Sounds like a number of us have lots of thoughts on this...I'm at work right now, so won't be able to post till later. Intangibles = grit, character, momentum, choking, leadership, mystique, a million things. Only request: no one knows the absolute truth about any of these things (or even if they exist), so try to refrain from dismissing this or that as ridiculous.
― clemenza, Thursday, 5 October 2023 16:23 (two months ago) link
Pitching to the score was proven to not be a Thing when people were arguing abt jack morris in particular iirc. t this point w the amount of money riding on every strikeout and every outcome being quantified and the competitive motors of the fellas doing the work certainly means it’s not a Thing now
― Its big ball chunky time (Jimmy The Mod Awaits The Return Of His Beloved), Thursday, 5 October 2023 16:32 (two months ago) link
no one knows the absolute truth about any of these things
Is that the footnote to the WAR calc revision log?
― citation needed (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 5 October 2023 16:50 (two months ago) link
I find this really interesting cos although it’s unscientific in many senses (I guess depending on the weight you apply to studies of group dynamics and so on), and largely unquantifiable, there’s a lot that makes sense.Most baseball books I’ve read have alluded to this in some sense. One I read (and strongly recommend for anyone vaguely interested in baseball or other people) is Joan Ryan’s Intangibles. I wrote a bit about it here. All hitters will tell you when you step to the plate that you need to know what you’re doing. You can’t make a decision on whether you’re going to hit or take that pitch when you’re in the box, it’s far too late at that point. You have to have the confidence to see a ball coming at you at 100mph and to know you can hit it. Confidence is built through practice in the cages, coming up through the minors and through endless grinding. But what sets apart a successful hitter in a high leverage situation from the same hitter in a meaningless late summer game? Why do you sometimes see great hitters sit frozen as a 90mph meatball floats by over the heart of the plate? They haven’t forgotten how to do their job, but something has gone wrong. This post is probably going to be really sloppy and unstructured so bear with.Willie Mays talked about being a captain on the Giants:
“In 1962, they made me captain. I positioned the outfielders, the infielders, I’d call pitches from centerfield — he didn’t have to take them but I wanted him throw a pitch I thought I could catch. You had to get 25 guys playing together even though nine or ten don’t play much at all and it feels bad. I’d go to the manager and say, ‘I want this guy to play because he needs to feel part of the team.’ The guy would go 9 for 10 and he’d go sit down and feel like a part of the team. When guys had problems at home, they’d come to me and I’d call their wives. I knew the wives better than I knew the players!’’
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Thursday, 5 October 2023 16:54 (two months ago) link
(xpost) Definitely--pretty conclusive proof on that one.
― clemenza, Thursday, 5 October 2023 16:55 (two months ago) link
gyac, you should look into HA Dorfman if you haven't already, pretty fascinating character.
― citation needed (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 5 October 2023 17:09 (two months ago) link
I do know who that is, the SI piece about Halladay (incredible, saddening read) covers him a bit. But I hadn’t ever followed that thread up so I appreciate your reminder and I will now. I’m reading the Ted Williams book about hitting which may or may not overlap a bit here.
But then Brandy gave him a book, The Mental ABCs of Pitching, by Harvey Dorfman. (Brandy, through Davis, declined to be interviewed for this story.) It reminded Little Roy of how he had been taught to think as a boy. He devoured it and took notes in a journal. Eventually he befriended the author and handed out the book to his teammates.
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Thursday, 5 October 2023 17:17 (two months ago) link
I used to argue about this stuff with Morbius all the time. He thought it was all fictional: Kershaw didn't have a World Series problem, the mystique of, say, a Willie Stargell was either meaningless or didn't exist at all, momentum was tomorrow's starting pitcher, etc., etc.
When it comes to choking--I'll post about all these related topices piecemeal--I think it exists until it doesn't, which is not the same as saying it doesn't exist. Kershaw, Verlander, Price, they all went through stretches where I think big-game pressure weighed on them, which caused them to pitch poorly, which upped the pressure next time, which started the cycle all over again. Very human: "God no, not this again." I think it's a mistake to think of "clutch" and "choking" as opposites, that if clutch isn't a repeatable skill then choking must not exist either. To me it's more like: we don't believe in clutch because we don't believe athletes magically defy human nature and become superhuman at will, so why would we think they're invulnerable to the very human "God no, not this again" problem?
But Kershaw's had a few good post-season starts scattered around, Verlander pitched well in G5 last year, and Price should have, I believe, been the WS MVP in 2018. Dave Winfield got the go-ahead hit in extra innings in the deciding game of the '92 Series after an abysmal post-season stretch. It's real until it isn't.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 00:47 (two months ago) link
I played Strat-o-matic baseball once and briefly was interested in playing MLB Clix.
You may be interested in the MLB Clix Intangibles card circa 2005:
― felicity, Friday, 6 October 2023 01:02 (two months ago) link
Player gets a +1 bat
― immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Friday, 6 October 2023 01:03 (two months ago) link
I played APBA in the '70s--that's really interesting that they would have added those last couple.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 01:04 (two months ago) link
You can't reduce D&D characters to their stats, let alone human athletes.
― immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Friday, 6 October 2023 01:11 (two months ago) link
"Clubhouse Cancer," aka the Josh Donaldson Rule: when this player clicks up, everyone else clicks down (and vice versa).
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 01:12 (two months ago) link
I post this for its relevancy, not because I'm agreeing or disagreeing.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 01:14 (two months ago) link
I take it as my duty to note a lot of the kershaw post-season choke artist narrative was cemented by the 2017 astros-dodgers post season before ya know you, that whole thing came out.
