Organizing by themes VI: Baseball

This site benefits/suffers/both from consisting of posts about a wide range of topics, all linked under the amorphous heading “data-driven storytelling.”

In an attempt to impose some coherent structure, I am organizing related posts both chronologically and thematically.

Many times in the past two-plus years I would drive to my weekly psychotherapy appointment fully expecting to talk about one set of things only to find myself talking about an entirely different set of things.

Something similar happened with this blog.

When I launched it in December 2016, I already had a pool of quirky completed data analyses from which to draw…including a plethora of baseball-related ones. Some of these had their genesis in the mid-1990s, when on a lark I entered a mass of baseball-related data into a primitive statistical software package and began to investigate. Ultimately, I wrote four papers based on those analyses (not sure what happened to them), which I submitted as part of my “writing sample” when I applied for a job at the now-defunct Health and Addictions Research, Inc. in Boston in the late summer of 1996.

I started there in early October—in large part (as a coworker later freely admitted) because of those papers; if anything, he is a bigger baseball fan than I will ever be. That was the start of my two decades in health-related data analysis…which I address elsewhere.

But it comes as something of a surprise that I have only written three posts on baseball (excluding tangential references such as here):

A Hall of Fame case for Jamie Moyer

Revisiting my old baseball player metrics

Phollowing the Philadelphia Phillies is phun again

Yes, I was profoundly disappointed Moyer only received 10 votes (2.4% of 422 votes cast), well below the 21 he needed to remain on the ballot more than one year. That was an especial sting given that he is one of the finest human beings to make a living playing professional baseball.

And, yes, it matters.

5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” (emphasis added)

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One reason I have not written as much about baseball (lately, at any rate) is how badly my Philadelphia Phillies tanked over the last two months of the 2018 season (2018 phillies win percentage), despite the Cy-Young-Award-caliber season of #1 starter Aaron Nola.

IMG_1145.JPG

I took this photograph during a May 31, 2014 game at beautiful Citizens Bank Park, which the Phillies lost to the New York Mets in 14 innings, 5-4 (after tying it 4-4 in the bottom of the 9th). We left after the 12th inning, I believe…or maybe it was the 11th.

With the arrival of Spring Training in a few weeks, I will undoubtedly write about baseball again; if nothing else, I want to begin to lay the groundwork for why longtime Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins absolutely belongs in the baseball Hall of Fame. In the meantime, in honor of the recent election of the late Roy Halladay to that same Hall of Fame, here is a link to a superb recap of his 2010 playoff no-hitter (as in, Halladay threw a no-hitter—marred only by a 5th inning walk to Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce—in his first-ever playoff start!)

While that historic game was being played, I was sitting inside an auditorium-style classroom at the Boston University School of Public Health helping to proctor an exam. I was one of two teaching assistants (TA) for an introductory epidemiology class that semester. In a truly bizarre coincidence, my younger co-TA had attended the same suburban Philadelphia high school as me, albeit some 20 years after I graduated in 1984.

I followed the game on my phone—most likely through the Gameday app. It took all of my willpower not to jump up and down and hoot and holler when catcher Carlos Ruiz through Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips out at first base for the final out of the game.

Until next time…

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