Wednesday, September 30, 2009

9 comments Three For Wednesday

I did not mean to bury The Professor's response (the gentleman who wrote the original article) to what Fred wrote yesterday but didn't see he had responded until I had posted this. Look below in the comments to see The Professor's response to Fred.

Sorry for the fairly uncreative title today, I didn't know what else to call it. I had originally started working on a post for today concerning a JoeChat. I felt really good about it and as usual it was very lengthy and wordy. Long story short, my computer crashed and the document never saved. I am actually too pissed off to even start typing again about the JoeChat and I am certainly not going to fucking retype everything I just typed. This is the one time when I really, really could have used a damn typewriter because then my masterpiece would not be gone into the middle of nowhere. I know there is no proof of how awesome it was because I didn't post it, but this was probably my favorite JoeChat of the ones I have done.

Because I am pissed off and don’t feel like doing an entire JoeChat today because of my bitterness, I am forced to sum it up very briefly. These are from the September 15 chat and the September chat.

Real quick note before we get to the chat. The Atlanta Braves have the worst fans in the major leagues. The team has been begging and imploring fans to come to the games to cheer the team as they try and get the Wild Card, even offering $1 dollar tickets...and no one comes to the games. I wish I lived in Atlanta, I would be there. I wish the fans would just come to the ballpark.

(Joe talking about the Oakland A’s and why they have struggled)

Sometimes, when I look at the A's players, I think they're playing softball. They have some big guys who try to hit the ball out of the ballpark. They strike out a lot.
Absolutely wrong. The A’s are 27th in Major League Baseball in home runs hit and are 23rd in strikeouts. The A’s players may try to hit home runs (and fail) but they certainly don’t strike out that much if you compare them to every other team in the major leagues right now. Joe is completely wrong about this.

They've never really been a team to run or steal bases, bunt guys over or hit and run…You have to be more athletic, steal some bases in order to be a well rounded team.

I like how Joe Morgan has his perception of the Oakland A’s COMPLETELY wrong. The A’s are 4th in the major leagues in stolen bases this year. So I guess they may not be athletic, which his weird since the team name is the Athletics, but they are stealing bases exactly like Joe Morgan wants them to do. Why doesn’t Joe know this information you may ask? Because he is not a good analyst and is afraid of numbers. He just has it in his head they don't steal bases, which is factually incorrect.

You don't have to steal a lot of bases, but you have to have the threat there.

How can you threaten to steal bases if there isn’t on the team who can actually steal bases? This must be why the A’s struggled this year, though they were 4th in the majors in stolen bases they were 29th in the SBTTS (Stolen Bases Threatened to Steal) category. They need to threaten to get more stolen bases and then their team athleticism would greatly increase according to Joe. I am not sure the most effective way to threaten to steal a base without actually doing it, but I am sure that is a question Joe can address/avoid in a later chat.

(Joe on which team Milton Bradley fits in with)

Well, what it really tells me that Ron Washington is a better manager than I thought he was. That was the only place in the last few years where he didn't have any major incidents.

That is true, unless you want to count the time in Texas where he attempted to attack an announcer for the Kansas City Royals. Who really counts the incident where Bradley attempted to make his way into the press box and attack an announcer though?

Also, I don’t know if it makes Ron Washington a good manager that he was able to keep Milton Bradley (fairly well) in check during his time with Texas. This may make him a good personality manager but not necessarily a good baseball manager.

(Joe on whether who he would rather have leading off, a speedy guy who doesn’t get on base a lot or a slow guy who gets on a base a lot)

I would rather have a speedy player. I'll give you a great example. Wade Boggs hit lead off most of his career, had 200 hits a lot, high batting average, high OBP, but couldn't run. His OBP was higher than Rickey Henderson's but who would you rather have leading off?

That is a bad example. You take the greatest leadoff hitter ever and compare another player to him. That sounds like the least fair way to determine the answer to this question I have ever heard of, taking a Hall of Fame player, who still had a high OBP and comparing to one of the slowest leadoff hitters ever to him.

Using this same idea I guess you could say the ability to shoot free throws in the NBA is overrated. Would rather have Robert Parish who could shoot free throws or Shaquille O’Neal who wasn’t a great free throw shooter? Who would you rather have as your center? (That too me like 5 minutes to put together…using Joe’s logic is harder than I originally thought)

A good real life example would be comparing a lead off hitter like Juan Pierre who doesn’t have a great OBP and is not a Hall of Fame player, with a hitter, which I can’t think of one right now, but one who is slow but gets on base a lot. Joe's example only works because he uses the greatest lead off hitter ever who still had a high OBP. The end result is that you don’t want a lead off hitter with a low OBP and that’s the bottom line. Joe’s example isn’t “great.”

A guy that can run sets the table, sets the tone, puts pressure on the other team right away. A guy who gets on base and can't run isn't as valuable as one who can.

A guy who gets on base and can’t run is not as valuable as a guy who gets on base less often but puts “pressure” on the other team? Wow, I would love to argue this if I my enraged mind could think of an example right now. I want guys who can get on base, pressure is nice but it’s hard for a player to put pressure on the pitcher if he can’t get on base.

-Tom Curran has some thoughts about this past weekend in the NFL and shockingly I don’t agree with several of them.

On a day when the Detroit Lions finally shed their label as the NFL’s Biggest Loser, a stampede of teams — led by the shocking Denver Broncos— edged closer to the quarter-pole with perfect records.

I am no English teacher but I am pretty sure there should be commas there instead of hyphens. I guess hyphens are more dramatic.

By winning one game against the Washington Redskins, the Lions have not shed their label as the NFL’s Biggest Loser at all. The Rams have still lost 13 games in a row and are currently in first (last?) place for consecutive losses in a row, but the Lions still hold the season long record for mediocrity and the team hasn’t become good by winning one game this year.

But the three that are perfect so far after missing the playoffs last year — Denver, New Orleans and the Jets — have passed the point where we should reserve judgment. They are good, no questions asked.

Hmmm…no questions asked? I can accept that with the Saints and the Jets, but I am still having a problem not asking questions about the Broncos. They have beaten Oakland, Cleveland and Cincinnati, not exactly a murderer’s row of teams.

The Broncos are the most surprising. After an 8-8 2008 in which they crawled across the finish line, Denver went through the NFL’s most tumultuous offseason.

I am telling you, sportswriters absolutely love making conclusions based on small sample sizes. This statement really has nothing to do with what Curran wrote here but it doesn't make it less true.

But aside from the fantastic finishes, the big takeaway is that, the there could be some major changes at the top of a few divisions in 2009.

BIG changes huh?

Let’s look at each divisions leader and how that team played last year in the division:

AFC East: New York Jets (missed playoffs last year in the last week of the season)

AFC North: Baltimore (made the AFC Championship Game last year and was 2nd in the division last year to the Super Bowl Champs)

AFC South: Indianapolis (2nd in the division last year and has pretty won this division a good portion of this decade)

AFC West: Denver (missed playoffs, this is a big change)

NFC East: New York Giants (won the division last year)

NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (won division last year)

NFC South: New Orleans Saints (missed playoffs, this is a big change)

NFC West: San Francisco (missed playoffs, this is a semi-big change because all the teams suck in their own little way)

Hence, you can see there aren’t as many BIG changes after three weeks of football as advertised.

No use arguing that Brett Favre wasn’t worth the headache.

I am not backing down, we’ll see if he is worth $12 million this year come November.

Had San Francisco’s Dre Bly come up with the pick on Favre’s poorly thrown fourth-down toss with 1:55 remaining, he would have cruised in for the winning touchdown.

Really the Minnesota Vikings defense helped win this game by forcing the 49ers to give the ball back to the Vikings offense. I hate “what-if” scenarios but suffice to say this Brett Favre poorly thrown pass isn’t the only one Vikings fans will see this year…and the corner will not always miss coming up with the interception. Even though Favre's last pass was fantastic, and I won't disagree with that even though I do believe the catch was even better, he still almost threw the game away prior to that throw and the defense sort of saved him.

Meanwhile, Matt Stafford continues to defy those who think it was a bad move for a team as bad as Detroit to take a quarterback with the No. 1 pick (like me).

I would be in this crowd as well.

Here’s a quick question that may explain the amount of quarterbacks over the past 3 years that have come out of college and played well in the NFL quickly and there are three options to choose from to help explain: Has the NFL either (A) figured out how to properly scout good college quarterbacks, (B) learned when the proper time to play a rookie quarterback is, or (C) it just so happens good college quarterbacks have come out over the past several years and they would be good no matter what?

I vote for A. I think guys like Graham Harrell would have been taken high in the draft based on his previous college numbers but NFL scouts are getting better at looking at characteristics that make a college QB better as an NFL QB. They are not as enamored now with good numbers in college and are better able to identify signal callers who will be to adjust to the NFL. Of course, quarterbacks being drafted by teams that were already pretty good may have something to do with it as well.

Now to Zorn. It couldn’t have gone any worse for him after spending a week under siege by the D.C.-area media. First, he went for it on fourth-and-1 at the end of the first drive (it failed).

Jim Zorn showed some guts and Gregg Easterbrook would be proud. Unfortunately, this is one of the many situations were going for it on fourth down did not work. These are the situations Gregg ignores generally or thinks of an excuse for why it didn't work.

On a different note, Haynesworth left the Redskins game with a strained butt. Seriously.

