Fire Jim Tracy

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Curious Coincidences at the Times

Ross Newhan in today's Times:

It's impossible to understand how the Dodgers allowed Beltre to leave after a breakthrough year, then signed oft-injured J.D. Drew to a five-year, $55-million contract. Drew has never driven in 100 runs in a season, never made an All-Star team and has had 450 or more at-bats in a season only once.

Jayson Stark last week on ESPN.com:

Dodgers hand a five-year, $55-million deal to a guy (J.D. Drew) who has never made an All-Star team, has never driven in 100 runs and has had one 450-at-bat season in his life.

Hmmm...the exact same three points...but in a different order! Journalistic integrity intact!

Memo to Los Angeles Times: There are plenty of reasons to criticize the Drew signing without stealing them verbatim from other writers without attribution.This particular combination of facts was strange enough as it was when Stark used them (the latter fact alone would seem to suffice to question Drew's contract); they are obviously stolen.

Then he repeats the dumb canard about Drew's two-year out -- otherwise known by the thinking Dodger fan as the "only good part" of Drew's contract.

UPDATE: Sent e-mail to the Times. Will be promptly ignored. Times will remain derivative hack-fest.

UPDATE 2: T.J. Simers has been on a "credibility" kick lately. Any bets on whether he turns that inquiry inward? File that one in the "unlikely" folder.

UPDATE 3: A brief primer on plagiarism in journalism. While it is true that a "simple, verifiable" fact does not require attribution, the combination of facts Newhan stole from Stark make up an argument -- the combination of "facts" becomes an "idea" which should have been attributed. "When other person's unique ideas or writings are quoted or paraphrased, they must be attributed." Why old media continues to lecture bloggers on journalistic ethics and "credibility" is a mystery that no one will ever get tired of solving.

(That is, unless you believe he didn't steal it, which would require you to believe that he came up with the exact three statistics as Stark, including the magic 450 at-bat level -- why not use plate appearances? But then you are also the one that believes Barry Bonds didn't use steroids.)

As far as Newhan goes, this merits an apology and proper attribution (and possibly a self-consideration of the perils of unthinking pack journalism). That's all. No federal case (unless the Times refuses to acknowledge it at all). But it's yet another sign, along with everything else I've been talking about the last three months, that something is wrong with the Times sports page. There is an uncritical, almost unthinking laziness among the staff, and it needs to be fixed.

UPDATE 4: Does anyone know if the Times has an ombudsman? (I suspect the answer to this is no -- I looked for one and couldn't find it.) I do not believe the heavily cocooned sports staff will be of much help.

UPDATE 5: There is a thread on this topic here at Dodger Thoughts, including my comments. I hope I have made clear that I can't imagine why anyone would fire anyone over anything like this. People make mistakes, and this one is minor indeed. And I recognize that often situations like this give media outlets the chance to preen about their journalistic virtue, while at the same time going to bed at night with, say, the Davis Administration. But I am not the man to take life's unfairnesses and make them right. I just want the Times to wake up and provide Dodger fans with the coverage we deserve. Original, interesting, non-derivative coverage. To the extent this means not reusing other people's material (whether technically "plagiarism" or not), or reordering priorities to ensure that such borrowing does not occur, I think that would be a healthy discussion for the journalistic community to have. What's wrong with that?

26 Comments:

  • Steve, if you send the e-mail directly to the writer, they usually respond. Not promptly but they do respond, especially if the letter is polite in tone. I've written both critical and complimentary letters to Plaschke, Heisler, Simers, Adande, Newhan, Springer, Penner, Dwyre... all responded with only Simers being nasty about it.

    Point being... don't be surprised if your e-mail to the Times isn't the beginning, middle and end of your dialogue with them.

    By Anonymous Suffering Bruin, at 2/23/2005 04:22:00 PM  

  • Steven, if you look at Drew's career stats, his second-best total in at-bats is 424. That makes 450 the logical place (rounding up) for anyone to use to make a point. (And it's not like at-bats is a retired stat for a guy like Newhan.) The other benchmarks - 100 RBI, 0 All-Star teams - are even more obvious. It all speaks toward making the case (if one wants to) for Drew's lack of durability and overall production.

    I think your point about this being a rather facile look at the Drew signing by Newhan is legit. In fact, that's another part of the reason that this is a very, very thin case for plagarism. Any two-bit analysis of Drew would gravitate to these same points.

