Category Archives: Baseball

A Baseball Package: What I think would sell and predictions


I would love to put together a professional-looking total baseball package that would sell to fans and curious people alike. In it I would try to offer the following:
Bringin’ Gas and Dialin’ 9: The 5-tool total package

· A Hardcover Book – estimated 750-900 pages w/additional Appendices of Players and Teams records
· CD: PDF of Book with online links
· CD: Image Gallery of 100s of MLB players, Stadiums, Teams, Managers, Executives and Umpires
· CD: Database of Statistics with executable queries to find those statistics, comparisons and Player backgrounds
· CD: Graphs/Charts of the Financials, Stadium Layouts and Other useful stats
· DVD/CD: Audios of famous plays, players and radio broadcasts in history with footage from World Series and epic moments in Baseball history
Estimated Retail Cost: $110-150 with the following hang ups:
1. Book: $45 – $55 (did/doing)
2. Images: $15 (need permission)
3. Database: $25 (have backendfront end needed, permissions)
4. Charts: $5 (can do)
5. Audio: $10 (missing)
6. DVD: $20 – $30 (missing)

I think it would be a cool thing to have a baseball reference library package in one complete outfit. Of course, it will never happen. (I can collect the stuff, but sell it, never.)

I started working on a Fantasy/Roto League PDF file, but got bogged down with other things. Maybe next season.

Some off-the-cuff predictions/analysis:
The Chicago Cubs can win the NL Central if their pitching holds up. (Kerry Wood closing, I have to see that pan out…I am not holding my breath given his extensive injury history since 2003.) Milwaukee has youth and now, some experience in pressure filled games in the late season. I can see them winning the NL Central by 7 games as much as I can see the Cubs win by 3 games. Milwaukee has to pitch too – but they have their young up-and-comer starting ace Yovani Gallardo to nurse back to health if they are going to win anything.

Boston has some issues (Shilling done for the year, likely, and Beckett on the DL), but still will be there in the AL. With youngsters like Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Manny Delcarmen pitching, and Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury up and coming hitters, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz don’t have to be the only boppers to worry about. They can ride out; the Yankees haven’t shown me they have improved that much on paper. A-Rod is their only regular season weapon.

Detroit has the powerhouse lineup (though Curtis Granderson is down for a while) but still has to pitch better than last year in the bullpen. Cleveland has plenty of talent on both sides (offense in Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner & pitching C.C. Sabathia (left) and Fausto Carmona) and can win that division with any falter or hiccup by Detroit.
You got to figure Arizona and Colorado can’t win again like last year. Arizona was outscored; so they will have to win with their pitching – maybe. They got it with Dan Haren and Brandon Webb, both 220+ inning eaters with 15-20 win potential. Colorado has the bats and some nice pieces, but I don’t expect a run away by either. Los Angeles and San Diego can compete. San Francisco – your heart is gone.

Mets, Phillies and Braves. Mets have young talent with Reyes, Wright and now, Santana; and money is never much of problem, but old (and hurt) Moises Alou and Carlos Delgado are no longer premier options at power positions, 1B and LF. As a result, Endy Chavez, Angel Pagan and Ryan Church will get to play musical chairs in left & right field. I still figure this is a 90-win team, or Willie Randolph will hear, “you’re fired,” by a Donald Trump impersonator.

The Phillies have a similar dynamic trio in 1B Ryan Howard, 2B Chase Utley and 2007 NL MVP SS Jimmy Rollins. The problem begins once the Phillies get past ace-like Cole Hamels and starter-to-closer-back to starter Brett Myers in their starting rotation: the 3 guys left are either old, raw or beat up like a pick up truck. (Moyer, Kendrick and Eaton.)

But the Phillies will compete for this division.

Atlanta has to turn to two 20-year vets for competitive pitching in Glavine and Smoltz. I think the well is run dry. Hot-lanta can still get some miles out of Chipper and Texiera, but I don’t think they will win anything.

Boston, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels (not mentioned),Cleveland, Detroit, Philadephia, New York and Arizona make the playoffs.

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TimeLine: From the Baseball Project

Using Powerpoint, I made this little image related to my project. It’s a bit sloppy looking here, but it should impart some information. Hopefully it spells out some of what has happen in baseball history. The Presidents are guideposts to chapters I wrote. Either they were in office at the start of the period or more closely tied to the era that existed…Just my opinion.

Take you back: My first ever blog entry

In reading Wonderland or Not, an excellent blog that tagged me recently 🙂 , it reminded me of the first post I made at another blog. So this is a Back to the Future sort of post. Hopefully the story is worth the internet storage space.

My first blog: Funny thing this morning, I didn’t set out to discover blogging while driving on a delivery route. It just came to me as a way to share what I feel is important to me, and hopefully, others. The day before the 4th of July has always been a bittersweet reminder of my Grandfather’s passing in 1986 on the 4th.