Kolb went 24 for 34 for 324 with two touchdowns. It’s not likely that McNabb’s going to lose his job to Kolb — or Vick — this season. But going forward, the Eagles are creating options for themselves.

I am sure Donovan McNabb is perfectly fine with Kevin Kolb playing well in his absence, I mean he didn’t mind Mike Vick being signed by the Eagles according to Peter King, so I am sure he is fine with this development. For a quarterback who misses a lot of regular season games, McNabb sure has whined a lot in the past about the Eagles bringing other guys in to take his job. I have always thought this and am glad I can say it now and not feel stupid about saying it.

He whined when they drafted Kolb and he whined that the Eagles did not respect him enough, but then he tends to get injured and can’t play. You don’t see Brian Westbrook whining when the Eagles draft a guy like LeSean McCoy do you? McNabb hasn’t whined this year, but you know he wants to. There is just so much he could whine about…kudos to him for holding back this year.

Who had the Steelers looking up at the Bengals in the standings after three weeks? Not many.

For the 900th time, it is Week 4 of the NFL season next week. Three total games have been played for every team. There is plenty of time left for this to change.

Terrell Owens had a nice little streak going — receptions in 185 straight games. Not anymore. The Saints held him without a catch in a 27-7 beatdown of the Bills.

I know Terrell Owens is certifiably insane, so I don’t expect anything rational to come out of his mouth, but he has been incredibly spoiled to play with Pro Bowl quarterbacks for nearly his entire career. Now he is playing with Trent Edwards, who no matter what anyone tries to tell you, isn’t a Pro Bowl quarterback. When will he blow up this year? I say by Week 8 he will be either calling Edwards gay or questioning Edwards’ manhood in front of the press. It’s going to happen, but I just don’t want to have to wait too long.

Know how many touchdowns the Broncos defense has allowed this season? One. Last year, they usually allowed their first touchdown sometime on Saturday night they were so bad.

I am pretty much repeating myself now, but they did a good job on defense against the Bengals, but outside of that, who was going to score a touchdown on them who was on the Raiders or Browns roster? When the three game stretch of Dallas, New England, and San Diego is over I think we will have a better idea of who the real Broncos team is…and I am betting that team doesn’t look as good as the one we are currently seeing.

But a parade of three-and-outs and Kerry Collins ending the game with an 0-for-13 passing streak doomed them.

Kerry Collins ended the game on a 0-13 passing streak? Not Kerry Collins, quarterback extraordinaire! Not the guy whose numbers this year look like this:

55.2% completion percentage, 4 TD, 4 INT, 69.9 rating.

He’s better than that right? Actually he is not, because his career numbers are:

55.7% completion percentage, 190 TD, 183 INT, 73.7 rating. So he is actually pretty close to his career rating.

With the 32-year-old Bulger seemingly at the end of the line and Boller pretty well established as an average player, you wonder if the Rams would like to have their selection of offensive tackle Jason Smith back.

Let me guess and then they would take Mark Sanchez. I am close to admitting I am wrong about Sanchez but he would not be nearly as successful in St. Louis as he has been in New York with the Jets. The Jets have a much better defense and this clearly helps Sanchez succeed.

You know what the relative success of Sanchez, Stafford, Ryan and Flacco is going to do? It’s going to cause General Managers and head coaches to look for their own Flacco or Stafford and pick a quarterback in the next coming years a round or two too early in an effort to get their own good young quarterback. It’s going to happen because it’s the NFL and teams sometimes only see what they want to see in prospects.

the Rams wouldn’t be able to take care of him like the Jets have and, there is no comparison between the two teams' defenses.

Exactly. It helps Mark Sanchez immensely that the Jets have a great defense behind him. It takes the pressure off him to have to come back or win games by himself.

-I haven't covered Peter King's MMQB-Tuesday mail bag edition in a few weeks, so I figure today may be the best time to do so.

Big win for the Lions. Maybe bigger for Detroit, in a couple of ways.

Oh great, let me guess...the entire city of Detroit was feeling the pain of the Lions because they had lost so many games and it means so much to the city to have a team that has finally won a football game?

As if there is a huge difference in going 1-19 and 0-20...

We need to get this win behind us and get ready to play a great game every week. We need to expect to win every week, not just hope to win. Hope is not a good strategy.''

I believe President Obama would disagree with Jim Schwartz here. Having some hope to win a game is a lot better than having no hope to win a game.

I see what he is saying overall, I am just a little chippy today.

Getting it done there includes playing for a depressed city and region.

I know the city appreciates a winner but the jobs aren't coming back even if the Lions win the Super Bowl this year.

Schwartz took his top three draft picks -- Sanchez, Louis Delmas and Pettigrew -- to a Ford plant after a mini-camp practice to get his new cornerstone players used to their hardscrabble fan base, and to communicate to this fan base that the team knew the hard time of the auto industry.

(Schwartz) "See guys these are the employees of Ford that haven't been fired yet. You are playing for them."

(All three look up from texting on their phones...Pettigrew speaks and points to a car on the assembly line) "Is there a way you could special design a car for me, maybe with a some racing stripes, custom rims, perhaps a system in it and paint the initials 'BP' on the side of everything? That would be pretty sweet. I bet you specially design of the cars for youself, don't you?"

(Stafford high fives Pettigrew and goes back to texting)

(Ford employee) "I can't really do that, not to mention I can't really afford it, because times are so tough around here. I know a lot of guys who have lost their jobs..."(He notices Delmas, Pettigrew and Stafford are not paying attention) "We don't do things like that here, but I can show you the specs for what the final product of the car is going to look like if that interests you."
(Delmas) "Man, I went to college here, I know all about that shit. What new cars you guys got coming out this year?"

(Ford employee) "I am not really privy to that infor---"

(Schwartz) "Guys I just wanted you to see who you were playing for, they still have to do their job today, so we may want to le---"

(Pettigrew) "You can't afford to buy a car that you made yourself? What's up with that? I got 4 cars right now...no three cars, well and a motorcycle, I just gave my buddy one of my cars, but each of them are hooked up inside with custom leather seats and all kinds of shit like that. I bet you live in a big house working at this place don't you. Where the hell are all your co-workers?"

(Delmas) "Man, it's loud as shit in here. How you guys do this all day?"

(Stafford showing Delmas and Pettigrew a picture on his phone) "Do my girlfriend's new boobs look fake?"

(Ford employee throws himself into the gears of the assembly line. Schwartz looks on horrified while Stafford, Delmas, and Pettigrew go back to texting)

"It was not a made-for-TV moment, '' said Schwartz. "I just wanted to make sure those guys knew where they were playing -- and how important they are to this community.''

So my fake conversation containing potentially harmful stereotypes for the way Brandon Pettigrew, Matt Stafford, and Louis Delmas talk may have actually occurred! I wish I could have been there for this.

Carolina fans shouldn't fixate on whether Jake Delhomme ought to be benched. He shouldn't. He's played passably well two straight weeks. They should be more concerned, much more, about the defense. Julius Peppers continues to be the most overrated player in football. And the run defense allowed 212 rushing yards to a Dallas team playing without bashing lead back Marion Barber. That should be a bigger concern.

4 turnovers in the past 2 weeks now passes for "passably well" for Jake Delhomme. Is this rock bottom? If not, tell me when we get there please.

As I have alluded to on several different occasions, Peter is absolutely right about Peppers. He is overrated and he has one sack through the first 3 games this year and that was a 4th quarter sack in the Eagles game. The Panthers can't give him away right now and he has pretty much ruined his value as a free agent. In less than 8 months he has gone from a guy who HAD to be franchised because he is so valuable, to a player most fans just want off the team. The only thing he has going for him is that he is from North Carolina and went to UNC, so fans are still blindly loyal to him.

I couldn't agree more with the comment this morning by Mike Greenberg on ESPN Radio: Week 4 is too early to have a bye. Byes should be scattered between Weeks 6 to 12, not Weeks 4 to 10.

I agree with Peter but I have to say for my favorite team this bye week comes at the perfect opportunity. Half the defense is injured and the team needs a couple of weeks to regroup and really focus on playing good football. Overall I agree but the Panthers literally pulled a guy off the waiver wire this week and put him in as the #3 DT against Dallas, so they need guys to get rest and heal up. It would also help if every team ahead of them in the NFC South would disband, that could help them get a playoff spot as well.

So overall the early bye week is a waste in the long term, but in the short term it certainly helps some teams.

Todd Schuiteman of Omaha, Neb.: "First, I love the column. Thanks for all you do to keep the masses informed on all things NFL (along with your own unique blend of other topics). My question: Regarding the Vikings, does Brad Childress have the coaching skills (and imagination) to take this team deep into the playoffs?

Deep into the playoffs? I don't know, I guess it all depends on how well Sage Rosenfels is playing at the time. I am kidding Vikings fans..........no I'm not.

The 49ers front seven is underrated, and remember that Childress understands very well who he has at quarterback. He doesn't want Brett Favre to go back to pass 35 times, because that's 35 times he's going to be put in harms way.

Is Brett Favre made of glass? I understand he is old and probably can't withstand hits that well anymore but part of the requirements of the quarterback position is to get hit. That's a fact, so King and Childress sound pretty stupid to be all worried about poor little Brett Favre being in harm's way. Peter talks about how Brett can't get hit too much every week, I don't know why it annoys me.

