As Chris said yesterday, it’s fun to get this sort of post title out while it’s still true. So, while we know that the Braves won’t get 162 perfect innings each out of Gonzalez, Soriano, Wickman, and Paronto (or 324! homers by Edgar Renteria), it still feels good to get a win like that under your belt, especially against a contending division rival. Of course, now we have the ridiculous post-opening day off day. I guess you can watch American Idol or some women’s basketball if you need something to do.
Yesterday, I linked J.C. Bradbury’s NY Times op-ed about the effects of expansion, so today I’ll link to a good counter-argument by Phil Birnbaum, who thinks expansion probably doesn’t explain as much as J.C. says. I’ll be interested to see if J.C. counters that argument again, and I’m anxious to read what he had to say about it in The Baseball Economist.
Birnbaum was preaching to the choir in his other recent post (this time about basketball) on benching players who are in foul trouble. This appears to have been brought on by the discussion of Greg Oden’s matchup against the Florida big men in last night’s title game, a matchup in which Oden actually thrived.
I’ve argued for a while that it makes little sense to bench a player with two fouls in the first half (or perhaps worse, four in the second half). Why ignore the reasonable possibility that the player will not foul out by benching him, thus ending the chance of him getting more playing time? I’d play my best player with only two circumstantial exceptions: fatigue on the part of that player (or other replacement players), or carelessness in picking up the fouls. Otherwise, there’s no good reason to sit a star player with two fouls.
OSU coach Thad Matta said before the national championship game that Oden had only fouled out once this year, but I’ll bet that’s mostly because of Matta’s insistence on taking him out when he got into foul trouble and the fact that Oden was playing limited minutes due to injury earlier in the season. I think he could have gotten some more mileage out of the big man if he’d let him play while in foul trouble. Of course, The Ohio State University reached the final game, and Oden played almost the whole game…and the Buckeyes still lost. I wonder if anyone will remember five years from now who lost to Florida in both the football and basketball title games this year…