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1.13.2005

Clash of Civilizations 

I'm still catching up on all the readings I missed in India, where sportswriters have yet to turn their sabermetric attention to the national sport, cricket. One image I'll remember forever: in the ancient city of Varanasi, just a few hundred yards from the spot on the steps (ghats) where bodies are cremated 24 hours a day along the Ganges River, kids were playing cricket. As we rowed past in our hired boat, one kid unintentionally swatted a bowled ball -- in this case a tennis ball -- right at us. It bounced off my hands (It was early! I hadn't had my coffee!), off the prow of the boat, and into the Ganges. I wouldn't have reached in if you paid me a million rupees.

Back to the readings. Here's something I missed, and perhaps you did, too:

Baseball America last week posted a fascinating roundtable discussion between two old-fashioned scouts (Gary Hughes, Cubs, and Eddie Bane, Angels) and two new-fashioned statheads (Gary Huckabay, Baseball Prospectus, and Voros McCracken, father of DIPS and Red Sox consultant). The ubiquitous Alan Schwarz -- an excellent writer who has brought a breath of post-1950's baseball analysis to the sports pages of the New York Times -- moderates the discussion. If you haven't read it, please do so. It's a lot of fun and very telling about the blind spots and prejudices of each side (but especially the scouts, in my opinion).

And once you've read it, click here to see how "flat-out great" the minor-league stats of Steve Andrade really are.

Another note: in the wake of the Giants' signings of Matheny and Alou (not to mention the minor-league contract for Jeff Fassero), it's worth revisiting this Hardball Times article by Studes about Brian Sabean's predilection for old guys, written in November just after Sabean signed Omar Vizquel.

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