― H.P, Friday, 6 October 2023 02:16 (two months ago) link
Didn't it have more to do with a couple of meltdowns vs. the Cardinals years before that?
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 02:37 (two months ago) link
CK did OK against Houston, albeit not particularly great, and he had a slightly lower ERA than what he has over his current postseason career.
― omar little, Friday, 6 October 2023 02:55 (two months ago) link
He had a 1.19 era at dodger stadium (in a win) and an 11.52 era at signstealing stadium (obvious loss). Not saying his post season stats are great, but that was the first World Series he pitched in and that loss was a big full stop on the “kershaw can’t pitch the big game” narrative.
― H.P, Friday, 6 October 2023 03:12 (two months ago) link
Another 4 innings of relief giving 0 run ball in game 7 after Darvish had to be pulled after 1.2 innings of being lit up too
― H.P, Friday, 6 October 2023 03:13 (two months ago) link
― H.P, Friday, 6 October 2023 03:14 (two months ago) link
― H.P, Friday, 6 October 2023 03:24 (two months ago) link
I played Strat-o-matic baseball once and briefly was interested in playing MLB Clix.`― felicity, Thursday, October 5, 2023 6:02 PM (two hours ago)
― felicity, Thursday, October 5, 2023 6:02 PM (two hours ago)
I remember you trying to get me into Clix lol!
Is there an online version for #lazies?
― citation needed (Steve Shasta), Friday, 6 October 2023 04:06 (two months ago) link
I like the idea of non-quantifiable sneaky/dirty player stats. Like, how do you quantify the value of a player who tries to steal signs when they reach base? A baserunner that has a history of going into the ankles of the player covering 2nd during a double play.
― Western® with Bacon Flavor, Friday, 6 October 2023 05:04 (two months ago) link
Turner was hitting .235 with 10 home runs, 34 RBI and 21 stolen bases in 107 games through Aug. 3. In 48 regular season games after the standing ovation, he hit .337 with 16 home runs, 42 RBI and nine steals to go with a 1.037 OPS, helping the Phillies secure the NL’s top wild card.
― 龜, Friday, 6 October 2023 11:36 (two months ago) link
Yes, loved that story
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 11:39 (two months ago) link
Kershaw choking was a thing long before 2017. His postseason stats are far worse than his regular season stats, that's a fact and it's not skewed by having a small sample size. 194 IP is a reugular season's worth of innings.
The pitching lines don't tell the full story. There were games when he was cruising and simply fell apart. The Matt Adams HR is the one I always remember. A 2-0 lead in the late innings vs the Cards turned into a 3-2 deficit on one swing. Check it on YouTube if you've never seen it, or haven't seen it in a while. Kershaw threw an unfathomably bad pitch, the biggest meatball of a curve that you've ever seem in your life. Kershaw had only given up one HR off his curve to a LHB in his *career* to that point. This wasn't a great pitcher facing tougher competition in the playoffs, this was Matt Adams, who had a .619 OPS in his career vs LHPs. Kershaw simply made one of the worst pitches of his career at the worst possible moment. And he did this in many other games, over 10+ years.
― NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 6 October 2023 13:00 (two months ago) link
Otm he's also been awful in a number of series since 2017. Not all great pitchers are great in the postseason, it happens.
― omar little, Friday, 6 October 2023 13:25 (two months ago) link
As a more general comment for this thread, there's a chapter in Moneyball where they go through a list of prospects and eliminate them one by one because of their makeup. Billy Beane asks about a high school pitcher who was recruited at a college. He got invited to a party and got all offended at the drinking he saw there, due to his Christian beliefs. So he decided he wasn't going to attend college after all. Beane said something sarcastic like "he'll fit in great with pro ballplayers, won't he?", and they immediately cross that player of their list.
Part of this elimination process was about minimizing risk, because the A's as a small market franchise, couldn't afford to have their prospects not pan out. But this wasn't a discussion about intangibles. If a player couldn't fit in for whatever reason, then it would be more difficult to develop and coach him. It gets back to what Willie Mays was quoted saying above. Players who don't fit in with the team don't contribute. These are skills, if a high schooler has has "coachability", if he's already great but takes advice from everyone around him in order to improve, then that's a skill, not an intangible.
― NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 6 October 2023 13:33 (two months ago) link
Yeah I'm saying the choking thing was really cemented (definitely for Kershaw! quote after his 2017 appearance "Maybe one of these days I won't fail") by that series which turned out in retrospect to be severely tainted. This really irked me after the astros scandal was revealed, as he was genuinely pitching like prime, MVP Kershaw in the NLCS and the two home game of the world series that year. To thenget lit up due to cheating (without know that was the case) has to be a crushing psychological blow after you feel you've turned a corner.
Also that large sample size: a 4.22 era is not what you expect of an elite pitcher, but the fact that he has kept that ERA under league average (even if marginally) with 194IP and so many early struggle... Yeah he's been awful in some, but he's been prime in others, and it's all balanced out to a league average. As a fan, it was a heartwarming site to see him celebrating the 2020 title after pitching two winning games in that series. You could see the weight lift off
― H.P, Friday, 6 October 2023 13:38 (two months ago) link
Or rather I should say, in reference to my previous post, that players who don't fit in with the team don't contribute to the best of their ability.
Is "fitting in" quantifiable? Maybe. We all read the stories about disfunction in SD, CHW, and LAA clubhouses this year. But even if it's a quarter of a win per player, multiplied over the entire team, then it could be the difference between winning 95 games and winning the division, and winning 89 and not making the playoffs.
