JUGS Sports | Newsletter 34: "Off Base" depicts how laughably out of sync those who run baseball are with today's game.

Andrew Torrez has written a terrific book about today's game of baseball. He thinks that those who run baseball, radio and television are laughably out of sync with today's game. The book, Off Base, is available from Just Books, who can be reached at 1-800-874-4568. Price is $25.00, plus shipping.

Here is an excerpt from Off Base:

In 1997, Toronto outfielder designated hitter Joe Carter hit .600 with the bases loaded. Already legendary as a "clutch player" for his World Series heroics in 1997, it seemed Carter was collecting a hit every time he came to the plate with the bases loaded. He picked up 20 RBIs-nearly one-fifth of his total of 102-from just 10 bases-loaded at-bats. Carter's 20 RBIs in bases-loaded situations included two grand slams.... The next year, Carter hit .111 with the bases loaded. One measly single. In 1997, the Brewers' Jeff Cirrillo hit .625 with the bases loaded; in 1998, he hit .091. In 1997 Griffey hit .857 with the bases loaded, which is awfully good, even for him. The next year he hit .200. These statistical flukes occur because almost anything can happen in a limited number of attempts. If I ask each of my readers to take out a coin and flip it 10 times, recording the result of each toss, I know that a few of you out there are going to end up with heads eight or nine times out of 10. It's not because you have a special skill at tossing a coin. It's because true odds don't always hold over the short run. However, some statistics are predictive. If a pitcher posts a 3.50 ERA for five consecutive seasons, chances are pretty good that-absent injury-he will post around 3.50 next year, too. The statistics that people have come to expect are almost always misleading. Here is a typical game example from the 1998 Texas Rangers:

Second baseman Mark McLemore leads off the game with a solid single right. Center fielder Tom Goodwin grounds weakly to the shortstop; McLemore is forced out at second base; and Goodwin is on at first on the fielder's choice. Left fielder Rusty Greer strokes a single to center, and Goodwin advances to third. Right fielder Juan Gonzalez flies out to medium-depth left field; Goodwin tags up and scores. First baseman Will Clark strikes out. OK, so the inning is over, and the Rangers lead 1-0. But look at who gets the glory statistics from the above scenario. Goodwin gets the run, and Gonzalez gets the RBI. Is that logical? Goodwin and Gonzalez made two out of the three outs! They were among the least significant players that inning. On the other hand, Mclemore and Greer got hits and made the inning possible, and they got nothing to show for it. It's hardly fair.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Off Base is a fun new look at baseball today. It also is a useful book for young ballplayers, as the above excerpt shows. When you play the game for the stats instead of the win, you hurt yourself and your team. Remember, the ultimate statistic is when your team wins, so do all you can to help make that happen. Your personal statistics are nice, but not all that important in the overall scheme of things.