Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 comments Jay Loves Curt, Bill Loves Stats and Peter Loves Coffee

Things have been pretty dry lately on the Internet. There is no TMQ, Bill Simmons did not write another column last week, and most of the focus is on the NCAA Tournament, which judging from the decrease in traffic to this here blog, no one really gives a shit about discussing. There is still bad journalism out there, I just haven't found it. Today we are focusing on the Axis of Journalism Evil, Peter King, Jay Mariotti and Bill Simmons, and their attempts to take over the world using bad journalism/entertainment (because Bill Simmons is not a journalist, he is an entertainer who just happens to do interviews and write down facts or opinions he presents as facts for a major sports web can confusing to tell the difference, but that's why I am here).

Jay Mariotti thinks that Curt Schilling is an asshole but deserves to be in the Hall of Fame because of how he performed in October. I think Jay Mariotti is an asshole and that Curt Schilling should be placed in the Hall of Fame based on his merits as a pitcher and not on a select statistical sample size in one month of the year that only players who play on good teams can achieve.

This is where I have the chance to be a bigger man than Curt Schilling.

This is where I have a chance to make fun of Jay Mariotti for being an asshole.

Some writers hold grudges when confronted with voting decisions about prickly players, forgetting that our responsibility is to history and not our tattered feelings.

I want everyone who reads this blog, now down to 6 of you, to remember this sentence that Jay has written. Frame it, laminate it, or freeze it in carbonite. It doesn't matter to me. When Ozzie Guillen wins 2,000 games as a manager for his career and has a couple of World Series titles, I want to see the article written by Jay Mariotti saying he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Ozzie may never win that many games but I want to see that day regardless. I have a feeling Jay won't share the same sentiment then and let by gones be by gones.

And no one's ever was larger in October, when Schilling was the most indomitable of all pitching competitors. He went 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in the postseason, ranking him among the all-time leaders in both categories.

"Among" the all-time leaders but not THE all-time leader. I would think if you were making a case for someone to make the Hall of Fame based on their postseason statistics, it would help if that player was the leader in these two categories or you at least ranked where this person was on the list.

Don't get me wrong, I would not protest too much if Schilling made the Hall of Fame, but I don't think his postseason record should be the basis for his entrance. I think we should take postseason numbers at about 10% weight since the amount of games played in October pale in comparison to number of games played during the regular season.

He helped win three championship trophies for two ballclubs, the Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, that didn't know the aroma of bubbly.

Arizona did not know the aroma of bubbly because they had just been formed as a team in 1998, so their drought without a championship wasn't quite as bad as the Red Sox drought. Way to try and mislead the audience into thinking the D-backs struggled for a long while though.

If I remember correctly, and I do, the real pitching hero of that World Series was Randy Johnson who pitched Game 6 and then came back and pitched in relief in Game 7 as well. Curt Schilling is the guy who gave up the game tying homerun to Alfonso though he pitched well, he also blew the lead. I think it was a splitter that didn't split over the left half of the plate that Soriano hit to right field just over the wall.

If I also remember correctly, Schilling had a 6.30 ERA in the 2004 ALCS, and that does include his wonderful Game 6 performance. I am just sayin'.

I realize he pitched well up until that point in the 2001 World Series when he gave up the homerun...I am just sayin'.

I don't care that he won only 216 games, a low figure for Cooperstown. I don't care that he doesn't have a Cy Young Award, no-hitter or ERA title, which would make him the first starting pitcher who began his career after 1950 to make the Hall without any of the three honors.

See, I do care about silly little numbers like that. I do care that when I look at his career numbers, they are great, but I am not sure they are great enough for the Hall of Fame. I want everyone to remember, I am hard to impress when it comes to the Hall of Fame. Though he is my favorite player, I don't think John Smoltz should be lock for the Hall of Fame. I am crazy that way.

"He would dress up all-black like he was Tony Montana," marveled Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, referring to the `Scarface' character. "He'd get in and spread confidence to everyone around.

