Thursday, December 12, 2013

Preaching to the Choir: A Handy Guide to Why Advanced Stats Aren't Stupid

I read an article recently that redirected me to the blog of Murray Chass, the former New York Times baseball writer who is famously against the phenomenon known as "the passage of time." The fact that he has a blog is kind of amazing. He's in the "computer geeks in their mothers' basements" crowd, the sort of person who reads Parade Magazine every week. This also puts him squarely on the side of people who HATE advanced stats. He's an anti-sabermetrics extremist, the kind who would characterize sabermetrics as "well he hits fly balls 20% of the time on Tuesday and 30% of the time on Wednesday, and goobledee gobbledee I don't know what they're tryin' to say!" You know the type.

The article that I read was on Murray's fervent support of Jack Morris as a Hall of Famer. While it would be great to go through and do a FJM-style takedown of this piece, I want to address some larger points that anti-"advanced stats" people have, and perhaps clear up some misconceptions. Maybe we can ease a little hostility between the Murray Chassosaurs of the world and the charts 'n' graphs HOTSHOTS.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Brief Comments on the Incognito/Martin Story

Three brief comments on the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying story.

1. Why is the lede of ESPN's current article about this story using a phrase like "accusations of harassment and misconduct toward teammate Jonathan Martin" when there is hard evidence in the form of an incriminating and offensive voicemail -- a story which ESPN broke -- along with an electronic history of harassment via Twitter? Some of the harassment is merely alleged, and the article later makes reference to the existence of the voicemail, but it misstates the general principle: e.g. Incognito inarguably bullied Martin. Plus, in giving a voice to Incognito, who in classic persecution-complex fashion is trying to "weather the storm," ESPN is lending credence to the persistent idea that Incognito is the one wronged and Martin is just a baby. Martin, who has essentially gone AWOL since the start of the story, is not quoted (nor does the article mention if he was contacted or not).

This couched language may be a matter of company policy (or AP style, I'm not sure), but it's pseudo-honest journalism that actually may be more dishonest.

2. That article, whose lede is about Incognito and not Martin, also alludes to an allegation attributed to the Sun Sentinel that "Dolphins coaches asked Incognito to toughen Martin up this past spring, after Martin missed a voluntary team workout" and that Incognito simply took this campaign of intimidation too far. The Dolphins are cooperating with an NFL investigation into this story but it throws the hypocrisies of the NFL sharply into the foreground. Last year, Roger Goodell pursued and suspended Sean Payton for an entire season for overseeing a program that incentivized putting opposing players in harm's way. Physical and mental health should not be held in such different regard, and neither should the fact that this harm was directed at a teammate. I highly doubt Philbin is penalized, primarily because he can plausibly claim that he was unaware of the bullying going on, but the contrast is illuminating. 

3. The most frequent of criticisms -- that Martin is weak/should man up/some other euphemism implying he has female genitalia and that people in the media simply don't understand NFL team culture -- seems backward to me. Some forms of hazing can foster camaraderie, but this story is not about Martin not being able to suck it up and put on a costume. It's a story of consistent abuse, with the added element of power/superiority as Incognito is Martin's senior in the league. Martin may be more sensitive than most, but it seems to me at least the Incognito is the one who doesn't understand team culture.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Brief Sporting History of #BostonStrong

It was a cold winter, colder than the Pilgrims had expected. Settlers in a new world, how could they have known? Back home, the ground didn’t freeze quite so viciously and at least there were always potatoes. So many fucking potatoes. But here they were, in a vast and undiscovered land, perhaps not even able to make it through the winter. Desperate and hungry, the Pilgrims had no choice; they would have to ask the other inhabitants of this uninhabited land if they had any food.

These other inhabitants were wild, savage people. It was a miracle they knew how to cultivate the land at all. But they had food, and while willing to share it, they proposed a friendly game. A game of lacrosse.

The Pilgrims were wary. They remembered how Cromwell had seized power from Charles I after a friendly game of badminton gone awry*. Unable to adequately control the damn shuttlecock, Charles had lost his head. This lacrosse match would be no friendly game. This was a test, one the Pilgrims had no intention of losing.

*Yes, I know my timeline’s wrong. Fuck off, I liked this joke.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


For those of you keeping track, the last time we did a Letters segment was April 27th hahahahahaha that's unbelievable. Literally a 6-month hiatus. At that time, we were talking about the first round of the NBA playoffs, the effect that tragedies like the Boston marathon bombings have on sports teams, and driving on parkways. We've accumulated some pretty good questions, so let's get to it. Back in business.

2004 World Series

David Ortiz and Mike Matheny in the 2004 World Series

How does this world series contention for the red sox compare to those of the last decade?  How do the associated emotions as a fan compare?  How do the rosters compare?  Some things to ponder.  Does this city "need" this championship?  What does that even mean, and is that a real thing?

Let me answer these 100 questions. The Red Sox were pretty much clearly the best team in baseball coming into the playoffs. That was also probably true in 2007. They had a really solid rotation this year, with 6 guys doing good work for them, and 3 guys at the top of rotation being great (Lester, Buchholz, Lackey). That's similar to 2004, when they had Pedro, Schilling, and Bronson Arroyo pitching great, and Tim Wakefield and Derek Lowe pitching quality innings. I think this team, all things considered, is the best of the 3 pennant winners. Manny probably made the lineup in 2007 slightly better, but the 2013 pitching staff is better than that of '07.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Hate the Game

St. Louis Cardinals' Allen Craig gets tangled with Boston Red Sox's Will Middlebrooks during the ninth inning of Game 3 of baseball's World Series Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, in St. Louis. Middlebrooks was called for obstruction on the play and Craig went in to score the game-winning run. The Cardinals won 5-4 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. Photo: David J. Phillip, AP / AP

"Obstruction" cost the Red Sox a chance to take the first game in St. Louis and go up 2-1 in the series. Most things I'm reading about this back up the umpires' decision that this was indeed obstruction, and that it's an unusual call and a wild way to end the game. I have a few thoughts on this.

