Saturday, July 31, 2004

breaking news

The Cubs just got Nomar. Here are the details I have right now:

Cubs get:
Nomar
Matt Murton

Red Sox get:
Orlando Cabrera
Doug Mientkiewicz

Expos get:
Alex Gonzalez
Francis Beltran
Brendan Harris

Twins get:
Justin Jones

Matt Murton was the Red Sox first round draft pick in 2003 and is reportedly a top outfield prospect in the Red Sox farm system. For his statistics (not that impressive) try this link:

http://www.soxprospects.com/players/murton-matt.htm


All those guys you've never heard of seem to be coming from the Cubs farm system. For stats on Brendan Harris, check out this link:

http://www.sports-wired.com/players/profile.asp?Name=FGAD


For stats on Justin Jones, check out this link:

http://www.sports-wired.com/players/profile.asp?Name=CBIED

Coaching Decisions

There are two just terrible, but predictable coaching blunders that have occurred in the past week that warrant their own mention here. The first relates back to Ricky William's retirement. The second relates to none other than Dusty Baker.

Immediately following his retirement I was discussing with a friend just how bad the Miami Dolhpins were going to be next year. Here were my thoughts:
Ricky Williams was overrated (he only averaged 3.5 yards per carry last year)
Travis Minor is underrated. Every time he has had to fill in he has been a really successful back; He was pretty dominant in college; He has good hands out of the backfield.
The rest of the Miami Dolphins offense could be on the verge of a breakthrough. Chris Chambers has been a much underrated receiver in the NFL for the past 2 years and is ready to have a break-out year and a become a member of the NFL's elite. On the other side the Dolphins are going to be lining up a rejuvinated David Boston. Boston is back in his college/early Arizona shape. He ditched his colored contact lenses that were messing up his vision. And he is just a huge weapon as a #2 receiver.
The Dolphins also acquired AJ Feely from Philadelphia. Now I am not sure I am that sold on the AJ, but with Feely and Fiedler it seems like they should at least be competent at QB.

So all of this meant, that they could actually be better than last year, if not just as good, so long as they changed their offense around to take advantage of the deep ball and their tremendous height, speed, and athleticism at WR. Dave Wandstadt's system has been the worst in the NFL for years. The pound it running attack just doesn't work without a really dominant offensive line, which Miami doesn't have. So I was thinking this could finally provide the incentive for the Dolphins to open up their air attack, attack downfield with the deep ball, and move into the 1990s of the NFL.

So I said all of this to my friend and then I said something like, "so I expect that they'll go 4-12. There are three reasons why Miami won't even be able to compete for .500 this upcoming year. The three reasons are:
1. Dave Wandstadt
2. Dave Wandstadt
3. Dave Wandstadt

Dave Wandstadt will never change his offense to suit the talent that he has. He is incapable of doing so. He doesn't even understand the NFL well enough to recognize the need to do so. There is no way he is going to keep his job until the end of this season."

Several hours later Peter King posted his article about Ricky Williams. He did an interview with Miami GM Rick Spielman. Here is what Spielman had to say:
MMQB: Will your offensive philosophy change?

Spielman: "I don't think so. Dave's philosophy is that you have a rock-solid
defense, and you complement it with a strong running game. We like to run the football. I'm sure we'll take into account the strengths of the guys we have
here and try to play to their specific skills."

So, in other words, Wandstadt wasn't going to change his offense! Shocking news! Who would have thought it.



So moving on the Cubs and Dusty Baker. In Tuesday's game against the Brewers, Dusty Baker did it again. He again managed to defy any form of logic and yet managed to escape with a win. The Cubs won, so I shouldn't complain, yet I feel the need to complain in our wins as well as our losses so that people don't think I am just serving as someone who looks back on our losses and disects them trying to find fault in Dusty's managerial decisions. He consistently makes terrible decisions. Both in wins and in losses. Sometimes they work out. Sometimes they have no effect. But more often than not, they end up costing us. Regardless of the result, I swear none of his decisions make any sense.

Tuesday's game against Milwaukee. Greg Maddux is pitching another masterpiece. He has pitched two straight complete games on a combined 200 pitches. The Cubs bullpen has already blown at least two games this week and continued to prove that it is indeed the worst bullpen in the league (check out the statistics....the Cubs bullpen ERA is higher than their starter ERA, that should NEVER happen). So it is the top of the 7th. The cubs are batting, with the 7-8-9 hitters coming up. The score is 4-1, with the Cubs up. Maddux has pitched 78 pitches. My roomate from college and I are discussing whether Maddux is going to pitch his third straight complete game. Patterson strikes out. Bako flies out. Two out. Maddux is due up. And what happens? What happens? Maddux never made it out of the on-deck circile. Tom Goodwin is brought in instead. Tom Goodwin. He of the .210 batting average. Maddux is batting .145. So think about this. Dusty decides to bring up a ground-ball hitting .210 batter with two outs in an inning instead of Maddux. I'll be generous and say that Goodwin will get on base 10% more than Maddux. Now the odds of a runner scoring from first with 2 outs in an inning are probably like 1/5. This means that Dusty Baker has just taken Maddux out of the game for a 1/50 shot of extending a three-run lead to a four-run lead. WHY!!!!! WHY!!!!!

I do realize that with a bullpen as bad as that of the Cubs, the difference between a three-run lead and a four-run lead can be significant. However, having to use that bullpen for an extra inning is fatal. The Cubs have 0 good pitchers in the bullpen. But they certainly don't have three innings worth of even major-league level pitchers in the bullpen. Hawkins can pitch for 1 inning. Merker/Remlinger/Farnsworth are lucky if they can pitch 1 inning of shut-out ball. There is nobody else down there. Dusty had just put the game in serious jeopardy for a 1/50 shot at an insurance run. Why not let Maddux pitch through at least the 7th and probably the 8th? He has been unhittable of late.

Wow!

Ricky Williams

Something I have not had a chance to blog about was the Ricky Williams situation. When the news first broke, my first thought was "wow." My second thought was that I felt really sorry for any fantasy football players who either played a league in which you carried players over from year to year or who had a really early fantasy football draft. Last year one of the fantasy leagues I participated in had a really really early draft. Michael Vick was the first player taken and he then went on to break his leg. The same could have occurred to Ricky Williams owners this year. Just shcoking news.

However, after those initial reactions, I tended to think that the retirement just made a lot of sense. When a player A) is sick of football B) has financial security for life C) wants to spend more time with his family and D) wants to pursue other things in life, it just makes a lot of sense for him to retire. Think abuot it. How many of you would continue to work at a job that you had grown sick of if you had financial security for life? When a mill-worker wins the lottery, he doesn't keep showing up at the mill every day. He quits the following day. So, I was actually supportive of William's decision and thought that it set a good precedent for professional athletes who are in fact more than athletic machines. I was thinking it was just selfish of us as fans to expect Ricky to continue to line it up every weekend, if he no longer had the passion.

