November 26, 2019
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller banter about Charlie Finley’s dual “innovations,” Harvey and Little Blowhard, then answer listener emails about Chris Davis and why some veteran players may be unwilling to change, whether Gerrit Cole could regress away from Houston, the purpose of punishing the Astros for sign-stealing and how many years of draft picks a team would give up in exchange for a championship, and whether baseball players will ever take in-season vacations, plus Stat Blasts about players with more hit by pitches than walks and the Mariners’ record lack of intentional walks drawn.
- Chris Davis' reluctance to change his swing
- Avoiding free agents because of player development concerns
- Players with more HBP than walks
- Teams with the fewest IBB in a season
- How many drafts would you sacrifice for a World Series?
- What if a team could guarantee themselves a World Series?
- How to suitably punish the Astros
- Does it matter if MLB vacates a World Series?
- MLB players taking in-season vacations
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Blow Hard"
The Microphones, "I Want Wind to Blow"
- Ben and Sam are recording right after finishing Episode 1461.
- Episode 1454 follow-up: Listener Connor wrote in about two innovations that Athletics owner Charlie Finley tried in the early 1960s. Finley installed a fan system that was called 'Little Blowhard' that would blow dirt off the plate. He also implemented a mechanical rabbit called 'Little Harvey' that would deliver new baseballs to the home plate umpire.
- In Kansas City Finley also had the 'K.C. Pennant Porch' installed that brought the right field fence in to 296 feet, the same length as the fence at Yankee Stadium. A new MLB rule passed shortly after forced the fences to move back.
- Other innovations that Finley championed for or tried was to have playoff night games, let players be free agents every season, and use orange baseballs.
Email Questions Edit
- Dan: "I am reading Justin Klugh's piece on FanGraphs about Chris Davis and his struggles since 2013. I found this quote by Davis extremely fascinating, where he essentially says he won't be working on changing his swing despite his well-documented struggles.With the vast number of examples available of players who, at various points in their careers have had success with adjusting their swings, what factors do you think play into a player not changing his swing? Do you think previous success at the Major League level makes guys like Davis think that there's an outside factor not related to their swing that has led to their struggles, despite someone like Hunter Pence completely changing his swing and approach at the plate heading into his age 36 season?"
- Kevin: "A big part of Gerrit Cole's story is that the Astros unlocked his full potential due to their cutting edge player development techniques. I'm wondering if this affects his free agency. Are there teams that lack confidence in their PD and coaching and might think the massive investment in Cole won't be worth it for them? Or, can they bank on the fact that Cole learned so much from the Astros that he won't regress and his experience will only help their organization?"
- Andrew: "In thinking about possible punishments for the Astros if they're found to be guilty of what it seems they're guilty of, a common theme seems to be that they'll lose draft picks. But if you told them in 2017, that they could trade right then, whatever draft pick punishment will be coming their way in exchange for the World Series - wouldn't they take that in a heartbeat? Which leads to the question...how many draft picks - or drafts - would you willingly give up to guarantee yourself the 2020 World Series Championship? If you could make a secret deal with the devil (or Rob Manfred) and give up your entire 2020 draft...no picks at all, but lock in the championship...wouldn't you do it? Would you give up 2020 and 2021 to guarantee the 2020 world series? How many entire drafts would you give up to guarantee one championship? There has to be a line somewhere...i think it's more than 2 but less than 6."
- Max (San Francisco, CA): "Ben's vacation got me thinking: what if players and coaches were allowed to take vacations during the season the way people in other jobs can take PTO. Granted, the season is only 7-8 months (counting Spring Training/Playoffs), but let's say a team thought that a player would benefit from a week away from the team, snorkeling with family and lounging by the beach would be healthier/happier/more productive in the long-run and wanted to offer this benefit to players/coaches Would players/coaches take them up on their offer or would the fear of bad optics/fear of losing their spot/fear of falling out of sync/shaming from teammates prevent this from actually happening? Would it be something only veteran/establish players would accept? Would this be something that would be negotiated by free agents?"
Stat Blast Edit
- Sam reexamines a Stat Blast that Jeff did in Episode 1299 that looked at players who had more HBP than walks.
- Whitey Alpermann had 39 HBP and drew just 30 walks in his career (1,758 PAs).
- Sam thinks Tim Locastro might be able to break the record. Locastro has 23 HBP and 16 walks.
- Locastro is the 28th player in MLB history to be HBP 3 times in one game.
- During the season the Mariners as a team only drew 7 IBB. Sam examines the situation around each one and finds that only one time did they make the other team pay for the walk (convert the walk into a run).
- When discussing Chris Davis' reluctance to change his swing, Sam notes that a factor could be how far away Davis thinks he is from being good again. If Davis feels he is close, he won't want to make a dramatic change in patterns he has had for a lifetime.
- Sam gives the wrong first name for a player, and Ben corrects him. Sam goes off on a digression about how it bugs him that broadcasters never correct each other, but now he realizes that the other broadcaster is too busy thinking about what to say next. It's so stressful, he says, "I lose four pounds every time we do a podcast."
- Ben struggles to come up with a way that MLB could punish Astros players or the team in order to make winning the World Series not worth the cheating scandal.
- Sam is skeptical that vacating a World Series win would have any impact. He feels that taking away the MLB stamp doesn't really get rid of the fact that the Astros players and fans know they won those games.
- The measure that would need to be taken to completely prevent sign stealing would make the game "visually intolerable" as Sam puts it.
- Effectively Wild Episode 1462: Bring Back Little Blowhard
- Charlie Finley and Bugs Bunny in K.C. by Rex Lardner
- MLB experiments with Charlie Finley's orange baseballs by Vince Guerrieri
- Photo of the K.C. Pennant Porch
- Davis eyes 2019 as season of redemption by Joe Trezza
- Orioles' Chris Davis carrying confidence early in offseason by Nathan Ruiz
- Analytics explained Trumbo's '16 breakout with Orioles. If another follows, they won't be why by Jon Meoli