Obviously this isn't to say that every player needs to fit in. Reggie Jackson, Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds, etc. did OK for themselves. But for the average player (most players are close to average, not superstars) I think it does matter.
― NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 6 October 2023 13:40 (two months ago) link
I think one story that always stood out to me was something that happened in 2004 with the cubs, in that disappointing follow-up season to their even more disappointing postseason meltdown in 2003. There was these supposed moment when Kerry Wood smashed Sammy Sosa's boombox with a baseball bat. It made me wonder just what the chemistry was on that team over the previous several seasons, even the ones that were more successful. The way they acted when the bartman moment happened just felt like a team that was highly dysfunctional and not ready for prime time. Which is kind of why despite the pain of that, when they won in 2016 with a more homegrown team it felt like it was worth the wait.
― omar little, Friday, 6 October 2023 14:16 (two months ago) link
Very relevant quote from Ball Four:
There was a rumor abroad in the land that the Astros were going to get Richie Allen from the Phillies and some of the Astros were against it. They said he’s a bad guy to have on a ballclub. Humph. I wonder what the Astros would give to have him come to bat just 15 times for us this season. It might mean a pennant. If I could get Allen I’d grab him and tell everybody that he marches to a different drummer and that there are rules for him and different rules for everybody else. I mean what’s the good of a .220 hitter who obeys the curfew? Richie Allen doesn’t obey the rules, hits 35 home runs and knocks in over 100. I’ll take him.
Dick Allen was far from an average player, so this is in line with NoTime's post.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 14:34 (two months ago) link
(The more common view I've seen the last few years was that Allen's supposed difficulty was wildly overstated because of racism.)
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 14:35 (two months ago) link
Kent recalled a time one of his early Giants teammates, Orel Hershiser, drilled Álex Rodríguez with a pitch as unspoken retaliation for A-Rod wiping out Kent a day earlier.“It’s something that I can’t quantify for you,’’ Kent said. “It’s not a state. But it’s a pride. The old cliché is, ‘I’m in the foxhole with you.’ It’s just an emotional attachment. Does it lead to an extra hit? I don’t know. But it can lead to this:“If Orel’s pitching, I might not ask the coach to give me the day off. I might not stay out late at night. I might say you know what? My buddy Orel’s pitching tomorrow so I need to go prepare. You may have a little more of an aggressive attitude that could lead to more success.”Both Bonds and Kent speak with remarkable candor about their highly functional contempt for one another. Together, they help stomp out the notion that chemistry means being BFFs.“Why do you care that Jeff Kent is over there looking at properties for his hunting place? Who gives a crap?” Bonds says now. “When it came to game time, what name would you want on the back of the uniform of the guy playing second base? I want Jeff Kent.”
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 15:06 (two months ago) link
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 15:32 (two months ago) link
the intangibles of a nude Anthony Rizzo briefly canceled out by the black cat curse of Hector Rodon spraying aerosol shoe cleaner at his balls, the tiebreaker being the Heyward speech.
― omar little, Friday, 6 October 2023 16:01 (two months ago) link
I was thinking about this very thread on the way to work this morning, and the post I initially actually came here to make was about Trevor Story. He’s been injured a lot the past two years which is one of those situations that happens, but NTBT’s post about guys feeling part of the team contributing applies here too, I think. He returned from injury and while his glove is elite, his bat isn’t there yet. But that’s not what I wanted to really talk about. It was about his influence on younger players off the field:Encouraging Jarren Duran, who had an abysmal season last year and who started out in Triple A, to make the most of his natural athleticism, which paid off hugely for him this year*:
A conversation with injured teammate Trevor Story got him thinking about taking the extra base more often this season. Duran said he tries to put pressure on opposing outfielders knowing that even if they make a perfect throw, he still will likely have time to turn and get back to first base.“At the beginning of the year, Trevor Story told me he’s going to have more hustle doubles than me,” Duran told reporters, per MassLive. “We all know he’s really fast and really good so I’m trying to capitalize on those hustle doubles before he gets back (in the second half of the season) and passes me up.“He told me I need the head start so I’m trying to take full advantage before he gets back.”
Story views Mayer and the rest of Boston’s middle-infield prospects much the way Tulowitzki looked at him.“It says a lot about (Tulowitzki),” said Story. “I can't be any more thankful to him for doing that for me. Some people look at it as a competition-type thing. You know, he's a shortstop, he's coming up to take your spot. He obviously had a different view on it. And I think that's the way it should be.“These guys are a part of the organization, and they're gonna help us win at some point. I think that's a huge thing. And I want to embrace that, and I think Tulo showed me the way to do that.”
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 16:01 (two months ago) link
That play, in the rain, is burned into my brain - it came when there were still a lot of doubts about Casas and istr that Cora kind of peremptorily announced that Turner would start playing more first base. A real low point and I think not great from Cora. I could see Story being a manager some day.
― Tracer Hand, Friday, 6 October 2023 16:08 (two months ago) link
Justin Turner needs to manage. He’d be great at it. Honestly seems to take everyone as they are and is viewed with so much respect by his teammates. And knows exactly how it is to struggle and fail, but how to win too. Yeah Cora was like, JT is gonna play more 1B and then that lasted a (literal) day. But I remember that shot of him and learning that Story stepped up like that really made me think a lot of Story. It’s so easy to go, not my problem!