    It's maybe more than a little coincidental, but really minor and definitely not "obviously stolen." And believe me, I'd be happy to ferret out plagarism if it's there.

    By Blogger Jon, at 2/23/2005 09:23:00 PM  

  • I don't think a lynch mob is in order, but I think it's at least mildly curious that he used the same three statistics the same way. He could have pointed out that Drew has only hit 30 HRs once (last year). Or that he's averaged about 120 games played a season. In any case, I think Newhan is the least of Times' problems, especially considering the fact that he is basically retired. As Steve said, this perhaps reflects a general intellectual and editorial laziness at the Times and in sportwriting in general.

    By Blogger Jerry Fors, at 2/23/2005 10:22:00 PM  

  • SB--

    My letter was not polite in tone. But my interest is not in improving the Times or engaging in a dialogue with them. In any event, I would expect to get an answer from them something like...

    Jon--

    Ack. Where to start?

    Or 425. Or not making the point at all. How anyone can look at those two sentences, compared to each other, and call them a "thin, thin case" for plagarism is beyond me.

    The fact that it is a facile analysis is exactly what proves the plagarism, and was my point. The point that Drew is a risky buy can be made in ANY THOUSANDS of ways, and does not need to fit into an easy, "three stat" formula. You could write that Drew only played more than 135 games once in his career. You could write that he has had more than 125 (or 150) hits more than once in a season (an eye-grabbing statistic, no?). You could write that he's only had more than 30 HR once. You could also argue that all of these occurrences happened in the same year, which just happened to be last year. You could simply use those quotes from LaRussa regarding his willingness to play every day. And yet, Newhan selected not only a three stat formula, but the exact three stat formula that Jayson Stark selected. This formula only stands out because Stark had already pointed them out to us, and to Newhan. Looking at a blank slate, you could have created a formula using one stat, two stats, five stats, or no stats at all. I could have also written something facile and simple like "All the Dodgers are getting for their money is a career .287 BA." But Newhan's facile statement and Stark's just happen to match a "little more than coincidentally?"

    Jon. Brooklyn Bridge. Brooklyn Bridge. Jon.

    There's no such thing as "a little more than coincidental." It is either stolen, or it is not. It is minor -- I said that already. Apologies are in order, and really all this is is symptomatic of the Times' lazy and unfair coverage of the Dodgers. The plagarism is established, but it's not even the point. The point is that the Times sports writers are hacks, and can't write their own way out of a paper bag. That's all. And even that is not a terribly important world event.

    And what's minor, anyway? This is a newspaper that almost rent in twain over whether that big building downtown is called "Staples Center" or "The Staples Center."

    If you don't like "obviously stolen" (even though obvious is a fair term), how about "likely stolen?" Or "probably stolen?" Or "by the preponderance of the evidence standard, it could possibly be in some distant parallel universe inhabited by unicorns that this is plagarism?"

    Any prosecutor would take this case to plagarism court, and would never get there because Newhan would be begging on his knees to plead to a lesser charge. I hate to give the Times ideas if they even have the guts to issue a correction, but this case was so obvious I would even believe it if they told me that Newhan gave it attribution, and some low-level copy editor cut it out based on the "fact" exception to the plagarism standard.

    And finally, it's not the crime...it's the coverup, right? If Newhan cops, and a correction is issued, then who cares? It was one dumb point in one dumb article. Nothing would be worth the public journalistic self-flagellation that followed L'Affaire Staples anyway. But anything that will bring attention to what's wrong with the sports page might bring outside pressure for change and break the cocoon. Or we can pretend nothing's wrong, and chalk it up to one of those wacky events just "more than a little coincidental..."

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/23/2005 10:35:00 PM  

  • As usual, Jerry wins the politeness award, but finding the exact same sentence in the Los Angeles Times as I read on ESPN last week is more than "mildly curious."

    Interesting that Jerry and I found two different ways to describe the number of games J.D. Drew has played, though we were writing at the same time. That sort of thing seems to happen organically when you are putting your own thoughts on paper instead of someone else's.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/23/2005 10:48:00 PM  

  • great site..check out mine at

    http://www.sportswestweekly.blogspot.com

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/23/2005 10:49:00 PM  

  • How come when Jerry says "mildly curious" he's being polite, but when I say "more than a little coincidental" I'm the biggest rube ever to hit the States?

    It is either stolen or it's not: True.

    It is obviously stolen: False.