The first thought is simple. Have you ever seen this happen before? Have you ever seen a run score because the third baseman dove for a ball? I know this is a very unusual play, but I've seen my fair share of baseball games. Craig, the runner at third, was essentially awarded home the moment the obstruction occurred. What made this play wilder was that he would have been out had there been no call, but have you ever seen that before? I can't believe this is the first time I've seen a third baseman dive with a runner on third. I just have a hard time believing that Will Middlebrooks did something that was so out of the ordinary that people literally had to pull out the rule book to see what the rule was. It's not like the ball hit a bird that was flying by and the bird dropped the ball into the stands. This seems like a play that happens every once in a while.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Baseball Playoff Preview

Baseball's regular season is over (Jon thinks it ended in July, but we told him that good teams were still playing and baseball didn't stop when Ryan Braun got caught). Yayyyy. We've thoroughly covered the randomness of baseball's playoffs, but that certainly won't stop us from putting out some last-second predictions so we can mock each other later. So, from the guys who predicted Josh Hamilton would win the AL MVP, the Dodgers and Cardinals as disappointing teams, and the Angels in the World Series, here come the best picks on the Internet.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Baseball Playoffs Are The Worst And Also The Best

Tonight, the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers are playing a one-game tiebreaker to determine who gets to play a one-game playoff to determine who gets to actually be in the postseason. This is dumb. In fact, it is undeniably really dumb. These teams just played 162 games, or, you know, 10x the amount of a football season, only to come out with equal records. They both did it in similar ways, even, blowing a huge early-September cushion over the now red-hot Indians and then playing great baseball the last two weeks to get back to where we are now.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's In A Name?

As the proud owner of a t-shirt boasting “the sports team from my area is superior to the sports team from your area,” I freely admit that my sports allegiances are tenuous and provincial. My fandom is geographical (and I guess loosely ancestral). I’m a Brewers, Packers and Bucks fan - in that order - simply because I grew up in Milwaukee and those are my parents’ preferred teams. Since Milwaukee doesn’t have an NHL team, neither do I, beyond a soft spot for the Bruins (I live in Boston) and the Blues (I have family in St. Louis and have attended a few games there). If someone asks me to say something about myself, my Brewers fandom and attendant sadness will come to the fore pretty quickly. 

My teams are a function of my hometown, but I don’t call myself a Milwaukee fan. If forced to defend the city to snobby East Coast types I will vehemently declare its virtues - Beer! Summerfest! Creepy Zombie Fonz Statue! Still More Beer! - but still I call myself a Brewers fan. That’s where the identity lies, with the team, and specifically the team name. And so, clinging to a team name like a pacifier, I empathize with Washington Redskins fans who are struggling on the wrong side of history in sports’ cause du jour.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Baseball's Playoffs are the Worst

I'm writing this post now, a fortnight before any actual heartbreak occurs, to remind myself and all the other baseball fans that I know that the baseball playoffs are basically a glorified eight-way coin flip. There is no rhyme or reason for basically anything that happens. A booted double-play ball and a missed call can wipe out a 94-win team in two innings. A random starter can catch fire or you can have David Eckstein on your team. The point is, the sport is fundamentally flawed in that its playoffs have almost zero relationship to the regular season.

Tim Salmon, Troy Glaus, and Garret Anderson were the best hitters
on a World Series-winning team

Man v. Food: An Analysis

Man v. Food was a great show. It lasted three seasons from December, 2008 to October, 2010 on the Travel Channel, and its format was gold. Charismatic host Adam Richman, a Yale-trained actor and food enthusiast who has "held nearly every job in the restaurant biz," visited a city in each episode and sampled some outrageously decadent cuisine. It was Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives for the first 15 minutes of each episode, but then it became something very, very special. Adam could eat, baby. He could eat.

Adam would visit locations that had outrageous eating challenges, and attempt to complete them on national television. It was an oddly compelling spectacle. Challenges could involve quantity (can you eat 5 pounds of pizza?) or spicy stuff (can you consume 12 wings that you have to sign a waiver to eat?). Adam would win some and lose some, but ultimately, he won 37 out of 59 challenges, for a success rate of about 63%. He also became visibly heavier as the show went on, only adding to its absolutely compelling nature (apparently, Adam has actually lost 60 pounds since Man v. Food ended).

With all due respect to the spicy challenges, it's the quantity challenges that were truly impressive. It has been my goal for a long time, as a big fan of the show, to figure out just how impressive each quantity challenge was. So I researched each challenge and put together a somewhat loose methodology to determine which challenges were most impressive, and which defeats were most disappointing.

The factors I used to determine the impressiveness of each challenge included the following:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013 NFL Over/Unders

Blue-da blue blue-da BLUE! Blue-da blue blue-da BLUUUUE! Blue-da blue blue-da BLUE BLUE-DA BLUE-DA! Blue-da BLUE blue-da BLUE blue-da BLUE BLUE-DAAAAA!

The NFL season is starting shortly, and as we did last year, we are doing the over-unders for each NFL team. We'll also be making our playoff and Super Bowl picks, so come February, we can all look like idiots. Sound good?

Firstly, let's recap how we did last year with our picks.