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 16:11 (two months ago) link
Whatever Tulowitzki had in Colorado, he had, to all appearances, lost it by the time he got to Toronto. He made it very clear right from the outset that he didn't want to be here. I don't know what went on in the clubhouse, but he struck me as a non-stop complainer, often injured, definitely past his prime (maybe even a creation of his home park--his mediocre numbers in Toronto weren't wildly out of line with his road numbers before the trade).
With some players, I imagine they weren't one type of person in every situation but different people at different points in their careers.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 16:34 (two months ago) link
Yeah I can’t speak to any of that but your concluding point is fair.
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 16:35 (two months ago) link
maybe related to the thread, you wonder if playing in Denver causes players to lose their confidence when playing on the road, never admitting it but maybe privately wondering if they themselves are a Coors Field creation, which leads to even more of an extreme split, or just a major decline upon leaving the team. Maybe that's what happened w/Tulo. It didn't happen w/Walker, who over two years played the equivalent of one season w/St Louis and was really, really good. and Galarraga had a phenomenal season w/Atlanta after leaving Denver.
― omar little, Friday, 6 October 2023 17:07 (two months ago) link
do denver pitchers get better after leaving denver? has that been proven? is it still a thing after the humidor?
― 龜, Friday, 6 October 2023 17:18 (two months ago) link
Surely being a shortstop in the land of easy hitting means you’d have to be pretty good to thrive there
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 17:19 (two months ago) link
Definite topic for extensive research, what happens to players after they leave Colorado. (I'm sure there's been some.) Arenado has made out fine, though predictably there's been some offensive drop-off. Pitchers, too: I don't remember any notable cases of ex-Colorado pitchers turning into stars after leaving...Am I forgetting somebody? Ubaldo Jimenez had the one phenomenal year in Colorado and never did much after that with Cleveland or Baltimore.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 17:22 (two months ago) link
definitely there have been some pitchers who were good, signed with Denver, were terrible, and then returned to being good when they left. Mike Hampton and Darryl Kile come to mind.
― omar little, Friday, 6 October 2023 17:23 (two months ago) link
Holliday was very good w/St Louis and briefly w/Oakland, but obviously didn't reach those MVP heights he did with the Rockies.
― omar little, Friday, 6 October 2023 17:24 (two months ago) link
Vinny Castilla became an offensive star in Colorado, left for 4 seasons and became largely mediocre or terrible, came back and promptly led the NL in RBI.
― omar little, Friday, 6 October 2023 17:25 (two months ago) link
A possible intangible that I didn't mention in the introductory post: is losing a game that involves a squandered lead and/or blown save worse on team morale than a regular loss? Especially if you lose a bunch of such games in a short time-frame. I've always believed that such losses are worse, but others take the a-loss-is-a-loss-is-a-loss view. I don't know if that's quantifiable, although you could probably study it with large enough sample of teams that go through that.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 17:30 (two months ago) link
I think "momentum" as it were doesn't really exist in baseball. Tough losses matter more to fans than the athletes, and the fans are the only ones debating this stuff.
Take last year's World Series: Astros blew the 5-0 lead in G1 with Verlander on the mound, and lost. They came back and won G2. But they got blown out in G3 to go down 2-1. There was talk about the Phillies having the momentum, that the series wouldn't even go back to Houston. So what happened? The Astros no-hit the Phillies in G4. And they won the series in six.
Baseball isn't like football, it doesn't lend itself to these rah-rah, let's go smash them speeches. If you smash your head against a locker between innings and go to bat looking to crush the bejeezus out of the ball, you'll end up flailing away at the plate and looking stupid against offspeed pitches. Baseball isn't that kind of game. I think that's why there aren't many team meetings in baseball, unless things are going really bad and there's a noticeable lack of team focus and motivation. You have to keep emotions fairly in check, and shrug off losses quickly. It's counterproductive to get hung up on a loss when even the best teams lose 60 times per year.
― NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 6 October 2023 18:35 (two months ago) link
Agree with all of that...but I'd still like to see a large-scale study of teams that lose a number of games because of blown saves within a short time-frame. Another way to say that: part of me thinks the primary difference between the 1983 Jays, an up and coming young team that suddenly found themselves in first place in late June and then had to contend with a bunch of nightmarish losses out of the bullpen--the Joey McLaughlin year--and the 2023 Orioles is Felix Bautista.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 18:54 (two months ago) link
Again, I think it comes down to whether or not you think athletes have some special ability to not get down on yourself (or, in the aggregate, a team not get down on itself) when things take an ugly turn. That is a very human thing to do. Sometimes I'm willing to believe they do have that ability--I remember Kyle Lowry missing the championship-clinching shot in the finals and then coming out next game and hitting his first three or four shots--other times, no.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 19:16 (two months ago) link
I don’t think baseball players are any more special than other athletes in that regard but the sheer volume of games played necessitates the old “turning the page” cliché, right?
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 19:27 (two months ago) link
In keeping with that, possibly it would have far more effect on a young team (like the '83 Jays).
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 19:30 (two months ago) link
Intangibles = grit, character, momentum, choking, leadership, mystique, a million things.
my sense is that these things only matter insofar as you believe in them, and that baseball people, who are inherently conservative, overwhelmingly do. also i doubt there's an athlete on earth who would say confidence isn't vital to performance.
