Perhaps the most phenomenal fact of life in baseball today is that major league teams continue to use first-round draft picks for high school pitchers. You could call it the Brien Taylor/Todd Van Poppel phenomenon. If you study the issue, it is just stunningly obvious that the frequency with which these draft picks pay off is something like one-third to one-quarter of the payoff rate for other first round picks. It has been obvious for twenty years that this is a stupid gamble, to use a first-round pick for a high school pitcher-yet every year, for to seven first round picks are invested in these turkeys.

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Philadelphia zookeeper Jim Murray introduced in 1883 a system of relaying scores almost instantly all over the City of Brotherly Love by means of carrier pigeons. Homing pigeons would be released with the result of each half-inning, and the workers at the zoo would “know how the inning went before the men are out in the field for the next one.” A few fans from other parts of the city heard about this and wanted in on it, so provisions were made for them, too. On some days as many as a half-dozen birds would be released at the end of each frame.

Plexiglas Principle

It is demonstrated in several editions of the Baseball Abstract that when a team improves in one season, they tend to decline in the next season. In other words, resistance is a more powerful shaping force in baseball than is momentum, at least in this limited respect. This also applies to individuals; a player who improves his batting average sharply in one season is extremely likely to regress in the next subsequent season. This is known as the Plexiglas Principal, and is related to the Law of Competitive Balance. The most recent article about this appears on page 132 of the 1987 Baseball Abstract.

Pedro Martinez

When Roger Clemens left Boston for Toronto, the Red Sox brought in right-handed pitcher Pedro Martinez, nine years his jounior, from the Montreal Expos. Pedro promptly created his own legend in Beantown, arriving amid the hoopla of a six-year $75 million contract, the 5’11”, 170-pound native of the Dominican Republic was immediately worshipped by the Fenway Faithful. What did the new millionaire do with his newfound wealth? A luxury car perhaps, or a mansion in the suburbs? Why, he built a church of course- The Immaculate Conception in his home village of Manoguayabo. “That was better than a Cy Young to me,” said Martinez.