Scott Boras charmed the cargo shorts off the SABR crowd

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I won’t bore you with many details from my trip to the SABR convention in California last week–if for some insane reason you want the details, click here–but there was one interesting event actually related to baseball that seems particularly relevant to HBT.

Scott Boras (also known as “super agent Scott Boras”) gave the keynote speech prior to SABR’s annual business meeting Thursday morning, which I courageously attended at 8:30 a.m. Journalism!

Boras’ speech focused on the transition he made from college star and mediocre minor leaguer to one of the most powerful men in baseball and how he went from hitting .288 with a .738 OPS as an infielder at Single-A and Double-A to building a hugely successful agency that regularly makes use of sabermetrics and research.

We’ve certainly been critical of Boras, mostly for his hyperbolic hyping of clients and ability to manipulate certain media members, but he showed the type of charm and humor that makes it easy to understand how he’s able to talk star players into choosing him and general managers into signing his star players.

It also made me want to buy a used car.

At one point the lights in the ballroom dimmed and Boras didn’t skip a beat, quickly quipping that “SABR is a lot like the Dodgers, they don’t pay their bills either.”

He got big laughs throughout and even discussed the first time he realized as a young agent how much “managing the media” would help him, which would’ve gotten the biggest laugh of the entire 45-minute speech had Calcaterra been in attendance.

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.