I can see Curt Schilling pulling little confidence tablets out of a bag and giving them to each Red Sox player. He, of course, skipped Dustin Pedroia because he doesn't need confidence.

"One of the things that people didn't realize about Schilling is that he was really motivated by fear, fear of failure," general manager Theo Epstein told the media. "He really did not want to fail, and he was very cognizant of his fear of failure. He worked himself up through his nerves to go out and dominate to the best of his ability every time he had the ball. That was where the 'clutchness' came from, the realization that he had about how much he hated failure and how much he feared failure."

I thought the "clutchness" came from a made up ability sportswriters and announcers gave to players to explain why they got base hits in certain situations. I was wrong. Not very clutch of me.

He began hearing criticism that he was too self-absorbed and pompous, and he lashed back by ripping media. He has called me names.

I googled "Curt Schilling Jay Mariotti" and came up with nothing on this. I also googled "Curt Schilling hates Jay Mariotti" and still got nothing on this. Maybe Jay just wanted Curt to call him names, pull his hair and then chase him around the playground. It's just some bizarre sick fantasy he has.

Perhaps no athlete has been better suited to a team than he was to the Red Sox. Their fans needed a reason to believe, after 86 years of heartbreak and darkness, and he laughed in the face of despair. In particular, he stared down the hated New York Yankees. "When you use those words -- mystique and aura -- those are dancers in a nightclub," he said dismissively. From that point on, the Yankees lost their mojo and the Red Sox went on to win two World Series titles with him.

Curt Schilling did say those words...but he said them in October 2001. Granted the Yankees did not win a World Series after that time, but the Red Sox also took three more years to win a World Series. It's not like the Red Sox fortunes just went completely positive after he said this. The 2003 ALCS wasn't too grand for them.

I love it when Jay Mariotti plays loosely with facts to prove his point. Actually I hate it. Whether it is saying Texas never made the Final Four under Rick Barnes or trying to put a quote from 2001 in context for the Red Sox World Series run in 2004, he doesn't mind either not researching something or just hoping someone else doesn't research something. Well I did research it.

Sometimes, we loathed him for it. Why did he use baseball as a platform to endorse political candidates?

The same reason Oprah Winfrey, Sean Penn and every other celebrity or person in the spotlight used any camera in their face to use as a platform for their favorite political candidate.

Consider it the beginnings of his 2014 Cooperstown speech. And my teeth are not clenched as I say that.

Jay is trying to be humble or act like he is putting his dislike of Schilling aside and it is not working.

The big loudmouth earned his Hall pass in the month that matters most.

I think Jay meant month(s) that matter most. April-October, not just October. If we made a list of every player who played well in October on championship teams and said they deserved to make the Hall of Fame, then that would be a very long list. If Curt Schilling deserves to make the Hall of Fame, it is because of his numbers in April-October, not just October.

Bill Simmons is trying to reinvent himself as Rick Reilly and it actually is working very well. This entire article reads like something Reilly would is much longer of course.

A few weeks ago, I spent a Saturday at MIT's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, or as I dubbed it, Dorkapalooza 2009!

This article is all a part of Bill Simmons attempt to reinvent himself out of the old pop culture reference and Boston oriented type articles he wrote in the past to someone who interviews athletes and other journalists (well, Bill is clearly not a journalist) on his podcast. I believe he is trying to become Rick Reilly without the human interest story part. That could be intersting to read.

That's the thing about stat geeks: They have a sense of humor about themselves. And yes, I count myself among them. I played entire Microleague baseball seasons on my 1984 Apple and kept handwritten stats. I've played fantasy baseball since 1982. I frequent the Prospectus sites and devour their books. I try to hide my inner geek, but believe me, it lurks.

Or he is trying to reinvent himself as a stat geek. I think everyone who was obsessed with sports has kept handwritten stats at some point and that doesn't necessarily give them credibility as a stat geek today.

I used to keep box scores for basketball games and use the rosters I had for NBA and college basketball teams to create teams and play those teams against each other on a Nerf basketball goal in the living room. Oh yes, there were substitutions as well. This was last week actually. I am kidding of course.