Remember, Favre admitted in July he didn't think he could make it through a season unharmed. So every decision Childress makes, he does so with the health of his quarterback in mind.

Every time I hear more about this Favre guy, I can't help but think he is absolutely worth the $12 million he is being paid. Not only can he probably not play a full season (admittedly) or get hit too often, the entire gameplan has to be planned around making sure he doesn't get tired or hurt since both of these are a likely possibility. I guess Favre wouldn't want it any other way, he wants his needs and wants to be everyone's #1 priority.

Mark Schiff of Denver: "Much of the media, including your FootballNight in America colleague Bob Costas, played up the feel-good angle of the Lions' first win since 2007. But no one seems to want to acknowledge the elephant in the room: the game was blacked out locally, yet another indignity for a franchise and city that's already had far too many of them.

There's one problem with your case, which I agree is compelling and I have much empathy with: Once you let the genie out of the bottle, how are you going to put it back in? If unemployment in Detroit is 29 percent this year and you show the games locally, there are two problems. If it's still 29 percent next year, how do you black out the games again, and how do you sell tickets to a struggling fan base when the fans know the games are going to be on local TV?

I like how we need to empathetic to the Detroit Lions' fans, or what is left of them, and the Lions are supposed to be playing this year for the fans...until the topic of money comes up, in which case the NFL wants to have the city of Detroit get inspired by the team while following their games on the Internet. We can't let the empathy for Detroit get in the way of making money for the NFL.

I may have the energy to tackle TMQ tomorrow. I feel confident about this.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

23 comments Wins Are Not A Good Indicator

I was going to do a post on Ron Gardenhire that was posted by Jeff Passan over at yahoo, but then I found this over on Rob Neyers blog. Its an article about how wins are a useful statistic and can show how good a pitcher is. The author seems to be a very smart and sabermetric type guy, so I'm curious as to why he would write something like this. Wins, by all accounts, are a terrible measure for evaluating pitchers. As Dak points out in the glossary of the now shut down Fire Joe Morgan site "The reason being – and again, you know this, intuitively, even if you have never quite expressed it to yourself – if Carl Pavano gives up nineteen runs in five innings but the Yankees score 20 runs, and they hold on to win, and Pavano gets the win, is Pavano a good pitcher? No he is not. (This scenario is assuming he ever comes back and actually pitches, btw.) If Francisco Liriano throws 9 innings of no-hit ball, but gives up a run on four consecutive errors by Terry Tiffey and gets a loss, is Francisco Liriano a bad pitcher? No he is not". I think that about sums it up. I can remember being a kid and looking at the back of a 1990 Nolan Ryan card and seeing he didnt have a great winning percentage and thinking something didnt seem right because everyone thought of Nolan at the time as one of the greatest pitchers, so I was confused as to why he didnt have that great of a record. As Dak said, I knew intuitively that this didnt see right, but that was the common thought at the time: "Wins are all that matter". The author, who goes by the handle "The Professor", has multiple tables that supposedly back up his claims but, I'm going to do my best to go through and hopefully refute said claims. Now, enough with my Bengoodfella ramblings (Zing) and onto the article at hand.

How many times have you seen it written or heard somebody say:

“Wins is a useless way to evaluate a starting pitcher”

We have heard it so many times, that we have started wondering why we still track Wins for pitchers.


Exactly. Why do we keep using wins as a measure for pitchers? I can see it being a useful stat back when pitchers completed all their games (and even then you had to depend on your team to score runs), but there are so many variables that go into a W nowadays, such as: The Lineup, defense, and perhaps most importantly, the bullpen.

But does this mean Wins is a completely useless statistic? Over time, shouldn’t a a good pitcher win more games than a bad pitcher, regardless of other factors?

To answer your first question: yes. Yes, it does. As for the second question: All you have to do is look at Bert Blyleven's Baseball Reference page
and look at his 1973 season to see that, yes indeed, Bert got hosed. I mean, his ERA was 2.52, he struck out over 250 batters, and yet he still only had a 20-17 record. Do you know who led the league in wins that year? Wilbur Wood and his ERA of 3.46, almost a full run higher than Bert's. Joe Coleman had 23 with a 3.53 ERA, Jim Palmer had 22 with a 2.40 ERA, Catfish Hunter had 21 with a 3.34ERA, and Ken Holtzman had 21 and a 2.97ERA. So really, out of all those pitchers with more wins, only Palmer had an ERA better than Bert, but Bert had 100 more strikeouts which makes him even better. Not to mention Palmer had the far superior defense behind him with Robinson, Powell, Belanger, and Grich.

To answer this question, we looked at every pitcher over the last four seasons (2006-2009) with at least 600 innings pitched (150ip/season). We then removed anybody that had more than 10% of their appearances in relief. We ended up with a list of 51 pitchers. We tallied up their wins (as a starting pitcher) in those four seasons and compared it to their ERA+*.

He then follows up with a chart that supposedly backs up his claims. Well, I'm going to play his game, so here is the wins leaders from those 4 years with their ERA's.

2006 NL: Aaron Harang 16W 3.76ERA
Derek Lowe 16W 3.63ERA
Brad Penny 16W 4.33ERA
John Smoltz 16W 3.49ERA
Brandon Webb 16W 3.10ERA
Big Z 16W 3.41ERA

2006 NL ERA Leader: Roy Oswalt 2.98 ERA amd 15 Wins

2006 AL: Johan Santana 19W 2.77ERA
Chien Ming Wang 19W 3.63 ERA

2007 NL Jake Peavy 19W 2.54ERA
AL Josh Beckett 20W 3.27ERA

Ok, you know what, I'm getting lazy with this, but basically there are a lot of good pitchers that had great numbers but not a lot of wins. I mean, Aaron Harang--AARAON HARANG--was your 2006 leader in wins, so that right there should tell you all you need to know about the usefulness of wins.

What we see is a very clear trend. As a pitcher’s ERA+ goes up (bigger values are better, 100 is average), their win total goes up. Are there exceptions? Of course. Every statistic has exceptions. But even in the face of contradictions, we still see a very strong correlation

You know what else correlates strongly? Deeeeez Nuuts!! Yeah, what now, Professor? (Fred Trigger high fiving himself) Exceptions, like Aaron Harang?(sorry I just cant get over that he lead the NL in wins that year. That alone closes the door on Wins being useful. Harang is certainly a fine pitcher, but I wouldnt consider him elite by any means) Chien ming Wang had the same amount of wins that Johan Santana did, would you rather have him instead of Johan? Cole Hamels had less wins then Jeff Francis, who would you rather have?

Of course, a pitcher’s win total will be affected by the number of starts they make.

Is that all a pitchers win total will be affected by? Not how many runs his team scores? What about if every position player behind him is David Eckstein? Hes fucked then. How about if he goes 8 innings, gives up 0 runs, and his closer gives up 10 runs in the 9th to lose the game? What about that, professor? WHAT ABOUT THAT?!?!??!?!?!

The problem with Wins as an evaluator of starting pitchers is not that it is bad statistic.

Yes it is. I remain unconvinced by the charts you have shown me.

It is simply a matter of sample size. In a single game, a win or no win is not a good indicator. Why? Small sample size.

I want you all to remember this.

Can we use Wins to evaluate a pitcher over the course of one season? Maybe.

Really? REALLY? Your going to talk about sample size and then say that one season worth of wins is a good indicator. Again, REALLY? Hey how about that Fausto Carmona? You know, won 19 games back in 2007, so he really must be a great pitcher because of his 1 season worth of high wins and is surely on the fast track to the hall of fame. Wait.....whats that? He never really regained that form? But what about that year he had 19 wins?

To be fair he does go onto say in the next sentence that it still is a relatively small sample size, but that does not excuse the fact that he even insinuated that you can evaluate a pitcher with one seasons worth of wins.

But we can be relatively certain that an 18-game winner is better than a 5-game winner (with similar number of starts).

Can we be so sure? Lets take a look at the 2005 Cy Young award, shall we?

Chris Carpenter: GS 33, W 21, ERA 2.83
Dontrelle Willis: GS 34, W 22, ERA 2.63
Roger Clemens: GS 32, W 13, ERA 1.87

Yeah, I would sure take those 21 and 22 game winners over the guy who won 13, started just as many games and had an ERA almost a full fun below them. I actually remember this year very well because I was in school at Petaluma, CA and I remember there was a long period where Clemens just couldnt win a game because either A) his team didnt score enough runs or B) his bullpen blew the lead. Again, this is why wins are dumb. The same thing was true with the 2004 Cy Young voting where Johan Santana got robbed by Bartolo Colon and he even finished behind Mariano Rivera, who had a great year but pitched about 150 less innings. Speaking of which, they really need to make a seperate cy young for relief pitchers, and not that rolaids award. No one pays attention to that.

The other variables should be less of a factor in that case. However, when comparing two pitchers with a similar number of wins, those other factors (team defense, scoring, ballpark, etc.) become much more important.

What the fuck, Dude! "Yes, wins are important and tell you something. No, you have to take other factors into account." Which is it? That was some insane flip flopping there.

The problem with this post, is that taking a pro-Wins stance leads some to believe that we are anti-other stats. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Stats like ERA+, FIP and tRA are still better measures of how good a pitcher is (although we have minor quibbles with each). However, that does not mean Wins is a useless category. Nor does it mean there are 95 better ways to evaluate a pitcher.