My views on all of this have changed drastically in the week since this news broke. First, Ricky sold short his teamates. If he sold short his employer, that's fine. But his teammates is another issue. Even if he was too eccentric to consider his teammates his friends, he should have at least shown them some respect. Quitting at the last minute is just not fair to them.

Yet, it is the drug rumors that have really convinced me that this is not a man with higher aspirations in life. But, instead, a selfish, pot smoking, irresponsible, eccentric, ego-maniac. I don't buy the "I'm not quitting the NFL because I got caught smoking, I got caught smoking because I wanted to quit the NFL" line. His appeal for his 2nd marijuana offense lost just a week before his retirement. The third test that he failed also occurred in the week before his retirement. That is obviously the reason. He was facing a four game suspension for the 3rd offense and a $650,000 fine for the 2nd offense. That meant that if he stayed in the league he was going to have to work part of July, all of August, all of September, and part of October without getting paid a cent for it. And that he was going to have cough-up $650,000 to the NFL on top of that. The drug charges also explain the timing of his "retirement." Why else would he have sold out his friends and teammates by quitting at the last minute? There isn't another logical explanation. It had to be because of the timing of the drug charges against him.

The issue of Ricky's financial security is also up in the air. Reportedly, he could be forced to repay the Miami Dolphins over $8 million. He only earned $15 million in his career, so that is a pretty hefty sum. Something tells me that he hasn't been living like a monk and putting all of that money into his 401K. And, quite frankly, I think he may have burnt all of his bridges in the NFL community and possibly in the media too, so that he is going to have a hard time getting another football related job.

Ricky Williams is not Robert Smith, retiring early to go to medical school. He is not Jim Brown retiring early to be a civil rights activist and to preserve his body. I think he should swallow his pride, suck up the fines and suspension and return to the grid-iron in the fall. For the sake of his teammates. For the sake of his pocketbook. And because his entire "retirement" is fabricated on lies and it is the right thing to do. Plus, it would really help out some fantasy football players...

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Random Quick Hits and Links:

Welcome back Peter King. Your Monday Morning Quarterback articles were greatly missed while you were on vacation: Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback

Does this article remind anyone else of the opening scene from “The Last Boyscout”? Or is it just me? I mean, I don’t want to laugh at someone else’s death, but that just sounds insane. And the first thing I thought of was the opening scene from “The Last Boyscout” in which the star RB pulls out a gun and blows away all of the defenders between him and the end-zone.

Rob Neyer, an ESPN Insider columnist recently pointed out the website http://www.retrosheet.org/ to readers. It seems like an encyclopedia of baseball information. Perfect for any true statistics geek like myself.

Rey Ordonez has suddenly vanished from the Cubs roster. Proof that God may, in fact, actually exist. Some people would argue that the reason the Cubs are winning again is because they have all of their starters back in the line-up. I would argue that it was because of the positive karma from releasing Rey Ordonez.

Return of the Missing Blogger

Yes, I do realize that I have not posted a blog article in 4 weeks. Yes, I greatly regret that. Yes, I probably should have said I was going on vacation. Etc. Etc. Well, anyways, I was in New York on a business/pleasure trip that was all centered around cards, namely bridge. Now I have returned. Back to blogging.

Let’s start out with a hilarious excerpt from Jimmy Kimmel Live last night. Kimmel was doing a satellite interview with Mike Tyson. Tyson was in Louisiana for his fight against “Mr.No Name 3723.” After some small-talk and questions about the fight and about the fact that Tyson is prohibited from fighting in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Kimmel says something like, “so what do you think of Louisiana? And did you get that shirt while you were there?” Tyson is wearing some ridiculous Versace shirt that looks completely out of place on him. After he replies that he got the shirt in New York at Versace, Kimmel quickly uses that as a transition to talk about Tyson’s bankruptcy and all of the material things that he has had to give up. Which then leads them to Tyson’s white tigers. Which leads Kimmel to ask, “So were you scared by what happened to Roy Horn from Seigfried and Roy?” Tyson replies with something along the lines of, “No I wasn’t scared. I loved my tigers. I wish I still had them. I guess the fact that Roy got attacked is just proof that a tiger can never be truly domesticated.” Then he pauses, as though he actually knew what he was doing, and says, “but, you know Jimmy, most people would say I could never be domesticated either.” Just high comedy. There may never be another man quite like Mike Tyson.



Mike Tyson is always a tough act to follow. So, I am not sure what should go here. I’ll start a relatively mundane conversation about the best coaches in sports history. Last night on ESPN-621 they were doing a countdown of the best 25 coaches in the past 25 years. The fact that they were limiting things to the past 25 years takes a lot of the coaching legends out of contention. The list was nonetheless, still quite formidable. However, it had its fair shares of “you have to be kidding me” names as well. ESPN apparently doesn’t post these lists on the web. I managed to write down nearly all of the top 25 though, so I’ll post it later tonight. From memory, I think :

#1 Dean Smith
#2 Scotty Bowman
#3 Coach K
#4 Phil Jackson
#5 Pat Summit
#6 Bill Walsh
#7 Don Shula
#8 Joe Paterno
#9 Pat Riley
#10 Geno Aureiema
#11 Bill Parcells
#12 Joe Torre

Now, it is difficult to argue with Dean Smith, Scotty Bowman, Coach K, and even the Zen-Master. They did a pretty decent job at the top. However, there are some things I would like to add.

First, coaching football cannot even be compared to coaching any of the other sports. Comparing a football coach’s job to that of a baseball manager is like comparing Jessica Alba to Medusa. The comparison just doesn’t make any sense. Football coaches have to coach 50 players, they have an entire week to study film, practice, and prepare for each individual opponent, they have to devise enormously complicated game plans for both offense and defense, and once the game starts they have to rotate players effectively, manage the clock, make all of the play calls, and adapt when key players get injured almost every game. There is a reason that these guys have 15 assistants on their staff. So, based on that logic, I think that Bill Walsh, Don Shula, and Bill Parcells (as well as Joe Gibbs who was #14 and Jimmy Johnson who was #15) got sold really short. If I had to pick the #1 coach for the past 25 years, I would unquestionably select Bill Walsh. He forever changed the game of football.

