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Morning Reading

On Monday, while researching this article, I placed a call to the Elias Sports Bureau. Honestly, it was a thrill. All research should work like this: You call the main switchboard, explain what you're seeking, and then you're transferred to the desk of some statistical infantryman named Bob. (Wasserman was his last name, I believe.) Anyway, Bob sounded just like the Elias worker of your imagination -- monotone voice, but still excitable, and capable of surgically precise statistical queries. I pictured him to be sitting in front of a multi-panel computer the size of a triceratops.

I told him what I was trying to figure out:

Had any team in baseball, before the 2009 Nationals, ever reached the 90-game mark with a winning percentage under .300 and then managed a winning streak of eight games or longer?

He said he'd call me back.

Bob, to his credit, modified the search parameters -- all for the sake of logic, he explained. He instead decided to find the longest winning streaks in baseball history by teams that were 40 games under .500 (or worse) at some point before the streak began.

So I share with you Bob's findings.

Four teams in baseball history -- so long as we're including the cotton gin era here -- have amassed W streaks of eight or more after hitting the 40-games-under mark.

In order...

1890 Cleveland Spiders, 10 games, Sept. 13-23. They were 32-82-3 when streak began.
2009 Washington Nationals, 8 games, Aug. 2-. They were 32-72 when streak began.
1907 St. Louis Cardinals, 8 games, Aug. 8-16. They were 23-78 when streak began.
1950 St. Louis Browns, 8 games, Sept. 7-14. They were 44-86 when streak began.

Before I dish out a few quick links, I have one more tangential nugget to dish out. If you're busy this morning, please skip. For reasons not entirely clear, I spent a few minutes on Monday reading up on the legacy of the 1909 Senators -- the poorest team in D.C. baseball history. I suppose this is the team whose fate the 2009 Nats avoided. With one exception: Manny Acta lost his job midseason. Joe Cantillon did not. But to be sure, folks were calling for his head. I got a kick out of this drama, most especially. At one point, a rumor surfaced that Cantillon resigned; he had not. The manager wired a statement to The Post blaming the report on a "prejudiced newspaper man in Cleveland."

,DanaInfo=proquest.umi.com+out.pdf

Now, some more timely reading.

Tracee describes the importance -- and the personality -- of Nyjer Morgan.

Zimmermann will almost certainly have Tommy John.

An Atlanta newspaperman thinks the Braves really, really need to beat up on the Nats in this series.

Turns out Cristian Guzman isn't going anywhere; the whole Red Sox-claim-Guzman report was bunk. The shortstop actually cleared waivers.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 11, 2009; 8:57 AM ET
 
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Next: Comparing Nats Lineup to Better-Known Stars

Comments

we lose our brightest pitching prodigy for up to 18 months but retain our fat, overpaid shortstop. just doesn't seem fair somehow.

Posted by: surly_w | August 11, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure it is all Belliard's fault.

Posted by: twinbrook | August 11, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Other similarities between the 1890 Spiders and the 2009 Nats:
1. Van Gogh killed himself that year and he is still dead today.
2. They still like football in Ohio.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1890

Why is the Guzman trade is dead just b/c Ladson reports it?

Too bad about Zimmermann. I guess it just proves that you can't draft college pitchers either. Might as well not draft anyone.

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 11, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

1890 Cleveland Spiders -- wasn't that Cy Young's rookie season?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The Guzman trade isn't dead, but only because it was never alive, apparently.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

who care about anything anymore...our best pitcher is done for...god the horror my friends the horror.........eeeeeeehhhhhhhhh

Posted by: Cartaldo | August 11, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Yes, Denton pitched his first game for Cleveland 119 years ago last Thursday (a mid-season call-up?).

Posted by: Scott_in_Shaw | August 11, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

hmmm, kinda reminds me of a piece by a NYC scribe before a series up there earlier this year. I forget - how did that one end? Wonder whether the Braves have a living will?

It's always Belli's fault, twinbrook. ;-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Hey dargrampsmag let us know if any braves bloggers get out of hand and we'll correct their misapprehensions

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

"The Guzman trade isn't dead, but only because it was never alive, apparently."

That makes a lot of sense considering it wasn't alive before the deadline either.

