Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Without Runningman, J2T, and the Yellow Dart...

...am I free to write whatever I like without fear of repercussions.

I have a beef with Cardinal fans that I am going to illustrate here. This is one of those angry rant posts, so read on with great care.

Cardinal fans like to call themselves "The Best Fans in Baseball." This couldn't be farther from the truth. I will tell you why.

Most Cardinal fans really aren't. Go to Busch the Third and ask anyone who won the '85 World Series. Heck, ask them the last time the Cardinals won a World Series prior to 2006. You would be lucky to get 2 out of 5 fans that would know the answer to both questions. The fact of the matter is that the Cardinals have legions of casual fans. They are fans because all their friends are. Consider this. A group of 5 people are all friends. Friend 1 likes the Cardinals because Friend 2 likes the Cardinals. Friend 2 likes the Cardinals because Friend 3 likes the Cardinals. Friend 3 likes the Cardinals because Friend 4 likes the Cardinals. Friend 4 likes the Cardinals because Friend 5 likes the Cardinals. Friend 5 likes the Cardinals because Friend 1 likes the Cardinals. In this group, you have nobody that is really knowledgeable about the Redbirds. FYI, all my previous girlfriends were Cardinal fans (including the future Mrs. Awesome). One girlfriend asked me who Stan Musical was. Musical!

Cardinal fans will chastise you for booing players on your team. I actually got into it with the Yellow Dart recently over this one. Cardinal fans are like parents of a little league player. "It's OK, go out and get them next time. You gave it a good shot." Puke. I buy team apparel. I attend games. I am paying the bills. I demand results. You don't produce and I will let you know about it. I'm not going to coddle you.

Cardinal fans are extremely uppity. Recently, some bonehead with a laser pointer in Philly disrupted the game. All I heard the next day was "Philadelphia fans are so obnoxious. Philadelphia is a sh*thole. Philadelphia fans are not real fans. They only sell out because they just won the World Series." Way to prove that you are the "best" fans of any team by slamming other fans. I shouldn't even mention it, but the preferred nickname of Wrigley Field in St. Louis is "The World's Largest Gay Bar." Good one, St. Louisans.

Finally, I am a Cubs fan living in St. Louis. Don't tell me you are a more dedicated fan. You don't know what dedication is until you have to hear "When did your team last win the World Series?" on a daily basis. Where were all of you in the early 90's? Oh, so you're not the "best" fans in sports when your team sucks.

I feel better now. I have made up for defending a Cardinal.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I defended a Cardinal

...a couple of posts ago. I told a good friend today that post was a result of the part of my personality that is generally a baseball fan. The part of my personality that is a dedicated Cubs fan must have been asleep at the time. Well, that snarky Cubs fan personality is awake and ready to deal.

St. Louis has become San Francisco east. What do I mean by this? The Cardinals look a little fruity with the new 'staches [that's how the cool kids in the 'Lou (that's how the cool kids say St. Louis) say mustache] that they are sporting. Maybe Duncan got out just in time... Poor Colby Rasmus has this thin, hispanic-looking mustache. I can only assume that it is because he can't grow a full mustache. Chris Carpenter looks like a tool. Skip Schumacher just looks queer. Albert...still has the goatee...no complaints.

The reason I am so militant against this is because it looks ridiculous. It's like the "cool" kids in high school who decided to grow their hair out. They just looked like dinks...and so do the Cardinals.

Word on the street is...

Chris Duncan is shipping up to Boston (not necessarily to find his wooden leg).

If this is true, my condolences Yellow Dart.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A New Arch Nemesis has Emerged!

Norman Chad, you just made the list. If you are not familiar with Norman Chad, he writes a column called Couch Slouch for SI.com. If you want to read this inane drivel without my comments, you can follow this link.

I almost hate to do this, but here we go:

Sports' statistical debris piling up

This ought to be be good...

I was watching a regular-season baseball game on TV the other night -- granted, it was a stupid thing to do and I'm already paying the price -- when the following piece of data streamed across my screen:

"Todd Helton is only the seventh player in MLB history to possess a .325 career batting average, .400 on-base percentage and .575 slugging percentage."

You could've knocked my socks off with that one, except I was already barefoot and drinking PBR out of a can.

The Helton factoid is what I would call statistical debris.

Ha! Look at that phoney slice of redneck Americana. Barefoot and PBR in a can. Genius!

In the old days, a garbage truck would come by twice a week to haul that stuff away, but nowadays this sporting trash is piled up so high so often, it's too costly to dispose of on a regular basis. And so it is heaped into our living rooms and we must learn to live with it, like an evil mother-in-law who's moved in indefinitely.

I want to know what type of subdivision you live in that offers statistical debris pickup twice a week. I sure could use service like that.

For years, ESPN has led the statistical avalanche. But it has plenty of company now. The Wall Street Journal covers the world of business and the world at large pretty adeptly; however, when it comes to the world of sports, the Journal has turned into USA Today, with bigger words. The Journal reduces all of sport to numbers, graphs and pie charts -- it's a statistical junkyard, with spare parts nobody needs.

Zing, USA Today. ESPN has hardly been on the leading edge of this statistical avalanche. For example, ESPN employs a baseball commentator by the name of Joe Morgan. Mr. Morgan rarely cites statistics over anecdotal evidence. What's with ripping the Wall Street Journal in a sports column? You really go to the Wall Street Journal for your sports news? I used to go to seemingly reputable sources like SI.com.
Furthermore, I thought you were an all-American, barefoot, PBR drinking kind of guy. Now you read the Wall Street Journal?

