A couple big Bay Area wins

| April 26, 2012

Quite a 24 hours we’ve had in Bay Area baseball, huh? Yesterday afternoon the A’s bounced back with a huge two-run homer by Yoenis Cespedes to tie the game and then they won it in the 14th, and today the Giants got a big ninth-inning three-run homer from Angel Pagan on the way to a 6-5 victory in Cincy.

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Ryan Braun and the “technicality”

| February 24, 2012

Ever since the shocking announcement that Ryan Braun won the appeal of his drug suspension, I’ve heard a lot of people still critical. They say “If he’s innocent, he should have argued that instead of getting off on a technicality.”

That shows a lack of understanding not just of the law, but of simple logic.

Let’s say he’s innocent. Say he never took a single drug in his life. Not even aspirin.

MLB: “We have a test of your urine that shows Chemical X.”
Braun: “But I never took anything.”
MLB: “OK, but we have a test of your urine that shows Chemical X.”

Where do you go from there?

Braun’s only defense is to challenge the accuracy of the test, whether he is totally innocent or whether he’s guilty and looking for an out. Doesn’t matter. His only defense is to challenge the accuracy of the test.

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A surprise with first-pitch swinging

| January 26, 2012

Inspired by a twitter exchange Henry Schulman started (here and here and here) the other day, and because it’s a kinda slow at work, I decided to do a little experiment about first-pitch swinging.

I know the MLB numbers are pretty good for all hitters who put the first pitch in play, but that a) only takes into account when they actually hit the ball and b) could be slanted because hitters are supposed to know to only swing at fat first-pitches, which would mean their results would naturally be good when they hit the ball.

But, I assumed, the vast majority of first pitches are not cookies, so anyone who swings at a lot of them is probably swinging at a lot of them that he shouldn’t.

So, I figured if I took a list of the guys who swung at the highest percentage of first pitches, and a list of the guys who swung at the lowest percentage, the guys in the latter list would be waaaaay better.

These are their overall stats, not the first-pitch stats, because I wanted to judge the overall success of the guys who swung at first pitches, not just their success on those first pitches. This is just 2011, only for players who had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title (502)…

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My HOF deliberations: Edgar

| December 24, 2011

So far, I’ve checked the names of Jeff Bagwell, Barry Larkin, Mark McGwire and Tim Raines. I eliminated Alan Trammell after giving him another look, so I’m down to just four more guys on my bubble: Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Larry Walker and Bernie Williams. Here we go with a close look at Edgar…

For starters, let me say that, when I was a kid, I was a die-hard Seattle Mariners fan. And I died a lot. From 1980 to 1997 (when I became a full-time baseball writer and abandoned by team allegiances), the Mariners mostly sucked.

Anyway, I rooted pretty hard for them. And Edgar Martinez was a big part of things when they finally turned it around and became good. In fact, his hit to win the 1995 NLDS against the Yankees is probably the pinnacle of my entire life as a sports fan.

But I have to put all that aside now.

The question is whether Edgar Martinez belongs in the Hall of Fame.

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Why the BBWAA is not inconsistent with Braun stance

| December 12, 2011

A lot of you out there in the Twitterverse are killing the BBWAA today for the statement that Ryan Braun won’t lose his MVP, even if he’s suspended for a violation of baseball’s drug policy. You want to know how the same organization can hold PED users accountable when it comes to the Hall of Fame (see McGwire, Mark), but not for annual awards.

But you’re looking at it wrong.

The point is not whether PED use is right or wrong, or whether it should be considered in voting. The question is whether you can rewrite history.

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Ryan Braun needs to keep his MVP

| December 12, 2011

I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath to hear what I think of all this Ryan Braun stuff, so here goes…

First, I am reserving judgment on whether he’s even guilty at the moment. I know it’s easy to just assume that everyone accused is guilty, but given the fact that Braun has played his entire professional life in an era when he’s been tested, I find it at least plausible that he’s clean. Second, people who know Braun seem to be legitimately shocked. Third, MLB still hasn’t announced the suspension, which means they are still wading through the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s guilty or innocent at this point.

Now, what about the MVP? No way you can take it away from him. Voters voted with the best information they had at the time, and Braun won. End of story. BBWAA secretary treasurer Jack O’Connell has said as much.

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Draft spending and the talent pool

| November 23, 2011

I still keep hearing people claiming that the new CBA, as it relates to the draft and international markets, is going to be bad for baseball because it’s going to reduce the talent pool. It’s a very simplistic way to look at it.

MLB spends less money on amateur athletes, so MLB gets a worse pool of athletes.

Well, it doesn’t work that way. An athlete doesn’t just choose the sport he’s going to pursue the way a person picks the station where he’s going to get gas.

The reason that athletes ultimately choose to sign to play baseball is because … they want to play baseball. We all pick careers based on our interests and abilities, not on what can get us paid the most. Otherwise we’d have a society with no teachers and no sports writers. We’d all be Major League Baseball players. I know I would be.

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