The GM Project 2018

I played the Twins again, and ended up trading for JT Realmuto and signing JD Martinez as a free agent. It isn’t what I planned on doing. You can read the story here.

There are links to the stories of other teams on the page. They’re a fun way to read analysis of what each franchise’s situation is going into the offseason, and what might be out there at a reasonable budget. (Just don’t expect the Twins to be signing Martinez. That was the place I had the money to sign Alex Cobb or, maybe, Yu Darvish.

Rotoman is the Twins GM!

For the second year in a row Brian Joura of Mets360.com asked me to participate in his GM Simulation.

Here’s the deal: 30 baseball writers are given the rosters of the major league teams and are asked to simulate the offseason. For the second year in a row I had the Twins.

joe_mauer_by_keith_allisonLast year, I dumped Joe Mauer, saved some money and improved the team.

This year, I made more like the real Twins and made Mauer the (downcast) face of the organization. All that money spent on a mild-mannered first baseman who is no Superman made improving the team difficult, but maybe having Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano and Brian Dozier and lots of other young talent will be enough.

I put down some notes about my plans and how I executed them here, at Brian’s site.

You’ll find the comments of other owners on the project page.

I encourage your comments about my moves and everyone else’s. I’m not an expert on the Twins farm system, but it seemed to me there might be enough talent in Gonsalves and Stewart to shore up the rotation if the hitters came through, but that’s far from a sure thing. What is for sure is that there wasn’t the money to buy a better starter than what we already had.

 

 

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

Korean Baseball Organization First Pitches

Rhythmic gymnast Shin Soo-ji throwing out the first pitch in July 2013 started a fad.
Rhythmic gymnast Shin Soo-ji throwing out the first pitch in July 2013 started a fad.

This is not an event in Korea put together by BaseballHQ. It seems that in Korea throwing out the first pitch to a ballgame has become an entertainment and marketing opportunity.

Over at Slate, they asked a connoisseur of Korean baseball to provide some video of the most entertaining first pitches. You’ll have to click through the links to watch most of them at YouTube, but it’s worth it.

Read the story, find the links here.

Washington Post Poll Supports Dan Snyder’s View!

redskins+logo+peta
PETA suggested way to retain team name without slur.

A couple of years ago I made the decision to drop the Washington NFL team’s name from The Fantasy Football Guide.

The rationale was simple. The name derived from a term common to scalp hunters during the Indian wars of the 19th Century. It was considered offensive by many Native Americans. The team’s own history of use of the name began with a racist and his racist intentions. Or, as Tara Houska, quoted in the New York Times article today about the WaPo poll, said:

“Ms. Houska, who lives in Washington, said she was bracing for all the people who would be waving the poll in her face — “the poll, the poll, the poll” — and saying she had no right to be offended by the name of the local football team.

That the matter is even up for debate baffles her.

“It’s a straight-up slur,” she said. “It’s a dictionary-defined racial slur. It should be a no-brainer — but somehow, it’s not.”

After the first magazine issue without the team name came out I received a number of angry letters from people saying that if they’d read the Editor’s Letter about the issue before buying the magazine they would have put it back on the rack. Some were mad because I was attacking their team, their Nation, and they would not stand for that. Others were mad because they saw in my stance the influence of the mad culture of political correctness, in which it is suddenly and (to apparently many) improper to seek to avoid needlessly insulting people and hatefully reminding them that they have it worse than you.

I’m sure we lost some sales since then to these folks, but sales overall are up andI get more letters each year from folks who like the magazine than the year before, so I can live with the consequences of pushing this small principle.

But learning today about this poll disturbs me a bit. Could it be true that 90 percent of the polled Native Americans don’t have a problem with the Washington team’s name? And the poll reports that 80 percent would not be offended if called redskin by a non Native American. There are questions about the poll. The sample was small and there are questions about the demographics. I would be more suspicious of these results if they didn’t echo a 2004 Annenberg poll on the issue that has always been looked at as on the margins, since so much Native American institutional strength was allied against the Washington NFL team name.

The Times article goes into the process of once offensive expressions becoming something else, relates stories from different cultures, but returns ultimately to Ms. Houska, and ends with her quote, which I included above. It’s well worth reading.

Now, production is underway on the Fantasy Football Guide 2016 and I’ve got some thinking to do. Ten percent of 5.4M Native Americans is 540,000 people. That’s not a small number to offend with something as trivial as a team name. I’m inclined to continue the boycott, even if it isn’t politically correct in these times.

There’s Going To Be A Mock Draft Tonight! UPDATE.

This is not a song by the Eagles.

Jimi at Couch Managers, a fine mock draft site, has invited a bunch of roto experts for a 5×5 draft tonight (February 3) at 8pm ET.

You can watch if you want at Couch Managers, and you might want to. The draft and chat room will be visible. This will not be a caucus.

The lineup is full of personality and includes  Cory Schwartz, Adam Ronis, Tim Heaney, Gene McCaffrey, Joel Henard, Doug Anderson, Tim McLeod, Paul Sporer, Mike Gianella, Lawr Michaels, Ryan Bloomfield, and Chris O’Brien, plus someone named big magoo, from Razzball. Oh, and I’m playing, too.

The draft is over. You can see the results here.

UPDATED: The upshot: I took Kershaw with No. 5. Scherzer went at 15. There was then a pause, and then near the end of Round 2 pitchers started to fall off the board.  All the shiny bubbles, the most desired players (Cory Seager went No. 30) kept being taken in the round ahead of where I had them ranked and so I ended up drafting boring productive hitters, until I had enough of them. Guys like JD Martinez, Adrian Gonzalez, Cargo. Closers went early, too. We really need some research on these different approaches. Do they matter? After all, if everyone is taking pitchers early the hitters they’re not taking early will be there later.

If you look at the draft, feel free to comment on who did best in the comments (and why).

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.

LINK: Scars of the Game

Screenshot 2015-10-06 10.11.37The New York Times has a surprisingly engaging photo essay about elbows, Tommy John surgery, and the scars that are left behind.

Today’s Daily Fantasy Sports Controversy

I first learned about it from industry friends, who pointed to a story in today’s New York Times.  The story originally broke in a discussion forum at Rotogrinders.com.

It seems a Draft Kings employee who writes about ownership percentages (how many Draft Kings players rostered particular NFL players in any given week) at Draft Kings finished second in a Week 3 contest at FanDuel and took home $350,000.

This same DK employee had accidentally published the ownership percentages before the DK games had locked that same week, demonstrating that some individuals have access. This wasn’t known before.

Big fantasy tournaments have thousands of entries, and there is a competitive advantage in avoiding commonly-rostered players. So the first question is whether the employee was using his Draft Kings information at FanDuel?

The second question is who actually has access to his information and, while they’re not allowed to play on the sites they work for, do they use it to play on other sites?

The answers are, perhaps not unsurprisingly, murky. Daily fantasy sports is an unregulated (so far) business. And while that seems likely to change, for now players are reliant on their trust of the game makers themselves.

The website legalsportsreport.com has an excellent What we know now about the situation, which attempts to answer all the questions raised here.

It’s hard for me to believe that these games are intentionally crooked. There seems to be too much money to be made for them to cut corners, but it is also true that if there is a way to get an advantage somehow someone is going to figure it out and take it. Which is why the legal gambling industry works hard to maintain a squeaky clean reputation. Trust is important.

Trust is unraveling in DFS, today, and the operators are going to have to work to earn it back.