Yes, it does mean there are 95 better ways to evaluate a pitcher. Well, maybe not 95, but at least 20.

In fact, in the absence of other stats, Wins is a very good, if not great, indicator of a pitcher’s value.

So.....if the other stats dont exist, wins are a good measure? Did I read that right? I'm pretty sure he just said that the only way wins are a good indicator are if the other stats didnt exist. Did everyone else read that the same way?

So next time you hear somebody say Wins is a crappy way to evaluate a pitcher, throw a drink in their face and then make them read this post.

Yeah, I'll direct them to this post where the author doesnt really convince me that wins are a good indicator. If I said wins are a crappy way to evaluate a pitcher and someone threw a drink at my face, I'm pretty sure I would be knuckling up with said person.

I dont get it. This guys seems to be a stat guy. He throws out ERA+, FIPS, he even has a chart with all his information. I just dont understand why he felt the need to try and defend pitchers wins.

You know whats really funny about all this. That THIS VERY YEAR the best pitcher in the league doesnt have the most wins. Actually the second best pitcher doesnt have the most wins, either. I think you all know I am talking about Greinke and Hernandez. So, I guess these might be the exceptions he is talking about. Whatever, this article is dumb.

Monday, September 28, 2009

16 comments MMQB Review: Total and Complete Drama Edition

It's Monday morning. Get your overpriced coffee, elitist attitude, and inability to understand the nature of the game of baseball together, it's time for Peter King's MMQB. There was so much drama that went on yesterday and everyone was having so much fun watching the games, as Peter would say...what recession are win again? You may not believe this, but Brett Favre gets a mention or two again this week in MMQB. Unfortunately, Brittany Favre must not have had any interesting Tweets because Peter did not include anything she Tweeted in this week's column.

Now that's what I call some drama, and some good stories.

Yes, I have enjoyed this season of Mad Men as well.

Remember how the locals wanted to give Josh McDaniels a one-way ticket out of Colorado before he ever coached a game?

(Pointing at Peter) Remember how Peter King didn't think Josh McDaniels would last long in Denver because of how he handled the Jay Cutler situation? It was mostly the locals though who doubted McDaniels because Peter never doubted McDaniels' ability to do that job. He would never do that. Of course when you play Oakland, Cleveland, and Cincinnati that certainly does help your team win football games. Cincy is not that bad this year but the Broncos won on a miracle against them, so they very well could have lost to the only average team they have played. My point is to call me when they play a playoff caliber team......meaning call me after next week's game against Dallas. Otherwise they have just beaten two of the crappiest teams in the NFL and get no credit from me.

Now he has as many wins this season as playoff veterans Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin and John Fox combined.

I wouldn't call Fox and Tomlin playoff "veterans" since they have made the playoffs a combined 5 times. Also we are three games into the season, seriously everyone needs to freaking calm down with these statistics that are being used. I would bet by the end of this year one or two of those coaches will have more wins than Josh McDaniels. I am still blaming stats like this on small sample sizes and really they are fun to write but they mean absolutely nothing.

I'll tell you what I worry about with Vick. Greed. I'm not in the man's shoes, but I get a sense that at some point this year, he might want more than some Wildcat snaps and three or four passes a game.

Nooooooo! I don't believe it. You mean this experiment with Vick may not be a complete and utter success? Donovan McNabb completely supported Vick coming to the team, how could this happen? I can't believe Vick's poster boy for "the exciting new NFL quarterback," before being jailed for torturing and murdering dogs, actually delusionally still believes he is an NFL quality quarterback? Who would have thought Mike Vick would not accept a subordinate role on the Eagle's team three years after being the highest paid player in the game? It's almost like everyone should have seen this coming.

At the time I spoke to Vick, our NBC Football Night in America' was preparing for the evening show, and I asked Vick if he wanted to say hello to Tony. "Tony who?'' Vick said. And I said, " Dungy.'' Of course he wanted to say hi.

You can tell Mike Vick thinks of Tony Dungy as a mentor and friend by his "Tony who?" response. I am sure Vick just has short term memory loss. Everyone who reads here regularly knows I don't like Mike Vick for various reasons, so take this with a grain of salt, but has he really he changed? Do we really believe this? I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I also think he is just being a good boy for the time being, and I would bet he's not that different of a person now. He is just more careful at what he gets caught up into.

The Vikings may be playing a risky game with Favre, who turns 40 in two weeks, because they don't know if he can last the full season at his age. But they've now officially won one more game than they'd have won with either Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson playing.

Everytime I hear Peter King talk about Brett Favre it makes me sick feeling. It's not because of Favre, it is because I know that Peter King is so obsessed with Brett Favre, and even his family (Peter is a grown man who is following Favre's daughter on Twitter), that anything he has to say will be wrapped in a sugary Favre loving coating.

How do we know the Vikings have won one more game than they would have won with Rosenfels and Jackson? Maybe those two would have been playing so well they would not have had to come back in yesterday's game. I believe it was Peter who said it really didn't matter who started for the Vikings in the first couple of games of the year because the Vikings could win those games with any QB. I wish I had more time to search Peter's archives and pull the exact quote, but he really said something like that and now he thinks only Favre could have won yesterday's game.

Lay off the "Favre is magic" stuff. He played well, that's not the question whether he can play well for a short period of time, the question is what he will do in 4 more weeks and if he will perform his annual collapse at the end of this year. Don't give Favre credit for winning a game by saying no other QB on the roster could have won that game. You can't accurately predict how Rosenfels or Jackson would have played. The other two QB's may not have had to come back.

Good thing he was. And when he said that, I was left to wonder if Bill Belichick wishes he had kept Lewis and cut Joey Galloway.

But Peter, didn't you say Joey Galloway looked great in the New England system and predicted he would have a great year? I can't find it in Peter's archives (again) but I remember it clearly when he was talking about the Patriots and how good Galloway looked. Is this just another instance of him doing PR for an NFL team?

This is as good of a time as any I guess, but remember all that reactionary, bad journalism from this last week about how the Patriots are on a decline? Well, what happened to that stuff after the Patriots beat the Falcons yesterday? This is what makes me angry about sportswriters, they will write these stories and then never acknowledge they were over reacting and being reactionary.

But Delhomme, the amiable Louisianan, thinks the pressure's been lifted off him with his let-it-all-hang-out performance last week at Atlanta (25-41, 308 yards, one touchdown, one interception). It wasn't one of his best days in football, but at least he played football instead of thought football.

Hey Jake, your team is 0-2 and now faces a must-win game in Dallas on Monday Night Football in front of 100,000 fans...but the pressure is off you now? Look for the possibility of a 19-43, 187 yard 1 TD 3 INT night for him. Bad Jake feeds off feeling no pressure.

"And now,'' Delhomme said, "I feel great. I really do. Not just saying that. I just want to play. See the field, throw the ball, play, run the offense.''

See the field, throw the ball TO THE RIGHT TEAM, play WELL, and run the offense. Every time he completes a pass to the right team it is almost a small shock to the world right now.

Baltimore (3-0) at New England (2-1). Why shouldn't Tom Brady face every quarterback of the future. Trent Edwards, Mark Sanchez, Matt Ryan and now Joe Flacco.

Are we still doing this "Trent Edwards is a quarterback of the future" thing? I thought it was just a joke originally but now I think Peter is serious.

(Monday night) Green Bay (2-1) at Minnesota (3-0). The big storyline: Ryan Longwell tries to exact revenge on the Packers, who allowed him to leave the team he loved. Or something like that.

IT'S BRETT FAVRE'S RETURN TO GREEN BAY FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE FORCING HIS WAY OUT OF TOWN, MAKING A SHORT PIT STOP IN NEW YORK WITH THE JETS, AND THEN FINALLY PLAYING FOR THE TEAM HE WANTED TO PLAY WITH ALL ALONG! ON MNF! LET'S NOT CANCEL ALL OTHER GAMES NEXT WEEKEND AND FOCUS ON THIS ONE!

If there is anyone on Earth who didn't know Brett Favre is coming back to Green Bay next week, they will know by mid-Wednesday. Get ready for a barrage of Brett Favre-Green Bay stories this week. It's Brett's Favre and Peter King's dream. It's all about Brett, all of the time, and he gets to be in the spotlight all week, which is all he really wants. We'll be lucky if the MNF game tonight is even shown. They may just show highlights of Brett Favre talking at press conferences and his most memorable games instead of actually showing the game tonight.

The Fine Fifteen


Or as I prefer to call it, "15 team names randomly thrown together with numbers beside them and bizarre justifications for why that number fits that team."

3. Minnesota (3-0). Interesting Fine Fifteen nugget: Favre's current team is third, his old team is fourth, and his former Packers are eighth.

Here is another interesting fact. Peter King controls who makes the Fine Fifteen and where teams are placed, so this isn't interesting at all.

5. New Orleans (3-0).

When I said New Orleans was going 11-5 before the season, I really didn't actually believe I was right. I took a guess at the record, though I did think they would win the NFC South this year. I feel pretty good about this prediction now.

7. New England (2-1).

On the decline I hear...Guess what Bill Simmons? Your ability to reverse jinx teams still works, unfortunately good journalists don't use their weekly columns as a place to use silly superstitions to reverse a team's fortunes.

15. (tie) Atlanta (2-1).

#15? They have beaten two playoff teams from last year and lost to the #7 team in Peter's completely unscientific Fine Fifteen...and they get bumped down to #7 below Denver, San Francisco, and Chicago? There is absolutely very little reason behind Peter's rankings.

