Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Have Nothing To Add To This

"The only thing left to answer about this case, for now, is what kind of wacko attempts to seduce porn stars by posing as a career .248 utility player?" [Deadspin]

He Also Picked Mickey Rourke...

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but Nate Silver's projections of A-Rod's home run totals just don't look right. Here is his description of his methodology:
I took Rodriguez's top 20 PECOTA-comparable players and averaged their performances over each remaining season of their careers. Actually, the process was a little more complicated than that (each comparable's performance was adjusted for his park and league context, as well as his previous track record, and we had to make an accommodation for guys like Manny Ramirez who made A-Rod's comparables list but have yet to conclude their own careers). But the basic idea is simple: Comparables like Frank Robinson, who aged well, have a favorable effect on Rodriguez's forecast, and players like Caminini [sic] just the opposite one.
And here are the projections (I've added A-Rod's two previous seasons in white):

There are three glaring problems to me.
  1. Silver predicts a near-linear decline, with each total being 2-6HR lower than the preceding year. This, of course, is the result you are going to get when you take his "top 20 PETCOA-comparable players" like Silver did. If you take any 20 players and average their careers, the total number of home runs is almost always going to decline with age. Increase the sample size and it will always decline. The only problem is, over that ten year period it is extremely unlikely that any individual player is going to have that consistent of a downward slide. I will bet anyone reading $100 that this doesn't happen to A-Rod. First one to take the bet in the comments is on, we can iron out the details later.

  2. A-Rod is going to be able to DH at some point. Common knowledge would suggest that playing regularly in the field puts wear and tear on a body, draining energy in individual games and effectively shortening careers. Many of his comparables didn't have that luxury and were driven out of the league because they were no longer well-rounded players, not just because they could no longer be effective at the plate and hit home runs.

  3. The problem with being on pace to be the greatest home run hitter of all time is that you aren't going to have too many people similar to you.

Here are Alex's 20 comparables (and their career HR totals):

  1. Sammy Sosa (609)
  2. Bobby Grich (224)
  3. Dave Winfield (465)
  4. Ken Caminiti (239)
  5. Ryne Sandberg (282)
  6. Frank Robinson (586)
  7. Dwight Evans (385)
  8. Jeff Bagwell (449)
  9. George Brett (317)
  10. Reggie Jackson (563)
  11. Hank Aaron (755)
  12. Greg Luzinski (307)
  13. Albert Belle (381)
  14. Reggie Smith (314)
  15. Manny Ramirez (527, Inc.)
  16. Carlos Delgado (469, Inc.)
  17. Dick Allen (351)
  18. Doug DeCinces (237)
  19. Larry Walker (383)
  20. Tony Perez (379)

Granted, PETCOA's comparables are based on a ton of things besides home runs, but the problem with this list is that A-Rod already has more HRs than 16 of the guys on it. He has twice as many as his second and fourth closest matches and his career isn't over. I know Nate is going to lean on his own projection system for a variety of reasons, but it would probably have made more sense to look at the top 20 career HR leaders. We are, after all, trying to predict how many home runs he is going to hit and he's already #12 on the list.

I realize that the most reliable way to predict future outcomes is by analyzing past events. However, the flaw in using this methodology is that it becomes impossible to predict when someone will do unprecedented things. Simply put, how is analyzing 20 guys, none of whom is the career home run leader, ever going to result in the simulation predicting A-Rod will break the all-time record?

Look what happens when you line up A-Rod's projections with Hammerin' Hank's:

For one thing, last year, A-Rod played in only 138 games. If he played 156 games, he was on pace for almost exactly 43 HRs, right in line with a 32 year old Aaron.

Where the big differentials come in, are from ages 35-39. As A-Rod enters his steady plunge into oblivion (98HR, 19.6/year), Hank checks in with 203 round-trippers (40.6 per year) including the highest single season total of his career (47 at age 37).

There's no guarantee that A-Rod will hit even one more home run. He could get struck by lightning tomorrow. I just don't think that Alex is going to take the field on a consistent basis and gradually slide off into oblivion like PETCOA projects. The truly eye opening part of Silver's projection is that he'll would still only be 33 HRs away from the all-time record even if he is as bad as the simulation predicts.


