Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Air is Hot, Smart or Not, Deep in the Heart of Texas

Lewis shoutsSo this is what the ruination of baseball’s unwritten rules looks like. People keep marginalizing them, shunting them to the corner, labeling those who play by their merits as kooks and haters of fun. What we’re left with, at least in part, is this: Ballplayers, both red-assed and traditionalist, playing less by moral imperative than by half-formed opinions based on a system they don’t appear to fully understand.

Case in point: Rangers starter Colby Lewis, who on Saturday lit into Toronto’s Colby Rasmus (in the rare and wondrous Battle of the Colbys) for daring to lay down a bunt late in the game while the Blue Jays sat on a huge lead.

Except that it was only the fifth inning. And the score was 2-0. Oh, Colby Lewis.

The section of the unwritten rulebook that Lewis was attempting to channel was the one that dictates avoidance of running up the score late in games. It’s a simple matter of respecting one’s opponent enough to keep from embarrassing him … but that doesn’t have much relevance to whatever happened in Toronto. Just as Astros manager Bo Porter was ludicrous when he exploded over a first-inning Jed Lowrie bunt back in April, Lewis is ludicrous now.

Rasmus bunted because—here’s the pertinent part—his run mattered. Lewis was upset that Rasmus had taken advantage of a defensive shift designed to stop him from hitting. Now that such shifts are gaining traction even as the Code is losing it, we’re faced with an awkward intersection: Is there a moral component to playing straight-up against the shift with the fact that it presents an obvious weakness (nobody playing down the third base line) to exploit? The closest example I can conjure is the first baseman who plays off the bag despite a runner being on base late in a blowout game, with the expectation that the runner will hold anyway. He wants the defensive advantage of playing in the hole, and expects that his opposition will not take similar advantages of their own.

But those who think that situation is reasonable do so because of the lopsided score. In a close game, if a defense wants to gain the advantage of an extra defender on the right side of the infield, it has no business taking exception should a batter exploit that weakness. Which is not only what Rasmus did, but which is what every hitter with speed should do, at least on occasion.

Lewis had words for Rasmus on the field (watch it here) and after the game explained just what was going on. “I told [Rasmus] I didn’t appreciate it,” Lewis said in an report. “You’re up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don’t think that’s the way the game should be played. I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you’re up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average.”

Lewis’ criteria for judgment was that once Rasmus reached base, he didn’t try to steal and get himself into scoring position. “That tells me he is solely looking out for himself, and looking out for batting average, and I didn’t appreciate it,” he said, digging himself into a dangerous rabbit hole of inanity. Left unexplained: If in Lewis’ mind the game situation dictated that Rasmus wasn’t allowed to bunt, the question isn’t whether the pitcher’s head would have exploded had Rasums stolen a base, but how violently.

Hell, Curt Schilling didn’t take offense when Ben Davis bunted against him to ruin his perfect game in 2001. That’s because, like the game in Toronto, the score was 2-0 and a baserunner could have made a difference.

Or one could look in another direction: When Jarrod Saltalamacchia bunted to break up a perfect game against Oakland’s A.J. Griffin in 2012, he was barely faulted for it by Oakland manager Bob Melvin, not because the score was close but because Melvin had put on a shift similar to the one Texas used on Saturday. “I probably should have had the third baseman in,” said Melvin at the time.

Ultimately it’s up to players to recognize what is and isn’t appropriate, and to be damn sure they’ve been aggrieved should they get their jocks in a bunch over a given play. The Code is a powerful part of baseball’s social fabric, but only when it’s leveraged properly. Because the facts of the matter don’t back him up, all Colby Lewis is left with is a bunch of hot, angry air.


Filed under Don't Play Aggressively with a Big Lead, Uncategorized

Toss Him Out! Let Him Play! The Importance of Understanding that not Every Situation is Exactly the Same

rsz_jonathan_sanchez (1)Jonathan Sanchez insists that the fastball he threw Friday—which nearly hit Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig in the head—was accidental. Sanchez was pitching inside, he said, quoting verbatim from the unofficial handbook of pitcher denials. The ball rose, he said. That was all.

Of course, given the pitcher’s recent struggles, not to mention his history with hot-headedness, questions abound. MLB certainly thought so, suspending him for six games on Saturday.