I used to wake up early (like 4:30am) in the morning to read books about baseball when there was not any talking in my house and I could read in peace. Does this mean I can now say I am a stat geek and try to pigeonhole myself into their little group? No, it does not.

Does it mean I had severe social issues growing up because I couldn't find anyone to play basketball with me and the fact I wanted to read alone at the crack ass of dawn speaks to the severe psychological issues I had as a child? It may. But that doesn't make me qualified to be a psychologist.

What were we talking about again?

Remember, I'm the guy who figured out Hickory High's title-game box score.

Well gosh, Bill now you should get a free subscription to Baseball Prospectus for that. You are important. I tried to box score tally the entire starting lineup of the 1994 Charlotte Hornets team and then compare it to their stats at the end of the year to see how far off I was. That means I am a loser, not a stat geek.

Bill and I are having a pissing contest to see who the biggest loser is.

Take Jason Kidd. Why has he suddenly become a deadly three-point shooter at his advanced age?

It could be because his attempts have increased through the years, so he has been practicing them more, therefore getting better at them. It could also be because teams don't think he can make the shots and are double teaming other players, leaving Kidd wide open. Or it could be for a variety of other reasons.

Because he isn't carrying an offense or taking contested shots with the shot clock winding down like he had to in Jersey, that's why. In Dallas, all he has to do is distribute the ball and shoot … when he's open.

Or this new stat geek could use evidence that is based completely not on statistics and is based completely on hyperbolic evidence that can't be proven or disproven. Whatever works I guess.

Now look at poor Dwyane Wade. He misses 70% of his threes -- the only blemish on his MVP résumé -- because his teammates stink, which means he has to hoist one or two contested, beat-the-clock bombs each game.

I can't help but laugh at the fact Bill writes a column about how statistics should be used more to show trends, then he uses two examples that involve hyperbolic situations that can neither be proven or disproven using statistical methods. Unless someone is actually counting up how many times Dwayne Wade throws a shot up to beat the shot clock or someone has similar data for Jason Kidd in New Jersey, I don't see how we can calculate the accuracy of these statements in any statistical manner.

I hear that some NBA teams factor "clock-saving attempts" into adjusted shooting percentages. But do they share that info? Of course not. And that's what's wrong with this revolution: We have access to only some of the data.

I agree. Though would Bill actually use this data?

Bill's idea of using statistical data is saying that Kevin Garnett is shooting less three point attempts this year because he is on a better team and doesn't have to take those shots anymore. Bill takes statistical data and then mixes it with hyperbolic bullshit. It's like the mutt of statistical analysis.

Ongoing success in basketball hinges on talent, leadership and role play.

Though most of the success is due to how many high fives the players are giving each other and ubuntu.

At least that is what Bill seemed to think last year.

Yes, Carmelo Anthony was a significantly better basketball player than Bruce Bowen between 2005 and 2007; Bowen was a better fit for the Spurs. That team didn't need another scorer. It needed a top-notch defender and agitator who knew his place.

Really, do you need statistics to help you come to this conclusion? If a team has three players who can score points, common sense screams they need effective role players around them and then you find those players and find what role needs to be filled. It sounds easy but it is clearly not.

You need statistics to help a team find the player for this role but you don't need statistics to know the role is needed.

I e-mailed Daryl, wondering why there wasn't a stat called stops, for when a defender prevents his opponent from scoring on an isolation play, or a low-post or perimeter play. Come up with an unforced turnover in the process, and it's a "superstop." Daryl's response: "Why do you think we have Chuck Hayes?"

That is exactly why the Rockets have won some many championships and NBA playoff series lately.

I want "mega-assists" (passes that create a layup or a dunk) and "half-assists" (for each made foul shot). I want "unforced turnovers," like in tennis (Tony Allen would be Wilt Chamberlain in this category), and "nitty-gritties" (some combination of charges taken, deflections, balls saved from going out of bounds and rebounds tipped to teammates). I want "Unselds" (a long outlet pass that leads to an assist for a layup or a dunk) and "Russells" (a blocked shot directed to a teammate).