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 11, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Nice digging on the 1909 Post piece, Chico. Wonder whether the reporter in question was an ancestor of Rosenthal? :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

L'affairs Guzman in a way points up the fallacy of the Nats' player development since moving to Washington. Ordinarily when placing a 30-something, diminished range, overpaid SS on waivers and someone claims him he's gone. But because the Nats haven't developed even a stopgap player at that position, they have to keep him. So instead of unloading maybe $10 million dollars and using that money for other purposes (like signing Strasburg) the Nats are stuck with Guzman at least until the end of the season and good luck trying to move him during the offseason. Most of the arguments for retaining Guzman were predicated on his offense. If I'm trying to develop a young pitching staff, give me a Jack Wilson or Adam Everett-type guy who can hit eighth but support my youngsters in the field instead of a 5'11, 200-pound-plus guy with limited range.

Posted by: leetee1955 | August 11, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Just wondering - has anyone ever had Tommy John surgery TWICE?

I'm thinking that if not, is it because the repaired/replaced ligament is actually stronger than the original one? If so, maybe EVERY hard-throwing prospect should have it when he's, say 20 years old.

Okay, that's stupid.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 11, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Reasons why so many more pitchers are hurt more now than in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s:

1. Little league pitching rules and the insanity around protecting arms. Back in the day, kids threw every day, all day playing pick up baseball games for hours at a time. That wasn’t that long ago (ending in the 60’s and 70’s). Doing that gave them instant feedback on their throwing mechanics and how to take care of their arms. Nowadays the first time a pitcher’s mechanics are really challenged is in the BIG LEAGUES!!! It’s about the only time he’s not babied, and he’s asked to actually throw enough to try and win every 5th day. The old system built much better arm strength, naturally improved pitching mechanics, and weeded out guys by the age of 15 whose arms could not handle professional baseball.

2. Scout’s obsession with radar guns and the idea that kids shouldn’t throw off-speed pitches because it’ll “hurt their arms”. Kids don’t learn how to pitch much anymore by locating their fastball and/or developing 2nd and 3rd pitches early in their careers. One reason is that to get noticed they have to throw the ball at least 90 MPH or scouts ignore them – this despite the fact that there are many MLB pitchers who win throwing 87-89 MPH. Locating the fastball is also a lost art because of the aluminum bats. Getting a hitter to make contact "off the barrel" is not as important because the bats don't break. Being a successful amateur player has been trumped by having “tools”. Throwing hard is all young kids care about. All this leads to "max effort" pitching motions which when coupled with less throwing to build arm strength makes for more injuries.

I recommend that everyone look for an article about how Nolan Ryan is completely changing the way that Texas handles their minor league pitchers. It includes throwing live BP between starts and lots of long toss. I pray it's successful because we may finally get to some point of normalcy regarding pitchers.

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 11, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Some have had it more than twice!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_John_surgery

There is one in particular who you might like.

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 11, 2009 9:50 AM | Report abuse

We are failing to see the forest for the trees here, people. The biggest issue is not whether Goozie passes waivers or even when Zimm'nn's arm falls off. It is, in fact, what's going on with management. Will StanK do the right thing and make Rizzo permanent? I'm beginning to fear he won't. I think StanK is so insecure he wants his own puppet in as GM. That, in turn, affect's Riggs' job status. I figure Riggs is enough of a vet to ask for a three-year contract, unlike the two-year that Manny settled for. Being a rookie mgr, Manny made tons of mistakes; not getting a three-year was one of them. Rizzo and Riggs have proven to me they deserve to get their jobs permanent and remove the dreaded "interim" labels. Will StanK do that? What do you people think?

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 11, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

If a team picks up a player off waivers, they are are on the hook for the player's entire contract. Since Boston would have been one of the last teams to be able to pick Guzman up off waivers, I would think that they might not put in a claim but then try to work a trade (if no one else claims him) and get the Nats to agree to pick up some of the salary? I hear they may also be interested in JJ Hardy.

Posted by: CoachD1 | August 11, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Well, the fact that Guzman cleared waivers doesn't mean that he won't be traded - it means that he is able to be traded to any team. And forgive me if I don't believe the Rocket's unnamed "baseball source" claiming he won't be traded - if the Nats really had "no intention" to trade him, why would they put him on waivers in the first place? And don't give me this "everybody puts everybody on waivers" thing - that's partially true, but methinks the Nats didn't waive Dunn or Willingham, for instance. You don't put your hook in the water if you aren't at least thinking about maybe catching a fish. Not saying it's definitely going to happen, but clearly SOMEBODY in the Nats front office wants to see what the market looks like. So there's at least SOME intention there.