Sanchez opened Friday’s game against St. Louis by giving up back-to-back home runs to Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran, followed by a single by Matt Holliday. Sanchez sent his next pitch—apparently out of frustration—toward Craig’s head. (The ball ended up connecting with the spinning hitter’s shoulder.) Plate ump Tim Timmons didn’t hesitate, ejecting Sanchez without so much as a warning.

It was an abhorrent string of hitters in an abhorrent season of starts for Sanchez, who has thrown a total of only 11.3 innings over four outings, with a 12.71 ERA. Twenty-one hits and eight walks. He’s made it to the fifth inning only once. Well, of course he’s frustrated.

“You’ve got two home runs, and then you’ve got a line-drive single up the middle, and then the very first pitch is up around the shoulder and head area,” Timmons told a pool reporter at Busch Stadium. “He threw intentionally at him, and in that area I deemed that intentional, and he’s done. Very dangerous.”

“It surprised me,” Sanchez said in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report. “(Timmons) said it was obvious I wanted to hit him. I said no, I just missed my spot.”

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was outraged at the quick hook, arguing vociferously enough to get tossed himself. After the game he said he was bringing his complaints to the commissioner’s office, although Sanchez’s ensuing suspension gave a pretty good indication about how much attention the commissioner was paying.

Any umpire who feels that a pitcher is intentionally head-hunting is justified in leveling ejections, with or without prior warnings. Timmons earned extra credit by keeping quiet after Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn later hit Pirates outfielder Starling Marte not once but twice—each almost certainly incidental—even after warnings were issued. (One barely clipped Marte’s hand, the other sailed into his arm, just off the plate; the hitter barely tried to avoid either one.)

Lynn himself was brushed back by Pittsburgh reliever Jared Hughes in the eighth, avoiding a pitch that, because he was squatting while squared to bunt, came in head-high. Lynn ducked backward out of the way, ending up on his back in the batter’s box. Again, Timmons let it slide.

In the eighth, Cardinals pitcher Mitchell Boggs drilled Gaby Sanchez in the back. (This, too, may have been unintentional, given Boggs’s recent struggles and the fact that all three hitters he faced reached base.)

Watch a compendium of the action here. (In an unrelated Code note, watch Pirates catcher Russell Martin jump to get between batter and pitcher in the first clip, as A.J. Ellis wishes he had recently done.)

One takeaway from all this is that an umpire on top of his game can go a long way toward stemming future disturbances. Timmons and MLB seem to agree upon that even one head-hunting incident is too many, and there’s no better way to tamp down the practice than by making examples of pitchers who stray from the proscribed course.

By letting the rest of the game play out as it did—even what appeared to be an obvious message from Hughes to Lynn—Timmons further defused lingering resentment between the clubs. Neither of the weekend games between the team featured much of anything resembling Code-based drama, even with the ample opportunities presented by Pittsburgh’s 9-0 blowout on Sunday.

Ultimately, the situation appears to have been handled just right. The power of positive umpiring. 


Filed under Jonathan Sanchez, Retaliation, Umpire Warnings, Umpires Knowing the Code, Uncategorized

How to put Hecklers Behind You, Vol. 11

There’s an unwritten rule saying players should never engage a heckler, because it will only inspire further abuse.

This is an old clip of Tony Gwynn Jr. ignoring that rule, but I just found it and it is beautiful.


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Weirdness at Wrigley: DeJesus hit by Pitch from Own Teammate

Pissing off an opponent badly enough to get drilled is one thing. When it’s your own team throwing baseballs at you, though, watch out.

So says David DeJesus, who, barely a moment after watching ball four from Brewers pitcher Jim Henderson on Monday night, was plunked by a ball that got loose from the Cubs bullpen.

At this point, further details are extraneous. Just watch the video.

(Via Yahoo.)

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Tulo or Ubaldo? Jimenez Out to Prove the Rockies Made the Right Decision

Anybody wondering why the Colorado Rockies never considered Ubaldo Jimenez to be in the same stratosphere as Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez got their answer today.

Turns out the guy is hot-headed, and possibly a touch delusional.

Jimenez, who publicly steamed last week about the lack of respect shown him by the Rockies when they traded him to Cleveland rather than sign him long term, got his first chance to face his former team on Sunday. Before long, he had sent Tulowitzki to the hospital.

