January 20, 2017 / From the Editor
Every Friday, we publish a short list of a few articles that have caught our …
July 15, 2014
Every year Praxis editor Matthew Shedden (@sheddenm) live tweets the MLB All-Star game as well as puts together a Briefing of interesting links and articles for the midpoint of the season.
If you’re made this far into the ASG Briefing but are still skeptical, Will Leitch points out a special thing about the MLB ASG:
I love that the MLB All-Star Game moves around to somewhere different every year. The Super Bowl is (until recently, anyway) always in some hotspot destination: The Super Bowl has to be at a place that understands how massive it is and how lucky the city is to be hosting it. (It’s why New York City will never host the Super Bowl again.) The NBA does that often too; they’ll even put that thing in Las Vegas if you let them. But baseball: In baseball, everybody gets a turn, though it certainly helps if you’ve built a new stadium.
The game is in Minnesota this year and the USA Today covers the teams journey from near contraction to ASG host:
The Twins, mortified their proud franchise would be taken away 13 years ago, will be hosting their first All-Star Game in nearly 30 years Tuesday, and on this night, crying in baseball will be quite acceptable. “I can tell you this,” says St. Peter, who has been with the Twins for 25 years, “there’s nobody that works for the Twins who lived through that period of time that takes a single day of this for granted. “Everything literally vaporized in front of us. It’s going to be a very emotional day.”
Think the game might be more interesting if it was USA vs. The World? Fox proposes just that:
Today’s AL players don’t profess an earnest desire to whip the NL, the way Ted Williams might have, in part because a number of them might be playing for the NL by this time next year. A game between Team USA and Team World would do a better job of stirring pride and emotion among superstars on the field — and fans around the globe.
The Home Run derby was last night but here’s a great look back at the history of events like it:
Now, on the eve of the All-Star Game’s return to Minneapolis, let’s remember that the real history of those few days is in what happened the day before the ’85 Midsummer Classic. On a humid Monday afternoon, some 46,000 patrons paid $2 a pop to file inside the Metrodome and witness an event not seen before in baseball’s modern era: the game’s most prodigious sluggers belting out dingers, one by one, in an organized competition.
Major League Baseball dubbed it “the All-Star Home Run Contest,” but it was the birth of what we now call the Home Run Derby.
If the game gets boring the Times has a lovely essay on the vanishing screwball:
Hector Santiago of the Los Angeles Angels was sitting at a restaurant table in Glendale, Ariz., in March, holding an orange in his left hand. He formed a circle with his thumb and forefinger, then spread his remaining fingers around the fruit with half an inch between each one. He was demonstrating how he throws his screwball, which is the best in baseball mostly because nobody else has one. The secret, he said, is to exert no pressure with the pinkie or ring finger. As he moved his arm forward in a slow-motion simulation, he pushed hard with his middle finger on the inside of the orange until much of his hand was beneath it, creating a clockwise spin. “Like driving on your right wheels going around a curve,” he said.
Grantland introduces us to just one of the many translators who assist MLB teams:
That morning, as Darvish sat at his locker, Kenji Nimura, a diminutive 42-year-old former high school teacher, was standing a few feet away, chatting in Spanish with pitchers Alexi Ogando and Joakim Soria, their conversation punctuated by loud, excited laughter. But as the beat reporters crept closer to Darvish for an impromptu press conference, Nimura’s face dropped into a more sober cast. He walked over to the pitcher, took up his familiar position at Darvish’s side, and began fielding questions.
A great Deadspin essay on the “Average Professional Baseball Player” Who Changed Sportswriting:
Brosnan used The Long Season to take readers onto the field, but he didn’t stop there. His tour continued on into the dugouts, clubhouses, planes, trains, and hotel rooms where baseball players lived out their lives, from February until October. He laid bare strengths and weaknesses, triumphs and indignities, good times and bad, his own as well as his teammates’. Granted, he realized his era wasn’t ready for the vulgarity that is a staple of baseball conversation. And he steered clear of the sexual shenanigans we have come to realize are part of big league recreation. (In the days he wrote about, there wasn’t even a designated hitter, and the champions of the two eight-team major leagues went straight to the World Series.) And yet Brosnan’s readers—not just baseball fans but thinking people interested in the human condition—got the picture.
Some of you might be thinking professional athletes are just overpaid jerks. So here are the most overpaid of MLB for you to gripe about:
Each year, as the All-Star break approaches, we take a look around MLB to see who’s not living up to their big contracts. The basic formula: comparing each player’s salary to his Wins Above Replacement (WAR), the now widely accepted stat that crunches both offensive and defensive (and pitching) metrics to determine the number of wins a player contributes to his club over and above a minimum-salaried replacement. Our list includes 11 players: a starting pitcher, relief pitcher and designated hitter along with the eight everyday positions on the field. Among the players who make the cut: Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard ($25 million; -0.2 WAR), Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp ($21 million; -1.2 WAR) and Oakland reliever Jim Johnson ($10 million; -0.8 WAR).
Congress doesn’t seem to getting much done but at least they have a highly competitive baseball league:
A “significant” number of the 31 Republican players quietly sought the resignation of Rep. Joe Barton, the 64-year-old Texas Congressman who coaches the team, according to Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.). The players were unhappy with Barton’s philosophy that everyone who has the courage to sign up should get to play under the lights. They are also miffed about Barton’s unusual strategy of employing separate lineups for fielding, batting and pinch running.
No softball All-star game on tonight but is the game itself sexist? (via NYtimes):
The flimsiness of arguments against women’s participation was on display in the desperate legal efforts of Little League to bar girls after a string of lawsuits in 1973. Officials claimed that baseball was “a contact sport”; that boys would quit if girls were allowed; that girls’ bones were weaker than boys’; that facial injuries could ruin a girl’s looks and therefore prospects in life; and, most outlandishly, that girls struck in the chest by a ball might later develop breast cancer. One Little League vice president expressed his concern that coaches would not be able to “pat girls on the rear end the way they naturally do to boys.”
Fan Graphs with an advanced take on who might the worst team in baseball:
At FanGraphs, we measure team performance through a model called BaseRuns, which calculates the number of runs a team would be expected to score and allow based on a normal distribution of events. With these expected run differentials, we can calculate team records based on overall performance without the influences of clutch performance, which is generally random and mostly beyond a team’s control.
And BaseRuns thinks that the Rangers have been baseball’s worst team so far this year, without any reasonable contender even coming all that close to their marks of futility.
David A. Garner