Thursday, July 26, 2012

The "hardest" thing in sports

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say, "hitting a pitch is the hardest thing to do in sports."  This is the dumbest statement, because it's both incorrect and pointless.  The stat people always use is "3 out of 10" is a successful hitter.  The problem is that 3 out of 10 is a batting average.  Batting average isn't hitting a pitch.  Batting average is getting a base hit.  That's not the same thing.  If you literally mean "hitting a pitch," then hitters hit pitches more than 30% of the time (they don't literally miss the ball on 70% of their swings).  And if you mean "getting a hit is the hardest thing in sports," then you're making a completely pointless statement.  Baseball is played 1 on 9.  Of course getting hit involves such a low success rate.  So can we please never use the phrase "hitting a pitch is the hardest thing to do in sports" ever again?  Because you're either saying something that's not true or you're not even saying what you mean, and what you mean is a completely pointless statement.  Either way, it's time to put that idiotic phrase to rest.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Moneyball "misrepresentation"

When Moneyball first came out, there was some discussion about the movie's omission of Hudson, Zito, and Mulder.  It seemed to bug people that three of the best players on the team weren't credited with any of its success (and it still does, because a recent article I read made a comment along those lines, which is why I feel the need to address it).  In my opinion, I think the omission of Hudson, Zito, and Mulder was acceptable (for the most part).  Not because I don't think they were valuable, but because they weren't new.  Moneyball focuses primarily on the changes the team experienced during the 2002 season.  Yes, the A's trio won an impressive 57 games.  But they won 56 games the year before.  In other words, their performance didn't make up for the departures of Giambi and Damon.  I think the same reasoning can be used for the downplaying of Tejada and Chavez.  They produced 365 hits, 68 HRs, 240 RBIs, and combined for 9.5 WAR in '02 (according to baseball-reference).  The year before, they produced 325 hits, 63 HRs, 227 RBIs, and combined for 9.2 WAR.  So it's not like they filled the holes left by Giambi and Damon either.

Obviously those five guys were important to the success of the A's (and they deserved some mention), but if their performances didn't make up for the loss of Giambi and Damon, then what did?  Those five guys with Hatteberg and Justice shouldn't have been good enough to match those five guys with Giambi and Damon.  But they did.  They lost their best player, yet finished with a better record.  That shouldn't have happened.  Yes the A's had good players, but nothing epitomized the concept of Moneyball better than replacing Jason Giambi with Scott Hatteberg and actually being more successful.  That's why it's the main point of the movie.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012 vs. 1992

The Olympic Team vs. Dream Team story is so stupid.  It was dumb of Kobe to say the 2012 team could beat the Dream Team.  Especially considering that the 2012 team isn't even healthy.  But it's not just Kobe I disagree with.  I'm also not in complete agreement with people when it comes to why Kobe's team would lose.  The dumbest reasoning used is the outcomes of the Dream Team's games.  To pretend for one second that the competition they faced is anywhere near the quality of opposition the current team will face is asinine.  Dominating subpar competition doesn't unequivocally prove greatness; dominating a Kukoc-led team doesn't prove you could dominate a LeBron-led team.  The other point of emphasis that I'm not a big fan of is the "11 Hall of Famers" point.  Only because it could've been matched, in theory.  A team of LeBron, Durant, Carmelo, Kobe, Wade, Howard, Duncan, Garnett, Love, Paul, Rose, and Kidd (in the Larry Bird inactive role) could contain 11, or even 12, future HOFers (maybe if that team existed, Kobe's challenge of the Dream Team wouldn't look so foolish).  The lack of HOF status of the current team is more a result of circumstances than it is a result of an inability to produce potential HOF talent.  Therefore, I don't think "point differential" and "11 HOFers" should be the primary arguments for a Dream Team victory.  The real reason I think the Dream Team is the best Olympic Team ever is because of their competitiveness.  The Dream Team documentary coverage of their practices was amazing.  I don't think anyone on the current team goes at it like Barkley and Malone or Magic and Michael.  So even if a team in 2012 could come close to matching the talent, they wouldn't come close to matching the ferocity.  And that's why the Dream Team would win.