Baseball, Richard Shank, Chris discussed on Effectively Wild: A FanGraphs Baseball Podcast
The book was figuring out how to present this guy. Look Richard Shank does not work in professional baseball and he's never going to work in professional baseball because no team would ever have someone like that on their staff why he is the way he is so we're talking about what's better approach. I'll never gonNA really believe that being like Richard Shank per Is Sort of the the right approach? Now he says that his attitude online is just his filter and it's how he determines which players really serious about working with him and I also should say that Richard Shank that if you meet him in real life which I have quite a few times. He's nothing like he is on the Internet. And that makes it all the more appaling. So I don't really advise being a professional Internet troll. I don't really think it's the best way to teach the teach anything but who who am I to judge. He taught Aaron judge so I wonder how much you wrestled with the structure of your story because that was something that Travis. A night spent so much time considering. How do you tell the story? Because it's not like moneyball. For instance the story of one team or one executive or even one season or something. It's really spread out there. All these different figures who were sort of doing things maybe independently or related but at different times and different seasons and different players and that can be jarring potentially for a reader. If you don't do it right. And then there's the history aspect too and jumping back and forth in time. So how did you figure out how to do that? And did you go through Multiple structures before you settled on this one. It was the hardest thing of writing the buck. Yeah was figuring that out and I don't know if this was the right approach or not but for me what it was was I I for most of the process. I literally didn't even consider the structure. Actually we're going to get into the writing process. What I I did once. I narrow down who I wanted to write about. I knew there is primarily four coaches each of whom have one primary clients that I wanted to work once. I figured that out I said Okay for now. Let's just take these four separate stories? I'm GonNa tell the stories of these four people in their in their pupils. These eight human beings. Nanga tell their stories separately. I add separate sort of documents where I said this is my Craig Walbrook story and this is my Doug Laddis story and this is my Richard Shanks during a road. It like. It was a big magazine story. Essentially however many thousands of words it took the right at once. I had all four of them. Then it was okay now to find a way to massage these together. Where do they flow? Fortunately I had a very good editor William Morrow that was able to sort of help me a little bit with it and figuring out where to splice it together. It felt a little bit at times like sort of building Frankenstein's monster where you're taking like an eyeball from here and hair from here and uneven here. But I I hope it worked out in the end. I hope it's not too confusing. I was like my big fear. Will people be able to follow all these different stories at the same time? Yeah outlining it worked for me but I went through that same experience so I was probably more sympathetic than the average person but Another thing that I think we both dealt with was trying to tell the stories of people are teams who have been kind of discredited for various reasons. Whether fairly or not so in our case for instance. The Astros have been player-development innovators when it comes to teams and adopting implementing some of these ideas not as an independent facility but as an actual NLP ORGANIZATION. They are also cheaters in for sure. And you know in the case of your book you wrote about Marlon Byrd and Chris Cabello and both of them were people who reinvented their swings and had much improved results but then also tested positive for PD's and in birds case multiple times and you know the Astros we know cheated the players we can never really know for sure and they've maintained their innocence but a lot of people look at the Astros and say well. They're good because they cheated and a lot of people look at Burton Allen saved. They're good because they were taking. Pete is an it can be both you know you can be innovative. You can be better. And also cheaters had but that's a kind of a hard thing to relate or convince people of so. How did you approach that? You know it was tough. It was really tough to try to navigate that recognize. There's always going to be people that are not gonNA take say Chris. Caldelas changes seriously because of the fact that he tested positive for P. D.'s. And there's no way around it. It's just a fact he did you kind of have to just own it and figure out how to handle it so. I thought of it this way. There's a couple of things one like anyone. That's seen Chris. Callapollo hit with the Blue Jays and before the Blue Jays could say with their own naked. Is clearly this guy. Did something different? His swing was different. He made big changes. There's absolutely no question that he made changes. So that is just a fact so you could always point that out and say these are the changes that he made because you could see them. The other issue becomes the more complicated one of well did he really take. Pd's or not and that's a question. I can't answer. I spent a lot of time with Chris. Collin Bello and he is told me in great detail his story about that positive tests and why it happened and everything that's associated with it and I think all I could do as a writer in his writing. The story is putting it all out