(Blogathon ’16) First References to Off-The-Field Innovations and Innovators

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

One of the great perks of SABR membership is access online to The Sporting News’ archives. While it now is dedicated to all sports, for a good chunk of it’s earlier history it was almost entirely focused on baseball. This allows us to see how players, ideas, teams and even countries first got the attention of the baseball press. This time, I take a look at off-the-field innovations and innovators:

Bill James

The first appearance of the founding father of Sabermetrics came in advertising, as he hawked his early Baseball Abstract editions with ads like this one that can be found in the May 14, 1977 edition of Sporting News:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.35.32 PMHowever, James’ first appearance in a print story seems to be in this November 10, 1979 snippet about the fall of the ’79 Dodggers and Yankees:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.37.20 PMRotisserie Baseball

The first reference to Rotisserie Baseball comes, as far as I can tell, in a advertisement for it in the Feb. 27, 1983 edition of Sporting News:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.41.50 PMThe first reference in-story to Rotisserie, as far as I can see, is in a story about Dan Quisenberry from May 19, 1986. He says he knows his poor save stats are letting his roto-owners down:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.45.23 PMNote that it’s possible that there were references to “roto” or “fantasy” before this, but I didn’t include them in the search.

Strat-O-Matic

Strat-O-Matic began in 1961 and they put advertising in Sporting News right away, like in this August 23, 1961 ad.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 2.52.32 PMI can’t find the first reference in a story, but it probably happened eventually. Maybe next time…

ESPN

The first reference to ESPN came in a September 22, 1979 column by Dick Young, where he mentioned that Jim Simpson (who passed away recently) was joining the network:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.08.44 PMAnd, finally… Bobbleheads:

The first reference to bobbleheads comes in a profile of Danny Goodman on October 27, 1962. Goodman was one of the first big souvenir salesmen and was based on the west coast:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 3.16.41 PM

At 7 pm: Breaking OOTP

This post has been part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

 

Famous for Something Else: Danny Kanell

A College Football analyst and radio co-host on ESPN who had started at QB for Florida State and who played in the NFL and Arena Football League (usually as a back-up), Danny Kanell was drafted in the 24th round of the 1995 Draft by the Yankees. While he would go on to choose football, he later would have a brief stint in independent ball in 2001 for Newark of the Atlantic League:

Year Age AgeDif Tm Lg Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB
2001 27 -1.5 Newark ATLL Ind 25 79 76 11 18 2 2 1 6 2 1 3 24 .237 .266 .355 .621 27 2 0 0 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/3/2015.

Kanell remains somewhat involved with baseball at ESPN, occasionally commenting on games during his appearances and sometimes even serving as a color commentator for college baseball games on the networks of ESPN.

Your Offseason Baseball Viewing Listings for November 5, 2013

Stuff today to view:

6 PM: Finalists for BBWAA awards revealed on MLB Network.

7:30 PM: Dominican League Baseball (Tigres del Licey vs. Toros del Este) on the WatchESPN app.

9 PM: Arizona Fall League: Mesa Solar Sox (prospects from Cubs, Tigers, Angels, A’s and Nationals) at Salt River Rafters (prospects from Diamondbacks, Rockies, Cardinals, Rays and Blue Jays). MLB Network.

 

Picture of the day: Disconnect between perception and reality

The general perception of the World Baseball Classic is that, almost universally, fans want their favorite team’s players- and especially pitchers- to avoid it like the plague. Which is why it’s interesting when I saw poll results on ESPN.com:

Screen Shot 2013-01-26 at 10.57.11 AM

Huh. What do you know. It seems like a majority of people, at least on ESPN, would be fine with it. Now, it’s hardly a runaway majority, but it is a majority. Perhaps this suggests that there is a “silent majority” in favor of the WBC that is overlooked by the fact that those who are against having their team’s players playing in it make a lot more noise.

(Now, admittedly, this is hardly a scientific poll, and isn’t exactly specific- for example, it isn’t something like specifically asking Tigers fans if they’d be okay with Justin Verlander pitching, or Mariners fans if they are okay with how Felix Martinez is pitching, but the fact remains: in general, it seems like a majority of people have no problem with their team’s pitchers playing in the WBC.)

East Coast Bias and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Part 4: The Blue Jays

(Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

As part of my study of ESPN’s scheduling patterns for Sunday Night Baseball, I was somewhat surprised to see that the  team with the biggest discrepancy between performance and appearances on SNB were the Toronto Blue Jays.

Seriously. The Blue Jays had the 15th best record in baseball from 2007 to 2011, but were tied for 30th (dead last), with no appearances. They’ve had two of the best players in the game to knowledgeable baseball fans: Roy Halladay and then Jose Bautista have been in Toronto. But, guess what, they haven’t shown up on Sunday Night Baseball in recent years. At all. In fact, it was a bit of a surprise when I saw them on Monday Night Baseball earlier this season. Apparently, Tim Kurkjian had to appeal straight to the State Department to get some passport problems fixed, which is probably a good indication of how rarely ESPN gets up there.

But why, exactly, are the Blue Jays so ignored by ESPN, despite the fact they usually have a winning team? Well, there are two reasons, read on to see them.

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East Coast Bias and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Part 3: Who gets ignored

As noted yesterday and the day before, ESPN does indeed have East Coast teams on Sunday Night Baseball more than many teams from other areas. However, it isn’t because ESPN wants teams closer to Bristol, it’s just that teams on the East Coast tend to do well both on the field and in the ratings, so it makes sense to schedule them more.

That said, there are some teams that end up getting the short end of the stick because of this. These are some of those teams.

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East Coast Bias and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, Part 2

As we saw yesterday, ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball does, in general, feature more eastern teams than teams in other parts of the country.

But, as I said yesterday, that isn’t telling the whole story. Yes, there is an East Coast Bias in appearances, but that bias is not necessarily geographical so much as it is based on two factors: finding the best stories (which are usually the best teams), and getting the most eyeballs watching the games. In fact, at one point a VP of Programming and Acquisitions at ESPN even said as much.

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