For regular season picks, last year Jon and Sean both got 18 over/under predictions right, or about 56%. Big Brown Bear got a whopping 13 right, or 41%. What's better, Steve or a coin?

For the playoffs, Jon nailed 7 out of 12 playoff teams, picked a Steelers-Packers Super Bowl with the Packers winning. Sean correctly guessed 7 playoff teams as well, predicted a Packers-Patriots Super Bowl with the Packers winning. BB SIMILARLY got 7 playoff teams correct and predicted a 49ers-Patriots Super Bowl with the Niners winning. Since Steve-o predicted a Super Bowl team, he wins the playoff predictions. And as everyone knows, the playoffs are what really matter.

Monday, August 26, 2013

NFL Team Names: Ranked

The NFL regular season is just around the corner. So to copy Grantland's Zach Lowe ranking each NBA team's name, and to piggyback on the wildly popular post on this blog ranking each team's starting quarterback's name, I figured it was high time to rank NFL teams' names.

Below is something you'll surely disagree with:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

How My Starters' List is Stacking Up (Not Well)

So a while back, I did a post ranking the Opening Day starters for each team this year. I explained my FOOL-PROOF, SUPER PREDICTIVE methodology, and produced a top-notch list. Now, with July in the rear-view mirror, it's time to take a look back at that list and see how I did.

Below is a list, 1-30, and two names appear at each number. The first name, in boldface, is the list of Opening Day starters based on their performance this year (I'm basically using FIP and WAR from Fangraphs to determine this). The next name is where I placed that name on my list on April 5th. Let's see just how wrong one can be 4 months later.

Ranking the NBA's 35 Best Point Guards

The point guard position in the NBA is completely stacked. It's full of young players, players square in their primes, and Steve Nash, who will be able to make 50% of his shots on his deathbed. The depth of talent at the position changes the opportunity cost of losing or acquiring a player: there's likely someone just as good available at a fair price.

This list does not include salary. It takes into account age, offensive performance, defense (which, as Grantland's statistics expert Zach Lowe points out, is half of basketball), and health. I'm only talking about a guy for next season, so Steve Nash probably being retired four years from now is irrelevant when comparing him to Eric Bledsoe.

Monday, August 5, 2013

........The Pirates have the best record in baseball.

So it's August 5th. The Pirates have played 111 games this year, and they've won 67 of them. Seriously. They're 67-44. I know that everyone who's paying attention to baseball knows that the Pirates have been surprisingly good, but do people realize that they have the best winning percentage in baseball? They're one of two teams at this point that has a winning percentage of above .600 (the other is the Red Sox YEA BOI). Their .604 edges out the Red Sox's .602. I'd just like to point out a few things about this Pirates team, and delve into just how random this is.

Firstly, the Pirates play in the NL Central. While there are two pretty poor teams in this division in the Cubs and Brewers, the Cardinals and Reds are arguably top-three teams in the NL (the Braves and Dodgers would have something to say about that, but it's arguable). In fact the NL Central has the second-highest winning percentage of any division in baseball. The NL Central's .521 division winning percentage is second to the AL East's .543 (the worst division winning percentage in baseball is the NL East, .476). These are the only two divisions with winning percentages over .500. So it's not as though the Pirates are beating up on bad competition.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Audio Derby

I know very few things about life, but I have a few axioms I try to live by. Only eat at an ethnic restaurant which that ethnicity is frequenting. Always (ALWAYS) take the urinal farthest from anyone else in the bathroom. Never enter a bathroom until 30 minutes after Guy Fieri has vacated it (many of these rules are bathroom-etiquette related). This is all basic stuff, but it matters. When it comes to sports, I have only one: you can't call yourself a real sports fan until you've listened to the Home Run Derby broadcast on radio.

I really mean that. Sports are inherently a visual experience, none moreso than a pure stakes-free spectacle like the Derby. The event is literally batting practice, which for obvious reasons doesn't usually get the play-by-play treatment (and for which you can arrive early at a game to watch at no extra charge). It's a marketing dream - people only watch baseball for the homers! - and an utter bore, a bunch of millionaires trying to flex their competitive muscles in a non-competitive competition somehow more monotonously repetitive than an actual baseball game. It's also the basic contradiction of the Steroid and post-Steroid Eras in baseball writ large in one goofy event: live by the home run and die by the home run.

World Peace Comes to New York (Zing!)

This afternoon, Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Metta World Peace, nee Ron Artest, will return to New York City on a two-year deal with the Knicks. The Knicks could use some perimeter defense and a guy who can shoot 3s decently (at least from the corners, where he made 37.8% last season, just about league average). Overall this is a pretty smart move to strengthen up the Knicks' bench and wings since Iman Shumpert and JR Smith profile more as shooting guards and Carmelo Anthony is best as a power forward.

Yes, that is a Lakers shirt and Knicks hat combo.

"The Talk" In America

I'm fortunate enough never to have needed "the talk" from my parents. In fact, none of my white friends got "the talk" as far as I know. But this is a conversation that goes on in black families alongside the "don't talk to strangers" talk and the "what to do if there's a fire" talk. "The talk" teaches black kids how to deal with a police officer who sees you as a threat. Trayvon Martin, whatever he did, may not have obeyed the lessons of "the talk," and that's why he's dead. George Zimmerman walks free today, and that's why "the talk" is necessary. America doesn't care about another black kid lying dead on the street.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

2nd Annual Advanced Stat All-Stars

It's now time for me to tell you what the REAL All-Star teams should be in this year. I outlined my methodology last year and I'm going to be doing it the same way this year. I'll also throw in pitchers this year, 2 starters and 2 relievers. Let's just dive right in, okay?

Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson - Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer, Jason Castro

First base: Chris Davis, Edwin Encarnacion

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Internet, Where Everyone is a Troll: Jason Collins's Free Agency and the New York Times

The New York Times is synonymous with quality journalism, in-depth and worldwide reporting, and is basically held up as the antithesis to dipshitty blogs written by kids in their 20s and Internet trolls. However, to quote Howie Day's "Collide": even the best fall down (and Internet troll) sometimes. Howard Beck, a respected Nets and Knicks beat writer (or, more likely, his editors), published a piece that vaguely speculated on Jason Collins's free agency. I guess a few page clicks are more important than, you know, journalism and an understanding of NBA free agency.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I'm very sad about Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett being traded.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why Max Contracts Need to Go

The Heat won their second straight title last night, eking out a series against the old-ass Spurs in which they did not lead until after Game 7. LeBron James was the MVP of the league this year, and he was the MVP of the Finals. And as the Heat celebrated their championship (very much deserved, I might add), all I could think of was this: Joe Johnson makes more money than LeBron James. Max contracts are really stupid.

If you'd like to read the basic rules for max contracts under the NBA CBA, you can read them here. Essentially, these rules limit the amount of money that individual players can earn. Players with LeBron James's experience level when he signed his contract with Miami in 2010 can earn 30% of the salary cap, or about $17.5 million. LeBron James made $17.5 million this year, and Joe Johnson made $19.8 million. In fact, 9 active players made as much as or more than LeBron this year. LeBron is currently not really able to negotiate for a higher salary than what he earns from the Heat, which means Pau Gasol and Amar'e Stoudemire make more than he does.*

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ten Predictions for Game 7

In the words of Zaza Pachulia: "We going to Game 7 baby!" At some point in every game, I've lost my shit at how good these guys are playing. Game 6 deserves its own blog and there's still another game tonight. So, in lieu of us writing nothing about this series so far (although I did predict this finals sort of), I'll give ten quick predictions for tonight.

Funniest face (non-Bosh division) goes to Danny Green, then LeBron,
then Kawhi for cracking his smile.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Meeting Big Daddy Drew: An Account

Readers of this blog probably know that we three bloggers are all quite fond of a particular sports writer. Drew Magary, writer for Deadspin, correspondent for GQ, and published author three times over is our inspiration, our guiding light, and our hero. Last week, two of us met him.

Quite the poster

Friday, May 31, 2013

MLB A-Third-Of-The-Way-Through-the-Season Awards

Trust me, THIS TIME WE MEAN IT when we say the blog is back up and running. May is a crazy month. Isn't it a crazy month? It's always SUCH a crazy month.

We are now about 1/3 of the way through the MLB season. Though we have a very long way to go, let's take a look at the first two months of baseball. What a great two months it has been.

Oh, just Jean Segura stealing first base. No big deal.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Underrated to Overrated: Marc Gasol and Paul George

Before I say anything, let me make it clear that I'm a huge fan of both guys. They are both smart, talented players who bring the two-way abilities that separate good players from stars. However, these guys, due to their postseason performances, have gone from being underrated to overrated.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chuck Norris liking Tim Tebow is "News"

THIS HAPPENED. This was one of the stories on the front page as of 3:00PM today. The link to the story read, "Tough guy Chuck Norris sees himself in Tebow." This is the type of story that Skip Bayless thinks should be the biggest in the world and EVERYONE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW, which is the exact reason why it is not a story. I think that's a good barometer. A sports story's importance is inversely proportional to how much Skip Bayless cares about it. Let's take this stoolmonster line by line.

When Chuck Norris watches Tim Tebow, he sees a version of himself on the football field. As such, the ultimate tough guy has come to the defense of the beleaguered quarterback in an online column.

Since when is Chuck Norris "the ultimate tough guy" in the world? Because there was a running joke about Chuck Norris Facts in like 2004? I liked those jokes. They were funny. Chuck Norris doesn't sleep, he waits. That's funny. It's funny because Chuck Norris is just that guy from Walker, Texas Ranger. He's not someone who people actually think is super badass. Like if these jokes were about Muhammad Ali or something, they'd still be kinda funny, but not as funny as they are when it's Chuck Norris, because Chuck Norris is just a random fuckin' guy who was on a goofy TV show 20 years ago. Hey ESPN: Irony is a thing.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Not-Quite-Half-Hearted Defense of Wins as a Statistic

Despite what you may have heard, THE BEST BLOG IN AMERICA IS NOT DEAD. We've just been busy, okay guys? Can't you appreciate that? Can't you understand that? No? Well screw you, it's not like you're paying us for this. Sheeeeeeet.

The writers on this blog are all proponents of sabermetrics, or advanced baseball statistics. We are proponents of sabermetrics because sabermetrics are like...right about stuff. They measure good things. They tell you that traditional stats like batting average and RBI and wins for pitchers are fairly stupid and not good indicators of a player's overall performance. It makes total sense. But I just wanted to share a couple of little thoughts about the value that wins can have in determining a pitcher's value.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why It's Okay to Laugh at Charles Ramsey (hint: He's trying to be funny)

The recent story out of Cleveland is pretty unbelievable. But the real story is that we have a new Internet celebrity in Charles Ramsey, the man who called 911 once Amanda Berry escaped captivity. Ramsey gave a very candid and very hilarious interview to a local news station. But the REAL real story is the backlash that people's love for Charles Ramsey has set off.

