At the end of the piece I examine the expected regression to the mean of the 23 teams who improved by at least 26 points from Year 0 to Year 1 and played full schedules in Year 2 (i.e., no strikes, or at least none longer than the 1972 one). Eighteen of the 23 teams declined, and two more were within a point of doing so; the average decline from Year 1 to Year 2 was 10 points. Even so, only one of those teams actually lost ground from Year 0 to Year 2, and the average gain across that two-year stretch was 19 points — a mark we can expect the Rangers to better in 2010 given the return of Elvis.Team 2009 2008 +/- Reds .705 .673 .032 Rangers .701 .670 .031 Mariners .712 .682 .030 Dodgers .714 .691 .023 Giants .705 .685 .020 Yankees .699 .682 .017 Pirates .691 .675 .016 Rockies .690 .678 .012 Tigers .696 .685 .011 Twins .692 .687 .005While that 31-point improvement doesn't top the record-setting 54-point improvement achieved by last year's Rays, it would tie for the eighth-largest year-to-year increase in the Retrosheet era (since 1954), a tidy accomplishment. The improvement isn't solely due to [Elvis] Andrus, who ranks fourth among major league shortstops in Fielding Runs Above Average (+13) and Plus-Minus (+11 runs), and second in UZR (+10.1). Ian Kinsler (+16 FRAA/+7.5 UZR/+16 Plus-Minus) outdoes Andrus by some metrics, and right fielder Nelson Cruz's numbers are particularly off the charts in both FRAA (+21) and UZR (+13), though they weigh in more conservatively at +7 in Plus-Minus. While the magnitude of his contribution may be in doubt, there's no question that Cruz deserves at least some of the credit for the fact that the team ranks sixth in slugging percentage in balls in play after ranking last in 2008, as Matt Swartz noted last week.
...Also particularly notable among the improved defenses are the playoff-bound Dodgers and Yankees. Rafael Furcal's return to regular duty, the upgrade from Jeff Kent to Orlando Hudson, and a surprisingly strong season with the leather from Casey Blake have made the difference for the former, particularly in helping Randy Wolf place 11th in the league in SNLVAR via a league-low .254 BABIP. As for the Yanks, they owe their improvement to the arrivals of Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher, the departures of Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu, the increased presence of both Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera, and a surprisingly strong season from Derek Jeter. Their Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (-0.14) shows that they're basically an average unit at best.
Which puts them ahead of their AL East rivals; indeed the division seems to be leaking defense, given that the Rays, Red Sox and Blue Jays all rank among the six teams with the largest declines from last year. In Toronto, center fielder Vernon Wells is as much of a drag in the field (-6 FRAA/-18.3 UZR/-17 Plus-Minus) as he is on the payroll. In Tampa Bay, the Rays have dropped back to the middle of the pack after last year's turnaround; the various fielding systems differ as to where the responsibility for that lies, with Jason Bartlett, Carlos Peña and B.J. Upton each showing up as solidly below average in two of the three major ones.
Because they'll have to live with their defense beyond this weekend, it's the Red Sox who are of the most interest from among this group. Shortstop has been the team's Achilles heel; in the absence of Jed Lowrie, they've gotten below-average work from Nick Green, Julio Lugo, and Alex Gonzalez. The team's BABIP since acquiring the supposedly slick-fielding Gonzalez in mid-August has risen from .314 to .325, and that's with the departures of John Smoltz and Brad Penny, who were doing little more than tossing BP while in a Boston uniform. Mike Lowell hasn't been the same since hip surgery, declining by 27 runs according to FRAA, 21.6 according to UZR, and 22 according to Plus-Minus. The outfield's been a problem as well, with Jacoby Ellsbury falling off a whopping 38 runs according to FRAA, 18.6 runs according to UZR, and 14 according to Plus-Minus. Don't even ask about the catching situation, which doesn't figure into Defensive Efficiency but which rates as a major concern given their upcoming first-round matchup with the fleet-footed Angels.
