NYDN’s Bill Madden – At WAR With Satan Stat Geeks

Posted in Baseball at 8:24 pm by

I fully admit the above headline was a very cheap ploy to work the above Venom video in the blog.  On the (slightly) more relevant tip, however,  New York Daily News veteran baseball columnist Bill Madden bemoans the current climate in which “many scribes and bloggers across the country” have come up with arguments to deny the AL MVP or NL Cy Young Award to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera or the Mets’ R.A. Dickey (“specially Cabrera who has fallen victim to that nebulous (I would say ludicrous) new-age sabermetric stat called WAR”) (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)

This growing infatuation with WAR (wins above replacement) is, in my opinion, turning baseball into an inhuman board game. This is a stat that even its inventors can’t agree on an established formula, other than when all of these various factors of offense and defense are put into a blender and shaken well, out comes the player’s value to a team in wins above and beyond the “replacement” value of a player taken off the waiver wire for nothing. In other words, one big hypothetical. According to one blogger last week, Trout’s superior WAR demonstrates that “he has helped his team win roughly three to four more games than Cabrera has helped his.” Don’t ask how that conclusion is reached. Much of this, presumably, is based on Trout’s superior defense and speed. But again, all of this is hypothetical, and how do you vote on a stat nobody knows how to calculate? If you want concrete evidence of Trout’s value, I would present the Angels’ 6-14 record, nine games out on April 28, the day he was recalled from the minors, and their 81-56 record since. And as for Cabrera’s defense, I would also submit the fact that he willingly moved from first base (where he’d become a fairly accomplished defender) to third so Detroit could sign Prince Fielder — and, as long as we’re going to deal in hypotheticals here, how many extra wins did that give the Tigers? Lastly, it now looks like the Tigers might win the AL Central while Trout’s Angels need a strong finish and a collapse by the Oakland A’s to secure the second wild-card spot. That, too, should be worth big points for Cabrera, although for the sabermatricians that’s probably much too tangible.

You Call It Marriage Equality, Ravens C Matt Birk Calls It “Marriage Redefinition”

Posted in Gridiron at 7:02 pm by

Lest Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s very public stance in support of marriage equality give anyone the impression the entire National Football League is particularly enlightened about these things, Baltimore center Matt Birk — afforded equal time by the editorial page at the Minneapolis Star Tribute — has his own take on the issue. “Not all NFL players think redefining marriage is a good thing,” argues Birk, adding that he sees no dichotomy “between providing basic human rights to everyone and preserving marriage as the sacred union of one man and one woman.”

Marriage is in trouble right now — admittedly, for many reasons that have little to do with same-sex unions. In the last few years, political forces and a culture of relativism have replaced “I am my brother’s keeper” and “love your neighbor as yourself” with “live and let live” and “if it feels good, go ahead and do it.”

The effects of no-fault divorce, adultery, and the nonchalant attitude toward marriage by some have done great harm to this sacred institution. How much longer do we put the desires of adults before the needs of kids? Why are we not doing more to lift up and strengthen the institution of marriage?

Same-sex unions may not affect my marriage specifically, but it will affect my children — the next generation. Ideas have consequences, and laws shape culture. Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society. As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.

There’s No Vendetta Too Small For Ken Bates

Posted in Football at 12:25 pm by

Leeds United chairman Ken Bates, currently living in tax exile in Monaco, was found guilty last June of using the club’s match day program as a means to harass former LUFC director Melvin Levi . Perhaps realizing print media has limitations, Bates took to Leeds’ TV channel shortly before Sept 22’s defeat of Nottingham Forest to launch a lengthy attack on the Leeds Supporters Trust (aka LUST), as described by the Guardian’s David Conn.

In his LUFCTV address on Saturday, Bates said of Lust, a mutual trust of 8,200 members formed according to the legal regulations of Supporters Direct, the organisation funded by the Premier League: “They are a waste of space, a pain in the arse and achieving nothing.” He described their contribution as “agitation stirred up by those idiots”, and trust members as an “ignorant, illiterate minority”.

Bates’s programme notes for Tuesday’s Everton match included a personal attack on Gary Cooper, the Lust chairman, stating he was once a member of a “fringe organisation”, and that Lust has a poor relationship with Leeds United’s Disabled Organisation (Ludo). Cooper rejected both completely, and said nobody from the club had contacted him to check these allegations before they were published. Ludo’s chair, Stuart Ramm, confirmed there was “no truth” in the allegation relating to Ludo. Cooper said he now intends to complain to the FA.

In his evidence during the harassment trial, Bates said he writes his chairman’s articles with the help of his wife in Monaco, before sending them to be published in the programme. Such is life at Leeds United, one of England’s great football clubs, in 2012.


