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Autograph Wall, Allergic to Leather, Sounds of 69, Massacre

By Mike Silva ~ August 22nd, 2009. Filed under: Morning Digest.

- I know we are on the verge of the football season, but did the Yankees and Red Sox need to celebrate with 31 runs and a 20-11 score?

- When asked what I thought of this weekend’s series I said the Sox probably would come back and take 2 of 3 at home. I knew they would get blown out in one of the first two games because of pitching matchups. Didn’t think it would be to the tune of 20 runs, but I digress. The Yankees are hitting and pitching at a very high level right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s Junichi Tazawa or Josh Beckett. I could easily see another drubbing today and than a close win over Beckett on Sunday.

- Great resource over at WFAN’s website. You can listen to “sounds of 1969″ as you get ready for tonight’s celebration (which I will be in attendance). Listen to an Ed Kranepool game winning hit, Tom Seaver’s near perfect game, or the Mets clinching the NL East.

- Don’t you think every Yankees win this weekend gives the Mets better leverage in the Billy Wagner sweepstakes? I talked about a great 3 team race in the AL East back in spring training, now I am wondering if we are about to see a great 3 team Wild Card Race with Boston, Texas, and Tampa.

- This picture courtesy of Victor Rojas. Check out the autograph wall at the MLB Network studios. As time goes on this may become a very valuable piece of real estate since you have everyone from Rickey Henderson to Brian Jordan showing up to do segments on MLBN.

- Joel Sherman talked to a panel of front office executives and asked if they would take Robinson Cano or Dustin Pedroia. All seven said Pedroia and largely because of those dreaded “intangibles” again.

- Brent Mayne relays a great story about former big leaguer Frank Howard aka “Hondo” and how he was allergic to leather.

- Derek Jeter has been one Yankee name that, surprisingly, has flown under the radar this year. To date he has produced one of the best overall around seasons of his career. Think about it, offensively it matches up with him in his prime and he is having a great defensive year. If you want me to use number his 2009 UZR has blown away any other season to date. Many are upset, rightfully, for Jim Rice calling out Jeter yesterday. Something that always bothers me is how Jeter has always gotten a pass from the media when he has displayed selfish behavior. There has been one writer, Ken Davidoff, who has consistently pointed out how poorly Jeter handled A-Rod’s assimilation into the Yankee clubhouse. Remember, A-Rod, not Jeter was the better shortstop back in 2004, yet it was Alex that changed positions. As Jeter gets older, and his skills decline, the Yankees have a tough decision on their hands. Can they survive with Jeter at SS? What about a contract extension into his age 40 season? Not a concern for today, but I suspect we may see that Jeter isn’t as unselfish as we all think when that day comes. Jim Rice may be out of line, but he wasn’t completely wrong when labeling Jeter “selfish”.

- On the topic of Davidoff, he had a clever tweet last night: “I don’t want to say Eric Hinske is struggling in Fenway’s LF, but A-Rod just handed him a GPS.”

- Great NY Times story on how the Staten Island Little League Team has captured the attention of the locals.

- Newsday Jim Baumbach talks with Jerry Koosman and Cleon Jones to find out what happened to the ball Jones caught for the final out of the 69′ World Series.

- Have you seen a more bizarre union than the Mets and Sheffield? First he asked for a contract extension, then asked out of the lineup, then walked out of the clubhouse proclaiming he is “done”. During this time a teammate, supposedly Tim Redding, tells the press Sheffield has been released. Reports come out that the Giants claimed Sheffield on waivers and the Mets wanted high level talent in return. The next day Sheff returns to talk to the media and says that he never asked for an extension and just wanted to know what’s going on. He now is going to spend the rest of the season in New York. I can’t say it’s bizarre because, after all, we are talking about Gary Sheffield and the 2009 New York Mets.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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24 Responses to Autograph Wall, Allergic to Leather, Sounds of 69, Massacre

  1. James K.

    Sorry Mike, you don’t get to use UZR here to say that Jeter has improved defensively. You can’t pick and choose use of a statistic only when it supports your cause.

    Previously, you said the stat is no good because it didn’t fit with your perception of Tex’s defense. Therefore, the stat is “dead” to you, and you cannot use it to support statements anymore.

  2. Howard Megdal

    Tough break, Mike. Who knew that if you didn’t fully embrace the conclusions of a metric 100% of the time, you could never refer to it again?
    On the plus side, this means if your wife’s judgment is ever off once, you never have to listen to her.
    Alas, mine is always right.

