Holy shit guys, guess what? I finished another one of those big projects of mine. It’s this game I just published today that you’ll absolutely hate. So go ahead and give it a whirl, and then check out my Super Friendship Club project page if you want the lowdown on what just happened.
Suck it, math.
So the Red Sox lost to the Royals last night. I watched a bunch of the game, but, come on, it went a billion innings after a three-hour delay. What can you do? So I didn’t realise how badly the Red Sox actually fucked up.
Marco Scutaro couldn’t believe what he was seeing when Josh Reddick started sprinting home after Scutaro took a pitch inside.
I know. I couldn’t believe it either. Marco Scutaro? Playing in the Majors?
The problem was: Scutaro knew right away what a gaffe he had made.
Well, no, I’d say the problem was Scutaro fucking it up in the first place. Noticing it? Not so much the problem.
Scutaro missed a suicide squeeze sign with Reddick on third base and one out in the 12th inning, and the Kansas City Royals scored twice two innings later to beat the Red Sox 3-1 in a rain-delayed game that ended early Tuesday morning.
"I just didn’t see the sign," he said, with his head down as he got dressed at his locker. "My fault. It’s my fault."
Don’t take it too hard, Marky Scoots. I mean, sure, you fucked up pretty bad, but it was a boneheaded play in the first place. There was only one out; absolutely no need to compromise your baserunner in that situation. Especially not with Tacoby Bellsbury — a pretty good contact hitter — coming up next.
Reddick singled to lead off the 12th, and with one out he took two bases on an errant pickoff throw. But he was caught trying to steal home on the botched squeeze after Scutaro never squared around. Scutaro then lined a hit to left, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Oh. Plus Scoots got a hit anyhow. Am I the only one who sees that maybe this plan wasn’t a good one?
In the 13th, Jacoby Ellsbury drew a leadoff walk and, one out later, Gonzalez hit a sinking liner that bounced under Francoeur’s glove. His leg kept it from going off the wall. Ellsbury wound up at third, and Gonzalez at first.
Even more betterer, then, that they pointlessly threw away their baserunner. By my count, after Scutaro’s hit and Gonzalez’s hit, he’d have been at seventh base.
I realise I’ve been quiet this month. I’ve been working on a veritable shitload of projects all at the same time. One of which is now revealed to the public: Konzortium Kollectiv, world’s greatest gaming transmedia kommunity with old Soviet Union theme! Da, komrades, is for real! Bless his honoured fur!
Foolishly, I neglected to get a screenshot, and now it’s lost in the ether. But they definitely ran a front-page headline earlier today reading "you don’t need to be a superstar to get 3000 hits these days. Wins are another story." The best I could do was this snapshot from the Google snapshotter:
So at least you can see I didn’t completely make this up. It happened. So, let’s tackle this in order.
First, I’d contend that "superstar" would not be sufficient description for a player who accumulated 3000 wins, since that player would have broken the all-time record by 2489. More to the point, Jon Lester’s .710 is the best win percentage of any active pitcher. He averages 24 starts per season. If he continues to start and win at his current averages, he’ll need to play another 171.89 seasons to get 3000 wins. So fucking get on that, Jon.
Okay, I know what they mean. They mean 300 wins is another story; it’s just that chimpanzees invaded their offices and wrote all the headlines today. Okay, fine. 3000 hits is no big deal, 300 wins is superstar stuff. But I’m wondering…
All-time total players with 3000 hits: 28
All-time total players with 300 wins: 24
Huh. That’s what I would not call "conclusive." But I suppose they did say "these days." I bet there are a shitload of current hitters in those 28, right?
Active players with 3000 hits:
Oh. Damn, Yahoo sports, I’m trying to help you out here, but there’s one fucking guy in the set of people with 3000 hits "these days," and I’m not sure you’re 100% right that he isn’t a superstar. I think I’ve heard of this D. Jeter fellow. So I guess we should look at the players who might get 3000 hits soon; maybe those are the mad rush of non-superstars I’ve been warned about:
Pretty sure those also are among the most famous of baseball players. I see an O. Vizquel also, and I suppose he’s not really a superstar, but he’s also 44 years old and doesn’t have another 169 hits in him. It’s really just those four dudes. Which one of them is not a superstar again?