MVP Watch


5. Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets. After taking Andre Johnson and Randy Moss out of the first two games, Revis was the key to holding old pro Kerry Collins to a 41-percent passing day Sunday.

I am pretty open minded about who can get votes as MVP but I don't know how I feel about a cornerback being in the Top 5 and I certainly don't know about the cornerback if part of his candidacy is because he shut down the Titans passing game and Kerry Collins.

Difference Between Baseball and Football Dept.:

On Wednesday, in Kansas City for a series with the Royals, a group of eight members of the Red Sox traveling party -- including manager Terry Francona and infielder Kevin Youkilis -- spent a couple of hours at the Kansas City Chiefs' offices and training facility, across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium. Francona is close to Chiefs GM Scott Pioli from his days in New England, and Pioli visited Francona in the Red Sox clubhouse prior to Tuesday's game. Youkilis and former major-leaguer Sean Casey, now a part-time TV colorman, kept commenting about the pace and fury of the midweek practice. Said coach Todd Haley: "They were very shocked how physical we were and how hard our coaches coached.''

Peter's ability to come off naive when it comes to his "first love" baseball never fails to astound me. Whether it is saying Derek Jeter is the best player he has ever seen his lifetime, not knowing who one of the top prospects for his favorite team is or feeling the need to tell his MMQB audience that football players practice harder than baseball players? Is this something anyone reading this did not know? Football practices are incredibly tough, while baseball doesn't even really have practice and what practice is done is at a very slow pace. I knew the two practices and team managing styles were like night, I have a hard time believing the baseball players didn't know this.

I got this started by telling people on Twitter the other day they shouldn't be all excited about Millen being on TV. Before he went down his destructive path with the Lions, he was considered by all to be the heir to John Madden as a pro football analyst.

Millen was going to be the next moderately overweight analyst who mostly used adjectives like "Boom" and only stated the obvious towards the end of his career? I hate we missed out on that.

Defensive Player of the Week

Singular. "Player" not "Players."

The Giants

Brandon McGowan, S, New England

...and we get two of them.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Percy Harvin, KR/WR, Minnesota

Lynell Hamilton, RB, New Orleans

Ray McDonald, DE, San Francisco

...and we get three of these. Don't name it a singular category if you are going to name multiple players to that category. I know Peter wants to be friends with all these players, so he doesn't want to leave anyone out, but change the title or just name one player. No one will hate him for leaving them out because it really doesn't mean anything. Peter is the only journalist I can think of who is actually good friends with active players he covers. Actually there are probably others but the other sportswriters either (a) don't talk about it or (b) don't make it obvious they are friends with the player(s).

Anyone recall a team this young and green playing as clean a game as Detroit did -- especially with the weight of a city on its shoulders?

I am pretty tired of all this talk about the Tigers and Lions having the city of Detroit on its shoulders. The city is having tough times and sports are a distraction, but that is all sports really are for them. It's not like if the Tigers win the AL Central Division that will mean everyone in the city has a job again, people aren't fleeing the city to move elsewhere or unemployment isn't still sky high. Sports are a distraction for the fans in Detroit, not a catalyst that is actually going to make their life infinitely better.

What has been the story of this preseason and early football season? Michael Vick. Vick this, Vick that. And so Vick had just touched the ball in a National Football League game for the first time in 33 months -- almost three years -- and then we hear from the booth, "Let's go to James Brown.''

What?!!! Let's go to James Brown?!! Unless it's for live coverage of Armageddon, you're not going to James Brown. MICHAEL VICK HAS JUST TOUCHED THE BALL FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOREVER.

I don't understand why CBS would do this after they have publicized Vick's return so much, I get that comment by Peter, but otherwise this is a clear overreaction on Peter's part. "Live coverage of Armageddon" is the only reason to go back to James Brown? I am glad CBS understands the entire audience who was watching the game was not as infatuated with Vick's return as the media has seemed to be.

Two is a Quote of the Week, from Jey Harrington

Is that Joey Harrington's twin that was actually good at playing football in the NFL?

f. Three weeks into the season and the Colts have a three-game lead on the Titans.

Why do sportswriters love taking small sample sizes and try to show some sort of fact that has come out of them as if they will mean something at the end of the year?

Now, if the Redskins continue to play lousy football on the JV portion of their schedule (next three: Tampa Bay, at Carolina, Kansas City), I guarantee nothing about Zorn's future. But this week, next week? He's safe.

Peter, that hurts me...deeply.

c. Aaron Curry is starting to make impact plays for the Seahawks, like his strip-sack of Jay Cutler that led to a field goal and a 19-17 Seattle lead in the fourth quarter.

I can't believe the best defensive player in the draft, the same guy Peter King did not like for some reason in this year's draft, is actually playing well. Peter always took great pride in saying Curry could not sack the quarterback and that is why he didn't like him as linebacker in the NFL.

What's that, he did get a sack? But...but...I thought he couldn't do that?

I wish Peter had answered our repeated queries this summer about Aaron Curry and why he thought he had to sack the quarterback to be a good linebacker in the NFL. I would love to write him another question for his mailbag today.

d. Odd that Ray Rice scored his first NFL touchdown Sunday. Seems like he's had 10. I'll tell you this: Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron would take the combined product of Rice and Willis McGahee from Sunday (18 carries, 115 yards, three touchdowns) every game for the rest of his life.

I think every team in the NFL would take 3 touchdowns from their running backs in every game for the rest of their lives. It's not exclusive to just Cam Cameron.

b. What an embarrassing replay review by Alberto Riveron's crew at New England, ruling a Matt Ryan incompletion (as clear as day an incompletion and not a fumble), forcing the Falcons to throw a challenge flag,and taking away the New England momentum by making each team stand around for three minutes. And then, when he came back to admit the ruling on the field was wrong, he said, "New England will not be charged with a timeout.'' Atlanta, sir. Geez.

Don't mess around with New England's momentum, not on Peter King's watch. Once they get momentum there should be no person or object that shall impede New England's ability to keep momentum...this should be an NFL rule.

Here I go again...how many other teams have you heard Peter complain their momentum has been taken away by an official's call? Not that there is anything wrong with it, just admit it.

b. Should I watch the Strahan show? I suppose I should invest 30 minutes for my old Montclair neighbor, but the premise of the show holds no interest for me. I'd like to hear your feedback.

I'd watch it while it is still on the air...so watch this week and next week if it is still on. Could this be the worst idea ever for a sitcom?

d. Adam Dunn's career is the most interesting of any player in baseball by far. He hit 40 home runs in 2005. He hit 40 home runs in 2006. He hit 40 home runs in 2007. He hit 40 home runs in 2008. He has 38 home runs with seven games left. Bad news: Only problem with this wonderful symmetry is Dunn has three homers in Washington's last 25 games. Good news: He's got three games with the Mets today through Wednesday. Mediocre news: He's got between 164 and 194 strikeouts in each of these five symmetrical seasons.

I do love me some Adam Dunn, so let me defend him here. There is no difference in a ground out, fly out or a strikeout. I don't hold those strikeouts against him at all. His defense? That I should hold against him.

g. Swine flu is coming. We're not even in flu season and I know six people who've come down with it.

Peter is approximately 2 months late on this swine flu thing. Let's face it, we're all going to die. Fortunately I live in my mother's attic so I don't have any type of contact with human beings in any fashion, so I should be safe.

i. Hope you're OK, Tim Tebow. That was a scary thing, a violent concussion.

I don't dislike Tim Tebow and he really is a good role model compared to other athletes but ESPN over did the whole "Tim Tebow got knocked out of the game thing." They showed the hit about 10 times from every possible angle. He got hit hard and got a concussion. This isn't anything that hasn't happened to many other quarterbacks in the history of organized football being played. Maybe if his offensive line would block for him or he had enough quarterbacking "know-how" to feel for the pass rusher coming at him while he was in the pocket he could have avoided the sack (yeah, I said it...the guy did not even come from his blindside).

Tebow has that physical running style and likes to take a lot of contact and I think right now is the time when those who believe he is going to be a great NFL player (or go #1 in the draft as Peter suggested) need to face the idea he is going to get hit like this in the NFL, only harder, so if he is going to be a quarterback at the next level he isn't going to be able to do the things he can do in college.

l. Was it just my hotel TV in Manhattan, or was the sound awful on U2's "Breathe'' on Saturday Night Live?'I heard Sunday that U2 had its own sound-mixers for the performance, and that may have played a part in the awful distortion of the music.

I think the sound was awful because the music coming from the instruments wasn't that great. U2 hasn't had great music coming from its instruments for a few years now.

Who I Like Tonight

Dallas 33, Carolina 24. Romo channels his inner Dan Fouts and has another 300-yard game, getting the baying hounds off his doorstep for a few minutes.

But instead of previewing the game, I thought I'd review the Cowboys Stadium -- from a player's perspective.

Yeah, its a boring Monday Night Football Game there is no need to preview it. It's only Carolina (what city do they even play in?) and Dallas. No need to talk about the game, it's much more interesting to hear about how great the new Cowboys Stadium is from New York Giants players. Who needs to read about a game when you can read about NFL players using different adjectives that are all just another word for "huge?"

Saturday, September 26, 2009

5 comments Why Do I Believe He Is Trying a Reverse Jinx Here?

