Review of “The Sabermetrics Revolution,” by Benjamin Baumer and Andrew Zimbalist


This could be a very long review because this very important book contains much to comment on. I will, however, let you read this book to fully grasp what it says. You will have a complete review of baseball statistical analysis from the creation of the box score, through the Dodgers early efforts in the 1950’s, to early regression analysis and then the full blown Sabermetrics efforts of today. This book also does a great service in pointing out the errors Michael Lewis added to “Money Ball” the book and errors in the movie, that have bothered me since I first saw the movie. In fact, Lewis violated Bob Uecker’s first rule of resumes, “Don’t lie about your batting average, they’ll look that up.” by “altering fact.”

Zimbalist and Baumer provide a guide for the reader who wants to know what analytics is and what it does, and they go further by stating the limits as well. You will find, contrary to stats geeks, that scouting is in the ascendancy, as it should be.

What I found most enlightening is explanation of the distinction between statistical analysis and data analysis. This is because I think there is too much data out there and data science, through big data management, is the way to go and is the way the secrets locked in the data will be revealed. This is good news for Sabermetricians as their tools will be enhanced.

Simply stated, if you are a baseball person at whatever level, from fan to GM, this is the book for you. I think its impact will be significant and the game will be better understood because of it.

Buy it from Amazon Here……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

January 23 is Spring!!

Some years ago, when I was worrying about when to start advertising for baseball, I ran into a psychologist’s paper that said “Psychological Spring Occurred on January 23.”  The paper went on to say that after the tumult of the holidays, and the long, dark days of winter, the increasingly bright days of late January actually got us to think optimistically of Spring. 

What this meant for we baseball guys, was that any effort before then to get fans focused on the coming season would only resonate with the rabid baseball fan. Those people we already had, it was the marginal fan we had to attract. So January 23rd became the launch date for major marketing activities. This doesn’t mean we didn’t try to sell season tickets before, what it means is that customers were more receptive to the message after 1/23.

Other industries also use this date for marketing activities. The sale of sun related merchandise, the summer stuff, bathing suits, sun tan lotion and such all pick up after Jan 23. Here in Minneapolis, with the weather at -15 this week, we saw the Baseball Diamond Awards take place to a full house and the coming Twins Fest is sold out this weekend. 

Spring blooms eternal and the optimism, fresh start and new birth of Spring does not wait for March to control our emotions. It is here now, and we are all two months ahead of the calender in the way we look at life. It is Spring, after all. 



Galapagos Cruise -The Second Day

(see Day One above)
The Legend cruised west to Floreana during the evening, anchoring off a small, curved beach on the North side of the island that led to a trail into the interior. This area is called the Post Office because a Captain James Colnett in the 1750’s put a barrel on shore so that passing sailors could place mail to be picked up by homeward bound sailors and delivered to the addressee in Wales or some such place. 

This system is still in place as visitors deliver post cards and passing “sailors” select those addressed to places close to their homes. One woman did find one addressed to a home a few blocks from her Ohio home and, I presume, it has been delivered by now.

Alejandro gave an historical view of Floreana, focusing on the fact that it has the only freshwater source, a spring in the hills, of any of the islands. This means there were permanent settlers here. There were three groups of interest. The first was a group of four, one woman and three lovers, who arrived in the late 19th Century. Apparently, one of the lovers left, only to be replaced  by a new fellow, but after that, another one left and then suddenly the woman disappeared.  This woman was called the Duchess on account of the fact she was married to a Duke. Good enough for me, but I would like to know what happened to the Duke!

The next group was Norwegians who read a report from some fishermen that the Galapagos were a paradise. So they sold everything and travelled to Floreana, built a factory and went broke as there were no customers. They soon realized that the fishermen were referring to the Galapagos as a paradise because of the off-shore fishing. (An earlier Spanish explorer had reported to the King of Spain that the Galapagos, because of the arid condition and no water that he could find “was hell on earth.” He didn’t find the water source on Floreana! )  So they left.
The third group in the 1920-30 period, included a woman who left the island, travelled to California, then to the US east coast, then to Germany only to be killed in a British air raid in 1943. I have this vision of her travelling in pursuit of her fate. Don’t we all?

