New York Mets Reason for Optimism: thy name is Cowgill

By: Brian Mangan

Brian explains why there is a lot of reason to be optimistic about newly-acquired Met, Collin Cowgill.

Much has been written this offseason, and rightly so, about the weakness of the projected New York Mets outfield corps.  Currently penciled in to start are Lucas Duda, in left field, a platoon of Collin Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center field, and a platoon of Mike Baxter and Marlon Byrd in right field.

Shelby County v. Holder: A Threat to the Separation of Powers?

The author of this article is not a constitutional law scholar, and the opinions expressed herein are the opinions of the author alone.  

The Supreme Court of the United States heard argument last week on an appeal by Shelby County, Alabama which challenged the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (the “VRA”).  The part of the VRA in question requires certain parts of the country, parts with a history of racial discrimination, to submit proposed changes to their voting procedures to the federal government to be reviewed before they may be changed.  (See South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301 (1966)(“After enduring nearly a century of systematic resistance to the Fifteenth Amendment, Congress might well decide to shift the advantage of time and inertia from the perpetrators of the evil to its victims.”))

Review of the VRA calls requires consideration of two Constitutional tests: the ancient and well-respected rational basis test and the “congruence and proportionality” test which was only announced by the Supreme Court in 1990.  It is the latter of the two tests which, especially in the context of Shelby County v. Holder, implicates serious Constitutional problems.

Wins Above Replacement (WAR) is Fine: Jim Caple’s Master Class in Strawman Argumentation

Over at ESPN.com, the excellent Jim Caple published an article entitled “Let’s Corral the WAR Horse” in which he argues against the use of WAR as “THE definitive evaluation of a player’s worth.”

It’s a good article, but I’m not sure who it is that he is arguing against.

I have been a proponent of advanced statistics since I was in high school, discovering sites like the baseball cube and Baseball Think Factory.  The Cube provided unbridled access to statistics at players across all levels of the minors and even in college, and Baseball Think Factory provided an incredible forum for people interested in baseball to discuss and analyze most nuanced parts of the game.  The work at BBTF has helped lead to advanced things like WAR, ERA+ and VORP, but also simpler things such as studies about run expectancy (whether it’s good to bunt when down by one with a man on first in the ninth inning).

Intellectualism, Sabermetrics and Stephen Strasburg’s Innings-Limit

The debate over whether the Washington Nationals should “shut down” young phenom Stephen Strasburg has been raging since early this season, when it became apparent that the Nationals might be good enough to challenge for a playoff spot.

Strasburg, as even casual fans are aware, is only two years removed from undergoing a procedure known as “Tommy John” surgery.  The plan, as it was stated in the preseason, was for the Nationals organization to “take it easy” with Strasburg, and limit him to approximately 160 innings this season.  However, with the Nationals contending and on their way to the playoffs, to shut down Strasburg at a set innings-limit will deprive the Nationals of a young man who is, ostensibly, one of the three or four best pitchers in the National League and who stands to be the very real difference between the Nationals winning or losing a short playoff series.

Bernie Williams: A Mets Fan’s Take on his Hall of Fame Candidacy

Growing up in New York City in the 90’s, it was not easy being a Mets fan.  To be clear, it’s *never* easy being a Mets fan, but the 90’s — particularly the late 90’s — was an a particularly trying time for a baseball-obsessed teenager to like the Mets.  As a high school student at the time, I knew that each September would deliver me the distinct pleasure of returning to school with the Yankees setting their playoff rotation and the Mets limping flaccidly to the finish line.

To make matters worse, my high school was located in downtown Manhattan, a stone’s throw from the Canyon of Heroes.  As a result, my classmates and I were fortunate enough to have a front row seat to not one, not two, but THREE Yankee World Series Championship Parades (they failed to win the World Series — losers! — in 1997).