Thursday, January 28, 2010

FMTMQR: I Keep Getting Older, but Gregg Stays Just as Dumb

I took a few weeks off from doing TMQRs. I'm sure all eleven of you noticed. Why did I take that break? Because each and every one of these is a descent into madness. Pretentious madness, which is the worst kind of madness. They take so much out of me. But I'm back. I'm back like pass wacky offenses- just ask Gregg, he'll tell you that it's hardly a new trend! The 1937 Akron Zeppelins of the National Foot Ball Association threw for over 8,000 yards in just 12 games. Now, on to the assholery.

Of the 88 players who started on championship Sunday, 19 were undrafted. Countless megabucks first-round draft choices sat at home drinking blueberry wheat microbrews and munching genetically modified maize chips while watching undrafted gentlemen perform on the big stage.

Yes. Given the fact that 28 teams were not playing on championship Sunday, there were in fact a large number of highly paid/highly drafted/both players not playing. Which just goes to show you- during any given season, there isn't much correlation between having been awesome at college football, and playing for a berth in the Super Bowl. Thank goodness we know. For what it's worth, there were also a bunch of assholes sitting at home on championship Sunday drinking warm Busch Light and eating stale rice cakes who were undrafted and currently play in the CFL.

Kids -- never give up! TMQ admires those players who excel despite being undrafted, waived, or both.

He suuuuuuure does. NO ONE APPRECIATES JEFF SATURDAY LIKE TMQ. NO ONE. I feel the need to balance out his bizarre love for high-achieving undrafted guys, so I've just recently decided that my new favorite players are JaMarcus Russell and Darius Heyward-Bay.

In cultural news, the other day I took a United Airlines flight from Toronto to Washington. Scheduled departure time was 10:03 a.m. -- not 10:00, 10:03. Throughout this column you'll find TMQ's annual review of absurd pseudo-precision.

What? A flight, which depends on an enormously complex system of timing windows for various air routes and air traffic control panels, can't just say "Hey we'll take off around 10 and probably land sometime in the afternoon?" The airline industry could use some streamlining if you ask me.

And how is that cultural news?

In overtime, the host Saints -- outplayed by the Vikings in every respect save turnovers -- faced a fourth-and-1 on the Minnesota 43-yard line. This is do-or-die -- you cannot give the ball back to the other team in overtime. Three times earlier in the game, New Orleans needed 1 yard for a first down, and all three times the Saints were stuffed. Sean Payton sent in a goal-line play -- one in which tailback Pierre Thomas leaps above the trench, as if at the goal line.

It was a good call. I liked it. Of course, you don't really see that play at the goal line very often. When players go airborne while carrying the ball, they're much more at risk to fumble. And on that play, Thomas very nearly did fumble. He lost the ball in midair, trapped it with his leg, and recovered before he hit the ground. Awesome play.

Why do coaches only call the leap at the goal line? Because the most it can gain is 2 yards; the runner crosses the line of scrimmage, then slams to the ground. That's fine at the goal line, but in the middle of the field, coaches want to maintain the chance of a long run.

You are wrong. You are stupid. You are clown shoes. ESPN should dock your next paycheck for that theory. That's worse than "Adrian Peterson is good because he doesn't look at defenders when he's running." Coaches almost never call that play regardless of where on the field their team is, again, because of the risk of fumbling. It's also high risk/high reward- there's no chance a leaping runner, if stuffed, will be able to pick up the first down on a second effort. Once they leave the ground, the end result of the play is essentially predetermined. Either they'll make it or they won't. Which isn't the same as when a RB dives into the line on 4th and 1- they might be able to bounce outside if they're stuffed initially. But really, this is more explanation than you need. Suffice it to say that Gregg is a waterhead.

In mid-December, declared New England had an "88.78 percent" chance of winning its division, while Minnesota had a "98.38 percent" chance and Buffalo clung to a "0.04 percent" chance. Dallas, meanwhile, had a "50.3 percent" chance of reaching the playoffs.

How dare that website publish those decimals which its computer model easily calculated! They're wasting valuable internet bandwidth!

Shawn Fury of New York City notes of a Bulls-Nuggets contest, "With 0.6 seconds left, Chauncey Billups was fouled in a tie game. He made the first free throw, putting Denver ahead. He missed the second on purpose, figuring time would expire the instant the ball hit the rim. Nope.

Right, because there were 0.6 seconds left, remember? The amount of time it takes for a ball to make contact with a rim and then bounce off is probably something like .01 seconds. Because balls are bouncy.

Chicago grabbed a rebound, called timeout and the clock showed 0.3 seconds. The Bulls inbounded to Brad Miller, who catches the pass, pivoted and fired a shot. Chicago wins! Then the refs review it and say no goal, the ball was on his fingertips when time expired. So according to the NBA, in the span of 0.6 seconds, the Bulls could grab a rebound, call a timeout, throw to a player who catches the basketball, pivots and raises the ball to shoot. Imagine what he could have done with 0.7 seconds!"

Well, he could have won the game for his team. Why are you asking sarcastically? Apparently it took 0.3 seconds for the ball to hit the rim, be rebounded, and for the rebounder to call timeout. then it took something like 0.35 seconds for Miller to grab the inbounds pass and shoot it. The fact that it's so hard for some people to understand that those are actual amounts of time boggles my mind. THE NBA SHOULD USE AN ANALOG CLOCK WITH NO SECOND HAND OR MINUTE HAND TO KEEP TIME DURING ITS GAMES. THAT'S ALL THE HUMAN BRAIN CAN COMPREHEND. ONCE THE HOUR HAND IS ON THE NINE, GUYS, GAME'S OVER. AND NOT AN HOUR SOONER.

In Game 2 of the 2009 NBA Finals, time appeared to expire as the ball caromed out of bounds at the end of regulation. Officials Steve Javie, Tom Washington and Monty McCutchen huddled and put 0.6 of a second back on the clock, allowing Orlando a chance to win. NBA officials can sense three-fifths of a second!

When looking at instant replay in slow motion, they might be able to "sense" durations of time even smaller than that! Maybe even all the way down to 0.3 seconds! Madness!

Bills scout Tom Modrak told Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News that college shotgun spread offenses make it hard to evaluate the pass-blocking ability of offensive linemen because, "The quarterback always throws the ball in 1.7 seconds." College quarterbacks can sense tenths of seconds!

They sure can, on some level. We've already had this argument. And I won. From November 2008:

This recent New York Times story about the work habits of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen is both unintentionally hilarious, and disquieting.

Irony. So much delicious irony in that sentence.

The hilarious part: "The hours Mullen and Tebow spend together are geared around 1.3 seconds, the amount of time Tebow has to make a decision after the snap." This is another instance of the sports world's nutty obsession with claiming to be able to sense tenths of seconds.

Yeah, everyone knows that defensive linemen and blitzing linebackers and safties only move towards the QB in full second increments. Why bother practicing for a 1.3 second release when the defenders will only arrive after either exactly 1 second or exactly 2 seconds? How silly is that? I mean, come on, Tebow. Why bother with precision? Like, for example, say you need to throw a precisely timed pass to a receiver who's running an out route. Shouldn't it be good enough to say "Hey, I'll throw it about 3 seconds after the snap?" I think so. I mean, how much more precise could you get.