After the history lesson, we went snorkeling. After the murkey water yesterday, this was clear. I noted amazing fish, Pacer’s Angels, one of my favorites, everywhere along with butterflies, Meyeri etc, grunts, parrott fish, and assorted invertebrates including orange polyps and some soft leather corals. The most interesting part of dive found me suddenly in the midst of ten green pacific sea turtles. They are wonderful animals and watching them eagerly eat the alga from the rocks was fun, even when they were pushing me around.
The dive lasted for about an hour and we returned to the ship for lunch and rest.

In the afternoon we landed on a green beach due to oivine in the sand. Alejandro had shown us the different sand. Olivine is mineral sand, as are sands created from sandstone. These get hot. Those created from organics, shells, bones etc. don’t get hot. Amazing.
The hike was a few hundred yards on a trail that followed the base of a small mountain, until we encountered a brackish lagoon of about 100 acres that housed about twenty Flamingos. There was some discussion of how the flamingos got to Floreanna, and whether the crustaceans they ate had to preceede them to the lagoon. This was because Alejandro had discussed the need for a favorable niche when a specie arrived on Galapagos.
Flamingos are beautiful, and Alejandro explained that they stand on one leg and tuck their long necks into their wings to take pressure off their hearts. He said we do the same thing when we shift feet etc.

From the lagoon, we walked to a cresent beach that was amazing. We saw evidence of turlle egg laying, trails, dug holes, and, we saw dozens of turtles floating like so many black mines in the shallow water just off the beach, waiting for dark to lay their eggs. Ajejandro sugggested that we take our shoes off but shuffle if we walked in the water due to sting rays in the very shallow water. I was at first dubious, but Alejandro kicked one up in the first ten feet, then we found theme to be everywhere, in the sand and in the shallow water. Looking over the bay, I noted a school of Eagle Rays frolicking on the surface, and other evidence of adundant sea life here, like birds skimming the surface and Pelicans diving.

We walked back to the olivine beach, (The white sand was organic and not hot, the oivine on the other side was mineral and hot. He was right.) And boarded the inflatables for the trip to the boat. By this time, we were adept and getting on and off an inflatable in the surf. There is a trick to it. 

I will describe Sta Cruz and the giant tortoises tomorrow.

Galapagos Cruise, The First Day

After spending a rainy day in Quito, we spent four nights in the Galapagos. These islands, made famous by Charles Darwin who spent five weeks of a five year cruise collecting specimins here in 1835. There are ten major islands, and we visited four islands: St. Cristobal where we our flight from Quito landed, Espanola, Floreana and Santa Cruz before flying to Quito from Bitra.

The ship we were on is the Galapagos Legend, a former hospital ship in Viet Nam that is in perfect shape and size. My first USN ship, the Greenwich Bay, was about the same size, so I was very much at home. From St. Cristobal we sailed south to Espanola, the oldest at 3.6 million years of the islands. (the youngest Isabela and Fernandina are 600,000 years old.) They are all volcanic like Hawaii.

We took inflatables to shore and made a wet entry into the surf. We encountered a cluster of sea lions and Alejandro Villa, my group’s naturalist guide, explained the family structure which has as many as thirty females and one alpha male. Alejandro describes the alpha’s challenge which is to keep intruders at bay. He fought off one, lots of barking, wrestling, and biting, and the intruder retreated. Then another one showed up, emerging from the sea. The alpha then ran after him and he retreated into the sea. Both emerged some minutes later, the alpha near shore, the pretender well out to sea.

As this played out, the former intruder started rolling in the sand towards the females. Alejandro said he was pretending to be female, and when he got to the female scrum, he started muzzling them, but no one paid attention. One wonders why!!

This drama is played out on beaches around the world every day, but here it was particularly poignant.

We then walked the beach and then went snorkeling, but the water was murky and the current very strong; then we went to lunch.

Lunch on the Legend was very pleasent. Fruit, fish, vegetables, great salads, and then time off.