If there are two things I love, they are economics and baseball. As we’ve seen before, economists writing about baseball generates a unique blend of inanity. Apparently that’s not true only when the economist in question is a Keynesian goofball trying to sell you a stock-picking service; even economists as great as Thomas Sowell can end up in the goof trap.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ great hitter Stan Musial was one of those stars who dominated his era in the 1940s and 1950s, and yet is almost forgotten today, even among baseball fans.
The funniest thing about this is that the other goofball I made fun of made a very similar claim. Stan Musial is forgotten? The same Stan Musial who has been chosen by baseball-reference readers as the ninth-greatest hitter of all time? The Stan Musial whose name brings up almost two million hits on Google? Whose 1955 walk-off homer was chosen (weirdly, in my mind — sorry, but I was for Cal all the way) as the greatest All-Star Game moment of all time? Who won the fucking Medal of Freedom five months ago?
Yeah, never heard of him. Give me Edgardo Alfonso any day.
Mention baseball in the 1940s and 1950s, and the names that come to mind immediately are Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio.
Sure. Those were great baseball players. It’s not like there’s a two-man limit; all three of them can be great at the same time.
Yet Stan Musial had a higher lifetime batting average than Joe DiMaggio – and Hank Greenberg hit more home runs in a season, and had more runs batted in, than either Williams or DiMaggio.
Oh lordy lord lord. Thomas. Thomas, Thomas, Thomas. Where to begin?
Okay, first of all: batting average and RBIs suck. But, sure, Musial was a better hitter than DiMaggio; that’s not really in dispute. But DiMaggio was a CF, whereas Musial played corner outfield and 1B. So DiMaggio’s production is correspondingly more valuable, right? Because he plays a harder position? DiMaggio averaged 7.6 WAR per 162 games, Musial only ("only!") 7.0 — because the CF thing gives DiMaggio a boost. DiMaggio also lost his prime years to World War 2, which Musial did not.
Hank Greenberg? Sure, he hit lots of home runs. And that matters — home runs are, contrary to what you may have heard John Kruk say on Baseball Tonight, a very valuable thing. But Greenberg was also a dedicated 1B who only played 13 seasons. Great player. Wonderful player. But you’re saying he’s better than T. Ballgame because T. Ballgame never had 183 RBIs in a season?
Hank Greenberg, career: .313 / .412 / .605 / 1.017, 158 OPS+, 56.8 WAR
Theodore Ballgame, career: .344 / *.482* / .634 / .1.116, 190 OPS+, 125.3 WAR
Come the fuck on. Sure, Teddy topped out at "only" 159 RBIs in a season playing for those piss-poor Red Sox teams, but he was so much better than Hank Greenberg there’s just no comparison. I mean, go here. Look at all the black numbers. Black numbers are best-in-league. Italic black numbers are best in all MLB. And the asterisks around his .482 career OBP? That means best all-time. In the most important raw offensive stat there is.
Seriously, Thomas. I love you, but you’re picking a fight with the third-greatest baseball player who ever lived.
Maybe the reason for the difference is that it is easier to remember some things when they are associated with other things. Ted Williams was the last .400 hitter and Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak is a record that may never be broken.
Or maybe the reason for the difference is this:
All-time leaders, career OPS+:
1. Babe Ruth (206)
2. Ted Williams (190)
… skip a bit …
15. Stan Musial (159)
16. Hank Greenberg (158)
There are no similarly spectacular records associated with Hank Greenberg or Stan Musial.
Stan Musial was chosen as the causal agent in the greatest All-Star Game moment in history and won a Medal of Freedom. Greenberg is still the single-season AL RHH RBI leader, which is a little bit of a cherry-pick, but the sort of thing people do care about.
And, of course, they’re both in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Greenberg hit 58 home runs in a season, so that two more would have tied Babe Ruth’s record at the time. Greenberg also had 183 runs batted in, just one short of Lou Gehrig’s American League record. But close only counts when pitching horseshoes or throwing hand grenades.
No, actually, it’s still pretty great. Whatever RBIs are worth (not much), Gherig’s 184-spot was set on the 1931 Yankees, who had a .383 team OBP and a 125 team OPS+. I’m fairly sure my grandmother could get at least 120 RBI with that kind of support, and she’s been dead for sixteen years. Greenberg’s 1937 Tigers weren’t as good — they had a .370 team OBP and a 104 team OPS+. Greenberg’s feat is more fantastical.
