From Detroit to Cooperstown: Approaching Hall-of-Fame-induction weekend 2018 with a quick note

The MLB HOF is a manifestation of writer opinions, so it’s a shame to see even the local press minimizing Whitaker as they attempt to garner clicks on Trammell features as we approach induction weekend. There’s a surplus of outrage, genuine and otherwise, on the internet right now, and I’m not saying that every article has to be a protest piece or that Trammell doesn’t deserve the attention in his own right, but it strikes me as a fairly significant injustice by the relevant standards that the longest-tenured double-play pair in the game’s history will be separated at the gate to the sport’s hall of honored memories.   Continue reading

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A Statistical Appreciation of the Washington Generals And Harlem Globetrotters (via FiveThirtyEight)

gtRed Klotz, the founder and longtime coach of the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters’ perpetually feeble opponents, died at age 93 last week (I highly recommend Joe Posnanski’s remembrance). Klotz’s all-time record as a head coach of the Generals and their namesakes was something like six wins and 14,000 losses — they lost 99.96 percent of the time.

How exactly did the Generals lose so consistently? How much of it was their conceding games on purpose, as opposed to simply being really bad at basketball?

Let’s first get a sense for how good the Globetrotters were. … Read More

(via FiveThirtyEight)

The second chapter of Sports on Earth

Back in August, I noted the launch of what then appeared to be a new heavy hitter in the high-end online sportswriting market: Sports on Earth, helmed by the well-known (for varying reasons) Joe Posnanski. After working out expected opening-day kinks, the site was getting off the ground nicely, and SoE has found a good niche providing current, day-to-day content in digestible bites by good writers. With those good writers and the backing of USA Today and Major League Baseball, the site seemed to be in a good place.

After just five months, though, Posnanski left without explanation, which had the effects of calling the site’s future viability into question and bolstering Posnanski’s reputation as a drifter. (His immediate destination was not a mystery, though: he joined NBC Sports to “writ[e] long-form stories” and a weekly column on Fridays called “The Big Read,” which seems like a painfully obvious play on “The Big Lead,” a popular, all-purpose sports site USA Today– Posnanski’s most recent former employer– bought a year ago. Weird.)

SoE lumbered on through the winter without a formal leader, and, really, seemed no worse for the wear. Spring arrived last week, Easter is this weekend, and yesterday, former “contributing writer” Will Leitch issued this announcement:

I am pleased to announce that next month, I will be joining the staff of Sports On Earth full-time, as a lead writer for the site. I’ve been writing for the site part-time since it launched last fall, but now I’m going to be there every day. It’s going to be my home.

My columns up to this point have been mostly media columns, but this is a more expansive role: I’m basically gonna be writing about everything, traveling all over the place, serving as the face (or one of the faces, anyway) of the site. I will also be hosting a daily podcast and will occasionally contribute for MLB.com, and certain columns will also be running in USA Today. Basically: I’m gonna be all over the place there.

Will’s writing voice has some built-in modesty to it, but the circumstances (including the fact that he is leaving his full-time position at New York magazine) make it clear to me that he has claimed Posnanski’s vacant seat as the head and face of Sports on Earth.

I think this is great news. Leitch remains a fresh voice in the media and sports realm, and he combines that with the experience that comes from operating very successfully and with perspective online. Will seems to have retooled and stretched out a bit since leaving Deadspin, and I think we’re at the point where we’re all going to benefit from his taking an in-earnest plunge back into the sports world.

Leitch’s first day in his new role is April 15.

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Related
The Weekend Interview: Charlie Warzel

Previously
And then there were four: Joe Posnanski’s Sports on Earth joins the fray

Real talk: The media is completely blowing it on the Miguel Cabrera triple crown story

Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers’ third baseman, enters tonight’s game against Kansas City, the last game of the baseball season, leading the American League in home runs, batting average, and RBI. The last time a player in either league finished the regular season with the lead in all three categories (i.e., won the triple crown) was 1967, forty-five years ago. This is a huge deal.

It’s a huge deal, and it’s failing to register a commensurate blip on the national media radar, and that’s a shame. This is not a Detroit-complex issue, a simple want of attention and validation (I’ve addressed that concept before), but if Cabrera was a member of the Yankees or Red Sox, to name two teams, Kansas City would be a media circus right now. The game would be on national radio and television broadcasts, and Sportscenter would have a running clock counting down the minutes until the first pitch.

There has been some national coverage this week, it’s true, and the national baseball writers, like Jonah Keri and Joe Posnanski, have been somewhat better about this than their broadcast counterparts, but come on. This is a readily understandable, offense-involving achievement that hasn’t happened in nearly a half-century, and it’s only happened about a dozen times ever. This should be receiving the Tebow treatment, the Brett Favre’s locker treatment, heck, even the Roger Clemens pitching a minor league baseball game treatment. The NFL draft gets more coverage than this story. And what coverage Cabrera’s story gets, as anyone who read the @ALDLANDia feed early this morning knows, is uninformed, manufactured, trite media banter.

