Tipping Pitches: Sports: Archive


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sports: Archive

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Kurt Warner is Not a Hall of Famer... Right? (1/29)
The name "Kurt Warner" inspires emotion and debate. I had never seen the guy as a Hall of Famer. Maybe it's because he annoys me. Maybe it's his goofy wife. Maybe it's because I really didn't think he deserved it. Then, Kurt Warner ravaged my Packers in the playoffs. He was perfect. Unstoppable. Suddenly, I changed my mind. I gave in. He was a Hall of Famer. But I took a surface look at his career stats and changed my mind again. The truth is that Warner is the ultimate "tweener."

Potpourri Tuesday (1/26)
I have never posted a "Potpourri" entry. To be honest, I don't really know what it is. I guess it smells nice. Not sure why it represents randomness. But that's what I'm going with. I'm sports. I'm technology. I'm non-profit. Oh well.

Brewers to Orlando? Hahaha... Oh crap... (1/23)
So word out of Orlando is that Armando Gutierrez, a real estate developer, is trying to get money together to get a Major League team in his city. Mark Boyle of local station WFTV speculated that "one team that could possibly relocate is the Milwaukee Brewers." Let's forget for a second that the Brewers called this claim "ridiculous," "irresponsible" and "hilarious." If the Brewers are on the somewhat-short list of teams that could move. And if they encounter some bad luck, the likelihood of them moving skyrockets.

NFL Coaches Gutless, Players Heartless (1/18)
Everyone remembers Bill Belichick's controversial decision to go for it on fourth down from his own 30 with the lead against the Colts. It's two months later. I applaud the guts because no other coach has any. This is proven week in and week out. This weekend saw three blow-outs out of four games in the second round of the playoffs. Kickers shanking field goal attempts left and right. In such a case, you'd assume that the team getting whooped would need to go for it on fourth down several times in an effort to get back in the game. Nope. No guts. No heart.

Hall Voting Out of Position (1/15)
As you probably know already, I've been digging deep into historical baseball stats during the past few weeks. I've spent a lot of time comparing players, both to peers and players from other eras. It's a major challenge, and one I've always been interested in taking on. Something that really bothered me was the focus on defensive position. Generally when you hear Hall of Fame voters talk about a player's Hall candidacy, they'll talk about how that player stacks up offensively compared to other players who played his defensive position. My question: Why? I don't get it. And as I dug more into the statistics, it made less and less sense.

The Magic Number is Dead (1/12)
There was a time when smart baseball people, in a not-so-smart way, assigned magic numbers as milestones for Hall of Fame entry. You collected 3,000 hits? You're in. How about 500 home runs? Money in the bank. Thanks to the Steroid Era, these same smart baseball people are reevaluating the magic number for home runs. In reality, they should simply get rid of magic numbers altogether. What do totals really tell us without context? The only total I care about is plate appearances.

Where's Big Muscled Waldo? (1/12)
There has been a lot of talk recently about how a certain former Major League Baseball player to be nameless would have been a definite first ballot Hall of Famer if not for some extenuating circumstances (to put it nicely). I disagree. I'm not going to go into a tirade in response to this public perception. Nor will I harp on the PED issue as the reason for my opinion (that can be separated in this case). Instead, I want to step you through exactly why I feel the way I do, without even mentioning the extenuating circumstances. Let's play the Cooperstown Edition of Where's Waldo?

AP Male Non-Athlete of the Year (12/21)
Today, the Associate Press honored NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson as the Male Athlete of the Year. I'll let you think about that for a moment. I'm sure that Jimmy Johnson is a pretty good race car driver. Word is he won a bunch of races. His car is fast and he is able to move his car faster than the other guys. Sweet. One problem: Jimmy Johnson isn't really an athlete. Oh, the controversy! How could this poor excuse of a nonathletic blogger say such a thing? Easy, he's not an athlete. I said it again.

Edgar Martinez enshrined in Hall of Very Good (12/5)
The time to submit ballots for the 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame inductions is around the corner, which means the time to argue about who does and does not deserve induction is now. There are some old names on the ballot who may or may not have a chance, depending on whom you ask. They include (among others) Andre Dawson, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Tim Raines, Mark McGwire and Don Mattingly. Actually some quality there, and I'd expect at least one of these guys to finally break through (nah, not McGwire). The new names bring new arguments to the table.

Halladay open to joining the Dark Side (11/29)
So word is that coveted Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay is willing to waive his no-trade clause for a deal to the Yankees. Bring it on. Wait. This from a small market fan? Sick of the Yankees making it rain with 100 dollar bills to the tune of a $200 Million payroll? Yeah, you heard me. Bring it on. The system is broken. It's been broken for a long time. Some could say it's been broken for a century. But it's difficult to fix a broken system when the Yankees aren't winning World Series after World Series.