The other really disturbing thing about this list is the presence of two Women’s Basketball coaches in the top 10. Now, not to discredit what Pat Summitt and Geno Auriema have done, but I have a couple of questions. First, “doesn’t someone have to notice that you are doing a good job coaching in order for you to be doing a good job coaching?” Second, “To be a truly legendary coach, don’t you have to be a household name?” Third, “Couldn’t Donald Duck manage the talent that you have had to a National Championship?” The whole thing doesn’t make any sense and reeks of political correctness. In order for them to be this high on the list it implies that they are better coaches than those lower on the list. If you want to tell me that Pat Summit could have been coaching Indiana for all those years and would have led the university to more wins than Bobby Knight did, I would just laugh. They are both basketball coaches, so it seems like a fair comparison doesn’t it. Please. Pat Summit and Geno coach in a game with a minute and very thin talent pool. They are able to monopolize the talent and that makes them great coaches? I am not buying that one bit. What would happen if there were only say 20 good male basketball players each year and that 7 went to Duke and 7 went to North Carolina, while everyone else had to fill-out their roster with middle-school players.? That is essentially collegiate women’s basketball. And, again for emphasis, if you passed by Geno Auriema in a bar would you know it? Didn’t think so. If you passed by Bill Parcells in a bar would you know it? Thought so.

Some noticeable omissions from the top 25 included: Bill Belicheck, Lute Olson, Jim Boeheim, Dick Vermeil, Denny Crum, Jerry Sloan, Brad Gilbert (Andre Agassi and Any Roddick’s coach), “Da Coach”, Jimy Williams (just checking to make sure you were awake), and others.

Looking back past the 25 year mark. It would be interesting to see where people thought, Vince Lombardi, Bear Bryant, John Wooden, and some of the other real legends would fit in here. And looking to the future, it would also be interesting to see where the likes of Bill Belicheck, Roy Williams, Bob Stoops, Nick Saban, and others would end up when it was all said and done.



My Sports Guy inspired thought of the day. Well, I am not sure if this is really Sports Guy inspired or not, but it is related to Sports Guy’s last article about the Fox MLB black-outs. TMQ is also always ranting about the NFL black-outs and the game selection. All pro sports need to figure out a way to get their acts together and provide the fans with both the highest quality of product and the one that the fans are most interested in. Doing this would just increase popularity, increase viewership, and increase ad revenue. It cannot possibly be that hard. Really it can’t. The fact that MLB blacks-out games even on its Direct TV baseball packages is unbelievable. Not even the NFL does that. The NFL just doesn’t allow you to buy their football packages in a reasonable manner.

I have no need to reiterate Sports Guy’s and TMQ’s rants however. So instead, I will use the blackouts as a lead-in to something that you probably hadn’t heard. Something about the NFL and black-outs that is just mind-numbingly stupid and over-the-top. Did you know that the NFL recently filed a lawsuit against Tivo, to try to stop Tivo from rolling out its new product line which allows you to copy a recorded TV program on to your computer. Here was the NFL’s logic. If someone with Tivo lived in a city in which a game was not blacked out. They would be able to watch the game, record it on their Tivo, simultaneously transfer it to their computer, upload it to the Internet, and transmit it to someone who lived in a city in which the game was not showing or was blacked-out. This would allow someone to watch a game in a city where it was blacked out, so Tivo is allowing for the NFL’s copyrighted material to be distributed in a way contradictory to NFL policy.

I really really wish I was making that one up. It is almost too idiotic to believe. Just mind-blowing. Here is my interpretation of the NFL’s position. “We know that fans want to watch games badly enough that they would ask a friend in another city to Tivo a game, transmit it to their computer, and then transfer it to them over the Internet. And that in addition to all of this work, that they’d be willing to tolerate a really bad lag, getting the game on a delay, and watching the game on their computer…All just to be able to see the game. Yet, instead of trying to please the fans, we will instead sue to make sure they can’t enjoy their Sunday afternoons.”

If I can find the article where I found information about this lawsuit I will post the link. The MPAA (Motion Pictures Association of America) was of course also involved in the lawsuit. I may actually have to e-mail the article to TMQ and Sports Guy as well as it is right in their wheelhouses.

Friday, June 25, 2004

NBA Draft:

So, the NBA Draft occurred last night...in case you missed it like the rest of America. If you did, well, you made the right decision. It was an entirely uninteresting and uneventful affair. Just thought I'd add in my two cents on the event:

Steal of the draft:
Lionel Chalmers - 33rd pick by the Clippers. I can't believe that I just gave the Clippers the steal of the draft. That is like complimenting John Belushi's character in Animal House for a stellar class attendance record. Have the Clippers ever had a good draft pick before? Probably not, but I guess miracles do occur. They'll probably trade Chalmers and then he'll blossom somewhere else. I really think he was a fantastic pick though. Anyone who saw him play in the A-10 Tourney or the NCAA Tourney knows that he has game, he is lightning quick, he plays great defense, and he's unselfish. Plus he has four years of college ball, to help him adjust to the NBA game. I really like the pick.

Second best steal of the draft:
Jameer Nelson at #20 was a nice pick-up for the Magic (he was actually drafted by the Nuggets and then traded to the Magic). I was debating Jameer Nelson with a friend the other day and this was our conclusion, "he is the second coming of Derek Fisher." No, seriously, he is. You can decide for yourself whether you think that is a good thing or not, but I'll argue it is. A guy who can put in 10-12 years in the league of productive play and be a role player on some really good teams. Nelson won't be a super-star, but he will be productive in the league for a long time.

Howard vs. Okafor:
I don't have much to say on either of these guys. I don't think that either of them really warrants a #1 selection. In a draft with "normal" talent levels I think Howard and Okafor would fall in the three-to-five range in the draft. I think I'd have taken Okafor, but I am not sure how well his game will convert to the NBA. Who does he compare to? Howard is an unknown...he could become something, but I'm not willing to bet on it. When in doubt, I say go with an experienced player, who is going to be on the Olympic Team this summer as opposed to a high-schooler. I really don't see either of them as future greats though. And Emeka, let me give you the round of applause that you most definitely deserve. It has been great to watch you play in college. Your game was perfect for the college level: very team-oriented, smooth, and full of heart and desire. I am glad you cut down the nets this year. And I am glad that you got a degree.

You call these guys point guards:
Have three "point" guards ever been take in the top-five before? I think it is definitely a sign of how diluted the talent in this draft was that Gordon, Livingston, and Harris all got drafted in the top-five. Normally, Gordon and Harris would have dropped to the end of the lottery because they were tweeners who don't really have a position and because, well, they are too short for the NBA game. They are averaged sized point guards in the NBA, but the problem is that neither of them is really a point guard. That would definitely have caused these guys to slip in the past. I guess the NBA game has deteriorated to the point where if you can score one-on-one that is all that really matters though. So these guys got drafted high. Livingston is my guess to be the best player in the draft. I don't really consider any of the other top-five picks as future all-stars. My god, what just happened, someone pinch me...I have now complimented both of the Clipper's picks. Is this a nightmare or is it an alternate universe?