I started writing a significant journal on July 4, 1997. Since then, my ability to write has gotten me into trouble at times, but also benefited me, at times too. But to further that premise, here’s a true story about my Grandfather, William L. Clark Jr.

My grandpa was involved in WWII like most other people’s grandfathers. He was a Boatswain’s Mate from late 1942-1947, driving an LCVP (landing craft vehicle personnel) similar to the ones in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ except around the Pacific Ocean. Before he reached active duty, in the latter part of basic training, his younger brother Harold died in a drowning accident near Paris, Illinois. Harold was 9 or 10 at the time and travelling with his boyscout troop on some outdoor expedition.

My grandfather went back on emergency leave to pay his last respects and see to the needs of the family. I am sure that wasn’t easy and his being involved in a war training only heighten the dreaded aura of possibly losing one’s life fighting the Japanese and the Germans. After his 72-hour leave, he went back to Pensacola (I think) to ship out with his group. Upon returning, the group he was assigned to had all ready ‘shipped out’ on another LST, heading out to the Pacific. (I don’t recall the LST #, but his was #838..)

After a short while, he heard back that his former ‘mates’ had been engaged and sunk by a Japanese submarine in what was called ‘The Slot’, a piece of ocean in the Solomon Islands containing Guadalcanal. Most of the sailors on board went down with the ship. As he told me this, my grandfather said, “I’m lucky…because of Harold’s death. You wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for him.”

Harold was quite a boy. He was also was nicknamed the ‘Firecracker’ because he was born on the 4th of July. My grandfather passed on July 4th due to respiratory arrest resulting from complications of lung cancer.

William L. Clark Jr. loved baseball, especially Ted Williams, and Westerns, especially John Wayne. He tried out for the Brooklyn Dodgers (Leo Durocher was their HOF manager and future Cubs skipper) ,and before he enlisted, made their Minor League roster. He could have been quite the ballplayer I am sure, but timing IS EVERYTHING in this life. (Luck or fate or whimsy of chance…)

My future thoughts will revolve around my baseball opinions, discussion of Bill James and the reality I feel exists. But I will always try to tie that into the grander scheme of life. I hope.
This entry is for you GRAMPS!!! You are the best man I’ve ever known!

Note #1: Not Always will post sometime next week.
Note #2: SBwrites, Elaine, Wonderland, Rogue and many others, I’ll be by soon enough!

A Cubs Analysis (January 2007): Was I in the ballpark?

With the Cubs, the predictions are almost more important than the season itself. Looking from a sunny bleacher, the grass is always greener before the season (if it is warm and she’s wearing a bikini) than it is in September, usually. After 99 years since the last ‘dynasty’ of the Cubs, and when the Wright Flier and Teddy’s Big Stick still were relevant topics, we are thinking: this is our year.

Lou Pinella will entertain the media. Managing in the fishbowl of Chicago, Lou’s current mellow nature will turn back into Fighting Lou. Once he sees Jacque Jones airmail a cut off or Ramirez take a snooze on a pop up, he’ll have plenty to say, and the media will too. Luckily, he can fall back on his New York experiences to adroitly handle Chicago scribes, whose only real talent is to gossip about how much money someone makes, a player’s girlfriend or whether throwing at a player constitutes domestic violence on the field.

The Cubs will improve by 20 games. Starting at 66 wins, this should not be impossible. Derrek Lee at 2004 statistics: .280(.360), 32HR, 110RBI, Ramirez at: .290 (.360), 35HR, 110RBI and Soriano at:.285(.330), 40HR, 95RBI, 25SB and Michael Barrett at: .275(.350), 15HR, 70 RBI provides plenty of right hand pop. Jacque Jones is the sole left hand man and will not cut it. Ryan Theriot should be the starter at 2B. He’s got more plate patience than DeRosa, he’s faster and younger. Pinella will see this, I hope, and insert him as either #1 or #2 hitter with successful output of: .275 (.345), 5 HR, 45RBIs, 35SBs. DeRosa, hot prospect Felix Pie and Angel Pagan, will support Murton in the outfield. Izturis and Cedeno will somehow get .260 (.310), 5 HR, 45 RBIs and 15 SBs between them. 800 Runs scored.