    Case study:

    Steve, 10:48 p.m.: "Interesting that Jerry and I found two different ways to describe the number of games J.D. Drew has played, though we were writing at the same time. "

    Since you apparently didn't notice:

    Jerry, 10:22 p.m.: "He could have pointed out that Drew has only hit 30 HRs once (last year)."

    Steven, 10:35 p.m.: " You could write that he's only had more than 30 HR once."

    Nice. Guess we'll be seeing you on your knees in plagarism court :)

    Look, the Newhan-Stark similarity was a good catch on your part and worth pointing out as suspicious. But man, would I not want you on my jury ...

    By Blogger Jon, at 2/23/2005 11:43:00 PM  

  • I meant that Jerry was being polite to you (I hope I am not impolite, only impolitic.). I have no interest in either of you being polite to Newhan, so it didn't even cross my mind. I prefer to call plagarism, "plagarism." If you guys want to call it "mildly curious" or "more than a little coincidental," I suppose you can feel free to do that.

    I have nothing to fear from plagarism court, and your prosecution would be laughed out of the courtroom, if not subject to Rule 11 sanctions. Of course, I noticed that Jerry and I repeated the same point. Plagarism is, of course, a matter of style and context. Jerry and I made the same point in the context of different arguments -- Newhan's statement is not a matter of one repeated "fact" among many. In fact, if Ross Newhan had written

    "J.D. Drew has never been an All-Star, never had more than 100 RBIs, and only hit 30 HRs once" such a statement would not be plagarism, because even if he had read Stark's piece, he would have changed the parameters to make the statement "his own" rather than Stark's.

    Of course, the fact that Jerry and I wrote what we did at the same time was an excellent quasi-experiment which proves the exact opposite you want it prove; both of us analyzed a limited universe of facts and came up with enough of a slightly different spin, having exercised independent thought, to show how truly difficult it is, "a little more than coincidentally," to hit point 1, point 2, and point 3 right on without any significant change in the context or style of the sentence. Why not a sentence that concludes "and only reached 500 at-bats once?"

    Fingerprints.

    Point 1 matches.
    Point 2 matches.
    Point 3 matches.
    Context matches.
    Style matches.
    Holistic message matches.

    Ladies and gentleman of the jury, I think there is only one logical conclusion you can draw from this.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/24/2005 12:15:00 AM  

  • Actually, you were being impolite with the Brooklyn Bridge comment, but that's okay, I guess.

    I'm gonna rest my case with the following, and you can feel free to have the final rebuttal, to me, anyway.

    I disagree with the idea that my example proved the opposite of what I wanted it to. In your previous comment, you said there were thousands of ways to make the case against Drew. Yet when each of you chose only a few to cite, you both landed on one of the same. Completely unplanned, yet it happened all too easily.

    Is it less likely that Newhan would land on three? Sure. Might it have been plagarism? Yes. Is it proof of plagrism? No. It just isn't. No matter how snappy your conclusion is.

    Here's one of several other logical conclusions one could have drawn besides the "only" one: Stark and Newhan are friends. They talk. Then they independently wrote articles that were published at different times. I'm not saying that's what happened, but shoot, I'd like to think we could check that and other things out before we convict Newhan. Just as you also might even consider giving the Times more than 12 hours to respond to your e-mail before deciding their ears are closed.

    I've conceded that you've made the case for the possibility - I don't see why you can't concede that it's not definite. It's disconcerting how cocksure you can be on this. That's all.

    By Blogger Jon, at 2/24/2005 12:35:00 AM  

  • Steve likens it to a pattern of evidence in a courtroom. In the research biz we call it a “pattern matching approach.” Same principle: a lot of small pieces of evidence which are individually unconvincing can, if they all point in the same direction (if they have a “matching pattern”), become convincing. Under some circumstances, there’s even some math to back it up which I won’t bore you with.

    Face it: Newhan lifted the argument.

    The PhD living somewhere in the vicinity of Atlanta.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/24/2005 09:11:00 AM  

  • Oh well. A bridge too far I suppose.

    The fact that Jerry and I repeated the home run stat, in a vacuum, shows nothing at all. In context, it shows how easy it is to take the same universe of "facts," and make an independent analysis of those facts while hitting some of the same points as the other guy. It was a great way of making that point.