As for me - I think there ought to be a LOT more than intention. Guzman is a marginally useful player on a serious hot streak for a team that isn't going anywhere. Much like the winning streak, it feels good, but means nothing. Rizzo's paid to see beyond that and talented enough to know what the team really needs to be a contender. At best, the Nats are hard-charging towards low-end mediocrity in 2009 - eating some of the $10m and getting back something of longer-term value while Guzman's hot is the right move, the smart move, even if it makes the clubhouse (and the NJ denizens) unhappy, I think.

Zimmermann's news breaks the heart. Here's hoping he's back in 2011 to pitch behind Strasburg. Strasburg-Z'nn-Detwiler-Stammen-Lannan in 2011.

And, let me say, here and now, I was solidly in the "Meh - don't like it" camp when they made the Morgan deal, and I'm still not 100% sure it's the right long-term deal, but I love watching that guy play. I have a Plush Crush, and I ain't too proud to say it.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | August 11, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for sharing your insights on pitchers, #4.

I was thinking that Hill had the surgery twice, dclifer, but followed the link to be sure.

Also, it was fun reading that old Post page from Chico. I was particularly struck by the game lengths in the box scores. I think there was only one that went more than two hours (2 hours and 15 minutes), and that one went 10 innings. Sigh.

On a related note, I'm familiar with the abbreviations in modern box scores, but what would "O" and "A" be for the individual players?

Hope that Old Sol will grace with his presence the veldt on which our athletes will range this evening.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Who needs Bob for that research? All I had to do is LOOK AT THE SPORTS PAGE IN TODAY'S WSJ!!

Posted by: joemktg1 | August 11, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

ZIMMERMANN!!
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Anybody willing to give me whiskey? I can't afford to buy the quantities this bad news will require.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 11, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I lol'd at "Plush Crush," PHS (not that I don't have one, too).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

D'oh! That was Hwy 295, not PHS. Oops.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

#4: The pitch count rules surrounding youth pitchers started very recently (I think Little League instituted rules 3 years ago). And although I agree with you regarding metal bats (esp. composite bats) vs. wood bats, the root of the problem at the youth level is overuse. That's not my opinion, but the opinion of specialists backed up with studies. Let me point out two very insightful articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/magazine/09littleleague-t.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=james%20andrews&st=cse

AND

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/26/sports/baseball/26score.html?scp=9&sq=james%20andrews&st=cse

And speaking of youth baseball dear Natizens: your Chantilly American LL team is in the semi-finals of the Little League Southeastern Region Tournament. The regional finals on ESPN this Friday. Winner of the tourney goes to Williamsport.

Posted by: joemktg1 | August 11, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I know - all those Dylan-Zimmerman(N)-Nats monikers get confusing, 1a1aaa1ab1^1. =)

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | August 11, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

couple of thoughts...

leetee... the fallacy in your argument is that guzman wasn't actually claimed. he passed through waivers. ["Ordinarily when placing a 30-something, diminished range, overpaid SS on waivers and someone claims him he's gone."]

295 ["methinks the Nats didn't waive Dunn or Willingham, for instance"] methinks we'll never know for sure. not every name that gets put on waivers makes it into the public eye. generally the ones who make it through do. but there are a lot of players passed through waivers in august. a whole lot. you think the yankees are serious about trading robinson cano? well he passed through waivers this weekend.

Posted by: sec231 | August 11, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to joemarketing for the further links, and the tournament info. Go, Chantilly!!

teehee, Hwy 295.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

btw, an up-to-date list of what's been made public about who's passed through waivers unclaimed...

http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2009/08/list-of-players-to-clear-waivers.html

Orioles - Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora, Danys Baez (source)

Yankees - Brian Bruney, Robinson Cano, Mark Melancon, David Robertson (source)

Nationals - Cristian Guzman (source)

Reds - Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang (source)

Posted by: sec231 | August 11, 2009 10:29 AM | Report abuse

According to the lovely Mr. Chipper Jones, these next two games are just a "warmup series" (http://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-braves/braves-brimming-with-112495.html). I have every confidence that we will make him eat his words.

Posted by: margkcars | August 11, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"Some have had it more than twice!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_John_surgery."

Looks like JZ will be the new bottom name on this list (sigh).

