The MLB and the NBA


Question came up earlier ... to what extent might a manager put a hitter into the lineup, or keep him out, based on a particular ump?  TR asked that question of Matt, not me, but it's an interesting community issue, also.

Asterisk:  as it pertains to Mike Zunino, the M's evidently give Zunino credit for +0.50 or even +1.00 in catcher ERA, and at that point his hitting malaise in the bottom half of the inning is engulfed by his contributions in the top half of the inning.

Asterisk two:  as it pertains to hair-fine data that drive daily lineup cards ... this is a good way to find yourself leaving Joe Beimel in to face ARod because this year ARod has worse stats against LHP's and this year Teixeria is hitting .111 against left hand breaking balls.  :- )

Asterisk three:  when umps used to have far different strike zones, it's easy to imagine Earl Weaver putting a free swinger into the lineup because Ron Luciano had (or didn't have) a TINY zone.


But it's an awesome question ... are we getting that hair-fine, that the umps' strike zones factor in on the level of "Joe Shalbotnik can't call a curve ball correctly, and Dave Henderson is a dead red hitter, so let's put Hendu in?

Bill James just remarked on this subject:

I suspect you've already covered this, but what do you think explains the phenomenal improvement in pitchers' K/BB ratios over the past 15 years? This year pitchers are averaging 2.70 K's for every BB, whereas in 2000 the ratio was 1.72 K's for every BB. Looking over the data it's not just that K's have increased, but BB's have also declined sharply. 
Asked by: jfadams
Answered: 7/27/2015
Calling the actual strike zone. Video technology revealed that actual strikes were not being called strikes. You call them strikes, everybody strikes out. But it's a step forward, because now we can fix the strike zone.


These days, every fan including Soccer Mom gets an instant transmission of every pitch.  If the ump calls a ball on a pitch that did tick the corner of the rectangle, bang, the fans are angry with the ump.  So the consistency of the strike zones are drastically increased.  This would lead us to doubt that Ump X gives away more than (say) 2-3 inches at the top of the zone.  This might or might not affect one pitch call on Zunino for the night.  I doubt Zunino would factor that in much.  Could be wrong.

But the more interesting idea here is that --- > umps used to force pitchers to throw the ball through "an area the size of a license plate," as Roger Clemens put it.  My own observation is that this was true in the 1990's, that half the umps wanted the pitcher to throw the ball into the hitters' wheelhouses.  One time the 1991-92 Randy Johnson threw a good game and the UMPIRE made a curious remark TO THE SPORTSWRITERS after the game:  "Tonight, he just said 'here it is, hit it.'  He was great."  That was the attitude 15 years ago:  a pitcher should be willing to challenge the hitter on the hitter's terms.  Lou Piniella was also of that mentality.  He'd put Bobby Ayala in to get rocked for a 7.00 ERA and say "You want to know why I like this guy.  You can't drive him off the plate."

So, now, the pitchers have a fairer strike zone to work with, and the umps are taken out of the equation to a much greater degree.  The only thing that could make Dr. D happier would be if the umps were taken further out of the equation, far enough to allow for automated strike zones.  Then we fans could enjoy a well-thrown curve ball the way that NBA fans enjoy a well-stroked 3-point shot.  With the swish of the net or the green lights approving a strike.



(1) Word is that the Seahawks are offering 4 x $21M or 5 x $21M but ... get this ... guaranteeing only $20M of it?!

(2) If I were Russell Wilson I'd be profoundly insulted by that also.

(2a) Is Russell Wilson not your guy?  With all the work ethic, character, 21st-century style, etc?  To at least the extent that you'd guarantee TWO seasons' salary?

(3) Perhaps this is a savvy maneuver on the Seahawks' part to offer the $40-50M guarantee the day before the deadline, as it were, and have Wilson sigh with relief.



My bar for NFL players' character isn't very high.  And what a lot of people call "cheating," Dr. D sees more as gamesmanship.  When MLB players steal signs, or throw a fastball while stepping in front of the rubber, or what have you, it is against the rules but not against the PLAYERS' code.

So I don't care much about Brady using bean bags in cold, wet New England weather.  The other QB probably did it too.

That said, Brady has come off as creepy to me this winter, a liar and a cheat by any standards.  And the NFL had some reason to drop the "invisible hammer," throwing Brady to the wolves.  His general reputation has taken a huge hit from which it won't recover.

In that context, I'm all the happier to have Russell Wilson as my QB.  



I'd probably take Mike Montgomery at this point before I'd take Roenis Elias.  And 10-game winners making the minimum don't fall out of trees.  Montgomery looks VERY promising.



The M's offensive surge has just about directly coincided, right?  Even last night, there was a 96 MPH lefty in there against our LH lineup, spotted 3 runs into the bargain, and we still put up a tremendous struggle.  Like we sez, the only problem with getting George Brett to be your hitting coach is that he's got bigger fish to fry.  Thankfully, Edgar's ego isn't that way.  And thankfully, we have got a top-5, top-10 offense since The Edgar joined us.  Think that will continue over the next 3 years?

I dunno if Russell Wilson will eventually become the Edgar Martinez of Seahawk football, but I wouldn't rule it out.


