Major League Baseball is lying about Jay-Z

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OK, this is really, really, petty in the grand scheme of things, but since Bud Selig hates it when teams announce actual news while the World Series is happening, this will have to tide us over. If you want, you can skip to the bottom to get my World Series prediction.

Jay-Z and Alicia Keys were originally slated to perform before tonight’s game.  That has now been pushed back to Game 2 because, according to Major League Baseball, “Staging for the performance could adversely impact the field if it is wet, creating damaged and unsafe playing conditions.” Best to move it to the certain-to-be dry Game 2.

Except there’s another, more compelling reason for Jay-Z to cancel: he’s supposed to be in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio tonight:

Rapper Jay-Z is scheduled to perform with Alicia Keys before Game 1 of the World Series in New York on Wednesday night but is also scheduled to perform at the same time at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Jay-Z’s web site said that he will perform, as scheduled, at the World Series.  The first pitch between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies is scheduled for 7:57 p.m. According to the staff at the Schottenstein Center, Jay-Z is going to perform in Columbus and is skipping the World Series.

My guess:  someone here in Columbus told Jay-Z’s people that they’d sue him for breach of contract if he didn’t show up for tonight’s show and he begged Major League Baseball to let him move his Alicia Keys thing to Game 2.  Whether it was Jay-Z or baseball who, in the first instance, thought that the good people of Columbus would stand idly by while he dissed us for New York is unclear, but as always, the wholesome Midwest triumphs over the forces of east coast decadance and evil.

OK, to make up for that decidedly non-baseball story, I’ll give you my World Series prediction.  Matt has a full writeup here, so I’ll make mine short: Yankees in six. The Phillies are heavily lefty. The Yankees can throw lefties in five of seven games, and they have a bullpen that is particularly tough on lefties as well.  Cliff Lee will be Cliff Lee, but the Phillies rotation will otherwise be no match for the Yankees bats. In fact, if it weren’t for Joe Girardi I’d say it would be the Yankees in five, but I figure old number 27 will over-manage a game away.

Of course, if you’ve been paying attention to my predictions so far this postseason, you’ll realize that this pick all but guarantees a Phillies victory.  But maybe I know that you know that, and I’m changing things up to mess with you?  Ever thought of that?

No, seriously, the Phillies don’t stand a chance.

Must-Click Link: Sherri Nichols, Sabermetic Pioneer

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If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.

While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.

The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.

A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.

A great read and a great history lesson.