Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Case for Instant Replay in Major League Baseball

Replay needs to be used for plays at home plate.
The worst thing for anybody involved in any sport is when a game is decided not by the collective of efforts of its individual participants, but rather by an aggregious error in officiating.  Officials are not perfect and will blow a call every once in a while, and thats fine, but some calls are fixable and unintrusive to virtually every sport given the technology we have today.  Pro football, basketball, hockey, and baseball all implement some form of instant replay to help officials do essentially what the main job of officiating is: get the call right.  The National Football League is the league that has shown it is least afraid to expand its use of instant replay whereas Major League Baseball has been the most hesitant.  In my opinion, many of the excuses given against the expantion of instant replay are sentimental and contrite.  Sports are not really about the fans as much as we would like to think, especially when a person's livelihood often depends on wins and losses.  If a blown call decides whether or not a team wins or loses, and that loss ultimately leads to a coach getting fired or player being released, then it doesn't just suck because "your" team lost.   It means that that person's life changes FOREVER because of that call.  That being said, MLB needs to expand use of replay beyond homerun calls.  Balls and strikes are off limits thought because those are judgement calls dependent on the ump, the same way a pass interfernce call in football can't be reviewed, or a personal foul in basketball can't be reversed.  But whether it be close calls at first base or at home plate, or fair or foul balls down the line, i'm all for it.  First, lets examine the most common reasons why people are opposed to the expanded use of replay in baseball, and then I will tell you why they are all pretty much lame.
1.  The games are long enough already and adding replay will make games go on forever.
The speed of games has been an issue in past years but there is very little that can be done to change this since baseball is an untimed game.  The longest games tend to be the best games though because there are alot of pitching changes, pinch hitters, and other strategic managerial moves that extend the length of the game.  Also, nationally televised games tend to take longer since there are a bunch more commercial breaks.  That said, there is no reason why certain plays can't be reviewed during these tv timeouts.  They were going to show the replay about 20 times anyway, might as well have an umpire take a look at it too to make sure the call was right.

Coaches will still blow up on umps with replay.  It's tradition.
2. Baseball is about tradition.  New technology will change the game as we know it.
Really? Like the game hasn't changed enough already throughout the so-called "steroid era"? There are always different eras in baseball but that doesn't mean that the essence of the game itself has changed.  Four balls is still a walk, three strikes and your out, nine innnings in a game . . . a few extra cameras are not gonna change this. 

3.  Replay will take away from the authority of the umpires.  Besides, umps blow calls for every team; it's just part of the game.
It is often said that the best officials are the ones who you don't know their names.  This is because the only time you really here about these other guys is when they screw up.  I'm sure Jim Joyce would prefer to live in obscurity rather than infamy after blowing a call last year at first base that would've given then-Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga the first perfect game in Tigers history.  Joyce saw the replay after the game and admitted he got the call wrong.  As a result, he received numerous death threats upon himself and his family and it became uncertain if it would be safe for him to ever umpire again.  But that's just "part of the game" right?  I know it's only one circumstance, but if it is possible that a person could lose his life for making a bad call than can't we atleast help individuals that are in that position by implementing this new technology?  Look, we will still get to see managers stomp out of the dugout and argue balls and strikes so that won't be missed.  Baseball umps won't have any less authority than football referees have.  They will just be a little less noticeable.  Which I don't think any ump, given the Joyce situation, would mind very much at all.
There are no famous umps; only infamous ones.
4. Human error should be celebrated, since it is unavoidable.
If human error should be "celebrated" then they should throw a party for me every night.  Kidding aside, really?  Most human errors are unavoidable, i agree with that, but most human errors are also correctable.  THAT'S THE WHOLE REASON THEY USE INSTANT REPLAY IN ALMOST EVERY SPORT.  Why should we let a mistake just stand when it can be corrected?  Besides, there are still gonna be calls that don't get reviewed by instant reply and probably should, so you guys out there that are such fans of "human error" will still have something to cheer/complain about.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