Posted by: twinbrook | August 11, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

leetee:

The pitch count rules started a couple of years ago; however, inning restrictions started nationwide in the 80's and maybe even a bit earlier - three innings per day - seven per week. I pitched little league under those restrictions in the mid - 70's. Of course I also threw about 500 pitches a day against my garage to my friend in our epic one-on-one battles.

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 11, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

231,

I think they're serious about thinking about it - Cano's been rumored to be traded before, and I think if you're doing your job as a GM, you want your options to be open. I'm not saying that the Nats are definitely going to trade him, but I think that (as he often does) the Rocket's "no intention" quote is a bit overstated - clearly, they have some intention. If they really had NO intention, they wouldn't have waived him at all.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | August 11, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

FYI: Bob's great research was on SportsCenter on Sunday night....so maybe he just relied on ESPN instead of using his super computer....

Posted by: Y2kob | August 11, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Two comments. I'm sure everybody on the Nats 40 man roster has cleared waivers including FOF and Dunn.

To make Rizzo and Riggleman permanent the Nats have to go through a fairly extensive search in order to meet the minority hiring program standards that MLB agreed to several years ago. They aren't going to do that during the season. That's why Riggleman wasn't made permanent at Seattle last year.

Posted by: natsguy | August 11, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Re: JZim: We've seen this movie before. It's another supposedly minor injury that turns into major rehab.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | August 11, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I'd have thought that the Jones quote was bulletin board material, until I read it in context. The full quote: “We’ve got a little warmup series against Washington before Philly comes to town,” Jones said. “It’s important not to overlook anyone. We’ve got to play well against Washington.”

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

leetee:

Sorry, my previous post was meant for joemktg.

joemktg:

I've seen the studies and listened to the experts. I just don't believe they are looking at the right things. They are looking at overuse by people with bad mechanics. It is true that if your throwing mechanics stink and you throw a lot you will hurt your arm. Just like if you run a lot with bad form, you will hurt your legs.

My point is that the emphasis should be on teaching people how to throw properly, locate their pitches, and build arm strength. Instead we emphasize, throwing hard with max effort and protecting your arm by not throwing much.

I just think the proof is in the results. Ever since we've been emphasizing pitch counts and velocity, pitcher injuries are going up not down. The number of innings a pitcher can pitch in a season is going down not up.

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 11, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

> That's why Riggleman wasn't made permanent at Seattle last year.

I thought it had more to do with them not wanting to bring him back this year.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 11, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Thank you! I knew I had seen this list before -- it was Baseball Tonight on Sunday!

____________________


FYI: Bob's great research was on SportsCenter on Sunday night....so maybe he just relied on ESPN instead of using his super computer....

Posted by: Y2kob | August 11, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Scott_in_Shaw | August 11, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

i think you almost contradict yourself in your own post, 295.

i agree that you should consider all possibilities and you're foolish not to. but that's part of why you pass a good chunk of your roster through waivers in early august. it leaves you flexibility with whoever passes through. but your comment before was that you didn't think the nats put willingham or dunn through. and we all know that they've at least considered trading them before august 1, so why wouldn't they be passed through now?

but lots of guys are put out there that you aren't necessarily looking to trade, just giving yourself flexibility or "feinting" at your opponents (a possibility with cano). if you run everyone through, teams who might seek to block your trade moves don't know which guys you're using in a deal and they can't claim everyone.

i agree that the "no intention of trading" comment was ridiculous (it *was* ladson, though...). but you can not intend to trade someone, but be willing to have them out there to test the waters if someone wants to come to you with an offer without actually planning on doing it if you aren't bowled over.

Posted by: sec231 | August 11, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"I was thinking that Hill had the surgery twice, dclifer, but followed the link to be sure."

Jose Rijo - a three timer

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 11, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

If "old time" pitchers were so much more durable than pitchers over the last couple of decades, then shouldn't they dominate the career lists? Of the 23 pitchers who have won over 300 games, 10 pitched in the last 25 years. Seems to me, that's a disproportionate share over the history of MLB.

Posted by: slewis1 | August 11, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

231,

We're rapidly heading towards a semantic and philosophic discussion of "intend" and at what point one really "intends" something - I'd like to skip it if that's ok with you. =)

My only real point there was that Ladson was silly to say they had "no intention" of trading him. Seemed a little too unequivocal is all - if you're keeping your options open, you're intending to at least listen to offers, which means you are at least intending to think about trading - but let's not get too meta there. More to the point, I sincerely hope that they DO intend to trade him at that they WILL follow through on that intention.

