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Baseball Prospectus: Remembering Earl


weams

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http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19481

You do not need me to tell you that we will not see his like again. The job in the dugout has changed, the responsibilities of a skipper have changed, and perhaps most fundamentally, the game itself has changed. But however mechanically I might mound up that kind of obviousness risks missing something equally obvious: In his work, Earl was a teacher, and the lessons he offered to all, big and small, inside the game and out, remain as valuable today as they were 30 or 40 years ago.

It would probably do most of us in the sabermetric field some good to remember this. However cool it is that we get to make new discoveries and new observations, utilizing new tools and new metrics, we owe all of you some measure of modesty as well, because a lot what we're working on really isn't rocket science. Earl was a reminder of that in the flesh, that some lessons had already been learned long before sabermetrics came along to document their measure. For me, meeting the man drove home one of the most important lessons any of us might learn in this field: Sabermetrics often simply documents the previously observed, because as much as delving into the data is compelling, a lot of what's there isn't lost on the people who are there, inside the game, both in Earl's day and today.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Earl earned all the praise he receives.

And the last line of this quote is pure gold. For managers and coaches, the stats usually back up things they already knew. Sometimes, they know things about players that are not apparent by just looking at statistical analysis.

What is it that Bill James said about any statistic that put a scrub alongside Babe Ruth was likely garbage?

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What statistic would that be? I think James' quote was something like "any statistic that is consistently surprising is probably wrong."

I think the comment had to do with sanity checks when coming up with new metrics. I don't think there was a specific example.

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http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8859609/legendary-orioles-manager-earl-weaver-was-always-ahead-game

The last time I spent significant time with Earl Weaver was almost a year ago. He was old and slow and needed a guy to walk with him in case he fell, but mentally, he was still the same Earl. We were watching an Orioles intrasquad game from the first row of seats in Sarasota, Fla., when manager Buck Showalter quietly called me over to alert me to a play, a tribute of sorts to Earl. Seconds later, the Orioles ran a pickoff play, one Earl had invented in the late '60s. "Hey," Earl yelled at me, "that's my pickoff play!"
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He was just smarter, in a simplistic way, than the rest. He built those Orioles teams around pitching, defense and three-run homers because that's how you win games. Mental mistakes infuriated him. You had to hit the cutoff man, and it was imperative to always, always, always keep the double play in order. He hated to bunt because, as he always said, "You only get 27 outs; don't give any one of them away." It angered him when the other team was trying to bunt and his pitcher wouldn't throw a strike. He would scream, "They're giving us an out, throw the ball over the plate!" In 1986, when Angels manager Gene Mauch bunted in the first inning with his No. 3 hitter [Wally Joyner], Weaver looked at me the next day and said, respectfully but purposefully, "I could lose my next 500 games, and I'd still have a better record than that guy."
Tim Kurkjian
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Terry Crowley was a bench player, a terrific pinch hitter, for Weaver in the 1970s. Weaver once said of him, "I saved his career. If it wasn't for me, Crowley would be working in a beer hall." That quote made it in the newspapers in Baltimore. Crowley was crushed, and, nearly in tears, asked Weaver whether he had said that. Weaver looked at the quotes, and, instead of saying they had been taken out of context, he said, "Yeah, those are my words." Then Weaver took Crowley in his office and smoothed things over because he knew he would need Crowley that night.
Roy can tell you some of the "Bad Earl" stories.
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