But what about pitching and fielding??? Zambrano is an ace. Likely, if not abused like a ‘Dusty’ doll, will get 200 IP, sub 2.75 ERA and 17-20 wins. Ted Lilly is a 4.30 ERA in the American League. Can he improve against weaker lineups? I believe so to the tune of 15 Wins and 3.75ERA. That leaves 5 pitchers for 3 starting spots. Rich Hill. Jason Marquis. Wade Miller. Sean Marshall. Mark Prior. I don’t expect better than 30 wins from the back end. That’s 65 Wins.
Piniella in 1990 ran a three-headed monster out to win ballgames from the bullpen: Rob Dibble, Randy Myers, Norm Charlton. (Forgotten is Tim Layana.) Pinnella will use Neal Cotts, Scott Eyre, Bob Howry, Kerry Wood and Dempster to form a five-headed Dragon to battle through. Mark Prior and Kerry Wood are likely relievers playing starters with all their injuries. Somehow Lou will get 21 wins – blackjack! – like he did in 1990 without one 16-game winner on a 91-win team. The Cubs will allow 750 Runs. 86 Wins!!! Yeah!!! (If Bill James formula works…)

Cubs will trade Mark Prior, after a nice two-month run of pitching, in late July for an thirty-something outfielder from California. (Garrett Anderson???) It’s totally possible, I mean, whoever the Cubs draft, and destine great expectations for, is soon hurt, ineffective or disillusioned. Prior has issues that someone drinking beer with him could only know. Going after an older player, with a high salary, assuming he’s not hot, or getting hot, or is soon retiring, is a maneuver the Cubs make at least thrice (not twice) a decade. At this moment, I know nothing about Anderson, except he’s 35 in June, which makes him eligible for the Cubs Care for Old Outfielders Plan. And Prior will go back to 2003 form and win 15 games for a decade in LA-LA Land where 6′ blondes appear in bad action movies. El Paso!!!

If Lou gets to manage for four or five years, expect a playoff. Or maybe it is 1969 all over again. With Alfonso Soriano being here until he’s well past his prime, the Cubs better get it now…in 2007! But given they spent 300 million this off season, even at 100 wins, that’s 3 million per win. If only 75 wins, it 4 million per Cubs victory. Wow. Absolutely…wow!!!

Three Baseball Control Charts, A Sample on the book

Chart #1Comparison of Two Eras of Baseball

Chart #2 Dead Ball Era Revisited


Chart #3Post 1950 Home Run Control Chart

All about the Money, Statistics and Steriods: An Excerpt
But the ultimate statement of the steroid ‘Problem’ is: What percentage of steroid users in baseball actually improved statistically to caused the huge rises in offense seen in this 10-plus year barrage of runs? Could not using better nutrition, maintaining off and in-season physical training and utilizing video methods, be more important than the use of steroids? Or how about another, more logical, reason or reasons? Why has the offense seen not reduced back to pre –1993 levels since the outing of steroid usage in the MLB and the enforcement of a steroid policy? Is it possible hGH was far more significant (even given Jason Grimsley’s mediocre career) or is that too a fallacy? (Or is prior weight training also a prerequisite to improved performance on the ball diamond.)
As Dr. William N. Taylor in Macho Medicine determined in a study performed on those who were prior trained in weight lifting and those who were not, the study reflected that gains in performance, muscle mass and strength while using steroids could only be conclusive with prior weight trained subjects.[1] With that said, it is nearly a prerequisite to be properly trained in weightlifting techniques in order to gain the requisite enhancements for the sport of baseball – that which could affect bat speed, arm strength and base running ability.
Several analyses of the recent years reflect changes far earlier than anyone currently reports which would have affected even the ‘pure’ ballplayers of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. But these changes have little to do with steroids, but what could be the conspicuous causation of the changes?
[1] Taylor WN. Macho Medicine: A History of the Anabolic Steroid Epidemic. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc.; 1991. 30-33.

Once again, we turn back to the idea that baseball changed significantly prior to the 1994 season. That in a period of one off season, the ratio of home runs and doubles per at bats for players jumped significantly, far out of bounds to any other period/year in Major League Baseball history. The reason for this selection of measuring of power hitting (Doubles added) is that doubles do generally reflect a propensity to hit for home runs and make up the majority of extra base hits for any team, and thus are significant to both runs scored and slugging averages.
This can be seen in Chart #3.

It is obvious to this observer that in 1994, a distinct and significant change happened in both leagues. The ratio of Power Statistics increased sharply, more than 3 standard deviations from the normal averages seen between 1950 and 1985, inclusively; the offensive outburst has continued well into the 21st century, more than 10 years.
That steroids is ‘just a convenient excuse’ but is not an actual definitive causation of this outburst is fairly clear. Taking a shot, applying a cream or popping a pill does not suddenly result (in less than a year) in 2 or 3+ standard deviations of enhanced performance for all full-time ballplayers in MLB (once again, the players included were those that had 150 At bats per season each year since 1950) and continue on to the present day (2006) with zero abatement, even after steroid policies were instituted.

To fall outside the 6-sigma chart on a consistent basis means a process is out of control and is 99.75% unlikely to happen in a normal working process once without a concrete cause. But to continue to happen, reflects a process change that is attributable to unique factors…

What has changed the offense of baseball must been seen in the context of the past as well as the present day. In the prior years, mound changes, strike zone adjustments, ball changes, ballpark changes and the addition of an entire classification of people (African Americans), had their effects on the game. Why is it that these same culprits could not be the same causes to the outbursts in offense?