('leadership' matters whether you believe it or not, though, as in the willie mays and trevor story anecdotes above)
until recently, most people in baseball management were former marginal players -- the backup catchers, the gritty utility guys (there are obvious exceptions, e.g. joe torre). and they valued the things that gave them their (slight) edge, like 'bulldog mentality'. but actual talent is better.
scouting reports historically have been essentially phrenology (and similarly racist). you can say a guy throws 91 or goes from first to third in however many seconds, but beyond that it's all 'tremendous mound presence' or 'peerless makeup' or 'parents are good people' or 'won't look people in the eye'. the astros took everything too far, but one can see luhnow's point about scouts -- they had electronic tracking in all their minor league parks first and could get actual data rather than whatever some dude who just drove eight hours had to say about a kid's body language.
otoh, unless you have godlike ability (and even griffey jr. had his struggles coming up) it *does* take a certain mental toughness to deal with all the failure, the inevitable unfairness, etc. before reaching and remaining in the majors. but that toughness doesn't look the same in everyone, and baseball tends to look for it in only one way.
if i had a point when i started i guess i've lost it now? essentially agree with clemenza that intangibles don't matter until they do, or vice versa
― mookieproof, Friday, 6 October 2023 21:14 (two months ago) link
in “knuckleball!” - a not very good movie that nevertheless has a few nice pieces of film footage from games where wakefield was striking guys out etc - r.a. dickey talks a lot about the confidence to “be himself” particularly with the kind of skepticism that the knuckleball provokes. joe niekro and charlie hough served as mentors for awhile and niekro recalls telling dickey that before every pitch, imagine that one might be the best pitch you ever throw. there’s a lot of that in baseball, like “i hope the ball is hit to me” - you have to throw yourself into it 100% despite the likelihood of failure. it’s certainly very easy to see how any crack in that mentality could split and widen into a real problem
― Tracer Hand, Friday, 6 October 2023 21:31 (two months ago) link
Geez, I loved Knuckleball.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 21:41 (two months ago) link
One thing I've had to question myself on is the way the whole Jays culture changed when they traded away Teoscar and Guriel. I was definitely tired of the home run jacket and all the bells and whistles--Marcus Semien seemed like a beacon of sanity in the midst of all that--but after a year of this team's comparative blandness, maybe there's a tangible value to that stuff after all.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 21:47 (two months ago) link
there's a lot of great footage in it but the interviews are pretty stilted and it's just pretty artlessly put together - totally worth it to hear these guys though obviously
― Tracer Hand, Friday, 6 October 2023 21:59 (two months ago) link
Only saw it the one time...What I loved was the secret-society subtext of it, that these four guys--Wakefield, Niekro, Hough, Dickey--possessed some rarified knowledge that wasn't available to anyone else in the world, like they collected early blues 78s from a specific region of the country or transcribed ancient Aztec scrolls that no one else could decipher.
― clemenza, Friday, 6 October 2023 22:06 (two months ago) link
Never forget that Mays started his career 1-for-26 and crying in front of his locker. Never forget that after his incredible rookie of the year season, Willie McCovey struggled so much that he was demoted to Triple A for 17 games. And when you look at, let’s see here, the hundreds of thousands of prospects who didn’t have careers quite that accomplished, most of them struggled in a way that they eventually couldn’t overcome. Baseball is hard. Calm down.
― I’m going to get fined for being right, again (gyac), Friday, 6 October 2023 22:47 (two months ago) link
Corey Seager must have used the word "resiliency" six times in a post-game interview I saw last night as explanation for the Rangers winning. I assume he's referring to a) their schizophrenic season, where they looked dead a few times, and b) the injuries they had to get past: his and deGrom's in the regular season, Garcia and Scherzer in the post-season.
1) Is resiliency an intangible, or is it more a skill, the ability to not be distracted by negative developments (perhaps helped along by Bochy's calmness that everybody talks about)?
2) Did that play a big role in their success, or did it have far more to do with the fact that, after Atlanta, they were able to mash the ball like no one else? They just needed a couple of weeks of good pitching at the right time to go along with that.
― clemenza, Thursday, 2 November 2023 15:22 (one month ago) link
1) bit of both, I have lots of thoughts on this but I need to finish work & get my nails done2) as above, but I don’t think you can be a successful team without resiliency. Regular season’s a marathon, players slump, postseason is another month on that if you go all the way.
― mojo dojo casas house (gyac), Thursday, 2 November 2023 15:32 (one month ago) link
1) cf “short memory” or “goldfish brain”
― Its big ball chunky time (Jimmy The Mod Awaits The Return Of His Beloved), Thursday, 2 November 2023 15:44 (one month ago) link
By your definition, I would call it more of a skill. Bochy was a master of it in SF too: remodeling the team he was given after the trade deadline, finding new roles for players during the postseason, working around injuries/slumps.
― NoTimeBeforeTime, Thursday, 2 November 2023 15:58 (one month ago) link
You probably could set up some kind of study that tries to measure this. Track how a team responds to losing streaks, to especially tough losses (e.g., squandering a big league), and to injuries. No idea how you'd do that, though--for an eight-game losing streak, say, what about the sixth, seventh, and eighth losses inside the streak? Why would they be treated differently than the win that ended the streak? (if that makes sense).
― clemenza, Thursday, 2 November 2023 19:03 (one month ago) link
Corey Seager must have used the word "resiliency" six times in a post-game interview I saw last night as explanation for the Rangers winning. I assume he's referring to a) their schizophrenic season, where they looked dead a few times, and b) the injuries they had to get past: his and deGrom's in the regular season, Garcia and Scherzer in the post-season.1) Is resiliency an intangible, or is it more a skill, the ability to not be distracted by negative developments (perhaps helped along by Bochy's calmness that everybody talks about)?To quantify my bit of both comment, and to refer specifically to Bochy:
Fellas, you have taught me to look beyond impossible, to never say die, to never stop believing, and never, never give up on what you're trying to accomplish. ..Fellas, you've challenged me, you've entertained me with your backwards personalities, and you've had me in awe of your talent. Managing you guys has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Thank you for making me a better manager and a better person.