The right-hander’s first move was to drill Colorado’s All-Star shortstop in the elbow (test results came back negative). His second was to race toward the plate, daring an enraged Tulowitzki to come at him. After at first refusing to speak to the media after the game, Jimenez said that his post HBP histrionics were merely a reaction to Tulowitzki’s anger. “He was calling me out,” he said in a Denver Post report. “I mean, I’m a man. If somebody calls me out, I have to go.”

Tulowitzki’s drilling follows a time-tested tradition of players being punished for their teammates’ actions, be it the next hitter in the lineup dodging fastballs following a home run, or a slugger going down as part of a pitcher protesting a big inning.

Those tactics, however, are long outdated, and Jimenez knows it. Tulowitzki might have worn it because he’s the face of theRockies—not to mention the guy who got a big contract when Jimenez did not. (Tulowitzki and Gonzalez both signed monster deals after the 2010 season, the former for $134 million, the latter for $80 million, both over seven years. Jimenez signed for $10 million over four years prior to the 2009 campaign.)

Or he might have worn it for the statement he made in response to Jimenez’s initial cries of disrespect. “(Jimenez) had signed his deal and had years left on it,” the shortstop said. “Why would we give him something new when we didn’t see anything out of him?”

Jimenez said that his pitch was unintentional (it “got away,” he said), but that’s clearly not the case. Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie—in his first season with Colorado—said he knew what was coming based on where the catcher was setting up.

The umps, clueless, did not issue an ejection.

Two things worth noting:

  • Jimenez was 6-9 with a 4.46 ERA when the Rockies traded him last season.
  • Jimenez is 1-4 with a 7.43 this spring.

The guy gave the Rockies scant reason to lock him up last season, let alone rework his contract long before it was set to expire. He currently appears to be working his way out of the Cleveland rotation altogether. He should focus on things other than misplaced anger directed at guys who don’t deserve it.

Colorado and Cleveland don’t face each other this season, so the two won’t meet again short of the World Series. Should Jimenez face his old mates next year, however, it’s pretty certain that today’s activities will be revisited, with vigor.

- Jason

Update: Rockies skipper Jim Tracy didn’t much care for Jimenez’ act, calling him “gutless” and calling for his suspension.

Update 2 (4-02): MLB didn’t much care for Jimenez’ act, either.

Update 3 (4-02): Watch it here.

Update 4 (4-03): Jimenez isn’t exactly reticent about the whole thing.

Update 5 (4-03): How not reticent? He’s appealing his suspension.


Filed under Retaliation, Uncategorized

For a Good Time, Please Don’t Call Mike Napoli

Wilson and Napoli during happier times.

Usually, pitchers can unbunch their panties via well-placed fastballs aimed at or near the player responsible for said bunching. It’s time-honored and it’s effective and, if it’s executed properly, it allows adequate venting with no long-term damage.

The long-term nature of the damage Mike Napoli suffered yesterday is up for debate, but there’s little question that he’ll be feeling this particular pinch far longer than he would a baseball to the thigh.

Napoli apparently riled pitcher and former teammate C.J. Wilson by saying, upon Wilson’s signing with Anaheim during the off-season, that he was looking forward to taking the left-hander deep.

Were Wilson truly miffed, he could have called Napolito talk it over. Were he baseball miffed, he could have drilled him the next time the two faced each other. Wilson, however, appears to have been more provoked than angry, gladly looking for an excuse to execute what can only in baseball and frat-house circles qualify as a “prank.”

He tweeted Napoli’s phone number. (That’s what Wilson considers a prank? No, this is a prank.)

Sure, there’s long been a place for off-field retaliation in baseball. Before there was Twitter, Ty Cobb and Buck Herzog fought in Cobb’s hotel room, some hours after Cobb had spiked the second baseman during a game. In this modern age of mass communication, however, it seems that one can do far worse deeds digitally than with one’s fists.

Wilson’s prank—again, we use the term loosely—may have been marginally appropriate had he and Napoli possessed a relationship strong enough to sustain such shenanigans. Napoli, however, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that this is not the case.

“I don’t even know why he did it,” he said. “You don’t do that. I am not taking it as a prank. You know, I haven’t even talked to him since the end of last season. We don’t have that type of relationship.”

So Napoli has to deal with the inconvenience of getting a new phone number. Wilson has to defend himself from the outraged masses. And the rest of us get to consider what may yet happen when these guys meet during the regular season (never mind the two spring training contests left between the teams, on March 24 and 25).

