Monday, February 28, 2005

Another Great Time Sink

Helicopter game - an oldie-but-goody.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Barry Larkin - Hall of Famer (to be)

"[Barry] Larkin should be a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame."
- Aaron Gleeman, Larkin for the Hall? -- The Hardball Times

Gleeman does a great job of making Larkin's case based on OPS vs. his positional contemporaries, Runs Created vs. same and all-time shortstop Win Shares. I think it's a compelling case. But what does our Genetic Algorithm-based rule say?

MetricRequired CriteriaBarry LarkinMatch?

With 16 matches out of 19 possibilities, Larkin is a definite Hall of Famer, according to our rule. Remember, we require 14 matches, so Larkin's well past the barrier.

The problem, as Gleeman says is that "in addition to the overall increase in offense that Larkin missed out on in his younger years, the end of his career coincides with the emergence of several outstanding offensive shortstops." Larkin may be facing an uphill battle for election, but I think he will eventually be (deservingly) enshrined.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Genetic Algorithms and the Baseball Hall of Fame

I've been meaning to write this post for a long time. Late this summer, we interviewed a recent college grad to work in the Marketing department here at my company, (the place to go for your $100k+ job search). As I was chatting with him, he mentioned that he's into baseball a little bit. Naturally, I prodded, and he forked over his research paper.

Modeling Election to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame through the use of Genetic Algorithms (PDF) by David Cohen

Here's the abstract:
This paper will use an alternate methodology for modeling called Genetic Algorithms. Using that method, several logical, rather than mathematical, rules for election to the baseball Hall of Fame will be found and examined. Predictions about future election, as well as past elections will be made. Ultimately, one rule will be picked as best, and examined in more depth than the others.

And the ultimate conclusion - For position players, you must meet at least 14 of the following criteria.


Read the full paper - it's fascinating. And to my knowledge, matching fourteen of the nineteen criteria above does indeed lead to Hall of Fame election. There are no eligible position players that both (a) meet the criteria and (b) are not enshrined in Cooperstown.

So, who is currently playing or recently retired that will be elected to the HOF according to these rules? Who's just missing the cut? These are the kinds of questions I wanted to answer before I posted the article, but I simply haven't found the time. Now, I'm hoping that you can help. Run recent players through these rules and post your results somewhere - or email me at andrew AT andrewkoch DOT com and I'll post 'em for you.

And by the way, Dave Cohen is doing a great job in our Marketing dept...

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Gmail Goes Public

From Google:
Hi there,

Thanks for signing up to be updated on the latest Gmail happenings. We hope it's been worth the wait, because we're excited to finally offer you an invitation to open a free Gmail account! Just click on this link to create your new account:

[link removed]

Since last April, we've been working hard to create the best email service possible. It already comes with 1,000 megabytes of free storage, powerful Google search technology to find any message you want instantly, and a new way of organizing email that saves you time and helps you make sense of all the information in your inbox.

And here are just some of the things that we've added in the last few months:

- Free POP access: Take your messages with you. Download them, read them offline, access them using Outlook, your Blackberry or any other device that supports POP

- Gmail Notifier: Get new mail notifications and see the messages and their senders without having to open a browser

- Better contacts management: Import your contacts from Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, Outlook, and others to Gmail in just a few clicks. Add phone numbers, notes and more. Even use search to keep better track of it all.

We also wanted to thank you. For showing us your support and for being so patient. And to those who have already signed up for Gmail, thank you for giving it a try and for helping us make it better. Our users are what have made this product great. So whether you're just signing up for your account or you've been with us since the beginning, keep letting us know how we can build you the best email service around.

That's it for now. We hope you like Gmail and will share it with your friends. We've got lots of cool new stuff planned and we can't wait for you to see our work in your Gmail accounts! Stay tuned...

The Gmail Team
I guess they're not keeping it so private anymore...

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The History of Baseball Trades

"We're lousy with ideas." - Mike Carminati

I think he's trying to say that he and Studes have lots of ideas - specifcially about trade analysis.

Studes' The Best and Worst Teams of the Trade and Mike's I’ll Take Manhattan: Baseball’s Most Lopsided Trades are the first in what promises to be an intriguing series of articles analyzing trades over the history of baseball.

Looks like a great little pre-spring training appetizer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

It's Been Awhile

In his post, Tom Petty Was Right, Mike Carminati asks, "What is the current longest wait for a sports city?" Where a sports city is a metro area with a team in each of the four major sports.

I was a little surprised to find that the SF Bay Area is #3 on his list with a no-championship drought of 10 years. Only Philadelpha (21 years) and Minneapolis (13 years) have been waiting for a championship longer than the Bay Area.

You know, Bill Simmons has talked at length about a grace period:
After your team wins a championship, they immediately get a five-year grace period: You can't complain about anything that happens (trades, draft picks, salary-cap cuts, coaching moves) for five years. There are no exceptions.

...And the Bay Area has had it's share of Championships. So, when did our grace period end? If you stand our grace periods end-on-end, when did they expire? Are they still going?

A list, then, of Bay Area Champions:
-A's, 1972
-A's, 1973
-A's, 1974
-Warriors, 1975
-Raiders, 1976
-Raiders, 1980 (The '83 Raiders were in LA)
-49ers, 1981
-49ers, 1984
-49ers, 1988
-A's, 1989
-49ers, 1989
-49ers, 1994

That's twelve championships, and 60 total years of "grace period" starting in 1972. That would mean we're still in our grace period all the way out to 2032, assuming we don't win another championship. But that just doesn't feel right. The first game of any kind that I remember watching was the '84 Super Bowl, so I shouldn't get a grace period for those championships I've only read about.

That leaves five "personal" championships starting in 1984. In that case, my own personal grace period should expire in 2009.

And it's a little different if you look at it on a team-by-team basis. I don't really care for the Raiders, Giants or Warriors, so I'll ignore them. But for the A's, we've been out of the grace period now for ten years - If you're only an A's fan, you can complain about damn near anything (and we do).

As for the 49ers, their five championships starting in 1981 will carry you through two more seasons to 2006 - my own personal grace period with the niners (excluding the '81 victory), however, expired at the end of the 2004 season.

So, I'll consider myself in a 20% grace period. I can certainly complain about either my A's or my 49ers without incurring the wrath of the sports gods, but I have been lucky enough to experience five championships. So, I suppose I shouldn't be too bitter about it. After all, they're just games, right?

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Google Maps

As I'm sure has been said elsewhere, Google Maps look great. I like the flexibility of the search, the intuitive display and (particularly) the turn-by-turn display on driving directions. Very cool.

Jacksonville, Tourist Destination?

But although Jacksonville's time at the center of the sports universe is over, city leaders hope the impression the city made while hosting football's biggest game will result in more visitors and commerce.

"We did nothing but improve our chances with our performance as a community," said Michael Kelly, chairman of the Super Bowl Host Committee. "We showed we cared about it."

-Yahoo! News - Fla. Looks to Capitalize on Super Bowl

Oh really? The Sports Guy disagrees, "Here's a quick breakdown of Super Bowl Week in Jacksonville.... The positives: The locals have been extremely nice. The negatives: Everything else."

He goes on: "...if you're having the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, it's probably going to be a bigger disaster than "Alexander" and the Chyna/X-Pac sex video combined."

Now, I haven't seen Alexander and I don't know the first thing about the Chyna/X-Pac sex video, but I'm pretty sure that failing to meet their standard is NOT a good thing. Nice try, Jacksonville.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Daily Puzzle

Thanks to my sister for this link: Set® Puzzle

I finished today's puzzle in 2:07, but the sister did it in 1:33. She's quite the smart A's fan.