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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The greatest difference between today’s young athlete and my own experience as a young athlete is that I played the sport of the season from football to basketball to baseball. A 2008 survey by the National Council of Youth Sports found that one in four of the 60 million children surveyed, ages 6 to 18, who participated in an organized sport took part in a single sport. This was unheard of in my time.  

At the age of five I took my oldest son Bradley for his first karate lesson. As the months passed by my son enjoyed his lessons and was one of the best students in the class. It was at this point I started to work with him at home. I became his personal trainer and as the years went by he won several championships. Why did I do this? I thought his excellence in one sport would improve his self-image. It also gave us hours of bonding together. I am sure there was also a selfish reason I did it.

When parents are told of the negative results of their young child specializing in one sport, they respond that for their child to make a traveling or varsity team their child must train year-round in their one sport. Parents are simply following the advice often given to them by their child’s coach. Many times these coaches run summer programs and want the child to enroll.

I never considered the possible negative effects of my son specializing year-round in one sport. For parents who are encouraging their young child to specialize year- round in one sport these are some of the possible perils their child may face.

The following research findings show how early specialization may have a negative impact on your child.

  1. According to orthopedic specialists, children who specialize in a single sport account for 50% of overuse injury in young athletes.
  2. A study by Ohio State University found that children who specialized in one sport led to a higher rate of adult physical inactivity.
  3. In a study of 1200 youth athletes, Dr. Jayanthi of Loyola University found that young children specializing in a single sport were 70% to 93% more likely to be injured than children who played multiple sports
  4. .Children who specialize early have a greater risk for burnout due to stress and lack of enjoyment.
  5. Early sports specialization for young females may lead to an increased risk of all sorts of anterior knee problems.

To avoid the above problems brought about by specialization why not take the multi-sport alternative until a child reaches a certain age where specialization may be necessary. The following research findings show the advantages of the multi-sport option for young children.

  1. Research shows that multi-sport participation leads to better overall motor and athletic development, longer playing careers, and the ability to transfer important skills from other sports to their favored sport.
  2. Multi-sport participation at the younger ages yields better decision making and pattern recognition, as well as increased creativity.
  3. A 2013 survey showed that 88% of college athletes participated in more than one sport as a child.
  4. Early specialization takes away from the child their free-play time. Studies show free-play for a young children increase their motor skills, their emotional ability, and their creativity.

Top sports researchers Jean Cole and Jessica Thomas suggest:

  1. Prior to age 12, 80% of the time should be spent in free-play.
  2. Between the ages 13-15, split the time evenly between a chosen sport and other athletic pursuits.
  3. At 16+ even though specialization becomes very important, at least 20% of the time should be in free-play or in a non-specialized sport.

Parents, I am interested in what you think about young children specializing in one sport.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

As mentioned in my Blog: Baseball and Television Grow in Popularity Together, certain individual baseball games shown on television had an enormous impact on baseball’s popularity. This blog will highlight a game which is considered one of those special games.

The date was October 3, 1951. The game was Game 3 of a three-game playoff series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants. These three games were the first games televised live from coast-to-coast. This game had one of the most famous home runs, one of the most famous announcer calls, and one of the most talked about controversies.

The 1951 pennant race seemed to be a certainty for the Dodgers when as a late as August 10 the second place Giants were 12 games behind the Dodgers. The Giants went on to win 16 games in a row to cut the deficit to six games. By winning their last seven games, the Giants and Dodgers ended the season with identical records of 96-58.

At that time the rules said a three-game playoff was necessary to declare the pennant winner. Game 1 was won by the Giants 3 to 1. Bobby Thomson homered and Ralph Branca was the losing starting pitcher. Remember these two names. The Dodgers routed the Giants in Game 2 by a score of 10 to 0. This led to Game 3 which was held at the Giants home called the Polo Grounds.

For Game 3 Sal Maglie started for the Giants and Don Newcombe started for the Dodgers. Jackie Robinson drove in the Dodgers first run and Thomson drove in the Giants first run with a SF in the sixth inning. In the top of the eighth the Dodgers rallied for three runs. Going into the bottom of the ninth the Dodgers led 4-1. After scoring a run in the bottom of the ninth, Bobby Thomson came up to the plate with two runners on. Even though Thomson homered off of Branca in Game 1 of the playoff, Dodger manager Charlie Dressen brought Ralph Branca into the game to pitch to Thomson.  After taking Branca’s first fastball for a strike, Thomson blasted the next fastball over the left-field wall. The ball landed in the first row approximately 315 feet from home-plate. After winning the pennant, the Giants lost to the Yankees in the 1951 World Series.

One of the most famous baseball calls of all-time was given by Russ Hodges, the Giants announcer. The call was: “There's a long drive ... it's gonna be, I believe ... The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant and they're goin' crazy, they're goin' crazy!”

In those days broadcasts were seldom taped and no one at any of the networks were taping the game. This call only survived because a Dodger fan at work, had his mother tape the last half-inning of the Giant broadcast just to hear Russ Hodges’ sad words describing the Giant loss.