    Again, there are literally thousands of combinations of these statistics - the chance of them matching exactly without "help" is somewhere approaching zero. You must include one stat formulas, two stat formulas (Drew has only hit 30 HRs once and never 100 RBIs), four stat formulas, and no stat formulas (along the lines I suggested with the LaRussa quotes). That is before you get to the stylistic and contextual points, which also exactly match.

    So I'm still left with two identical sentences making the same facile argument, and a newspaper that provides shoddy coverage of my favorite baseball team. I will concede the following:

    1) It is my opinion (of course) that this was stolen. It has not been established in a court of law.

    2) All the objective evidence points to this being stolen. The statistical odds of writing the same sentence given the true universe of facts is astronomical. However, speculation exists that, if true, would remove suspicion.

    3) But the speculation can not be established as fact any more than my opinion. Contextually, I will not believe that this sentence was crafted independently. Other explanations would be considered on a case-by-case basis, including, as I stated before, an editorial judgment (or oversight) that attribution was not required in this specific case. Newspapers are not footnoted and attribution takes space. I recognize these facts and recognize that mistakes can be made in applying the "rules" in practice. This is the argument I expected to get, not that this was not lifted from ESPN.

    4) Jon agrees that the sentence is facile. Basically, I expect that I would not have even noticed the similarity if I was not so tired of reading retarded nonsense in the Times every morning, and then to read recycled retarded nonsense...well, it's all one can stand. In other words, it would be a welcome relief if the Times started stealing really GOOD points from other authors.

    It does irk me when Simers parades around "credibility" like it means something to him, but I did get away from my main point on this. (You do that? -- ed. It happens.) The point is, I just want to read better writing, and I really don't care whose it is or who takes credit for it.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/24/2005 09:36:00 AM  

  • um, maybe i'm not thinking or something, but why is the 2-year out on drew's contract such a great thing from the perspective of the "thinking dodger fan"? the only good part about it that i can see is that it made the deal sweet enough for drew to sign in the first place. but it seems to me if he's solved his injury problems and he performs really well he's likely gone, and if he's injured and ineffective, he's the sequel to the dreifort horror movie. do you have another take on this?

    -Vishal

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/24/2005 09:59:00 AM  

  • Interesting that this would come up in the context of, ahem, proper attribution, because Rob at 6-4-2 was the first one who took this position. So with the understanding that all differences and errors are mine, the key is that by signing him to the 5/55 contract, you have already set yourself up for the Dreifort II: Darren Returns nightmare. The clause is not relevant to the sunk cost of the worst-case scenario. It is very reasonable (and probably correct) to criticize Paul DePodesta for opening the Dodgers up to this sort of risk -- but the clause has nothing to do with risk. They are independent factors.

    The only relevant analysis, given the contract's length, is what happens if Drew has a two-year run which convinces him to trigger his out. Such a run would have to be good enough to convince him that there is at least an Ordonez type contract out there for him. Assuming there are no desperate Detroit-type GMs throwing money at shadows, that means two incredible years, and I don't think that is terribly debatable. In that case, what's the harm? The Dodgers have received two MVP-caliber years, they save 33 million dollars, and Drew, most importantly, is STILL AN INJURY RISK. How can NewhanStark sit there and write in one paragraph that Drew has only had one 450 at-bat season, then in the next criticize a clause that does something to minimize the risk of the contract? That simply doesn't compute.

    It is true that Drew holds this particular trump card. This is a peculiarity of baseball negotiations -- blaming Paul DePodesta for the power of the Players' Union seems to miss the point. Football has overtaken baseball to a great extent because it uses its resources efficiently. Good players are paid, bad players are not (in general).

    Most importantly, my long-time quibble with the Times is that its analysis is basically rote chapter and verse which comes from the Book of Plaschke, without regard for nuance or evidence that might be
    considered "weird" by some at the paper. Hence, my accusation was simply that the Times writers do not "think" when compared to others, and was also in the context of someone who had just gone to the extreme of not only not thinking, but appeared to have gone to the extreme of cribbing someone else's sentence to avoid critical or independent thinking. I apologize if you took it personally.

