Don’t think. It can only hurt the ballclub.

I often accuse ballplayers of being kinda dumb. It’s not meant as a slam, really. At least not a harsh one. Ballplayers are what they are, and what they usually are are guys who didn’t go to college and spend a lot more time thinking about where they’re going to build the tree stand this November than how the world works. Hell, the dude who is often referred to as the smartest guy in the game — and my favorite player of all time — likes to pee on other guys’ feet in the shower and giggle when he passes gas and stuff. And I’m cool with that. Football players spend at least three years in college and look at all the really dumb things they do. Really, don’t change my ballplayers. I don’t want them to be any different than they are.

Still, it’s interesting to hear about the outliers:

[Ross Ohlendorf] wrote his senior thesis on the investment in and rate of return of baseball draft picks and will spend part of this offseason as an intern at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, doing research on Longhorn cattle.

“In some ways, it can take a little pressure off,” he says of having an alternative career path. “It doesn’t mean you have less desire. But I think it helps you relax.”

Lots of interesting stuff about smart dudes in the game in that article, and of course, the usual Doug Glanville anecdotes (“You become the locker room problem-solver. It becomes who you are, just like Randy Myers was the guy with live grenades in his locker”).

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  1. Bob Tufts said...

    If anyone is interested in getting a copy of Ohelndor’f thesis (there are copying costs, etc.):

    THESIS NO.: 19720
    TITLE: Investing in Prospects: A Look at the Financial Successes of Major League Baseball Rule IV Drafts from 1989 to 1993 (140 pages).
    AUTHOR: Ohlendorf, Curtis Ross (2006), Operations Research and Financial Engineering
    ADVISOR: Carmona, Rene A.

    The link to order:

  2. mike in brooklyn said...

    I just took a quick look at the link to the Maddux-peeing-on-guys-in-the-shower story.

    Which, was, btw, HILARIOUS!

    But I also read the comments, expecting to see some funny responses.  I have to say, Craig, I don’t know if it is your doing, or if all this sabermetric stuff hurts a-holes brains or what.  But the level of conversation on this site is just so much higher and classier and more intelligent than most of these other sites.  The majority of comments on this other site was of the “I’d kick his ass” variety.  I had no idea there were so many tough guys out there.

  3. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Mike—not my doing. If it was, the NBC comments wouldn’t be such a mess. Though to be fair, those have improved a bit recently.

  4. Jack Marshall said...

    Craig, I think there are always a good number of smart ballplayers out there…at least as many as the really dumb ones.(I remember that when ex-LA/St.L slugger Pedro Guerrero was arrested a while back, it was revealed that his IQ was 70 and he couldn’t read.) Moe Berg, of course, is the champ, and there are always the Doc Medich, Bill Lee oddities, but a lot of the greats, like Gehrig, Cobb, Williams, Ripken, Jackie and Frank Robinson, Sandberg, Yaz, Schilling and many more were or are above average in smarts, including many who skipped college.

  5. MJ said...

    @ Bob Tufts, thanks for the link.  Tim Kurkjian wrote an article on Ohlendorf back in June here and wrote how Ohlendorf’s findings were, on average, the player returned twice the value to the team from his signing bonus.

    So people should think about that when they want to rail against the draft b/c This draft isn’t working. It hasn’t for years.

    Also, is it any wonder how intelligence is looked upon when this question is brought up:

    They even share an Aug. 8 birthday. What are the odds of that?

    Their teammates know whom to ask.

    Really, that’s hard to figure out?

  6. MooseinOhio said...

    I believe Ron Darling did the NY Times crossword daily and there are several Ivy Leaguers in MLB so baseball has it fair share folks that enjoys books over video games. 

    What I find impressive is that he is preparing for his post-baseball career and he see himself as something more than just a baseball player/athlete.  Professional athletes have chosen a first career that has an average career span of single digits years at it peak and essentially an out before 40. 

    There’s a whole lot of living left and to only perceive oneself as an athlete has to be a limiting and borderline depressing realization when trying to figure out what to do with the rest of your life. 

    Kudos to Ohlendorf for seeing himself as something other than a ballplayer.

  7. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    I had no idea that Chuck Schilling would be lumped in with “the greats” – sharp guy, sure, but a career .239 hitter. But definitely the smartest Schilling to ever play for Boston.

  8. Wells said...

    Chris Young (Padres pitcher) graduated from Princeton, penning a senior thesis titled “The Impact of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball on Racial Stereotypes in America: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Stories about Race in the New York Times.”

  9. Bob Tufts said...

    My Princeton thesis was on disintermediation and its effect on savings and loans and the mortgage market from 1966 to 1969. Why didn’t I pick a baseball topic? Better pitchers, better thesis!

    The Operations Reserach and Financial Engineering Department at Princeton has become very popular in recent years, as it meshed economics and higher level quantitative mathemetical modeling. The Braves 2009 3rd round pick , David Hale, was also an ORFE major at Princeton.

  10. Kelly said...

    These days, Glanville writes op-ed pieces for The New York Times, is working on a book he describes as “life in baseball through the soul of a player,” and is involved with Fri-Chiks, a restaurant franchising venture in Pakistan. Glanville describes the franchise as “Chuck E. Cheese meets KFC.”

    —Does this involve a net wall where you then reach the top of a slide greased with chicken byproducts?


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