Aug

12

 Pitt has inspired as usual some cross field thoughts. I recently read "You Know Me Al" a compilation of all Ring Larnder's baseball stories. And it struck me that nothing has changed in baseball in the last 100 years. All the plays were the same. And the travel and romance was the same. Alibi Ike for example went into a tailspin and lost his team the pennant when he alibied about the engagement ring he bought for his girl and she overheard it. The owner of the Pittsburg team in those days was a woman who liked scholarly guys from Yale. There were guys on every team that knew everything and antagonized their teammates so much that they couldn't stay on the team. And the sabermetrics that the coaches used was very similar also.

I was thinking. What plays are there in baseball that are similar to what the market does. The streaks that each team has at home and away. The records after this pitcher or that pitcher is against rigties or lefties. The records after home and away games. The double plays, the triple steals, the inducement to get into a fight to get a player kicked out of the game, the crooked umpires, the thrown games, the emphasis on the world series money for the coaches, the travel expenses. All the same and related to markets. The problem is that I don't know anything about baseball. And many here, most here know much more about our national pastime than I do.

Could you suggest some areas from baseball that the market might copy, and that might lead to interesting hypotheses about markets that would be useful predictives to test. I have to admit that with my limited knowledge of baseball, when Larry Ritter challenged me to come up with 100 of such, before he would tell me that his thesis student, the fake Dr. received a fake doctorate, it was hard for me to come up with them, even with the Collab's able inspiration.

Pitt T. Maner III writes: 

One of the things I have wondered about is why sports techniques that appear to offer statistically better results like Rick Barry's two-handed "granny" basketball free throw or maybe knuckleball pitching in baseball are so infrequently used.  Is there is a fear of using unorthodox means of winning, a fear of looking stupid/uncool, or just not wanting to stand out from the way it has always been done?
 
Here is a film about knuckleball pitchers that some of the baseball fans might enjoy:

"Knuckleball! is the story of a few good men, a handful of pitchers in the entire history of baseball forced to resort to the lowest rung on the credibility ladder in their sport: throwing a ball so slow and unpredictable that no one wants anything to do with it.
 
The film follows the Major League’s only knuckleballers in 2011, Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, as they pursue a mercurial art form in a world that values speed, accuracy, and numerical accountability."

David Lilienfeld writes:

For Os and Bosox fans, there was actually an interesting piece in today's NYTimes about both teams giving some thought to the knuckleball. It sounds like the Os want to build their pitching staff around the pitch–or at least many of the pitchers. I'm hopeful that they succeed, not simply because I remember Hoyt Wilhelm in an Orioles uniform (ah, those not-so-golden days of Jim Gentile, Brooks, and Dick Hall), but it also raises the prospects of longer-throwing pitchers. I don't just mean longer careers, though there is that. I'm also thinking of more innings pitched, 4 starter rosters and the like. Having come of age during the Orioles pitching trifecta of 1969-71, I find the idea of a 4 man starting rotation appealing. The notion of "one-hundred and one, and then you're done" isn't a mantra I'm partial to. Some have suggested that Sandy Koufax's retirement after winning only 165 games (I think he has the fewest of anyone in the HOF who wasn't a reliever–and I also can think of few who would argue that he doesn't belong there) is testimony to the need to rigorously monitor pitch count. Perhaps, except that Koufax's well-known arthritis (he used to ice down his elbow for up to 2 hours after each outing) resulted from an injury running the bases, not from pitching. Pitchers weren't coddled the way they are today. It's been suggested that better swing guidance has resulted in better hitting players requiring pitchers throwing with greater finesse or power. Perhaps. I'm pretty sure that's not true for the knuckleball pitcher, though. Having watched Jim Palmer pitch, I doubt the idea applied to him, either. His slider broke down and his fastball would rise. I don't care how good your swing might be, you still have to figure out how to contact the ball, and that's something batters had a devil of a time doing. The same was true of Bob Gibson. Now Denny McLain and Steve Stone are great examples of a pitcher destroying their arms in the name of pitching performance. But I don't think that was as common as some would suggest, and if their arms weren't coddled, they would be fine dealing with today's batters. After all, there haven't been a surge in HR production, or even extra bases (esp triples), which I might expect if the effects of the improved swings were that probative. I don't think there have been two seasons where there was improved hitting performance (absent PEDs) requiring changes in pitching staffs along the lines that we've seen. It's like writing–with PCs and MS Office, writing has become easier, far easier, than in time past. Has writing become any better? Has the average speed of a fastball increased during the past 20-30 years? What about the degree of breaking balls? In almost 50 years, no one has come close to the Koufax curve. That wasn't a matter of an "improved arm" and it would have broken just as much (well, maybe less well with reduced amounts of pitching) today as it did then.

In short, I look forward to the rise of the knucklers and the return of the 4 man rotation and pitching staff sanity. 


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3 Comments so far

  1. Andre wallin on August 12, 2013 10:34 pm

    Closing a derivative trade during non regular trading hours is cheating the trade’s premise and it’s practice may allow one to get away with bad trading and lead to bad habits.

  2. David S. Killebrew on August 17, 2013 10:22 am

    Victor - I live in Newport Rhode Island and my office overlooks the campus of The International Tennis Hall of Fame. Hedge funds and squash are my 2 passions. Mark Stenning, The CEO of The Hall of Fame was in my office yesterday discussing the expansion plans for the campus which include building 2 squash doubles courts and 3 singles. The total cost of the squash facility is $1.6MM and they have raised $400,000 of that. Please forgive this presumptuous imposition but my vivid imagination envisions The Niederhoffer Squash Center at The International Tennis Hall of Fame. Could we be in touch about your possible interest in hearing some details about including squash on The THOF campus? In any event I send my gratitude for your many contributions to hedge funds and squash. Respectfully, David Killebrew

  3. vic on August 20, 2013 4:49 pm

    Mr. Killebrew. That would be a very nice tribute to my father, although after reading Gar Mulloy’s book, I doubt that he would have been too welcome there. I’ll give it some reflection and will get bak to you by end of year. vic

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