While we're on the subject, I think it's worth pointing out that a player who runs the 40 yard dash in 4.6 seconds is clearly no faster than one who runs it in 5.4 seconds. Why bother measuring the tenths? What a waste.

Gregg Easterbrook is so fucking stupid that I can't even creatively express my rage.

The NBA season has started, so it won't be long until an official somberly instructs a timekeeper to put a tenth of a second back on the clock.

Hopefully, because then he will write about it and then I will get to write a blog entry that looks exactly like this one in response.

There is no chance Tebow or any quarterback under game conditions can tell the difference between 1.2 seconds, 1.3 seconds or 1.4 seconds.

Very true. However, idiot, that's not the point of whatever these drills are. It's to give Tebow an innate sense of how long is too long to hold onto the ball. Say he runs drill X 100 times. He releases the ball after 1.2 seconds 25 times, after 1.3 seconds 50 times, and after 1.4 seconds 25 times. You think he couldn't pick out at least a few of the times he held the ball that fraction of a second too long? I'm reasonably sure he could. And while he may be incapable of doing that kind of thinking during a game, the point of a drill is to make it so you don't have to think when the game rolls around. You just act.

Probably a good quarterback can tell the difference between one second and two seconds under game conditions, which is impressive enough.

I can tell the difference bewteen 1 second and 2 seconds when I'm playing a pickup game with my friends. I am not a good quarterback. Anyone with a working brain should be able to make that distinction.

But, "Tim, make your read in 1.3 seconds" is a meaningless instruction.

You're a fucking idiot.

See? And I'm still right.

Large, comfortable, well-lit, well-ventilated underground passageways also continue to star in nonsense entertainment. In the recent remake of "Pelham 1-2-3," the bad guys discover an "abandoned subway tunnel" that opens directly into … the lobby of the Waldorf Hotel. At what point, exactly, did the subway once run through the Waldorf? (Addendum: Numerous readers, including Pete Klaiber of Moscow, Idaho, are reporting there actually is an abandoned subway line to the Waldorf Astoria.)

Snarky point! (Oh, and confession that snarky point was completely wrong.)

Then the terrific Indianapolis offensive line -- which started three undrafted players -- adjusted to the feeling of the Jersey/B blitz, and the Jets never got to Manning again.

Don't expect Gregg to write anything about the Jets' awesome offensive line, anchors of the league's #1 rushing defense- it has four count 'em four 1st round picks as starters. BUT DID YOU KNOW JEFF SATURDAY WASN'T DRAFTED?

The Michigan state personal income tax is now 3.95 percent -- it's certainly not 4 percent! The New Jersey top state tax rate is now 8.97 percent -- certainly not 9 percent! Where I live, in Montgomery County in Maryland, the top state-and-county combined tax rate is 9.45 percent -- certainly not 9.5 percent!

How absurdly pseudo-accurate! Say you live in Michigan and your yearly household taxable income is $100,000. (Pretty unlikely if you live in Michigan in the year 2010, but work with me here.) I mean, what's the different between giving up $3,950 of your income to that particular tax vs. $4,000? Fifty bucks? Who cares about fifty bucks? Over the course of several different types of taxes, say you just round everything like this up and end up paying an extra $200 a year. Who cares about two hundred bucks? Certainly not middle or lower class families. I think next time I file my taxes, I'll just round the rate up to the nearest 10%. Paying what the legislature has determined the exact rate to be is just too ridiculously quasi-specific for me.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Pulpit of the Sportswriter

Gene Wojciechowski recently issued a call for MLB to quit its hypocrisy in re-admitting Mark McGwire to the game while at the same time denying Pete Rose his re-entry. Note that Mr. McGwire was not banned from the game.

I don't know why writers so frequently fulminate on moral issues in the sports world. No doubt that sports is full of moral failures, but the writing about it so often obscures the real issues.

For example, Gene's article attempts to point out a hypocrisy in MLB's policy towards its transgressors. In this case, in his haste to take up Mr. Rose's case, he's ignored the real moral problem: MLB's nebulous and uncertain position regarding the steroid scandal of the last fifteen years or so.

Gene's article is full of the usual problems, including:

radical oversimplifications....

They both compromised the game and they both suffered irreparable harm to their reputations. But somehow Rose's baseball sins are mortal and McGwire's are venial. Doesn't make any sense.

Gene, in this case, has ignored the fact that a lot of other men have been accused, have admitted, or have been proven to have used steroids. Major League baseball has a big problem with all the steroid issues, including current players still under suspicion. Heck, it's only been six months since one of the biggest sluggers in the game was suspended.

No doubt Rose's sins were mortal, and a clear precedent was established for that. This precedent runs from the 1910s, acheived a marked peak in 1919, and through a notable suspension in 1970. McGwire's sins may indeed be mortal - but no precedent has been set, and MLB would have to establish some clear standards for an already-sticky subject.

Gene, it's just not that easy.

...misuse of rhetoric...

To McGwire's credit, at least he admitted the obvious and apologized. Still, how come Rose's gambling admission in 2004 makes no difference to MLB, but McGwire's recent admission of steroid use (nearly six years after his embarrassing congressional appearance) results in a welcome-back hug from the league office?

Well, everyone knew he had done it anyways, and Rose sure waited fourteen years for his own halfhearted admission. But Gene's main question in this paragraph is intended as a rhetorical question-slam... except that it isn't rhetorical. The league didn't have any qualms welcoming him back because... it had never kicked him out.

I bought a copy of My Prison Without Bars at the local H.E.B. grocery store for one dollar last fall. It was an entertaining read, even if the title is a bit dramatic. Still, I was pleased that the story wasn't an overt plea for sympathy.

...abuse of statistics and metaphors...

Not Rose. The all-time hits leader (his career .303 batting average is 40 points higher than McGwire's) is in a permanent holding pattern. Selig sits in MLB's control tower and refuses to let Rose land.

Rose was a good player here, but comparitive batting averages has absolutely nothing to do with this article, or the morality of the situation. Nor does the metaphor of the control tower have much luster; besides the "control" version, I don't see any particular reason to compare Pete Rose to an airplane.

...more radical oversimplifications...

This isn't about the Hall of Fame. The moment Rose made a bet on baseball is the moment he forever forfeited his bronze plaque. McGwire should be held to an identical standard. The moment he began defrauding the game, the fans and the record book with his PED-aided dingers is the moment he became persona non Cooperstown.

The trouble with this situation is - we don't know that moment, and we don't know the moment for the rest of the sluggers of the 1995-2005 era. I completely agree with Gene that such players should be treated differently with regards to involvement with the game and the HOF - but Gene can't write this article as if Mark McGwire is the only player this applies to.

and some illogical foolishness.

Rose made his major league debut in 1963, the same year McGwire was born. McGwire made his major league debut in 1986, the same year Rose played his final game. So they are linked by years, by scandals and by confessions.

This has nothing to do with their respective cases. Their respective cases have notable differences, and the odd coincedence of years doesn't link them any more than if they both publicly announce a love for cannoli or a belief in Shamanism.

