SABR National Convention Report

The following is a SABR Convention report from SABR Hornsby Chapter member Gary McIntosh, who is attending the convention in Washington, D.C.

I sat in on part of the Negro Leagues Committee to hear what they are doing.  Great committee that is very active.  Spent some time talking to Pedro Sierra, a former Negro League player from the Detroit Stars…we spent a chunk of time talking about his relationship with one of my favorites, Orestes Minnie Minoso
Then I listened to the presentation by Lee Lowenfish of Rickey Being Rickey: Branch Rickey’s 1948 Wilberforce Speech at all black Wilberforce Univ in Ohio, in which Rickey lashed out at some of the other owners about things that were happening after he had brought in Jackie Robinson.  It was a good history lesson in how things transpired from the owners vs the writers of the times.
Then we had a 90 minute panel discussion led by George Michael with Frank Howard and Rick Dempsey.  What an entertaining 90 minutes.  These three guys had us all in stitches, and gave a really good perspective on playing in the late 50s and 60s for Howard, and playing for Earl Weaver and for Cal Ripken Sr for Dempsey.  Well worth the time spent.  Dempsey told of his minor league managing career, and how he was told by Peter Angelos that he was the manager of the Orioles, only to be told two days later that they were hiring Lee Mazzilli, and that Angelos had made that decision based on the 15 people in the front office who worked for him and how they thought he was too dumb for the job.  Of course recently, a few years later, Dempsey got to sit down with Angelos again to discuss the Orioles manager job, and he told Angelos that he wasn’t sure who was too dumb, but apparently whomever had decided on the last 4 Birds managers would be in the running.
Big Frank Howard was a real treat.  He talked of his days with Koufax, Drysdale and the Dodgers, and his trade to Washington; of the days in Washington and how well he was treated for those 7 years.  He talked of how the Nationals have some major missing chinks in the armor now, and it’s primarily the depth to compete and pitching.
George Michael is the nationally syndicated sports show host, who was in the movies Tin Cup and Silence of the Lambs.  Very entertaining guy, who isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions
I also attended a meeting of the Dead Ball Era committee to see what they were involved in.  And then The Green and the Blue: the Irish-American Umpire.  Very entertaining. As was a presentation by Ray Zardetto of Once and For All, Who’s on First?  Fun presentation, with some of the history of how it was done and why.
Then it was time to load the buses for the trip to Camden Yards for the Orioles-Red Sox game.  5 Homers last night and the last one by Jacoby Ellsbury gave Boston what it needed for a 6-5 win over the Birds.  The young Orioles team though, swings the bat.  They hit two of the homers and gave Boston all it could take in the slugfest.  Several hundred of us went to the game, and as usual, Red Sox fans were everywhere.  Attendance was over 44,000 last night.
Today more good presentations.  And at 10 EDT there will be a GAFL game in the lobby.  For those who don’t remember, I am the manager of the GAFL Houston Astros.  GAFL is a league based on Statis Pro baseball and players for each franchise who played at least 5 years for the franchise.  We are in the middle of our season (which will take 4 years to play out) and today the Astros are hosting the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.  Roy Oswalt vs Bryn Smith.
My Astros are a great pitching, poor offensive team so far.  Jeff Bagwell is 2nd in the NL in home runs with 8 but hit his first in a month in the last game.  Joe Morgan has stolen 19 bases in 21 attempts for Houston.  Oswalt is 7-2 with an ERA around 2.10.  It’s a fun look back at the history of these teams, and the team I’m playing today is led by Vlad Guerrero, Tim Raines, Larry Walker et al.  Astros are currently 2nd in the NL West, 1 game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds, but trailing the best team in the NL, LA Dodgers who have a lineup of Duke Snider, Babe Herman, Zack Wheat, Roy Campanella, Jackie Robinson, Gil Hodges, Maury WIlls and others, and a pitching staff of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Whit Wyatt, Kevin Brown and Jeff Pfeffer.  What makes this staff so dominant is that guys like Pfeffer and Brown especially can dominate.  Only their years with LA count for their LA cards in the game, so Brown’s is especially good.  One of the best pitchers in the league.  Pfeffer had 23 and 25 win years for LA, and he competes pretty well too.
Lots of good stuff about the Washington Nationals so far

Yesterday’s solid presentations included:
Forfeit: the Final Game of the Washington Senators by Rick Schabowski, (when the fans took over the game with 2 outs in the 9th and the Sens up 8-6 in the last game under the Bob Short regime before the move to Texas)

Senators’ Hitting Streaks by Steve Krevisky (the 31 game streak by Sam Rice for the world champ Senators that helped drive them to the 1924 pennant; and the 33 game streak by Heinie Manush for the last championship team of the Senators in 1933)

The Big Train vs the Big Bambino: an analysis of Walter Johnson vs Babe Ruth as pitching opponents and hitting opponents, by Eric Weiss

Pull Up a Chair: Vin Scully’s Niche in Baseball History, by Curt Smith

Closers, Setup Men and LOOGYs: the Evolution of the Moddern Bullpen by Mike Emeigh

And one of the poster sessions: Rethinking Bill James’ Pythagorean Expectations by Susan Ballentine, a 12th grader using multiple regression models to use stats from both sides to predict outcomes; where James’ approach uses Runs Scored and Runs Allowed from various data, she manages to use the mathematical models to interact with each other….

Many others but these were some of the ones I heard yesterday

Red Sox at Orioles tonight–Camden Yards trip

By the way, this 12th grader is from Richmond VA, and is a winner of numerous academic honors in science and math, and has worked this summer in a NASA/NIA Summer Residential Mentorship in Engineering at NASA in Hampton, VA. She earned varsity letters in six sports in HS so far (softball, soccer, field hockey, basketball, indoor and outdoor track). She has been on the Western Pennsylvania Ski Race Team for 8 years and won the NASTAR national ski racing championship at Park City UT when she was 12. That same year she finished 2nd in the regional Punt, Pass and Kick Competition. After graduation next spring she plans to study applied mathematics at Cal Tech, Stanford or MIT….quite impressive.

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