SABR 44 Day 2: Astros, Scouts, and the Media

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The second day of SABR 44 in Houston was just as exciting as day one.

Early in the day, author Rebecca Herman spoke about researching the different leadership styles of MLB managers and some of the most important skills needed in the clubhouse, like honesty, open communication with players, and being a teacher.

But the morning’s highlight was a panel focused on the 1980 Astros, remembering the team that was the first ever Astros team to make the playoffs. Tal Smith, the General Manager of that team told me that his favorite moment of that season was beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in a one-game playoff:

Jose Cruz was an infielder on that 1980 Astros team. He retired holding many franchise records. After the panel, he told me hat it meant to him to be on the Astros’ first playoff team:

It was also great to catch up with other young SABR members who were part of my sabermetrics fantasy league. I also spoke with Professor Leslie Heaphy, the SABR board member behind SABR’s project to spread the word to kids, families, and schools.

Later in the afternoon, I attended the SABR 44 Awards Lunch. One of the speakers was former Astros player and manager Larry Dierker. He said he disagrees with MLB’s instant replay system because it slows down the game and he prefers it the way it was when he was growing up. Shorter commercial breaks and fewer conflicts make it a faster and more exciting game. He and I talked afterwards, and he told me how his career as a player helped him as a manager and broadcaster:

After lunch was the Media Panel, which covered topics such as the role of Twitter in sports, baseball on television, and what makes a player a good or bad interviewee. One panelist, Evan Drellich, said he thinks one of the most important skills for a journalist to have is to state facts about players and be respectful, but not focus too much on their feelings.

All in all, the second day of SABR 44 was a huge success.

Max Mannis is a special correspondent for and a member of SABR. Catch his posts on advanced baseball statistics. To learn more about SABR and to join, visit

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