Looking at Chart #1, comparing two eras – Coolidge (1919 –1932) to Clinton (1992–2005) – the similarities in the slopes of each line are clearly evident. The first three seasons of each reflects the transition between the old offenses to the newly found power ratios seen in each. As discussed in prior chapters, Babe Ruth uppercut, cleaner and more fresh balls, rules changes and possibly internal changes to the ball yarn, likely caused the rise to the ‘modern day’ levels from the first twenty seasons of the 20th century. (Chart #2) But a second offensive explosion was to be experienced in the 1990’s and has continued on with zero regression back to the good old days of baseball.

In 1992 through 1994, little if any talk about steroids could be tied to the explosion. The outburst came during the heels of labor disputes, a few ballpark changes and likely (if unreported) baseball manipulations. Furthermore, after the strike, the impetus to rebuild fan bases and pack the ballparks would only be done through offenses dominating, not pitchers’ duels. As stated before, it is not difficult to understand the marketing of the ‘long ball’ to sell baseball after losing the most important games of the 1994 season: the seven games of the World Series…

In 1999, Nike creatively infused the catch phrase, “chicks dig the long ball,” into a commercial featuring Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux – future hall of famers – getting shown up by Mark McGwire hitting home runs. As Howard Byrant opines, “ The sport that could never properly market itself had finally found a marketable star: the home run.”[1]
Not completely correct. The home run was ‘properly marketed’ back in the 1920’s and certainly used that initial impetus to further the game ever since with every home run star born from Babe Ruth, DiMaggio, Williams, Mantle to Mays, Banks, Aaron, Jackson, Schmidt and Bonds, along with numerous others that predicated their careers on the big fly. Even a cursory glance at the past reflects the biggest contracts have been in the hands of home run hitters, and the marketing of those players has been nearly always in relation to (and a reflection of) their careers as the big boppers, and ultimately to the demise of their careers in a town if they could not hit the ball in the stands.
Sammy Sosa’s lucrative career in Chicago would provide an interesting study in the rise and fall of a slugger’s popularity and marketability as the fortunes of his home run prowess and the Cubs team turned south together after 2003. “Yet going from 30-30 [HRs and SBs] to 64-0 in just six years was exactly the kind of statistic that spoke for an era in which power had trumped every nuance baseball had to offer.”[2]Once again, this is not correct. In looking at stolen bases, the numbers are significantly higher in the Clinton Era than say the IKE or FDR Era, on average. Which means it isn’t just a home run show; yet even in that ‘jaded reality’, the analysis time and time again reflects that OBP % and SLG % translate into runs scored; and not necessarily stealing bases by the truck load.
[1] Abid. 144.
[2] Abid. 150.

Stolen bases are hardly indicative of run scoring success to any large degree. Players on some MLB teams are conditioned not to risk outs for a stolen base (or even a sacrifice bunt) unless it is nearly assured. Speaking to this risk logic, General manager J.P Ricciardi defines Toronto’s philosophy when asked about sacrificing. “Give up outs to score runs? We don’t do that here.”[1] (But this does not mean a few base stealers will not or do not take such risks.) And why is not steroids a factor in that portion of the game? To examine Juiced, Jose Canseco contended that steroids helped him “build strength, quickness, and, most importantly, stamina.”[2] So why haven’t more base stealers taken advantage of steroids, or have they? (Ben Johnson did it in becoming the fastest human on earth in 1988; and former 100-meter world record holder (9.77) Justin Gatlin was recently suspended for eight years from track and field competition for his usage of banned substances.)
[1] Bryant H. Juicing The Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. New York: Penguin Group; 2005. 245.
[2] Steinberg A. In Defense of Steroids: Jose Canseco’s Surprisingly Sensible Case for the Juice. Unknown: http://www.highbeam.com; 2005 June 1. Last Accessed: June 8 2006.