We have been forced to read a couple "The Patriots are dead!" articles this past week because they dared to lose one game to the Jets, who are a team that is apparently rapidly improving. I just didn't think we would get to read a "Patriots are dead!" article from Bill Simmons.

Under the byline is a little message that says "Special to ESPNBoston.com." I guess all of his articles can be classified under that heading now can't they? The question I have is whether this article is for real or not? We all know Bill's need to be superstitious and how he truly believes he can jinx his favorite teams by talking about how great they are or by saying anything positive about them. For example he regrets comparing the perfect (at the time) 2007 New England Patriots to the 1986 Boston Celtics because it "jinxed" the Patriots into losing the Super Bowl. Again, remember Giants fans, you didn't win the game according to Bill you either (a) got lucky with the David Tyree catch or (b) Bill jinxed the Patriots. Bill also believes because a bird crapped on him the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

So to my surprise his Friday picks column has him burying the Patriots for this year. I was initially surprised and then I thought about it. I didn't think this could be true, so I know he is trying a reverse jinx here. He wants to bury the Patriots in hopes to reverse jinx them and watch them come alive and go on a big winning streak so he can later make a huge dramatic point out of what happened like the Patriots did something absolutely unfathomably incredible by "turning around" their season when they were 1-1. The end of this dramatic point will involve him writing about the entire city of Boston being behind the Patriots and talking about the Patriots everywhere or everyone walking around in a stupor the day after the point or event that involved the Patriots happened. I just have a feeling something like this is going to be written by Bill.

Anyway, I don't believe the Patriots are dead and I don't believe Bill believes that either. He is trying a reverse jinx.

(Important note: My father is a charter member of this group. In fact, when I told him that I planned to write this column, he hissed things like, "it's too early," "we'll be fine," "you give up on our teams too easily," "this reminds me of when you quit on the Celtics two springs ago" and "you're an a**hole and I wish we weren't related." All solid points.)

For those of us who believe Bill is a massive fair weather fan when it comes to the Boston Bruins, it's good to hear his father absolutely agrees with us...and why wouldn't he, he knows Bill better than we do.

For the second camp, it's more complicated. You wouldn't call them naysayers, just realists. And here's the reality: Today's NFL isn't built for teams to succeed year after year indefinitely. Extending the Malibu analogy, a good foundation only lasts so long. You still need to take care of your house. Need to wash the salt off your deck every day, update the furniture, keep a fresh coat of paint on there, check that foundation every few months to make sure it's fine. You cannot slip. You cannot fall behind. You cannot take anything for granted. Or else your house will start to look like crap.

As always, Bill couldn't just say the initial sentence, he had to extend his word count out by using an extended analogy that talks about what he is trying to say, rather than just rely on the first sentence to express his feelings. Everyone knows teams in the NFL aren't built to succeed every single year forever in the salary cap era. We don't need a house analogy to understand it.

Things fell apart in 2006 when only kicker Stephen Gostkowski panned out. The Pats took Laurence Maroney over D'Angelo Williams, traded up from No. 52 (Greg Jennings) to No. 36 (WR Chad Jackson, a bust) and chose tight end David Thomas over Owen Daniels.

Along with Bill's endless need to type about "what if" situations concerning the history of a team (example: "what if Len Bias never died?"...yeah, well what if he was never born or he was born and wanted to become a quarterback?..."what ifs" drives me crazy at times because there are so many different ways any situation could play out, so I find them pointless), I also don't like it when the "what ifs" extend into the NFL Draft.

Every team can look back at drafts and think of players they should have taken, so looking back and regretting things like this is absolutely pointless, outside of the need to drive yourself crazy or second guess every decision your team made. At the time, these were thought to be good moves because Williams was too small to be a running back in the NFL, Jennings played against lesser competition in college and Owen Daniels excelled in the Big 10, which doesn't impress some people. Looking back like this only serves to re-write history to second guess the coaches and drive yourself crazy.

Like with so many other teams, you could play the "damn, we could have had so-and-so" game with every Pats draft from 2005 to 2009 -- Frank Gore, Justin Tuck, Santonio Holmes, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jon Beason, Steve Slaton, etc. (it's a long list) -- but Belichick's Patriots were never "like so many other teams."

Yet because every team can do it, he still will write down a list of players the Patriots passed over as if this were still exclusive to them.

Undeniable Truth No. 3: A modern NFL team crushing an entire decade, with a salary cap in place, is about as difficult as having a four-hour craps run without crapping out.

I think if the Patriots are done, which I am not convinced about, this is the entire reason. It encompasses all other reasons. It is so hard to draft well for a long period of time, draft better than every other one of your competitors, still keep those guys around you drafted and stay under the salary cap. I think this reason would encompass all of the rest of the reasons Patriots would be dead...assuming they are, which I am not doing.

Can the Patriots pull it off despite the days of Tuck Rule-level breaks being long gone? The team's luck shifted in the 2005 playoffs (a gut-wrenching fumble call), then in the 2006 AFC title game (Jeff Saturday recovering a go-ahead TD in Indy's end zone and Reggie Wayne catching his own fumble on the biggest drive), then in Super Bowl XLII (the Helmet Catch), then in Week 1 of the '08 season (Brady's knee), then in Week 1 of the '09 season (losing Mayo days after the Richard Seymour trade). You need to be lucky to keep succeeding in the NFL.

Of course it wouldn't be Bill Simmons if he didn't throw a little luck that went against the Patriots into the equation. They are the only team to have injuries and tough plays go against them in the history of football. This is a fact unless you want to look into it, in which case you will find it is not fact.

Undeniable Truth No. 4: In retrospect, it sure seems like the Football Karma Gods weren't a huge fan of Spygate.

Football Karma Gods? That is some Easterbrook stuff, you can be better than that Bill.

Thirty-two years old now, Brady has mellowed considerably from the days when he gleefully head-butted teammates and sprinted toward touchdown celebrations like a maniac. He doesn't move as well. His timing is way off. He seems a little, um, jittery every time 300-pound guys roll near his legs. He might shed that rustiness this weekend; he might not shed it until November; he might need the whole season to bounce back like so many others who had knees rebuilt.

This is something that is being underplayed. Tom Brady may need a good while to get completely comfortable in the pocket. He had a guy fall into his leg, which greatly injured his knee and it is human nature to be constantly worried this may happen again for a little while. Throw in the fact his knee is a year off a major surgery so it may take some getting used to being on the field again and we may be expecting a bit much of him right now.

For the first time since 2002, I have absolutely no idea what's about to happen with my Patriots from week to week. Everything is in play: 12-4, 5-11, a "Have They Had It?" S.I. cover, you name it. The foundation is swaying. For once, nobody can say, "It's the Patriots, they'll be fine." This is the National Football League.

Fortunately after two games of the season we know how every other NFL team is going to do this season, no team is in flux and no team can have pretty much anything happen this year...except those Patriots. They are such an enigma. Bill can be such a drama queen at times over things. You want more drama from him?

From his Twitter account:

On my bday: Nomar hit on wrist (99), Pierce stabbed (00), Bledsoe hit by Mo Lewis (01), Lester nailed by linedrive (09). I have a complex.

Compared to Pierce being freaking stabbed (and almost dying) and Bledsoe being hit by Mo Lewis and having blood fill up in his lungs, I would say Lester possibly missing a start isn't so bad. Sure it looked bad at the time but come on, I know they all happened on his birthday but he really isn't comparing these events is he?

Not to mention, was Bledsoe getting hit by Mo Lewis really that bad for the Patriots in the long/short run?

Friday, September 25, 2009

2 comments Friday Bad Sportswriting Musings

I have bad news for everyone today. You will have to deal with me and my epic drivel today, you don't have any of Fred's more exciting columns to read today. He is probably driving his brand new Camaro around town right now avoiding the cops and running red lights...though the Smokey and the Bandit reference he made yesterday caught me a little off guard because I thought that was just a Southern thing (even though I have never seen any of the movies). Regardless, I have small tidbits of journalistic non-excellence for today which will shock and awe you with their non-excellence.

I am going to try and top Jim Rice taking one look at one start Zack Greinke made and then pronounce him not that impressive, but I will try. Joe Posnanski got the article sent to him by many people, including by Chris W, and it seemed like he was going to take a shot at the article that Fred took on yesterday and it eventually led to this posting, which isn't a tearing apart of the Jim Rice article but a discussion on why statistics are useful and observation is not always as useful. Leave to Joe Posnanski when given the opportunity to rail Jim Rice for his ignorance he uses a calmer and eventually more persuasive tone that gets his point across better. I wish I could teach him a lesson in writing run-on sentences with curse words that eventually negates the original point with it's angry tone, but I think he likes how he writes just fine.

The Jim Rice article even got to NBCSports but Fred didn't get a hat-tip there unfortunately, which I really wouldn't expect him to anyway. This is the only way we are going to be able to defeat the ignorance of baseball guys like Joe Morgan and Jim Rice who use observation to make assumptions and conclusions about today's players, and that way is to use actual facts and reality to point out when they are wrong. Judging players on observation isn't near as useful as guys like Joe Morgan and Jim Rice would have you believe. In this non-official war against observational judging of players articles like Jim Rice are reason #1 I think watching one game a player is in and giving an opinion on that player is journalistic malpractice.

This is your weekly reminder to put your College Football Picks in before noon on Saturday and to update your Fantasy Football rosters.