The Journal even offers daily predictions. For instance, "
Los Angeles Lakers 103.2, Houston Rockets 90.9" or "Philadelphia Phillies 5.2, New York Mets 4.8." "Scores are based on the average of 10,000 game simulations," we are told, "and rounded to 1 decimal point." I am somewhat thankful, for both my own emotional well-being as well as the emotional well-being of my unborn children, that the scores are not rounded to the hundredths or thousandths.

I don't get it. If there was such a thing, would you have decimalphobia?
Did a decimal point kill one of your close relatives in an apparent mugging gone bad?

(I have another problem with the Wall Street Journal. Recently, it started a Monday feature in which someone watches TV all weekend; it's called "The Couch." Really? The Couch? Last I checked, I am The Couch Slouch. Have been for quite a while. Is there not some intellectual infringement here -- well, assuming there was any intellect attached to becoming The Couch Slouch? Couldn't they've been a bit subtler about stealing my shtick -- maybe call the column "The Sofa" or "The Ottoman"? Why doesn't the guy just sit in my lap, eat my Fritos and take my third wife? Please!)

I doubt I or the Wall Street Journal have ever heard of you and your column before this monstrosity. I don't think they copied your shtick. Third wife? Fritos? There you go again with the "every American" persona. Please, I need more furniture jokes.

The Journal ran a story earlier this year detailing how a couple of University of Pennsylvania professors studied 6,500 NCAA basketball games from 2005 to 2008 and concluded that teams have a 51.3 percent chance of winning when they are behind by a single point at halftime. In other words, when you're ahead, chances are you will lose; apparently, you are more motivated when you are behind.
Geez, using that theory, the Washington Nationals should be undefeated, no?

No. You are missing the point of the Penn study. They concluded that teams between 2005 and 2008 had a 51.3 percent chance of winning if they were down one point at halftime. Your application of this study to baseball was horrible. It would be more like "Baseball teams between 2005 and 2008 had a 51.3 percent chance of winning if they had been pitched one more strike than their opponent through four innings."

Baseball remains the biggest sports-by-numbers perpetrator. ESPN litters the baseball screen with updated, situational numbers on every pitch -- with a magnifying glass, you can figure out how a hitter does better when the count is 2-0 rather than 0-2. Speaking of which, I read the other day that the Dodgers have increased their "pitches per plate appearance" from 3.63 in 2007 to 3.81 in 2008 to 3.96 in 2009, which puts them second in the majors.

Most reasonable people use statistics or "numbers" to compare two or more things. Take measuring for example. I could look at two lengths of wire from a distance and say, "I think the black wire is longer than the blue wire." Then I would measure them and find out that the blue wire is 156 cm while the black wire is only 154 cm. In this case I would be wrong because I didn't obtain good data before throwing out a guess.

Here's an actual sentence from a recent USA Today story: "Earned runs are constructed from a confluence of events." Frankly, I thought I had stumbled onto a crime story and was about to digest a police toxicology report. But it was an article on ERA and what affects it. It included the following words on Atlanta Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens:
"...a low 5.2 strikeout rate and 1.6 K/BB ratio are worrisome. His .260 BA-BIP and 84 percent strand rate are both primed for regression. Jurrjens' 5.03 xERA is nearly three runs higher than his actual ERA, an ominous indicator."

Just because you can't understand big words doesn't make the USA Today wrong. What makes the USA Today wrong is the horrible writing.

Heck, I'm scared.

You should be, moron.

Okay, folks, here's a stat for you:
Nobody gets out alive. Nobody. So enjoy it while you can, and I'll see ya 6.0 feet under.

You really are a massive bonehead. It would be a stat if you said that 100 percent of humans die at some point. What you wrote is just idiocy disguised as a sports column.

Si.com should really reconsider having you on their payroll.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Everything is renewed in the second "half."

I'm a little late to the game with All-Star comments, but you must forgive me. The festivities were in my backyard (not literally).

My main grip with All-Star coverage really came after the event. St. Louis and national media felt compelled to write about how big of a let down Albert Pujols was. This is abso-fuckin-lutely ridiculous! This dude is the best player in a generation. He's better than A-Rod, better than Bonds, better than anyone else from the modern era that you want to name. What's that? Chris Duncan? Yeah, he's better than Chris Duncan too (this is directed at you, Yellow Dart.). All the media can write about is how Albert went 0-for-3...and how he didn't win the home run derby...and how he committed an error.

Let me break this down for you.

Concerning the HR Derby, this is a meaningly showcase. It's entertaining, but still meaningless. Players that do well in this type of competition are those who can hit a ball off a tee with enough of an uppercut swing for the ball to arc over the fence. This is why you see Josh Hamilton bust out. This competition made him. Pujols on the other hand muscles out line drive HR's. He's not good for this competition. Any yokel that can hit a lollipop out of the yard can participate in the HR Derby. Pujols distinguishes himself in the game of baseball by being able to consistently crush major league pitching...not lollipops.

Pujols went 0-for-3 in the All Star game. He's f'ing human and he's f'ing facing the best pitchers in the AL. Pujols faced Halladay in the first, Buehrle in the third, and Hernandez in the sixth. He saw 3 different AL All-Star pitchers in his three at bats. How do you expect anyone to adjust to the pitcher if you know you're facing some other stud next time around? Besides, this is a microscopic sample size of a whole season. They might as well have said, "Albert's a disappointment in 2009. He went 0-for-4 on April 23rd."

Pujols did commit an error, but in his defense he was screened by the runner. He tried to snag it behind the runner on an in between hop. He just missed it. It was a rough play.

Now that I am done defending a Cardinal, I need to shower. I feel dirty.

On with the second "half"...