Yet, it shows the misinformation allowed to permeate the average fans psyche. By recent accounts, home runs are considered ‘bad’, by the current media, under the inauspicious cloud of steroids. Because they were hit by guys that are reported as ‘steroid abusers’, ‘bulked up’ or ‘have suddenly found unusual power.’ Yet even that assessment is relative to the expert reasoning of the media when they conveniently overlook certain players (Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, Jim Thome, Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee for a few current examples) as being clean and free of any steroid implications, even when they are playing still under this dark cloud of the ‘Steroid Era.’
The Steroid Era label says something about the players to the average fan. Unnatural. Fake. Cheating the game. Not like before. But the evidence of a vast steroid usage scandal supporting huge Home Run (and Doubles) totals is almost solely without merit. Given that the offense was precipitated long before the steroids can be solely attributed to those rises.
If only because the time frame (1993-94 to 2006) and consistency (of the numbers, year to year) are too opportune across the board to be unnaturally enhanced by just steroids or hGH (human growth hormone.) In the past, pitchers eventually adjusted to players. Why not now? Why are just hitters getting the presumed power benefits from steroids and not pitchers in their recovery and ability to gut out longer performances? (Even though Major League Baseball reported more pitchers caught for steroid usage than position players through 2005.) Or does it point to something else altogether, unreported, that is much more logical and possibly, measurable?
It is nonsense to predicate the entire decade of offensive outburst discussed on just steroids as the ‘bad’ guy. Given the countless changes to ballparks (19 new since 1991), baseballs, bats, strike zones (QuesTec monitoring of strike zones calls and instituting the UIS), on-field conditions, training regiments, video tapes and a myriad of other realities, steroids are not the only ‘Foundations of Power’ to be reviled by the sports media, upset fans and curiously, involving a former team owner, now a United States President, numerous Senators and Congressman.
(Who I think have better, more important things to consider daily: like obtaining better paying jobs for underprivileged, fixing health care payments and options, developing real solutions to inner city realities, funding the discovery of cures and causes to diseases, re-codifying (properly) all criminal laws, improving environmental stances on urban sprawl, hazardous chemicals produced by manufacturers and ozone/global warming predicaments and improving our ‘standing’ in the world’s estimation, amongst the ‘short’ list of ‘things to do.’)

Other Theories on Power Explosion
Amid the intense media backdrop of steroids, lays a variety of theories on the causation of the power outburst and the variety of changes seen in the game of baseball in the past fifteen years:
1) “That baseball encouraged the construction of hitter-friendly parks…”[1] The ‘Ballpark Effect’ can almost be directly tied to one firm: HOK Sport. “Helmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK) Sports Facilities Group has been integral to ballpark renaissance that began in the 1990s. Formed in 1983[2], the Kansas City-based company has designed many of the sports new facilities…Comiskey Park (U.S. Cellular), Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Jacobs Field, Coors Field, Comerica Park, SBC Park, Minute Maid Park, PNC Park, Great American Ballpark, PETCO Park and Citizens Bank Park.”[3]
The almost yearly opening of a new stadium with ‘an old-time feel’ most likely utilized ‘new CADD’ and modeling of ‘wind and carry’ effects to the benefit of the offense. (Not always, but certainly the numbers from many of the parks reflect an impressive barrage of extra base hits.) “In the wake of Camden Yards fourteen teams moved into new parks in the decade between 1994 and 2004, including the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks, who had a new stadium built in Phoenix before their first season.”[4]
Even one national writer, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, suggests that the lead architect of HOK Sport + Venue + Event, Joe Spear, should be considered for a special award: the currently fictitious Buck O’Neil award for meritorious service to baseball.[5] Though a very unique and deserving honor to bestow on an architect, it may overlook the possibility that Mr. Spear was partly instrumental to the rise of offenses in the 1990’s and present day that has drawn such an outcry from the baseball purists and media pundits.

14 HOK Sport Ballparks and 1 in Construction
q U.S. Cellular Field
q Minute Maid Park
q Tropicana Field
q Oriole Park at Camden Yards
q AT&T Park (SBC)
q Great America Ballpark
q Jacobs Field
q PNC Park
q Dolphin Stadium
q Coors Field
q Citizens Bank Park
q PETCO Park
q Comerica Park
q Busch Stadium III
q Washington (2008)

In an interview by Peter Handrinos for Scout.com, HOK Sport’s Joe Spear reflects on his designing of Pilot Field in Buffalo that led to the Camden Yards project, “…You know, baseball doesn’t have to be played in a concrete behemoth. It can be played in a smaller ballpark with better sight lines, better proximity to the game, and real intimacy for the fans.”[6] These smaller ballparks would certainly allow players to hit more home runs and doubles while keeping fans happy at the park while also giving the fan the intimacy of being in the action.
Probably the most important aspect of each of these $200-350 million dollar projects (now upwards $750 million) were their approximating of old downtown parks like Boston’s Fenway or Chicago’s Wrigley to generate huge local revenues by allowing fans to saunter in from their cars to the ballgame and back out to neighborhood watering holes or other fun places located nearby. As Spear continues on, “I’m personally thinking of the ball park in terms of a fan’s experience. The real success stories from our projects aren’t in the architecture or engineering, but in the way the fans enjoy the ballpark…That’s so crucial. I think that’s why places like Wrigley and Fenway have stood the test of time – they embrace their surroundings in such an effective way. The question for my current plan, for instance, has to be, ‘How can we make sure that this project is completely about Washington?’”[7]
But the in-the-field affects to these ballparks were also discussed. As one exchange offers:
Peter Handrinos: “In those early projects, you broke with past tradition in another way – for the first time in a long time, your ballparks had asymmetrical outfields and outfield wall features. Why did you go in that direction?”
Joe Spear: “Oriole Park at Camden Yards was the first real taste of that.
The team, from day one, wanted that and rightly so. It makes it interesting; to debate whether Barry Bonds would have hit a home run in a particular playing field or some other particular play would have been an out in another field. That sort of thing can change the outcome of a game, so it adds a layer of richness.
The challenge was for us to find a genuine reason to [vary ball park dimensions], almost like making art out of a found object. In each project, we’ve looked for logical, genuine reasons to do that without just copying the Green Monster or B&O Warehouse or something else.”[8]
This statement reflects that ballparks were intentionally designed for their variations and that these variations could change outcomes of games – and possibly home run records.

