Our baseball lineup for this season features some new faces along with the sage veterans. Senior editor Larry Burke directs our coverage for the first time, though he's hardly new to the national pastime. He's the author of three books on the sport, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Baseball, which he cowrote in 1999 with Johnny Bench. It's no surprise, then, that for this week's preview issue Burke ordered up an explanatory piece (page 60) that shows, in vivid detail, how six major league aces make their best pitches. Photo editor Nate Gordon, who coordinated the shoots for that story, initially thought it would rely mostly on action photos, but the images of the contortionist grips pitchers used on the ball were too compelling not to emphasize. "The piece points up how amazing these guys are," Burke says, "and how difficult it is to be a hitter."
The task of assigning 400 pitchers and 425 position players a Player Value Rating (PVR) is a prodigious one, and associate editor David Sabino has been doing this for SI for seven seasons. "Determining a player's PVR goes beyond mere number crunching," says Sabino, who factors in scouting reports in an effort to predict which players will exceed last year's stats and who might be headed for a slump. "It's more an art than a science. And it's not saying who the best players are—it's saying who's going to put up the best numbers."
In his first season on the beat, Danny Habib has one goal: "To eat a hot dog in every major league stadium." As a Harvard undergrad, Habib would take a bus to Yankee Stadium for playoff games, then get back on a bus to make it to campus for class the next day.
Albert Chen, another rookie on the beat, graduated from Yale in 2000 and promptly embarked on a three-week road trip to 13 big league parks. No surprise there. His Hastings, Neb., Little League team used to take six-hour van rides to see the Kansas City Royals.
Tom Verducci begins his 11th season covering baseball for SI on an auspicious note: Last week he learned that his June 2002 expos� on steroid use in the game and SI's 2002 baseball preview had been selected as finalists for National Magazine Awards.
Associate Photo Editor
Massachusetts-born Nate Gordon, who oversees our baseball photo coverage, remains a diehard Red Sox fan despite living in Brooklyn While cheering for Boston during the 1986 World Series, he was Pelted with peanuts by fans at Shea Stadium.