  3. James K.

    Love love love the sarcasm Howard.

    I think what I said makes perfect sense, and what’s more, I think you do as well. You cannot put a metric down and say it’s questionable when it doesn’t support a conclusion, then use it in the next post to support a statement that Jeter’s defense has improved.

  4. Howard Megdal

    All due respect, James, of course you can. A belief that a metric is less than infallible, but still worth consulting, is not an illogical stance.

  5. Mike Silva


    I put the bait out and knew it would be taken. Readers of the site and listeners of the show have demanded I step up my game and incorporate modern statistical metrics. I did just that in the Jeter statement. Even MGL admitted in the Davidoff piece that UZR is not infallible. The first thing I do when it comes to defense I email a writer or go to my database of knowledge to assess the player. After all the outcry, I think UZR would be a great way to complement that knowledge base.

    I am still struggling how to in corporate WAR into my arsenal.

  6. Howard Megdal

    You are not alone, Mike. Anyone who isn’t trying to constantly expand his or her understanding is doomed to a sterile mind.

    FWIW, I don’t use WAR- I eyeball a combo of offensive stats, UZR and Dewan’s +/-. I also value observations from particular individuals, and my own as well. I feel a lot more confident about a minor league player, for instance, if I hear John Sickels saw him in person, and have his thoughts on the matter.

    I also tend to be naturally skeptical of everyone, baseball or otherwise, who is certain of anything.

    I suspect we’re close to a breakthrough that will bring the reliability of defensive stats into alignment with offensive stats. My suspicion is that a movement from human-based estimations of play-by-play data to the computerized model discussed in last month’s NY Times article will be immense.

    I’d also note that we may well find offensive stats aren’t as reliable as we thought- some innovation ahead may prove that. Doesn’t mean they aren’t best available information right now, nor that we should ignore them.

  7. James K.

    “I put the bait out and knew it would be taken.”

    That about sums up your last 2 weeks of posts. Got a bunch of pages hits for it though, right? So I guess it worked.

    Howard, you indeed cannot trash a stat as worthless, as Mike had done previously, then use it the next day as support for an assertion. Neyer touched on this in his recent post on the Tex/Mauer topic. There’s a difference between being “skeptical” of a stat, and

    “Apparently Tex has a negative UZR rating this season. Anyone who has watched him play knows that is complete nonsense. ”

    as Mike wrote last week. How does one go from calling a stat “nonsense” to using it to say Jeter has improved defensively? Can’t have it both ways, sorry.

  8. SchmidtXC

    Got to agree with James on this one. Last week Tyler Kepner was quoted as saying “UZR says Teixeira is below average at 1B, which completely negates that stat for me”, to which Mike replied “I concur Tyler”. Mike didn’t say he didn’t fully embrace the stat, he completely de-valued it. By embracing it in the case of Jeter, he’s simply using it when it’s useful to his argument.

  9. Howard Megdal

    Again, if a stat is less than infallible, then it is perfectly reasonable to take issue with a particular result from it. It also doesn’t mean that the stat is never to be cited.
    If the metric is less than infallible, it is ultimately a gray area as to how much to buy into it. In the case of Teixeira’s UZR- as reliable as about a month of offensive data, and contradicted by visual evidence of many- it’s pretty easy to understand the doubts. If, in Jeter’s case, the change in UZR is supported by the visual evidence of many, it’s easy to understand why both data points can support each other.
    Just my take, anyway.

  10. SchmidtXC

    I agree with your take on that completely Howard, and I’m personally of the opinion that UZR is a good tool, but not perfect by any means. From what I’ve read of Mike’s posts, however, I’ve taken his comments (like the one quoted above) as dismissing UZR completely.

  11. Howard Megdal

    As Mike wrote,

    “The first thing I do when it comes to defense I email a writer or go to my database of knowledge to assess the player. After all the outcry, I think UZR would be a great way to complement that knowledge base.”

    Sure doesn’t sound that way to me.

  12. James K.

    Per the NYBD Twitter from just 3 days ago:

    “Oh no, another stat head. Teixeira is debunking UZR this season. I honestly have no use for the stat”

    So which is it? Is it “UZR would be a great way” or is it “I honestly have no use for the stat?” I’m guessing it’s the latter.

  13. Mike Silva

    That was a partial tongue in cheek James – I often use twitter to show the “lighter side of NYBD” – of course, I am dubious about UZR. I figured since I get criticized for the “eye test” that I would incorporate it. Just trying to give the public what they want as any benign dictator would.