No doubt that moral inconsistency exists in baseball's steroid policy, but this article skirts that issue while prattling about another. Gene's not the only one who's noting some hollowness in McGwire's return, but that doesn't have a lot to do with Pete Rose.
One sinner coming clean doesn't demand a sermon for the rest of us.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Murray Chass Makes Me Angry

I thought my anger about sports journalism was abating. Till I read this: a self-righteous bullshit article from a guy who wants to knock others down. You can see a picture of the man on the right, looking grim and rough and ready to tussle with some stat geeks. Well, shit, Murray Chass, it's on.

A Never-Ending Debate

There is nothing in sports that creates the controversy and the debate provoked by voting for the Hall of Fame.

There is nothing in a sub-standard article that can create controversy and debate like a hyperbolic, universal opening statement.

More than a week after the results of the latest voting were announced, I was still getting e-mail about the results. Everyone is an expert, fans and bloggers alike.

No, this is not true. People who are knowledgeable, thoughtful, and often even logical fans are experts. The thing is - you can't tell if someone is a baseball expert just by their job, or even by their photographic pose up against a baseball fence.

They all know better than the people who actually vote in the election, and they eagerly tell us so.

Murray Chass has made this statement sarcastically. I re-submit this statement, un-sarcastically.

A reader of this site told me in an e-mail that my ballot, which I disclosed before the results were announced, “contains votes for players I do not believe deserve to be in the Hall of Fame and you failed to vote for players who clearly deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Not surprising, since Murray did indeed vote for Jack Morris. Good work, reader who e-mails.

“Clearly deserve” in whose judgment? His, of course. Does that make him right and me wrong? Of course not. Am I right? Yes. Why? Because my opinion counts and his doesn’t. My ballot was one of the 539 counted in the election. He did not have a vote. Therefore, his opinion is worthless as far as the election is concerned.

This made me so angry. Even reading this for a third time, I am still angry. Hey Murray, just because you graduated from Pitt in 1960 and started working the trade for all these years still doesn't mean you can think. It just means you've been reporting for work.

Also, your opinion is worthless. I am angry.

I am still angry about this paragraph.

That’s the real problem self-proclaimed experts have. They want to be the ones voting, but they don’t have that privilege. It’s their own fault. They chose the wrong profession. Accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers and salesmen don’t get to vote for the Hall of Fame. Baseball writers do.

Except that the constraints for entry into the "baseball writers' profession" is pretty fucking low. You pretty much need a BA in English, which is a lot easier to get than a JD or an MD. Even HatGuy got one. Mine wasn't very hard to get at all. The point of this is, Murray, is that just because you're a baseball writer doesn't make you any fucking smarter than someone who decided not to become a baseball writer because they'd rather do something else with their days. I bet Larry B or Chris W could've become pretty good sportswriters. I could've become a sportswriter.

I am still angry.

When I started out in life, I wanted to be a baseball writer, not so that I could vote for the Hall of Fame. I didn’t know anything about voting then, but it is something that came with the territory.

And now it's a territory that you want to clutch to your exclusive little chest, even holding it away from people like me, who started out in life loving baseball but not wanting to write about it all day.

Actually, I don’t believe baseball writers should be voting for the Hall of Fame, though I don’t know of a more qualified group, which is why the Hall maintains its association with the Baseball Writers Association.

How do you think one should gain election, Murray Chass?

Side question: could we have the players of the just-passed era vote? I guess that means we'd have to give Lenny Dykstra and Rob Dibble a vote, though. Maybe we could have the players of the just-passed-era who aren't loudmouthed idiots vote.

Nearly 20 years ago I introduced a motion at a Baseball Writers Association meeting that the organization should withdraw from voting. This was at the time Pete Rose became eligible for the writers’ ballot, and to make sure we didn’t elect him, the Hall’s board of directors changed the rules, deciding that anyone who was permanently ineligible from baseball was not eligible for the Hall of Fame. That meant Joe Jackson and Pete Rose.

It's not that bizarre of a conclusion to draw. The voters had already de facto been enforcing it by never voting for Jackson, even though he seems pretty close to HOF standards for a short career.

I was not going to vote for Rose, but I objected to the board’s action. If Hall officials couldn’t trust the writers to do the right thing, I felt, we should end our association with the Hall and its election. If they manipulated the ballot in that instance, they could do it whenever they felt like it.

Two people voted for Jay Bell. You barely remembered to send your ballot in. The writers moped around for fourteen years and then collectively pity-voted Jim Rice in. Nobody should trust the writers to do the right thing until they clean house a little.

After listening to the discussion among the writers at the meeting, I sensed that the motion had a chance to pass. Dave Nightingale, a writer from Chicago, sensed the same thing, though unlike me, not happily. He quickly introduced a motion to table the vote, made some good arguments in support and saved the day for the BBWAA-Hall of Fame connection.

Sounds like a nice little meeting. I wonder how many jokes got made every day about good ol' Dave Nightingale's pretty awesome last name.

The vote was tabled until a vote of all of the members could be conducted by mail. With that development, I knew my motion had no chance. It lost easily.

So you tried to sneak through a motion in a sparsely-attended meeting, when you knew you didn't represent the opinions of the whole organization, Murray?

Sounds pretty shady.

Lisa Olson feels the same way I did then. A former sports writer with the New York Daily News, Lisa attracted unwanted post-election attention when an item on about the Hall of Fame voting said she always submits a blank ballot, has every year she has voted.

Don't want attention? Don't work in the media.

A blank ballot counts. It means the voter doesn’t think anyone should be elected that year, and it is counted in the tally. Depending on the number of blank ballots that are returned, they can affect the outcome of the election. The 75 percent threshold candidates need for election is affected by the total number of votes.

I grasp this. Even though I haven't worked in the industry for forty years, I grasp this.

For example, this year there were 5 blank ballots among the 539 total ballots. Seventy-five percent of 539 requires 405 votes for election. Seventy-five percent of 534 requires 401. Without the blank ballots, Bert Blyleven would have missed election by one vote, not five.

Thanks for the unnecessary math, Murray. But I thought you were against extra math in baseball?

But back to Lisa Olson. The report of her annual blank ballot made me curious enough to ask her why she does that. She doesn’t, she replied.

Lisa, who writes for, explained that she doesn’t return any kind of ballot, blank or otherwise.

Well, Jay Mariotti writes for, which doesn't necessarily mean that Lisa Olson is a terrible person... but it's still a bad association to have your name under his on your website. It's bad enough that my name comes up in the same space as Jarrett's, but that's just the way things work here.

“I don’t participate,” she wrote in an e-mail, “because I believe journalists shouldn’t be voting on people they cover. As someone else noted, it’s akin to having journalists who cover the pentagon vote on who should receive the purple star. Who knows, maybe some day my mind-set will change, but that is how I feel now. I’ve no problem with journos who do participate; we all follow our own conscience. And not participating is much different than sending in a blank ballot. My decision to not participate has zero impact on the outcome.”

That seems vaguely sensible. Also the abbreviation "journos" is weird. 'Journos' sounds too close to 'winos'.

Gee, what a shock. A blog got it wrong. Barry Petchesky, who wrote the item, was good enough to explain his mistake in an e-mail.