Oh, I get it. Bill wants statistics that don't really mean anything.

You know who'd fall way short in Russells? Dwight Howard. He slaps everything out of bounds. Congrats, Dwight, you just gave the other team the ball back. Why are you smiling?

I could not agree more. Maybe Bill has a point on his "Russells", though I would call it something else less Celtic-like.

I demand the minutiae I know the team is hiding. Mega-assists. Russells. Stops and superstops.

Bill just made those names up. These stats don't exist. What Bill really wants is for there to be a statistic named after an idea that he has had so it can fill the never ending void that is his ego. He wants to have something named after him involved with pro basketball. That is really what this is all about. He lost the Mount Rushmore idea to ESPN and now wants something to be named after him in the NBA to feed his massive ego.

Here's what we have learned. Even if there were good statistics thought of, Bill would still use them in the wrong fashion and this is all a potential ego trip for him.

Peter King has some more McNuggets for Tuesday.

As always, I am ignoring anything that involved a lockout or a potential lockout because I am going to pretend this will never happen. Denial is a wonderful thing if you just stick to it.

From Russ Jones of Albuquerque, N.M.: "PETER! You're killing me with this coin toss thing and to suggest that each team get an equal shot is flawed logic. During regulation, do both teams get equal possessions? Where's the hue and cry to change quarters of football to innings so that way there's equality?''

We had a very similar argument made on the comment board here, though it was more in favor of getting rid of the coin toss. I think this argument holds water.

Which contest would you say is more inequitable, Ross? One team getting one possession and the other getting none, or one team getting 13 possessions and the other team getting 12?

Peter's argument does not hold water. The NFL is not Communism, everyone should not get equal chances all the time. Often times in a game a team can get more possessions in a game than another team whether it be because of a fumble on punt/kick returns or an onside kick. I realize that is different from a coin toss deciding who gets the ball first but equal possessions over the game is not the problem, it's getting equal possessions in overtime. I am tired of talking about overtime, yet I continue to do it.

From Bruce Grossberg of Forest Hills, N.Y.: "Overtime: Instead of focusing on each team having a possession, why not focus on the unfairness of the coin flip? Why can't there be a 100-yard dash for possession, or the longest throw, or a "punt-off" for possession? Something quick, but something that would be less arbitrary than a coin flip.''

I don't want to be rude, but this is the dumbest fucking idea I have ever heard so far in regard as to how to give possession in overtime. Take a team game and make an individual event decide who gets the ball first? Instead of the arbitrary coin flip, you have an arbitrary contest between two players on an entire team in a contest that has NOTHING to do with team football. Bruce, you are stupid and I hate you for thinking of this idea.

How about a watermelon spitting contest or playing a few hands of poker to see who gets the ball first in overtime? They would make as much sense as a "punt off" or seeing who can throw the ball the furthest.

I actually like that. Eliminate the capricious coin flip in favor of something that would demonstrate one team's superiority over the other.

Of course you like this. It makes no sense. How is a coin flip any more capricious than an individual event? This doesn't demonstrate a team's superiority over another in any fashion. JaMarcus Russell can throw a ball 70 yards on his knees or something like that, does that mean the Raiders are better than Tom Brady's Patriots? No. Just because Calvin Johnson can run faster than Greg Jennings does not make the Lions a better team than the Packers.

Peter, you and Bruce are idiots. I don't like calling people names but this is dumb.

From D. Simon of Glenwood Springs, Co.: "I think the Cardinals would be CRAZY to trade Anquan Boldin to either the Eagles or the Giants. I know they aren't in the same division, but if the Cardinals view themselves as Super Bowl-contenders next season, why would they want to help one of the teams that would be their main competition as they attempt to get back to the Super Bowl? If I were running the Cardinals and HAD to trade him [my first choice would be to keep him], I would only trade him to an AFC team, even if the compensation was slightly less than the Eagles or Giants would give up.''