2) “They also knew that hitters were using harder bats made of maple and dipped in lacquer in the place of the untreated ash bats of old…”[9] New technology and chemicals are not unusual to find in competitive sports. The NFL, NHL, PGA, NASCAR, IRL, NTA and any other multi-billion dollar operation have to advance safety and performance with state-of-the-art information and equipment.
Golf and Tennis has seen numerous changes in the length and power of balls hit using oversize drivers and rackets, so much so that the courses in golf are regularly ‘lengthen’ to increase difficulty to score pars and birdies. The NFL has instituted better helmet technology, has taken advantage of medical breakthroughs and certainly prescribes cortisone shots for pain relief. (Future HOF Quarterback Brett Favre was dependent on them, at one time.)
NASCAR has established better helmet technology, added restrictor plates to engines for reduced speeds and constantly monitors the cars with on-board telemetry. IRL designs cars that absorb energy in crashes and consistently improves the horsepower performances of their vehicles while maintaining very strict adherence to safety concerns.
And the NHL changed the rules to require all players to wear helmets and uses video technology to reevaluate goals made. It is no surprise that baseballs and ball bats have undergone numerous changes, as stated before by Dr. Adair.
In the MLB, the use of maple and lacquered bats in place of ash could be a primary cause of increased distances seen on current baseballs. As one 1994 article reflects, “To simulate hitting conditions, says [Scott] Smith, ‘we fire the balls out of an air cannon [at 58 mph] against a northern white-ash wooden wall, which is the same material that baseball bats are made of.’ Their objective: to measure how much energy the balls retain when they bounce off the wall.”[10] If the testing process does not mirror the current technology [the bats], it could be possible the values are higher than what is allowed via the testing process.
These lacquered baseball bats are predominately made by big outfits – Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, Mizuno, Sam Bat – but one maker, Maruccibats.com located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana has developed an impressive clientele of sluggers: Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz (50 Home Runs in 2006), Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran, Vernon Wells, Miguel Tejada, Ryan Howard (58 Home Runs in 2006), Gary Sheffield, David Wright and former stars Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.[11] Founded in 2002, each bat is selected from a billet sent by Hogan Hardwoods of Ruston, LA[12], hand made on a lathe to spec, boned with a cow femur and sent out to the major leaguer. The fact that a small outfit (one that turns out 1,000 bats per year in an 8’ by 10’ shop) can produced bats of the superior quality sluggers of this caliber love, while adhering to the specifications MLB puts on the bats, likely means the specifications may not be all that tight on equipment being used or is not overly inspected by officials. Or certainly not checked for tampering without incidence. (Sammy Sosa’s corked bat fiasco.)
To further explain why an outfitter in Louisiana has cornered the market for sluggers, a study done by University of Massachusetts engineers on bats of various levels of the sport reflects that a higher moisture content may also provide additional pop in the bat. As one part of the report reflects, ” Different baseball stadiums will, therefore, expose wooden bats to different conditions at different times of the year. The Wood Handbook (1999)…identifies the equilibrium moisture content for Phoenix, Arizona in the month of June to be 4.6% on average, whereas Los Angeles, California is 15.1% in …August…the bats which are stored in the environment for even a few days will show a change in moisture content. It is, therefore, important to determine the effects…”[13]
This study analyzed bats utilizing a setup that would mirror MLB players typical usage of either:
1) Using the same bat in various cities around the country (with moisture content modifying)
2) Using a variety of bats based on feel at the time (bats that differ, though physically are the same in ordinary measures)
The results show that a slight, but unmistakable, increase in batted-ball velocity of nearly 1% held true across the board when moisture content was changed from 6.7% to 10.9%. This additional velocity does explain why Louisiana-made bats are more lively, since the humidity is a well known aspect of the climate. And later, Dr. Adair’s analysis will further this point.

