Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay, and Mike Mussina Elected to Major League Baseball's Hall of Fame!

Well, we have some spiffy new baseball Hall of Famers: Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay, and Mike Mussina!

This awesome foursome — and I am very pleased about all four of these elections — join Lee Smith and (sigh) Harold Baines, who were elected by the Today's Game Era Committee last month. Rivera, in his first year of eligibility, is the first ever unanimous selection, although there are other luminaries who should already have gotten this distinction years ago. Sadly, the late Roy Halladay (who died tragically in a 2017 plane crash) isn't around to enjoy his election in his first year of eligibility. I thought it might take him a bit of time to get in, and I'm pleased to see Halladay sail into the Hall in his first year. It's sad that he isn't around to enjoy it. :( (By the way, Roy Halladay once wore one of the best costumes ever; he dressed up as Jamie Moyer for an 80s-themed party.) Martinez (in his final year of eligibility) and Mussina finally made it this year, though both of them should have been elected years ago. They are clear-cut Hall of Famers. Pitchers like Mussina are held to ridiculous standards because they didn't win 300 games, and that's just not a realistic level at which to gauge which starters are Hall of Famers and which are not. Mussina was a great pitcher.

For the past several years, I have really enjoyed followed the Hall of Fame tracker as the writers announce their votes.

I'll comment a bit on many (though not all) other players on the 2019 ballot, but to give context, it's worth discussing which new candidates will enter in the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot. The only huge name entering in 2020 is Derek Jeter, who could very well become the second unanimous Hall selection. (Jeter will be close to unanimous, at the very minimum.) There are some other really good players in the 2020 ballot, but I'm not sure if any of them are Hall of Famers. Jason Giambi and the perpetually underrated Bobby Abreu will get some votes, but I don't think that even they will get that many votes. The only newcomer to the ballot with any shot at all — and he is a lock, of course — is Derek Jeter. That gives plenty of scope for remaining candidates to make major increases, which will probably be significantly larger than in a normal year.

The highest voting percentage among those who did not get elected to the Hall is Curt Schilling, who was named on 60.9% of the ballot. With Mussina and Halladay both now in the Hall and no serious candidates among new starting pitchers, I expect Schilling to finally (and belatedly) make it in 2020, as long as he keeps his mouth shut.

Roger Clemens (59.5%) and Barry Bonds (59.1%) kept inching forward, and I'm sure they'll make a bit more progress next year, but they're not still on the ballot because of their performance on the field. I see no reason to think that they'll do anything other than continuing to inch forward.

Larry Walker got 54.6% of the vote in a huge gain, after gaining many votes between 2017 and 2018. Next year is Walker's last one on the ballot, which often results in large gains with one's last chance to think about a player in the regular voting, so I expect that he will follow in Alan Trammell's and Fred McGriff's footsteps and get huge gains again next year. Include the fact that Harold Baines (sigh) is now in the Hall of Fame and that Jeter is the only stellar new candidate in 2020, and I think that Larry Walker will gain hugely in votes again in 2020 and that it will be enough to get elected to the Hall of Fame. Larry Walker was an awesome player and deserves it. Prepare for a lot of discussions about Coors Field in the upcoming year. :)

Omar Vizquel (42.8%) gained a decent number of votes this year, though others were less optimistic about the signs for Vizquel. Vizquel belongs in the Hall of the Very Good — I give thanks to Jim Kaat for inventing that term in reference to himself — and also in the Hall of the Amazing, but he's not a Hall of Famer. Vizquel is destined to become the new Jack Morris (sigh) when it comes to Hall of Fame debates.

Fred McGriff (39.8%), like Alan Trammell previously, received a major boost in his final year on the writers' Hall of Fame ballot. I expect that he'll be selected relatively soon by the Today's Game Committee, likely when it next meets in 2021.

Manny Ramirez (22.8%) stayed level and Jeff Kent (18.1%) gained a little bit, but not much. Jeff Kent is destined for some veterans' committee's vote some years down the line. Scott Rolen (17.2%) gained a decent amount in his second year of eligibility, and I expect him to gain solidly in 2020 as well, possible even enough to get close to 30% of the vote. Billy Wagner (16.7%), in his fourth year of eligibility, gained a little bit. Wagner deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and I hope the selection of Lee Smith and the lack of realistic new pitcher candidates in 2020 helps him. I suspect that Wagner will become one of the next ones that sabermetricians try to champion, although I think the best move for the next year is concentrating on Larry Walker's candidacy. Todd Helton (16.5%) deserves more votes and may be a Hall of Famer — I think he belongs on the Hall — and I expect him to make major gains next year. Andruw Jones (7.5%) keeps lingering on the ballot — once again finishing slightly above the 5% cutoff to be removed from the ballot — and he deserves much better than this. Jones's career petered out quickly, and people seem to have forgotten just how good a player he was. I don't think he actually belongs in the Hall of Fame, but I'd like to see him get more consideration than this. Among the players who fell off the ballot, Lance Berkman (1.2%) deserved much more consideration for the Hall than he got.

