Can the Yankees’ Boom or Bust Offense work in the postseason?

Can the Yankees’ Boom or Bust Offense work in the postseason?

Usually, whoever hits more homers wins. But that’s only half the battle, some of the time. One of the short videos included in the University of Idaho’s coming Fish and Wildlife Film Festival features a doctoral student at the school and is centered on a successful Online sports gambling will go live in Tennessee at 12:01 a.m. central standard time on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. Here’s what to expect.

In the public perception of playoff baseball, the big things (i.e. offensive fireworks) often shrivel up, while the small things (i.e. baserunning, defense, and managing) get overexposed, especially with Alex Rodriguez and John Smoltz, noted lovers of small ball and the sacrifice bunt, involved with the national broadcast. Now, in 2020, the counternarrative has become, “You must out-homer your opponent to win,” as statistics saying exactly that were thrown around during the first few rounds of the playoffs. In a piece from October 15, The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh attempted to suss out the veracity of that very notion. He found that yes, teams who did out-homer their opponent won an overwhelming majority of the time, but it wasn’t all that simple.

In Jeff Sullivan’s 2017 post for FanGraphs, he showed that in the playoffs, with more consistently excellent pitching talent, teams score less often, as batting average on balls in play declines and strikeouts rise. Across the board however, he found that home run rates in the playoffs remained stable as compared to the regular season. From this, we can see that instead of homers evaporating in the playoffs, in fact, it’s just about everything else that does. Stingier defenses take hits away, and sharper pitching makes any contact more difficult. However, when batters make solid contact, the ball travels just as far, resulting in a consistency of the home run rate between the regular season and playoffs.

Lindbergh too found that scoring, across teams and eras, became more reliant upon the home run come playoff time. According to his research, between 2015 and 2020, teams that out-homer their opponent in the regular season have a winning percentage of .771, whereas in the playoffs that number jumps to .825. Lindbergh also accounted for the growing percentage of lopsided home run totals, as teams continue to score a larger percentage of their runs off of the long-ball than in decades past. The increasing reliance upon homering, combined with the greater total number of homers leads to an atmosphere where the team who homers more almost always wins.

It’s not necessarily an argument in favor of, or against the long-ball, that war’s already been won. A home run is the single most valuable kind of offensive event in baseball, as it guarantees your team at least a run, and with a greater number of players capable of hitting a baseball over 400 feet, teams have optimized their offenses to do so. The fact that a team who out-homers their opponent is likely to win is, at this point, a near tautology: “The team who outscores their opponent is the winner.”

Yet this statement of fact ignores all the times when no team out-homers the other, or the winner is the team who was out-homered. Though that number has dropped in recent years, it still represented 35% of all playoff games as of Lindbergh’s October 15 tally. That means, on average, more than a third of playoff games are at least home run neutral, with the winning team outscoring the other in a non-long-ball dependent fashion.

The Yankees, compared to the rest of 2020’s playoff field, were particularly dependent on scoring via the home run to win games. In the 2019 regular season (the most recent sample available, consisting of more data and a lineup more representative of the one that the Yankees employed in the playoffs), the Yankees scored 51.11% of their runs off of homers, the fourth highest rate in the majors that year. In the 2020 playoffs, 31 of their 46 runs were scored on homers, good for 67.4% of all run production. Though a small increase from regular to postseason is to be expected as per Lindbergh’s study, the Yankees homered even more often than they did in the regular season, and homers made up an even larger percentage of their offense.

This, on its own, is actually great news for Yankee fans. The Yankees didn’t fall short in their bid for a 28th chip because their homer-happy approach wouldn’t translate to the playoffs. In fact, they scored more runs per game than any other playoff team with their homer-happy approach (6.57), nearly outpacing the eventual champion Dodgers, owners of the second most prolific offense on a per-game basis, by an entire run (5.61).

However, against the Rays in the ALDS, a series which they lost three games to two, each game was won by the team who led in home runs, with zero ties, as was the case in their two victories over Cleveland. For the Yankees, runs equaled homers more than any other team, so it makes sense that they were more likely to live or die by the tally of long balls. However, in the ALDS, the Rays did out-homer the Yankees in their three wins, eclipsing them in a total tally of ten to nine, despite being outscored by four runs.