Labels: Hit and Run
Meanwhile, there's also potential history being made at the other, less happy end of the Pythagorean spectrum. Since 1901, twenty-five teams have finished at least 10 games below their third-order Pythagenpat projection. Only twice have two teams done so within the same year, first time in 1912 (when both the Brooklyn Dodgers and Boston Braves achieved ignominy), and then again in 1993 (when the Mets and Padres did it). This year, no less than four teams are threatening to join those ranks, including two from the same division:If the Rays join the club, they'll be the first team with a record above .500 to do so. At this writing, they're now 9.5 games below expectation. The Angels, alas, have fallen back to 8.6 wins above expectation, though they can still make history as the first team to finish above 8.0 three years in a row even if they don't finish above 10.0 for the second straight year.Rnk Year Team W-L Pct R RA AEQR AEQRA D3 1 1993 Mets 59-103 .364 672 744 672 736 -15.1 2 1935 Braves 38-115 .248 575 852 593 835 -14.6 3 1986 Pirates 64-98 .395 663 700 666 697 -13.6 4 2009 Nationals 51-99 .340 661 825 664 773 -13.2 5 1946 A's 49-105 .318 529 680 529 662 -12.8 6 1905 Browns 54-99 .353 512 608 521 601 -12.7 7 1937 Reds 56-98 .364 612 706 620 700 -12.4 8 1939 Browns 43-111 .279 733 1035 752 1003 -12.2 9 1962 Mets 40-120 .250 617 948 631 924 -12.1 10 1917 Pirates 51-103 .331 464 595 468 579 -11.9 11t 1975 Astros 64-97 .398 664 711 668 711 -11.8 11t 1984 Pirates 75-87 .463 615 567 612 564 -11.8 13 2001 Rockies 73-89 .451 923 906 910 870 -11.5 14 1993 Padres 61-101 .377 679 772 681 764 -11.4 15 2009 Blue Jays 68-83 .450 727 719 745 714 -11.3 16t 1924 Cardinals 65-89 .422 740 750 745 752 -11.1 16t 1961 Phillies 47-107 .305 584 796 599 782 -11.1 18 1907 Reds 66-87 .431 526 519 527 522 -11.0 19 1967 Orioles 76-85 .472 654 592 657 602 -11.0 20 1936 Phillies 54-100 .351 726 874 739 869 -10.9 21 2006 Indians 78-84 .481 870 782 882 800 -10.7 22t 1912 Dodgers 58-95 .379 651 744 665 742 -10.4 22t 1952 Tigers 50-104 .325 557 738 563 716 -10.4 23 2009 D'backs 66-86 .434 678 735 693 690 -10.3 24 1919 Senators 56-84 .400 533 570 533 565 -10.2 25t 1912 Braves 52-101 .340 693 871 705 857 -10.1 25t 1928 Phillies 43-109 .283 660 957 682 936 -10.1 25t 1972 Giants 69-86 .445 662 649 662 648 -10.1 30t 2009 Rays 77-74 .510 748 691 774 662 -9.6Recall that the overachievers list skews towards recent history, with the Wild Card era producing eight of the 21 teams who have finished at least 10 games above their expected records. This one, on the other hand, tilts heavily towards the pre-World War II era, producing 12 of the 25 who've finished at least 10 games below their expected records. Not counting this year's bountiful class, just two of the top underachievers are from the Wild Card era.
The main reason for that, I suspect, has to do with bullpen usage. As noted last year and again in last week's piece, a strong bullpen is a consistent means of such overachievement; the historical correlation between a team's cumulative WXRL and its D3 is .42, whereas it's just .20 for SNLVAR. It makes some amount of sense that the current era might produce more overachievers and fewer underachievers because of the fact that WXRL rates and Leverage scores have been on the rise historically, as bullpens have assumed a higher percentage of innings and increased specialization has tailored more specific roles than 20 or 30 years ago...