Joe - thanks for the NYT mag article. Hadn't seen it - very interesting. Makes me wonder how heavily JZimm was used at his D2 school - one of the dangers of drafting college pitchers is that they may have compounded high-school overuse with college overuse.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | August 11, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

slewis1:

That's a bit deceptive. There are really only 4 guys on that list who were developed as pitchers during a time when pitch counts and all this other babying was going on: Maddux, Glavine, Johnson, and Clemens. The first two were exactly the type of pitcher we need more of - guys who don't break the gun, but pitch. Johnson I suppose was the exception that proves the rule - a 6'10" freak of nature. Don't get me started on why Clemens is on the list.

Below is a link to the list of active leaders in wins. I don't see one guy there who has even a 10% chance of getting to 300.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/W_active.shtml

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 11, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

dclifer97: "Some have had it more than twice!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_John_surgery"

Wow. I looked in baseball-reference.com for this "Jeff Dick" guy who supposedly had it four times. He's not there, and there's no wikipedia page for him, so it looks like this is a phony wiki entry.

Of the guys who supposedly had it three times: Jose Rijo's wikipedia entry says nothing there about his having had it three times. Chad Fox's entry says he only had it twice. Matt Riley's entry says three times, with dates.

And somehow I forgot about Shawn Hill's two sessions.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 11, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

To me here's an even more interesting list for pitcher longevity - the list of top 100 all-time winners. There are only 10 who pitched the bulk of the careers after 1984. That's the last 25 years. The percentages would say that there should be about 20 since baseball's been around for about 125 years. One should also factor in that economically , players have a lot more incentive to keep their careers going given the insane amount of money that is now available as compared to any other time in baseball history.

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 11, 2009 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link

http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/historical/leaders

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 11, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

sorry, i may have misunderstood where you were coming from a little bit, 295.

Posted by: sec231 | August 11, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

No offense to the original poster but IMO wikipedia is not necessarily an authoritative source on any subject.

---

Wow. I looked in baseball-reference.com for this "Jeff Dick" guy who supposedly had it four times. He's not there, and there's no wikipedia page for him, so it looks like this is a phony wiki entry.

Of the guys who supposedly had it three times: Jose Rijo's wikipedia entry says nothing there about his having had it three times. Chad Fox's entry says he only had it twice. Matt Riley's entry says three times, with dates.

And somehow I forgot about Shawn Hill's two sessions.

Posted by: gilbertbp | August 11, 2009 11:28 AM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 12:02 PM | Report abuse

#4, I think my primary point is that if you have a lot of pitchers throwing 20-30 complete games a year (as they used to) and they weren't adversely affected, than there should be a lot more pitchers from that era with over 300 wins. Some of the pitchers will thrive (i.e., Cy Young, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, etc.), but many others will flame out. However, I do I think it's gone too far the other way and there must be a happy medium.

Posted by: slewis1 | August 11, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

#4 - one apples to oranges thing about comparing win totals before and after the mid 70s / 80s is the shift to the 5 man rotation. You just don't see 35+ starts a year, year after year. This makes win totals like Bob Welch's best year more amazing (1990 - 27 -6 in 35 starts). I'm not sure that's been topped since.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | August 11, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Please, feel free to post the authoritative source on MLB pitchers who have had Tommy John surgeries. or just take wikipedia with a grain of salt.

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 11, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

The opening and closing pargraphs from a (long) post by Joe Posnanski. He talks about the Royals, but I think it applies to the Nats:

Reporter: “Well, at least you have to be proud that your team didn’t quit.”
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder: “They don’t let you quit.”

I’ve long wondered what it really means for a team to “quit.” You hear people say it all the time. This team quit. That coach needs to go because his team quit. The other team lost but they never quit. And all that. The problem is the word, “quit.” It connotes a certain unfathomable image … of Roberto Duran turning his back and walking away during the Sugar Ray Leonard fight, of a tennis player tanking points when the set looks lost, of a golfer picking up his ball and disqualifying himself.