Then spontaneously the article is about boxing. I don’t really know why, but he spends the rest of it talking about how nobody remembers Joe Louis, despite the undeniable fact that I can name five boxers and Joe Louis is one of them. The others, of course, are Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Soda Popinski.
Derek Jeter: Mr. 3000 himself. Also Mr. 3001, 3002, and 3003. Had a good day. And you knew it would happen: all the assholes are coming out of the woodwork, dusting off their absurd hagiographies, and shitting them all over the internet. Gotta start somewhere, so it may as well be my new best friend Les Carpenter!
A few years back, maybe five or six as Derek Jeter remembers, the shortstop sat in a spring training clubhouse examining a New York Yankees media guide with a few teammates. As they scrolled through the records section they noticed something startling: Never in the great, glorious history of the franchise had there been a player who had 3,000 hits as a Yankee.
Whoa, no fooling? You’ve done it again, Les: I absolutely had not heard this amazing fact ever in my life! Especially I have not heard it sixteen or seventeen times every day for the last three months.
Not Babe Ruth. Not Lou Gehrig. Not Joe DiMaggio.
Not Paul O’Neill. Not Scott Brosius. Not Lou Piniella.
And right there Jeter had to understand the legacy he could own on a franchise loaded with legends, several of whom were considered better players than he.
Pff. Can you believe it? Some people consider these players better than Derek Jeter! The audacity! Who is this Babe Ruth asshole to think he’s better than the Intangible Captain McGee?
The Yankees might have a garden of monuments dedicated to home run champions and triple crown winners, but none had 3,000 Yankee hits.
That distinction alone would belong to Jeter as long as he stayed healthy.
Actually, he didn’t stay healthy and he got it anyhow. But hey.
Of course he would never admit to such a realization. That wouldn’t be Jeter, forever careful to avoid seeming presumptuous or boastful in public. When he was asked about that spring day on Thursday afternoon he shook his head and quickly looked down.
(at his notes)
"I try to focus on the present," he said, just hours before getting his 2,998th hit Thursday night in a 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. "I don’t like to think about the future. You may have an opportunity to play long enough but you don’t look too far ahead."
If you were hitting .257 / .321 / .329 (!), you wouldn’t think about the future either.
It was such a Jeter thing to say, offering a tiny window into his life – albeit with a humorous un-Jeter like stumble as he tried vainly to come up with the words "media guide," calling it a "little Yankee pamphlet" – then quickly shutting off the glimpse inside.
No, it’s a totally generic athlete quote. The sort of shit they say when they don’t want to say anything.
"That’s why you guys in the media always hated him," said Don Zimmer, a special assistant for the Rays who sat beside Joe Torre as the Yankees bench coach for the first eight full seasons of Jeter’s career.
I mean… am I reading this right? Did Don Zimmer — fucking Don Zimmer — just say that the media hates — and has always hated — Derek fucking Sanderson fucking Jeter? Am I still reading the same article? We’re talking about Derek Jeter and how much the media hates him? Great.
Like Jeter, Zimmer went years without knowing a Yankee player hadn’t gotten 3,000 hits until someone told him a couple of years ago.
And subsequently he heard it day-in and day-out for the rest of his life just like I have, yeah?
And as it did for Jeter and the players gathered on that spring day a few years ago, the fact shocked Zimmer. Surely on the franchise of Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Don Mattingly, there had been someone with 3,000 hits.
The franchise of Bubba Crosby, Joe Pepitone, and Don Mat–
Wait, what? Did you say Don Mattingly? Like, for-reals? ‘Cause I was going to say Don Mattingly as a joke, like making fun of goofball names you might say. You realise that Donnie Baseball retired at 34, right? Played 14 seasons? He only had 7003 AB — sucker would have had to hit .428 for his career to have 3000 hits.
But the closest one was Gehrig, who was the franchise leader with 2,721 for seven decades until Jeter passed him two years ago.
Oh, did that happen? I don’t think I heard about it.