Note that Bruce Sutter's advent as the modern closer marks something of a turning point [in the graph]. WXRL rates rose above 0.1 per nine innings only four times from 1954 through 1979. By that point, Cubs manager Herman Franks had begun his attempt to limit Sutter's deployment to close games in which the Cubs had a lead—save situations, in other words. The strategy began to take hold, and the only time WXRL rates have been below 0.1 per nine innings since was in the 1981 strike year. They're now about 40 percent higher than they were 30 years ago.
[#1 Dodgers] R&R: The Dodgers haven't quite clinched a playoff berth, but they're an eyelash away. Ronnie Belliard helps push them closer with his grand slam off Brad Penny, his second homer in as many starts. Belliard's .333/.382/.619 showing since his August 30 acquisition is hot enough that Joe Torre is surprisingly noncommittal about whether slumping Orlando Hudson (.233/.313/.302 in September, and now earning an additional $10,000 for every plate appearance) is still the starting second baseman. Meanwhile, Rafael Furcal may finally be shaking his season-long funk, hitting .471/.538/.824 over the last eight games, compared to .256/.321/.352 prior.Time will tell, of course, whether Buchholz's handling and heavy 2009 workload was detrimental to his career, or Chamberlain's handling was beneficial to his, and it's fair to note that the Laptop Thief is a year older — and further removed from what we at BP refer to as the injury nexus — than Joba, but right now, the Red Sox look to have a clear leg up on the manner in which they've handled things.
[#2 Yankees] The Yankees clinch a postseason berth while taking a series in Anaheim, their first since 2004. As their focus shifts to October, there's plenty of concern about their rotation, particularly Joba Chamberlain, whose latest bombing pushes his ERA to 8.25 since the beginning of August and threatens his roster spot. It also leaves Chad Gaudin as the potential number four starter behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. Gaudin's .496 SNWP and 3.33 ERA in five starts with the Yanks are respectable, but if he's so great, why waste so much time on Sergio Mitre?
[#3 Red Sox] Young Buchh: Tim Wakefield continues to struggle with his pitching and his health but Clay Buchholz is stepping up just in time. His 6.2 scoreless innings against the Royals marks his ninth quality start out of 10, a span during which he's posted a 2.37 ERA and allowed just four homers in 64.2 innings. If there's concern to be had, it's that Buccholz has now pitched 183 innings between the minors and majors this year, up from 134.2 last year—well beyond the so-called "Rule of 30" increase, but aesthetically speaking, miles beyond the Joba Rules.
Now … there just isn’t a lot good to say about a post that would compare Zack Greinke to Roger Moret. I mean, to me this is like watching the young Dwight Gooden and saying he reminds you a bit of Bruce Kison. It is true, yes, that both Moret and Greinke are carbon-based life forms who at one time made money by pitching baseballs.Go read.
...I do think we’ll have to start a series called "Jim Rice scouting reports." Our first installment:Albert Pujols didn’t really impress me last night. Yes he went 2-for-4 and maybe I caught him on a bad night, but he didn’t hit a single home run. He may have the most home runs in the league but he doesn’t strike me as a home run hitter. Don’t get me wrong, he hit two doubles, and those were fine, but he’s not the home run hitter that Willie Mays was or Babe Ruth or Josh Gibson, if you believe what people say.
He reminds me of a right-handed Lloyd Moseby. He has that solid stance and doubles-power swing.
Despite reaching the postseason last year for the first time since 1982, PECOTA pegged them for an 83-79 season, with an 18.5 percent chance at winning the division and a 10 percent shot at the NL Wild Card. Interestingly enough, even given the free-agency departures of [CC] Sabathia and [Ben] Sheets, the team projected to be stronger on the run prevention side (sixth in the league) than on the scoring side (ninth), a counterintuitive forecast given the fact that six of the lineup's eight projected regulars are between the ages of 25 and 29 — or in their statistical prime as far as their expected production. Fielder and Ryan Braun have certainly lived up to expectations, ranking third and eighth in the league in EqA, respectively. Although Rickie Weeks suffered a season-ending injury in May, and J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart, and Bill Hall all disappointed, the team got solid enough work from the likes of Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Casey McGehee, and Felipe Lopez that they actually rank third in the league in team EqA. On the other hand, the rotation has been an utter disaster.As for the Indians...