Best draft commentary:
Normally I like Tom Tolbert about as much as Joan Rivers likes Tolbert's wardrobe, in other words, not at all. However, watching a draft recap on ESPN last night, he made a really darn good point that is worth repeating. All of the high school kids are really hurting the NBA in a number of ways. Not only are they hurting the league by not working on their fundamentals and by eating up team's salary caps before they are able to produce, but they are also stealing roster spots from veteran players. In the past, a team might go 10 players deep, but they don't any more. Most people think that it was expansion that watered down the league, but I think that it is the fact that the "reserve" spots on a team's bench are now taken up by players who entered the league too early and therefore aren't able to perform. Depth hurts in more ways than on the court too. If you don't have 12 guys capable of performing on your roster, you won't be able to practice as effectively as the competition in practice will be minimal. Plus, you lose out on veterans, who have been around the league, to explain their success to the youngsters, act as player-coaches, and keep everyone out of trouble. These veteran role players now either have to sign as assistant coaches or try to make it as a broadcaster because teams need to find roster spots with which they can baby-sit their high school phenoms, for a couple of years down the line. If the NBA isn't going to create a minor-league system for these guys, they ought to expand NBA rosters.

Best web commentary:
I have to hand it to CBS Sportsline for this feature. For every guy taken in the first-round they gave an NBA comparison. Their comparison for the Celtics first pick Al Jefferson was Lonny Baxter. “Wow”, is all I have to say to that.

Second rounders really aren’t worth much:
The Magic had a decent draft. They got both Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard, yet I am still confused about a move they made in the 2nd round. They just went out and sold a second round pick to the highest bidder. They didn’t get any future pick compensation and they didn’t get any player compensation. They just sold it for cash. I guess they were taking the, “we had the worst team in the league last year, but we don’t need an additional player or anything, so I’ll just pad my pockets a little if you don’t mind” approach to the draft. I liken that trade to someone in last place in a fantasy football league striking a deal with a player in contention in which the last place owner says, “I’ll give you all the players on my team if, when you win the league, you refund my entry fee from your winnings.”

Did the Denver Nuggets have a good draft:
The Nuggets either had a 0% success rate on the players they drafted or an infinitesimal success rate on the players they drafted. They went 0/0, not drafting anybody. Not sure about that one. I am a Nuggets fan, as I’ll support Carmelo anywhere he goes after he won the Cuse a National Championship, so I think I would have liked to see the Nuggets put another piece into the mix. They have a young team with a tremendous amount of talent, so they at least should have traded the pick for a veteran player, rather than a future first rounder. Though, the Magic could be horrible for a long time to come, so maybe that future first rounder will be a top-five pick.

Thinking About Fantasy Football:

Pro Football Weekly just released an article available to ESPN Insiders entitled "Whispers from around the NFL." Here are some of the whispers that are noteworthy and could impact Fantasy Football teams in the fall:


  • Dolphins WR David Boston has reportedly suffered depth-perception problems the past two seasons. The cause? Colored contact lenses. It seems that the enigmatic Boston wore contacts colored red, purple or blue as a fashion statement. It took Dolphins WR coach Jerry Sullivan and trainer Kevin O'Neill to alert him to the problem. After wearing clear contacts in Miami's most recent minicamp, Boston admitted that he was picking the ball up quicker.

  • New England OLB Rosevelt Colvin is coming along slowly from the season-ending dislocated left hip he suffered in Week 2 last year. He performed some drills in the team's recent minicamp but still isn't close to running contact drills. If the Patriots aren't satisfied with his progress in training camp, we hear that Colvin could go on the physically-unable-to-perform list, knocking him out of the first six weeks of the season.

  • We hear that second-year Bengals WR Kelley Washington has impressed the team with his play in minicamp and workouts. Other Bengals standouts: RB Kenny Watson, who looks faster than he did a season ago, and backup QB Jon Kitna, who is throwing the ball as well as he did in 2003.

  • While Browns head coach Butch Davis has said WR Dennis Northcutt will get a chance to challenge starting WRs André Davis and Quincy Morgan for a starting job, a source close to the Browns believes the 5-11, 175-pound Northcutt would be unable to hold up in a full-time role.

  • Saints WR Donté Stallworth will go into training camp as the No. 2 receiver behind Joe Horn after reporting in excellent shape – he has roughly 3 percent body fat – but Stallworth still has to work on his hands to keep the job.

  • Newly acquired QB Chris Chandler has opened eyes in the Rams' offseason camps with his strong arm and on-the-money deep passes.


So to summarize: David Boston has to be among professional sport's biggest idiots, Kelley Washington looks like a sleeper WR pick, nobody has any idea what to expect from Donte Stallworth, and Chris Chandler could be worth a late rounder.

Follow Up on Rey:

Few more quick notes on Rey Ordonez after last night:
1) The Cubs lost the game 4-0. Ordonez was responsible for all 4 runs scoring in the game and was also a big part of the reason why the Cubs failed to score. Dusty is a genius I tell ya!

2) Here is some insightful fantasy analysis from CBS Sportsline:
"Fantasy Analysis:
Ordonez is only 3-for-31 (.097) since joining the Cubs. He is not worth using in any Fantasy league until he starts hitting more consistently.
(Updated 06/13/2004)."
Now, that is why they get paid the big bucks. To inform us that a guy hitting 0.097 isn't worth using. Honestly guys, his own mother released him from her fantasy team way before you made that posting. Heck, he probably released himself. To use a line from the Sports Guy, there's comedy, there's high comedy, and then there's telling someone that Rey Ordonez isn't worth starting in a fantasy league. Sadly, in the fantasy league that is MLB, the Cubs are still starting him. I guess they didn't get the memo.

3) From the same CBS Sportsline page, is the information that Rey Ordonez is ranked 54th among shortstops in the league. Cesar Crespo is ranked 47th for those of you scoring at home.

4) The idea to subtract a player's fielding percentage from 1, is NOT completely arbitrary. The number that you come up with has actual meaning. It isn't just because I am a math geek and like subtracting numbers from 1 that I decided to perform this operation. Here is what Rey Ordonez has accomplished in simpler terms, "Rey Ordonez makes more errors per fielding opportunity than he gets hits per AB." That's the real meaning in the analysis I was doing.

5) I figured out the slugging percentage vs. OBP argument. Slugging Percentage is Total Bases / AB. It is not ( Total Bases + Walks + HBP ) / Plate Appearances as it really ought to be. So a walk has no effect on one's slugging percentage.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

A first in MLB history?

I am writing to you from the 4th inning of tonight's Cubs/Cards game with some exciting news. Though I do not have the resources to prove it, I believe that Rey Ordonez has just accomplished something that may never have been done before.

First, a little background information. The Chicago Cubs team has been riddled with injuries all year. Prior, Wood, Sosa, Grudzielanek, Remlinger, Borowski, Gonzalez, and others have all gone down. Included in the list of injuries I just gave is the Cubs' starting middle infield Gonzalez and Grudzielanek. As a result of these injuries the Cubs team has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for a starting SS. First they signed Damien Jackson, whose greatest MLB moment was colliding with Johnny Damon in last years ALDS and concussing him. After Jackson got off to an ever so exciting 1/15 start at the plate, the Cubs released him and signed Rey Ordonez instead.