In the case of the Yankees, their categorical deficit is more of an indictment of their shallow pitching staff than their offensive firepower. Although the Yankees homered more frequently on a per at-bat basis than any other playoff team, of the eight teams to advance past the Wild Card round, they allowed homers more frequently than anybody but the Oakland A’s. With a bevy of back-end pitchers no Yankee fan hoped would have to see the light of day in the playoffs receiving extended run, the Yankee offense just couldn’t out-run their poor pitching against the best arms in the American League.

The Yankees’ final playoff game was their only contest in which they scored fewer than four runs—had their pitching held Tampa Bay in check in Games Two and Three, allowing 15 runs between the two contests, they might be staring at championship number 28.


Author: Cooper Halpern

Film fest spotlights work of UI student

Film fest spotlights work of UI student

One of the short videos included in the University of Idaho’s coming Fish and Wildlife Film Festival features a doctoral student at the school and is centered on a successful river restoration project in Western Washington that could have implications for the Snake River.

The film “Renewal: Think Like A Scientist,” by Jessica Plumb, highlights emerging scientist Cameron Macias of Port Angeles, Wash., a member of the Lower Elwha Tribe. Plumb and her film crew followed Macias and her mentor Kim Sager-Fradkin, wildlife program manager for the tribe, as they worked to document wildlife recolonization of former reservoirs on the Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River following the removal of two dams there.

The university’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences will hold its long-delayed film festival starting next week. Originally planned for the spring, the festival was postponed until fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers had hoped the delay would allow them to screen the films on the UI campus and at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in downtown Moscow. However, with the pandemic still persisting, the event will be held virtually, in what amounts to giant webinars. Featuring 29 short films, it will be shown in two parts — the first will air from 6-8 p.m. next Friday, and the second will be shown from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 13.

There is no cost for school-children or university students, but organizers are asking adults to donate $7.

“The festival itself is designed to excite and inspire people about wild species, wild places and the scientists who are doing this research,” said Lisette Waits, head of the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences. “We really hope it inspires students to think about a career focused on fish and wildlife biology and management. We think these films have incredible stories to tell about the efforts people are making to study and conserve different types of wildlife and different types of ecosystems.”

Macias is one of those people. The young woman is pursuing a doctoral degree at the school and working to wrap up a three-year project that will estimate the cougar and bobcat populations on the Olympic Peninsula.

She began her higher education with the goal of becoming a marine biologist but later switched to wildlife and landed an internship with Sager-Fradkin. The two women worked together on a Columbia blacktail deer study and another looking at how a variety of animals were using the areas formerly inundated by the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams. Plumb, who documented the dam removal project in her 2014 film “Return of the River,” revisited the area in 2017 and focused on Macias in particular as part of the “Think Like a Scientist” film series.

“It wasn’t until after I finished making ‘Renewal,’ that I realized it is the first film (in the series) to feature two females and an indiginous voice. I am really thrilled to be able to share those perspectives,” she said. “I love watching how Cameron’s trajectory has continued, how she has gone on to deepen her education and broaden her experience, and her work with Kim has grown into something that is going to be a wonderful career.”

The obsolete dams were removed in 2012 and 2014 to restore not only chinook salmon but the entire Elwha ecosystem. It is the largest dam removal project in the U.S. and, although the two dams are very different from the four lower Snake River dams in eastern Washington, many salmon advocates see parallels. Following dam removal, chinook salmon and steelhead have recolonized the part of the Elwha that was blocked for about 100 years. Many scientists and advocates believe breaching the Snake River dams, an idea rejected by the federal government, would dramatically increase the abundance of salmon and steelhead in Idaho, southweastern Washington and northeastern Oregon.

“I feel like, while every river is different, the Elwah has shown what is possible,” Plumb said.

Macias, who is also working with the big cat conservation organization Panthera, said participating in the film was a great experience.

“It was a lot of fun. We basically just brought them out to our study area and showed them where we worked,” she said. “It was great to be able to share our story.”

