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Just The Sports: When Will It End?

Just The Sports

Thursday, August 17, 2006

When Will It End?

Bill Simmons is at it again, but at least his latest article was a sports-themed one, which comes as a surprise. Not necessarily a pleasant one, but one nonetheless. What is not a surprise is that he barely knows what he is talking about.

The thing is, their offense is pretty good now that everyone's healthy, and they completely lucked out with Corey Patterson (the fantasy baseball version of Larry Johnson this season). To put the Patterson thing in perspective, I was reading "Baseball Between the Numbers" earlier this summer (interesting book about statistics by the guys from Baseball Prospectus) and they described this stat called VORP, which calculates how many runs you would be worth (or not worth) compared to a replacement-level player at your position. Patterson's VORP on the Cubs last season? Minus-10.7. Minus-10.7!!!! Now he's a 50-steal guy who is hitting .279? How does this happen? The poor Cubs fans …

From his comments, it is safe to assume that he never actually finished the book, instead opting to flip through from chapter to chapter, look at graphs he couldn't make sense of, and eventually call the book interesting meaning all the math in it went way over his head. If he had read the book in its entirety, a claim he is careful not to make, he would have read the sections where the Baseball Prospectus team detail why batting average tells you nothing about a player's abilities. Batting average certainly doesn't tell you how often a player is on base, although with players like Jeff Francoeur and Robinson Cano it's not far off, and batting average also does not tell you what kind of hits a player is getting. A .333 hitter who hits predominantly singles and only walks when there is a full moon isn't doing much for his team.

Also, stolen bases are overrated when it comes to adding runs for a team and many teams in history would have been better off trying to steal less, but Bill Simmons doesn't care about that because in his world, the stats most helpful in fantasy leagues must also be the most important stats in the real world.

His paragrah did take me back to my elementary school days when my family finally got cable and I watched Martin, The Simpsons, and American Gladiators for the first time. Some of the episodes I thought were new were really just re-runs and the excitement I had over these shows was excitement my classmates had experienced long before my own. I say this because while VORP may be new and exciting to Bill Simmons, the rest of the statistical sports world has moved on.

10. Cleveland
Not sure what happened with these guys. The Indians would have made a much better roto team.

Seriously, Simmons, with every mention of your fantasy league games, you're undermining the last vestiges of your sports writer credibility. Maybe it is best that you write about sports so infrequently now.

(A) Roy Halladay reminds me of the pitchers I grew up watching (like Catfish Hunter or Jack Morris), one of those rugged guys with a cool name and kick-ass facial hair, someone who seems like he'd welcome any slugger charging the mound, the kind of guy who gets pissed when his manager walks to the mound in the ninth because he wants to finish the game. He's just a horse. Love that guy. Great baseball name as well. Sounds like a new character on "Deadwood" or something.

Bill Simmons reminds me of the sports writers I grew up reading, one of those guys who favors empty cliches and superstitious remarks, someone who welcomes researching his writing like his welcomes the bubonic plague, the kind of guy who at his happiest trying to come up with different faces for different situations in a bit that worn thin two years ago. Hate that guy. Pudgy, unathletic looking dude as well. Looks like he'd be a waste of time to hang out with.

The point is, Liriano is so good, he was traded in my league for SIX LEGITIMATELY GOOD GUYS and the trade was allowed to stand. Sure, it was allowed to stand because the commissioner was the one who made the trade, but it was allowed to stand. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to sit inside my car and scream for the next 30 minutes. Don't go anywhere.

No, the real point is you are in a fantasy league (key word is fantasy) and you cannot use trades made amongst your friends as the basis for determining how good a player is in real life.

(And if you think this column was a complicated reverse jinx for the five-game series coming up at Fenway, well, you know me too well.)

See what I mean about the superstitious remarks?


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