Lots of blogs get it wrong. Lots of writers get it wrong. Everyone gets things wrong.

“On Lisa’s site, FanHouse,” he wrote, “they published the ballots of each of their voting members, with a note saying that Lisa ‘abstained from taking part in the voting process as she has in every election since she became eligible.’”

Petchesky said he attempted to ask Olson about her ballot via e-mail but heard nothing before he posted his item.

“A few hours later,” he wrote, “I got an email from FanHouse editor Andrew Johnson pointing out that Lisa’s abstention didn’t count as a ‘no vote’ against any players. I then updated the post to reflect this. Six or so hours later I received an email from Lisa explaining her reasoning for abstaining from the vote, and I updated my post again, publishing her note. I sent her an email apologizing for the confusion.”

Seems rational. People do make mistakes, including baseball writers. If they didn't, we wouldn't have used the label "WRONG" ninety-two times on this blog. And that's not even including most of my posts, which don't include the label "WRONG" even though they certainly merit the use of the label "WRONG".

But as usually happens with these things, Petchesky’s correction never caught up to his mistake, and Olson was branded as a blank-ballot voter. Worse, instead of eliminating the original erroneous report altogether, the blog left it on the site in with the updated information following.

It's not like newspapers go out and grab all the copies of their newspapers when they want to redact their mistakes. They publish a little "mistakes" section in some obscure portion, and then move on. People would also be suspicious if the blog erased all evidence of their mistake.

I suppose that’s like having a report that a crazy man killed 27 people on a college campus, then finding out no such thing happened but leaving the report on the blog with a correction appended saying “never mind.”

Which is pretty much what newspapers do.

That’s just one difference between a blog and a newspaper article. A newspaper would have deleted all mention of Olson and her ballot once the correct story was learned.

How? By storming into the houses of the thousands of subscribers who already had copies of their newspapers, upsetting their breakfasts, scaring their children and stealing their printed print news source back so as to eliminate their mistake?

If you look at - the same organization for which employed Murray Chass as a writer - the "Corrections" link is tiny, gray, and pretty far from the top... even though a there's quite a few of them.

Blogs have had a field day with the Hall of Fame voting, and their focus seems to have been on criticizing voters.

Rightfully so. This blog has been more right than a lot of fucking baseball writers in the past, including you, Murray Chass. Last week, the right rankings went:

  1. Larry B
  2. Murray Chass

In one of the severest posts, on, Patrick Sullivan, a name unknown to me, ridiculed Dan Shaughnessy, a highly respected columnist for the Boston Globe, for writing that … well, just about anything. I don’t know that Shaughnessy wrote a sentence that Sullivan didn’t ridicule.

Good work, Sullivan. And I don't really care if you're a 'highly respected columnist for the Boston Globe', if you say something stupid, you deserve the ridicule.

One of the statements he faulted Shaughnessy for was his belief that Jack Morris was better than Curt Schilling. Preposterous, Sullivan suggested. True, I say in agreement with Shaughnessy. But then I would probably take Shaughnessy’s view over Sullivan’s on any subject. Shaughnessy has a track record; Sullivan doesn’t, as far as I know.

Note the absence of statistics - or even anecdotal evidence - to support the viewpoint. It seems that if Dan Shauhnessy wanted to claim that shit tasted great, Murray Chass would be the first one to shove his head in the horse's ass.


I have had a similar debate with a reader over Morris and Bert Blyleven. Like Sullivan in his case for Schilling, the reader used statistics to argue his case for Blyleven.

How silly. What else should the reader use to argue his case for Blyleven? A game he once saw back in 1974? An ice-cream cone? Some ice cubes, a nine iron, a buffalo, preferably stuffed for safety's sake?

Most of the Hall arguments today seem to be statistics-centered. I get the idea that the stats zealots would draw up charts based on their new-fangled numbers and decide on the basis of the numbers who should be in the Hall of Fame. No thinking necessary.

Actually, that involves a lot of thinking. Evaluating performance - especially for a player I could never see personally, like Bert Blyleven - is tricky. But this is the first time I've ever seen a writer allege that baseball statisticians are not thinking.

I'm not even a stat zealot. I like playing and watching the game. I just also like thinking. And thinking includes figuring out ways to evaluate baseball games and players that I did not watch in person.

Blyleven’s statistics have endeared him to the stats zealots. One of their big numbers is his strikeouts. He had a lot of them, 3,701. Tommy John, who otherwise had similar career statistics to Blyleven’s, struck out 2,245.

So they do have similar career statistics...

I think strikeouts get far too much attention and emphasis. Strikeouts are sexy.

They're also very effective at keeping runs from scoring. A lot fewer runners get on base on an error after a strikeout than after a batted ball. A strikeout pretty much never moves a runner over. A strikeout is simply more effective than a batted ball at preventing runs from scoring... which is the whole goal of pitching.

Thinking: it's good for you.

John, however, was a sinkerball pitcher and got more outs on batted balls and fared just as well as Blyleven.

Maybe because he might have played on better teams with better defense? I don't know what the aggregate W/L of all their teams was, but John's teams went to the playoffs five times and Blyleven's only went three.

John had a career 288-231 record with a 3.34 earned run average. Blyleven’s record was 287-250 and his e.r.a. 3.31. John retired 57 percent of the batters he faced, Blyleven, with all his strikeouts, 59 percent. Yet in the eyes of the stats zealots, the voters were justified for not electing John but not for rejecting Blyleven.

Well, the strikeouts do suggest that John's defense had to get 1,300 more guys out than Blyleven's defense... but if you ask me, both of those guys can stay the hell out of my Hall of Fame.

The arguments will go on incessantly, and the conclusions will be I’m right, you’re wrong. Or is it you’re right, I’m wrong?

But apparently only you count, since you have your own blog and your own picture and your own ego and your own vote and your own Hall of Fame.

I am still angry.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Technology Could End This Industry

Thanks to reader A-Dave who sent along this NPR story about StatsMonkey, a program generated by Northwestern University which has the potential to computerize journalism. The program takes the input of a baseball game's boxscore and generates an article about the game - replete with stats, events, and even integrating quotations and pictures of the players.

Here's the project's website at the Intelligent Information Laboratory at Northwestern, where they explain how the program works.

The system is based on two underlying technologies. First, it uses baseball statistical models to figure out what the news is in the story: By analyzing changes in Win Probability and Game Scores, the system can pick out the key plays and players from any baseball game. Second, the system includes a library of narrative arcs that describe the main dynamics of baseball games (as well as many other competitions): Was it a come-from-behind win? Back-and-forth the whole way? Did one team jump out in front at the beginning and then sit on its lead? The system uses a decision tree to select the appropriate narrative arc. This then determines the main components of the game story and enables the system to put them together in a cohesive and compelling manner. The stories can be generated from the point of view of either team.
A few thoughts on this:

1. I'd never thought of using Win Probability to do this - to determine the most significant plays in the game as the plays which change the WP the most. For example, it seems that the program can determine that before Larry B's broken-bat single down the third base line, Stanford Hall had a 4% chance of winning the game, but after that, his team had a 10% chance of winning the game. Therefore, Larry B is more clutch than David Eckstein.