The festival, which includes films from all over the world, also features another from the Northwest. “Helping 6 Species Adapt to Climate Change” highlights the restoration of 250 acres on the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Boundary-Smith Creek Wildlife Management Area in the Panhandle Region. More information about the festival and the films that will be screened is available at

Those interested in the event next Friday can register at Registration for the Nov. 13 screening is available at

Waits said holding the festival virtually has some advantages. Following the films, viewers will be able to vote electronically on their favorites. It also allowed the university to invite its far-flung alumni and fish and wildlife students from universities around the country to tune in.

“Just like everything in this time right now, we are finding silver linings and thinking about new ways to do things,” Waits said. “I’m really excited to be able to share the festival in a virtual format for people anywhere.”

Barker may be contacted at or at (208) 848-2273. Follow him on Twitter @ezebarker.

“The festival itself is designed to excite and inspire people about wild species, wild places and the scientists who are doing this research. We really hope it inspires students to think about a career focused on fish and wild biology and management. We think these films have incredible stories to tell about the efforts people are making to study and conserve different types of wildlife and different types of ecosystems.”

Lisette Waits, head of UI’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences


Author: Eric Barker, of the Tribune

Tennessee sports betting is about to be legal. Here's how it'll work.

Tennessee sports betting is about to be legal. Here’s how it’ll work.

Starting Sunday, all bets are on for sports gambling enthusiasts in Tennessee.

Tennessee’s online-only sports gaming program is unlike any other in the nation, experts say, and its launch is more than a year in the making. Online sports gaming became legal in the state, which has no brick-and-mortar gambling venues, on July 1, 2019. Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation regulators approved sports betting rules in April.

The state’s first four licensed sportsbooks — Action 24/7, BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel — are slated to go live online and on apps for mobile devices Sunday at 12:01 a.m. Central time, in the heart of the NFL season and just before the 2020 Masters Tournament begins on Nov. 12.

Tennessee is the first state to regulate online sportsbooks directly, without the framework of casinos or possession of a retail gambling license as a precondition to operate a sportsbook online, a common qualifier in the 18 other states where betting is legal.

Licensed sportsbooks in Tennessee must also abide by a 90% cap on payouts — an unprecedented move in the United States and something several experts deem an anomaly.

What does this mean for Tennessee sports bettors? Here’s what we know.

Apps and online platforms of the four currently licensed sportsbook operators will go live on Sunday. 

Bettors who are over the age of 21 and within the physical boundaries of the state of Tennessee will then be able to place their wagers via the internet using a mobile device or computer. Sportsbooks are barred from creating any type of physical kiosk or service station for consumer use in placing bets.

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation has approved more than 100 events across 27 sports for sports wagering.

Bettors can wager on collegiate sports in Tennessee, with limitations: no in-game proposition wagers can be placed on “individual actions, events, statistics, occurrences or non-occurrences” during a college game, according to Tennessee regulations.

Tennessee is the eighth state where FanDuel offers mobile sports betting (the company also offers retail sportsbooks in eight states). Founded in 2009, FanDuel is known as a national leader in daily fantasy sports games.

Those who already have a fantasy sports account with FanDuel can use the same account for the platform’s online sportsbook starting Sunday, and winnings from fantasy sports and sports betting are stored in the same wallet, meaning they can be used interchangeably.

Tennessee users will see the same app that is available in other states served by FanDuel, featuring a wide variety of wager types, FanDuel CMO Mike Raffensperger said.

FanDuel also allows users to combine bets within the same game using a same-game parlay feature, and has an in-app sporting event livestream.

DraftKings is another national giant in daily fantasy sports, having accumulated about 13 million users across its offerings since its start in Boston eight years ago.

Tennessee is DraftKings’ ninth market for sportsbooks — another step toward the company’s goal of becoming the nation’s largest sports gaming brand, DraftKings President Matt Kalish said.

DraftKings users in Tennessee will access the same app and online platform as users in other states, though options will be tailored to comply with Tennessee regulations. 

Like FanDuel, those with a DraftKings account can access both daily fantasy sports and online sportsbooks with the same shared wallet, meaning funds can be used for wagers on both platforms.

Tennessee marks the eighth sportsbook for BetMGM, a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings. The company, also known for its casino and poker services (which are not offered in Tennessee) launched its first sportsbook in New Jersey in 2018, and intends to grow its national footprint.