Now, we're no strangers to issues of race here on this blog. I would say that we've tackled some issues of race and taken stands that many, if not most, people would think are overly sensitive, especially surrounding the Williams sisters. But this Charles Ramsey backlash is ridiculous.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tim Duncan Sits on Fracking Panel

SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan was featured on a panel that discussed the issue of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," last night at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Duncan describes himself as a "self-educated expert" on the subject.

"I first heard about fracking on NPR a couple of years back," said the four-time NBA champion, "and that discussion really piqued my interest. I've been reading everything on fracking that I can get my hands on ever since."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Top Ten Teams For Jason Collins To Sign With Now That He's Openly Gay

"I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."

Lost amid the ESPN fervor about the Jets releasing Tim Tebow, Jason Collins came out in Sports Illustrated today. (Seriously, as I'm writing this, Tebow leads the ESPN news section. Collins is 2nd.) Don't read about it on our blog. Just go read it.

It's a powerful essay, chronicling his gradual decision to come out, first to friends and family and now publicly. It's also a big deal, despite the efforts of some to downplay its significance. I don't need to get into why.

Collins is a free agent this offseason, working hard to play his 13th year in the NBA, and one wonders how this revelation will affect his ability to get another job. With that said, after the jump, here are the top ten locations for Jason Collins to play now that he's out of the closet.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Whole 42 Letters: It's been a long GD time since we posted anything

Hey gals,

We've been under a lot of stress recently. Sorry the Most Thoughtful Sports Analysis on the Blogosphere has been agonizingly absent for like...over a week. We didn't even do a GD playoffs preview. Who do we think we are?!

Your letters:

Given that the first round seems to drag on forever and gives us lots of lopsided results should we move back to a best of 5 series?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dispatch From Boston On Lockdown

This week, I’m told, we are all citizens of Boston. Ordinarily, I don’t think most Bostonians would look kindly on that sentiment, but this week has been extraordinary. The tragic, terrifying events that have transpired and the Newtonian equal-and-opposite reactions they have engendered.

Every week, I’m an actual citizen of Boston. Midwestern-born, I’m not a Bostonian, but this city has been my home for a while now.

This morning, I woke up and discovered my city was on lockdown. Buses and trains shut down. Cab service suspended. A massive manhunt underway. FBI, BPD, NSA, every acronym I can think of involved. Do not leave your houses, the Governor pleaded on TV. So I stayed home, locked the door, and shut the blinds.

We are all citizens of Boston, but only some of us are confined to our homes.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Knicks Win at Absurd Subplots

The NBA regular season is really long and really really boring for the most part. Luckily, as a Knicks fan, this team has been blessed with a cast of characters that do enough stupid stuff to keep us entertained through all the back-to-backs against the Pistons and Cavaliers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Kobe Bryant Guns for Most Hospital Visitors Record

Late Saturday night, doctors and hospital nurses hushed excitedly throughout the hallways of Los Angeles Memorial Hospital. A record was within reach. Star patient Kobe Bryant was within ten visitors of surpassing the all-time record for visitors previously held by Bobby Smith, a six-year old cancer patient. "I've never seen anything like this," said Kobe's Doctor Alan Schwartz, "for a patient to instill such a will and have such a singular focus on breaking a record. Wow. Just wow."

An Ugly Day in the City

Yesterday as I was leaving work, I ran into a coworker, a quintessential Boston guy, with whom I very rarely interact.

"Ugly day in the city," he said.

A marathon, especially the Boston Marathon, represents a lot of what is great about humanity. Marathon runners show that people can push themselves to achieve any goal, no matter how seemingly ridiculous. They underscore the value of doing something that seems impossible because it seems impossible.  It's really something to behold, watching people run what would be an hour's drive in Massachusetts traffic. Marathon runners are extremely admirable humans.

And then there are the spectators: people who don't even know these runners, just there to witness their accomplishments, give them orange slices and water, and tell the runners how impressive they are. Marathons show how much we take care of each other. These are some of the best stranger-to-stranger interactions that one can imagine.

Marathons are places where people trust strangers. We're all supposed to rely on each other when things like this are happening. We're not supposed to be afraid.

So let's decide not to be afraid. Let's all agree that living our lives exactly how we want to live them, being free from fear, is MUCH better than safety with paranoia.

Because ultimately, this isn't about you or me. Scores and scores of people's lives will never be the same, and three people's lives ended. Let's help to heal those wounds as best we can, and live our lives the way we want to live them. Because just like marathons show us, we take care of each other, and we persevere through things that seem impossible.

That ugly day in the city is over. It's just one ugly day, and it's over. It's 60 and sunny out there. April 16th, 2013 is a beautiful day in the city.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Red Sox Sellout "Streak" Is Fairly Impressive

The Red Sox sellout "streak" ended last night after 820 games dating back to May of 2003. For those of you who don't know about this already, the streak was pretty dubious, as the Red Sox counted complimentary tickets (an average of about 800 per game) and Standing Room Only tickets towards their count for game attendance. Fenway's seating capacity is also only 37400, the smallest in baseball. But here are a few reasons why the streak is still pretty impressive.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Whole 42 Letters: Desert Island Twitter

No time for chit-chat. If we dawdle John Axford might blow another save.