A controversy arose when rumors spread that the 1951 Giants were stealing signs at their home games. The clubhouse was located some 480 feet behind center field. The rumors say the Giants used a telescope manned by Herman Franks, a coach, to see the catcher’s finger signs and then relay these signs to the dugout through a buzzer line. Thomson insisted he had no foreknowledge of Branca’s pitch. Branca thought he knew the fastball was coming but he still had to hit it.

The phrase “The Shot Heard Round the World” appeared in a NY newspaper and was attached to Thomson’s home run from that point on.Later Branca and Thomson became close friends and for several years appeared together at many functions.

And here it is:

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

After writing two blogs about TV ratings and baseball, I decided to research the history of the symbiotic relationship between baseball and TV. The information that follows is from documents published by the Baseball Hall of Fame.

My first surprise was discovering when and where the first televised game was: May 17, 1939 at Baker Field. Columbia defeated Princeton 2 to 1 in 10-innings and the game took 2 hours and 15 minutes. NY Times reported that the use of one camera 50 feet from home plate was woefully lacking.

On August 26, 1939, NBC televised the first pro game between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers in Brooklyn. “No monitor only two cameras at Ebbets Field,” said Dodgers announcer Red Barber, “I had to watch to see which one’s red light was on, then guess its direction.”

In 1946, Americans owned 56 million radios compared to 17 thousand TVs. Clearly TV had a long road to gain acceptance as the media of choice. What follows is a timeline for the events that triggered the growth of baseball and TV. Later postings will isolate some of the events below.

1947- The first televised World Series was shown in the NY area by NBC. The 1947 World Series brought in an estimated 3.9 million people, becoming television's first mass audience.

1950- The first All-Star game was televised.

1951- WCBS out of NY televised the first baseball game in color. Also, CBS and NBC aired the first national network best-of-three playoff between the Brooklyn Dodgers and NY Giants after they tied for the National League pennant. Next, NBC broadcast TV’s first national World Series which was won by the Yankees beating the Giants in six games.

1953- ABC launched sports first network TV series Dizzy Dean’s Game of the Week on Saturdays.

1955- CBS took over “The Game of the Week” and added Sunday to its Saturday’s Game. It was reported that 80% of the TVs in use watched these games.

1955- The first World Series televised in color.

1959- Instant Replay was invented when Mel Allen (the voice of the Yankees) asked his director to replay the first hit given up by Ralph Terry in the ninth inning.

1960- The three networks ABC, NBC. And CBS broadcast about 120 games a year.

1966- NBC bought the exclusive rights making it baseball’s only network. Curt Gowdy was hired to be baseball’s sole voice.

1971- Roberto Clemente led the Pittsburgh Pirates to its Series win by hitting safely in all seven games. 61 million fans watched when NBC televised Game 4 which was the first Series night game.

1975- Classic World Series between Red Sox and Reds featured the Game 6-winning home run hit by Carlton Fisk off the left field foul pole. Because the camera followed Fisk as he willed the ball to be fair, instant replay immortalized this home run.

1976- Along came cable TV when Ted Turner, the Atlanta Braves owner, broadcast his team’s games to cable households throughout the nation.Also, ABC joined NBC to share the post-season and All-Star game. ABC launched Monday Night Baseball starring Bob Uecker and Howard Cosell as the announcers.

1980- 22 MLB teams signed one-year cable contracts.

1989- Major League baseball signed a $400 million deal with ESPN to broadcast over 175 games.

1997- Fox signed a four year $172 million deal with Liberty Cable.

2008- Major League Baseball launched their own cable network

During the 2000s many teams including the Yankees and Red Sox developed their own cable networks televising their games regionally.

The MLB is doing just fine. The new emphasis on regional games through cable networks has increased the popularity of baseball even though national TV ratings have diminished.

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

By Alex Everett

The funny thing about baseball is that what we expect to happen doesn’t always happen. As I posted in my last article the Mets were the only team with a positive run differential (+11) and a losing record (79-83). Using Dr. Stan’s formula to predict winning percentage (Winning Percentage = .000683*(runs scored – runs allowed) +.50), the expected record for the 2014 Mets would have been 82-80. Using this same formula, it can be calculated that the Yankees 2014 run differential of -31 would have given them an expected record of 79-83. This would have been their first losing season in 22 years. Since the Yankees were the only 2014 team with an actual winning record (84-78) and a negative run differential, this raises a red flag about the 2015 Yankees.

The Yankees biggest issues in 2014 were under-production and injuries. The Yankees expected aging veteran stars Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixiera, Brian McCann, and C.C. Sabathia to perform like the stars they were in the past. Unfortunately, aged veterans tend to break down in the long baseball season and they all did. At the beginning of the 2014 season, the average age of the Yankees was projected to be 33.5. How can the Yankees expect to get better in 2015 when their aging veterans are a year older?

