Bill Buckner earns redemption, and some laughs along the way

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Bill Buckner will always be remembered for that one moment in the 1986 World Series. You know the one.

He’s been tormented by the play for years, and for the most part has avoided talking about it. Who would have thought that Larry David, a New York Yankees fan, would come and make everything right?

David talked Buckner into appearing on “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” in an episode that aired on Sunday. In the first key scene, David tosses a baseball signed by Mookie Wilson to Buckner, who – naturally — lets it skip off his hands and out a window. In the end, though, Buckner redeems himself by safely catching a baby that is tossed from a burning building.

You can watch the drop here, and the catch here.

Buckner, who is currently the manager of the Brockton Rox, talked about the show with Dan Patrick, saying “I thought the whole thing was hilarious.” (Watch video above)

He also answered questions about why he did the show (“His whole thing for doing the show was to try to make me look good”), and explained that the baby-catching scene took six hours to shoot because of the difficulties of getting the baby to “land in the right spot” — not because he couldn’t catch it.

Asked if he could have done the show 10 years ago, Buckner said “Probably not. Things kind of changed for me both personally and publicly. Everything’s fine. I’m happy. Life’s good.”

Good for Bill Buckner. Being on that show is probably the best thing he could have done from a public perception standpoint. There is no way he will ever escape the 1986 World Series, but now he will also be remembered as a pretty funny guy who can poke fun at himself — as well as a damn fine major leaguer with more than 2,700 hits over 22 seasons.

As for Larry David, perhaps the next call he should make is to Steve Bartman. Hmm?

H/T to Rick Chandler, who had an early take a couple days ago.

You can follow Bob on Twitter here, or if Facebook is your thing, be his friend here.

A scout thinks the Astros strike out too much. The Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball.

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Great moments in scouting. MLB.com’s Richard Justice spoke to an unnamed scout about the Astros, currently holding the American League’s best record at 76-47. The scout said that the Astros strike out too much and it will catch up with them. Justice pointed out that the Astros have the lowest strikeout total in baseball. The scout responded, “I don’t believe that.”

Justice, of course, is correct. The average major league team has struck out 1,006 times entering Sunday’s action. The Astros have by far the lowest total at 827, followed by the Indians at 881 and the Pirates at 882.

This scout doesn’t represent all scouts, but this is one of the major problems that advocates of statistics were trying to highlight before Sabermetrics became popular a decade ago. It’s a pattern. Person believes thing. Person either cherry-picks evidence to defend belief or is shown evidence that belief is not factually true and ignores it. Person refuses to change belief, using one of many excuses.

The other problem this highlights is the fallacy of “the eye test,” which is shorthand for treating a scout’s observations as sacrosanct due to his or her experience and knowledge of the game. In this case, the scout ignored easily accessed information, went with his gut, and turned out to be completely wrong. Furthermore, if “the eye test” were legit, the scout would’ve known that, for example, Yulieski Gurriel and Jose Altuve hardly ever strike out (11.1 and 12.4 percent strikeout rates, respectively). In fact, no one on the Astros’ roster (min. 230 PA) has a strikeout rate above 21 percent; the league average is 21.5 percent.

This isn’t to impugn the practice of scouting as a whole. There are a lot of things scouts can tell you about a player that data cannot and that has value. But for easily-researched claims like “the Astros strike out too much,” there’s no reason to trust a scout over the stats.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.