Tuesday, June 24, 2014

#HotSportsTake: The Tie Generation In America

We’ve all heard the complaints.  

A tie is like kissing your sister.

A boring, INCONCLUSIVE style that practically encourages ties in soccer means it will never catch on in America.

A tie is literally worse than genocide.  

If you can tie, well why not just call off the match and go straight to the handshake line? Dan Shaughnessy would be happy that hands are involved at least.

With a tie against Germany on Thursday, the USMNT would advance to the knockout rounds of the World Cup. A US win would do it too, and there’s a good chance we advance even with a loss, but a tie guarantees it. What’s more, Germany would be through in first place as long as they don’t lose. It’s a horrifying thought to most, that it would be in our advantage for both teams to take it easy and play for a scoreless draw, to collude in futility. It must be the influence of that fruity European coach.

Playing for a tie is everything we claim to hate about the sport.

Well, I have a different take on the matter.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yasiel Puig is not a child

If you haven't read Andrew Sharp's piece on Grantland about LeBron love/hate, I highly recommend it (thanks to Seansie for pointing it out to me). We have covered some themes that come up in that post, most notably (I like to think) in my post about Richard Sherman following the NFC Championship Game this year. When idiots are idiots, people who write on snarky blogs (heh) sometimes take the battle against these idiots to the extreme. And oftentimes, that extreme defense is as bad as or worse than the idiots' initial opinions. This is becoming true of Deadspin's coverage of Yasiel Puig.

Deadspin is a blog that I read every day, and my favorite Internet writer -- Large Father Drew Magary -- writes his best stuff on said blog. I like Deadspin a lot for the most part. Their schtick gets annoying occasionally, and some writers are definitely better than others, but it's one of the beacons of light in the horrible darkness that is sports writing on the Internet.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Spurs Are A Fine Wine

“Legendary.” It’s the only adjective this Spurs team, which has been great every season since I first started watching basketball nearly two decades ago, couldn’t necessarily lay claim to. The 2013-14 Spurs rebounded from a heartbreaking defeat in last year’s Finals to cut through one of the most difficult conferences in NBA history, winning 62 games while no single player averaged over 30 minutes per game. Then in the playoffs, they beat their two nemeses, first the hyper-athletic, kinetically explosive Thunder in the Conference Finals and then world's greatest player LeBron James and the two-time reigning champion Heat in the Finals. They did so in astonishing fashion. Twelve of the Spurs’ sixteen playoff victories were by 15 or more points, and the Finals ended with three consecutive blowouts. Honestly, Game 5 felt more like a coronation than a competition. The Spurs have been among the NBA’s very best the entire Tim Duncan/Gregg Popovich era, an astonishing sixteen consecutive years, and they were far and away the best team in the NBA this year. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Serious Problems with WAR

Right now, as of the afternoon of June 5, 2014, the best team in Major League Baseball is the San Francisco Giants. They are 38-21, good for a .644 winning percentage and the best record in all of baseball. According to Fangraphs, the Giants are also the owners of the 19th-highest total of Wins Above Replacement. Judging by their performance, they are the 19th-best team in baseball and the third-best team in their own division. I wondered how this could possibly be the case, and discovered a few interesting, and troubling, facts about WAR -- Wins Above Replacement, the most advanced of advanced statistics, the golden stat that attempts to boil down a player's entire contribution to his team's winning into one meaningful number.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Third-of-the-Way-Through MLB Awards

Before we all become consumed in the NBA Finals (or the Stanley Cup Finals, sure), it might be nice to see where we're at in the baseball season. For many fans of basketball and/or hockey, baseball has taken a back seat as the playoffs have been happening in those other sports. So to get you up to date on what's been happening, I'd like to present the Third-of-the-Way-Through-the-Season MLB Awards. We actually did this last year as a blog, but you know how it is coordinating 3 schedules. Nightmare. So I'll be flying solo on this one.

The AL MVP so far is Josh Donaldson, third baseman for the Oakland A's. He narrowly beats out a few other players, like Mike Trout, Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista. But Donaldson has the most WAR (3.6) and the fifth-highest wOBA in the AL. He plays a premium position at third base, and not for anything, but he plays for the best team in the AL (which I know shouldn't matter but it's a thing to say).