Key stat: 5.59
That's the ERA of all of the Brewers' starting pitchers aside from Gallardo, whose 3.84 mark is the only one that's better than the park-adjusted league average. Braden Looper (4.77) has eaten innings but done little else worthy of note. Jeff Suppan (4.87) and David Bush (5.85, including 8.24 since the end of May) have combined injury and ineffectiveness, while Manny Parra (6.42) has been dreadful. Fill-ins Carlos Villanueva, Seth McClung, and Mike Burns combined for a 7.25 ERA as starters, not only revealing the organization's sheer lack of rotation depth, but also compromising their bullpen depth via their absence from the relief corps (in the cases of the first two) and their short starts. As a unit, the Brewers rank 15th in the league in Support-Neutral Winning Percentage (.444), and dead last in rotation ERA (5.19).
The fault here lies with Melvin for his failure to replace Sabathia and Sheets with anything approaching adequacy. Getting a full season out of Gallardo, who was limited to just four starts in 2008 due to a torn ACL, was enough to partially offset those front-end losses from the rotation, but when it came time to open the wallet last winter, the best the Brewers could do was to sign Looper to a one-year, $4.75 million deal with incentives and an option. The bigger problem, of course, is the four-year, $42 million deal they're still paying to Suppan, who's rewarded the Brewers with a Looper-like 4.80 ERA through 91 starts thus far. Freed of that obligation, they might have been able to afford another midrotation starter who could have helped keep them afloat
Key Stat: 5.75Definitely a pair of disappointments, though I'm more optimistic about the Brewers' chances of rebounding than I am of the Indians, who appear headed for a very lean year, with or without the braintrust that got them into this mess.
That's the ERA of the starting pitchers aside from [Cliff] Lee, who was traded to the Phillies on July 29. The only starter besides Lee with at least 10 starts and an ERA below 4.92 is Aaron Laffey, for whom the team didn't even have space in the rotation until the season was already going down in flames. Laffey's also the only starter this side of Lee with a Support-Neutral Winning Percentage above .500. For all of the bullpen's woes, the starters simply didn't give the Indians a chance to win; aside from Lee, their combined SNWP is just .431.
In retrospect, it's clear that the cast that GM Mark Shapiro assembled behind Lee offered too much risk. Shapiro's plan hinged on rebounds from mostly-lost 2008 seasons by Carl Pavano, Anthony Reyes, and [Fausto] Carmona — with a comeback from Tommy John surgery by Jake Westbrook supposed to provide a mid-season lift. None of those pitchers miss many bats, so it's not terribly surprising that the Tribe staff is last in the league in strikeouts. Pavano was erratic and homer-prone; the team eventually dealt him to the Twins in early August. Reyes made just eight starts before needing TJ surgery. Carmona put up a 7.42 ERA through 12 starts before being sent all the way down to A-ball to iron out the mechanical problems which first took hold last year. Despite an initially promising return, he's been pummeled for a 10.72 ERA over his last five starts. To that unhappy brew, add a parade of lefties (Zach Jackson, Jeremy Sowers, David Huff) each more hittable than the last, and rough introductions for a couple of mid-season acquisitions (Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco), and you've got a rotation whose ERA bests only Baltimore's, but without the high-upside prospects which mitigate the Orioles' showing.
[#1 Yankees] Big Man: As the Yankees close in on 100 wins, lost amid A.J. Burnett's meltdowns, Andy Pettitte's fatigued shoulder and the never-ending drama that is the Joba Rules is the performance of CC Sabathia. He leads the league in wins (17), is second in innings (213 1/3) and ranks among the top 10 in SNLVAR, ERA and strikeouts. The Yankees have won 11 of his last 12 starts, a span over which he's put up a 2.75 ERA.Tough to believe I've got only two more of these to do this season. Where does the time go?