Before you leave a comment telling me how much of a moron I am, I've posted my own projections here.

I Stand Corrected

Earlier today, I wrote a post detailing The Sports Guy's on-air complaints about ESPN's policy regarding what radio shows he was allowed to appear on. I was wrong about what he was referring to in his cloaked bitching to ESPN management.

Awful Announcing
now has the audio:

I thought ESPN didn't want him to go on with Max Kellerman in favor of Colin Cowherd's National show. He has never been on The Herd, in no small part due to the feud that I brought up in the previous post.

I did some more in-depth research and here is an except from one of Simmons' chats:

Kevin (Chappaqua, NY): Bill, with the Mike and the Maddog show no longer on the airways and the classic radio 1, 2 combo having gone their separate ways, What do you think there interactions will be at their first Super Bowl apart? I'm sure they will be fighting for guests, giving evil snickers and stares across radio row, while Mike sips on his Diet Coke and Dog fidgets uncontrollably in his chair. My questionthough is if you were asked to go on both shows and only had time for one, who you going with?

Bill Simmons: I would go on Mike's show. There's a 85% chance that Dog has never read a single thing I've written. Mike and I have a love-hate relationship (mostly love) but at least he reads me... the last time I was on, they grabbed me on Media Row and I was sick... I want a second chance... sadly it can never happen because I am not allowed to go on non-ESPN shows ... even though the show that goes against Mike's (Michael Kay) has never asked me to come on. Yup, this is my company.

So as commenter JJV first pointed out, the show that he was talking about wanting to appear on was Mike Francesa's (Mike'd Up) and the show that hadn't invited him on was the Michael Kay Show on 1050, which is up against Mike'd Up.

I think my overall point still stands. Simmons is a bit of a drama queen and never misses an opportunity to publicly slam ESPN for any policy that he disagrees with. I find it hard to believe he's really that upset about not being ask to go on Michael Kay's show.

As The Big Lead pointed out, it's not a great match, seeing that Michael Kay is predominantly a Yankees guy and bringing Simmons on wouldn't really appeal to his audience. Has there been a good reason to bring him on? It's not like TSG has been promoting anything recently.

I would tend to think that Simmons is just bitching because he can't go on Francesa's show and is just using the fact that Michael Kay hasn't asked him to come on (without any incentive to do so) as an excuse to whine about ESPN management (again).

I respect what Simmons does, but ESPN pays him close to $1M, and I don't think anyone held a gun to his head when he agreed to the terms of the contract. He has a job that every blogger would trade for in a second, even if you had to take his annoying nasally voice and were consigned to writing 90% of your columns about Boston teams for the rest of your career. I just get the feeling that no matter what happens, he's going to be a malcontent.

Still, I was wrong, and thought the record should be set straight. An anonymous commenter on the last post really summed it up, though:
Anonymous said...
Yeah dont be a dipshit, the show he wants to go on is Mike'd Up on WFAN (Formerly Mike and the Mad Dog)but he is not allowed by ESPN and he is not invited on the ESPN--1050 Michael Kay Show. Dont just spill diarhea [sic] from your mouth.
Buzz Bissinger, is that you? I believe in this case the "diarhea" would have been flowing from the tips of my fingers since these are the interwebnets and I actually had to type all of that up. Also, apostrophes are your friends, don't be afraid to use them. Thanks for your input, though. Feel free to share your sage and flawlessly written insights anytime, whoever the fuck you are.

Bill Simmons: Kind Of A Drama Queen?

[Ed. note - 1:57PM: It has been brought to my attention that some of the assumptions I made in this post were wrong and I've corrected them in this post. However, I stand by the title and general premise of the article.]

Yesterday during the Max Kellerman Show on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York, the Sports Fella popped on. They two are excellent foils to each other as both have unique perspectives and represent New York and Boston, respectively. They would make a fantastic radio combo, but ESPN would never put them together. Simmons anti-establishment position has been well-documented, and Kellerman has clashed with executives at ESPN, as well as FOX.