    The Drew clause is not "numbing;" it is an interesting and creative way, given this year's contract climate, to get a player who has tremendous talent (does anyone really disagree with this?), give him incentive to have two great years (no Ordonez contract for a malcontent who only plays 130 games a season), and minimize your risk (to some extent) on the back-side of a contract that is, for whatever reason, something close to "market," (see Beltran, Ordonez et. al.) but is completely out of whack for a guy with Drew's medical history (something that NewhanStark already seems to agree with). You save money and can sign someone else. And you have the chance of saddling someone else with the 15 million that Drew would get at the age of 37.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/24/2005 11:33:00 AM  

  • Actually using the same stats make it less likely that Newhan stole the idea. No doubt this is a fairly common meme among sports writers. Certainly "Drew is too injury-prone to get a long-term contract" is. And that would explain the at-bat stat, which is the most suspicious to me. RBIs (especially "100") and All-Star games are exactly the sort of things writers appeal to when they want to establish greatness. If he had lifted the idea directly, I would expect him to hide his tracks a bit better.

    I suspect that the numbers themselves drew your attention to the simularities. But the numbers are so univerally presented in sports journalism, it's not hard for people to independently converge on the same arguments. Magic thresholds are cited all the time.

    Maybe he did steal the idea. But I'd want to see more evidence. Like other incidents or explainations that don't hold water.

    By Blogger Jon Ericson, at 2/24/2005 01:47:00 PM  

  • Land Use Paper...This Subject...Land Use Paper...This Subject...ummmmmm...OK!

    The "450" is, as you state, the particularly suspicious number out of these three. But just as significant as the numbers Newhan used are the ones he didn't -- hits, home runs, batting average.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/24/2005 02:11:00 PM  

  • By the way, I have thought of doing LEXIS searches to find matching language, etc. to see if this sort of thing is a regular occurrence. But I really don't care to establish that Ross Newhan is a serial plagiarizer. Where Jon (forgive if I misstate) and I seem to disagree is that he doesn't think that this is plagiarism, but thinks that if this was plagiarism, that would be a big deal, whereas I do think it was plagiarism, and don't think, vis a vis, Ross Newhan's career or reputation, that this is a very big deal. So I seek to fit this in not with the larger picture of other Newhan-related events (to the extent there are any -- people can make one unrepeated mistake) but in the larger picture of the closely related daily banalities, idiocies, redundancies, and lunacies that mar every facet of the Times' Dodger coverage. In that picture -- the puzzle piece fits perfectly.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/24/2005 02:27:00 PM  

  • you know, i do read rob's blog. maybe that interpretation of the out clause did come from him. or maybe i read it somewhere else first; i read a lot of different articles about the dodgers. or maybe he articulated what i was already thinking. i don't really remember or care. so, apologies if i didn't feel like spending the time to go dig for the first place i read about the out clause not being a good idea. i didn't realize that an off-the-cuff comment on your blog merited such footnoting. i'm sure rob wasn't the only one who wrote about it anyway. regardless, it was an interpretation that resonated with me and so i brought it up because i wanted to hear your take.

    now, as to the contract, i think that regardless of how it works out, it's definitely one-sided and while it may not work out to be such a bad deal, the structure of it, such as it is, isn't something to be happy about. and i don't remember hearing about other players this offseason having such clauses in their contracts. look, to be perfectly clear, it doesn't bother me a TON either way, but the fact that it's there doesn't exactly thrill me, and i don't think it minimizes risk all that well. like you said, he would only exercise the option if he was doing so phenomenally, playing MVP-caliber ball, that he would be clearly underpaid at $11 million a year. and i would indeed be happy to have gotten 2 years of such performance, but without the clause, we might have been getting 5 years of that performance. now of course, drew would still be an injury risk after 2 years, but ANYBODY is an injury risk, and in that scenario where drew exercises the out clause, he would've had three seasons in a row of being relatively injury-free, and one could plausibly argue that he'd overcome the problem and put it behind him. think of it this way: if he's worth signing at all right now at $11 million/year, he'd DEFINITELY be worth signing for 3 years, $33 million dollars after 2 MVP-caliber seasons. anyway, this is all rather empty speculation, but with the out, the dodgers carry all the risk(as they would have anyway without it), but drew gets most of the reward(which the dodgers would have had otherwise). now, it may be your view that the out clause gives drew the motivation to work hard and play as well as he can, so that he can get an even more lucrative contract two years from now, at which point he can take it relatively easy. but that's awfully cynical. i wouldn't put it past a person to try really hard when there's a lot of money on the table, but i would like to think that a player of drew's caliber, when put on a good team and given a good contract, would try to do play his best and win a championship due to his competitive drive, impending free agency or no. maybe i'm being naive, though.

    of course, there are a lot of different ways it could end up working out. he might not be a disaster; he might play about up to his contract value, enjoy playing in LA, and decide to stay all five years rather than test the market. but all that i was saying (and rob, and whoever else said it) is that it's got all the risk of a long-term contract on the downside without as much of the reward on the upside. and that's a valid criticism. you can say that forgoing that reward is cheaper than throwing more years and dollars at drew, and if including the clause is what made the difference to get him signed, then i'm willing to live with it. but the clause doesn't do much risk minimization for anyone except jd drew.