[#2 Dodgers] Coming Back: After seeing their division lead dwindle to two games while their rotation takes turns foregoing Clayton Kershaw, Randy Wolf, and now Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers fall back on strong performances by Hiroki Kuroda, Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland to beat up on the Giants and Pirates and restore their NL West lead. Andre Ethier homers on back-to-back nights against the Bucs, the latter a 13th-inning game-winner which marks his sixth walkoff hit of the year. In doing so, he becomes the first Dodger to reach the 30-homer plateau since Adrian Beltre in 2004.
[#3 Red Sox] Dice Is Nice: Daisuke Matsuzaka throws six shutout innings against the Angels in his first big-league appearance in nearly three months. Though his ERA still stands at 7.05, Matsuzaka's return is well-timed given the potential diceyness of the team's current rotation situation. Elsewhere amid a seven-game winning streak, Jon Lester tosses eight shutout innings against the Rays two days after a rocky 23-pitch stint is washed away by the rain. He's riding a 17-inning scoreless streak and has allowed just 11 runs over his last eight starts, and now ranks third in the league in strikeouts (211), fifth in SNLVAR (5.9) and sixth in ERA (3.29).
Satchel knew that, despite being the fastest, winningest pitcher alive, being black meant he never would get the attention he deserved. That was easy to see in the backwaters of the Negro Leagues but it remained true when he hit the Majors at age forty-two, with accusations flying that his signing was a mere stunt. He needed an edge, a bit of mystery, to romance sportswriters and fans. Longevity offered the perfect platform. "They want me to be old," Satchel said, "so I give 'em what they want. Seems they get a bigger kick out of an old man throwing strikeouts." He feigned exasperation when reporters pressed to know the secret of his birth, insisting, "I want to be the onliest man in the United States that nobody knows nothin' about." In fact he wanted just the opposite: Satchel masterfully exploited his lost birthday to ensure the world would remember his long life.While Tye digs deep — the book's bibliography and end notes are both at least 35 pages long, and he interviewed more than 200 Negro League and major league opponents and teammates — and lays waste to some of the tall tales surrounding Paige, what emerges is an altogether more nuanced and ultimately more compelling version of the ageless pitcher. Some of Paige's embellishments, such as his account of his pitching the championship finale for Dragones de Ciudad Trujillo in the Dominican Republic in 1937, don't stand up to the light of day. Others, such as the masterful control which allowed him to throw the ball over a chewing gum wrapper with amazing consistency or his brazen penchant for calling in his outfielders and then getting the crucial strikeout(s), he finds well-documented.
It was not a random image Satchel crafted for himself but one he knew played perfectly into perceptions whites had back then of blacks. It was a persona of agelessness and fecklessness, one where a family's entire history could be written into a faded bible and a goat could devour both. The black man in the era of Jim Crow was not expected to have human proportions at all, certainly none worth documenting in public records or engraving for posterity. He was a phantom, without the dignity of a real name (hence the nickname Satchel), a rational mother (Satchel's mother was so confused she supposedly mixed him up with his brother), or an age certain ("Nobody knows how complicated I am," he once said. "All they want to know is how old I am."). That is precisely the image that nervous white owners relished when they signed the first black ballplayers. Few inquired where the pioneers came from or wanted to hear about their struggles. In these athletes' very anonymity lay their value.
Playing to social stereotypes the way he did with his age is just half the story of Satchel Paige, although it is the half most told. While many dismissed him as a Stepin Fetchit if not an Uncle Tom, this book makes clear that he was something else entirely – a quiet subversive, defying Uncle Tom and Jim Crow. Told all his life that black lives matter less than white ones, he teased journalists by adding or subtracting years each time they asked his age, then asking them, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" Relegated by statute and custom to the shadows of the Negro Leagues, he fed Uncle Sam shadowy information on his provenance. Yet growing up in the Deep South he knew better than to flaunt the rules openly, so he did it opaquely. He made his relationships with the press and the public into a game, using insubordination and indirection to challenge his segregated surroundings.