Well, Bill Snyder is right. They don’t let you quit a team game, not like that. And because they don’t let you quit, we probably should try to understand the word. Seems to me that teams don’t quit. They fade. Teams don’t give up. They give in. Teams don’t stop trying. They stop trying hard. These are tougher things to pinpoint.
...
I think quit means playing numb baseball with the knowledge that the season is lost, and the victories won’t change anything, and there’s plenty of blame for everyone. It’s rotten to watch a team play in this mode … but it happens every year. It’s a manager’s job to keep his team from quitting. It can be a hard job.

The link: http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2009/08/10/what-quitting-means/

Geezer


Posted by: utec | August 11, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Makes me wonder how heavily JZimm was used at his D2 school - one of the dangers of drafting college pitchers is that they may have compounded high-school overuse with college overuse.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | August 11, 2009 11:23 AM
___________________________________________
Don't forget that at the HS level, they're playing travel ball right after the season is over, often in two leagues...and it leads right into fall ball. Their season is long, and they're only "off" from November to February, which doesn't include the off-season stuff they're doing indoors (if not playing football or basketball). And youth baseball is just as bad: forget Little League, and look to travel ball where the children are playing 10 months out of the year, often on multiple teams.

#4: my take is overuse. When you were playing youth baseball, you were not looking at the prevalence of travel ball as it exists today. With today's youth player, it's often two leagues a season, with tournament play over the weekend (and tournament play often means 2-3 games a day). More time is seen on the playing diamond, and not the practice diamond. So I see the problem getting worse, not better. A good read: Game On by Tom Farrey.

Posted by: joemktg1 | August 11, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Regarding pitching in days of yore... I don't think we really know how many pitchers were injured back in the 60s and 70s. Before free agency, when players were locked to teams, they played primarily on 1 year contracts. And when your elbow hurt, like Jordan's, you went out and made your starts.

Unfortunately, many of those guys pitched until their arms fell off because there wasn't anything like the TJ surgery.

You can poke around baseball-reference, and find 24yo pitchers who have a pair of 15 win seasons and don't pitch after age 26. Where'd they go?

Posted by: comish4lif | August 11, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Not quite, because the last 25 or so have active pitchers (Moyer came up with the Cubs in 1986!!). That would be like saying, say, 5 guys (mmmmmmm---burgers!) on the list of all time winners should have started pitching in the last ~6.5 years. If you go by people who retired during the last 25, the list is more honest, but then it doesn't reflect the period in question.
That said, I don't disagree with your point.
*********
To me here's an even more interesting list for pitcher longevity - the list of top 100 all-time winners. There are only 10 who pitched the bulk of the careers after 1984. That's the last 25 years. The percentages would say that there should be about 20 since baseball's been around for about 125 years.
#4
Posted by: db423 | August 11, 2009 11:42 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Here are a few items culled from a quick Google search. First, a list of players:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Tommy_John_surgery

Second, some general information on the procedure:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=does-tommy-john-surgery-give-pitche-2009-04-05

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=3486

As I noted, no offense intended. I just tend to get my researcher dander up a bit about wikis being cites as sources.

---

Please, feel free to post the authoritative source on MLB pitchers who have had Tommy John surgeries. or just take wikipedia with a grain of salt.

Posted by: dclifer97 | August 11, 2009 12:13 PM

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Checking Baseball reference, byt one measure the modern era has featured exceptional pitchers. ERA+ is a park adjusted and league adjusted measure of ERA relative to the league averages. 4 of the top 10 careers and 7 of the top 25 are active pitchers. Now maybe that's because if you are really good, you can stand out against the crud that passes as major league pitching now, and maybe it is also because with the expanded numbers of pitchers on major league staffs, there are just more chances to excell, but these guys are darned good - Mo, Pedro, Trevor hoffman, Johan, Webb, Oswalt, and the Big Unit. And before you say ERA+ is a goofy measure, 13 of the top 25 are HOFamers, 2 (Franco, clemens) have not been retired 5 years, Quis was a reliever, and Joe Wood did not pitch long enough. The last one, Jim Devlin, only pithced 3 years, 1875 - 77.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | August 11, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Others tend to get their dander up about typos in posts. I meant to type "cited." (Quick, before NatsNut sees it!)

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I just tend to get my researcher dander up a bit about wikis being cites as sources.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

You had to go there, didn't you, sec3? Dang! All I have in the fridge is leftovers (and not particularly evolved ones at that).

