Baseball BeatJanuary 08, 2005
Looks Like We Made It
By Rich Lederer

Brian Gunn notified me via email late last night that the Jim Edmonds article we co-authored in August (The Most Under-Over Underrated Player in Baseball) was named as one of the top ten sports columns in 2004 by The Daily Fix of The Wall Street Journal.

Carl Bialik and Jason Fry wrote the following introduction in The Fixers Make Their Picks For The Best Columns of 2004:

Your average Daily Fix contains a dozen links to columns we liked, which over a year adds up to some 3,000 sports stories that we thought were worthy of a look.

But some columns stuck with us weeks and even months after we sent you their way. As the year wound down, we decided to try something new: putting our heads together and picking the 10 we found most memorable.

Enjoy our first-ever Fix Picks for the year's best sports columns, presented in alphabetical order.

The other honorees included Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, Tommy Craggs of the San Francisco Weekly, Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant, Bruce Jenkins and Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle, James Lawton of The Independent (U.K.), Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger, Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star, and Bill Simmons of Eight of the ten articles appeared in the print media and ours was the only one that appeared on a blog.

  • Brian Gunn and Richard Lederer, Redbird Nation

    Take a knowledgeable, rational, literary fan. Add a great season for the fan's chosen team, with sympathetic players sparking a run to the World Series. Stir in the wonders of blogs, whose cheap, easy publishing software makes anyone an Internet commentator. The happy result for baseball fans this year was Mr. Gunn's Redbird Nation, a site about the St. Louis Cardinals and their loyal supporters.

    Our favorite post from our favorite baseball blog, included in the Aug. 12 Fix, profiled Cardinals centerfielder Jim Edmonds. Unbound by the confines of a newspaper column, Messrs. Gunn and Lederer mixed links, stats, biography and colorful observations like this one: "Put Jim Edmonds in a batter's box and he's transformed. Gone are the heavy eyelids and the cavalier attitude, and they're replaced with something else altogether -- a series of rituals, neuroses, and tics. He grimaces, jabbers with umpires and catchers, steps out to do calisthenics or pace around or talk to himself."

    Alas, Mr. Gunn retired after the season. We wish him well, and hope his writing resurfaces.

  • Brian and I enjoyed collaborating on the Edmonds article, and we are most appreciative of the recognition our work has received. Despite Brian's "retirement," we are hopeful of producing another jointly written column in the near future.

    In the meantime, you can read the Edmonds piece and dozens of other articles written by Brian in A Redbird Nation Reader, a 248-page, must-own book for all Cardinal fans.


    Congratulations, Rich and Brian. That's pretty damn cool!

    To two of my favorite baseball writers and pals: congrats, gentlemen. You earned it.

    Harrumph!....Tell me the Daily Fix wasn't in.

    Wall...Stan Wall-P..born in MO.

    Street...Gabby Street-Mgr/C..Cardinals.

    Journell...Jim Journell-P..Cardinals

    Congrats Rich & Brian...standing O!


    Very nice piece. Great read! One thing tho. Like you, I've always considered Edmonds to be an exceptional fielder, as your range factor stats indicate. But I recall seeing his UZR on Baseball Primer somewhere showing him to be actually in the negative. Of course, this doesn't factor in his arm, but still... Seems to me either Jimmy's positioning is skewing his UZR, or something's wrong with this admittedly imperfect stat, or the critics may be right. Any comment?

    I am quite certain that Edmonds is a better fielder than what his UZR numbers suggest. One of the weaknesses in UZR is that it only measures the percentage of balls handled and not the quality of the outcome.

    Robbing a hitter of a home run counts the same as catching a pop fly even though the former turns at least one run into an out. Edmonds has been -- and continues to be -- one of the best in the game at making such plays. If he makes three or four plays like this per year, isn't that similar to hitting three or four more home runs? (It's actually worth more because of the "out" involved, which is the only precious resource a team has in a game.)