- Jason


Filed under C.J. Wilson, Don't Call out Opponents in the Press, Mike Napoli, Retaliation, Uncategorized

Daniel Hudson Throws Season’s First Gauntlet

Looks like Diamondbacks starting pitchers learned a lesson. In talking to Arizona radio station Sports 620, Daniel Hudson touched upon the fact that Justin Upton was hit by 19 pitches last season—second most in baseball.

“If it’s a starting pitcher [who hit Upton], remember, he’s got to hit,” Hudson told the station, according to, the station’s Web site. “They either have to hit their spots, or expect something in return.”

Okay, that makes sense. What’s interesting is how Hudson and the rest of the staff came upon this realization. The right-hander said that the subject was raised “halfway through the year.”

There are some obvious follow-up questions: Who brought the subject up with him, and how? Was it an order (or at least a suggestion) from manager Kirk Gibson, or somebody else on the staff? Was it Upton himself, or another of the hitters? Were the pitchers called out in a group setting, or did it happen through individual conversations on the side?

This is all interesting stuff. The way a team communicates information like this can be as vital—if not more so—than the information itself. It should be noted that, for a staff chided halfway through the season for the dearth of protection it offered its own hitters, Diamondbacks pitchers drilled either nine or 10 batters in every month of the season, save for September, when they hit only six; they actually declined in that category in the second half. Even so, their total of 53 HBPs—28 by starters, 25 by relievers—ranked fourth in the National League.

There’s also the fact that Upton stands notoriously close to the plate, which certainly had something to do with the frequency of his drillings. (The next closest Arizona player was Miguel Montero, who was hit eight times; nobody else was touched more than four times.) Upton intoned at the team’s FanFest earlier this month that he’ll continue to stand atop the dish, so one can reasonably expect the frequency of his drillings to continue.

Was Hudson just blustering to try to make opposing pitchers a little more wary of pitching inside to Arizona’s best hitter? When the D-Backs make their way to San Francisco later this season, I’ll see if I can’t track down some answers.

- Jason


Filed under Daniel Hudson, Retaliation, Uncategorized

Wordplay Taken to a Whole New Level

Last week I got an e-mail from Tyler Hinman, the five-time American Crossword Puzzle champion, who co-designed the crossword that was the basis of my Brian Wilson feature in the New York Times back in March.

“If you haven’t done this,” he wrote, “you should.”

“This” referred to last Saturday’s acrostic puzzle in the Wall Street Journal.

I had rediscovered crosswords as I reported the Times piece, with Hinman, Times crossword editor Will Shortz and others providing newfound inspiration. The Times’ Sunday crossword has since become an essential part of any given week.

Acrostics, however, were new to me.

Suffice it to say, it was tough. One fills in answers to clues, then correlates those answers to a crossword-like grid to spell out, in this instance, a quotation. It took me the better part of three days to get it all, but I finally decoded an interesting remark about inside pitching.

Cool, I thought. This is why Tyler sent it to me.

SPOILER ALERT. If you’re an acrostic devotee working through a backlog of Wall Street Journal back issues, continue reading at your own risk.

Only then did I turn to the final part of the puzzle. “When you’re finished,” read the instructions, “the initial letters of the answers in the word list will spell the author’s name and the source of the quotation.”

Working my way down, my eyes got increasingly wider. T-U-R-B-O-W-T-H-E-B-A-S-E-B-A-L-L-C-O-D-E-S.

I guess this means I’ve officially arrived. (Seriously, how cool is that?)

I dashed off a note to acrostic editor Mike Shenk, asking how he came upon li’l old me as a subject.

His response: “I thought it would be nice as the baseball season wound down to run a baseball quote in the acrostic, so I headed to the sports section of the bookstore looking for possibilities. There are a few constraints on the quotation itself. The author’s name and title must contain about 20 to 26 letters, the quotation must contain about 250 letters and spaces and must of course include all the letters of the author’s name and title. . . .

“With those restraints in mind, I started looking for good quotes—and quickly discovered that most writers of baseball books aren’t very lively writers. Needless to say, I was happy when I discovered that your book was an exception, with just the sort of attitude I was looking for.”

(Okay. It just got even cooler.)

After having written an entire story about one man’s quest to become a crossword puzzle clue, I’ve now received a similar honor. And it might just be the best review I’ve received.

- Jason


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You Talk Too Much: The Fine Art of Complaining Your Way into the Doghouse

Edinson Volquez, in a moment of not saying anything.

