Friday, November 30, 2012

Please just retire David Stern

I know. It's the eve of an SEC championship that my team is playing in and I'm writing about the NBA. That should tell you how strongly I feel about this.

Before we start, let's do some full disclosure, I couldn't care less about the NBA, not until the playoffs, at least. It's hard for me to get into the regular season of a sport where over half the teams make the playoffs.

Nevertheless, I did see the story last night on Sportscenter about San Antonio Spurs' head coach Gregg Popovich deciding to get four of his starters some extra rest by sending them home early instead of making them play in a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat. I also saw the story on this morning about NBA commissioner David Stern promising punishment for Popovich's actions, and tonight I saw what the punishment is going to be: a $250,000 fine.

You can read about the details of the situation and Popovich's decision by clicking the link above. All I'm going to talk about from here on out is the ridiculousness of Stern's decision.

First of all, Popovich has every right to handle his team however he sees fit. He has an old team. They're a very good team, but they're old. Understandably, he believes they need extra rest and at various times throughout the season will create that rest where the team's schedule hasn't. He pulled the same tactic multiple times last year. And you know what? The tactic seems to work. The Spurs were the top team in the Western Conference last year and advanced to the Western Conference finals where they lost to a very good and much younger Oklahoma City Thunder squad. In fact, the Spurs are regarded as one of the model franchises in the NBA, and Popovich as one of its top coaches. They may not be the flashiest team, but they know how to win.

I understand the argument Stern is trying to make. The NBA is an entertainment service and can't provide the best entertainment it's capable of if the best players on one of its premiere teams don't play. Also, the game was nationally televised on TNT, one of the NBA's major networks, and against another high profile team. Furthermore, people had payed a lot of money to see the Spurs at their best play Miami at its best. I would throw in some arguments about how the Spurs not putting their best product on the court can directly and indirectly affect the futures of several other teams, but if you really think David Stern's decision is based upon anything other than money then you need to check out the oceanfront property George Strait and I are trying to sell in Arizona.

Yes, the NBA is an entertainment service, but that's not Popovich's concern. His concern is winning NBA championships. His job security isn't predicated upon the league's TV ratings, income, fan happiness, or anything else like that*. His job security is predicated upon how many championships he contends for. He believes his methods are the best methods for setting his team up to compete for a championship, and as the Spurs have proven in years past, those methods usually work very well.

*Sure, you could argue that is job security is indirectly tied to those things, but let's not split hairs.

Sitting four starters for one game, even a high profile game, isn't going to kill the league. It might upset some fans, but not badly enough to where a significant number of those fans would cease being active NBA fans. TNT isn't going lose major ratings, at least not in the long term, because the Spurs' best squad didn't play. The Spurs' season hasn't been damaged, and the Heat haven't been unfairly helped, either. The season lasts for 82 games, and anyway, both teams are making the playoffs. More than half the teams do, remember?

The biggest reason Stern's decision upsets me, though, is because of the double standard he's applying. He's punishing Popovich for trying to rest his players (thereby ensuring the Spurs, and by extension the league, will be more intriguing/entertaining down the stretch), while he does nothing to prevent bad teams from publicly and unashamedly tanking at the end of the season to increase their chances of getting a high lottery pick. Do the fans of those teams not matter? Is it because those teams don't play on national TV much? You can't have it both ways, Stern. Not if you want to seem objective.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review: Spoiler Edition

If you're reading this chances are you came from my review at the The TV Czar Says... I wanted to discuss some specific plot points, but I didn't want to spoil things for people that haven't seen one of the most anticipated movies ever. So, if you haven't seen TDKR but want to, stop reading now.

First of all, how awesome was the Man of Steel teaser? I realize that it revealed nothing, but finally seeing some footage made me very happy, especially since I was hoping so badly for something. I really hope Zack Snyder knows what's he doing. I really hope he can make a Superman movie good again.

Alright, onto Batman. No use in beating around the bush - I think we can safely assume there will never be a fourth installment of the franchise, just like Nolan has said all along. When it looked like Batman was dead, my thoughts were, "There's no way Nolan killed Batman. He can't be that ballsy, can he?" I guess you could say that Nolan copped out by letting Wayne escape with Selina Kyle and revealing that John Blake's real name is Robin, and I probably wouldn't argue if you did. Still, it shows that Bruce Wayne is finally ready to move on from his parents' and Rachel's murders, something the comic book version will never be able to do. He's finally ready to live.

I do think the romance between him and Kyle was bit rushed and contrived, but I did like their chemistry on screen. Still, there's absolutely no need to kiss when a nuclear weapon is seconds from exploding. That was a bit much for me. Comic book Batman wouldn't have let that happen. Then again, comic book Batman doesn't display the range of emotions that Nolan's Batman does.

How about Bane's evil plot? Talk about detailed and well-executed. Sure, it's totally impossible, but so is Batman. It's a movie, get over it.