-Those who read this blog regularly know that I hate lists which list "breakout stars" and "surprise players" for the upcoming or current season because these lists usually involve players who have already broken out or are just late bloomers. This list by Peter King BFF Donnie (Brasco) Banks is no exception.

Nothing against Mark Sanchez, because New York's rookie quarterback has been everything the Jets hoped for and more, but when you go fifth overall in the draft, the bar of expectation is set ridiculously high.

Great, we are starting this column off with a premise I can agree with Donnie Banks on. This is wonderful news...but we know I would never cover this article if our bliss lasted. Unexpected impact players should NOT count players taken in the 1st 3 rounds of the NFL Draft. You draft players that high because you think they can make an impact, so any impact they make should not be a surprise. That's my stance and it seems to be a semi-stance Donnie Banks takes too. Except he doesn't...his cut off for "impact players" is apparently the #5 pick in the draft. Anyone after that point can be a surprise impact player in his opinion.

The more intriguing story through the first two weeks of the NFL's 2009 season is how much early impact teams are getting from the most unlikely of sources.

Cue him now making a list that includes 1st round draft picks...

3. Cincinnati defensive end Antwan Odom

He was drafted in the second round and had 11 sacks over the last two years. Did no one expect him to get 5 sacks this past weekend? Of course not, but he was drafted in the second round and he wasn't exactly a scrub over the last couple seasons for the Tennessee Titans. There is a reason, beyond the fact pass rushers are a premium in the NFL, he got a $20+ million dollar contract this offseason and that reason is he has potential.

4. Oakland safety Michael Huff

He was drafted #7 in the 2006 NFL Draft. He is a surprise impact player because he has sucked the first couple years of his career. I don't see how it should work that he set the bar so low, when he is finally coming close to the expectations of where he was drafted he gets credit for achieving anything.

So if Mark Sanchez was drafted too high to put on this list, how the hell was Huff not drafted too high to be on this list?

Just because he has previously stunk doesn't mean the point when he stops stinking should make him a surprise impact player. He should be excluded from this list just because he stunk his first couple of years in the league....at #7 in the draft you should be an impact player from Year 1 or at least Year 2 and it should be expected.

This year? Completely different story, and a different player so far. Through two games, Huff has been a play-making machine for Oakland, picking off an NFL-leading three passes and recovering a fumble.

Another bone I have to pick is that it has been two whole games since the season started. I know it is fun to make lists based on small sample sizes but couldn't we wait until Week 4 at least to talk about impact players? That way we get a larger sample size of what these impact players have done instead of basing their impact on 12.5% of the season being played.

7. St. Louis middle linebacker James Laurinaitis

He was a 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft. How the hell does the guy who is a 2nd round pick in the 2009 draft and a 3 times All-American in college count as impact player? There was talk he could have been a Top 10 pick before his senior year at Ohio State. Players drafted in the top half of the draft should be impact players, especially when they are drafted by a team like the Rams who frankly are so horrible pretty much anyone could make an impact with that team.

It took about 30 seconds for Laurinaitis to win the starting middle linebacker job in training camp, and the second-round pick from Ohio State has taken charge ever since.

So it is a surprise he is making such an impact because he has pretty much held the position down the entire training camp? I don't think a player who outright wins a position on a team as a rookie in training camp can necessarily be considered a surprise in any fashion. If he didn't win the job and then played well in the regular season, then maybe...but Laurinaitis is still a 2nd round pick and he won the starting middle linebacker job because he is a good player...it's not a surprise he is making an impact.

8. Seattle defensive end Lawrence Jackson

This must be the same Lawrence Jackson who was a first round pick in 2008. Again, as a first round pick in his second year I don't really know how he can count as a surprise impact player.

Jackson is healthy after a preseason shoulder injury, and like a lot of young defensive linemen, is seen as a potential late bloomer whose second season might look nothing like his first (Houston defensive end Mario Williams being a prime example).

So a lot of young defensive lineman improve a lot in their second season? Again, how is Jackson's improvement a surprise then if it was expected that he could improve in his second season? What a good way to sort of undermine the purpose of the article by pointing out second year defensive lineman sometimes have much better years in their second season than their first. I don't give a shit if he didn't make an impact last year (though he did play in every game), he is a first round pick, he should be making an impact on the team.

9. Minnesota outside linebacker Chad Greenway

Hey look! Another first round draft pick "surprise." I feel like this list has been full of these. I thought Don Banks said Mark Sanchez didn't count because he was a first round draft pick...or does he not count because he is Mark Sanchez and we all knew he would be the second coming off Joe Montana, just dreamier? Chad Greenway is an egregious example on this list because he has had two good seasons prior to this one.

This surprise player had a stat line that looks like this:

2007: 105 tackles and 2 INTs

2008: 115 tackles and 5.5 sacks

What a (non) shocking guy to play well this year. Considering he currently has 8 tackles and 2 INTs he is actually behind his usual pace to match those tackles numbers. He was a good linebacker the past two years, so besides being a first round pick, I don't know how he is a surprise impact player this year.

10. New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan

The guy helped run one of the best defenses in the NFL over the past couple of seasons. He was hired as a head coach in the NFL. I am pretty sure the Jets were hoping for this type of impact from him...plus it has only been two games and other teams haven't been able to scout his team's tendencies yet. Give it some time before we crown his ass.

I hate articles like this, they always drive me crazy. You can't have 1st and 2nd round picks be surprise impact players.

-Mark Kriegel who writes a column called "On the Mark" (Get it?????????) is ironically off the mark here. He thinks the Patriots are D-O-N-E. It's over Patriots fans, your dynasty has ended because you haven't blown teams out in 2 straight games.

The Jets beat the Patriots in the second week of the season, and all of a sudden everybody in New York has them penciled in for the Super Bowl.

How absurd! Who would overreact to the first two games of the NFL season enough to say the Jets are going to make the Super Bowl? That's just dumb to assume the Jets are going to be good. Who would be so dumb as to think they can predict a team's entire season based on two games? Certainly not the guy who is writing an article writing off the Patriots after two games into the NFL season, that's who.

Yeah, I know. They have a new coach, a new defense, a new quarterback. They look good. They may even be good. But until further notice, they're the same old Jets, which is to say, prematurely praised.

Using this exact same logic, then we could say the Patriots are being prematurely buried. I can't help but wonder how Mark Kriegel can't think of the inherent contradiction in complaining the Jets are overpraised because they have looked good in two games of this year but usually choke at the end of the year and then saying the Patriots are done because they looked bad in two games of this year, even though they have a recent history of making the playoffs by the end of the year. It has to occur to him this doesn't make sense.

It occurs to me that I knock TMQ for second guessing and nitpicking head coaches and I have an entire blog that sometimes nitpicks sportswriters. Maybe he embraces the contradiction like I do...somehow I believe it just doesn't occur to him.

Rather, what happened Sunday at the Meadowlands says less about the Jets than the Patriots, who were lucky to get by the Buffalo Bills on the first Monday night of the season.

So the Patriots are not that good and the Jets look good because they played the Patriots. The Jets started off the year beating the Houston Texans and last week Houston went to Tennessee and beat the Tennessee Titans. I don't want to say the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl, but they beat the Texans who beat the Titans, who had the best record in the AFC last year. Not that this should mean much, but it at least gives us an indication the Jets may be a good team.

Therefore I would use this information to say the Jets are a good team, so the Patriots lost to a good team and may not be a bad team. We will know more, you know, as more games are actually freaking played this season. Even though no one seems to want to wait for the rest of the year to finish before all conclusions about how good every team is have been made. If it were up to sportswriters all of the postseason accolades like NFC/AFC Offensive/Defensive Rookie of the Year and MVP would be voted on after a couple games into the season and the Super Bowl would happen after Week 4. It sure seems that sportswriters would like this because they love to jump to conclusions very early in the year.

Bill Belichick -- as evidenced by his hilariously rude inability to acknowledge rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez after the game -- will only get meaner.

Being mean has absolutely nothing to do with winning football games. The Patriots do not win football games at an inverse rate with how mean Bill Belichick can be to others.

And barring cataclysmic injuries, his Patriots will get better. But they'll never be what they were.

This is just a dumb premise. "What they once were" is the best team of the 2000's, so they will never be the best team of this decade (I don't like judging things like this by the way) again. Will they be Super Bowl Champs ever again? I think it is a bit early to say no. So the Patriots very well could be what they once were again, which is Super Bowl champs. I hate defending the Patriots since they have broken my heart in the past but the truth is the truth.

Maybe now you know why Belichick ran off the field with a second still on the clock against the Giants in Arizona. I'd say he already understood what's taken everybody else so long to comprehend, that the 2007 Patriots would go down as the best team never to win a Super Bowl.

At that point I don't think Belichick cared if the Patriots were 10-6 during the season. They had made the Super Bowl and lost it in heartbreaking fashion. I would think that would be foremost on his mind at that point.

In fact, Ryan's defense looks to be doing wonders for the Jets and their self-esteem. But it's not as if Brady and the Patriots had never seen it before. But they had not seen the Ryan defense with the personnel the Jets have. In the 12th game of their undefeated regular season, the Patriots went on the road to play the Baltimore Ravens, its defense also coached by Ryan. To that point, it was New England's toughest test of the season, as Brady had to come from behind to win, throwing his 41st touchdown of the season to Jabar Gaffney with 44 seconds left.