there and leaving it to readers to decide what they think. Do they believed him or not? Only really matters if I believe whether Chris Kalibbala took. Pd's or not or whether Marlon Byrd took these or not. I could say they both have interesting stories when you talk to them about it. You just try to presented sympathetically as you can and see if in let people decide what they want to believe about it and additionally there's also from a narrative perspective does serve a little bit of like drama to the story where it does plant that seed of doubt in people's minds. What Chris Kalla Bello would happen to him as real what happened to Merlin Bird Israel but then you know Justin Turner also worked with said. He hasn't tested positive for P. D.'s. And he had incredible success because of Marlin bird like these people despite their flaws or shortcomings are the things that they did or didn't do they still are part of the story. They added to sort of the hidden conversation. I think that's valuable no matter what the truth is right. So something else we both dealt with was the question of whether optimal baseball is better baseball from an entertainment perspective and of course a lot of people think that throughout comes baseball's less entertaining. There's fewer policy and play. There's less defensive action there's less based running etc and some people like homers and some people. Don't but I think the question that I have there is a perception that the quote unquote launch. Angle swing is geared toward home runs but also strikeouts that. You can't have one with the other and I wonder to what extent you think that's true because clearly there are some players who may be go toward more of a an uppercut swing and there is a tradeoff there where it's less contact but perhaps better contact when they do make contact but does that have to be the case because you know this upward swing is really just about meeting the ball on the trajectory that it's coming in and you're trying to keep the bat in zone for a longer period of time. Which in theory could help you in contact as well as power. So is there a trade off there? Does there have to be or can you have both things? I completely disagree with this perception that the rise in strikeouts baseball's a product of batters trying to swing for the fences or proton quote launch angle swings. There's a few reasons. Why sort of anecdotally look guys who change their swings. Domhnall strike out a ton. Let's look at Justin Turner. Just as an example. He has made incredible. Changes to a swing has had incredible. Success Hits power hits average in twenty seventeen thousand five hundred forty three plate appearances strikeout fifty six times in two thousand eighteen. He struck out fifty. Four Times to Daniel Murphy comes to mind as well as a guy that made major changes to his swing. Hits FOR POWER HAS A ton of extra-base hits. Opiates as well over nine. Hundred for a couple of years striking out in. Twenty Sixteen Fifty Seven Times in Twenty eight hundred forty times in limited action. It doesn't have to be one of the other. I think people like saying it does because they want to attribute something for the rise in strikeout. I don't think people really want to attribute what I think. Is the real reason for the rise in strike outs baseball? Which to me has much more to do with pitching dance with hitting wedding. People have to understand and don't quite appreciate enough is there is a reason why hitters across baseball view. The home run as necessary for survival. It's because pitching now is so ridiculously. Good guys throw so hard. The slider seemed to defy the laws of physics. You never face the tired pitcher because we have much better bullpen optimization. Now every picture that you face in the game today is essentially optimize to get you and you alone out. And then add in the fact that because defensive positioning in advances in that realm. It's even harder to find grass when you put the ball in play. Therefore the idea of stringing together three hits for hits or more in an innings score runs as possible and theory. But it's really really hard with pitching this good. The best way to score is a do it with one swing. And that's why you see batters trying to hit more home runs but because of that quality of pitching yeah there's gotta be strikeouts. It really goes both ways. Do I think that there's maybe too many strikeouts in the game right now for it to be as aesthetically pleasing as it could be. Maybe I think there's a real valid argument there but I also know that the old way of thinking which is strike outs were shameful. And they were to be avoided at all costs. That also was wrong was clearly I mean? He watched older games from the seventies or earlier. Yeah the game. Move faster part because guys were swinging at everything because the goal is just to put the ball in play clearly a better offensive approach is that it's okay to take a striker two or K- to strike out and wait for pitch. You could drive. There's probably a middle ground here between lifts swing and everything and hit the ball in play and hit ground balls the shortstop every time in let's strike out ten billion times a season. There's probably somewhere in between but I I just fundamentally disagree with the idea that hitters and their approach or responsible for what's happened with all the strike outs in baseball. Yeah I agree that it's definitely not the bulk of it that yes maybe if you're not trying to make contact at all costs than you are occasionally accepting a strikeout where you wouldn't have otherwise because you are trying to hit the ball hard but I agree that that most of it is pitching. It's just very hard to hit pitchers these days..