It’s been a bad week for baseball types to talk, with every talker doing his darndest to deflect blame that he incontrovertibly deserves.

In Cincinnati, Edinson Volquez continued his season-long meltdown on Sunday by giving up seven runs to Cleveland over 2 2/3 innings. The right-hander has a 6.35 ERA and leads the National League with 38 walks.

Volquez’s problem, according to Volquez: the Reds’ offense.

“Everybody has to step up, start to score some runs,” he said in the Cincinnati Enquirer. “In the last five games, how many runs have we scored? Like 13? That’s not the way we were playing last year. We’re better than that.”

This is a terrific way to further alienate teammates who are already undoubtedly upset with the pitcher’s inability to keep Cincinnati in games. It’s even more infuriating than Gaylord Perry’s habit of physically showing frustration on the mound when his teammates made errors behind him in the field. At least Perry took the blame when he deserved it. Plus–unlike Volquez–he was a winner.

Cincinnati’s response was swift; on Monday, Volquez was optioned to Louisville. It was a dramatic move–the right-hander was their opening day starter, a former All-Star who went 17-6 in 2008. Of course, the guy has long battled maturity issues, being kicked by the Rangers all the way down to Single-A from the big leagues in 2007, shortly before they shipped him to Cincinnati (in exchange for Josh Hamilton).

If Volquez jeopardized his own spot in a major league clubhouse, Brian Fuentes jeopardized that of his manager. After Oakland’s interim closer gave up the lead yesterday against the Angels, he used his time in front of the post-game media to light into Bob Geren.

As with Volquez, it was primarily a matter of frustration. Fuentes has picked up losses in four straight appearances; his seven on the season already stand as a career high. He’s on pace to lose more games than any reliever in history.

At issue: how Fuentes has been used. He hasn’t had a save opportunity since May 8, coming primarily into tie games as of late. It happened again on Monday, when Fuentes walked one of the two hitters he faced before being pulled in favor of Michael Wuertz, who promptly let his inherited runner score, tagging Fuentes with the loss.’s Jane Lee posted the entire transcript of the reliever’s bluster:

What did you think of the situation you were placed in tonight?

It’s surprising yet not surprising all at the same time.

How do you feel with the way the manager has handled you as a reliever?
Pretty poorly.

How much communication do you have with him?

Why is it pretty poorly?
There’s just no communication. Two games, on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven’t stretched, I haven’t prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game  – which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don’t think anybody really knows which direction he’s headed.

How much different is this compared to past managers?
It’s a pretty drastic difference.

What goes through your mind when the phone rings in the seventh tonight?
I thought he misspoke. I thought it was some sort of miscommunication, but he said, ‘No, you’re up,’ so I got up and cranked it up. You can’t try to guess along with them. Very unpredictable.

At the beginning of the season, did he tell you that you were the closer?
Yes, from get go, I’ve been closing.

In regards to communication, is that something that ought to change?
It should. It’s not my decision. I can’t predict the future. If he decides to take that step, then there will be communication. If not, I’ll make sure I’m ready from the first.

Does there need to be a “clear the air” meeting?
Some people might think so. At this point I have nothing to say.

Has this been boiling up or is it just recent?
Just recent, really. I think the games in San Francisco were some unorthodox managing. I thought it was maybe the National league thing, that maybe that had something to do with it, but tonight was pretty unbelievable.

“Unbelievable” is an appropriate term. Fuentes has some validity with his points, but going public with them makes him look like a half-bit pitcher searching desperately for excuses. In the process, he completely undermined his manager and potentially damaged team chemistry. Today saw calls for Geren to resign, and questions have been raised about how the team will communicate moving forward.

This is a lot of damage for a pitcher who has been with the A’s for all of two months to inflict over the course of a five-minute interview.

The Reds sent Volquez to the minors. Fuentes doesn’t have to worry about that, but his position in the bullpen is certainly in danger. (Geren said that would have been the case even had Fuentes kept his mouth shut.) A’s closer Andrew Bailey is due back soon from the DL, and the return to health of Joey Devine and Josh Outman makes Fuentes expendable; shuffling him out of sight until he can be dealt to a contender should not be too difficult. (Fuentes came back tonight, and, without backing down from his statements, apologized to Geren—assumedly for the public nature of his discourse.)