Cabrera has been nothing but humble, deflecting, and team-oriented this entire season. He deserves the spotlight, but he’ll never ask for it. Even if he did, it’s too late now, the first pitch of the 162nd game moments away (it’ll be his 161st game of the season). He should be invited to the White House if he secures the triple crown tonight, but even those two are too busy.

Keep reading for update…

The DET Offensive: You forgot about J(ustin Verlander)

As the 2012 MLB season winds down– the Tigers are up three over Chicago with three games to go, all against the Royals– the national focus on Motown thankfully has shifted away from a record that has to be considered a disappointment even if the team makes the playoffs and onto the achievements of Miguel Cabrera, who is well within reach of winning the first Triple Crown since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and whether those achievements make him a more worthy MVP than Mike Trout.

While it’s interesting to note that Cabrera is doing all of this while having his “worst offensive season in three years,” it’s more interesting that no one is talking about Justin Verlander as a serious Cy Young candidate despite his having a nearly identical season to the one he had last year, when he ran away with the Cy Young and took home the MVP as well. Joe Posnanski elaborates:

Justin Verlander is, in so many ways, every bit as good as he was last year. He’s striking out the same number of batters, walking just a tick more, and allowing fewer home runs than he did last year. He has given up a few more hits. But he leads the league in strikeouts and innings pitched like last year and you can add in most complete games.

It is true that last year he led the league in ERA and he’s second now to David Price … but he again leads the league in ERA+, which takes into account the ballpark where they pitch. Verlander pitches in Detroit, which has evolved into a pretty good hitters park. Price pitches in Tampa Bay, a hitter’s dungeon.

The point is that Verlander is basically the same guy he was last year. Only, last year he went 24-5. This year he’s 16-8. And that seems to make all the difference. Last year, he won the Cy Young unanimously and became the first starter to win the MVP since 1986. This year — at least from what I can tell — people hardly seem to be talking about him as a Cy Young candidate. I hear a lot of David Price and Chris Sale and Jered Weaver, and these are all worthy candidates. But, once again, I think Verlander has been the best pitcher in the American League.

It gets, once more, to the issue of sports narratives. Last year, Verlander was superman. He went into the playoffs last year as this force of nature … and the record will show that in the playoffs (an odd playoffs, admittedly, because of rain) he posted a 5.31 ERA and did not throw a single quality start. But the narrative was so powerful that people STILL kept going on and on about how gutsy Verlander was, how extraordinary, how Koufax-like, how he was almost single-handedly keeping the Tigers alive.

This year, the narrative has gone the other way, the narrative has been that Verlander has been, you know, eh, good but not the mega-monster he was last year. The narrative has turned instead into how now Miguel Cabrera is superman carrying the Tigers. Narratives are fun, but they aren’t necessarily true. Verlander really is just about as amazing as he was last year.

Jonah Keri succinctly concurs: “Justin Verlander has posted numbers in 2012 virtually identical to those of 2011, yet he’s somehow considered just one of several candidates for Cy Young and a no-chance-in-hell guy for MVP, after winning both awards last year.”

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Finally, looking as far ahead as I’ll allow myself, the Free Press reports that Max Scherzer sounds like he’ll be ready to go for the playoffs, or even this week if necessary.

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Previously
Get perspective – 9/12
Everybody knows this is nowhere – 8/31

Now it’s just offensive – 8/29
Explode! – 7/23
Halfway at the Half-way – 7/9

Interleague
Play – 6/26
Call the Experts! 
 5/26
Recipe for a Slumpbuster
 – 5/2
Delmon Young Swings and Misses
 – 4/30
Brennan Boesch’s Birthday – 4/12
Tigers open 2012 season with Sawks sweep – 4/9

And then there were four: Joe Posnanski’s Sports on Earth joins the fray

Yesterday marked the first day for a new online sports site, Sports on Earth. Helmed by Joe Posnanski, who left Sports Illustrated this spring after just three years there, the site’s “senior columnist” has assembled a supporting cast of twelve other writers, only two of whom, Deadspin founding editor Will Leitch and Patrick Hruby (who wrote the Dock Ellis feature I highlighted last week), are immediately recognizable to me. That appears to be farm more an indictment of me than Posnanski, though, as a review of the bio pages of the other ten writers discloses a diverse group of talented writers with online and offline experience in national and noted regional newspapers, blogs, and book-writing, representing a range of ages, geographic localities, sporting interests, and, thankfully if barely, genders. On first blush, this appears to be an accomplished and professional staff that, at least based on two days of operation, is up to the call to post regularly and on current topics.     Keep reading…