Friday, June 30, 2006

Deanna Crashes SABR, Part 1

Well, actually, it's fairly unlikely there'll be a part 2. I'd love to try to see Jim Bouton tomorrow, but honestly, I need to finish stuff up at work before I head off to California for the weekend. Speaking of which, if anyone reading this is an A's fan and is going to be at the Coliseum for either Sunday's or Tuesday's game, drop me a line, I'll come sing you something :)

So, tonight at the Elliott Bay Book Company, they were having "a SABR-related talk and signing". I'm not registered for the SABR convention because I couldn't take the time off from work and wasn't sure I'd get my money's worth out of the registration fee if I just ducked in on my lunch break and such. It's not that I'm not a SABR type at heart. Those of you who were around this blog over the winter will remember my obsession with deconstructing old box scores for debunking the Jack Nabors myth or reevaluating Hugh Mulcahy. It's more that I didn't know anyone else who was going, and a lot of the events look like they're committee meetings for the SABR members anyway.

However, I decided to go to the bookstore event because Jonah Keri's moving away next week, and I wanted to get a chance to say goodbye. Overall, it was pretty cool.

Jonah talked a bit about Baseball Between The Numbers, most of which I was familiar with because we covered that book at May's book club meeting. As usual, he plugged the clever titles of the chapters, including everyone's token favorite "Why doesn't Billy Beane's shit work in the postseason?" which was amended to "Big fat guys who walk won't win you playoffs, dumbass."

Mark Armour and Dave Eskenazi talked about this book they'd done about baseball's history in the Northwest called "Rain Check". It apparently talks about various baseball people and events in the area, and has lots of pictures of old ballparks and whatnot.

Jeff Angus read from his book "Management by Baseball", which is about the parallels between business management and baseball management, I think. In particular, he read a few pages about how awful a manager Maury Wills was. While I have to admit being largely unfamiliar with Jeff Angus, his reading was great, as he sarcastically recounted watching Maury Wills have the lumbering Jeff Burroughs try to steal a base, with the lesson being something like "Managers have to be aware of their employees' skill set and use those to solve the problem, and not try to impose their own skill set on the employee." Angus seems to be the master of the almost-but-not-quite-mixed metaphor, with things like "The idea hit me faster than a Randy Johnson fastball" and such.

Rob Neyer was vaguely plugging his Big Book of Baseball Blunders. I thought it was interesting that his book mostly starts at about 1917, when "the White Sox decided to play this guy Chick Gandil, and look what happened two years later?". He too implied that "I could have written an entire book on how awful a manager Maury Wills was, except I only got three pages."

After the guys finished talking about their books, there was some baseball Q&A about pretty much anything from gentrification and new stadiums, to making home plate wider, to Jeff's theories on which Fortune 500 businessmen could be major league managers, to David Cone's 147-pitch outing in the 1995 ALDS, to more Maury Wills bashing. Pretty much everything was interesting, and most of it was amusing as well.

It was a very interesting group of people assembled there; I always find it amusing to be in a room of people who actually know more random crap about baseball than I do. I think I may have been the only person who wasn't actually part of the SABR convention, though. The room was about 95% male and about 60% bearded. I didn't really recognize anyone there, though I'm sure some of the names would have been familiar if I'd caught them, and I wasn't really sure how to introduce myself to people. I did recognize Aaron Gleeman because of the SI picture, but what on earth would I have said to him? "I love your blog, dude. I'm so sorry about your dog."?

I waited in line for a bit afterwards to get Rob Neyer to sign my copy of the "Big Book of Baseball Lineups". I get up to the table and tell him how much I love his writing, and that "...this book is great! The only problem is, why did you put Von Hayes on not ONE but TWO 'All-Bust' lists?" He cracked up. Then he started saying something about how he wasn't sure where he'd originally gotten the idea Von Hayes was quite so awful, and maybe it was just an impression from all the Philly fans booing him, and hey, don't they boo everything?

So what he ended up writing in my book is: "For Deanna - Just for you, I'll excise any references to 'Five-for-One' in the next edition. Yours, Rob Neyer."

I didn't end up buying the other authors' books, and I didn't have my copy of BBTN with me (having loaned it to a friend who asked me one too many times why Jose Lopez shouldn't be sac bunting), so I just went over to wish Jonah goodbye and good luck, and went home.

I got home pretty much RIGHT as the Mariners game was ending. They won it, 3-2, which gives them a whopping 13-2 record in interleague play, which ties them with the Tigers and the Twins. Only Boston's 14-1 is better. It's still crazy, though. And now we're TWO games over .500. TWO! With Jamie Moyer facing Josh Fogg tomorrow! Rock on!

The Phillies also finally stopped their 7-game losing streak, with Ryan Madson shutting out the Orioles in an almost complete-game win (8.2 IP, 1 BB, 7K). I would like to point out that I am solely responsible for this, as I finally dropped him from my fantasy team roster again. Every time I drop him, he suddenly becomes Supermadson. I'm learning one of the lessons of fantasy baseball: If you love a player, set him free. If he starts kicking ass, he was never yours to begin with.

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