In order for the Yankees to get to that magical 90-win playoff season next year they would need a run differential of around +80, or 111 more than they had last season. Before making any off-season moves, the Yankees have many question marks for the 2015 season. How well will Tanaka’s elbow be without surgery? What about Teixiera’s wrist and Sabathia’s knees? Will Nova be ready to go after TJ surgery? After two hip surgeries and missing the entire 2014 season due to suspension, the Yankees do not know what the 39 year-old Alex Rodriguez can give them. Will he have to be a full-time DH?

It would be difficult to increase a run differential by 111 with just off-season moves. Even if the Yankees signed both Hanley Ramirez and Jon Lester, there is little chance they can be in the post-season next year with their projected roster for 2015. As of right now, the Yankees already have a payroll of $169 million for 2015, which leaves them $20 million to spend and stay within their announced budget. The most plausible way to run the Yankees right now would be to not sign more aging veterans, but instead wait for existing contracts to expire and then accumulate young free agents and draft choices. The reason the Yankees haven’t had a losing season for 22 years is because the “Core Four” came up through their system carrying them to World Championships. Re-creating another group of young players is the correct direction for the Yankees. The problem is Yankee fans are not willing to accept losing seasons and they must be appeased.

The late George Steinbrener would never accept losing seasons. Unfortunately for Yankee fans, George’s sons did not inherit their father’s philosophy of spending whatever it takes to have a winning season. With so many teams like the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Angels having the money to bid for talented young free agents, the acquisition of young talent will be very difficult. This will lead the Yankees to stock pile more aging over-the-hill veterans who will break down as the season progresses.

The Mets and Yankees are on opposite paths going forward to 2015 and beyond. Although the Yankees have young talent such as power hitting Aaron Judge in the minor leagues, they have no one remotely close to the MLB like the Mets do. Whereas, the Mets have an abundance of young major league pitching talent; the Yankees have the same old group that broke down in 2014. With their young power pitchers, Mets fans can be optimistic for 2015 with a real chance of making the playoffs, while Yankee fans will again miss the playoffs.  , 2015 Mets

Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

In my last blog posting I presented an argument proposed by some people that National TV ratings should not be used to compare the popularity of the World Series (WS) to the popularity of the Super Bowl because the World Series is a regional event whereas the Super Bowl is a national event.

The 2014 World Series had Fox executives worrying about their National TV ratings. After all this would be the first WS involving two teams with fewer than 90 wins and with two teams that played in the additional wild card game instituted in 2012. Added to that negative was the fact that the AL representative was not the Red Sox or Yankees but was the small-market Kansas City Royals.

The first six games of the 2014 World Series were for the most part ho-hum. In fact, this was the first WS in history where at least five games were decided by five or more runs. The Giants won Game 1 behind a strong performance by Madison Bumgarner, while the Royals won Games 2 and 3, as their relief pitchers limited the Giants' hitters. The Giants won Games 4 and 5, as they scored 11 runs in Game 4 and Bumgarner threw a complete game shutout in Game 5. The Royals came back to win Game 6 as they scored 10 runs and shut out the Giants, forcing a Game 7.

As expected the first six games drew awful ratings. In fact, the 2014 World Series set records for the lowest TV ratings for Games 1, 4, 5, and 6 in WS history. The ratings for the entire seven WS games are presented below.

TV Ratings for 2014 World Series

Game 7 of the World Series, which brought the San Francisco Giants their third championship in five years, was seen on Wednesday night by 23.5 million viewers, the most to view a Series game since Game 7 in 2011, when 25.5 million watched St. Louis beat Texas. None of the first six games of this year’s WS had been seen by more than an average of 13.4 million viewers. Game 7 figures nearly doubled the ratings and viewership averages for Games 1 through Game 6 and kept the Series from supplanting 2012 as the lowest-rated Fall Classic on record.

What brought about the dramatic increase in ratings for Game 7? After two strong pitching appearances in Game 1 and Game 5 by Bumgarner, baseball people were intrigued about his possibilities for Game 7. With only two days rest would Bumgarner be used in Game 7? If he was used would he start or relieve? How many innings would he be allowed to pitch? Of course, the nature of the deciding factor of a championship determined by one game added to the excitement.

Game 7 viewership climbed steadily throughout the night. From 9:30 to 10 p.m. it stood at 23.5 million. But after Bumgarner’s entrance as a reliever for the Giants in the fifth inning, it rose through the last three half-hour periods, to 25.8 million, 26.3 million and 27.8 million. Through Tuesday, the matchup between the Giants and the Kansas City Royals was on pace to be the lowest-rated and least-viewed World Series on record.

After allowing a single in the fifth inning, Bumgarner retired 14 straight batters. Game 7 ended dramatically when Alex Gordon reached third base as the potential tying run with two outs in the ninth inning. Bumgarner induced Salvador Perez to hit a foul popup that was caught by Pablo Sandoval to end the game, and baseball season.Still, the audience for the Series was smaller than the 14.9 million average during Boston’s six-game victory over St. Louis last year.

The Kansas City market had a 58.3 rating, setting a record there for a Major League Baseball game, but it was not a Nielsen-metered market in 1985, when the Royals won Game 7 against St. Louis in a broadcast seen by 45 million. San Francisco’s 38.8 rating was the best in that market since Game 7 of the 2002 World Series.




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