    -vishal

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/24/2005 02:27:00 PM  

  • Minutiae: Vishal, I believe you want to read this, in which I laid out the major scenarios for the Drew contract. I think it very likely Drew will be able to exercise his out (Boras will encourage it), and some other patsy will get to overpay for injury seasons. Call it the Ken Griffey Jr. scenario, without all the crying.

    Steve -- football also doesn't have guaranteed contracts. You can't play, your contract is void. It also has the ultimate in revenue sharing. Obviously, I also agree with you WRT Newhan's attack on the contract. It's not the best of deals, but it should be thought of more holistically.

    By Blogger Rob, at 2/24/2005 02:32:00 PM  

  • Thanks, Rob. How did you get a link to post in the comments? You are some sort of tech god!

    My point to Vishal was not to be rude; it was simply to give Rob credit for the original idea, which I agreed with in principle (I think this was where the misunderstanding was -- I wasn't asking Vishal to cite Rob.) Obviously, "proper attribution" is going to be a sensitive subject around here for awhile, so when Vishal asked for a more full explanation of my views, I decided to forge ahead, while ensuring that Rob got credit for the genesis of the idea.

    That's all. As far as Vishal's points, I think they are by-and-large valid and that any disagreements we have are those of degree.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/24/2005 02:45:00 PM  

  • ah, thanks rob. i knew i'd read something about it on your blog, so when steve mentioned it, i figured he was probably right. but it turns out we don't have exactly the same conclusions about it. your post seems to agree with steve, more or less.

    i for one don't really see a whole lot of value in minimizing the risk after 2 really good years. i think either drew's knees have been successfully repaired or they haven't. if he's healthy and plays to be potential, i don't see why he'll be overvalued through age 32. if he's had the 2 good years, why wouldn't we want to keep him at $11 million per? i think you guys are trying too hard to rationalize something which is pretty clearly an unfavorable term.

    -vishal

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/24/2005 02:53:00 PM  

  • oh, you said you were taking rob's position. i thought you were saying *i* took rob's position. sorry about the confusion. i just read it wrong, i guess.

    btw, i meant "play to his potential", not "play to be potential" in that last comment of mine.

    -vishal

    ps. i enjoy the blog a lot. i'm looking forward to your critiques of tracy's in-game decision-making this season. keep up the good work! :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/24/2005 02:58:00 PM  

  • It is likely that we are rationalizing. I don't mean to speak for Rob, but I do it because I am an eternal optimist. :)

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/24/2005 03:24:00 PM  

  • I did a Google search for "450 at-bats" and got 545 results. "100 RBI" returned 17,800. In other words, it doesn't look like 450 at-bats is the standard for staying healthy in the same way 100 RBI is the standard for power. (In sport's media land, I mean.)

    On the other hand, I found a reference in the San Bernardino County Sun: "Glass half full or half empty? J.D. Drew, the outfielder the Dodgers gave $55 million to, has had as many as 450 at-bats only once in his career. However, he's played in at least 100 games the past six seasons."

    Maybe all this tells you is that people still don't get on-base percentage yet.

    By Blogger Jon Ericson, at 2/24/2005 03:33:00 PM  

  • Jon E. -- I came up with 450 as a cutoff without reading anybody's column. It just looks right.

    By Blogger Rob, at 2/24/2005 07:21:00 PM  

  • Steve -- WRT links in comments, as the note above the comment box says, "You can use some HTML tags, such as <b>, <i>, <a>". You can write very, very limited HTML.

    By Blogger Rob, at 2/24/2005 07:22:00 PM  

  • In Jon Lovitz Lying Guy voice...

    HTML...yeah, that's the ticket...

    I'm going to assume that HTML is how one would write a blog if one did not have Blogger.

    Only Newhan's ever going to know with metaphysical certitude. It is what it is. I have said what I think it is and how it fits into the picture -- I need say no more.

    By Blogger Steve, at 2/24/2005 07:31:00 PM  

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