I just started reading the book Freakonomics. It’s been interesting so far. And, this AM, a passage that I read made the Yankee light bulb go on over my head.
Without going into too much detail and giving anything away from the book, this section was regarding the prevention of a postwar revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the North, where the book talks about the “raw power of information” and how sometimes that power is “derived in large part” from groups hoarding information and that “once that information falls into the wrong hands” the hoarding group loses it’s advantage.
Right away, I began to think of the baseball book Moneyball – in which, A’s G.M. Billy Beane allowed the telling of many of the ways the A’s run their team. Hmmmmm, and, how exactly have the A’s been doing since Moneyball came out?
But, then, just as quick, I thought about a Baseball Digest article that I read as a kid following the 1976 World Series. This piece talked about how hard that the Reds scouted the Yankees for that series. It was very interesting to read after-the-fact.
The scout that did the work said that he told the Reds that a Rivers bunt was an automatic hit. So, what did the Reds do? Rose played in at third right down Mickey’s throat. And, Rivers was neutralized. Next, the scout told Cincy that they should not let Munson hurt them with extra base hits – and, that if you gave Thurman the outside pitch, he would be willing to take it for a single to RF. So, what happened? Munson had a ton of hits in that series – but did not harm the Reds with any extra base hits.
It was not all perfect. The scout told the Reds that you could “knock the bat out of the hands” of SS Jim Mason. And, Mason homered in his only AB in the series – the Yankees only long ball in the ’76 series.
Nonetheless, information does have raw power. So, since the Yankees know that they have to beat the Red Sox to win in the A.L. East, why not try and get as much information on them as possible? If I were Big Stein, I would have a good scout assigned to the Red Sox 24/7. Get him a MLB.TV package. Make him watch every pitch of every Sox game. Somebody is getting Ortiz and Manny out sometime, right? There has to be something to learn there, no? And, some teams are able to beat Tim Wakefield, right? Why not try and see how they do it?
And, while the scout is at it, he can look at the Sox-Yankees games and figure out what the Yankees are doing wrong when they play Boston.
How much could it cost to cover a full-time Boston scout? Fifty-grand? Seventy-five maybe? Isn’t that worth it? How many Ortiz homeruns do you have to watch before you sign off on the idea? I think it’s time. Beats doing whatever they are doing now – because that is not working.