    Davidoff’s column made me think more about UZR. I have learned quite a bit the last two weeks as I have been torched for having a dissenting opinion. Maybe I am still searching for my happy medium. We think different thats all, that is why we have this diverse and great community.

    Now WAR – that stat I am still trying to wrap my head around. Interesting how Redding is 0.1 WAR, but he sure pitched better than replacment level tonight.

  14. SchmidtXC

    I didn’t look for very long, but here are a few nuggets I’ve found by Mike in the last 2 weeks:

    “Knowing that WAR uses similar types of variables and defensive metrics, makes me even more leery of giving it, as I said before, more than a cursory look. ”

    ““UZR says Teixeira is below average at 1B, which completely negates that stat for me”. I concur Tyler. According to UZR, as of tonight, Ryan Howard has had a better defensive year than Mark Teixeira. Now Howard has improved, no doubt, but can you take this seriously? ”

    “Oh no, another stat head. Teixeira is debunking UZR this season. I honestly have no use for the stat”

    “Not quite sure if that is the case today with the hostile takeover of SABR measurements. If there is one area of baseball where I will draw the line on numbers it’s with defense. You have to watch a player to know how he is defensively.”

    “any stat that using a fictitious player as its benchmark automatically gets thrown in the trash by me.”

    If you continually make comments like these it’s going to severly hurt your argument when you use the stat in question to defend it. When called out on using a statistic that Mike apparently doesn’t take seriously, he defends himself with this :

    “The first thing I do when it comes to defense I email a writer or go to my database of knowledge to assess the player. After all the outcry, I think UZR would be a great way to complement that knowledge base.”

    That’s sentiment does not fit in with the comments Mike has made over the last several weeks. I’d guess the only reason his stance has changed today is because the statistic can be used as evidence to support his argument in this article. Honestly though, if you make comments like the ones above about a statistic, you really can’t expect to be taken seriously when you use that same statistic to support your claims mere days later.

  15. SchmidtXC

    “Now WAR – that stat I am still trying to wrap my head around. Interesting how Redding is 0.1 WAR, but he sure pitched better than replacment level tonight.”

    And the two outings before that he pitched 4 innings giving up 6 runs. One good outing doesn’t erase all the bad ones.

  16. James K.

    “That was a partial tongue in cheek James”

    This tongue-in-cheek clarification has been used quite a bit by yourself and Howard recently to defend your silly statements. How do we separate the tongue-in-cheek from the non tongue-in-cheek? A T-I-C statement is supposed to be sarcastic – “I honestly have no use for the stat” – I”m not sure how that can be interpreted as sarcastic in any way.

    Also, I find it hilarious that you only began to take the stat seriously after Davidoff wrote an article about it. Meanwhile, myself and a bunch of other Davidoff readers introduced him to the many of the concepts he now blogs about (UZR, WAR, BABIP, etc.). And you know what he did when these were brought up? He went out and learned about them before “trashing” them, which was the reasonable thing to do.

    Also, I second Schmidt’s above 2 comments.

  17. Howard Megdal

    Ultimately, James, Mike doesn’t need to use UZR as you do, or have come to it in the same way that you have. As far as I can tell, Mike got personally attacked and responded with some sarcasm directed toward those attacking him.

    At the end of the day, he’s displayed the ability to evolve in his thinking- and those attacking him are now doing so because they don’t like the way he did it, or that it happened too quickly, or not quickly enough.

    Bottom line: you don’t agree with him on many aspects of baseball analysis. But Mike has engaged in this debate, always responds, happy to discuss it. Francesa, who you’ve compared him to, would have cut you off after 15 seconds on the air.

    Once the discussion devolves into you telling Mike what his own thought process is, there’s really nothing more to discuss. Happy to talk baseball, but an argument with Mike over who knows better what he’s actually thinking- you, a person who has never met him, or Mike, who is the person in question, is just silly.

  18. James K.

    Every comment I made on this post was tongue-in-cheek, by the way.

