LINK: The Rise of the Daily Game

The New York TImes has an informative story today about the rise of the daily fantasy baseball game, which has been embraced by MLBAM and managed to avoid being classified as a game of chance.

The writer quotes a guy who says he works 35 hours a week playing the game and made $50,000 last year, which seems very possible. It also mentions a recent surge of casual players who are increasing the pools. It might be time to start playing.


The Future of Sabremetrics

I’m sure the SABR Analytics conference would be great fun.

For one, Phoenix in March is baseball heaven, if you can get tickets.

Plus, as this story by Christina Kahrl makes clear, there are lots of smart baseball analysts in one place talking about the game and the analysis of its numbers. But two things struck me about the answers Christina got about sabrementrics, evolution or revolution?

First, that this year’s big story was pitch framing. I don’t know what was presented at the conference, but what I like about much of the pitch framing work I’ve seen is just how teased out it is. Like a detective story or  a bit of counterhistory, the idea has existed for a long time. The PitchF/X numbers don’t obviously lead to framing data, but when churned and cleaned, new information emerges. That’s neat.

The other is more important. A few of the respondents talk about the importance of the PitchF/X data and some mention the BIS fielding data, the importance of which cannot be overestimated. To the extent that data is available and more eyes see it and are inspired to work with it, the more real information is developed.

Which is why MLB’s VP of Stats Cory Schwartz’s statement seems like the most significant in the piece: “I think once we are able to roll out the complete field-tracking system and start to introduce some of that data into public space to whatever extent it might be, I think that will further increase the pace of evolution and perhaps bring about what we would consider revolutionary turning points.”

Emphasis mine. Some of that data, to whatever extent it might be, these qualifiers are going to make a huge difference to the future of the analytic community in the coming years. MLBAM surely recognizes the incredible dynamic force they unleashed by making the PitchF/X data available, something we should not fail to remind them every chance we get.

Coming Soon! More baseball stats!

Screenshot 2014-03-02 13.48.20Major League Baseball Advanced Media announced yesterday that starting in 2015 every major league ballpark will have a system in place to measure placement and speed of all objects on the ballfield. Now, if only they would do something about the lines to buy food. (Kidding. Actually they seem to have.)

It is unclear whether the new system will replace Pitch F/x. It is being tested this year in Minnesota, Milwaukee and at Citi Field in New York.

The story has a video clip showing Jason Heyward making a diving catch on a fly ball into the gap, then on the replay shows how hard and high the batter hit the ball and tracks Heyward has he runs, showing his distance run, speed and acceleration.

The promise of a system like this is that, once aggregated, the data will help us learn all sorts of new things about defensive abilities, defensive strategies, the value of speed and in all likelihood stuff we can’t even imagine now.

Besides it’s relationship to Pitch F/x, which has produced a lot of innovative research because it was available, and Hit and Field F/x, which were not, is the availability of the data to the baseball research community.

No doubt MLBAM will look for the system to pay for itself through team and media licenses, but the widespread distribution of data will help improve the system initially and spur innovative uses after that.

Exciting stuff.


Getting Less Flacid

I should be more rigid about condemning flacid writing (and thinking). We don’t have enough time in our days to sort through all the crap. At tonight, in the game preview for tomorrow’s Cards/Brewer’s Beer Bash,’s Mike Bauman wrote:

“For a time, the Brewers were seemingly in denial about Marcum’s slump, chalking up his poundings to pitching with bad luck. Now, cognitive progress is being made. The first step toward solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem. The slump is being seen as a combination of not being as sharp as he was earlier in the season and bad luck.”

I like his aggressive style, but really, he’s hyping here the way those acronymically diverse wrestling and kickboxing organiztions do. What we want to know is what evidence there is why Marcum’s success in the first five months has cratered.

The answer doesn’t have to be definite. Especially if luck is a factor, which it seems to be in this case. Marcum early success somewhat lucky, late failure somewhat unlucky. But to add such writerly and faux analytical touches to a story that hypes such totally dreamland ideas of starting Narveson over Marcum in Game 6 is just shoddy. Or maybe even, dare I say it, pandering.

Whoops, I just pandered.

Streaming games on the iPod Touch (and iPhone, too)

That’s an ad, because this is an endorsement. It is an ad for Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation) LATEST MODEL

I own an iPod Touch 2nd generation model, and yesterday new operating software came out. I downloaded it right away. There was a $10 charge for adding the software to your old machine, which irks some but is fine by me if I get more, and this upgrade promised some cool stuff. I won’t get into that other than to say that the voice recorder alone was worth the fee.

And, last night, I stopped by and there was an announcement that the new MLB AT Bat software would allow the streaming of games to the iPhone and the iPod Touch. I upgraded that software, which cost $10 in March, and offers up to the minute Scores, Box Scores, Game Casts and video highlight, and now offers two games a day in live stream.

I didn’t get to try the streaming until today, but it was terrific. The wifi streaming to the phone was superior to the wired ethernet streaming to my desktop machine. The picture isn’t huge but it is viewable, doesn’t go all pixilated or freeze all too regularly. In fact, it acted TV.

The app is offering two games a day, and of course we’d like them all. You can’t get games in your local market, which obviously limits the appeal for homers. But for a fantasy player who wants to check out his out of town guys, the computer package offers more games, the iPod/iPhone app lets you watch them in more places.

MLB At Bat also offers streaming radio for both teams for all games, which also comes in handy a lot more often than you’d think.

I didn’t buy an iPhone because I really couldn’t justify the cost of the data plan, since I work from my home. I travel, but then I usually have my laptop. Plus, I already have a phone. But the iPod Touch does nearly everything that the iPhone does, if you ignore the phone and camera parts, with no recurring charges. I can pick up my mail when I’m out of the house without carrying my computer, and it is a source of all sorts of information via YouTube, Google Earth, and the regular web browser, plus widgets for the weather and stocks and… well, I hope you get the idea. It’s like the internet, only in a sliver of metal and glass that feel great in the hand.

I was happy with the gadget in December, but the addition of streaming major league games with excellent (if small) video, is stepping forward into the future.

A utopia, by the way.

Apple iPod touch 16 GB (2nd Generation) LATEST MODEL