The older I get, the more I think about history. Today I’m pondering players I wished I’d gotten a chance to see play.
Willie Mays immediately leaps to mind because of his incredible skill set, but I didn’t miss him by much. Plus, I have a thing for less heralded guys (and less heralded skill sets). I’ve always been a fan of batters who draw a lot of walks, hence my infatuation with Gene Tenace and Dave Magadan, both of whom I had the pleasure of watching).
Then again, how exciting is it to watch someone work the count? In the context of what that does for his team, it’s great… but isn’t it more fun to watch Alfonso Soriano hack at stuff nowhere near the zone and occasionally drive one a long way than to watch Daric Barton… well, watch pitches?
And we haven’t even gotten to the pitchers, which brings me to my own response to the question at hand. This is almost too obvious, but if I had the opportunity to see anyone in the history of baseball play, it would be Walter Johnson. Despite my bias toward less heralded guys, sometimes you just have to go with the best of the best.
Who do you wish you’d seen play? Why?
* * *
- If Moleskine Made a Scorebook: The Bethany Heck Interview (Pitchers and Poets). Heck is a graphic designer seeking to reinvent the baseball scorebook. Ambitious project, that. [h/t SBNation]
- Umpires: How Do They Impact Total Line Betting in Baseball? (Seamheads). The results may surprise you.
- Previewing the Padres: The infield (Friar Forecast). Myron delivers the goods.
- 2011 Pre-Season Preview: NL West – San Diego Padres (Seamheads). Jeffrey Brown has the Padres winning 77 games, a not unreasonable guess.
- THT book review: The Extra 2% (Hardball Times). Friend of Ducksnorts Jonah Keri has a new book out about the Tampa Bay Rays’ recent transformation from cellar dwellar to contender. Also, the Boston Globe chats with Keri.
- Richard set to debut on Saturday (Padres.com). Clayton Richard has been slowed by a sore shoulder this spring but threw 50 pitches on Wednesday.
- Braves’ manager recovering after accident (Atlanta Business Chronicle). Yikes, former Padres infielder Luis Salazar, now a manager in the Atlanta Braves organization, suffered severe facial injuries after being struck by a foul ball. Here’s wishing Salazar a quick and full recovery. [h/t SBNation]
- Pitcher John D’Acquisto Topped 100 MPH in 1974 (Baseball by the Letters). On a lighter note, and speaking of former Padres…
- The fear of unorthodoxy: a new model of player development (Hardball Times). Fascinating.
- Radio daze: Grading S.D. sports hosts (U-T). Curious that Jim Rome gets such a low rating. I almost never listen to sports talk radio, but I will make the occasional exception for him because he offers actual insight and usually makes me laugh.
- Bill Simmons, Malcolm Gladwell, And The Dirty Secret Of The MIT Sports Analytics Conference (Deadspin). Jack Dickey’s article focuses on the personalities: “Let’s just say it straight away: The Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is not a conference about sports analytics. Rather, it is a parade of reasonably famous sports creatures, all of them rich and powerful and esteemed, and 10 years ago many of them were just like you.” If you’re interested in who Dickey ran into in the bathroom, this one’s for you. [h/t BBTF]
- 61. Wally Yonamine: Japan’s Jackie Robinson (Infinite Baseball Card Set). A reader forwarded this in response to my recent ESPN SweetSpot post. The entire site is worth perusing. Quoth the proprietor, Gary Joseph Cieradkowski: “This is a place where I will post the baseball cards I designed and illustrated. There is no complete set, it will go on forever, each card representing a unique and interesting baseball player, from Negro Leaguers and obscure semi-pro players to cards of hall of famers when they were in the minor leagues. I am going to create all the cards I wanted when I was kid, and share some knowledge and stories from baseballs forgotten corners.” [h/t reader Mark B.]
- Which Players Had The Most Surprising Walk Rates? (Part 3) (Cybermetrics). Another of my SweetSpot posts examined players who walked a lot without hitting for much power. Cy Morong has done work in this area and provides cool lists. Not surprisingly, some of my all-time favorite players (Max Bishop, Tenace) show up here. Sort of related (I don’t feel like adding another bullet) is the question of whether hitters can develop plate discipline.