2. If the code for this project ever goes public, you can imagine the Turing tests that will take place on this blog. I'm sure the computer generated stories will be better than HatGuy's sentimental diatribes on why his favorite teams need to win more.

3. Doesn't the quality of the output of these articles depend on the phrases coded into the machine's algorithms? For example, if the folks at Northwestern hire Jay to help them come up with a set number of phrases that describe a come-from-behind home run in the bottom of the seventh, that means every article that comes out of this program is stamped with Jay's inanity.

4. Someone needs to save sports journalism. Someone needs to walk into the compounds of sports news departments all over the country and deliver the news:
Listen, sportswriters, and understand. That StatsMonkey is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. It knows the clutch situations in the game without even listening to the roar of the crowd and the crack of the bat. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until your industry is dead.
I think this job falls to pnoles.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Another Reason why Sucks

So has this thing called "Hot Stove U" where they put out content about baseball during the offseason. It's only for ESPN Insiders, which I am not, so we won't go into the articles here, which is okay, because they are probably terrible. Anyways, here are the titles in the series so far:

Baseball doesn't need Joe Mauer in Minnesota. Minnesota needs Joe Mauer in Minnesota. Keep reading.
Good lord,'s writers have the usual devotion to the Minnesota good-old-American-dream-family-values-moral-goodness Twins. What a load of bullshit. The Twins play in the 16th largest metro area in the USA - larger than Denver, St. Louis, Baltimore... and they drew 2.5 million fans-(14th in the league) last year to one of the worst stadiums in all of baseball... and yet they're still treated like a little old town of hard-workin' lumberjacks who are the opposite of the Yankees.

The Twins surely have a good business model - they're able to generate effective value in wins and attendance without spending a zillion bucks. Maybe the Mets should take note. But still - I'm so tired of hearing how unfortunate it is that the Twins can't afford to keep their star players. Their owner
Overexposure of the Cubs. Who cares, 102 years, Cubs fans are boorish drunkards, etc, etc.
This article is about how the Red Sox are straying from the principles of Moneyball and going back to 'old-school' methods. No doubt other teams might be doing this as well, but these writers know that the Red Sox generate more hits than anyone else. Apparently MLB teams follow the Red Sox's popular methods just as much as the one douche in your history class who was born and lived two years in Woonsocket and just wants to tell everyone on the internet how he has always been a Red Sox fan.
Ugh. I saw a shorter headline for this same article that said, "Jeter Consistent". Good lord, these articles hurt.
Hey! An interesting article about something vaguely new! I am astonished!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jeff Pearlman: Still Sanctimonious After All These Years

I actually came across this--no joke--via Tim McCarver's twitter page. Someone retweeted Tim fucking McCarver's tweet w/r/t Pearlman's article. McCarver's take?

After horrible tragedies, patronizing sportwriters are guaranteed to remind us that sports don't really matter

It's hard to say it much better or more concisely. Can't say I was expecting that from old Timmy. In any case, though I can't improve on McCarver's take, I think it's worthwhile to really look at the crap Pearlman's feeding us here.

EDIT: Looking now at the actual "Tim McCarver" Twitter feed it's pretty obviously a fake McCarver. Damn. I kind of wished it were real. I like T Mac.
I want to scream.

I want to fly to Knoxville, stand in the center of the of the University of Tennessee campus and scream, "Look at this!"

I want to hold up a page from Thursday's New York Times -- the one featuring this image of Lionel Michaud. It is, without question, the most disturbing photograph I have ever seen. Michaud is sitting on a stoop in the central morgue in Port-au-Prince, surrounded by dozens of lifeless bodies. On his knee rests his 10-month-old daughter, Christian. She is dead. Michaud's wife, Lormeny Nathalie, is dead, too.

His head is in his right hand.

His family is gone.

His world is destroyed.

And all you can think about is Lane Kiffin?

Lane Kiffin!?

Last things first: I sincerely doubt that even the most dedicated Tennessee fan is thinking about nothing but Lane Kiffin right now. Food, beer, chicks, foam fingers, and maybe in some far reach of his mind, academics are also probably weighing on hypothetical single-minded UT fan's mind right now as well.

But more seriously, what the fuck is Jeff Pearlman trying to pull here? You're going to take an example of human suffering and try to make us view sports through that lens by using an example of extreme specificity? GMAB. Pearlman over the last few weeks has written a series of handwringing blog posts and articles about the myriad atrocities of the sports world.

Is it fair to go up to him with a picture of the family of any number of the people in America who die every day and say to him, "HOW DARE YOU WRITE THIS ARTICLE BEMOANING THE LACK OF ETHICS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES? LOOK AT THIS FAMILY WHO HAS LOST THEIR SON TO GANG VIOLENCE?"

And how far do we extend this line of thinking? Can no sports fan be upset about anything because of The Holocaust? Or The Spanish Inquisition? Or Beowulf's death at the hands of a dragon lo these many years?

I don't mean to trivialize the Haitian tragedy, but let's face it--No one in the entire world would ever say Lane Kiffin leaving Tennessee is a bigger tragedy than the Haitian earthquake. No one. Not even your accursed Tennessee fans, Jeff.

Please, do the world a simple favor: Find the nearest mirror and look at yourself. Wipe off the white-and-orange face paint, remove the goofy hat, slip out of the Peyton Manning jersey, turn down Rocky Top, find a quiet place -- and take a good glance.

What do you see?

They probably see someone who uses sports as a way to escape from the troubles of the real world who feel rightly let down when someone they admire does something they consider dishonest. Sound familiar, Jeff?

Immediately following Kiffin's press conference to announce his departure for USC on Tuesday evening, a mob of approximately 500 people gathered on campus. According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, fire was set to a tattered mattress and a handful of Tennessee T-shirts. The participants were hoping to catch Kiffin on his way out of town, to presumably do more than merely talk.

The coach was driven home by university police officers, and a Knox County deputy was assigned to protect him. "We assured (Kiffin)," said sherriff Jimmy Jones, "that there would be somebody close."

Yes. This is absurd by any standards and is par for the course in college football--a sad truth we should all be concerned about to some extent. It has absolutely nothing to do with the earthquake in Haiti.

In the ensuing days, Vols message boards have been overtaken by people tearing into Kiffin. Tearing into Kiffin's wife. Wishing him personal harm and never-ending misery. He is, they believe, the anti-Christ -- an evil, self-absorbed man who eats young children and secretly plots world domination from the balcony of his sadistic lair.

When, exactly, did we start reaching such a low? When did sports go from serving as a mere diversion (entertainment, enjoyment, fun), to being a way of life ... an actual barometer of a community's happiness or grief? When did the career decision (albeit, awkwardly expressed) of a moderately successful 34-year-old football coach begin to matter so much?

A long, long fucking time ago, Jeff. A long fucking time ago. Long before your beloved baseball of the 1970's and 1980's. A long fucking time ago. Ask Hank Aaron about the letters he used to get about an arbitrary home run total. Read accounts of Roger Maris's treatment at the hands of reporters and fans outraged he would dare to break a single season home run total. To say nothing of college football fans--look: is it too much to ask of a guy writing a MSM article about the culture of college football to have some perspective w/r/t the history of the culture of college football?

