Last fall we learned that Derek Jeter was starting his own publishing business in a partnership with Simon & Schuster. The first book is coming out in September. You can pre-order it now. It’s called “The Contract” and it’s for middle school readers. This is the description:
As a young boy, Derek Jeter dreams of begin the shortstop for the New York Yankees. He even imagines himself in the World Series. So when Derek is chosen for the Little League Tigers, he hopes to play shortstop. But on the day of the assignments, Derek Starts at second base. Still, he tries his best while he wishes and dreams of that shortstop spot. And to help him stay focused on school, his parents make him a contract: keep up the grades or no baseball. Derek makes sure he always plays his best game—on and off the baseball field!
Sounds like the coach of the Little League Tigers is the only person with the guts and baseball savvy to put Jeter at his natural position. Good for him!
Seriously, though: I think the publishing idea is pretty neat. Probably a way, way better way to expand the Jeter brand and make some bank than what most ballplayers cook up after retirement. Youth publishing is huge and it’s a worthy genre. You all know how much I dislike Mike Lupica? Well, he writes sports books for kids too, and they’re actually really good for that age group. Just a lot of positives to be had in this world and I’m glad Jeter is doing it.
Although, for the sake of “contributor” Paul Mantell, I wish Jeter was getting credit as “producer” or something instead of author, because I’m pretty skeptical that Jetes actually wrote this thing. Guess selling books trumps actual credit though.
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.