Browsing All Posts filed under »baseball«

Luck don’t come easy

October 31, 2011

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This blog has been dormant so long it missed an entire baseball season. There are no doubt plenty of thorough accounts of that season; but a very short post-World Series blog post in the New Yorker by Roger Angell captures a lot of what’s great and weird about every baseball season. Thrilling but, in a […]

What’s in it for the paying spectator?

March 9, 2011

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I’m guessing, conservatively, that 98% of the sporting events I’ve watched in my lifetime have been on TV. And I’m guessing that this fact does not make me stand out among sports fans. Properly speaking, I am a big fan of sports-on-TV, not of sports as such. And sure, I have always enjoyed playing sports; but […]

GQ’s 25 Coolest Athletes of All Time. Pretty cool.

February 4, 2011

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Tip of the hat to GQ‘s (US Edition) February feature for its feature on the “25 Coolest Athlete of All Time.” Most of their picks are actually pretty cool, and in mostly an old-school, cool-jazz-era sense of cool. (The magazine admits that “all time” begins when GQ itself began, in 1957. But that’s also, more […]

Should we all root for the Washington Generals?

September 23, 2010

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US Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito visited the Law School at my university last week, and worked in a curious sports reference for those interested in reading the tea leaves of his moral psychology. We all want to know how those on the bench decide cases when the law itself is unclear and they have […]

More on Blown Calls: which sport is worse?

August 17, 2010

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Here are a couple of quick addenda to the last post on the different types of challenges that officials face in different sports, and how this should affect decisions about introducing technology (or expanding its use) to overcome the “human error factor” in officiating. First, I want to point to the articles that prompted me, even […]

Blown Calls: How distracting is the human element in sports officiating?

August 17, 2010

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We can learn a lot about how sports differ from each other by focusing on the role of the officials — referees, umpires, linesmen, judges, timekeepers, and of course video-replay officials. Some sports involve officials being asked to make very “objective” clear-cut (if often difficult) calls: was serve on the line? who crossed the finish […]

Soccer vs American Sports, Part 3: Going with the flow

July 20, 2010

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Dazzling offensive plays are the pop music of sports. Like catchy tunes, they are hard not to love. Even more, they are like the vocals and the melody of pop-music hooks. (You can sing these yourself in the shower or on the school bus, without realizing that the song was a hit because of the […]

Soccer vs American Sports, Part 2: In praise of defense

July 15, 2010

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In Part 1 of this little series, I argued — well, asserted — that an appreciation of the individual and team defensive plays and strategies is an essential component of sports connoisseurship. As a corollary, a sport in which defense is either non-existent (say, bowling, golf, or most track-and-field events, for all intents and purposes), […]

The players like it imperfect

June 15, 2010

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Here’s a quick follow-up to the Imperfect Game controversy I followed over far too many posts, starting here. ESPN The Magazine conducted a (let us say, rather unscientific) poll of 100 major-league baseball players about their views on the umpires and the use of replay. The brief survey revealed three interesting results: 1. Despite the […]

“Perfectly unfair”

June 10, 2010

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A five-part series of posts on what we learn from a bad call in a regular-season baseball game is more than enough. There will be no Part 6. But I can’t help adding a shout-out to a terrific little column by Robert Wright in The New York Times which I discovered too late. For Wright, […]

The imperfect game, Part 5 of 5: The irrational quest to tame chance

June 10, 2010

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Are the businessmen in charge of baseball trying to manage their precarious pre-modern brand by preserving its quaintest features? Or is there a recognition by the high-priests in charge that we have to reconcile ourselves with the essential element of luck and chance that is shot through the game of baseball. Those who passionately want […]

The imperfect game, Part 4: Do umps really need to be part of the game?

June 10, 2010

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The Imperfect Game debate has revived a long-standing debate about how to treat umpires and their fallibility as “part of the game.” Everything we know about human perception and cognitive psychology informs us that umpires will  blow calls. Most of the blowable calls, including Joyce’s call last week, involve “judgments” that have to be made […]

The imperfect game, Part 3: The end-game bias

June 10, 2010

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It is significant that the perfect game was denied at the point of the last out. If the incident had happened in the 4th inning and Galarraga had gone on to pitch a one-hit complete game would anything like the same controversy have ensued? (That was a rhetorical question.) There is a pervasive, but surely […]

The imperfect game, Part 2: The paradox of changing the rules to award the perfect game

June 10, 2010

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The passionate debate shows how much we all interpret baseball players as competing against all of their baseball ancestors as much as they are against their rivals this season. The blown call made absolutely no difference to the result — that is, to the result of a relatively meaningless game in the midst of a […]

The imperfect game. In our imperfect world. Part 1

June 10, 2010

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Writing and traveling for my day job have distracted me from the blog for a busy three weeks in the sporting world. And in particular, other deadlines and a trip abroad kept me from weighing in on The Imperfect Game: when Armando Galarraga earned the 27th consecutive out, but was denied his perfect game when […]

Life imitates sport…and gets life: three strikes and you’re really out

May 24, 2010

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One of the themes of this blog is that sports are a lot like life. Or more specifically, the way we engage with sports tells us a lot about how we engage with other parts of our social and political lives. But sometimes these other parts of life seem to draw from our sporting culture. […]

Ernie Harwell, legendary baseball broadcaster dead at 92

May 4, 2010

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One of the last of the legendary (and I think that word is appropriate here) baseball broadcasters dies last night after a year-long bout with cancer. He is most famous for covering Tigers’ games, from the late 1950s until 2002; but he already had a decade of big-league broadcasting under his belt before he arrived […]