John Axford: better at pitching products than strikes.
Your questions:

If you're stuck on a desert island and can only follow five Twitter users, who are you taking? (You get wifi... don't fucking ask.)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ranking the Opening Day Starters

I'm liking this "ranking" thing. It's good. Here's a list of the MLB Opening Day starters for each team, based on how well I think they'll do in 2013. The methodology:

There are a bunch of stats that are good predictors of future performance for pitchers. has a bunch of these advanced stats that measure all kinds of things, but there are a few that stand out as good predictors for pitchers. Prepitchtors. Pitchdictors. Something. I used a couple for determining which starters would have the best 2013.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Knicks are Playing Offense Differently and Doing It Really Well

Last night, the Knicks beat the Heat for their ninth consecutive win and increased their Atlantic Division lead to five games over the Nets. The Knicks' success this season comes almost entirely from their offense, as their defense is merely 16th in points per possession. Their offense, however, ranks third in points per possession at an impressive 108.2 points per 100 possessions, trailing only the Thunder and the Heat. The Knicks certainly have talented offensive players, particularly Carmelo Anthony, but it is their strategy on offense that's more interesting. Their combination of isolation, three-point shooting, and never turning the ball over has somehow made a team that cannot drive, doesn't get offensive rebounds, and shoots a mere 44% into an elite offensive machine.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Terry Crews Explains NCAA Hypocrisy

I had this whole post about the NCAA planned out, but then something strange happened: Terry Crews took to Twitter and basically made all my points for me.

Yep, this guy.
This guy.

First a little background... The other day, Louisville guard Kevin Ware's shin decided it no longer wanted to be part of his leg, and it chose the nationally-televised Elite Eight game as its big coming out moment.

Ware's an NCAA student-athlete, uncompensated for his trouble beyond a scholarship (but unable to work a job because of the demands of his particular scholarship), and this injury at least puts the "athlete" part of the equation in jeopardy.

Since he's not a one-and-done who could have gone pro without the forced year-long pitstop in college basketball, this injury doesn't immediately affect Ware's future earnings, but that very situation happened this year. Nerlens Noel was the consensus #1 NBA prospect coming into the season, marooned in Kentucky for a season, and he blew out his knee. He may still enter next year's draft but he probably won't go #1. And if he stays at Kentucky, he'd be further postponing millions in earnings (and for which there is a pretty small window in which he can make that kind of money). Viable NBA career or not, Kevin Ware's gaaaaahhhhhhIdon'tthinklegsaresupposedtobendlikethat moment was just a more viscerally horrifying example of the same problem.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ranking the #1 Overall NBA Picks since 1984

Before we get too all into baseball, as we kind of already are as evidenced by last week's posts, let's take a step back and remember that basketball is starting to get real good. The playoffs will be starting soon, and it's gonna be a great year for the NBA. And to get your basketball juices flowing, I'm going to put together one of our grand lists that will be talked about for generations: the best #1 overall picks in the NBA draft since 1984.

1984 was arguably the best draft ever, fielding such greats as the GOAT, Hakeem, Barkley, Stockton, and many others. I also sort of think of it as the beginning of the modern NBA, when players and teams started playing the game we more or less see today. Starting a ranking of this sort in 1984 seems to make sense.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Real Damn Thang Part II: The Realer Damn Thang

Time for our second annual ballin'-ass preview. The first annual one was great. We were all right about everything! Let's get it on.


Steve: With an improved Blue Jays team that might actually make the playoffs, I'm gonna go with Jose Bautista. He should've gotten it in the Verlander year, and he'll be healthy this whole year and ball out. Plus, with Lawrie hurt for a bit, he might step over and play a little third. SO valuable.

Sean: Josh Hamilton. He's totally going to get it despite being the third-most valuable hitter on his own team. But I can see him getting like 135 RBI and carrying the narrative.

Jon: If he can stay healthy for the whole year (a big if at this point, despite being only 27 years old), I'm predicting a huge breakout for Evan Longoria. I picked his Rays to win the AL East, and he's far and away the best player on that team. A good amount of his value is tied up in being an elite fielder, but he's a good enough hitter on a good enough team to get the award.

Is Verlander's Contract Worth It?

Earlier this afternoon, news broke that Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, 30, had signed a 7-year/$180 million contract extension with a vesting 8th year option for an additional $22 million. This is easily the largest contract a pitcher has ever signed and begs the obvious question: is it worth it?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Baseball Preview Thursday

So we gave you the over-unders. Now it's time to actually tell you how this season's gonna play out. One of us will give you a preview for each division, and then we'll tell you how we each think the playoffs are going to go down. It'll be super fun. Join us.


AL East
The AL East has the most potential of any division. The Orioles have the lowest over-under for wins at 78.5, and as you can see, two of us think they're going to go over. Each and every team in this division, however, could end up having a bust season.

The Five Stages of Yuniesky Betancourt

So your team just re-signed sub-replacement level shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt for his second go-round with the team, and your team is not the Royals. Here are the five stages of Yuni Betancourt.

1. Denial - No way the Brewers re-signed Yuni Betancourt. I mean, I know we're pretty weak on the infield with Jean Segura at short and Alex Gonzalez at first, but we could have signed anyone or promote someone from AAA. Are you telling me Craig Counsell wasn't available?

This is all some sort of baseball anxiety dream or early April Fools joke. Well played, Attanasio.

2. Anger - WHY ON EARTH would ANYONE sign a guy who has 129 career walks in 8 seasons in the MLB? Is it for his glove? No, he's about as bad as they come there. Is it for his baserunning? He's stolen 30 bases in his career, too. He's been caught stealing 30 times. His clubhouse demeanor? HE BARELY FUCKING SPEAKS ENGLISH. Oh Yuniesky, were you brought from another land just to make me hate watching the Brewers?

Get off my team, Yuni. In the words of Scar, run away and never return.

3. Bargaining - Maybe it won't be that bad. They won't necessarily have to start him. He actually hits righties okay. Maybe he could platoon. Maybe those flashes of power from 2011 will come with even average (or approaching average) on base abi...

4. Depression - His career OPS+ is 82. Career WAR is -2.6. With over 1,000 games played. He's so bad the Royals have given up on him. Twice.