Rey Ordonez was free to be signed at the end of April or the beginning of May; they didn't even need to trade for him; he couldn't even get a minor league job anywhere. And yet, he is now a prominent player on the Cubs's roster. Dusty Baker, here's a hint, "there's a reason why he was available...it may be that he can no longer play."

So Ordonez has been playing and he has been struggling mightily. Here are some fun numbers for the fans from CBS Sporstline’s web page: http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/players/playerpage/7947
His slugging percentage is under .115. His batting average has actually dropped below 0.080. He doesn't walk very much at all, so his OBP is a stellar .130. You may notice some impressive things amongst his numbers. A) His OBP is actually higher than his slugging percentage. B) His OPS is under .250 C) Well let's go back to A) for a second. How is it possible for a player's slugging percentage to be lower than his OBP? I am really not sure how it is possible. According to CBS Sporstline's information on him, he has 3 hits, 2 walks, and 4 total bases for the season. I am looking for an explanation of that. Let’s just say that it is safe to say he isn’t getting too many extra base hits.

However, I seem to have been distracted on a tangent. Sadly, before I get back to the main point, there is another tangent that must be covered. Why in god's name is Dusty Baker still giving this man playing time? He always seems to come to the plate in key situations too and last night was the first time all year I have seen Dusty Baker pinch hit for him (note that he was pinch hit for in the 9th with nobody on, when down by 1, when I have seen him bat with the bases loaded in the 8th in a tie game). Really, when he comes to the plate, as a Cubs fan, I just hope for the strikeout. If he strikes out at least the out is recorded, the game can continue, and the damage isn't that bad. Why would Dusty Baker ever play him? In an attempt to answer that question, most people say, "while isn't he a gold glove winning defensive player?" The answer to that is “yes, he is,” but that was a very different Rey Ordonez. The Ordonez of the mid-to-late 90's on the Mets couldn't hit a lick, but was a phenom defensively and was always fun to watch. Ordonez has lost a step since then and actually has the lowest fielding percentage on the Cubs' roster. The Cubs have one of the top defensive teams in the league and coming into today's game Ordonez had a fielding percentage of .946. Not .9946, .9846, or even .9746, but .946.

Ok, so now getting back to today's game. Bottom of the 2nd, the Cubs have runners on 1st and 2nd with one out and Patterson at the plate. He hits a single to center and Wendall Kim decides to give Sosa the green light and waive him home. Sosa gets tossed out at the plate and Cubs Nation lets out a collective groan. However, I realize that it was well worth the risk because Ordonez was on deck, so having the bases loaded and 1 out, still means that we are going to score zero runs in the inning. As I always say, "Better to have tried to make it home and failed, than to have let Ordonez bat and failed anyway." (Well, I don't always say that, but it does sound good doesn't it?)

So, now, fast-forward to the 4th inning. At this point I am conversing with my brother and complaining that Ordonez is in the game. I am having the always enjoyable debate, "who's the worst player in baseball, Rey Ordonez or Cesar Crespo." Unfortunately, it isn't much of a debate as whoever I am debating with makes an argument for Crespo, I make an argument for Ordonez, compare Crespo’s numbers to Ordonez’s numbers and then whoever I am arguing A) has a seizure when they realize how much better Crespo is, B) has a nervous break-down when they realize how much better Cresp is C) faints, or D) asks for mercy. While I was having this debate I came across an interesting finding. Rey Ordonez had nearly done the impossible. He was approaching a futility milestone that I can’t imagine has ever been reached in the entire history of MLB. He had nearly gotten 1 – his fielding percentage to be higher than his batting average. Read that again please, it’s worth another look, 1 – his fielding percentage was almost higher than his batting average. Coming into today’s game they were .088 and .946. Meaning that 1 - .946 is 0.054, almost as high as his batting average. I was very excited by this realization, but then got distracted by the game again.

It seemed like the 4th inning was serving as an instant replay of the 2nd: Runners on 1st and 2nd, one out, Sosa on 2nd, and Patterson at the plate. Again he singled to center. This time, Wendall Kim, apparently learning from the 2nd inning, held Sosa at third, hereby violating the theorem "Better to have tried to make it home and failed, than to have let Ordonez bat and failed anyway." It did mean that Ordonez was up with the bases loaded and only one out. At this time, I swear on my own life, on my love of the game of bridge, on anything and everything I hold dear, that I really did tell my brother:

jsnoop36 (9:08:16 PM): Wendall held up the stop sign this time
jsnoop36 (9:08:25 PM): so now Ordonez can end the inning
jsnoop36 (9:08:29 PM): good job Wendall
jsnoop36 (9:08:30 PM): good job
jsnoop36 (9:08:42 PM): I am hoping for a strike-out
jsnoop36 (9:08:46 PM): so that the pitcher can get up
jsnoop36 (9:08:58 PM): that way we'll at least have a shot for some runs
my bro (9:09:08 PM): heh reasonable

Almost as soon as I had finished typing that, what happened? Ordonez hit into the inning ending double play. He couldn’t even hit it to an infielder, instead just to the pitcher for a 1-2-3 double play. Inning over. No runs scored. So the Cubs had three hits in the 2nd, three hits in the 3rd, and no runs scored. Ordonez had been up to bat twice, had five men on for his two ABs and had accounted for three outs. Amazing!! Here’s the Instant Messenger recap:

my bro (9:09:21 PM): when my friends and i play baseball
jsnoop36 (9:09:25 PM): nope
jsnoop36 (9:09:26 PM): double play
my bro (9:09:28 PM): we have one kid who is SO consistently bad
jsnoop36 (9:09:30 PM): holy ****ing shit
my bro (9:09:35 PM): that we often call for the intentional strikeout
my bro (9:09:39 PM): rather than intentional walk
jsnoop36 (9:09:49 PM): Ordonez did just hit into the double play
jsnoop36 (9:09:54 PM): you do realize that
jsnoop36 (9:09:58 PM): I told you I was hoping for the K
jsnoop36 (9:10:00 PM): but no
jsnoopie36 (9:10:03 PM): he couldn't even ****ing do that

But yet, other players in MLB history have been this bad. Some may have even been nearly this bad in all aspects of the game (both at the plate and in the field). They are few and far between, I assure you, but there have been others whose performance rivaled that of Rey Ordonez’s. However, the fourth inning was not yet over. Ordonez still had some work to do in the bottom of the 4th.