In the 2020 ballot, I predict that Derek Jeter (obviously), Curt Schilling, and Larry Walker make the Hall of Fame. I am least confident about the prediction about Walker, who may end up just falling shy. The fact that there are so few new stellar candidates and that the ballot has cleared up considerably (McGriff is also no longer on the ballot) will help many players make major gains in voting, likely including enough of them for both Curt Schilling and Larry Walker to get elected.

Update (1/26/19) Here are some lessons learned (according to Jay Jaffe) from the balloting results. One of the things that I noticed in this article, which I hadn't noticed earlier this week (but presumably did at some point in the past), is that the players who are debuting in 2021 are also weak overall. Therefore, there are two years for players who are currently on the ballot to make major gains. Jaffe wrote more details in this article.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

What Happens in San José Stays in San José (2019 Edition)

I'll soon be going to San José, Costa Rica for the third time to work on a collaboration on dengue dynamics and control. I'll also be participating in a spiffy panel discussion, where I'll get to meet one of my coauthors in person for the first time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

"Money" Laundering: Doing it the Literal Way

Well, it wasn't my intent to discover this, but my debit card and university ID card survived their trip through the washer and dryer remarkably well.

Their Gaussian curvatures got transformed a bit, but overall they're doing alright.

Sometimes, I am such a theorist.

Note: I suggest responding with your best money-laundering joke.

Additional note: My debit card still has its glossy sheen, but the ID card's surface isn't quite as smooth as it used to be.

The Cult of Pure Mathematics

Well, there you have it: pure mathematics is kind of like a cult, so let's stop pretending and go all the way. :P

One choice excerpt (of many) from the article:

Within the sphere of pure mathematics — the oldest and most successful of humanity’s intellectual endeavors — I believe our best chance at preserving the integrity and dignity of our tradition is to return to our Pythagorean roots. We should become a cult.

Let us do away with the job market and mathjobs.com and reference letters. Let us stop pretending we understand each other’s respective sub-fields. Let us abandon those fuck-ugly Brutalist travesties we call our department buildings and leave them to those shills in applied math.

(Tip of the cap to Adriana Salerno.)

Friday, January 11, 2019

RIP Richard Haberman (1945–2018)

I just got the e-mail to the applied dynamical-systems mailing list with the sad news that Rich Haberman died on December 31st. I used his book in a class my sophomore year (and our best TA was his former student from SMU), and then I met him through the Snowbird conferences, partly because he was one of the few senior people who sometimes did poster presentations. Rich was later my host for my job interview at SMU. My tweet below includes the preface of the second edition of his book.

I'd also like to quote the obituary (written by Alejandro Aceves, Roy Goodman, and Peter Miller) in the e-mail that was sent to SIAM's dynamical-systems mailing list:

We are very sad to have to report that Richard Haberman passed away on December 31, 2018. Richard (Rich) received his BS (1967) and PhD (1971) at MIT. During his time as a graduate student, he met Mark Ablowitz, both of whom had the same advisor David Benney. Rich and Mark established a strong friendship that lasted until Rich's passing. They also co-authored papers which mark the start of Rich's contributions to nonlinear waves. In line with the times they worked on ways to generate isospectral flows which are equivalent to systems of nonlinear partial differential equations, including extensions to two and three dimensions, where as we know there are fewer known integrable models. The role of linear and nonlinear resonances leading to 'universal' evolution equations is best seen in their 1975 Journal of Mathematical Physics paper 'Resonantly coupled nonlinear evolution equations'. It is perhaps this aspect that points to the ease in which Rich's work blends nonlinear waves and dynamical systems in a natural way. More recent work with one of us (Roy Goodman) focused on explaining the two-bounce resonance phenomenon and chaotic scattering in the interaction of solitary waves in near-integrable and nonintegrable systems, which again blends nonlinear waves and dynamical systems.

Rich spent the bulk of his career at Southern Methodist University (SMU). An unapologetic champion of Applied Mathematics, he helped shape the Department of Mathematics to put emphasis in this direction. Throughout his almost 40 years as SMU, he mentored many young faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students. One of us (Peter Miller) was lucky to have been a beneficiary of this mentorship of undergraduates at SMU in the 1980's, and feels especially indebted to Rich for his training in applied mathematics and nonlinear waves in particular and his suggestion and support to continue study in graduate school. At the 2007 ICIAM meeting, he recruited one of us (Alejandro Aceves) to join SMU.

Rich's passion to teach the discipline with an applied flavor is best reflected in his books, most notably his book Elementary Applied Partial Differential Equations which has a world-wide audience and has been translated in many languages. This book is famous for its no-nonsense approach to a difficult subject and its clarity of presentation. Rich served for many years as Editor in Chief for the SIAM book series Mathematical Modeling and Computation. His last unfinished project with one of us (Alejandro Aceves) was to write a textbook in nonlinear dynamics based on many iterations of notes he had produced through the years.

Rich is survived by his wife of 50 years Liz Haberman, his children Ken and Vicki, and his granddaughters Leila, Gwyneth and Chloe. He was dedicated to his family and the profession. He was a friend, scientist, mentor and educator who will be sorely missed. The SMU Department of Mathematics is planning the creation of a scholarship in his name and more information about it will be posted on the Department website.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

A Funky Visual Illusion: What's the Frequency?

From my own experimentation, the frequency matters.

(Tip of the cap to Jenna Walrath.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

It's Good to Have a Clew (and a Clew)