As a boy growing up in small town of Mahopac, N.Y., my parents would try and comfort me following Little League losses by saying, "It's just a game -- keep things in perspective" Then we'd get ice cream. The lesson took some time to sink in, but once it did, I never forgot it.


Sports have always been important in my life, but primarily as a way to have fun. Heck, that's when they're at their absolute best: Your day at work stunk, your spouse is in a bad mood, the kid's got the flu -- thank god LeBron vs. D-Wade is on at 8 tonight. Pass the popcorn, ease the mind.

Yup. And you know better than ever that when the thing you use as diversion becomes tainted by something, the customary reaction is to whine like a baby and throw a temper tantrum's different when...uh...Tennessee fans do it. Because of Haiti? I guess?

Having spent two-and-a-half years of my career in Tennessee, I was an unfortunate firsthand witness to the lunacy that is SEC football. During the time I was a writer at The Tennessean in Nashville, Peyton Manning had the audacity to choose to attend Tennessee over his father's alma mater, Ole Miss. In the months following the announcement, the Manning family was besieged with vicious hate mail from Rebel backers -- all because an 18-year-old kid with the quirky ability to effectively hurl a pig's skin through the air opted for the university of his choice.

Oh mistake. It's because Jeff lived in Tennesse. So he had an up close and personal view of how superior he is emotionally to college football fans. Call it the Jay Mariotti factor.

Pathetic -- but not surprising.

Pathetic. But not surprising.

There is a place in this country for sports. An important place. The lessons of athletics can be invaluable, the bonds everlasting. But when a city reacts to the fleeing of a football coach with greater dismay than the loss of thousands of lives, something has gone wrong.

Terribly wrong.

I would generally agree with this. People put too much importance on sports. Sports are a form of entertainment. They sometimes hold sentimental value to the people who really love them, and they should. But they shouldn't cause anyone to froth at the mouth like a raving lunatic about how they represent something bigger than themselves.

You how they represent something about a devastating earthquake in Haiti

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Never Ending Parade of Awful Hall of Fame Voters

The BBWAA is becoming a joke.

FJayM readers who are not baseball fans - we realize that you might be bored about baseball HOF posts. But the voters are absolutely ridiculous. Here's one from someone named Danny Knobler, who apparently has a Hall of Fame vote, and isn't shy about disclosing his stupid reasons for his votes. For the record: I don't really have a position on whether Edgar Martinez belongs in the HOF, but I do have a certifiably angry position about Danny Knobler's eligibility to vote on it.

Designated pioneer? Martinez's bat not enough to crack Hall ballot

There will someday be a designated hitter in the Hall of Fame. I will someday vote for a designated hitter for the Hall of Fame.

This is where Danny Knobler explains to us that he is not a prejudiced person. Articles where people open with their lack of prejudice often later reveal that they are, in some form, prejudiced. I am probably prejudiced too, but it's okay, because I'm prejudiced against bad baseball players making the Hall of Fame.

Actually, I guess I already have.

Oh! You're confusing me, Danny! What do you really mean, here?

I voted for Andre Dawson on this year's ballot, and according to, Dawson was a designated hitter 171 times in his 21 years in the major leagues. Of course, Dawson also won eight Gold Gloves as an outfielder, so we'll never think of him as a DH.

Oh, so you didn't really vote for a DH? But you said you did? Well, at least you have heard of, so that's good.

By my count, 24 Hall of Famers spent at least one game as a DH, and 16 of them accumulated a full season's worth of games (130 or more) as a DH during their careers.

By my count, this is research! Although this includes Ryne Sandberg, who played one game as a DH. And one season's worth of DH games shouldn't count as being a real DH. Maybe over 20% of the games as DH should count against a player? Readers, what do you say?

Paul Molitor played nearly half his games as, some would say, half a player.

An underexposed statistic, to be true. I didn't even know this.

And yet, yes, Edgar Martinez is different. He didn't play half his games as a DH; it was almost three-quarters of his games. He barely used a glove for the final 10 years of a very good 18-year career with the Mariners.

A very good career? Then he should be elected to the Hall of Very Good!

Edgar Martinez is on the ballot for the first time this year, and I didn't vote for him. I voted for Dawson, Jack Morris, Roberto Alomar and Mark McGwire (more on them later), but not for Martinez.

(More on them later) Danny Knobler? Then (more insults for you) - later in this post!

I didn't withhold my vote from Martinez because he was a designated hitter. Or at least, I didn't leave him off the ballot solely because Martinez was a designated hitter.

This is a continuation of the theme established in the first paragraph, where Danny Knobler explains that he doesn't dislike designated hitters just because they were born designated hitters. In fact, a lot of his friends were designated hitters. He even invited eleven designated hitters to his wedding, but only three of them came. But the photos still show some designated hitters so that Danny Knobler can remind his friends that he is not prejudiced against designated hitters, even if he doesn't usually hang out with designated hitters because they're too lazy to get a decent job like playing defense.

Does it matter that he didn't play defense for most of his career? Yes, just as it matters that Alomar was a 10-time Gold Glove winner. Defense is part of the game.

Oh, so you are prejudiced against designated hitters for being designated hitters? I bet Danny explained that he wasn't prejudiced against designated hitters when they didn't show up to his wedding because designated hitters can't afford the kind of gifts that Danny Knobler expects at his wedding. It's not because they're designated hitters, it's just the way it is.

Yet, we elect players to the Hall of Fame who weren't brilliant defenders, players whose offensive greatness made up for their defensive weakness. We can elect a DH who was so dominating at the plate that we overlook the fact that he rarely did anything else.

Has there been one of these? Anyone who had a .312 average and a pretty fucking amazing career 147 OPS+? I'm not really arguing for Edgar's inclusion here, but if you can't concede that Edgar Martinez from 1997-2001 was dominant at the plate, you are bad at understanding baseball.

For a while before the Hall of Fame ballot arrived, I thought Edgar Martinez might be that player.

Because, of course, you were unprejudiced, and decided to look at all of Edgar Martinez's career before you made a judgment.

The more I looked at it, the more I decided he wasn't.

I wonder if "the more I looked at it" means "when I looked up his career BA, HR and RBI".

I don't rely totally on stats, but 309 home runs and 1,261 RBI (Martinez's career totals) aren't enough to make him stand out.

Yep. It does.

He made seven All-Star teams, but that puts him in line with Don Mattingly, Dave Parker, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell, other outstanding players who have not gotten my vote.


He was in the top five in MVP voting only once. His postseason numbers were average at best.

1. Writers didn't like him. You can't claim to adhere to objective standards for a HOF, then cite a non-objective standard like MVP votes.

2. He didn't play well in thirty-four games (though he had 3 series where he OPS'd over 1.0)

The Hall of Fame tells us that only 1 percent of all major league players are elected, and that the Hall is the place where "excellence is honored."

That's why it's not the Hall of Very Good, because excellence is not honored at the Hall of Very Good.

As many have said, it's not the Hall of Fame for very good players. It's only for the best, those who were dominant in their era.

Oh. Well fuck, OPS+ing over 150 for seven straight years isn't being dominant in your era. I mean, Jack Morris never ERA+'d over 125 in ANY season, but that's not much to know.

