Game of Chance
By Alex Reisner
To listen to an audio podcast, mouse over the title and click Play. Open iTunes to download and subscribe to podcasts.
Game of Chance is a weekly podcast about baseball stats, history, and culture which puts current events in a historical context and constantly questions what we think we know about the national pastime.
||CleanGame of Chance 20: Fielding Statistics||There have been many attempts over the years to quantify defense. Despite claims that current stats describe 60% of fielding, it's my opinion that little progress has been made. However, a new technology is coming which will soon change everything.||4/15/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 19: Predictions||Spring is the time for guessing which players will have that long-awaited breakout season, which teams will surprise everyone and win a pennant, which ones will completely fall apart, and anything else that might happen in a baseball season. But calling them "predictions" doesn't make them any better than "guesses," even when the experts are talking.||4/7/2011||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 18: The Unbreakables (Part Two)||Is Ty Cobb's .366 lifetime batting average really an unbreakable record? What about Barry Bonds' 762 career home runs? Or Nolan Ryan's 5714 strikeouts? And will anyone ever hit 50 home runs and steal 50 bases in a season?||10/1/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 17: The Unbreakables (Part One)||The breaking of records is often surrounded by controversy. We have a tendency to defend the past as somehow superior to the present. Which of baseball's great records are unbreakable because a player was extraordinary? And which because the game has changed? What records are the most interesting to think about?||9/24/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 16: Tough Guys||In 1972 Steve Blass suddenly lost the ability to control his pitches. Thirty years later, the same thing happened to Rick Ankiel. We expect professional athletes to be stoic, unaffected by danger and injury, but the culture of baseball can have profound consequences on the performance of even the most elite athletes.||9/16/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 15: Why Baseball Has Statistics||Right from its beginnings in the 1800s, baseball has been accompanied by a barrage of numbers. Why are statistics so important to baseball? Why did they develop so naturally, and why have they remained so fascinating for so long? What makes baseball different from football, basketball, and hockey?||9/10/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 14: Pitch Counts||In the past month two pitchers have been pulled from games while in the process of throwing a no-hitter. In general, pitchers today don't throw as many pitches as they used to. What's the deal with pitch counts? Do they really help keep pitchers healthy? Or do they prevent them from building the endurance they need to have long careers?||9/3/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 13: The Legend of Derek Jeter||Derek Jeter is often referred to as the second best shortstop ever. Is this accurate? Where does Jeter fit among the greats?||8/26/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 12: Speed (Part One)||Speed is an exciting part of baseball, but how important is it for an offense to have fast players? Whitey Herzog had a lot of success with fast teams, but Earl Weaver and many others have had success with slow-running power-hitting teams. Is there a place for the traditional leadoff hitter in today's game?||8/19/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 11: Taking Stock: The 2010 Mets||Every year the Mets' payroll is one of the highest in baseball and their results are mediocre. What's going on? What are the problems and what do Mets fans have to look forward to?||8/6/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 10: Luck (Part One)||Luck plays a huge role in baseball, more than most people realize. In fact, baseball players behave a lot like coin flips, and are subject to the same laws of probability. How much do stats actually tell about a player's ability?||8/6/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 9: Milestones||Why do we care if a batter hits .300 or a pitcher wins 20 games? How have these arbitrary milestones become so important to baseball fans? And, more importantly, how do they affect the players and the game itself? Is there a better way to quickly summarize a player's accomplishments?||7/30/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 8: Dominance||A recent ESPN article claimed that Barry Bonds was a more dominant home run hitter than Babe Ruth, and rewrites the all-time home run leader list with the use of some flawed math. I explain how to use z-scores to determine which players are actually the most dominant, and how to compare dominance across eras.||7/23/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 7: Correct vs. Fair||Carlos Beltran returns to centerfield for the New York Mets tonight while Jose Reyes sits out. The Mets injury management over the past two seasons has been abysmal. Also: the "get it right" argument in support of instant replay is based on a misunderstanding about the role of umpires and how the rules are enforced. Is instant replay more for the fans than for the game?||7/15/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 6: First Half Flukes?||There have been some surprising performances in the first half of 2010. Are they flukes or for real? A closer look at all-stars Martin Prado, Arthur Rhodes, Yovani Gallardo, Corey Hart, and Jose Bautista.||7/8/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 5: The Great Vladimir Guerrero||The Texas Rangers averaged over 7 runs per game in June, led by Vladimir Guerrero who is destroying baseballs the way he has for the past 14 years, and still not getting the recognition he deserves. The exciting and colorful bad ball hitter is a sure-fire Hall of Famer and one of the all-time greats, yet he is often placed in the same category as good-but-not-great players like David Wright, Grady Sizemore, and Jason Bay.||7/2/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 4: A Tribute to Rick Ankiel||Rick Ankiel is on a very short list of players (which includes Babe Ruth) who have been legitimate pitchers and position players at the major league level. Because of his talent, his persistence, and the hardships he's faced, I consider him one of the most important players in the game today.||6/25/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 3: Replay Is Coming||It seems instant replay review is destined to be a part of baseball at some point. How will it affect the game? Schuyler Dunlap weighs in on how instant replay could be implemented. I remain skeptical that it's a good thing for the sport.||6/21/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 2: Don't Throw Away Next Year||The Mets are not going to make the playoffs this year, but Omar Minaya will probably trade young talent for mercenary veterans anyway, destroying next year's team in the process. Mets fans watch this happen year after year, while the team continues to neglect their long-standing starting pitching problem (and last-ditch mid-season moves cannot solve a problem this deep).||6/16/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
||CleanGame of Chance 1: Start a New List||Umpire Jim Joyce missed a call last night that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game...or did he? How should we think about Galarraga's performance? How many times have similar events occurred in baseball history? Thoughts on the nature of baseball records, instant replay, reversing the call, and what to do if you're mad about it.||6/16/2010||Free||View in iTunes|
Insightful musings on stats from a lover of baseball
Invaluably, Alex Reisner is just as good at discussing the "non-valuable": intangibles he and possibly all of us can't know or don't yet about baseball. And like Bill James, he predicts and takes stands and allows his emotions to color the stats, as nearly any fan does (and should).
I also like the brief episode structure. And how better to honor the "Game of Chance" than for the episodes to likewise take a random walk among the aspects of baseball?
Look on his website, too, for the link to his thoughful "situational" scorecard that has improved my scorekeeping habits. Reisner Scorekeeping was my intro to this podcast.
Game of chance
Excellent. Have loved everyone. Will their be anymore?
I've really enjoyed your show all summer. A perfect blend of stats, history, conjecture and insight. You appear to have stopped posting for the year. Looking forward to more. Thanks. Clearly a labor of love and much appreciated.