And That Happened: Division Series Edition

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Phillies 4, Reds 0: Joey Votto, after the game, explaining what it was like to face Roy Halladay:  “It’s like trying to hit nothing.” Someone is going to repeat that phrase at Halladay’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It will be written in his obituary.

Some no-hitters don’t seem so impressive as you’re watching them. Edwin Jackson’s, for example. Even Dallas Braden’s perfect game was less than overwhelming in many respects.  Hallday’s Game 1 was not one of those games. It was as if the ball was on a track, destined to end up in a part of the strikezone at a specific velocity that made it impossible to hit no matter what the Reds attempted. He went 0-1 on 25 of the 28 batters he faced. He looked like he could have thrown 12 or 13 no-hit innings. I don’t recall ever seeing a pitcher as locked-in as Halladay was.

Rangers 5, Rays 1: Man, if the Phillies hadn’t been so dumb as to trade Cliff Lee they’d be up 2-0 on the Reds already. OK, that was a joke. But trades certainly had an impact here. The Rangers’ heroes of the game — Lee, Francoeur and Bengie Molina — were all mid-season pickups. Picked up, you’ll recall, when the team was in ownership litigation turmoil. Indeed, they may not have been able to even do these deals without signoff from Major League Baseball, which had the Rangers on a line of credit at the time. I wonder how the Rays’ owners feel about that today?

Yankees 6, Twins 4: And this is why, despite my objective assessment of the team’s strengths, I had to pick the Yankees in this series. You just can’t kill them. Down 3-0,you just knew they’d string together a few base hits to rally. Tied at 4, you just knew that they’d score again. Or maybe you didn’t know — and maybe you couldn’t have predicted Teixiera going long on Crain — but there certainly shouldn’t have been any surprise when it happened. Well, hell, maybe you could have predicted the homer given that, just before it happened, TBS showed a replay of him going long to the right field corner on Jessee Crain from back in May. Oh well.

It’s weird to say this about a Game 1, but it was a game the Yankees really needed to win given all of the uncertainty in the rotation behind CC Sabathia. And speaking of Sabathia — if the plan really is to bring him back on short rest, why on Earth did Girardi not bring out the hook for him in the sixth? He was clearly gassed, and ended up throwing 111 pitches.

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.