In the bottom of the 4th I decided I needed to examine Ordonez’s fielding statistics more closely to determine how close or how far he was from actually managing to get the inverse of his fielding percentage to be higher than his batting average. To my delight, he had had only 37 fielding opportunities this season, meaning that each error he makes is worth nearly .030 off of his fielding percentage. Considering he had just successfully lowered his batting average (a near impossible task when you are batting 0.080), that meant Rey Ordonez was a single error away from, what has to be, one of the most embarrassing milestones of all time.

I’ll give you the play-by-play:
Puljos is hit by a pitch
Rolen singles
Edmonds grounds out while advancing the runners (a greatly undervalued play)
Lankford is intentionally walked
Luna hits a grounder to Rey Ordonez….

Yes, yes, what you are all thinking really did happen. He booted the sure double play ball. Allowing one run to score. The Cardinals went on to score 4 that inning, whereas if he had fielded it cleanly, it would have been a double play and Clement would have gotten out of the inning unscathed. And Ordonez was charged with the error.

So, a quick recap of the game. Ordonez is 0-2 with 2 inning-ending groundouts, one of which was a double play; he has left five base runners on base; and he has committed an error that cost the Cubs four runs. And, yet, after it all, here I am writing and grinning from ear-to-ear as Ordonez had done it. He had reached the milestone and, god willing, the roster release and immortality that should come with it. 1 – his fielding percentage was actually higher than his batting average. Remember this moment, you may never see it again, at least not for a player with 15 games logged in the season.

It literally happened as I was typing….here is my reaction:

jsnoop36 (9:17:52 PM): hmmmm, yeah, Ordonez is 1 error away
jsnoop36 (9:17:55 PM): from making it happen
jsnoop36 (9:17:59 PM): that is awesome
my bro (9:18:01 PM): hehehe
jsnoop36 (9:18:03 PM): YES!!!!
my bro (9:18:04 PM): that's hilarious
jsnoop36 (9:18:04 PM): YES!!!!
jsnoop36 (9:18:05 PM): he did it
my bro (9:18:07 PM): he got it?
jsnoop36 (9:18:07 PM): he did it
jsnoop36 (9:18:13 PM): he just gave up a run too
my bro (9:18:15 PM): that's impressive
jsnoop36 (9:18:19 PM): with a fielding error
jsnoop36 (9:18:20 PM): my god
jsnoop36 (9:18:35 PM): he got a double play ball
jsnoop36 (9:18:38 PM): with the bases juiced
jsnoop36 (9:18:42 PM): and managed to record 0 outs

Go U Northwestern!

"Go U Northwestern" is the name of the Northwestern University fight song. I just thought I would give a little bit of love (though I am not sure that this is love) to my alma matter as they have been in the news the past couple of days. The Northwestern University football team just got voted the 2nd worst team of the past 25 years by ESPN. The fans of ESPN Page 2, also managed to vote The Cats as the 3rd worst football team of all time. You can check out this list here:
http://espn.go.com/page2/s/list/colfootball/teams/worst.html

To quote from that article:
The Wildcats were in the midst of a 34-game losing streak (the longest in Division I-A history) during the 1981 season, when they lost all of their games, getting outscored 505-82 -- an average of 40 points a game. Northwestern fans celebrated a 61-14 home loss to Michigan State by tearing down the goalposts and marching through Evanston shouting, "We're the worst!" After the Wildcats ended their losing streak, defeating Northern Illinois 31-6 on Sept. 25, 1982, coach Dennis Green said, "When I woke up this morning, I knew it was a special day."

Oh, the memories.

On ESPN's list of the 25 worst teams of all time, we even got back-handed mentioning from Michael Wilbon (a fellow alum). While discussing Prairie View, the worst team of all-time, Wilbon said something along the lines of "while I was at Northwestern, we went 3-34, but that is nothing when compared to what Prairie View went through."

To summarize, there was a point in Northwestern's not too recent football history in which the team was so bad that they couldn't collect money for throwing their games.

Random Links:

Due to having no time to actually write, I am just going to post some random sports related links that might have been flying under the radar:

Great article by Dennis Dodd of CBS Sportsline:
http://www.sportsline.com/collegebaseball/story/7441941

Insults the BCS and points out the tremendous hypocrisy of the Big-10 and other power conferences in collegiate athletics. Personally, I love nothing more than when a hypocrite is exposed. Well written too.

Article off of ESPN Page 2 by Darren Rovell:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=rovell/040623

Apparently there is a 7'11" NBA prospect who can write in modern Latin, but speaks a tongue that linguists thought had gone extinct. He may or may not be drafted in tonight's NBA draft, has never shot a FT, and weighs about 260 pounds. His "agent" can't even converse with him. Pretty interesting.

Article off of ESPN though other sites were reporting it as well:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1825927

The Padres really made some great use of their #1 draft pick in this year's draft. Not only did they not draft one of the two sure-fire prospects because both prospects had signed Scott Boras as their agents, but the guy they did draft, Matt Bush, doesn't seen to be turning out that great. They draft the local kid an entire round too high (yes they would have had a shot to get him with their 2nd round pick rather than the #1 pick in the draft) and then they find out he is Mike Tyson reincarnated. Way to get arrested for biting a bouncer when he is trying to throw you out of a club because you are only 18 and are drinking. Good job! And, by the way, how does human flesh taste?

Here is a CNN article proving Sports Guy's point that poker has gone too far:
Click Here for article

If someone could explain to me how Ben Affleck winning a celebrity poker tournament warrants a headline in the lead stories section of CNN.com, I'd be all ears. Celebrity poker could be the least interesting, most annoying, and most painful to watch thing on TV. I think I'd rather watch a "Days of Our Lives" marathon. And trust me, to watch a Days of Our Lives marathon I would need to be bound to the couch with my eye lids forced open.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

NBA Addition by Subtraction via Expansion:

The NBA Expansion draft is coming up tonight and the Charlotte Bobcats are in the unique and intriguing position of being the team drafting in an expansion draft. Just think about all the offers they must be getting. According to ESPN.com, the rules of the expansion draft are as follows:

1) Unrestricted free agents are ineligible for the expansion draft.
2) Each team can protect up to eight players. A team with fewer than eight players on its roster to protect (because of free agents) still must leave at least one player unprotected.
3) The Bobcats must select a minimum of 14 players and can select a maximum of 29 overall.
4) The Bobcats can select only one player from any single NBA team.
5) The Bobcats are not bound to the salary cap during the draft. They can take on as many contracts as they choose. However, once the draft is over, any players they've drafted and keep on the roster will count toward their cap (which should be around $29.5 million next season, 66 percent of the full cap number).
6) If the Bobcats waive a player selected in the expansion draft before the first day of the regular season, the player's remaining contract will not count against the team's salary cap.
7) Restricted free agents selected in the expansion draft automatically become unrestricted free agents.
8) Teams are allowed to entice the Bobcats to select players by offering cash (up to $3 million), draft picks or agreeing to additional trades in return.
9) If a team has a player selected by the Bobcats, it receives a trade exception equal to the player's 2004-'05 salary. This allows teams to replace a player lost in the expansion draft with another player of comparable salary.

