Rafael Soriano took back all that stuff he said about Bryce Harper

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Remember how Rafael Soriano called out Bryce Harper for blowing last night’s game by missing a catch in right field? Not surprisingly the Nationals closer took it all back today, telling James Wagner of the Washington Post that the comments came during what he thought was an off-the-record conversation with a reporter.

Here’s more from Soriano:

I tried to do my job and I didn’t do it. It wasn’t an error. He was in the position and I threw the pitch I shouldn’t have. And that’s what happened. And after we finished talking, I made the mistake of saying that to [the reporter]. And he put it in there with what I said.

I understand that he’s been hurt and it’s hard and he’s young. He’s just been playing. I’ll try next time to be better and have a better game. …  I don’t want him to think that I’m blaming him. I’m not like that.

Of course, what he really means is “I’m not like that” when I know something I’m saying could be seen by other people, because Soriano isn’t denying all the stuff he said or even suggesting he was misquoted.

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.