Flag On The Play’s Impressive Return To Form (Or, “Hugh Stewart Transformed Into A Can Of Arizona Ice Tea”)

Posted in Gridiron, Sports TV at 7:17 pm by

A couple of weeks ago I opined that Flag On The Play had perhaps

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Baseball Prospectus Puts Bobby Abreu’s Cadillac Trot Into Historical Perspective

Posted in Baseball at 5:56 pm by

After taking San Diego’s Will Harris deep last night, the Dodgers’ Bobby Abreu is expected to cross home plate sometime before Halloween.  Prior to Abreu’s leisurely stroll, there were a number of trips around the bases that cracked the half-minute mark, and while I’m quoting from Baseball Prospectus’ Larry Granillo, I’ve taken care to delete the instances where it could’ve been blamed on an injury.

David Ortiz – May 24, 2010 – 30.59 seconds. This was the very first tater trot to break the barrier. The Roger Bannister moment, if you will. In order for this moment to arrive, a number of things had to line up perfectly. First, it was David Ortiz. Second, the ball was a huge pop-up right down the rightfield line that could have landed fair or foul (batters tend to stay in the box longer on these). And, finally, when Ortiz did start to run, the home plate umpire got in his way for just a moment. None of these things should have caused a 30-second trot, but they all worked together to give us a memorable night.

Hanley Ramirez – July 1, 2012 – 30.3 seconds. Hanley Ramirez hit his first home run in a month and then trotted around the bases really slow. Because he’s Hanley Ramirez. There’s no other reason for his slow trot.


The Tustin Red Cobras – Making Gregg Williams & Sean Payton Look Like Entirely Reasonable, Responsible Humans.

Posted in Gridiron, Leave No Child Unbeaten, Parental Responsibility at 8:34 pm by

Last week, the Orange County Register reported the Tustin (CA) Red Cobras, Western U.S. representative in the 2011 Pop Warner Super Bowl, paid cash to their 10 and 11-year-old players for hard hits knocking opposing players from Yorba Linda, Santa Margarita and San Bernardino out of games.  Though coaches Darren Crawford and Richard Bowman have denied the allegations, the Register’s Keith Sharon reports today the Red Cobras coaxed boys into dangerous weigh loss techniques including but not limited to ordering a player to “wear a plastic suit to try to sweat off the weight” (“he sat in saunas. His teammates said he sucked on Skittles candy to create saliva so he could spit more often”)

Player X weighed more than 85 pounds on Aug. 1, 2011, the first day of football practice. He still weighed more than 85 pounds on Aug. 12, the day each player is officially certified by the league. At this point, Player X could have been immediately moved up to a bigger division, Pee Wee, where he would play with heavier kids.

But Player X was a key piece of the Red Cobra’s title hopes and the team sought – and received – a waiver from OEC that gave Player X until Aug. 27 to lose the required weight, according to Zanelli’s chronology.

Many Pop Warner families are familiar with extreme weight-loss efforts by the children near the cutoff limit. Many boys in Pop Warner diet and, in some cases, take diuretics to lose weight.

Brad Davidson, owner of Stark Training in Irvine and the trainer of professional athletes like Sam Baker who was raised in Tustin and is now playing for the Atlanta Falcons and former Laker Matt Barnes, said extreme dieting for children is “crazy.”

“At that age, the stress that dieting puts on the body is unbelievable,” Davidson said. “You’re stripping the body of electrolytes. The body becomes massively dehydrated. Strength and coordination will be affected. When you lose too many electrolytes, you can die.”

Becoming Reacquianted With Keith’s Naked Upper Lip

Posted in Baseball at 11:27 am by

Earlier this month, SNY’s Keith Hernandez mulled shaving his iconic mustache for charity, a threat he fulfilled before yesterday’s Pirates/Mets matinee with a keeny-viewed ceremony in the Citi Field parking lot. Though not quite overshadowing R.A. Dickey becoming the first Met to win 20 games since Frank Viola, Keith’s shaving was met with mixed reactions by his adoring public, as the New York Times’ Joseph Berger explains.

Stunt notwithstanding, some fans lamented Mr. Hernandez’s decision.

“He should keep it,” said Marsha Landar, 54, a retired real estate broker from Queens Village, Queens. “My second husband looked like Keith Hernandez. That’s why I married him. I wouldn’t let him shave his mustache. C’mon, it’s sexy.”

But Sol Passik, 61, a retired social worker from Holliswood, Queens, said Mr. Hernandez, despite revealing his upper lip for the first time in a quarter century, still has “a recognizable nose and profile.”

Mr. Hernandez became one of the mustache’s more famous exhibitors. In an interview before his shearing, Mr. Hernandez, now 58, said that he grew a mustache as a young man because he was raised on mustachioed tough guys like Paladin, the lead character played by Richard Boone on the late 1950s and early 1960s television show “Have Gun Will Travel,” and John Wayne in “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.”

After the barber, Elliott Chester, took it off (using a battery-powered trimmer and only at the end picking up a Schick razor). Mr. Hernandez, groaning and chuckling at all the attention, said he “looked 20 years younger” but also pointed out portentously: “I can always grow it back.”