Rob Neyer Baseball: Notes and Observations

Because you’re a savvy, go-getting sort of reader, you very probably came across Craig Calcaterra’s announcement about a fortnight ago that not only has the very famous Rob Neyer (a) formed a partnership with Diamond Mind Baseball, but that he (i.e. Neyer) (b) was/is arranging a league of elite baseballing writers to promote it.

First off, I want to say: If this move constitutes “selling out” on Neyer’s part, it must be the best, most nerdly case of selling out ever (although, I concede that it depends on how much Wallace Shawn has received in the way of royalties for his My Dinner with Andre action figure). Allow me to announce it here and now: I am willing to lend my name, likeness — whatever — to almost any product, provided the Scrilla Factor (SF, for short) is sufficient.

Follow the money trail, indeed.

The original lineup for what’s being called the Rob Neyer Media League has changed slightly — Messrs Glanville and Posnanski have both recently, and somewhat bizarrely, broken their wrists while washing their pickup trucks — but the idea is the same.

Viola (team name in parentheses):

*Craig Calcaterra, Famous Blogicator (Matewan Massacre)
*Gordon Edes, Boston-Area Newsman (Sons of Ring Lardner)
*Rany Jazayerli, Constantly Aghast Royals Fan (The Process)
*Bob Keisser, Resident, The City They Call Long Beach (The Write Stuff)
*Jonah Keri, Twin-Maker, etc. (Montreal McGaffigans)
*Barry Koren, Owner/Operator, Diamond Mind (A Team of Their Own)
*Richard Lally, Actual, Real-Live Bookwriter (Park Slope Muggles)
*The Man Himself, Sabermetric Evangelist (Wabash Mashers)
*Norm Wamer, Radio Giant (Hall of Wamers)
*Josh Wilker, Dream-Maker, Love-Taker (East Randolph Kerouacs)
*Charles Wolfson, A More Differenter Owner/Operator of Diamond Mind (Pittwater Dolphins)

Moreover, in what appears to have been a terrific accident, Neyer has invited yours truly to the awesome, nerdly dance party. (I won’t dwell on it, but it appears as though Neyer’s invite appeared in my inbox at the very moment his judgment was almost definitely being impaired by narcotics.)

The league has just finished its draft, so there’s only so much to say about it at this point. Still, here are some observations from a week or so of noodling around on the site:

*If the message board comments at the site are correct, the salaries for each player are pretty carefully calculated to represent their (i.e. the players’) true talent levels. Therefore, it’s tough to go all Andrew Friedman and exploit market inefficiencies — especially when one of the other owners in your league is, like, BFF with Friedman himself.

*That said, it’s possible to manufacture inefficiencies with ballpark selection (and maybe some other ways I haven’t realized). To that end, I’ve chosen Fenway Park ca 1914-1918 as my home field. As you can see by means of this long, nerdy list of park effects, Fenway has the lowest home run factor (22) of any available park.

That being the case, I’m constructing a team of pitchers with low HRA+s (that is, below average in home runs allowed relative to the league) and batters with low HR+s (that is, below average in home runs hit relative to the league). Obviously, that won’t make for a great combination when we (The New Enthusiasts, that is) visit U.S. Cellular next Monday, but it’s excellently suited for our home field.

*One player I’ve drafted, and who would undoubtedly command some attention for All-Time All-Joy Team consideration is Oliver “Ghost” Marcelle. Marcelle is one of the elite defensive third basemen in the Diamond Mind system (one of the few who qualifies as Excellent defensively). He was also one of the best — and most interesting — Negro League players ever, it seems.

But don’t take my word for it! From Wikipedia:

In a strange incident in the late 1920s, Marcelle’s teammate Frank Warfield reportedly bit Marcelle’s nose off after the two got into a fight, when both men were playing in the Cuban Winter League. Bill Yancey, another teammate of Marcelle’s, said, “What got [Marcelle] out of baseball, he and [teammate] Frank Warfield had a fight in Cuba [probably in the winter of 1927-28, over a dice game] and Warfield bit his nose off. He was a proud, handsome guy, you know, and then he used to wear a black patch across his nose and he got so he couldn’t play baseball anymore.”

*User jaxxr, whom I contacted through the site because he seemed to be a knowledgeable fellow, was super-thorough and -patient with me in explaining how much certain of the ratings (defensive range, outfield arm, running) translate into run value. Thank you very much, sir!

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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“The league has just finished its draft, so there’s only so much to say about it at this point.”

Did you take Javier Vazquez in the 2nd round again?