As Peter Handrinos writes on his website, www.UnitedStatesofBaseball.com, about this phenomenon in Barry Bonds, Pt. II: ‘Too Good’: “ And, with the one-year spike in 2001 accounted for, Bonds performance surge from 2002 and 2002 to 2004 is easily adjusted…just over 46 home runs per year…it’s hardly an other-worldly mark in an era fueled by smaller ballparks, smaller strike zones, hard-lacquered bats, and body armor…”[14]

3) “Most significantly, two tools that pitchers most needed to be effective…the strike zone… and the freedom to intimidate hitters by throwing inside.”[15]
With the implementation of video technology and consistent manipulation of what a strike is suppose to be, it is little wonder that pitchers, most effected by those changes, have found it harder to consistently get out hitters. As shown before, the expansion of the strike zone led to the worst offensive season (1968) in the modern era. Now, the contraction and monitoring of the strike zone, has likely assisted in the fattening the totals of MLB offenses.No one is particularly immune to these changes. Power pitchers that throw in excess of 95 MPH are being combated by a shrinking strike zone, inability to pitch inside without getting tossed and batters that have thinner-handled bats, better video tools to fix errors in swings and plenty of motivation to achieve totals. (Financial motivation, not necessarily winning games motives.)
[1] Bryant H. Juicing The Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. New York: Penguin Group; 2005. 210.
[2] Unknown. HOK Sport & Event & Event. Unknown: http://www.wikipedia.com; 2006 April 9. Last Accessed: 4/10/2006.
[3] Leventhal J, MacMurray J. Take Me Out to the Ballpark: An Illustrated Tour of Baseball Parks Past and Present. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers; 2006. 15.
[4] Bryant H. Juicing The Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. New York: Penguin Group; 2005. 153.
[5] Passan J. Re-examining the Hall. Cooperstown, New York: Yahoo! Sports; 2006 July 30. http://www.yahoosports.com Last Accessed: August 8, 2006.
[6] Handrinos P. Baseball Men – The Architect. Unknown: http://TheSTLCardinals.scout.com; 2005 November 11. Last Accessed: April 22, 2006.
[7] Handrinos P. Baseball Men – The Architect. Unknown: http://TheSTLCardinals.scout.com; 2005 November 11. Last Accessed: April 22, 2006.
[8] Handrinos P. Baseball Men – The Architect. Unknown: http://TheSTLCardinals.scout.com; 2005 November 11. Last Accessed: April 22, 2006.
[9] Bryant H. Juicing The Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. New York: Penguin Group; 2005. 210.
[10] Stein BP. Major-league Mystery. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group [Scholastic, Inc.]; 1994 September 2. Last Accessed: June 8, 2006. http://www.highbeam.com
[11] Marucci J. The Marucci Bat Company. Baton Rouge, LA: http://www.maruccibats.com; 2006. Last Accessed August 24, 2006.
[12] Davis B. Marucci Bats Have ‘Major’ Punch. Ruston, LA: http://www.rustonleader.com/news.php?id=1538; 2006 July 24. Last Accessed: August 24, 2006.
[13] Sherwood JA, Drane PJ. The Effects of Moisture Content and Workhardening on Baseball Bat Performance. Lowell, MA: Baseball Research center, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Massachusetts; 2000?. 3.
[14] Handrino PC. Barry Bonds, Pt. II: ‘Too Good’: More Vague Rumors and Clear Facts on the Giant. unknown: http://www.unitedstatesofbaseball.com; 2005 April 7. Last Accessed: August 24, 2006.
[15] Bryant H. Juicing The Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. New York: Penguin Group; 2005. 210.

“To Jim Palmer, the HOF Baltimore pitcher, the zone deserved more discussion than it received…the loss of the high strike contributed to skyrocketing offense as much as drug use or anything else…the beauty of the ‘old’ strike zone, thought Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, was that there were pitches that were called strikes that could not be hit…since 1968, when Bob Gibson dominated the game, umpires had been systemically reinterpreting the strike zone on their own.”
Due to this, QuesTec, installed by new umpiring head Ralph Nelson into the game, was used to monitor (and evaluate) umpires calls behind the plate, starting in 2001. The technology was unreliable, by most reports – but has continued to be used in baseball parks. “Robert Adair were not completely dismissive of QuesTec, nor did Adair absolve the umpires. His conclusion was simply that the technology was not quite ready to be an evaluating tool.”[1]