Way to completely undermine your original point that the Patriots were on a decline by mentioning the best team the Patriots ever fielded during the regular season had the same problem with the Rex Ryan defense the 2009 Patriots saw on Sunday. If the 18-1 2007 Patriots had trouble with the Rex Ryan defense then it may not be a sign of trouble the 2009 Patriot team lost to a Rex Ryan defense.

Sanchez was 11-for-17 with a touchdown in the second half. Brady threw 24 incompletions, more than the Jets attempted the entire game.

Statistics that are meaningless are fun to quote!

On offense, they're relying on old guys at the skill positions. Sammy Morris is 32. Kevin Faulk is 33. Fred Taylor will be 34 in January. Joey Galloway turns 38 in November. Their best days are behind them.

This may very well be true, but not for the reasons Mark Kriegel just cited and not because they are 1-1 right now and don't look impressive. Apparently Tom Brady doesn't get a period of struggling to get back in the flow of the game as he gets back from having major knee surgery.

Knees that are torn up like that sometimes take 2 whole years to completely recover from, could that be the case here...or are the Patriots really old and on the decline? From a 18-1 season they really nowhere to go but down, but I don't think the evidence for the decline is a bad game against the Jets.

If you want another article that argues poorly that the Patriots, and mostly Tom Brady, are done, check out this article that was linked by Go in the comments yesterday.

Apparently writing off the Patriots is the cool thing to do this week if you are a journalist. Last week the cool thing was to make fun of Jake Delhomme and you haven't seen a whole lot of articles talking about him since he played decently Sunday. The same thing could very happen this week if the Patriots beat the Falcons. Sportswriters tend to shut up once they have been even semi-proven incorrect.

-It disgusts me what is happening with me and my opinion of Gregg Doyel. I actually am starting to believe he is making some good points in 1 out of the 4 articles he writes every week...and this is the one for this week.

I don't want to copy everything I agree with but here is the premise for the article:

Cal was unranked. The Trojans were No. 3. That was the first of six losses to unranked Pac-10 teams the Trojans have suffered under Carroll, a trend that continued Saturday when No. 3 USC lost to Washington. Given how good USC has been under Carroll, that's a staggering number of losses to unranked teams.

Still, Carroll usually gets a pass from critics. He's a great coach. Almost everyone says so.

Meanwhile, at Ohio State, Tressel gets no such free pass. His teams mangle the teams they're supposed to mangle, but the Buckeyes have lost six consecutive games to opponents ranked in the top five, and the country laughs while the locals cry. Just last week, after Tressel's Buckeyes lost to Carroll's top five Trojans, OSU fans dumped their misery into Tressel's e-mail account, causing Tressel to mock them as being "already miserable ... there's no way they're happy."

He is saying that Jim Tressel is a better head coach because he beats the teams he is supposed to beat, while Pete Carroll's teams don't always do that. He thinks Tressel maximizes the talent he has, while Pete Carroll doesn't. This comes awful close to saying Pete Carroll has underachieved at USC (which is what dumbass Mike Lupica said), but it doesn't quite go there. It just recognizes the difference in the talent levels of each roster and what each coach is able to do with that talent level on his roster.

I think the two coaches are so close there is an argument to be made both ways, but it make sense to me to argue Tressel is a better head coach than Pete Carroll using this logic. Read the article and see if you disagree.

It boils down to which characteristic would you rather have in your favorite college football team...would you rather have your favorite team lose to unranked opponents on the road and win the bigger games or lose the bigger games and beat all the teams they are supposed to beat? I think Jim Tressel is getting a lot of crap for losing games when he shouldn't be. I know it is frustrating for OSU fans because OSU plays well and then loses big games. Pete Carroll does get taken off the hook a little bit. Most people have blamed Aaron Corp for the loss to Washington this past weekend and not blamed Carroll for not having his team ready to play.

-There was a college football pollster who ranked the teams in his weekly Top 25 based on what they had actually done so far this year so far. I actually really like that idea. The preseason rankings are plain bull crap because those voting are just guessing at what they think the teams will do this year. It can be hard to rank these teams fairly but if the sportswriters can't think of a better system than the one they have now for preseason rankings, and they don't like the idea of actually voting for teams based on what they actually have done during the college football season, then I think Top 25 voting should start in Week 5 when we actually know how good the teams are. I think the same should go for college basketball. Preseason Top 25 lists are pretty much guesses that don't really serve a purpose other than to let a school's fans brag about how high that school is in the rankings. Why rank teams when you don't know how good they really are?

For example, Ol' Miss finally played a good team last night on the road.........and they lost. How the hell were they the #4 team in the country? If we ranked teams on what they have actually done or at least wait a couple of weeks to rank the teams then I think it would be slightly more fair and teams will be ranked based on their performance and not a sportswriter's perception of how good that team should be before the season.

Maybe Bill Simmons will write something super controversial today...either way, I am catching up with him in my own personal Pick 'Em war with him. He is currently blowing me away.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

28 comments I Liked Jim Rice Better Before He Got Into The HOF

UPDATE: It seems Joe Posnanski saw the exact same thing and is hopefully preparing a strong rebuttal that will probably blow the doors off mine. Stay tuned.

If theres one dude you dont want hearing about the smack you've been talking about Greinke, its Joe.

Hello everyone. Gosh, its been a long time since I've posted. Sorry, I've been busy with some things lately. What could possibly be more important than posting on a blog that I don't get paid to write on, you might ask? I'm glad you did. Well, I happened to be cruising car dealerships to look at cars and I stopped at one and came away with this beauty.




Yup, I bought a brand new 2010 Camaro, as you can see it proudly displayed in my mothers basement. But anyways I had to go through the pain in the ass process of getting it registered in NH to avoid getting killed by RI taxes, so I've been busy the past couple of weeks. Well, that and I've been playing Smokey and the Bandit with it since I got it.

Okay, now that I've got that out of the way, on to more important matters. Some of you might remember Jim Rice basically talking smack about Derek Jeter and a bunch of other ball players to some little league kids. In a nutshell it was along the lines of "they arent half as good as the players back in my day, I was dominant and feared, blah blah blah.....". Well, Mr. Rice has a blog and on it he made an interesting observation about Zack Grienke.

Greinke is a Good Pitcher-Not Dominant

To this I say: Jim Rice was a Good Ballplayer-Not Dominant. Really, Jim Rice? Now your going to start talking shit about Zack? This coming from the man who got elected into the HOF from a bunch of boston sportswriters lobbying the supposed "fear" he put into opposing pitchers? Nevermind the fact that Dick Allen, Albert Bell, hell, even Ron Santos has a better Cooperstown argument then you do.

Zack Greinke didn’t really impress me last night. He pitched well and maybe I caught him on a bad night, but to me he didn’t seem dominant.

Keeping in mind the fact that he is one start removed from having a Miguel Cabrera line drive hit him in the elbow, Zack threw six shutout innings, allowing only 2 hits, striking out 5 and walking 0. Maybe not his most dominant performance but, he did shut down one of the most potent lineups in the league. What? Theres more? Okay.

Greinke has may have the lowest ERA in the AL since Pedro Martinez in 2000, but he doesn’t strike me as the dominant force that Pedro was during his statistical peak.

Its kind of unfair to compare Greinke to a pitcher that had one of the most dominant pitching runs IN MLB HISTORY, dont you think, Jim? I mean, christ. After the game his ERA stood at 2.08. That is insane. He is 2nd in the league in K's and first in just about every meaningful statistic.

Don’t get me wrong, Greinke pitched very effectively but he was not the unhittable beast on the mound that Pedro or Clemens (or even Johan Santana) were during their reign of dominance.

Actually, I think I am getting you wrong. You are basically telling me that instead of being one of the best pitchers in the league, he is just.....meh. Not to mention, this is the only game you have seen him in this year. You know he does pitch to others teams besides those that reside in the AL East, right?

Side Rant: Why does it matter that he hasnt pitched that much to teams in the AL East? The AL Central has some really good hitters, too. Cabrera, Mauer, Morneau, Konerko, Thome (when he was still with the ChiSox), Beckham, Choo.....This seems to be the argument idiots make when saying they will not vote for him. Well, that and he doesnt have enough wins, which, I guess, is even stupider.

He only gave up two hits in 6 innings but struggled with his command and, with 5 strikeouts, it’s not like he was punching tickets up and down the Red Sox lineup

Yes. He struggled with his command WHILE WALKING ZERO BATTERS!!!!ZERO!!! He also struck out a little less than 1 per inning. What did you want, 10K's against one of the better hitting teams in the league? Plus he was one start removed from getting smacked on the elbow by a line drive. Man, Jim, its a good thing the HOF doesnt have the standards you have, eh?

He reminds me of a right-handed Roger Moret. He has that long and lean frame but good speed on his fastball and sporadic command.

Roger Moret: Career ERA+ 108. Career High ERA+ 128 Highest K Total: 111

Zack Greinke: Career ERA+120 Career High ERA+ sitting at 210 this year Highest K total: 229 and counting this year.

Where are the similarities? I mean, asides from them both having long and lean frames. Its like comparing Dustin Pedroia to David Eckstein (all hail the mighty ball of grit) even though the only thing similar is they are short and white.

How the fuck can you call Greinke good but not dominant based on one start? Jim Rice: Congrats on being elected into the HOF, but please stop writing stupid entries, such as this one, on your blog.