The Associated Press is reporting that White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu testified to a Miami federal jury on Wednesday that he ate his fake passport aboard an Air France flight from Haiti to Miami. He washed the paper down with beer. When Abreu arrived in late October 2013, he signed a six-year, $68 million contract with the White Sox.
Abreu said, “If I had not been there on that particular day, the deadline, then the contract would not be executed and would no longer be valid. We had to be in Chicago to sign the contract.”
Abreu testified in the trial of sports agent Bartolo Hernandez and trainer Julio Estrada, which is expected to last a few more weeks. Both are accused of alien smuggling and conspiracy. According to the allegations, the duo took Cuban baseball players to other countries to eventually sign a contract in Major League Baseball after establishing residency. Abreu’s testimony came under a grant of limited immunity, which means he won’t be prosecuted as long as he tells the truth while he’s on the witness stand.
Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and Mariners outfielder Leonys Martin are among other players to testify in this trial.
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.