MLB Network helps relive memories, open wounds (11/29)
I applaud the person or people who put together MLB Network. Greatest channel ever created. A "Greatest Games" marathon of All-Star games is ending tomorrow. I have watched several from the 1980s and 90s and will be recording several shorter "highlight" shows of All-Star games from those two decades as well as the 1970s tomorrow. It's heaven, man. Games you thought you'd never see again. Names you'd never hear. Faces you'd never see. All relived. But being able to sit through a decade makes the Steroid Era seem all the more obvious. And painful.

Selig's departure could spark needed change (11/29)
It was recently revealed that Bud Selig has declined an option to renew his contract that currently ends in 2012 and will step down as Commissioner of Major League Baseball. Here is where you expect me to rag on Selig for ruining the league, causing the steroid issues, and failing to institute a salary cap.

Time to Throw out the Voters (11/24)
Now... What I'm about to say is going to be controversial. That's how you write a blog that gets attention. So, everyone... Controversy Alert! About to say something that many will think is stupid, thus guaranteeing comments and traffic! It's time to get rid of Major League Baseball award voters. There, I said it. Crazy, right? Insanity. Stupid. Look at where the BCS system got us. Reason number one why this is a dumb idea. Wrong.

Fourth Down Decision Strangely Sensitive (11/22)
I've spent two articles trying to make the case for why Bill Belichick went for it on fourth and two from his own 28 yard line with a six point lead and just over two minutes to go. That's not what this blog entry is all about. I'm done. No more. It's pointless.

Why the Stat Heads Win (11/16)
It's been a fun day to be a sports fan, particularly for one who is a bit of a stat nerd. As I wrote last night following the Indianapolis Colts' comeback win over the New England Patriots, I support Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth and two from his own 28 with a six point lead and about two minutes remaining in the game. I know! It's crazy. While I understand the risks involved, I think it was the right move. There is some subjectivity involved. But objectively speaking, there is plenty of data to support this decision.

Belichick Roasted for Unpopular Call (11/15)
Early in the day, I sat on my couch dumbfounded by a coach's ultra-conservative play calling. The New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts faced off for yet another historic clash of the decade's two greatest teams later in the day. The Colts overcame a 17-point deficit to win 35-34 in the waning seconds. Yet, this game will be remembered for one thing: New England head coach Bill Belichick's decision to go for it on fourth and two from his own 28 with just over two minutes remaining.

Small Market Baseball Fans Need an Education (11/13)
Small market baseball fans are cute and all. They expect so much. They love their team. But they're stupid. Yes, I'm a small market fan. But I get it. I get that I shouldn't expect the Brewers to make the playoffs every season. I shouldn't expect them to make it any season. If they do, it's an enormous success. If you're a smart small market fan, you don't expect more than a .500 season. I use the word "expect," but most fans "demand" it. That's foolish.

Money Doesn't Guarantee Success, BUT... (11/9)
n my never ending quest to spotlight the gross economic inequities in Major League Baseball, today I'm going to show the direct relationship between money and success. Before now, I've focused instead on the lack of parity in baseball compared to the NBA and NFL. Additionally, we snapped our fingers and observed what baseball would look like if it mimicked the NBA's financial disparities. Still, we've yet to show the direct correlation between money and success (as obvious as it may otherwise seem). So let's do that.

Brewers and Twins Swap Enigmas (11/6)
Today, the Milwaukee Brewers shipped former All-Star shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Minnesota Twins for 23-year-old center fielder Carlos Gomez. While the list of reasons why the Brewers did not return to the playoffs this season is long, an item near the top has to be the performance of Hardy. In 2007, Hardy was a major reason for the Brewers' fast start out of the gate, propelling his team to a 24-10 record. He was a surprise All-Star selection that season, and established himself as one of the game's finest hitting shortstops, batting .277 with 26 home runs and 80 RBI.

If Major League Baseball Mimicked the NBA (11/6)
During the past week or so, I've been bogged down in research. I know that Major League Baseball has problems. I know that the Yankees represent that problem. Still. I wanted to compare baseball to the other major sports leagues that I perceived to provide more parity. Today, I want to focus on the NBA.

MLB Economics and Competitive Balance - Pt. 2 (11/3)
In Part 1, we defined "competitive imbalance" and compared data between the NBA, NFL and MLB during the past 10 years to determine, at least on the surface, whether competitive balance exists in those leagues. In that entry we focused on the Accessibility of Success. In other words, competitive balance would exist if a large percentage of teams would have experienced some level of success during the past 10 years.