But if the competition for Boldin, say, is with the Eagles (20th overall in the first round) and Jacksonville (39th overall), would you want to take the lesser pick just to have him out of the NFC?

Yes, I would. I am surprised Peter is advocating not taking a lesser pick to keep Boldin out of the NFC, especially when he spent almost half a page in his MMQB a few weeks ago describing how Bill Belichick was so much smarter for getting a 2nd round pick instead of a 1st round pick for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel. I guess the genius in that move is only meant for Bill Belichick.

From Craig Meyers of Aiea, Hawaii: "Not a question, but a comment. You really need to get a reality check when complaining about having to wait 30 minutes for coffee. I've never been in a hotel that doesn't have a coffee maker in your room, and if that's too tough, then just wait. I think you're a great writer, but given the way things are these days, whining about coffee while staying in a $250/night room is sad.''

Craig from Hawaii has just put Peter King in his place. What you gotta say Peter?

It's $179 a night. And you don't think it's, well, a bit lacking that a hotel charging $179 a night doesn't have coffee available in the lobby or the restaurant or anywhere at 6:17 in the morning?

Yes, I do, but I also don't think it is something worth bitching about in a weekly column. Peter's defense is pretty pathetic, especially when he tries to clarify the hotel only cost $179 a night, as if that was cheap. If free coffee in an expensive hotel is something that really rocks Peter's world bad enough that he has to complain about it in a column devoted to football, his life is pretty great.

His headline for this question was this:


I think this is what of the great contradictions of Peter King. He writes sympathetically about how bad he feels for the Oakland police officers who got shot, writes wonderfully nice things about Dr. Z and seems like he actually "gets it" sometimes. Then he writes weekly complaints that make him seem as if he is so incredibly out of touch with the rest of the world. His readers, and I included, don't get how a man who speaks so well about Dr. Z can two paragraphs down get overly worked up over free coffee at a hotel that he is probably not even paying for out of his own pocket.

That's why I write about him though.


The Casey said...

Even if you do have the lame-o skillz contest to see who gets first possession, that team can still march down the field and win the game unless you eliminate the 'sudden-death' part of overtime. One team is still getting the ball first and can still win without the other team getting the ball.

I liked how Peter completely avoided the guy's question about having a coffee pot in his hotel room. I bet he doesn't know how to work one, but is embarrassed to admit it, like the illiterate guy in an after-school special.

And I had a football game for the PC back in '87 or so that had attributes from NFL players, but pretty much no graphics. I kept stats in a spiral notebook. I also had a baseball game that used dice rolls to predict outcomes, and had another notebook full of box scores. I was kinda lonely growing up. At least Madden's kind of socially acceptable if you don't tell everyone you're in your 14th season in Franchise mode.

AJ said...

Jay of all people I would expect to be crying over Curt not being a Hall of Famer. Its actually pretty easy to see, he was not good enough to be in the Hall. Just because he pitched in Boston doesn't mean he gets in, sorry. I also find it a little funny he finally started being really good in 2001 at the age of 35-36...interesting.

The Russells? Seriously? I guess he kept track of every block that Russell ever made and recorded all the ones that went to a teammate directly.

I love how Pete just refused to acknowledge the part of the email that said there is coffee in every single room that you can make yourself.

And as far as that OT thing with who can run the fastest, throw the longest, etc...then every team would have a specail player on their roster just for those situations. You'll see professional sprinters on each team. What an idiot that emailer is.

AJ said...

The Casey beat me to the coffee thing!

Bengoodfella said...

The skills contest blew me away. What the hell does it have to do with a football game and that is an excellent point. One team still gets the ball and the other team may not get the ball. At least he feels better that there was something not arbitrary that decided it...except who can run the fastest or throw the ball the furthest is about as arbitrary as anything can be.

I would bet $100 Peter doesn't know how to brew coffee and that explains why he never talks about drinking coffee at home. He always goes out and gets coffee but never drinks it at home with his family. Interesting...

I am amazed at how socially acceptable Madden has become, it is almost scary. I am glad I was not the only loser who kept stats like that, I loved doing things like that...but it doesn't mean I am a stat head or anything.

