Jeff Wolfe's Weblog

Monday, October 28, 2002

PAGANS FOR LIBERTY - In a book discussion group meeting yesterday, we had a few off-topic discussions, including a brief discussion of Wicca and another on the Libertarian Party. On the way home, I pondered the compatibilities of the philosophies of the two communities (pagans and libertarians). Today, I ran across an article by a pagan libertarian that said many of the same things I had been thinking. Rather curious that this all happened so close to Halloween (Samhain).

Thursday, October 24, 2002

HERE WE GO AGAIN - Pete Rose was at the World Series last night, because his hit to break Ty Cobb's all-time hit record was voted the 6th most memorable moment in baseball history. Even though Rose has been banned from the game, he was allowed to appear on the field for this event, just as he was for a similar event a few years ago. And just as in the previous event, Rose got the biggest ovation.

Rose's detractors, such as's Jim Caple, say that Rose really needs to 'apologize' for gambling on baseball before he is reinstated.

The problem is, Major League Baseball has already agreed that there was no finding that he bet on baseball. In the same document in which Pete Rose accepted the ban, Baseball agreed that he didn't bet on baseball. And there's a reason they did so.

In his book, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James says:

Because of an article I wrote about Pete Rose ten years ago, I am also confronted by people who want to debate me about Pete Rose's guilt or innocence (meaning whether he did or did not bet on baseball). I don't like to be drawn into this debate, for two reasons:

  1. I don't know, and
  2. You don't know, either.

Major League Baseball, through the Dowd report and ever since, has insisted that there is irrefutable evidence that Rose bet on baseball. That issue I am willing to debate: that there is irrefutable evidence that Pete Rose bet on baseball. I would characterize the evidence that Rose bet on baseball as ... well, not quite non-existent. It is extremely weak.

James then goes through the evidence presented in the Dowd report, including the infamous "betting slips," which (a) don't contain any actual betting information, just names of teams with winners indicated, and (b) contain several errors about who was playing and where, errors you wouldn't expect from a baseball person such as Rose. At the end of his article about Rose, James concludes:

There is, I would suggest, a better way to think about it. Pete Rose is innocent unless there is proof that he is guilty. I've looked at the evidence as closely as I can. The closer you look, the less you see.

Rose submitted an application for reinstatement several years ago. Commissioner Bud Selig has sat on the application, because, if he reinstates Rose it would give the appearance that he had "given in," and if he rejects the application, he would be subject to a lawsuit from Rose for violating the agreement. Doing nothing allows him to say that there's no new evidence to consider, ignoring the fact that the original evidence was insufficient to begin with.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

COMPETETIVE BALANCE REVISITED - The baseball World Series is now set: San Francisco Giants vs. Anaheim Angels. The Angels have never won a World Series in the franchise's 42 year history, and the Giants haven't won since 1954, back when they were the New York Giants. So the streak I mentioned before will be extended to 17 different winners out of the last 23 World Series.

Just for fun, I randomly generated 23 numbers between 1 and 30 (representing the 30 major league baseball teams), to see how that compared. I got 17 different results. And I didn't even allow for the fact that 4 of the 30 teams didn't exist for most of that period. That's hardly scientific, but it suggests that baseball wouldn't have had a much more balanced picture if they had just selected the World Series winner randomly.

Try it yourself, if you're so inclined, and let me know what you get.