Dr D 


benihana's picture

I've seen numerous reports putting teh guaranteed money the Seahawks are offering at the Cam Newton contract mark and above, with an average annual salary above Big Ben's but just below Rodgers. Pretty darned fair.  I believe the major hold up is that Russell wants even more of a guarantee, as both he and his agent are reported as wanting the most guaranteed money ever, above the Suh $60.  Now fully guaranteed vs injury only guaranteed vs. play to pay ala Kaepernick - we could go on for many a post as to the differences, but the reality is that essentially every top quarterback ever has played out their big contracts (Jay Cutler, et al) - even with injuries (Sam Bradford) - with the only minor exception being Mark Sanchez who lost his to injury + performance. Franchise QBs just don't get cut, so guarantees aren't really an issue, or at least they shouldn't be. 

I believe the major hold up is signing bonus.  The Seahawks can only give Russell a $20 signing bonus this year before they have to cut players. They don't want to cut players. Cam got +$30 first year, Russell wants similar, but Cam was do $14, Russell only do $1.5, so big time difference in signing bonus, big time difference in first year money = impasse. 

I think most likely Russ signs Thursday for a deal that puts him at a $21m average annual new money contract - right on par with Rodgers. Team bends a bit on guarantees to look like they are moving his way, he bends on signing bonus so they don't have to cut or restructure anyone. Bobby Wagz deal gets done the next day.

Or, Russ plays out his contract and next year gets exclusive tagged and plays that out too.

Interesting the Hawks are probably a better bet to win the Super Bowl this year if Russ doesn't sign, as that signing bonus could be used on guys like Dwight Freeney, Reggie Wayne or Evan Mathis. Long term win if he signs this year though.

- Ben. 


It seems to be the consensus.  Could be wrong, of course.

Then Clayton came out today saying the Seahawks would be happy to give Roethisberger's deal, which was what, $60M up front?, i.e. guarantees not limited to injury clauses.

No idea what is being offered on either side.  Just know that if field gulls is anywhere near accurate then Wilson is okay to put his foot down, if you ask me.

I'm hoping the same way you are, that the 55% 'prime computation' is a deal at the last hour.


1. Umps and strike zones.

Agree. Let's get balls / strikes called correctly using technology so far as possible and take the umps out of the equation so far as possible. Then work on redefining the strike zone if necessary to the interests of the game.

2. Russell Wilson.

I feel like things will get done in such a way that both sides protect their interests and neither side feels bitter. But that could just be gas.

3. Tom Brady

From the NFL press release (quoted in Boston Globe):

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cellphone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone.

“During the four months that the cellphone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cellphone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

“Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.”

My opinion? As so often is the case, the coverup is worse than the crime. What might have been looked at the way you suggest, Doc, is superseded so that most of us now feel the way you feel about Brady. To me a 4-game suspension is getting off easy.

3. Montgomery

I'll withhold judgement until I see how he responds to the league's ability to "book" his game. Can he / will he make his own adjustments successfully?

4. Edgar

How much is Edgar and how much is AL Central and AL East pitching? As with Montgomery, I'll withhold judgment for now. Nobody loves Edgar more than me, but I feel like everybody connected with the M's (including fans and even players) is anxious to believe that Edgar can and will turn around this offense just like he turned around opponents' pitches. But it's far too early to draw such conclusions. How many hitting coaches have been brought in in the Zduriencik years and got good initial results (and press acclaim) only to get the same old same old in the end? I know, I know, I'm being a fuddy duddy today. I WANNA believe, just like I wanna believe that cream on the late night commercial will really cure baldness. But past experience teaches me not to get carried away with results that might be just temporary. I believe Edgar was a SUPERIOR hitter. Whether he is a superior hitting coach is still an open question.


I'll add an anecdote here that you can take for what it's worth.

I once knew a young woman who was Brady's 'girlfriend' during his last years at Michigan.  I put the word in quotes because her position was that of fulfilling all the roles that would normally be ascribed to a cohabiting wife.  Meals, laundry, and you know the rest.

Anyway, she was excited about his pro career and their future together.  However, once he signed his first contract with the Patriots, he summarily informed here that he was dumping her.  Nothing exceptional in this story, I suspect.

However, when she asked him 'why?'. rather than come up with a lame but polite, "it's not youl--it's me", or something similar, he said, "Your'e just not good looking enough."

Did he deflate footballs?  It would be impossible for me to care less  But I don't like him.  


Seem ever-more feasible when it come to Brady.  Thanks fo sharing.

It was interesting that the Patriots admins screamed to the bloody rooftops that the NFL is "trying to destroy the reputation" of Brady.  Rather, the NFL seems to be glad to let the world know who Brady is.

He takes it to court, the coverup drags on, then things get even worse for him.  

Favre with his attention-groveling at the end here seems "pathetic"; Brady with his narcissism is coming off like he's a creep who believes himself iconic.


Anecdote *I* don't like -- that he's "unusually territorial" about the #2 QB getting snaps with the first team in practice, tries to forbid it, etc.  That even if he's having down time, he tries to instruct the #2 to go do something else.  All team, baby.

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