I want to say no to Curt Schilling being a Hall of Fame player but I haven't really looked at his numbers that closely. Mostly, I just want to say there is no reason his October statistics alone should get him in. It should be his overall statistics combined with October for his candidacy. Schilling has always been a good pitcher but he did get better as he got older. I am not sure why that is.

I don't think Bill Russell was known for blocking shots and keeping them in play. Actually according to his wikipedia page he just hit the other players with the ball, which I don't think is incredibly beneficial other than for intimidation purposes.

"pundits called his blocks "Wilsonburgers", referring to the Wilson NBA basketballs he "shoved back into the faces of opposing shooters".

Usain Bolt would immediately be signed by an NFL team if they went to the idea of deciding a sprint as to who gets the ball first in overtime.

I think I am going to start handing out Hot and Spicy Cheez-Its to those people who are the first to make a point that I missed in one of my posts.

Martin said...

I think the guy emailing about teh skillz competition was being sarcastic, jsut showing how lame the entire OT situation is, and how Peter never even understood that the problem is that it's a coin flip determining a sudden death situation.

I thought that our Axis of Evil Sports journalism was Mariotti, King and TMQ? I agree in that Simmons is more of a columnist/entertainer then he is a journalist. I think he might even agree/has said that he isn't a journalist, just a guy who writes about sports. The horrible sportswriting landscape just seems to become so barren once the 12,000 word weekly essays by TMQ are done for 6 months.

Bengoodfella said...

I hope the guy was being sarcastic but Peter certainly did not think so. I would like to think he was joking but I have learned to never underestimate the stupidity of questions that will get published in a mailbag.

If he was being sarcastic the joke is on Peter because I don't think he even got it. I fail to understand sarcasm so that is my excuse.

I had to temporarily replace TMQ with Simmons for today since Easterbrook is taking some time off to study how tenths of a second truly works. You are right the Axis of Evil is those three. It is so easy to write when I have King on Monday, TMQ on Tuesday, and Simmons on Friday, I would like to think the Internet is just testing me right now.

I can't really make fun of Mariotti and Plaschke, I just yell in print at their stupidity. I am almost embarrassed to admit this but I only look at Woody Paige once a week or so because he is sometimes accurate in his predictions and makes sense sometimes.

The "Simmons is an entertainer" defense is commonly used to show that Bill Simmons is not a journalist and should not be held to those standards. I can accept he is an entertainer, but will continue to hold him to a high standard like I would a journalist.

Martin said...

Well sure, entertainers can write crap too.

Schilling....he's borderline to me, and if you compare him to some in the Hall, I'd have to give him a nod. I don't think that's the best way to determine worthiness though. I think it's better to deny more borderline candidates then to put more in. His sabremetric numbers show how dominate he really was for a chunk of years, but his durability becomes a factor. I think his post-season numbers are going to push him over the top.

Bengoodfella said...

Oh, and Bill does write crap sometimes. Other times, not so much.

As far as Schilling goes, I have no problem with his October numbers putting him over the top, I have a problem with those numbers being the basis for his HoF selection. I think Schilling is pretty borderline as well and would prefer to keep those types of players out of the HoF, but I think he gets in.

Martin said...

For your podcast update: Ken Tremendous from Fire Joe Morgan appears in his civillian guise as Mike Schur, writer on the Office, and new lead writer on "Parks and Recreation". He and Bill have to tap dance around the fact that he wrote for an unnammed blog, but they talk about a lot of baseball and statistical revolution. Perhaps when they finally Fire Joe Morgan, they can talk about it more freely on the Motherships podcasts.

Bengoodfella said...

I wish they had just trashed Joe Morgan on the podcast. That would have been Bill's last hurrah at ESPN and he could finally go on and be the "unfiltered" Bill he claims that he wants to be.

I can't believe they could not talk about FJM that much, well I believe they could not, but I think it is kind of funny because otherwise Mike Schur doesn't have a whole lot to do with sports.