Think about what those rules really mean. Any team can make any bribe imaginable to get the Bobcats to draft their player and then the Bobcats can just cut the player at no cost. Absolutely amazing. How does a guaranteed contract all of the sudden become unguaranteed? Doesn’t the players union care about this? What if Christian Laetner gets selected and then cut? He then just loses out on his $6.2 million contract, when the most he could sign for now would be a $2.5 million exemption and that is only if he is really lucky. I am really shocked that the player’s union would allow such a situation to exist, but from a fan’s perspective and from a team with cap problem’s perspective the expansion draft is a blessing. Think about the relief that the Mavericks could get if the Bobcats were to draft Antoine Walker or the relief the Knicks could get if anyone on their team was drafted. It is just a mesmerizing situation. Teams, which under normal conditions, would have had to cross their fingers and hope that Danny Ainge decided he wanted to take on their worst contract for some unknown reason, now have a “Get out of jail free card.” To play this card, all they need to do is use some good old-fashioned bribery. And the bribery is legal, even encouraged by the rules.

I do however, have a set of interesting questions. If a player’s contract is guaranteed EXCEPT if he is drafted by a new expansion team, shouldn’t the league find a way to “expand” every year so that they can rid themselves of the worst NBA contracts and provide a better quality of product to the fans? I propose that the team that finishes in last place every year gets to take part in an “expansion draft” by which they can select unprotected players off of other teams rosters according to these same rules. It would lead to more parity in the league (due to all the bribes the last place team would be able to pick up), while also allowing teams to legally void contracts written to the Grant Hills and Vin Bakers of the world. Plus it adds entertainment to the league because, as a fan, is there really anything more satisfying than a “Dispersal Draft?” The fan gets to see some entirely unproductive, tremendously overpaid, sloth, who has been dragging an entire team down, get what he deserves, a spot in the unemployment line.

Also, I think that David Stern should step in and make an exemption to the teams “can select only one player from any single NBA team” rule, on behalf of the Knicks. As Sports Guy always notes, miraculous things always happen between the league and the Knicks. I think this situation would be perfect. Stern could give the Knicks an exemption to the one-player rule and then the Knicks could trade their next five first-round draft picks to the Bobcats in exchange for the Bobcats drafting their entire team. It would be high comedy. It would allow the Knicks to start over as a franchise. It would help the Bobcats with all the first round draft picks. It may even put a scare into some of the seriously overpaid players in the league and put an end to the ridiculousness that is guaranteed contracts. I can see no downside

If Mr.Stern really gets motivated, he could even use the expansion draft to eliminate the entire WNBA. Couldn’t NBA team owners put their WNBA teams on the unprotected list, so that the Bobcats could draft the WNBA franchise and then waive it immediately? The possibilities really are endless.

Only in the NBA does 12 – 1 = 13.

Shout Out To a Fellow Blogger:

One of my good friends from way back has a college basketball blog of his own that I thought I would point out. Check out Yoni Cohen's college basketball blog at:
http://collegeball.blogspot.com

Monday, June 21, 2004

Busting Buster:

Last week Buster Olney a baseball analyst for ESPN.com personally offended me by writing about the American League supremacy in MLB. His article can be viewed at: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=olney_buster&id=1822609

The reason I took offense to this was that he had, based on a small and heavily biased sample size declared the AL the better of the two leagues. I do believe that the AL is likely the better league this year, but I completely disagreed with his arguments that the AL was superior because they had beaten the NL 53-33 in the first round of interleague games. The reason that I found this conclusion to be incorrect was that ALL 86 games were played in AL ballparks. Now, normally in baseball there is an advantage to playing at home: you get home-cooked meals, better sleep, don't have to travel, and are familiar with the ballpark. Yet in interleauge play, the homefield advantage is magnified tremendously. The reason for the added homefield advantage is that AL teams are geared around a DH and have a player on their roster who fits the DH role to a T. When the games are played in the NL, the NL has the extra advantage because the NL pitchers are more accustomed to hitting than the AL pitchers. Among a huge laundry list of reasons, the added homefield advantage is a reason why both interleague play and the DH rule should be abolished.

So here was Olney proclaiming AL supremacy after the AL had beaten the NL, while playing all of the games at home. I figured I would wait until after the completion of interleague play before offering a complete rebuttal of his arguments. Now that interleague play is over, I have been vindicated.

The interleague games played in NL ballparks resulted in a 46-38 victory for the NL. This shaved a significant chunk of the AL lead away. I would hope that this would be enough to disprove Olney's point, but I decided to go the extra mile and do the statistical calculations on my own. Here were the results:
170 Games played
91 Games won by the AL
85 Games won by the AL as the expected average

Based on these numbers and a 95% confidence level the AL winning 91 games is not statistically significant. In fact, for the result to have been statistically significant the AL would have needed to have won 96 games, so they weren't even all that close. For all of you geeks out there: http://www.mathsnet.net/asa2/modules/s33binom.html

N is 170
p is 0.5
m is 85
variance is 42.5
std deviation is 6.519
And we are using a one-tailed test.

Really, just think about it, the AL won 6 games more than average. Included in these results are the Devil Rays who just went 6-0 in NL ballparks and they went 11-1 overall. That is clearly a statistical anomaly, so really no conclusion can be drawn about the superiority of either league based on interleague play. Just let each league's best team face off in October and decide it for real. Yes, sadly, you did read that right, the Devil Rays went 11-1 in interleague play. The only remaining question is not, "if" but "when" they will be passing the Red Sox for 2nd place in the AL East.

A very very interesting article that I came across from a sabrematician while I was looking for past results on interleague play can be seen here: http://knology.net/~johnfjarvis/hailg.html. At the very top he notes the extra advantages the NL and AL teams have at home in interleague play. One interesting point is that the advantage for the AL teams is more significant than the advantages for the NL teams. When you think about it, this does make sense because NL pitcher hitting is so bad anyway that the difference between NL pitcher hitting and AL pitcher hitting is minimized.

While we are on the topic of baseball and baseball statistics. What were the odds of the Expos scoring 17 runs in a single game this weekend? Is the Chicago White Sox pitching really that bad? The Expos had averaged exactly 3 runs a game before their 17 run explosion. Anyone with time and an interest in statistics, I do want to know the likelihood of the Expos exploding for 17. But alas, that will have to be for another day...

Dusty Baker 101:

Does everyone else agree that there is a crisis going on with baseball managers and their game management (or lack thereof) skills? I have been following the Cubs very closely this season and there is a recurring trend. This trend rears its ugly head about once a game in the form of an absolutely mind-numbing decision by Cubs manager Dusty Baker. Now, I like Dusty Baker as a manager. I credit him with taking the Cubs to the playoffs last year, keeping the team in the hunt despite a near historic rash of injuries this year, and in general keeping the Chicago Cubs in top form. However, I think there is an absolutely desperate need for him to acquire a bench coach to help him manage the actual games.

