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.

AL MVP

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.



DIVISION PREVIEWS

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 Sportsbook.com 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

Sorry we haven't posted in a few days. Well, I'm not THAT sorry. I don't have to apologize to you! YOU'RE NOT BETTER THAN ME! I CAME TO THIS COUNTRY JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, IN SEARCH OF A DREAM! AND I'LL BE DAMNED IF I HAVE TO SIT HERE AND LISTEN TO THIS CRAP! I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR!



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

The Whole 42 Letters: Brown Bear Edition

I hope everyone had a fantastic week. Let's cut to the chase.



North Korea plays basketball a little differently (thanks Deadspin) -- what is one rule change that you think would be cool in each sport?

First of all, a few words on Dennis Rodman going to North Korea. I think it's hilarious that he thinks he's lifelong friends with Kim Jong-un now. I read that and I was like, 'Wow! What a whacky, funny thing! Dennis Rodman is an idiot! Ha!' And then I was done with it. Everyone else's reaction: "OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGC23901WAAAHHHHHHHHHAWEVUWBGUIOBELVBWJIZZJIZZJIZZJIZZJIZZLVNWEAO;NWGBQIOBAENKANGAROOBALLS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Enough.

Here are some rules that would be cool:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Yankees Might Actually Suck!!!!


True?

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.

The Whole 42 Letters: Sausage Bandits

THE SAUSAGE BANDIT HAS BEEN FOUND.

A few days ago, someone absconded with the Italian Sausage costume and in typical Wisconsin fashion went barhopping with it on. Why he did it is the missing link of the story, but since I bet he was hanging with his guy friends I think he just took sausagefest a step too far. I heard he wanted to get toasted, but his friends convinced him he was already fried. 

Here's hoping he walked up to some girl and tried to pick her up by saying he was just looking for some buns. Or maybe he told her he'd give her the works (pickle included). There's a joke about Miller Park's famed Secret Sauce here but I haven't figured out how to word it yet.


Sigh... Yes, his name is Guido.

I vacillate between feeling immense pride in a quirky Wisconsin tradition such as the racing sausages (and Bob Uecker shilling for Usinger's Sausage) and even more immense shame that that race and people wearing hats that look like cheddar cheese seem to be the only thing people know my home state for. That said, below are my three favorite things about the sausages:

1. At Little League picnics, we had low-rent versions of the racing sausage costumes, and instead of sack races, we would race in those. I always loved that.

2. In an attempt to be more racially sensitive, the Brewers added Chorizo a few years back. He almost never wins.

3. Hideo Nomo was so enamored of the sausages that he used to don a costume and race in his off days. 

BONUS: Apparently Wisconsin news has B-roll footage of Guido, since he's missing but also in that screen cap.