Edgar Martinez was very good, but just short of being dominant.

You might be fucking right, but you're too superficial to support this point. You can't cite anything about relative defensive values, or his overall offensive production. You don't cite ANY of Edgar's numbers except his career HR and RBI totals.

He was one of the best clutch hitters I've seen,

And in other news, FJayM is big time. Danny Knobler appears to be deliberately attempting to get himself in print here. He has mentioned clutch hitting, has avoided citing relevant statistics, based decisions on popularity contests, and refused to look closely at any player's numerical production. At least he didn't praise teams' grittiness this time.

and just as I look carefully every year to see if I can justify voting for Trammell (and so far I haven't), I looked carefully at Martinez's career to see if I could justify voting for him.

You have not looked carefully at his career. You have only cited his career HR and RBI totals. I wish I was a baseball writer, where "looking carefully" at a player's career probably constitutes an entire morning's work. Shit, I could "look carefully" at Mickey Morandini's entire career and then knock back a snifter of bourbon and call myself a Hall of Fame voter. Shit. I'm in the wrong profession.

Perhaps if that terrible knee injury hadn't ended his career as a third baseman and forced him to DH, I would have looked at him differently. It's impossible to say.

He almost plays the sympathy card here. Weird.

Perhaps in another year, I'll change my mind on him, or be convinced by arguments of others that I should include him.

This is why I hate Hall of Fame voting. Apparently, standards for this Hall of Whatever are determined by anyone who can craft an argument to persuade the Danny Knoblers of the world.

Edgar Martinez isn't going to become a better player in the next few years. Jack Morris isn't going to become a better pitcher in the next few years. Jim Rice certainly didn't spend fifteen years on the ballot becoming a better outfielder.

A decent-sized handful of players have become Hall of Famers because of whiny-ass sympathy votes. "Oh my god he's been on the ballot for so many years let's just vote him in already."

There. I said it. It's true.

Or perhaps enough others will vote for Martinez that he'll get elected without my vote.

It's almost like he wants that to happen, except he doesn't? Fuck, I wish this guy had some clear principles.

For this year, though, he didn't get my vote.

Next year, when someone smarter than you looks at the statistics in a different way than you, you might change your mind.

There will be a full-time DH I'll vote for, I'm fairly sure of it. Just not this one, not this year.

Harold Baines, we're talkin' to you! You have more HR and RBI than Edgar anyways!

Now, as for the rest of my ballot, a few quick notes:

Now, as for the rest of this post, a few quick insults:

• I vote for Morris every year, and I strongly believe he deserves election. It's not only because he was the winningest pitcher of the 1980s,

Oh. Sure. It's not only because you spent eighteen years as a Tigers beat writer, coincidentally during Jack Morris's career.

but yes, that does help (he was dominant in his era).

Note the lack of statistical support. Note that this claim was inserted in parenthesis - generally defined as material that could be omitted without changing the meaning of a sentence.

It's not only because he pitched one of the best games in World Series history in 1991, but that helps, too (coming up big on the biggest stage is a sure sign of excellence).

Don Larsen, get in the Hall of Fame already! Bucky Dent, come right in! I've used too many exclamation points in this post to satirize all the stupid claims in it!

I know people can't reconcile my vote for Morris with my lack of support for Bert Blyleven,but we judge Hall of Fame candidates on our own standards, and on my standards, Morris is a clear Hall of Famer.

Oh. Ok. Why don't we call it the Hall of Danny Knobler then? What the hell is the point of a Hall of Famer if you believe this? The BBWAA is a joke. Apparently their standards are: "If you've been a writer for awhile and are good enough or have enough friends to have not gotten fired by now, you're probably good enough to vote for the Hall of Fame."

• Alomar is a first-time candidate, but I never make a distinction between those in their first year on the ballot and those who aren't.I believe you're either a Hall of Famer or you're not.

Except when you - three paragraphs before - admit that you're willing to change your opinions. So apparently you're a Hall of Famer or maybe you will be next year.

I believe that you're either a decent writer or you're not. And it only takes one article to come to the conclusion that you're not.

When I change my vote from year to year, as I sometimes do, it's only because my feelings about a player's career has changed. Alomar deserves in.

Well, I'm glad you wrote this article. Apparently you are either a Hall of Famer or you're not, but Danny Knobler's feelings about you can still change. I'd hate to be his wife.

• McGwire is the toughest vote, even though it's pretty clear by now that my vote isn't going to put him in the Hall (it takes 75 percent of the votes to get in, and McGwire has had 24, 24 and 22 in his three years on the ballot).

Hey! Stats! Except these are kind of pointless and don't support any of Knobler's main points!

I still can't say I feel great about voting for him, but so far, my view hasn't changed. That view is that if I disqualify McGwire for his almost-certain use of steroids (which would be the only reason not to consider him), then I can't feel right about voting for anyone who played in the steroid era. Not that they all used steroids, because obviously not everyone did, but the numbers were so high and the testing so lacking that we really have little idea who used and who didn't.

This is a pile of steaming illogical garbage. We do have an idea who used and who didn't. Unless something new comes out, I bet Ken Griffey Jr. gets elected first ballot. As for the logic of your position: I wonder why you voted for Roberto Alomar - who perhaps had his best season in 2001 - if you won't vote for anyone from that era.

Yes, we have a better idea that McGwire did use, but I don't feel comfortable with the sliding scale.

Then don't feel comfortable with voting for Alomar.

For now, he gets my vote, although I'll admit it's an easier vote to cast when I know so many others are so strongly opposed that he has no real chance of being elected.

Well, I'm glad that you base your vote mostly on what other people are doing. You, Danny Knobler, have just executed one of the best (worst?) articles I've found recently.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Scoop Jackson might be retarded

After the Ravens destruction of the of the Pats in Foxboro, most pundits generally agreed that it was stupid for Belichick to punt the ball from his own 42 on 4th & 2, when earlier in the season, he went for it in a similar situation against the Colts. Scoop Jackson decided to weigh in with an entirely different theory:

In New England's AFC Wild-Card game against Baltimore, Patriots coach Bill Belichick made a decision to begin the game that proved to be the difference. The question is: Why did he make that decision?

Broken down, we can understand that Belichick's decision after winning the coin toss to open the game to kick the ball to the Ravens can be directly linked to the the infamous fourth-and-2 call he made against the Indianapolis Colts.

I smell a gigantic leap in logic coming.

The breakdown:

• In that game against the Colts, the one thing that came from that call was the belief that Belichick didn't believe in his defense. He claimed that wasn't the case. But that perception still existed.

• For almost two months the Patriots have had to deal with that possible truth hanging over their team. There's been nothing Belichick could do leading up to the playoffs to counter the rumors. He was just waiting for the opportunity.

• Playoffs begin. Wild-Card game. An opportunity for Belichick to finally get this off his back.

On the 4th & 2 at the end of the first half, right?

• In a game at home against a team that is not known for being an offensive treat, Belichick figured it was safe. What better time to instill confidence in his defense and squash the lack of confidence rumors than to let his defense open up the game against the Ravens.

• Coin flip: Pats win. One play later: Pats lose.

Wow, you are (when it comes to writing about football) fucking retarded.