The Rangers were coming off their sixth straight losing season, but Bochy talked only about moving forward. He made it clear: I’m not coming out of retirement to lose. And he added, even more meaningfully: I know this team can win.“It was really empowering,” pitcher Jon Gray says. “I felt like I was a part of something way bigger than myself.”
Combine that empathy with consistency, and a certain calmness comes over a club. Players are in tune not only with Bochy’s in-game strategy, but also the routines he establishes, reducing the physical strain on players by ordering a late bus to the field, or canceling batting practice. Again, it sounds simple. But Heaney, a 10-year veteran, says he has never played for a manager who understands the rhythm of a season quite like Bochy.“That’s something that is hard to explain, but you feel it,” Heaney says. “It puts you a little more at ease.”
Earlier this season, during a rare time when the Rangers were not hitting well, Bochy called over Hyers(the hitting coach) in front of the other coaches.“Man, I’m looking for a really good hitting coach,” Bochy said. “Have you seen one lately?”…“There is a lot of banter that goes on,” Wilson says, laughing. “He jokes with you, messes with you, and that makes you feel comfortable when situations do come up and you can have a serious conversation.”
― mojo dojo casas house (gyac), Thursday, 2 November 2023 19:46 (one month ago) link
Bochy's approach obviously works for him, or at least has in select years. Other managers succeed with very different approaches. Famous counter-example: Earl Weaver got what he wanted from Jim Palmer by preying on his insecurities. Or Casey Stengel, who, in the '50s (according to James), used a kind of creative anxiety: do better or suddenly find yourself dropped in the order, or platooned, or worse. Those last two approaches might not work so well today. It's like teaching kids, though, or probably any kind of leadership/managerial role in any context. Somehow, you have to get everyone on board. (Somebody, can't remember who: "I keep the half of the team who hates me away from the half that's not sure.") I've seen teachers do that countless different ways. And you have to have the talent, obviously. Based on Ball Four I take it that most of the Pilots loved playing for Joe Schultz as much as Bouton did, and you couldn't get more easygoing than him. Did not translate into wins.
Managers aside, can you quantify resiliency? I don't know.
― clemenza, Thursday, 2 November 2023 21:07 (one month ago) link
It's a group dynamic that relies on its constituent parts, and is pretty unpredictable as a result. I've certainly seen it in a business context.
― immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Thursday, 2 November 2023 21:15 (one month ago) link
baseball is probably the most paranoid of professional sports in that anybody can be benched or sent down at any time, really, unless you're on a big long-term contract. It breeds superstition and a kind of jumpiness that guys mitigate in a lot of ways but which is still the background ambience to your working life. if a manager like Bochy can come in and make you feel secure, that's absolutely enormous
― Humanitarian Pause (Tracer Hand), Friday, 3 November 2023 10:37 (one month ago) link
I was watching this (very good btw, watch it) interview with Lucas Giolito by Chris Rose & then ended up watching one with Tyler Glasnow (who I love) and Glasnow had interesting things to say about this topic. He used the word resilience several times.Glasnow was asked about how he reacts to getting lit up because he is visibly distressed when he’s doing badly. He gave a pretty long answer on the subject that basically boiled down to: he is naturally a pretty emotional pitcher and when he was a Pirate he spent a lot of time trying to be stoic and spending effort on that instead of his pitching. He says his whole family are “If you feel something (negative), get it out, and you’re fine” and he finds that approach better if he makes a bad pitch in terms of being able to play through it and keep going. He leans strongly on the side that resilience is a learned skill and that you should channel your natural strengths into what can help you build it.
― mojo dojo casas house (gyac), Friday, 3 November 2023 11:27 (one month ago) link
That's interesting because I was thinking only about team resilience, rather than individual resilience. For a team, it's definitely a skill acquired by the manager and the front office. They need to juggle a lot of moving parts and do so every day for six months.
Related to Tracer's point: baseball isn't like football or basketball, where the team revolves around one or two players who are bigger than the team and essentially can call their shots. On even the best teams, there will be key players who will win or lose their jobs over the course of the season. A closer might get demoted but he becomes a 7th or 8th inning guy and the manager needs to shuffle the roles of his relievers and get everyone to buy into it without letting ego and jealousy get in the way. Teams have to navigate through maybe dozens of situations like that every year, and it's all on the manager to make it work. That's definitely a skill.
― NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 3 November 2023 18:02 (one month ago) link
Clemenza will roll his eyes when I post this (no shame, I’m doing it at myself), but this story immediately came to mind reading your last part. From 2019, the Bochy retirement:
As a former player still coming to terms with the incandescence of his career, Lincecum is hardly unique. But his spirits lifted when asked to name a time when Bochy inspired him or made an impact on him.Lincecum pointed to a game in late May of 2012 when he gave up six runs at Miami to raise his ERA to 6.41 – when he showed the first real cracks in his Cy Young armor. Bochy and Sabean called him in for a summit.“He just kind of lifted me up to get me to believe in myself again,” Lincecum said. “You know how emotional I can get. I can get down on myself and it turns into almost a hurricane or a wave and you can’t get out of your own way. And the belief they had in me definitely pushed me to want to be out there more. They knew who I was. I was an emotional player and they wanted me to continue to be that guy.”Lincecum rode that trust when Bochy asked him to embrace a bullpen role that October, and it translated to this: six appearances, 14 2/3 innings, one run, three hits, two walks, 19 strikeouts and another parade ride on a Cable Car bus to City Hall.