In the afternoon we moved around the island and started with a dry landing on a pier. We then started a hike over a mile or two of volcanic boulders, of various sizes, some split and angular, some sharp edged. There was no smblance of a trial other than some stakes painted white stuck between bolders. The first stop was to watch young sea lions frolic in the shallows, then we marched to find albatrosses in their nursery. It was late in the season, but we did find a few and they are wonderful, large, majestic birds. They breed near a cliff so that they can launch their flight from the cliff. They then spend six years at sea feeding on krill before returning home to breed. It seems they can sleep while flying by turning off half their brain. I find that interesting and wonder who did that research!! We then progressed to a field where the flora was low growing succulents in pastel colors, cherry red, yellow, purple, It looked like a Scottish hill side. We then found a group of nesting Blue Footed Boobies. And they are blue footed and appear to be boobies. They are interesting birds, and they paid no atttention to us. We then scampered up a incline over lava ridges. Then back to the boat on fairly level ground. The hike ended and we boated back to the Legend. Espanola was a terrrific first day in the Galapagos.
Several of us were discussing the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and the poor sailor with an albatross around his neck, of course, killing that bird should have had some consequence. Tomorrow, Floreanna.

Rainy Quito From The Hilton


Quito is at 9000 feet attitude and it does rain. Took a tour this morning and discovered the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, the most beautiful and opulent church I’ve ever seen. (YouTube church name)
Magnificent paintings and sculpture, the latter covered in gold leaf extracted from the hills around here. The church was built over a 160 year period ending in 1765.
This is a cathedral covered in gold!!! The 17th century was very good in some contexts. Of course, no photos there as flash may dim the gold. 
More later, but I do love traveling in Latin America.

Rainy Quito From The Hilton


Quito is at 9000 feet attitude and it does rain. Took a tour this morning and discovered the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, the most beautiful and opulent church I’ve ever seen. (YouTube here
Magnificent paintings and sculpture, the latter covered in gold leaf extracted from the hills around here. The church was built over a 160 year period ending in 1765.
This is a cathedral covered in gold!!! The 17th century was very good in some contexts. Of course, no photos there as flash may dim the gold. 
More later, but I do love traveling in Latin America.

Thank God the South Didn’t Win the Civil War

In 1948, or so the legend has it, the Major League Baseball Winter meetings were held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This was because there were two minor league teams in the community, the Millers in Minneapolis, and the Saints, in St. Paul. The headquarters was the original Radisson Hotel on 7th Street near Hennepin Avenue.

The meeting took place in early December and attracted executives from Major League and Minor League teams who were accompanied by sports writers and other reporters.   As occurs in Minneapolis at that time of the year, a polar vortex did what polar vortexes do, that is dump sub=zero weather on the city. With the morning air a brisk -20, a writer from Georgia stepped out of the hotel onto 7th Street, and, as he gasped for breath after inhaling the arctic blast, was heard to exclaim, “Thank God the South didn’t win the Civil War or we might of had to occupy this place.”  

I heard this story from a fellow who claimed to be right there. 

Who was Fahrenheit and What Did He Do?

With this sudden blast of arctic air over the midwest, I was wondering who this fellow Fahreheit was and what he did.

Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736) was a noted member of the Royal Society as a scientist and builder of scientific instruments. In 1714, he used his glass blowing skills to make a thermometer using meercury to register temperature changes. Prior to this, alcohol was used with a noted lack of accuracy and no agreed upon scale, like 60 for boiling and 7.5 for freezing, or whatever.

Fahrenheit established a scale by first submersing his thermometer in a slurry of salt, ice and water. The temperature of this super cold mixture was set as 0 degrees.  He then observed the point at which a thin film of ice formed on water and set that as +32 degrees and added 180 degrees to that for the observed boiling point of water or +212 degrees.  It still isn’t crystal clear, but that’s what he did. 

Fahrenheit had suggested that the human body would be 100 degrees, but that just missed at +98.6 degrees. 

Now, let us wonder at why he couldn’t just set Zero as the freezing point of water and use any number for the boiling point, and  this Celsius stuff wouldn’t have arisen. I still can’t tell if it is hot or cold in Toronto, although I was told that -40 is the same on both scales.