4) Baseball Changes – “In May 2000 Bud Selig sent Sandy Alderson (former Oakland A’s executive until 1999) to Costa Rica to investigate the baseball. Alderson left the Rawlings factory in Turrialba convinced that the ball was unchanged from the previous season. Still, Alderson believed the trip was in part fruitless; there were too many variables involved – from the actual cowhide which may have varied from year to year, to the personnel – to make an accurate assessment…pitchers and hitters alike, remained convinced the ball was tighter…The ball was too smooth, (David) Wells thought, estimating that only one and ten balls he used during a game had seams raised high enough for him…to give the ball some action….Ken Macha, the manager of the Oakland A’s who had a collection of 1987 balls in his garage from his days as an Expos coach, was convinced that no part of the game had been juiced like the ball itself. ”[2]
In early 2007, a report was released on the usage of a CT scan done by Universal Medical Systems, Inc., supplier of open-sided MRI and CT scan equipment for more than 20 years, that reflects that Mark McGwire 70th home run hit had a synthetic rubber ring around the “pill” of the ball, against the MLB specifications. The following is a long excerpt of that article:
“Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball from his record-breaking 1998 season contains a synthetic rubber ring or spring (“the ring”) — a material not outlined in official Major League Baseball (“the League”) specifications. The ring and enlarged rubberized core of the baseball are clearly visualized in a computed tomography (CT) scan of the baseball…
UMS, with assistance from Dr. Avrami S. Grader and Dr. Philip M. Halleck from The Center for Quantitative Imaging at Penn State University, utilized a CT scanner to study additional League baseballs from 1998 and found the baseballs have significantly enlarged cores in a variety of shapes and sizes.
The League Specifications vs. McGwire’s 70th Home Run Ball According to the League’s specifications, “the pill of the baseball shall consist of a compressed cork sphere surrounded by one layer of black rubber and one layer of red rubber.” The League does not specify a synthetic rubber ring or any additional material.
‘Examining the CT images of Mark McGwire’s 70th home run ball one can clearly see the synthetic ring around the core — or ‘pill’ — of the baseball,’ states David Zavagno, president of Universal Medical Systems. ‘While Mark McGuire may or may not have used illegal steroids, the evidence shows his ball — under the governing body of the League — was juiced.’
In 2000, in response to concerns about an altered ball contributing to increased home runs, the League commissioned and paid [along with Rawlings, $400,000 in 1998 to the Center][3] for a study from the UMass-Lowell Baseball Research Center. The report found no change in the ball. However, photos within the report show the synthetic rubber ring and identify numerous other problems.
The league publicly announced the baseball was not a cause of increased home runs. However, the historical words “cushioned cork center” were later removed from baseballs. In addition, computerized strike checkers were installed in the League’s parks to expand the strike zone, and the League worked towards establishing drug testing standards. In fact, Commissioner Bud Selig named former Senator George Mitchell to lead an investigation into the use of illegal steroids by baseball players. Another interesting action, the Colorado Rockies utilized a humidor for their balls. ‘The League is as guilty as the individual players,’ says Zavagno. ‘Its desire to protect the image of the game, while recording huge revenues and setting new performance records, allowed scandalous problems to escalate. Only after Congress stepped in on the steroid problem did the League begrudgingly act. Now it may take similar scrutiny for the League to admit the modern-day baseball does not conform to its own specifications. Because of the scandals — baseball material alterations, lax rule enforcement and rampant use of steroids — the Hall of Fame voting process could be tainted for decades. Hall of Fame voters need to understand many historical statistical comparisons are no longer relevant.'”[4]
[1] Bryant H. Juicing The Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. New York: Penguin Group; 2005. 234.
[2] Bryant H. Juicing The Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. New York: Penguin Group; 2005. 211-12.
[3] University of Massachusetts Baseball Research Center Website. Last Accessed: January 4, 2007.
[4] Zavagno David. McGwire’s 70th Home Run Ball Juiced, CT Scan Finds. Cleveland, OH: PR Newswire Association, LLC.; January 3, 2007.

Besides the revelation of a ‘rubber ring’ around the inside of the cushioned cork center area, the fact MLB paid a engineering research firm (initially $400,000) to conclude a result it desperately wants, that the ball has not been affected, is additionally suspicious. The existence of this manipulation should warrant a more thorough investigation, preferably from outside the MLB circles.
In addition to those thoughts, a telling assertion: “Sandy Alderson and Bill James had something else in common: Neither tended to think steroids were the primary reason for the explosion in offense.”[1] Bill James. At the very least, he is considered somewhat objective in his analysis of the sport – not tied financially to the ‘old school’ of baseball – that has to been seen as contrary to what should have been in the cases regarding African Americans up to the Reserve Clause. As Jeff Passan recently opined: “ No matter what someone thinks of statistics and their place in baseball, James’ influence is undeniable…James is the godfather of sabermetrics – he coined the term – and author of the groundbreaking Baseball Abstract books. “Moneyball” does not exist without him. Neither does Baseball Prospectus…that help accent traditional analysis with concrete data.”[2]
[1] Bryant H. Juicing The Game: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. New York: Penguin Group; 2005. 249.
[2] Passan J. Re-examining the Hall. Cooperstown, New York: Yahoo! Sports: 2006 July 30. http://www.yahoosports.com Last Accessed: August 8, 2006.