1. As a Ravens fan, I can tell you that they rarely score touchdowns on their first possessions.

2. They've never hit an 80+ yard touchdown on their first play from scrimmage.

3. Do you think that the Pats gave up that touchdown run because they got over-confident they got from Belichick electing to differ (something a lot of team do against the Ravens)? If so, you're stupid.

4. You do realize that Ravens were going to get the ball at some point in the game, right?

5. The game was far from over after Rice's touchdown, and you're really dumb.

• For the second time this season, Belichick made the wrong decision. This one cost him more than just a game.

Not really. Yes, his team was eliminated from the playoffs, but they certainly weren't going to get past San Diego, and now they're in a better position in the likely uncapped off-season than if they'd been 1 of the final 8 teams. So really, they didn't lose a whole lot, and you're just a terrible sports writer.

So you see how this all came about: How one decision eight weeks ago affected one that decided the Pats' season.

No one sees that because it's a completely idiotic line of reasoning.

Most people won't see it like that, but if you watch enough CSI, it'll make sense.

Detective Frank Tripp: Sir, this sports writer is just terrible. This whole article is a giant piece of shit.

Lieutenant Horatio Caine: (puts on sunglasses) Now there's a Scoop.


Monday, January 11, 2010

HOF Voting Happened Last Week- But Let's Keep Complaining About It

Murray Chass, dipshit among dipshits, says:

The ballot almost didn’t make it. I was talking on the telephone to a friend, also a baseball writer, about three hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve when I realized that I hadn’t submitted my Hall of Fame ballot. The deadline was upon me.

It's great that you take the honor of being able to immortalize players so seriously. It's not like the results of that vote are debated intensely by millions of baseball fans all over the country many of whom desperately wish they had a say in the matter. You're one of 500 or so people whose vote actually counts... and you have to be reminded by someone to fill out and send in the ballot. Asshole. It's people like Murray who put Jim Rice in.

I had already put an X next to Jack Morris’ name,

Jack Morris does not belong in the HOF. Career ERA+ of 105. Anemic strikeout totals. Only 254 wins, if you're into that kind of thing. OH BUT ONE TIME IN A WORLD SERIES CLINCHING GAME HE PITCHED AN AWESOME AND WAS CLUTCH, SO HE BELONGS IN. FUCK IT LET'S PUT JEFF WEAVER IN TOO AS SOON AS HE'S ELIGIBLE. ACTUALLY NO LET'S JUST DO IT RIGHT NOW.

but I still had to decide on five other players – two repeat candidates, Andre Dawson and Bert Blyleven, and three first-timers, Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar and Edgar Martinez.

"So I started by thinking about these players. Were they FEARED? Did you BUY A TICKET TO WATCH THEM PLAY? Do I like them for some RANDOM AND UNQUANTIFIABLE REASON? If so, I would vote for them."

On Dawson, I came to the same conclusion as I had previously – outstanding player but a just-miss.

Agreed. I'm not totally against his inclusion, although the fact that he ended up being the only person in this year's class is pretty embarrassing.

I felt the same way about Blyleven, though with new ammunition for my decision. As good as Blyleven was in winning 287 games, he had some of his worst years when his team had good years.

The best example of that dichotomy came in 1988 when the Twins finished second with a 91-71 record while Blyleven had a 10-17 record and a 5.43 e.r.a.

This is great, he's using the same argument style as people who want to "prove" that Creationism is correct. You start with your conclusion, and then build analysis around it. Don't use the numbers to form an opinion; form the opinion first, then find numbers which might support it. It's especially great that this particular factoid means absolutely nothing. Oh, and Jack Morris isn't even in the same time zone as Blyleven. He's not even in the discussion, by comparison.

I found Martinez the most difficult to decide. I probably came closer to voting for him than I had for any player I had not voted for. As a result, if he is not elected to the Hall this week, he gets an automatic rehearing from me for the next election.

Look, vote either way you want. But it's ridiculous to vote one way, then have the overall result match your vote, and reconsider said vote as a result. What is this, Congress? Is this like when a senator believes that a bill which increases taxes is good legislation, but doesn't want to vote for it so he can tell his constituents that he voted against tax hikes? If Martinez isn't in, in part because you didn't want him in, why the fuck would you then decide that he needs to be in?

I voted for Larkin and Alomar, though not with the same enthusiasm as I voted or would have voted for some previous first-timers, such as Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount in 1999, had I been permitted to vote then.

A slap in your face, Barry and Roberto! You received a relatively unenthusiastic vote! Just know that Murray voted for you, but wasn't THAT excited about doing so.

In conclusion: the BBWA should be disbanded and hall of fame ballots should be distributed to a random sample of autistic 8 year olds. They'd make decisions just as logically as the fucktards who have access to the ballots now.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Questionable Claims from Howard Bryant

The latest from Howard Bryant on the Baseball Hall of Fame's ongoing debate about its induction process. Howard is defending the status quo because, well, because... the sun keeps rising. Most of it is a long explanation, but it breaks down when Howard tries to get specific:

Those results were the break from baseball's history. Instead of horrible injustice or gross negligence, Alomar fared no worse and much better than other great players. Here, for posterity, is a short list of players not elected on the first try: Cy Young (511 wins), Joe DiMaggio, Eddie Collins (3,315 hits), Jimmie Foxx, Whitey Ford, Eddie Mathews, Rogers Hornsby, Robin Roberts and Roy Campanella. Yogi Berra (67.2 percent in 1971) was not a first-ballot inductee.

1. Cy Young did not make the first ballot because HE WAS ON THE FIRST BALLOT. Howard, you can't throw these names in there with no context.

2. It's an absolute crime that, somehow, the 1955 BBWAA elected a man with an 82 OPS+, 28 career home runs and unspectacular fielding stats over Joe Fucking DiMiaggio.

3. Robin Roberts did lose 245 games, including an abysmal 1961 season which MIGHT rank as the worst-ever season by a Hall of Fame pitcher. It's not like his numbers make him some kind of guaranteed first-ballot lock!

Alomar cannot claim superiority over anyone on that list. Each was eventually inducted, and the free world survived.

QED! The status quo should never be changed!

Also, Howard printed this:

During college football's biggest week, the start of the NFL playoffs and the week of the Winter Classic, the hottest topic in sports was the Baseball Hall of Fame and who would be worthy of enshrinement.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jeff Pearlman: King of Lazy Analysis

This is just lazy writing. Really, really lazy writing. I probably put more effort into these three intro sentences than Jeff put into his whole column.

Yes, Jason Bay is going to be big in New York-

Oh yeah? He is?

a big bust, that is

Oh wow. WHAT A HEADLINE. Absolute facial. You've been figuratively dunked on by Jeff Pearlman, Jason.

The statement came 28 years ago.

In the winter of 1981-82, the New York Mets were Big Apple nobodies -- a star-less, charisma-less franchise coming off of a miserable 41-62 strike-shortened season. The team had drawn 704,244 fans, seventh in the National League (and not even half the total of the cross-town Yankees), and its marketing exclamation, "The magic is back!" rang hollow. Unless Joel Youngblood and Pete Falcone possessed some sort of secret, Houdini-esque abilities, the magic was not back. It was, in fact, dead.