* * *

Most noteworthy of all talkers was Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who set New York atwitter as soon as the New Yorker published Jeffrey Toobin’s profile of him. Amid what is otherwise a sympathetic story, Wilpon spent a few choice paragraphs disparaging his players. Jose Reyes, he said, will never get “Carl Crawford money” when he hits free agency after this season, because he’s too frequently injured. (The direct quote: “He’s had everything wrong with him.”)

Carlos Beltran was given a seven-year, $119 million deal by “some schmuck” (that would be Wilpon referring to himself), which the owner has come to regret. David Wright, he said, while a very good player, is not a superstar.

And the team as a whole: “Shitty.”

Yikes. In one brutal volley, Wilpon inadvertently undermined his financial recovery from the Bernie Maddoff fallout, at least as far as the Mets are concerned. (This despite the fact that, like Fuentes, Wilpon probably didn’t say anything that was inaccurate). He’s not going to re-sign Reyes, that much is now clear; what leverage the Mets held in trade talks regarding their shortstop has been radically diminished. Beltran, too, is on the trading block, but what kind of bargaining position will the Mets be in after their owner proclaimed the center fielder to be “sixty-five to seventy percent of what he was?” Will Wright—or any other player, for that matter—want to stick around a dysfunctional ballclub once free agency comes calling?

Most of all, Wilpon wants to sell part of the team, which may be harder to do after he’s publically acknowledged that it’s shitty. Not to mention that whoever buys in would have to defer to a proven loose cannon.

Other players on all three teams—the Reds, A’s and Mets—have done a good job avoiding additional conflict, opting against saying anything to further inflame their situations. Dennis Eckersley, however, let loose on Fuentes during an interview on the A’s flagship radio station (as tweeted by Chronicle columnist John Shea and compiled by Hardball Talk). Eck was talking about Fuentes, but conceptually he could have be referring to any one of the three:

“Weak. If you fail, you fail. You don’t throw the manager under the bus.  . . . He makes a ton of money, and he’s not the greatest closer in the universe. So zip it … It makes him look bad. It just does. At the same time, it doesn’t show a lot of respect for the manager … If I’m the manager, he’s in my office. If that was La Russa, are you kidding me? He’d chop my head off. I would make a formal apology … Geren’s got to do something.”

Geren does have to do something. As do the Reds (Volquez can’t stay in the minors forever) and the Mets.

All that’s left to figure out is what.

Update: Wilpon has apologized to the Mets, via conference call.

Update 2: For Geren, the piling on has officially begun. The latest: Huston Street weighed in on his ex-manager’s shortcomings from Colorado. Plus, a tale about Mike Sweeney not getting along with the guy, which really doesn’t look good considering that if there was a Nicest Man in the History of Baseball Award, it’d likely go to Sweeney. Unless the A’s experience extraordinary success into October, the chances of Geren returning next year are at this point minimal. If he makes it even that long.

- Jason

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Filed under Brian Fuentes, Clubhouse Etiquette, Don't Call Out Teammates in the Press, Edinson Volquez, Fred Wilpon, Uncategorized

Ott’s RBI, continued

Well, I put out a call and people responded. Unfortunately, it seems that nobody really knows what happened, because that sort of thing happened all the time.

From SABR member Pete Palmer:

Although RBI were first officially recorded in 1920, there were no rules about them until 1930. The bases loaded walk was specifically noted as an RBI then. In the 1920s, some scorers gave RBI for a bases loaded walk and some didn’t. Since there were no rules, you can’t really fault the scorers for what they did. After all, in the 1880s a walk was counted as an error for the pitcher. The modern encyclopedias subtracted these as well as the assists on a strikeout for pitchers.

It would make sense to go back and dig these bases loaded walks up and credit an RBI for them. Of course, we don’t have a complete set of play-by-plays, but we do have a lot. The whole compilation of RBI especially in the 20s, had hundreds if not thousands of errors besides this type, so it is better to assume the posted number is an approximation.

Elias recently changed some stats, although we don’t know which ones except for the league leaders shown in their record book. In 1921, George Kelly had 122 RBI. Elias changed him to 127 which led the league, but Retrosheet found 131.

It’s as good an explanation as I’ve yet heard. In the course of reporting his book 1921, Steve Steinberg reports that he uncovered a number of statistical discrepancies, essentially confirming Palmer’s account.

It might not be entirely satisfying, but it is an answer.

- Jason

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