  19. SchmidtXC

    Howard, the argument here isn’t whether or not a person can change their way of thinking. Most people at some point in their lives will enter into debate about a subject and be persuaded that the other sides stance is very valid. I can’t speak for James, but my issues are with Mikes use of UZR to defend an argument that Jeter is having a great season (I happen to agree that Jeter has been very good this year). Mike has made it clear that he has little to no use for UZR and WAR in the articles he’s published and in some of his tweets (which probably doesn’t help with the number of critical comments on the site). That’s fine, every person is certainly entitled to their own opinions, and Mike is certainly entitled to publish his. My issue is that Mike uses UZR to defend his position that Jeter’s defense has been very good, despite recently publishing the comments that I’ve quoted earlier in this discussion.
    I’ll use a hypothetical example here to try to explain my position. Imagine a lawyer who needs to dispute DNA evidence to defend his client. To accomplish this, the lawyer disputes the accuracy of DNA testing, trying to call into doubt whether or not you can draw any reasonable conclusions using this type of evidence. Later in the same trial, the same attorney attempts to introduce different DNA evidence to support his client’s case despite having earlier disputed the entire DNA testing process. I doubt the jury would give that attorney much leeway here. While it’s possible that the testimony the attorney heard from the opposing side’s expert may have changed his thinking, it still won’t make the argument look very good in front of the jury.
    This is very similar to what is happening here. You guys are more than welcome to believe in any method of evaluation you’d like. You’re certainly welcome to write about your views, and you can ue any methods you’d like to attract readers. If you’re going to use more modern statistics as part of your evidence supporting your claims, I’d stop saying that those stats “automatically get thrown in the trash by me”. I’d also avoid referring to people who happen to believe these stats are useful as “the Sabermetric cult”,”number crunchers”, or “statheads”. You really are asking for people to criticise with comments like those.

  20. Howard Megdal

    But SchmidtXC, this isn’t a trial. So I get that Mike has made statements in the past critical of UZR, and that he’s come around on it-see his citing of it and his reasoning.
    What I don’t get is the continued harping on this. I mean, what do you want from him? An apology? He didn’t see the value of UZR. He’s come around on it. What now?

  21. SchmidtXC

    I don’t think anybody here is looking for an apology, but if you’re publishing anything you should really expect some criticism. In this case there’s two major things that could be taken from the criticisms to this article to improve the quality of content on this site. The first thing I think Mike can take from the criticisms has to do with how he presents an argument for which he has limited knowledge. If Mike’s views on defensive metrics have changed this dramatically in the three weeks that this debate has been going on, it leads me to believe that he probably didn’t have much of an understanding of them prior to the debate begining (his comments to MGL reinforce that belief). In the future, that research should probably be done BEFORE publishing multiple articles which try to prove one side of the debate is wrong. Your own article on WAR and UZR was presented in that fashion, and leaves room for the other side of the debate to exist.
    The second thing I’d hope Mike would take from this would be that thowing barbs at your readers who don’t share your views is a pretty good way to get yourself taken less seriously. Calling people who read your work things like “The Sabermetric Cult” may be good for a laugh, but it’s going to lead to much more criticism of his work. If Mike is trying to be taken more seriously than guy like Francesa, I’d avoid throwing insults at readers. If he actually wants to be known for his knowledge and presentation of baseball, I’d spend more time researching and working on articles and less time pushing baseball fans buttons to get site hits. More people who come on your site is good for you guys, but reading over the few comments that get left doesn’t lead me to believe that many people are leaving impressed.

  22. Howard Megdal

    Fair enough. I am certain commenters aren’t nearly numerous enough to be representative- but I understand what you are saying more generally.
    However, I can’t really elaborate beyond that, because I’m still in shock from what just happened. At what point will the Mets make me numb? If not by now, I’d have to assume never.

  23. Mike Silva

    Thanks guys for all the back and forth.

    We are a multifaceted website. Sometimes we do deep pieces (Merricks, Wally Backman), other times we take a statement and talk about it (MVP, UZR) that originates from the media.

    I think that is what makes this site different and unique. We aren’t just one thing. I also like to challenge the status quo,which in the case of the internet, is more stats based. I will tell you that Gary Armida over at FCP is doing a study of statistical metrics by calling some ballclubs. I am curious what comes away from that

    Anyways. Appreciate the comments and you coming to the site. In no way am I trying to “flame” people for page hits. The difference between 1,000 visits and 5,000 visits is not significant if they don’t stick.

    The only criticism that bothers me is the accusations about false rumors. I think Frank and Joe have done a great job and we continue to bring that to the table. As you can see, the Mets have been very tight lipped with Wagner. Wish we could provide insight but our resources are unable to give anything on that.

    What does surprise me is when I propose some ideas (Juan Miranda, Casey Kotchman) and the outcry is immediate. I often wonder if Mets fans hate the Miranda proposal because of the Yankees, or do they really know him.

  24. Howard Megdal


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