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That would be like saying, say, 5 guys (mmmmmmm---burgers!)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I think the last team that tried to harken back to the days of yore were the early 1980's Oakland A's, where they made a concerted effort to have their pitchers throw complete games. Here are the results (complete games at age X/age career effectively over):

Langford (28 CG's at 28, done at 31)
McCatty (16 at 27, done at 31)
Norris (24 at 25, done at 28)
Keough (20 at 24, done at 27)

It would be interesting to get McCatty's take on this.

Posted by: slewis1 | August 11, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

The other kicker is expansion. There are a lot more pitchers in ML now, both because there are more teams, and because (correct me if I'm wrong) teams carry more pitching now than they used to. Counterbalancing that is the international market, and desegregation. Much of the 125 years were heavily segregated--no black players despite a wealth of top-shelf talent, very few Caribbean/Latin American players compared to today, and no Asian players at all. And with free agency and the attendant salary bump, people retire when they want to, they aren't looking at a post-MLB career at Sears automotive. Do you suppose a pitcher like, say, Mussina, who was apparently healthy, would have retired at 270 wins, in 1955?
OTOH, how many would have pitched longer, then, if they'd had better medical options, e.g., TJ surgery? Someone mentioned Koufax in that context earlier.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I think the last team that tried to harken back to the days of yore were the early 1980's Oakland A's, where they made a concerted effort to have their pitchers throw complete games. Here are the results (complete games at age X/age career effectively over):
I was in the Bay Area then, and I think I can tell you what he'd say--that Billy Martin ran them into the ground like a rented Pacer.
**************************
Langford (28 CG's at 28, done at 31)
McCatty (16 at 27, done at 31)
Norris (24 at 25, done at 28)
Keough (20 at 24, done at 27)

It would be interesting to get McCatty's take on this.

Posted by: slewis1 | August 11, 2009 12:33 PM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Whoops: cut and paste FAIL

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I was in the Bay Area then, and I think I can tell you what he'd say--that Billy Martin ran them into the ground like a rented Pacer.
**************************
I think the last team that tried to harken back to the days of yore were the early 1980's Oakland A's, where they made a concerted effort to have their pitchers throw complete games. Here are the results (complete games at age X/age career effectively over):
Langford (28 CG's at 28, done at 31)
McCatty (16 at 27, done at 31)
Norris (24 at 25, done at 28)
Keough (20 at 24, done at 27)

It would be interesting to get McCatty's take on this.

Posted by: slewis1 | August 11, 2009 12:33 PM |

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

hey now, it looks like some people are falling asleep at the wheel. Where's the Belly hate? There's a GAME tonight people.

Posted by: NatsNut | August 11, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Is anybody else having as much fun as I am reading the 1909 Post.

I had no idea that Cleveland was once known as the NAPS.

And you can get a fitted suit for just 17.50 and FANCY at that.
Imagine Fancy suits for just 17.50. WOW

Posted by: CBinDC | August 11, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

quitcher bellyachin', NN.

Back in MY day, fans used to start booing the "constant scrapegoat" at 6 in the morning of a day game. We didn't have night games yet.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

CBin, you suppose "fancy suit" was a code word for something?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Chico writes in today's article: "As The Washington Post's J. Ed Grillo wrote after a July 27 doubleheader, "Just to vary their daily performance, the Nationals lost two games yesterday, instead of one.""

um....wouldn't Grillo have written "Senators" and not "Nationals"?

Posted by: DCguy7 | August 11, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

$427.19 in 2008 dollars still isn't bad for a suit (particularly if it's FANCY).

Posted by: OldDude | August 11, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

DCguy, the Senators were often called "Nationals" (but never Natinals, AFAIK), much as the Pirates are commonly called "Bucs" or "Buccos".

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

OldDude, is that a fancy suit with 2 pair of fancy pants?

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

OK, my boss just reminded me: Your Job--it's ON.

Jimmy!

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 11, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

....wouldn't Grillo have written "Senators" and not "Nationals"?

Posted by: DCguy7
-----------------
Nope, the Senators name was officially changed to Nationals in 1905 and changed back to the Senators in 1955:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/MIN/

Posted by: OldDude | August 11, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

One of the ESPN talking heads was talking about SS and said that Boras' arguement was that the Nats should sign him, keep him around for a while and then trade him for multiple players. My question is how long do they have to keep him before he can be traded?