8 Reasons Why There Will Be No NBA This Year

Stern has his work cut out for him.
The main two reasons that the National Basketball Association is poor: (1) teams pay way too much money for average to below average big men and (2) guaranteed contracts.  Don't believe me?  I bet you didn't know that Sacramento Kings center Samuel Dalembert gets paid more than Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Jason Terry, Danny Granger, and Rajon Rondo.  Or that former New York Knicks free agent bust Jerome James was traded to the Chicago Bulls two years ago, was waived without ever playing a game for them, but collected over six million dollars in each of the past two seasons!  If NBA owners and commissioner David Stern don't come up with something to figure this out, the league as we know it is in deep trouble.  Check out this list of player salaries compared to their production during those same years.

Jermaine O'Neal, 2009-2010 Miami Heat - $23M/ 13.6 ppg, 6.9 rpg
Jerome James, 2008-2010 Chicago Bulls - $12.8M/ did not play
Etan Thomas, 2006-2009 Washington Wizards - $19.1M/ 4.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg
DeSagana Diop, 2009-2011 Charlotte Bobcats - $12.5M/ 1.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg
Joel Przybilla, 2008-2010 Portland Trail Blazers - $13.1M/ 4.8 ppg, 6 rpg
Michael Redd, 2008-2011 Milwaukee Bucks - $51.1M/ 12.5 ppg (61 GP)
Dan Gadzuric, 2009-2011 Golden State Warriors/ New Jersey Nets - $14M/ 2.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Rashard Lewis, 2009-2011 Orlando Magic/ Washington Wizards - $38.4M/ 12.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg

*salary info courtesy of

Thursday, July 14, 2011

'Joey Bats, Shining in the Box'

If Bautista keeps this pace he'll join elite company.
Yes, I know that Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez leads the American League in hits and batting average (not to mention he's got that silky smooth swing), and of course we all know the track record that guys like St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez have as the top hitters in baseball, but Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista deserves more credit than anybody right now because of the numbers he has put up in the first half of this 2011 season.  Bautista is viewed solely as a power hitter, and based on last years numbers, when he hit a ML best 54 homeruns but batted only .265, it seems hard to argue otherwise.  But through the first 84 games this year, Bautista is second to Gonzalez in the AL batting .334, and is first in homeruns (31), and fourth in runs batted in (65).  Like sabermetrics?  Look up Bautista on and see the slew of categories he leads the AL in. Stats don't always tell the story but at the same time numbers don't lie.  The most impressive stat: Bautista is slugging .702 and has an on-base percentage of .468, giving him an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) of 1.170.  If he continues at this pace, the man they call Joey Bats will put himself in the company of some of the most legendary single seasons that baseball has ever seen.  His OPS is on pace to be the 34th best for a single season in major league history; behind Lou Gehrig in 1934  and just ahead of Mickey Mantle in 1956.  Also, when you look at the fact that not only is he hitting for power, but also for average, he enters an even more elite group of players.  Below is the list of players who have slugged .700 or better with atleast a .330 batting average for a season all-time.

+Babe Ruth (1921) .846 SLG, .378 BA
+Barry Bonds (2004) .812, .362
+Lou Gehrig (1927) .765, .373
+Rogers Hornsby (1925) .756, .403
*Jeff Bagwell (1994) .750, .368 

+Jimmie Foxx (1932) .749, .364
+Ted Williams (1941) .735, .406
*Frank Thomas (1994) .729, .353 
Hack Wilson (1930) .723, .356
*Albert Belle (1994) .714, .357 
+Larry Walker (1999) .710, .379 
Al Simmons (1930) .708, .381 
Mickey Mantle (1956) .705, .353 
Stan Musial (1948) .702, .376

+ Player achieved milestone more than once in career; best season of combined slugging and batting average listed.
*Strike shortened season; no team played more than 117 games.

Look, I'm not putting Joey Bats into the Hall of Fame or anything, I'm just saying the props the man gets is not equivalent to the absolute pillage he has been putting on this season.  It hurts him alot that A-Gon is making AL pitching look like its soft toss, and that the Blue Jays are usually a lock to finish no better than third place in the division, but I'll be watching to see if he can stay at this pace or better in these next few months.

