Early Morning Dabs: Romance

The First Hundred

Empiricism has been a hallmark of the modern world. Detectable, observable, measurable have been the accepted building blocks of knowledge for centuries during the tyranny of reason. There have been backlashes against the dominance of empirical fact as truth in Western history, but the preeminence of scientific knowledge has been generally accepted. This has taken the form of statistical analysis that permeates all facets of life today it seems but is often referred to by the baseball euphemism Moneyball. And this has brought improvements. However, it has also led to losing the romantic nature of baseball. The unexplainable, wonderfully weird, cruel and beautiful game that is baseball.

Baseball Romanticism

One of the ways that I avoid actually writing is by "pre-writing" in my head. Most of the ideas that have been published the past fortnight have been written many times mentally. There are a number of advantages to this once I do actually write something down, but it also leads me sometimes to think I've actually written things out before. An example was this opening about empiricism in contrast to romanticism. This is a thought I've had for quite a while, and so I was extremely paranoid that I was just regurgitating this half-baked analysis once again for you.

The reason I bring this anecdote up is that it led me to Google the words "empiricism cubs den", and was pleased not to find any results tied to my authorship. But I was delighted to find that the top result was instead this article written by John on May 13, 2015.  The article was one of those deeper philosophical dives. This one was prompted by the Ken Arneson article I mentioned in the comments a couple of days ago and in it John elaborated his belief in the truth to be found both in objective analysis and the intuition of the so called "old school".

This balance between these two lenses is what every front office currently operates under. Every team uses all the tools at its disposal to better understand what has happened in order to better predict what will happen. Personally I was a baseball materialist at my earliest indoctrination to sport. I scoffed at the notion that anything not verified by cold, hard data could be anything but luck. And this front office was supposed to confirm those beliefs.

Instead, this front office preached about the importance of clubhouse chemistry, defense, and many of those other things that really didn't matter under the empirical absolutism with which I viewed the game. Baseball continued to baseball and that continued to render that viewpoint laughably limited. Instead data should supplement the wonder of baseball. Moments like the Angels combined no-hitter Friday are examples of this. It could just have been baseball baseballing that delivered us that moment. Or perhaps there was more at work beyond what we can observe and measure.

Baseball is a Romance Language?

It was one of those moments that affirmed the beauty of baseball, and the words written by former pitcher Dallas Braden are poignant. The game allows for this kind of communication. Unfortunately the latest research shows that baseball is not a Romance language.

As most of you are probably aware, for centuries historians believed that baseball evolved out of Latin. The mythical progenitor of the game Abacus Duplusdiem supposedly crafted the game out of a mixture of Roman games. This has long been known to be a fabrication, but the assumption was that the game did owe its origins to the patrician class of the ancient republic.

However, recent archaeological evidence has cast serious doubt to the Latin origins of baseball. These findings point to the game starting much earlier in Liechtenstein. The Liechtenstein government has been busy prompting these discoveries, but some have been holding out on affirming the overwhelming evidence pointing to non-Roman beginnings of this game. It has been a slow process, but baseball has officially been reclassified as a Germanic language.

An Ode to Jason Heyward

Jason Heyward has had a remarkable 2019 season. He had been left for dead by most and has put together a very solid year. Heyward has an outside shot at setting a new career high for home runs. He also has provided a better than average contact bat that provides a different element sorely lacking with Zobrist's absence.

However, yesterday's game really was one of the first times where I felt like I was watching the player I thought the Cubs signed in the offseason of 2016. Heyward showed off doubles power at the plate, but it was all the other things that he did well that made him such a desirable target in that offseason. Heyward provided an extended at bat after Chris Stratton was trying to settle in to eat some innings. Heyward fouled off some pitches and drove up the pitch count despite making the final out of the inning.

Heyward's defense has always been viewed as elite in the corner, and this weekend he showed why. His defense has looked sloppy at times with the rest of the club. The defensive metrics haven't loved Heyward either. Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs version's of WAR defensive component has Heyward rated as a negative value this season. However, Heyward has also made a lot of spectacular plays over the course of this season.

Heyward also showed the baserunning that was ranked among the highest in the game. That was the whole package. A streaky batter who when hot can carry a team who also does a bunch of things really well when the bat craters. Heyward still has to finish the year strong, but it is getting easier to believe that Heyward is back.

Cubs Common Denominator Lineup

Yesterday's puzzle was a pretty easy one it turns out. It was indeed British rock musicians who were active in the 1960s. I am not sure if everyone technically qualifies as "British Invasion" but that was the theme. Here is the player matched up to the musician.

Musicians Name Position
Karl Green Danny Green CF
Geezer Butler Johnny Butler SS
Alvin Lee Derrek Lee 1B
Syd Barrett Michael Barrett C
Ian Stewart Ian Stewart 3B
Davy Jones Davy Jones LF
John Lennon Bob Lennon RF
Richard Wright Pat Wright 2B
John Bonham Bill Bonham Pitcher

Here is your puzzle for this morning.

CCDL #11 Name Position AVG OBP SLG HR SB
1 Red Shannon SS 0.333 0.414 0.431 0 0
2 Ryan Sweeney LF 0.258 0.313 0.391 9 1
3 Kris Bryant 3B 0.286 0.388 0.521 125 31
4 Ernie Banks 1B 0.274 0.330 0.500 512 50
5 Chad Meyers 2B 0.209 0.282 0.261 0 5
6 Damian Miller C 0.233 0.310 0.369 9 1
7 Calvin Murray CF 0.2 0.333 0.2 0 0
8 Dutch Rudolph RF 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
9 Trevor Cahill Pitcher 2.61 ERA 88 K 40 BB 5 Wins 4 Losses

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  • Great piece, dabs. Once I get some coffee in me I might offer some thoughts of my own. I will agree on Heyward's recent play, however. Even my hazy mind can recognize that.

    And, yeah, Da Cubs!

  • A very nice 501st! I’ve been known to ponder unexplainable vs inexplicable, and baseball seems to present more than a few opportunities for this.

    As to the quiz, actors perhaps?

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    SNL specifically?

  • In reply to IVYADDICT:

    Da Cubs!

  • Good read as usual, Mike. You really are a gifted writer. JHey was always worthy, just seemed to be over paid. Have a year Mr. Heyward.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    I know it's only been two games, but the team seems to be playing much tighter baseball. All those mental gaffes drive me crazy, as those unforced errors should be completely avoidable. Heyward specifically appears on top of his game.

    I've bemoaned the apparent lack of leadership on this team. We all remember J-Hey's speech during the rain delay of Game 7 in Cleveland, what I've dubbed "The Speech Heard 'Round the World." Maybe Jason chaperoned a four-day camping trip for the team over the break and knocked some sense into them. I hope so.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    I’m going to take a wait and see but they definitely look like they’ve come out on a mission. Now it looks like maybe that one bat I’ve talked about could actually make a difference. One thing I’ve never stopped believing is that this team is the most talented team in the division. They just are. Now whether that means a hill of beans is up to them.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    On a different scale but much like Soriano was back in the day, good players on inflated contracts. Unlike some though I’ve never held player’s contracts against them. I mean if someone would come to us and say “here’s all the money” we’d all take it every single time.

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