― mojo dojo casas house (gyac), Friday, 3 November 2023 18:26 (one month ago) link
I'm all for managers who are sensitive to every last player. I was the 12th man on my high school basketball team, rarely played, so when I coached kids in school, I made sure that if you were good enough to make the team, you played every game. (I may have bent a bit the one year we made the finals in baseball--but everyone would have played in the games leading up to that.)
I'm still trying to figure out what an intangible is, and it makes my head hurt after a while. It's often used as a pejorative: something that doesn't really exist, like clutch hitting as a repeatable skill. I'm more inclined to go with something that can't be numerically quantified, so you rely on the eye test, faith, etc. (Why I wondered above if you could quantify resiliency somehow.)
Which immediately leads to a problem. Clutch hitting can be quantified in a number of ways--people have studied it, and they've concluded that with the overwhelming majority of players, it's purely random from year-to-year. So under my definition, it's not an intangible; it can be measured. Under the other definition, it is an intangible; it's not real, not in the sense that the ability to hit HR or steal bases is real.
If you find that confusing, you should. I do.
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 00:25 (one month ago) link
It may be quantifiable, but if it's truly random it's not predictable.
― immodesty blaise (jimbeaux), Saturday, 4 November 2023 00:27 (one month ago) link
Maybe that's the defining attribute.
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 00:32 (one month ago) link
"Leadership" and "grittiness" are two classic intangibles, neither of which can be quantified.
(When Thermo and I went to a Jays game a couple of years ago, we were talking about how there was, historically, an unspoken racial bias to the concept of grittiness--it was almost exclusively granted to white players. We had a hard time coming up with Black or Latin players from the past who were admired for their grittiness (past maybe the most obvious example of all, Jackie Robinson...we eventually came up with a couple of good examples, but it took a while).
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 00:37 (one month ago) link
I'm still trying to figure out what an intangible is, and it makes my head hurt after a while. It's often used as a pejorative
it's literally never used as a pejorative
― Humanitarian Pause (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 4 November 2023 01:12 (one month ago) link
Completely, emphatically disagree. In the earliest days of sabermetrics--late '70s--one of the stated goals was to strip the evaluation of players of all those intangibles like "clutch," "grittiness," etc.
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 01:17 (one month ago) link
If it wasn't something that could be measured, quantified, and--as Jim Beaux points out--repeated, it was a complete myth.
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 01:18 (one month ago) link
― Humanitarian Pause (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 4 November 2023 01:19 (one month ago) link
agree with you that things that can't be measured are often dismissed by statheads but the word "intangibles" exclusively refers to the positive qualities you cite eg grittiness, leadership, being a good teammate etc
― Humanitarian Pause (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 4 November 2023 01:21 (one month ago) link
So you've gone from "it's literally never used as a pejorative" to "well, that was a long time ago" in record time.
Yes, James changed over time--demonstrably so. But I wouldn't have a hard time finding a quote from an old Abstract that's very different to what he says now. (Which is understandable, not having ever worked on the inside when he started out. I think even he'll admit that.)
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 01:23 (one month ago) link
Huffington Post, sorry, but I think this piece (from 2014) outlines the evolution of sabermetrics pretty well:
Critics of sabermetrics often focus on the inability of quantitative approaches to determine the value of real or imagined parts of the game like leadership, chemistry, team dynamics and the like. These aspects of the game are often overstated and generally hard to measure, but that does not mean they are not real. Determining how these aspects of the game can be measured and how it can be determined which players have these elusive characteristics is the next frontier for sabermetrics.
And that's not all that long ago. If you go back a decade or two before that, early sabermetrics not only didn't know how to deal with such concepts, they were often ridiculed.
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 01:34 (one month ago) link
I was curious about ILB's attitude towards the word going back. For the past 15 years, most posters seem to take a positive attitude towards the concept, or at the very least neutral. But going back to 2006 and earlier, I think it's routinely used as a pejorative: people either make fun of it explicitly or implicitly, often put scare quotes around the word, or seem apologetic about even broaching the subject.
>these are the very-same intangibles that Billy Beane was interested in'gax, what I was specifically mocking is that THOSE AREN'T INTANGIBLES! Injury history or drug/alcohol problems are ascertainable facts; they're data that the New Analysis breed has never ignored. You hear meatheads talk about anything outside of the triple crown stats as "intangibles." They should save that word for horseshit like "character" and "making players around him better."
― Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, January 10, 2005 9:18 AM
That is very representative of the posting around that time. So maybe my mistake was in stating that very generally, like it's always been true and remains true today. But, to me, "it's literally never used as a pejorative" is simply factually wrong.
Of possible interest to gyac, a post of mine from 2014 trying to figure out the Giants' third WS win:
Whatever you think of the playoffs in general--and no argument, some of the WS winners are clearly not the best teams--I don't think I'd put the Giants' three-in-five down to random luck. Mathematically, that seems extremely unlikely. There's something there I don't see. Maybe the make-up of the team--something about them that's suited to the post-season--maybe (sorry) intangibles that can't be measured. One obvious thing that you can put down to luck: they've drawn WS opponents that won 89, 88, and 90 games. But my own opinion is that there's more to it than that. What, I don't know.