***statistics courtesy of

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Friday, July 1, 2011

'Who's Next?'

I don't think anyone outside of the state of Texas had the Dallas Mavericks winning it all this year and certainly no one could've predicted the absolute clinic Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki put on along the way to said championship.  You probably won't get very accurate predictions (atleast I called that the Heat wouldn't win a championship though) out of me but nevertheless, my list of players who I think have what it takes to be the 2012 Dirk, but still need work on certain aspects of their games.

Rondo can drive and dish, but his J is AWOL.
Derrick Rose - Chicago Bulls
MVP or not, Rose still needs work on his perimeter jumper.  He shot 33-percent from 3-point during the 2010-11 season and a wretched 25-percent during the playoffs.  The guy is unstoppable off the drive already, imagine what will open up for himself and his teammates once a few more J's start falling.
Rajon Rondo - Boston Celtics
It's pretty clear that if Rondo could shoot the basketball worth a ball of yarn, we would all be looking at the second coming of Isiah Thomas.  Rondo has played four years in the NBA and is a two-time All-Star, the starting point guard on NBA Championship team, and boasts some historical individual playoff performances (29 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists against Cleveland in the 2010 Eastern Conference semis), despite being a career 24-percent 3-point shooter and 62-percent from the free throw line.

Time for Melo to show he's more than just a scorer.
Carmelo Anthony - New York Knicks
We know he can score, but what can he do to make his teammates better?  Melo needs to take a cue from what Kobe Bryant went through in the post-Shaq L.A. years and save the offense for down the stretch.  Get the teammates involved and their confidence up because they are the ones you are going to have to rely on to make shots when the double and tripple teams come.  Also, Anthony is a physical guy on offense but doesn't really translate that mentality on the defensive end.  He needs to be more assertive on that end of the floor, it will go a long way in showing your teammates that you are sold out to doing anything it takes to win.

Russell Westbrook - Oklahoma City Thunder
Very talented and athletic point guard that needs to better understand his role as Kevin Durant's teammate in this current Thunder offensive system.  A first time NBA All-Star in 2011, Westbrook has elevated his offensive game to the point where he commands double teams now.  But what killed Westbrook and the Thunder in the playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks was poor shot selection down the stretch and lack of ball movement.  Westbrook was benched for the whole fourth quarter in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semis for being the main contributor to the two aformentioned maladies.  Westbrook's main job is to help get Durant going by creating space for him by penetrating and kicking out and continue to find K.D. when he's hot.  His offensive game is most effective when he is under control in the half court and when pushing the ball in transition.

Griffin is the second best player in L.A. already. 
Blake Griffin - Los Angeles Clippers
There is no way the Clippers find a way to screw this one up.  Griffin is two post-up moves and one face-up move away from being a player who is perennially in the conversation for league MVP.  All the hype is not an exaggeration either; not when you win Rookie of the Year honors by averaging 22.5 points per game and 12.1 rebounds per game in 82 games after missing the entire 2009-10 season from a knee injury that required surgery.  Who knows if Griffin will end  up staying in Los Angeles though as the Clippers are a franchise known for everything in the world that is the opposite of 'good'.  The Clip roster is pretty young and talented (see DeAndre Jordan, Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu) but who is to say that they can't make strides like the OKC Thunder have over the past few seasons?

Dwight Howard - Orlando Magic
In a league that is known historically for dominant big men equalling playoff success and championships, Howard has experienced very little of the former and none of the latter in his career which began in 2004.  Rumors are swirling that Orlando might not be the right fit for the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-NBA First Teamer.  No matter what team he plays for though, Howard needs to develop as a playmaker when he has the rock with his back to the basket, a-la Hakeem Olajuwon.  When the ball goes inside to him, defenses know that he is probably going to put up a shot since his post game is not smooth enough yet to find open teammates off the double team with any sort of consistency.