Warm-Up Tosses: As today marks the start of the 2013 season, it also marks the end of my 2013 preseason writings. I’ve been asked by a number of people if my picks will be available on a daily basis. I won’t be writing daily commentary and I don’t sell picks – that’s not what the book has ever been about. However, last year in an attempt to establish some verifiable credibility, I entered many picks on a site called wagerminds.com. I will do that again this year, although on a less-regular basis; if you’re interested you can find my daily picks here: http://www.wagerminds.com/Profile/Magic-Rat
Two years ago, a series of team e-mails to a few sports-betting buddies started an immensely unlikely chain of events which led to the publication of Trading Bases and the creation of this blog. Since the book was published last month, I’ve had an incredibly fun time and it’s been highlighted by three things:
1) Gayle King enthusiastically quoting me back to me in the green room of the CBS Morning Show as she carried my book around the set. I had a smile on my face the entire plane trip home thinking about that moment. No analytics-based model in the world can ever put a probability of that happening in your life.
2) A reading of my favorite chapter in the book (Chapter 12) at our local bookstore in San Francisco with my wife and daughters in attendance.
3) The unexpected interaction with readers -- including the gentleman yesterday who figured out my HTML formatting problem in the table included in yesterday's piece, and then sent me a repaired table to copy and paste into the article. William T. thank you so much. I’ve heard from other readers as far away as Australia via e-mail and Twitter and I thank not only them, but anyone who has taken the time to buy the book.
I will continue to be here to respond to e-mails and tweets about the book and no, I’m not going to run from the Braves and Reds fans who will surely contact me each time their team moves another game over .500. I’ll also sporadically put out some pieces between the traditional quarterly reports I’ll write every 40 games.
However, in response to many questions, there is no fund this year and I will be significantly cutting back my immersion into the day-to-day happenings on the diamond. It’s been two years since I’ve reported to work, and frankly, I need to find a job. I have no idea where the next turn in my career path is going to take me, but I have to get out there and start exploring.
I don’t have to start today though, as it is Opening Day. Here’s a reworked and updated version of a piece I wrote last year:
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Welcome to Opening Day
I love Opening Day and it probably has to do with growing up a baseball fan in a northeast city. Opening Day, in my mind, always marked the true start of spring. Thomas Boswell, the esteemed and sometime cranky baseball columnist with the Washington Post once wrote, “99 Reasons why Baseball is Better than Football” (sample gem: “The best ever in each sport - Babe Ruth and Jim Brown — each represents egocentric excess. But Ruth never threw a woman out a window.”) However, I thought his list, written in the 1980s, missed an important item. Baseball always did Opening Day better than football. John Madden, interestingly enough, was one of the first commentators to notice this. He complained during the start of one football season that the NFL didn’t have any red, white, and blue bunting around the stadium. He kept saying something to the effect of, “We need bunting around the field like baseball does. Baseball knows how to set the mood with bunting.” (Honestly, I also think John Madden just liked to say, “bunting”.) The next year Madden was in Dallas for the season’s first game and he roared with approval when Texas Stadium adorned its field with bunting.
Eventually the unparalleled marketing machine that is the NFL (and I say that with complete admiration) took notice and the start of the NFL season became an event. It now features major musical acts, a nationally televised Thursday night game, Opening Weekend logos plastered on all 16 playing surfaces and culminates with two Monday Night Football games. The NFL may have caught on in celebrating the start of its season but baseball still has a trump card. The start of a football season is a time to tailgate with friends or gather around the TV with your fantasy league buddies drinking beer and exchanging gambling advice. However, for many baseball fans, Opening Day means skipping work and watching a game with your dad.
When I think of Opening Day, I think about the first game played at Camden Yards and the father-son bleacher brawl that almost started because the locals took exception to the jointly-shared opinion of my dad and I that Mike Schmidt, not Brooks Robinson, was the greatest third baseman of all time. I think about standing in a tunnel at Yankee Stadium in the 1990s watching the Yankees record the final out and then sprinting to the subway to catch an express train to Manhattan and then a cab on Third Avenue in a desperate attempt to make our dinner reservation at Peter Luger’s while not missing an out of the game. Afternoon baseball followed by a steak at Peter Luger’s with your dad. That’s a pretty good day. And I also think back to when I was five years old, surprised and devastated I didn’t see my dad on TV when he went to the grand opening of the 60,000+ seat Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia,
I hope you enjoyed the 2013 season preview over the last six weeks. I thank everyone for reading and their comments – even those from fans of the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves who have given me flak for my relatively downbeat previews. The summaries are data-driven, quantitative-based previews and I certainly understand the passion of fans – channeling Charlie Brown – who are more or less ordering me to “tell your statistics to shut up.”
I understand that feeling because this evening, if the Phillies are down one run in the top of the ninth inning with runners on base while Dominic Brown is facing Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, I’m not going to be thinking about small sample sizes or cluster luck or defensive efficiency. I’ll be at home on the phone with my father imploring Brown to get a hit and if he fails, I’ll slump back on the couch and my dad and I will audibly groan before muttering in unison, “the Phillies stink.” My Mom will be in the room with my father because over the years she’s become quite the baseball fan. Upon hearing his exclamation, she’ll shake her head and laugh because that’s the same refrain my dad and I have used to summarize every Phillies loss since I was a teenager. Even if today’s Phillies game ends in defeat, that’s a pretty good Opening Day memory.
Mop Up Duty:
Joe Peta is the author of Trading Bases, A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball* (*) Not necessarily in that order, a Dutton Books/Penguin (U.S.A.) publication currently available wherever books are sold. Here are three on-line booksellers you can currently choose from:
He is also the author of Trading Bases, the Newsletter, a companion piece to the book. If you have been forwarded this issue and would like to be placed on the mailing list, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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