His three worst transgressions this year are:
1) Twice he has let a pitcher bat in the bottom of an inning and then replaced him before the top of the next inning.
2) In the bottom of the 10th inning in a tie game, after getting the lead-off runner on, he twice ordered sacrifice bunts, so that the Cubs would have a runner on 3rd and 2 out rather than a runner on 2nd and 1 out. He also did this to get to the always formiddable Damien Jackson (since released because he was batting 0.067) in the order.
3) He has batted Rey Ordonez second in the batting order, with a .300+ hitting Michael Barrett hitting 7th in the order and Ramon Martinez who has frequently batted 2nd in the Cubs order hitting 8th. It should be noted that Rey Ordonez was batting 0.088 at last check.

Now, in yesterday's game the Cubs were facing the Oakland A's. The Cubs' regular second baseman Mark Grudzielanek had recently returned from the injured list, as the Cubs' team continues to get healthy. Grudzielanek is a righty. The Cubs' backup 2nd baseman Todd Walker is a lefty. To set the record straight, Walker has filled in admirably for the Cubs and was a tremendous off-season pickup. Yet, in yesterday's game the Cubs were facing a left-handed pitcher Barry Zito. The A's are an AL team, so neither Grudzielanek nor Walker had much experience against him (the Red Sox didn't use Walker against Zito and the A's because, ironically enough, he can't hit lefties). So who would you start? Would you go righty vs. lefty or lefty vs. lefty?

Dusty went lefty vs. lefty, becoming the first manager I can remember who actually managed to get a platoon situation completely backwards. I just don't understand how this is possible. I was in Boston for a good part of last year and I know that one of the major reason that Walker was released by the Red Sox last year was because he is notoriously bad against left-handers. In 2003 Walker hit .234 against lefties and .301 against righties. Grudzielanek on the other hand, in 2003, hit .360 against lefties and .302 against righties. Walker's OBP against lefties last year was .282 while his OBP against righties was .352. Grudzielanek's OBP against lefties last year was .444 while his OBP against righties was .344. Maybe Dusty was confused because Walker throws right handed...maybe there is something on those toothpicks that Dusty chews on throughout every game...I am really not sure. Yet, he did get the platoon situation completely backwards. Does he just wake up in the morning and say to himself, "how can I defy the laws of statistics and probability today?" I really would like to know.

This story would not be complete without an update from the 7th inning though. In the 7th, Arthur Rhodes (another lefty) is now pitching for the A's as Todd Walker is scheduled to bat. So, what does Dusty do?? He pinch-hits Grudzielanek for Walker as the announcers chirp in with things like "this is a good move by Dusty, getting Grudzielanek in the game as he hits lefties much better than Walker." It was truly enough to drive one crazy.

There is, however, a happy ending to this story. Todd Walker did go 2 for 3 while scoring 2 runs. And the Cubs did win the game.

Cry me a river, hole me a putt:

Yesterday, the golf world was apparently turned on its head by the tough conditions at Shinnecock Hills for the 4th day of the US Open. The average round was a 78+ (on a par of 70) and 28 of 66 players failed to break 80. In post-tournament interviews all the players could do was gripe about "how unfair" the golf course was, how the USGA was destroying the game's integrity, and how they were forced into looking like a "bunch of idiots." For an article on the player reaction, read the following article: http://sports.espn.go.com/golf/usopen04/news/story?id=1825341

I have several questions here. First, the course might have been tough, but could someone please explain to me how it could possibly have been unfair? Second, why are golf players such wimps? Third, what is the point of having a par for a hole on a championship golf course?

Let's address the first question first. All 66 players were playing the same golf course weren't they? Doesn't that mean that all 66 players were up against the same conditions? Assuming the answers to those two rhetorical questions is "yes," then the golf course was fair. If the players were having a competition to shoot under par, then the course might not have been fair, but assuming the point of golf is to shoot a lower score than the players you are competing against, the tournament was most-definitely on the up-and-up. In golf you compete against others not the course. Enough said.

So, as has just been proven, the Championships were fair. The winner (Retief Goosen) shot a lower score than everyone else did, while competing under the same conditions. That is the point of competition and an accurate way to determine the best golf player. So why all of the whining?? I can only surmise that golf players are all spoiled and that all of their gigantic egos were hurt by the fact that they couldn't shoot par on this course. Really, you all just got paid millions of dollars because you are the best in the world at what you do, and when someone presents you with a new challenge, rather than tackle it head-on you just whine about it afterwards?? Being the best in the world at what you do means that you should be able to adjust to differences on the fly, overcome challenges, adversity, and bad weather conditions, and still win anyway. It does not give you the right to complain endlessly. If I were to have played on the same course I probably wouldn't have broken 200, so they are still the best in the world. They are still facing the same challenges. They are still hitting a small white ball, using a collection of metal clubs, and trying to get it into a tiny hole some set distance away. That is golf. So long as those conditions are met, just suck it up and play.

All of this has led me to one final question. What is the purpose of par?? If the par for a course is 70, but everyone shoots a 78, why is that in any way relevent? It just means that tournament directors misjudged the difficulty of their course. The whole concept of "this hole should take four strokes, so if you do it in three you are doing well, and if you do it in five you are doing badly" is relative. If you are golfing leisurely I agree and think that that makes sense for the course managers to give you some clue as to what you should expect on a given hole. In a golf tournament, it is completely irrelevent. The only thing that matters is how you do in comparison to the other players. What the tournament managers think, or the length of the hole shouldn't really be relevent. As golfers get more fit, balls get more aerodynamic, holes get longer, clubs get better, etc. par changes. A hole which is 450 yards may have been a Par 5 fifty years ago, but now it is a par 4. On some courses shooting par will give you a shot to win a tournament, on others you need to go -20 for the weekend to win the tournament. So why do they even bother to set par? Why does it matter? What is it supposed to be a representation of? All good players know that they need to shoot a 4 on an easy Par 5 hole, despite the fact it is a Par 5. And if par is irrelevent than what was all the whining about anyway?

Congratulations to Retief Goosen on a job well done.

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Topics for this blog are likely to include, but certainly not limited to commentary on: the Chicago Cubs, the Syracuse Orangemen, the Boston Red Sox, poker, the NFL, fantasy sports, managerial/coaching decisions in the post-mortem, and much more.

I hope to be able to provide a Sports Guy like window into the mind of a sports obsessed fan, to write posts that are sure to run longer than TMQ's weekly articles, and to provide all readers with an unproductive way to kill their work day. Lofty goals I realize, but so it begins.