5. Acceptance - Yuni Betancourt is on my team for the second time in three years.

At least we'll always have this. It's our Paris.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

2nd Annual MLB Over/Unders

It's year two and we haven't come up with any better schtick for our baseball preview. Instead, we'll take the over/under lines for each team and pick sides. As always, this is a foolproof way of determining who is the smartest blogger. Right now it is Steve. Next year it will be Sean.

Without further ado, part 1 of our 3-part baseball preview.

The Whole 42 Letters: Spring's Here

We've chronicled just how awful February and the beginning of March are sports-wise, but we've finally turned the corner. We did it, Brooklyn. This is primetime sports viewing season. NBA races are picking up, baseball is starting again, Thursday-Sunday will be completely reserved for March Madness, and it is actually getting nice enough to play sports outside again. Also random sports events are popping up, shoutout to the USA Soccer Team for going 0-0 at Mexico. Basically, expect the blog to kick ass the next few months.

Now onto your letters (sorry for the week off).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Your (only slightly late) Ultimate Bracket!

This bracket is guaranteed to be 100% accurate, and we're delivering it to you just in time for you not to be able to use it. Let's go!

Midwest Region

The Olympics and WBC are Awesome to Watch, but Really Fuck Over Owners

This will be my first and last post ever siding with any owner of a professional sport. It was announced today that Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez will miss 8 weeks with a thumb injury he sustained diving for a ball in a WBC game for the Dominican Republic. Ramirez's injury came because he made a risky play, a play he would not have made in a meaningless exhibition game. Hanley Ramirez makes $15.5 million to play for the Dodgers and approximately $0 to play for the Dominican Republic.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Looking Back on the 2007-2008 Rockets' 22-Game Winning Streak

The Miami Heat's victory over the Boston Celtics tonight, their 23rd straight, pushed them into second place for longest win streaks in NBA history, passing the 2007-2008 Houston Rockets. The Heat are, and have been, the best team in the NBA the past two seasons, and considering the state of the East this season, their win streak isn't a complete shock. The Rockets' streak is a complete shock. They won 55 games while starting Rafer Alston 74 games, playing Luther Head 20 minutes a game, and miraculously won 10 games in a row starting 41-year-old Dikembe Mutombo. Somehow, this random assortment of flawed and injury-prone players put together the 3rd-longest winning streak in NBA history.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wes Welker to Start Scrapping on the Broncos

Per ESPN reports, Wes Welker just signed a 2-year, $12 million contract to play in Denver, swapping one hyper-accurate legendary quarterback for another, albeit one whose neck has been sewn on like Frankenstein's monster. Obviously, any opinion today is pure speculation, but that won't stop me from giving mine. On first look I think it's the rare deal that helps each and every actor; it's great for Welker, great for Denver, and great for New England.

As mentioned above, Welker gets to benefit from continued high level quarterback play (actual elite quarterbacking, as opposed to Flacco-elite). What sets Manning and Brady apart from so many other quarterbacks is not their physical gifts, but their ability to read defenses and their otherworldly accuracy. Welker would probably be a good receiver in any system, able to slide down the seam for easy looks and capable of running wide receiver screens that function as a pseudo-running game, but it would be a waste of Welker's talent if a lesser quarterback like Andy Dalton were trying fit the ball in the tiny windows of space in which Welker operates. In Manning, Welker has a security blanket, and vice versa.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

These Trades Won't Change Everything


A couple of pretty interesting trades have happened recently in the NFL. The NFC champ 49ers acquired Anquan Boldin for their widely coveted hill of beans. And the Niners' upstart division rival Seahawks acquired Percy Harvin, noted most underrated player in the NFL, for 3 draft picks, including a first-rounder. Before we get to it, a few words on the Anquan Boldin trade.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Just Sandy Koufax and Vin Scully Talking About Pitching

Hey you, reading this blog. Check out this video of Vin Scully interviewing Sandy Koufax. It'll make your day. (Apologies we can't embed it here). Sandy and Vin are both national treasures, and they're talking about pitching and just being generally awesome and oh dear God I wish I could hang out and talk about pitching and drink Arnold Palmers with them. I bet Vin keeps mints in his pockets and gives them to the Dodgers ball boys when they bring him a glass of water. And Sandy obviously smells like Bengay since his career was cut short due to arthritis but I'd totally overlook that just to get to talk with them. Maybe we could talk about timeshares or something.

Vin is the only announcer I'll go out of my way to listen to and one of the hidden perks of having MLBtv. He calls it like it is and he calls games by himself, and sometimes he pretends to lipread managers saying profane things and it's wonderful. He also occasionally talks about Twitter, and clearly doesn't get it.

Oh and this.

Sandy's great, too. He's Jewish. Who knew?

Follow us on Twitter @thewhole42minutes

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Yankees Might Actually Suck!!!!


Grantland came out with a piece today about the Yankees' injury problems, saying that they might be in for their first losing season in 20 years. The piece goes through the likely Yankees lineup for this year, but let's go through it a little bit here for some context.

In terms of sure-fire, stud, solid hitters with no injury question marks (yet), you have Robinson Cano and...yup, Robinson Cano. That's it. Cano is no doubt an All-Star, Silver Slugger, MVP candidate, but that's one guy.

Goodbye and Thanks for the Memories

This baseball off-season brought a sad end to the career of Chipper Jones, but it is also marking the end for several players of his era. These are the players that I grew up with, and I will always cherish their memory. I don't usually write about opposing players, but honestly, some players go above the fray and deserve the respect of all 30 fan bases. They gave us moments we'll never forget, on big stages, with grace, courage, and humility. There have been recent rumors of a certain player announcing his impending retirement, and today, I'll take off my Braves hat and show love for a true inspiration.