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 02:16 (one month ago) link
clemenza what i am trying to say is that no one in baseball or covering baseball, in the 70s or now, has meant something negative by the word “intangibles”. grumpy sabremetricians may dump on the concept that the word represents. but the word, and what it refers to, are a collection of POSITIVE attributes. “we’re not interested in him” “why?” “his intangibles” is a non-sequitur. instead one would say “problems off the field” or something. the word is not ever used as a pejorative.
― Humanitarian Pause (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 4 November 2023 10:17 (one month ago) link
Okay...maybe there's a nuanced gap between your original statement and the "what I am trying to say" that I missed. The Morbius quote I pulled--"They should save that word (i.e., intangibles) for horseshit like 'character' and 'making players around him better'"--seems like a clear enough example to me of one common attitude at the time, an attitude that grew out of early sabermetrics. Which I guess makes him a grumpy sabermetrician in your eyes. Inside the game, I agree, the concept of intangibles has always been treated with respect. If you go back to the statement by me that started all this--"It's often used as a pejorative"--I don't think there's any kind of suggestion there that I'm talking about the word as used by players and managers.
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 13:28 (one month ago) link
let’s just agree to, not disagree exactly, but that i’m completely right and you’re completely wrong
― Humanitarian Pause (Tracer Hand), Saturday, 4 November 2023 17:59 (one month ago) link
Absolutely--and disregard any evidence to the contrary. We're good.
― clemenza, Saturday, 4 November 2023 18:15 (one month ago) link
The discussion veered off a little bit into Bruce Bochy, and there's no general managers thread (there should be), so I'll post this here; Posnanski on Bochy (part of a longer post today, "What Makes a Manager"). I think it's a good, even-handed appraisal of his place in history, and will be of interest to at least one person.
But...well, this is where we come back to Bruce Bochy. It seems way off to call Bruce Bochy the greatest manager in baseball history or anything close. He has a losing regular-season record, for crying out loud. He has never managed a team that won 100 games in a season and only once has managed a team to 95 wins. Here’s something crazy: He has never managed a single team to the best record in the league. Heck, in two of his four World Series seasons, his team didn’t even win the division.
That said: None of those regular-season things mean what they used to mean. It’s true that Bochy in 26 years of managing has never won what you might call a “natural pennant” — finishing with the league’s best record — but what matters now, pretty much to the exclusion of everything else, is October, and Bochy’s record in October is beyond remarkable.
-- in San Diego, yes, his teams went 8-16 in the postseason but did go to the World Series in 1998.
-- in San Francisco, his teams were a remarkable 36-17 in October, winning three World Series.
-- in Texas, as you know, his team set a record for consecutive road wins, went 13-4, and won the franchise’s first World Series.
Add it all up, that’s a 57-37 postseason record, five pennants, four World Series, all this with teams that never went into the playoffs as a favorite.
This Bochy witchcraft, like so many of the managerial traits we’ve been talking about here, is not easy to explain. Bochy’s presence inspires confidence, and he seems more or less unshakeable, and he doesn’t seem unduly tied to tradition or blind loyalty or anything else that might prevent him from winning TODAY’S game. And, I mean, you just like the guy, which can’t hurt.
But does he run wild like Whitey’s teams did? No. Does he preach the gospel of great defense, starting pitching and the three-run homer as Earl did? No. Does he mix and match and experiment and follow his gut and entertain the sportswriters like Casey did? No. Does he work over his bullpen so much that people call him “Captain Hook” the way they did with Sparky? No.
Maybe you can DESCRIBE the baseball philosophy of Bruce Bochy in that sort of pithy way. I find it hard to do.
But there’s something happening with Bochy, something that every team in baseball wants now. If a franchise could hire a steady manager who will squeeze the most of out of a team’s talents over the regular season, or a mercurial manager who will give them the best chance to win in October, I imagine most teams right now would choose the second. That is, if teams could identify such things.
"Not easy to explain," "if teams could identify such things"--so it does, in the end, circle back to intangibles.
― clemenza, Wednesday, 8 November 2023 19:25 (one month ago) link
Thanks for this.
Heck, in two of his four World Series seasons, his team didn’t even win the division.
― mojo dojo casas house (gyac), Wednesday, 8 November 2023 19:49 (one month ago) link
I was rereading Giant Splash & Bondsian Blasts by Baggarly (this is what happens when you travel 10 hours by train), and remembered Bochy’s calmness being invoked itt (including by me!) so this story made me giggle:
The most galling defeat came under dark and drizzling skies at Petco Park on April 20. Jonathan Sanchez dominated the Padres, holding them to one hit while striking out 10 in seven innings. But the Giants were just as stymied by Mat Latos, a hulking right-hander with platinum blond hair and a hard fastball that traveled straight downhill. The Giants managed just four hits in his seven innings, none of them coming at opportune times in a 1–0 loss. It was the 29th time the Giants held an opponent to one hit or fewer in a nine-inning game in their San Francisco era. It was the first time in those 53 seasons that they lost. “I can’t say I’ve been in a game like this,” said Bochy, who remained stoic in front of the press but began spewing blue language as soon as the reporters filed out of his office. “No way we should’ve lost tonight’s game.”
The Giants were 47–41 at the All-Star break in 2010, which was respectable enough but only placed them fourth in the NL West standings. The San Diego Padres set a surprising pace in the division, and the Giants kept coming up short against them. The Padres beat the Giants seven times in eight games prior to the break, and after many of those losses, it took every last bit of Bruce Bochy’s self-discipline to keep from redecorating the visiting manager’s office in Petco Park.
― mojo dojo casas house (gyac), Saturday, 11 November 2023 17:54 (three weeks ago) link