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I don’t know if he has to say that this body type are actually better for a baseball player. Maybe it’s enough to just make the case that, Moneyball-style, players with this shape are underrated.

P.S. I still don’t see why James chose in his book to summarize players by games played, home runs, RBI, batting average, and . . . nothing else. I can see how he’d want to include the standard stats as a point of comparison, but how hard would it be to include OBP, SLG, and maybe a couple other numbers of the sort that ordinarily he’d prefer?

5 thoughts on “1925-2015

  1. I like that entry. It somehow reminds me of this passage from The Catcher in the Rye: “That’s something else that gives me a royal pain. I mean if you’re good at writing compositions and somebody starts talking about commas. Stradlater was always doing that. He wanted you to think that the only reason he was lousy at writing compositions was because he stuck all the commas in the wrong place. He was a little bit like Ackley, that way. I once sat next to Ackley at this basketball game. We had a terrific guy on the team, Howie Coyle, that could sink them from the middle of the floor, without even touching the backboard or anything. Ackley kept saying, the whole goddam game, that Coyle had a perfect build for basketball. God, how I hate that stuff.”

  2. I don’t know if he has to say that this body type are actually better for a baseball player.

    Actually, there was a study done in the 60’s trying to find out how baseball players were different. On pretty much every characteristic they were well within the middle of the bell curve _except_ reflexes, where they were markedly better (which has nothing to do with body type). I agree with you, though on discrimination–we see the same phenomenon in executive positions, where surveys show hardly any male executives are overweight and a vanishingly small number of female executives are overweight. Heck, just walking down the hall of my building at an elite university I don’t see any overweight faculty or students (I’m sure there are some but they are scarce). And all the surveys are saying over half the adults in America are overweight and/or obese.

  3. Perhaps it’s a broader tendency than being funny looking: The guy that Yogi Berra got so many RBIs off driving in, Mickey Mantle, was famously handsome, but in an odd way: he was very wide relative to his average height. (This would contrast with the man Mantle replaced in centerfield, Joe DiMaggio, who was tall and classically built.)

    I can recall getting to an L.A. Dodgers game early during their 1970s dynasty and watching the stars jogging together in the outfield. I was struck by how wide they were relative to their heights: Cey, Garvey, Reggie Smith, Lopes, Yeager.

    Some of these guys were really handsome, some were not, but seeing them together as a group, they were distinctively wide.

    It seems like one change since then is that baseball now recruits really big/tall galoots. A lot of the home run hitters today are up to 6’6″. I vaguely think that in the past, it was assumed that these power forward size hitters had to big of a strike zone.

    Also, it could be that tall guys in the past were more likely to become basketball players, but now a lot of suburban dads are looking for something for their tall sons to do that isn’t basketball, and baseball is high on the list.

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