spaces for gas or building canals.

No thanks.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 1:58 PM | Politics 2010 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
May 10, 2010
WAR: BREAKING: Mullah Omar Captured?

That's what best-selling novelist Brad Thor is reporting over at Big Government:

Through key intelligence sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have just learned that reclusive Taliban leader and top Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar has been taken into custody.

If Thor's sources pan out, this is excellent news, and a moment for real vindication for everyone - from the military brass to Republican leaders and conservative commentators to, yes, President Obama - who argued for pressing on for victory in Afghanistan and not abandoning the region to the Taliban. Of course, I'm guessing that if Mullah Omar has been held for some time now by Pakistani authorities without public disclosure of that fact, he's probably been under questioning. Without being read any Miranda rights by the Pakistani government, one assumes. But doubtless we'll learn more about what has happened and when, in due time.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:12 PM | War 2007-14 | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
May 5, 2010
BLOG: Ten Years Burnin' Down The Road

I wish I had more time for a proper retrospective, but I can't let today go by without noting that it was ten years ago today that I began blogging, with my first (then-weekly) column on Bill Simmons' Boston Sports Guy website. I stand by my argument in that column that baseball should change the rules to require relief pitchers to face at least three batters.

Long-time readers know the story: I was sending around long baseball emails to college friends, and one of my college roommates, Jay Murphy, suggested I should be writing on the web for Simmons; Bill and I had written for The Crusader, our college newspaper, at the same time. Jay got me back in touch with Bill, who immediately agreed to run a weekly column, which I banged out in one sitting Thursday night, and it ran Friday, May 5, 2000 (he had a couple other friends writing guest slots, including a guy who wrote about pro wrestling). The rest is history; I had no idea of what lay ahead - the Subway Series, Bill leaving to join ESPN and ultimately national stardom, my column moving to the Providence Journal, 9/11, starting my political blogging on Blogspot in August 2002, getting my first big link (from Andrew Sullivan, of all people) a few weeks later, joining The Command Post and redesigning this blog in its present (Movable Type) form in the spring of 2003, getting a then-coveted spot on Instapundit's blogroll, winning the Best Sports Blog vote in the Weblog Awards in 2004, running my own guest-blogger from Iraq during the run-up to the Red Sox winning the World Series, joining RedState as a diarist in the summer of 2004 and being promoted to a Contributor during the Harriet Miers fight in 2005 and ultimately becoming a Director at RS and a contributing columnist at the New Ledger, having my work run on and the Hardball Times and referenced on CNN and and in the pages of Sports Illustrated, interviewing Mark Sanford, joining Twitter, etc. It's been a wild ride, and while the volume and shape of my output has waxed and waned at various times, I wouldn't trade it for anything, I'm thankful to all my readers and all the people who have published my stuff in many different outlets, and hope the next decade is as interesting as the first one.

Newer readers can sample my best stuff from the sidebar. It's hard to pick one favorite, especially among serieses of baseball and political columns that were designed to hang together as a coherent whole, but if pressed, I might pick my column on the 2008 farm bill, which I'm told was handed out around Capitol Hill; I had an enormous amount of fun writing that from the primary source in a white heat on a Friday morning, just plowing through the bill and finding one outrageous thing after another.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:23 AM | Baseball 2010 • | Blog 2006-14 | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)