This day in baseball: Return of fan balloting

On March 28, 1970, baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced the re-institution of fan balloting for the MLB All-Star Game.  It would be the first time since 1957 that fans would get to vote on the eight position players, a practice that had been revoked after years of ballot stuffing.  To prevent the problem from happening again, 26 million ballots were evenly distributed to 75,000 retail outlets and 150 minor and major league stadiums.  Kuhn also announced that a special panel would determine whether ballot stuffing occurred in the voting.

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Bowie Kuhn, 1970 (Sports Illustrated)


One week!

…until Opening Day!  So close…

can-t-keep-calm-only-one-week-to-go


This day in baseball: Yanks vs. Mets, round 1

The Yankees faced off against the NL expansion team Mets for the first time on March 22, 1962 for a spring training contest.  Mets manager Casey Stengel, formerly the manager of the Yankees, set out determined to beat his old team.  With the Mets leading 3-2 going into the ninth inning, Stengel sent his best pitchers to the mound.  When the Yankees nevertheless managed to tie the score at 3-3, Stengel pinch hit veteran outfielder Richie Ashburn, who pulled off a ninth-inning pinch-hit single, giving the Mets a dramatic walk-off 4-3 victory at Al Lang Field in Florida.

 

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Al Lang Field (stpeteinternationalbaseball.com)

 


Two weeks

Until Opening Day!

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Insomnia, baseball, fatigue, and performance

The current time is 1:43 a.m., and as I endure my inability to sleep, I decided to Google “baseball insomnia.”  One of the myriad items that came up in the search results was this 2013 article from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine: “Studies link fatigue and sleep to MLB performance and career longevity.”  The very first sentence of the article states, “Two new studies show that fatigue may impair strike-zone judgment during the 162 game Major League Baseball season, and a MLB player’s sleepiness can predict his longevity in the league.”

To which my initial reaction was, “Well, duh.”

But even as I continue to marvel at the seemingly obvious bits of common sense that prompt these kinds of studies, as I read, I had to admit that sometimes there is a benefit to it.  In this case, while it seems like it would make perfect sense that fatigue and sleep would be an indicator of success in baseball, the real question becomes: what are teams doing to combat fatigue?  For, as Scott Kutscher points out as a result of the study, “teams may be able to gain a competitive edge by focusing on fatigue management.”

It is, understandably, common for a team to want to play its best players day in and day out throughout the season.  I would be curious to see a study on a player like, say, Cal Ripken that analyzes his performance in April of each season versus in September.  I’m sure such a study exists (or something similar to it), I’d just have to make a point to look for it.  Granted, Ripken’s consecutive games streak record would not exist now had Orioles management focused more on fatigue management, which would be a deprivation to the game as we know it today.  Nevertheless, it is something to think about.


Happy Pi Day!

Today marks 20 days until Opening Day!  While we continue to wait patiently, the Baseball Hall of Fame has created this fun page of baseball stats and facts that revolve around π.  Read up and enjoy some pi(e), and regular season baseball will be here before we know it!

pi pitcher


Santana performs national anthem

I love this rendition of the national anthem, performed by Carlos Santana and his son Salvador prior to Game 4 of the 2014 World Series.