Thanks

Posted by: spnats1 | August 11, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Hrmmm, the ad doesn't seem to indicate that two pair are included, but you can get extra trousers for only $61.03.

When I moved into my house and rejiggered the way the darkroom downstairs was set up (I can hear you ask: "What's a 'darkroom', well you're the people that killed Kodacrome! But I digress - okay, fine this whole paragraph is a digression... Deal.) in pulling the blinds off the windows that didn't need it any longer (made with plywood and newspaper (?) I was intrigued by the pricing in the ads and was impressed to see that fridges cost almost the same as they do now which works out to something like $5000 to $8000 in 2008 dollars. Ouch!

Posted by: OldDude | August 11, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

For the person inquiring about the "O" and "A" in the old box score, the "O" stood for Outs (or Putouts as we call them now) and the "A" was for Assists.

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | August 11, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Cleveland was called the Naps in honor of their best player, Napoleon Lajoie, the 1901 triple crown winner.

Joemktg:

I'll agree that specialization and travel ball haven't helped. The decline of the three sport athlete, the decline of manual labor - chores around the house - as an important part of childhood, kids being driven everywhere rather than walking, these have all changed the durability of the modern athlete for the worse. My college coach, old salty guy from Tennessee who played in the Yankee system in the late 50's and early 60's used to say that there were two types of strong - weight room strong and country strong. Country strength is tendon strength built by doing everyday farm things like chores - baling hay, throwing bags of feed around,etc. Weight room strength tends to build only muscle because it's a controlled environment where doesn't have to balance one's body while lifting the weight. He liked players who were country strong; maybe that's why I didn't play much. Someone alluded to this difference earlier on this earlier. Strength coaches are beginning to realize this and there are some cutting edge guys who are beginning to force players to lift while balancing themselves. Still most strength training is geared toward power lifting - even for baseball players.

On your other point, I coached travel baseball for 15 years. My daughter's playing travel softball right now. It's a nutty system, and one that this country needs to rethink.

#4

Posted by: db423 | August 11, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Ugh, unclosed quotes and parentheses. That is just untidy. Sorry.

Posted by: OldDude | August 11, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"When the Nationals are just their usual sewage-like selves, the Braves fall to pieces. "

"Every team needs a nemesis but the Nationals are more of a nuisance than a nemisis ..."

Morgan, Willingham, Lannan, Dunn, and the remaining Zimmerman ... anyone reading this?

Posted by: periculum | August 11, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

> My question is how long do they have to keep him before he can be traded?

One year. Not sure though if it's one year from date of being drafted, or one year from date of being signed.

Posted by: FromTheEclipseThePlaceThatBobCarpenterCallsHome | August 11, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Cleveland was called the Naps in honor of their best player, Napoleon Lajoie, the 1901 triple crown winner.

THEY were managed by a HORSE before Mr.ED managed the 1964 Dodgers... WOW

If you want a crack at those High-Grade Loe shoes you will need to talk to the FBI because that seems to be what is at that address.

HMMMMMM conservative and fastidious dressers now there is some hidden meaning for ya.

Posted by: CBinDC | August 11, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I've been enjoying reading it, too, CB. I believe the nickname for the Cleveland came from their association with Napoleon "Nap" Lajoie.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Dang! You beat me to it.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Doug. I wondered whether it might be outs but some of the numbers seemed too high for a player making an out. Putouts makes sense, though.

I liked your digression, OldDude. I also liked #4's reference to the distinction between weight room strong and country strong. I'll have to tell my husband that one.

Oh, and there are some new posts up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | August 11, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Maryland will finish with a 2-10 record.

Maryland's defensive line and linebacker corps are a joke --- no pass rush whatsoever and give up a ton of long yardage plays.

I have seen harder hitting teams in powder puff leagues.

The only hard hits the Terps make - are out of bound plays - which cost them an additional 15 yards - which are quite frequent.

California's running back - Best - will gain 296 yards in the opening game

I love it, when Maryland constantly gets embarrassed on national TV.

Prediction:

California -- 56
Maryland -- 10

It's hilarious to see Maryland win a game - and the very next week get clobbered by a Virginia Tech - Boston College.

It is great to see Maryland go down to a crushing defeat on recruiting front (the kids they have received commitments from - are a joke! - taking the bottom of the barrel)

Carolina Blue - Carolina WHITE - Go Tar Heels - Let's go Tar Heels !

Posted by: hclark1 | August 11, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

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