BetMGM announced a partnership with the Tennessee Titans in late September, and will be featured on Titans digital platforms, including during key in-game moments.

BetMGM’s platform will offer Tennessee bettors a wide range of wager options, including pre-game, in-play wagers and future bets, BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said. 

The BetMGM app also carries some unique features, including the option to automatically cash out some bets once their value reaches a certain dollar amount set by the user, and the opportunity to earn M life reward points that can be redeemed for experiences in MGM resort properties or additional gameplay. 

Action 24/7 is Tennessee’s first local online sportsbook — also a first in the national sports gambling industry. The Nashville-based company is led by Tina Hodges, who also owns Advance Financial, an online lending company that operates in 15 states. Action 24/7 is backed by more than 50 investors from throughout the state.

Because Action 24/7 is a startup, users will need to wait until Sunday to make their first deposits once the platform goes live. Hodges said Action 24/7 will offer a variety of Tennessee-specific parlays (bets that include multiple wagers), and the company looks forward to attending tailgates and holding in-person events to meet the community once the COVID-19 pandemic is under control.

Unlike its larger national competitors, Hodges said Action 24/7 plans to focus only on operating in Tennessee, at least for now.

A barrage of promotions will come with the launch of sportsbooks in Tennessee, including sign-up bonuses, free bets, deposit matches and odds boosts, among others. Consumers can expect to see a veritable flood of advertisements in the coming months.

Action 24/7 is offering a $51 registration bonus that goes live on Sunday, with more promotions and free bets running daily throughout November.

BetMGM will offer a risk-free $500 bet for new customers, meaning if a customer loses their first bet, the company will refund it up to $500. The platform also features a variety of deposit-match, odds boosts and other promotions on a rolling basis.

DraftKings offers new users who pre-download the app and register an account before Sunday a $50 free bet on opening day. Once Tennessee sports gambling goes live, new users in the DraftKings sportsbook are eligible for a welcome bonus up to $1,000, which releases in increments as users play on the platform over time.

FanDuel will offer a $50 bonus for those who register with the sportsbook prior to Sunday, and a risk-free first bet that will be refunded if a customer loses their first wager, up to $1,000. FanDuel will also offer sizeable odds boosts on some wagers for hometown teams with its Hometown Heroes promotions.

Tennessee’s unique online-only sportsbook structure and first-of-its-kind 10% hold requirement mean sports wagering might look slightly different for Tennessee bettors, though several experts say these factors likely won’t have a significant impact on the experience of casual bettors.

The state requires gambling operators to hold at least 10% of the money accepted in wagers, which could increase how much money the house takes for itself from bettors’ winnings. This means bettors will have a maximum 90% payout, about 5% less than the industry average.

Jessica Welman, an analyst for sports gambling site, said this means sportsbooks in Tennessee will likely have to include a slightly higher cost to book bets in Tennessee to meet the hold requirement.

“I think only a small percentage of very avid bettors are going to really notice the pricing discrepancy, if there is one,” Welman said. 

Raffensperger, of FanDuel, said its platform broadly seeks to “keep the experience the same” across its sportsbooks in different states. Kalish, of DraftKings, said his company aims to give consumers the “best possible experience within the regulations,” and hopes to keep odds “as similar as possible to other states, wherever possible.”

BetMGM will offer a variety of parlay wager options to help the company meet the 10% hold, Greenblatt said. Parlays are bets that include multiple wagers and can have higher payouts, but also typically have less favorable odds for consumers.

For Hodges, of Action 24/7, any differences are moot. 

“It’s interesting because people talk about differences, but for Tennessee bettors, there’s no difference,” she said. “There’s only one way being offered in Tennessee. It’s like, I don’t try to compare the milk prices in Nashville to the milk prices in Iowa, because no one in Nashville is buying milk in Iowa.”

Cassandra Stephenson covers business at The Tennessean, part of the USA Today Network — Tennessee. Reach Cassandra at or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.


Author: Cassandra Stephenson, Nashville Tennessean

Can the Yankees’ Boom or Bust Offense work in the postseason?

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