According to our Adjusted Standings page, through Sunday the Angels were 11.5 games above their third-order Pythagenpat projection, a fancy way of saying that they've won over 11 games more than the combination of events on the field — their hits, walks, total bases, stolen bases, and outs of all kinds, as well as those of their opponents, all adjusted for park, league, quality of competition and temperature of porridge — would suggest. That's by far the top mark in the majors this year, and while it's not enough to break the single-season record of 16.0, set by last year's Angels, it does crack the all-time top 10, and place them in select company:From there, the discussion turns to some of the generalities of overperforming one's projected record:Rnk Year Team W-L Pct R RA AEQR AEQRA D3Projected across a 162-game schedule, the Angels' current performance is the equivalent of outdoing their third-order projection by 13.1 games, which would rank second on this list. However, it's a misnomer to say they're actually "on pace" for such a finish, since teams that are outperforming their Pythagorean records by wide margins in either direction tend to regress to the mean. Case in point, they lost on Monday night to reduce their D3 (the difference between their third-order wins and actual wins) to 10.9.
1 2008 Angels 100-62 .617 765 697 754 725 16.0
2 2004 Yankees 101-61 .623 897 808 911 831 12.7
3 1970 Reds 102-60 .630 775 681 757 676 12.6
4 2007 D'backs 90-72 .556 712 732 708 739 12.2
5T 1954 Dodgers 92-62 .597 778 740 782 749 12.1
5T 2005 White Sox 99-63 .611 741 645 740 684 12.1
7 1905 Tigers 79-74 .516 512 604 524 601 11.9
8T 1924 Dodgers 92-62 .597 717 679 717 684 11.7
8T 2002 Twins 94-67 .584 768 712 759 741 11.7
10 2009 Angels 86-56 .606 786 679 777 739 11.5
Still, making the list is remarkable enough; from among a field of over 2,200 team-seasons dating back to 1901, just one percent of them have turned in a season at least 10 wins above expectation. What's even more remarkable is that this marks the second year in a row that the Angels have exceeded expectations by at least 10 games, and the third year in a row they've done so by at least eight games, both of which are firsts. Only five teams have even managed the latter feat in back-to-back years
We often talk of teams that over- or underperform their projected records as "lucky" or "unlucky," but it's a misnomer to chalk up the entirety of such discrepancies to luck. They generally stem from an irregular distribution of runs, so "randomness" may be a better term. Overachieving teams tend to win most of the close games but get blown out a few times. The 16 teams who exceeded their third-order projections by 10 wins or more while playing in the Retrosheet era (1954 onward) — call them the "Plus Tens" — went a combined 469-281 (.625) in one-run games and 324-170 (.656) in two-run games, but in games decided by six or more runs, they were just 223-259 (.462), a mark that includes the 1954 Indians' 20-5 record in such blowouts. All told, those teams went 1016-710 (.586), right in line with their overall .589 winning percentage, while outscoring their opponents by 125 runs in such extreme games. That's the equivalent of a 95-67 team outscoring their opponents by just 11 runs over the course of a season, about nine percent of the run differential such teams have historically posted.This year's Angels are set to buck that trend given a bullpen that currently ranks sixth in WXRL, though that's the product of a wretched first month, after which they've been the second best bullpen in the league by that measure. Of course, it also helps that the team is second in the league in scoring, and first in OPS with runners in scoring position. They've been clutch on both sides of the ball to the extent that you don't often see. How well that holds up remains to be seen.
...A major factor in outperforming one's projected record is having relatively more success in higher-leverage situations, such as hitting well with runners in scoring position, or being especially stingy in late-game relief. As I noted last year, a strong bullpen is a consistent means of such overachievement; the correlation between a team's cumulative WXRL and its D3 is .42, whereas it's just .20 for SNLVAR. Of the 16 Retrosheet-era teams above, the 1977 Orioles were the only ones who failed to finish in their league's top three in WXRL.
