Link: Baseball’s Real Revolution Reframed

screenshot-2016-09-23-11-46-12Josh Levin uses the sagas of the Fire Joe Morgan blog and Rob Neyer to chat about how baseball’s statistical revolution stopped being about stats versus scouts, and comes up with something nice to say about Tim McCarver!

Well worth reading for it’s gentle sense of history, and optimistic view forward. In Slate.

http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/the_next_20/2016/09/fire_joe_morgan_and_the_moneyball_revolution.html

ASK ROTOMAN: A pitcher smuggled out of Cuba

Dear Rotoman:

I’m not sure if this falls into the scope of the questions you answer, but I was talking with a friend last night about baseball history and he brought up a pitcher who had been smuggled out of cuba by his manager after he was attacked with some kind of weapon. I remember reading about that somewhere, but can’t remember the player’s name and can’t find it anywhere! Do you have any idea?

“History Buff”

Van Lingle Mungo was a rough and rowdy pitcher, mostly for the Brooklyn Dodgers, from 1931 to 1945.

The quote that is always used to address his temper is from Casey Stengal: “”Mungo and I get along fine. I just tell him I won’t stand for no nonsense, and then I duck”

At the Baseball Almanac I found this telling of the story of Mungo on a date in Havana:

The following story about Van Mungo appeared in The Herring Design Quarterlies, “Once, when the Dodgers were training in Cuba, his friends really saved him. Seems Van Lingle Mungo became enamored with a nightclub dancer by the name of Gonzalez, and she liked him pretty well, too. Her husband caught them in the clutches, and Mungo punched him in the eye. Señor Gonzalez returned with a butcher knife. That’s when a Dodgers executive by the name of Babe Hamberger hid Mungo in a laundry cart. He got his pitcher out of a major jam and down to the wharf where a seaplane was waiting. Mungo hid while his bags were loaded. Then Hamberger yelled, and Mungo sprinted for the plane, leaping aboard with the police hot on his heels.”

Bill James, in the Historical Baseball Abstract, lists Mungo as a drinking man in 1930s baseball, and that’s all.

But Mungo has been immortalized, of a sort, by David Frishberg, who wrote a song called “Van Lingle Mungo.” It’s a jazzy piece, well worth a listen, and while you do head over to Baseball Almanac and read about Frishberg’s one meeting with Mungo.

Mickey, Willie and the Hacker. Or Buschel’s Perfect Day.

Screenshot 2016-01-31 00.43.08I play in the American Dream League with the tech writer Steven Levy, whose team is known as the Random Hackers.

Another writer (of this excellent book, among other things), Bruce Buschel, is in the league, too, and has been since its first year, 1981. His team has gone by many names, most memorably, the BB Gubs.

Even if you don’t know who Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Martin Luther King are, or Bowie Kuhn for that matter, let Bruce fill you in with this delightful shaggy dog story.

Read it here.

Woodrow Wilson: Father of Fantasy Baseball?

p1020962-copyJohn Thorn, basesball historian, has an amazing tale about Woodrow Wilson, the 28th US president, who as a boy appears to have spent 1871 creating a fictional version of the National Association season that year.

Found in the Woodrow Wilson collection at the Library of Congress was a handwritten end of season account, including box scores, that mimicked similar actual accounts published by Henry Chadwick.

The attention to detail is amazing, and maybe a little scary. Read Thorn’s story for all the details, including an account of the “newspaper’s” sale by the auction house that is today called Southby’s, which attributed the piece to Chadwick himself.

UPDATE: The linked story was originally published on February 24, 2014, but I just came upon it today. If you liked this story, you may like this one about the baseball game Jack Kerouac invented as a boy.

Rotisserie Baseball: Carved In Stone

Dan Okrent talks about the game he invented.

http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/7417714/v103509783

 

Henry David Thoreau and the Baseball Fields

thoreau1

 

On April 10, 1856, Henry David Thoreau, looking like Dustin Pedroia’s older brother, wrote in his diary about the baseball fields in Concord, Mass., being finally dry enough on which to play.

dustin-pedroia-mlb-boston-red-sox-tampa-bay-rays-850x560

 

Boston residents today are not so sure the snow will ever melt this year.

 

LINK: Baseball is Dying! Again and again and again!

BYD-BostonBaseballNavy_largeGrantland’s Bryan Curtis visits baseball historian John Thorne, and surveys the literature of baseball is dying stories. The first one dates from 1868.

In a HardballTalk story from September, Craig Calcaterra showed the fallacy of  current baseball is dying stories, over and over and over.

Map of US Baseball Players’ Birthplaces

Screenshot 2014-10-08 09.01.24What if you took the birthplaces of all the US born major league baseball players since 1900 and mapped them into 50 states of equal size?

And what if you gave them cute names based on a famous ballplayer who was born in that imaginary state?

You would have this map. If you did it for current ML players, you would have this map. I was born on either Long Yastzremski or Markakis York.

And you would have this story that maps the birthplaces of NLF, NBA and NHL players, too.

LINK: The State of the Fantasy Baseball Nation

Nick Minnix does a fantastic job surveying the fantasy baseball business at Hardball Times, looking for the games’ next big thing. He covers a lot of ground, with insightful reporting and a light touch with the analysis. Highly recommended for fantasy players.

Why the Washington Football Team Should Adopt a New Team Name.

I have no doubt that for many the use of the Washington NFL team’s nickname is meant to be an honor. My objection to the name is simple. There are many Native American tribes and groups who are opposed to all uses of Native American imagery and reference for non-Native American sports teams. There are many individuals of Native American descent who are similarly opposed and have said so publicly.

I’m aware that many other Native Americans say they’re proud of the names and teams, and I’m certain the reason there is a debate now is because of this ambivalence within the community.

But what I hear in the objection is more personal and moving than is the support. Many people find the use of the nickname painful and demeaning and would like it to stop. In 1972 the Stanford sports teams stopped using Indian imagery and references for their team names. My favorite college, St. Johns, stopped using the team name Redmen years ago, as have many other teams at every level in the US and Canada.

They’ve done this out of respect for the Native Americans who have objected, who have said that using the names is disrespectful and hurtful. For me, that’s the side I want to be on.

okflagvignetteOne thing I learned from this discussion was that the state name Oklahoma is a combination of two Choctaw words that add up to mean Red People. The funny thing about this is that the state is proud of its Indian heritage, and features on its shield five flags, each representing one of the major Native American tribes that reside there.

I say funny, because these five tribes, the Creeks, Choctaw, Seminoles (isn’t that the name of a Florida football team?), Chickasaw and Cherokee were forcibly resettled in the state. Not, I’m assuming, because of its bountiful natural resources. There’s a reason this forcible relocation from their homes in the southeastern part of the US, in a devastating march west, is called the Trail of Tears.

This is a heritage all of us live with, even if many of us don’t think about it all that often. Which is why I listen when I’m reminded  of it, especially by people whose personal history has been so starkly and dramatically colored by it. For me, if our continued use of their caricatures on our sports teams is painful, it is time to stop.

In any case, I hoped to provoke discussion and thought about the use of Native American names and imagery by omitting the Washington team’s name from the Guide, and I appreciate the letters from those who have objected to it, as well as those who’ve spoken out in support. If we continue to discuss and argue about the real issues here, I’m sure we’ll eventually come to a proper resolution.