Top 10 Sports Strategies that Make No Sense (11/3)
I've written some bitter stuff lately, focused mainly on baseball. Poor economic system. Lame baseball strategies. So this got me thinking. What are the top 10 sports strategies that make no sense? Coaches and managers from all three of the major sports leagues are guilty of following conventional wisdom for the sake of avoiding criticism and keeping their jobs. But that doesn't keep the moves from making any rational sense. So here they are. My list.

The Thinking Man's Game... Right?
I'm in my 30s, so I'm old. And when you're old, you say stuff like "In my day..." At one point in Game 5 of the World Series, Tim McCarver made one of these comments. Except it was still after his day. It was something to the fact that 20 or 25 years ago, hitters would take on 2-0 and 3-1. But they don't now. Why don't they? Because the home run is king. And no matter what type of player you are, today's sin is taking the pitch down the middle. So swing away at hitter's counts! Oh yeah, still not a good chance that if you swing away you'll get a hit. There are many examples of "But they don't now" in today's game.

MLB Economics and Competitive Balance - Pt. 1 (11/2)
It's no secret that I have serious problems with the current economic structure of Major League Baseball. It's this uneven playing field that prevents MLB from being the best it can be. It's the even playing field that exists in the NFL that makes that league superior. In the process of understanding the similarities and differences among the leagues when attempting to put together some sort of plan that would work for baseball, I started researching the competitive landscape within each league.

Painful Loss a Reminder of why NFL Superior (11/1)
As a Packers fan, today's loss against Brett Favre and the Vikings was a painful, painful few hours. I'm not going to go into the details of the game or the emotions associated with it right now. Still too fresh, and these wounds need to heal. But the game, Fox's opening act for Game 3 of the World Series later in the evening, provided some clarity. It was a game like the Packers-Vikings extravaganza that reminds me why the NFL is superior to Major League Baseball.

Yankees rebound, BUY a trip to the World Series (10/26)
Warning: The following is written by a bitter small market fan. It is not intended to be especially rational or insightful. It simply reflects what many fans like him of teams that have little chance at postseason success think about the New York Yankees.

Left Out (10/13/09)
I live in Denver, but I'm no Rockies fan. I don't dislike the Rockies. But just want to make sure that's understood up front. My opinions aren't wrapped up in emotion.  The Rockies should have won. Problem was that their roster was ill-prepared to close the deal. It had everything to do with left vs. right.

Experts are the Experts of Hindsight (10/5/09)
First, let's not start on that guy.  You know, that guy.  Not even mentioning him.  But, you realize that the Packers played the Vikings on Monday, night, right?  You know that the Packers lost by seven points?  Well, as the Packers were driving for their final field goal, we here from the ESPN crew (namely, Chris Mortenson) that the Packers would be driving for the tying touchdown at that moment if they had instead kicked a field goal near the end of the third quarter instead of going for it (and failing) on fourth and goal at the one yard line.

Black Monday is Here (10/5/09)
It's sad, really.  But I'm over the sad.  Sad is when something bad happens to someone that is out of their control.  It's certainly not sad for Favre.  It's debatable whether it's sad for the Packers -- and not that I fault them at all.  If I feel sad for anyone, it's the Packers fans.

Lucky Mustache Won't Prevent Attacks from Defensive Rockies Fans (10/2)
Rockies fans, by nature, are not a loyal or rabid fan base. They cannot prevent this. Before 1993, they had a minor league team, but that's it. There is a very short history of baseball in the state. Therefore, the only fans that the Rockies have either 1) grew up with the team, 2) converted when the franchise arrived (thereby underlining their propensity to disloyalty), or 3) were casual fans without any allegiance.

Lucky Mustache Not Enough (10/1)
There's no fun in being a fan without getting your heart ripped out a few times.  You can love your team, defend them, follow their every move in ways that should otherwise be considered illegal.  In the end, your team doesn't care about you.  They're punks like that.  I was reminded of that today. 

Loyalty Brewing (9/29/09)
I admit, like every dad I dreamed of having sons who cheered for the teams I cheer for now and as a boy.  But you really can't force it on them.  That backfired on me with the Packers (they root for the Broncos), and nearly backfired with the Brewers.  I backed off, and slowly Michael started expressing interest in the Brewers.  His brother followed.

Fantasy Basketball for Families (9/28/09)
How can you possibly have a competitive league of four people when two of the participants are aged five and eight and the other team is managed by my wife and toddler?  It's going to be a run-away, right?  Otherwise I should be ashamed.  Not really.  Let me explain...

Sports: Favre Ignorance to End (9/27/09)
Full disclosure:  I'm a life long Packers fan.  Through and through.  And although Brett Favre was (and probably still is) my all-time favorite athlete, it's no secret that Brett and I aren't getting along too well lately.  People tend to throw around the phrase "dead to me" pretty loosely, but I've gotta tell you...  There really aren't three words that better describe how I feel about him as a sports fan.


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