Labels: Hit and Run
To figure out what the strength of the two "teams" are that could produce a result where one won at a .560 clip, we turn to what Bill James called the Log5 method, one I've referenced in my articles on schedule strength and one that Clay Davenport uses — literally millions of times a day — to generate the daily Playoff Odds reports. The formula boils down to WPct = .500 + A - B, where WPct is the observed outcome percentage (.560) and A and B are the two teams. Since we also know that in this case, the winning percentages are complementary (A + B = 1.000), it's simple algebra to determine that a .530 team playing a .470 team would produce that observed .560 winning percentage.There's no shortage of theories as to why the AL enjoys such an advantage, from the DH rule to the evolutionary pressure of keeping up with the AL East arms race to the decrepitude of the NL's worst teams to the notion that the AL somehow enjoys a market size advantage, but that's a topic for another day, and maybe another writer, as I'm mostly interested in the practical applications for this when it comes to strength of schedule and Hit List rankings.
...One revealing aspect about the AL's advantage over the NL is that even the lousier Junior Circuit teams are beating the Senior Circuit ones consistently. Sticking with the last five years of data (including this unfinished season) and splitting each league into upper and lower halves in terms of interleague records — the 35 best (or worst) team-seasons in each half in the AL, 40 in the NL — we find that AL's better half, which won at a .561 clip in those intraleague games, boosted their winning percentage to .610 in interleague games. The lower half, which produced a measly .438 winning percentage in intraleague, kicked NL tail at a .523 clip. The NL's better half posted a .551 winning percentage in intraleague play but just a .447 mark in interleague play, while the lower half dipped from .450 to .421.
This tendency persists if we break the teams into smaller groups. Here it is in quintiles:Group Intra InterGranted, we're not talking about huge sample sizes here (14 seasons apiece in the AL groups, 16 in the NL groups), but… wow. Every NL grouping, from the best 20 percent to the worst, won significantly less than 50 percent of its games against the AL. The top three AL groupings dominated interleague play, and while the fourth AL group won less than half its games, the bottom grouping won at a robust .556 clip, thanks to a couple recent Orioles teams going 11-7, a couple of Royals teams posted winning records (including 13-5 in 2008), and just two of the 14 teams in the group finishing below .500 in interleague play.
AL1 .594 .595
AL2 .550 .627
AL3 .504 .587
AL4 .458 .466
AL5 .392 .556
NL1 .580 .439
NL2 .538 .449
NL3 .503 .461
NL4 .460 .408
NL5 .418 .414
Accompanying the regular renditions of "God Bless America" were heightened security procedures that subjected patrons to no small litany of hassles while doing little to make them more secure. Given the cursory frisking procedures and lack of metal detection capabilities, it would have been possible to gain entry with a 9mm handgun jammed down the back of one's pants and a Bowie knife sheathed in one's sock, but without those, the organization simply inflicted its increasing paranoia and greed upon paying customers. Backpacks and briefcases were immediately banned from the ballpark after September 11, as though any potential ticketholder might be a terrorist smuggling in a tactical nuclear weapon swiped from the imagination of some z-grade thriller. Not even Shea Stadium—located only two miles from LaGuardia Airport—stooped to such extremes. Anyone coming to the park while porting one of the banned bag types—say, from work—was forced to check it for a fee at one of the bars or restaurants across River Avenue. Anyone wishing to schlep a bagful of items into the stadium — say, a scorebook, a jacket, and reading material for the long subway ride home — was forced to place those items in a flimsy, clear plastic grocery-type bag available outside the turnstiles. No other types of bags, such as ones with reinforced handles, were allowed, first for vague "security purposes," and then, once fans began pressing Yankee security to explain these increasingly irrational and seemingly arbitrary requests, "because you're not allowed to bring bags with logos inside." As you may have divined, I had many a terse confrontation over this policy.Thankfully, the ban has finally been lifted and the team's policy has been officially updated, bringing the Yanks into line with the several hundred other professional sporting facilities in the country. This isn't to congratulate the Yankees on finally showing some common sense, but merely one last Bronx cheer for over eight years of idiocy and inconvenience.
Labels: Yankee Stadium
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