Rob Neyer’s Powerball vs the Real Story of the 2017 Astros

I just finished (and greatly enjoyed) Rob Neyer’s Powerball, a book about the application of data analytics in the modern game, highlighting a 2017 game between the eventual World Series Champions Houston Astros and Oakland A’s.

What stood out to me is how Neyer highlighted how the Astros had greatly improved offensively compared to the previous year, giving reasonable justification for those outcomes. But it made me think back to an article I had read just a month prior from The Athletic, “Does electronic sign stealing work? The Astros’ numbers are eye-popping“, by Jayson Stark and Eno Sarris.

Let me give a snippet of the article, which only is available for subscribers.

Their strikeout rate plummeted — at a level unparalleled in the last 100 years.

Their strikeout rate at home took an even more dramatic plunge — and that, too, was unlike anything we’ve seen in the last century.

They developed an uncanny ability to lay off breaking balls below the strike zone — an ability they hadn’t displayed before, and didn’t display on the road. But at the same time, they began crushing every kind of pitch inside the zone — at a rate that didn’t bear much resemblance to the way they’d handled those very same pitches in the past.

These were your 2017 Houston Astros. Remember back, oh, a few months ago, when we just referred to them as the World Series champs? Those were the days. Now we look at them and ask: Were they really that good? How much did they owe to pilfering signs and thumping on trash cans?

Neyer wrote about and lauded those Astros, those cheating, sign stealing ones that are perhaps part of the game’s greatest cheating scandal since the 1919 Black Sox. Yet, there isn’t much online bringing up the connection other than this podcast featuring Neyer himself from December. Neyer only wonders if he could have or should have suspected the cheating.

I Love Allen Iverson’s Humility

I’ve seen other articles or posts about Allen Iverson post-retirement and what stands out to me is how humble he is. He doesn’t hate on people, try to compare himself, complain. I have an original authentic Champion jersey from his rookie year, and this perspective makes sure I’m never tempted to sell it.

This recent interview shows what I mean:

But That’s Exactly What Trump Did

“It actually creates zero precedent,” Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told reporters on Friday morning. “This is authority given to the president in law already. It’s not as if he didn’t get what he wanted and waved a magic wand to get some money.”

From: New York Times: Trump Declares National Emergency to Build Border Wall

And1 Tai Chi Mixtape Shoes – In the Wild!

Introducing the TAI CHI MIXTAPE, a limited edition remix on one of the most iconic basketball shoes to date, the AND1 Tai Chi.

And I’ve got them. You can’t read my past blog posts on my extensive fan love anymore but I was a huge And1 fan – I had jerseys, mixtapes, mixtape poster, mixtape tours, books, etc. I tried to intern for them over a decade ago, writing a personal letter to Seth Berger. I even have an autographed card from the team’s 2005 E3 appearance to promote their And1 Streetball game. It sits framed in my apartment and has traveled the world with me. It’s been great to see them getting back to their streetball and community roots over the last few years – you can also find their gear at affordable prices in places like Walmart.

The shoes look great in person. The only problem is if I can bear to wear them and get them dirty…IMG_1477IMG_1479IMG_1480IMG_1482