By now, we all know who I'm talking about. I think that all baseball fans should recognize his importance to the game. His 49.4 FanGraphs WAR stands 115th all-time for pitchers, a remarkable feat considering the natural obstacles he faced. His career is filled with postseason greatness, leading his teams to pennants and being a dominant force when it mattered most.

I've got nothing but love for this man, a man of deep faith and character even at the lowest moments of his career. Today, my hat is off to you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jon v. Sean v. Steve: NBA Draftapalooza

Here at TW42M, we love to get into pointless, arbitrary, hypothetical arguments that we can’t prove one way or another. So, here is a ten-round draft of all current NBA players (meaning that players who are currently hurt like Tony Parker, Derrick Rose, and Rajon Rondo aren’t eligible). The draft went in a snake fashion with Jon taking Lebron and me taking Durant. These teams are going to actually play together (well not actually but you know what I mean), so this isn’t simply a fantasy team or the Kings. Chemistry matters. Age and contracts don’t: this team is playing this season and this season only.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Kobe Bryant Changes Nickname to "Jesus"

Los Angeles, CA - In a rambling video posted to his personal website, Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant announced that he was changing his nickname to Jesus, and officially retiring the moniker Black Mamba. Bryant said the name change came about because of his philosophical change in playing style on this year’s struggling team, saying, “I’m sacrificing my shots and my points for the betterment of the team, turning the other cheek when players are out of position and passing them the ball anyway. That’s not Mamba behavior, and I can’t go by that name anymore. So from now on, call me Jesus.” 

The new nickname is an allusion to Jesus Christ, a prominent figure in the Western religion Christianity, who was known for his charitable behavior and teachings and who, according to many theological doctrines, died for the sins of humanity before ascending to Heaven. Bryant later clarified, “I’m not saying I’m the Messiah, but I've got a killer crossover and I've got the passion to make this team rise.” When reached for comment, the only Lakers player willing to go on record about the name change was reserve forward Robert Sacre who waved his towel three times above his head and screamed incomprehensibly for 17 seconds.

Follow us on Twitter @thewhole42minutes.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Million Dollars Ain't What it Used To Be

Not too long ago, Magic Johnson, all-time basketball great and ESPN analyst extraordinaire, offered LeBron James essentially $1 million to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest and win it. LeBron was asked about it recently, and said that he's considering it.

LeBron in his usual spot during the dunk contest

Sunday, March 3, 2013

We Can All Stop Watching Now

LeBron James and the Heat are going to win their second straight championship--the rest of the season will just be 29 inferior teams playing out a formality. This afternoon, LeBron James played in 3rd gear for three quarters, and then he tried. Carmelo Anthony, the league's second leading scorer, couldn't even get the ball with James on him. Earlier in the fourth, James made back-to-back threes and Jeff Van Gundy rightly said, he no longer has any holes in his game. James can do whatever he wants whenever he wants and he does it without breaking a sweat. James punctuated his dominant performance with a dunk from just inside the free throw line on a breakaway and Melo's expression said it all--no matter what I do, this guy will always be better.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Top Twelve Sloan Papers I'd Like to See

The MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference is taking place just a few miles from my house this weekend, a veritable nerd-vana which has ballooned into Comic-Con for mathematically-inclined sports fans. With roughly 3,300 attendees (and a growth rate of about 25% annually), the conference itself is a testament to the numbers boom in sports, and a nice counter-balance to the machismo-laden dreck that is most sports analysis. No longer confined to Bill James Almanacs and Iinternet message boards, these new paradigms of analysis have steadily gained mainstream acceptance. The Bucks, for instance, cited J.J. Redick's PER numbers in their press release upon acquiring him last week. It was a watershed moment for the stat (whose creator, Sloan superstar John Hollinger, is now a higher-up in the Memphis organization), but such moments will become more and more common.

I find that numbers actually enhance my ability to love sports because they let me view sports analytically while still leaving myself open to the unfettered drama that unfolds. I also love that numbers give us a way to analyze sports outside of narrative, and that the best analysis is completely unremoved from the sport. Basically, at this blog, we spend a lot of time deconstructing sportswriter myths but always a step removed from the game or the sport, essentially a reactive analysis. The research being presented at Sloan probably started as a counter to these narratives, but its analysis ignores them completely.

I generally read a few of the papers presented at each conference, and I find that they help me contextualize the sports that I'm watching. Good metrics also tend to line up with what I, as a pretty informed viewer, think I'm seeing. For instance, Omar Vizquel performs really well in most defensive statistics. If he didn't, I'd have a problem with the stat. I love this new information, but my one problem with these papers is that the writers often take themselves just a little too seriously.

With that in mind, I present to you my Top 12 papers I'd like to see presented at the conference.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Million Is a LOT

I've been playing with this new app called Tamago. Tamago is Japanese for "egg." The point of this app is simple: tap the egg one million times.

I started this app yesterday to try to understand how much one million really is. It's a mind-boggling amount. I figured out that I tap the egg 100 times in about 18 seconds. This means that it will take approximately 50 man hours to complete the app. That's a lot of hours.

So when we talk about a million in sports, let's remember that a million is an incomprehensible amount of anything. A below-average NFL player makes that many dollars in a year. Crazy.

This post really doesn't have a point AT ALL. Just that a million is a lot. Like, if you win Chopped, you get $10,000. That's 1% of a million. Nuts.

I promise we'll have a better post tomorrow.