So, yesterday it took Simmons all of thirty seconds to start complaining about ESPN and their restrictive policies as to which radio shows he can or can not appear on.

[Ed. Note: I had to edit out some of Kellerman's excessive verbal tics, but other than that, the transcript is basically word for word]
[around the 0:40 mark (open that link in a new window)]

Max Kellerman
: ...then I was mentioning, like, how you have a standing invite to come onto this show and you have invited me onto your podcast and everything, but is it kind of like... you have a friend that you are friendly with and everything, but you are like "Come over" or "Yeah, we'll see you" but you don't really mean it...? Is that what it's like with us?

Bill Simmons: No. No, what I said was... You know, we have the rule that ESPN talent can only go on ESPN shows, which is fine, but, you know, there are some shows that I'd like to go on, and I'm not allowed to go on, but then the show that's going against that show, has never invited me on.

Max Kellerman: I see...

Bill Simmons: So, basically I'm just banned from whatever that time slot is...

Max Kellerman: Oh I see, I see, I see what you are saying...

Bill Simmons: Yeah, without getting into details...
The show that he'd "like to go on" is obviously the Max Kellerman Show, but he's obviously "allowed to go on", considering he was on it right then. The show airs from 10:00AM to 1:00PM on the New York affiliate. The show on opposite that on the national stream? The Herd with Colin Cowherd (who has never invited Simmons on). If you'll recall, there was a dust up between Simmons and Cowherd about a year and a half ago:

While we're here, my ESPN colleague Colin Cowherd mocked my seven trade scenarios for Kobe on the radio last week without reading the entire column or even attempting to understand its premise, namely, that the trade options for Kobe were limited because (A) he needed to go to a big market for a team that could contend right away, and (B) nobody pays 100 cents on the dollar for a team looking to unload an unhappy superstar.

And if that wasn't bad enough, Cowherd embarrassed himself by not understanding basic NBA trading principles like "it would be valuable for L.A. to swap Vlad Radmanovic's contract for Bobby Sura's expiring contract in a T-Mac/Kobe deal because Sura's contract expires in 2008, which would buy them some cap space down the road."

Look, I know the radio business lends itself to hosts lazily skimming other people's columns and blogs ... but seriously, Colin, in the words of Mark Jackson, you're better than that. Your show's on for three hours a day and you get four giant commercial breaks per hour. That leaves you plenty of time to research your segments so you don't come off as misinformed. No offense.

Those are all fair points, but dumping "No offense" after saying someone "embarrassed himself" and using the word "lazily" in reference to their professional work ethic is like taking a shit on their pillow and then putting a mint on top. Cowherd later retorted that his show was actually on for four hours a day (from 6-7 Pacific time is his "mysterious West Coast hour") and that Simmons was in fact the uninformed one.

It never went any further than that and both ESPNers have publicly laid the conflict to rest.

But here is the weird thing. After Simmons calls out ESPN for not letting him go on Kellerman's show, this appears on the front page of ESPN.com.

If ESPN didn't want Simmons to go on Kellerman's show, why would they give it such a prominent billing that same day? (It's still up as of 8:00AM on Tuesday). Is this just Simmons and his blogging alter ego, (still complete with a picture of Tim Robbins at his breaking point in Shawshank) whining about ESPN's policies, again?

Would ESPN put that up knowing that the podcast leads off with Simmons' trademark ESPN bashing? The segment was about 18 minutes long and Simmons congratulates Kellerman at the end for running long.
Simmons: You know what, I love the fact that you fought the man and stayed on past that 8/40, 20/20 break.

Kellerman: I'm not playing around, I'm not playing games. Let me tell you something, it was 35 break, not 40. How do you like that?

Is Simmons just being a baby or constructing this talent vs. executive conflict in his own mind? He was clearly allowed to appear on the show and it was given as high profile a link as a random radio spot ever gets. I like Simmons, but I think I have to side with ESPN on this one; he's being a drama queen.

The other outstanding issue: It would be very unESPNlike to feature something on their front page with this kind of outright anti-management rhetoric. I thought the whole segment was fantastic and perhaps the editors just thought it was good enough to feature anyway.

Your thoughts?