A 3,000th hit is a milestone. But given the long lists of things dominated by the Yankees, including 27 World Series titles, Jeter becoming the only Yankee with 3,000 hits is indeed a record of sorts.
Uh, yes, it is a record "of sorts." If you’re interested in the specific "sort" of record it is, it is the record for most hits. Do you see?
There really seems little chance anyone else will accomplish this, certainly not in the next 1½ decades, which is what it has taken Jeter to get to this point, pecking away with nearly 200 hits a season. The only player on the roster with a chance is second baseman Robinson Cano, but Cano is already 28 and it’s hard to believe he could keep a steady pace of 200 hits deep into his 30s.
If Robinson Cano got 200 hits/year for the next fifteen years, he’d be at 4274 hits and would be the all-time hits leader by 18. So, no, he’s probably not going to do that. Getting to 3000 will be way easier. Let’s check:
Currently, Cano has 1174 hits. He’s on pace this year for just about bang-on 200, so let’s just say he gets it to make the math easier. So that means he finishes the year with 1275. To reach 300, he need 1725 more hits. If we assume he plays for just ten more years and then calls it quits, he’ll need to average 172.5 hits/year to reach 3000. Cano’s 162-game average is 194. Barring catastrophic injury or sudden inexplicable collapse, he’ll get 3000 hits, and he’ll get them at just about exactly the same age Jeter did.
Since the Yankees feel they must always produce a contender, they never go through the kind of youth movement other franchises do.
"Never?" You mean including 1996, when they brought Derek Jeter up?
It’s hard to imagine someone currently in the system rising to the same lifetime Yankee star status as Jeter.
Robinson Cano’s been doing okay for himself. Remember him? You seemed to know who he was a few paragraphs ago. He’s the best second baseman in baseball. I don’t think the Yankees consider him trade bait particularly.
In fact, were it not for a suspension to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the early 1990s followed by a commitment to a core of young players, Jeter might never have had a shot with the Yankees, something Jeter alluded to Thursday.
George Steinbrenner is dead. Robinson Cano plays second base for the Yankees every single day. This is not a weird phenomenon requiring an alignment of stars and a blessing from an elfin priestess.
We may never see another group of players like Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera in New York again.
Or maybe we will. Who can say? Of the Cano / Joba / Hughes / Wang group that came up not long ago, three of them seem to have stuck, yeah?
That’s what will make Jeter’s 3,000th hit so remarkable. Who would have imagined a player sticking around long enough to accomplish this in the Steinbrenner era. No one will probably have the opportunity to be Derek Jeter again.
Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera are still on the team. Bernie Williams stuck around until he literally could not play baseball anymore. Robbie Cano’s going noplace in a hurry. Really, it looks like Yankee lifers aren’t more rare than lifers on any other team; if anything, it kind of seems like they’re more common. I mean, the Yankees were so attached to Williams and Posada that they kept paying them and kept putting them out there on the field long after they were totally cooked. Jeter’s probably headed that way himself.
The long line of Yankee lifetime legends might well end with him.
Sure. It might. But I doubt it!
How fitting he should be the one to get more hits than any of them.
… Or at least until 2023, when Robbie Cano passes him.
Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not as crazy stupid as some of the other articles I’ve done — it doesn’t touch on baseball stats at all, much less use them incorrectly — but this article impresses me nonetheless, because I cannot for the life of me determine why anybody would bother to write it. I’m serious. Does that article serve any purpose at all? It’s not interesting. It’s not insightful. It’s not funny. It’s not even engagingly mean-spirited or spiteful. It’s just a completely uninteresting story about how crowded downtown DC is and how long Roger Clemens had to wait for his chauffeur, complete with absolutely no insight or analysis whatsoever, and all topped off with this absolute gem:
"Can’t get down this street," Hardin repeated as the door shut and the Tahoe slowly inched around the corner and onto 3rd, which being D.C. at 5 p.m. had all the fluidity of maple syrup.
Speaking as a man who has a passing familiarity with stuff, I can assure you that maple syrup is quite fluid. The viscosity is 150 cps, which seems really high (water is 1), but then consider that honey — probably a better choice for your awful metaphor — is 3000 cps. Fucking ketchup is 50k cps, and most people would still consider that relatively fluid.
Seriously, Les. Spend two seconds thinking before you submit this shit. Maple syrup?