Catwoman (supposedly) killing Bane just in time to save Batman was more than a bit convenient, but it almost had to happen. Bane couldn't be allowed to live, but Batman can't cross that line.

That reminds me, was there ever mention of what happened to Joker? The last we saw of him, he was dangling upside down by one of Batman's cables. Obviously, he wasn't going to get a cameo, but I'm a little surprised there wasn't even a mention of what happened to him just to close out his story. He couldn't have been in Gotham. Joker wouldn't be the type to lay low while the city was under Bane's control.

The Talia twist totally surprised me, which makes me very angry. I should have caught it when Bruce had his vision of Ra's al Ghul. Unfortunately, Cotillard tricked me with her charm just like she did Bruce.

What is Commissioner Gordon doing going down into sewers? It's admirable that he wants to lead his troops into battle, so to speak, but going down into the sewer seems a bit below the pay grade.

I could keep going, but it's 5:15 in the morning. I need some sleep. Maybe I'll add to this tomorrow later today. As I said over at The TV Czar Says... I really liked this movie. Tell me what you thought in the comments below.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why an LSU/Bama Rematch is OK

Quick Note: I am pleased to announce that I am now a regular contributor on The TV Czar Says..., a very insightful and interesting blog on all things television. Whether you're an unabashed devotee of the boob tube, or just an occasional observer, you should make "The TV Czar Says..." part of your daily reading. My role will be to bring readers the most interesting, informative, and/or absurd television-related stories from the Internet every week. My first post went up today, and you can check it out here or every Thursday at the link above.

Has there ever been a more meaningless SEC Championship? Unless you're Georgia (who has a BCS bowl game berth on the line), or a Georgia fan, the answer is probably no. Sports pundits everywhere are saying that an LSU versus Alabama BCS National Championship game is all but inevitable. The only way LSU doesn't get to play for the crystal ball, according to the experts, is if Georgia thoroughly dismantles them* AND Oklahoma State dominates Oklahoma.

*While I'm not looking for Georgia to wipe the floor with LSU, I think they definitely have a shot to win, or at least keep it close. Georgia's defense is good enough to give the Dawgs a chance. Don't give me the "they've played a weak schedule" argument. If you've watched them play for any significant amount of time you know they pass the eye test and meet, if not exceed, the standard for being a strong defense. By the way, I used to paint my chest at Georgia games.

A lot of people are disgusted by the idea of an LSU/Alabama rematch for numerous reasons (especially people outside of the Southeast who, at this point, are probably close to being willing to sell their firstborn sons if doing so would bring an end the SEC's championship streak). One complaint is that Alabama didn't even win its division. This point rings especially true for a lot of Georgia fans that still feel like the Dawgs were robbed a chance to play for the BCS National Championship in 2007. I am not one of these fans. It's not that I believe a team should win it's division/conference to make the National Championship; I just don't think Georgia deserved it over LSU. My take is that Georgia lost twice that year: 16-12 at home against a lowly South Carolina team and 35-15 on the road against Tennessee. Yes, I know that LSU lost twice also, but both were triple overtime games. For me, the loss against South Carolina was inexcusable*.

 *I realize that most Georgia fans reading this are probably ready to hang me upside down from Stegeman Coliseum and feed me with a slingshot. Think about it, though, we lost to a 6-6 South Carolina because we could only muster four field goals, and we get completely manhandled by Tennessee. If Florida had had our season that year, would you think they deserved a shot at the title? What? You're still mad? I'll move on.

Now, you might be thinking, "I agree with, or at least understand, your point about losing to South Carolina at home and getting blown out at Tennessee. My beef is that the talking heads like Kirk Herbstreit were totally against Georgia making the National Championship back then because they didn't win the division but are totally cool with Alabama making it this year."

Yes, a little consistency would be nice, but asking the media to be consistent would be like asking the characters on The Walking Dead to act logically most of the time. My theories for the media's hypocrisy are as follows:
  1. Disney controls the world. Disney owns ESPN. Therefore, ESPN controls sports. ESPN wants Alabama in the BCS National Championship (which the network will be airing) because the Crimson Tide are ratings gold. As such, ESPN commands all its minions to promote Bama for the championship because it is very aware of the influence it has on voters. Not wanting its intentions becoming too apparent, however, ESPN does allow certain employees to complain about the BCS.
  2. ESPN hates Georgia.
  3. Everyone is scared of Nick Saban.
  4. Most people in the media just talk until they think of something to say.
Seriously, though, while it would be nice for the media to stay consistent, it's not going to happen. I would venture to say that a lot of people in this world are less than totally consistent in their all of their opinions and beliefs. Besides, opinions and situations can and do change. For example, Bama doesn't have two losses like Georgia did in 2007. Bama only has one, in overtime, to the #1 team in the country.

In other words, a very strong argument that Alabama is at least the number two team in the country can be made rather easily. It shouldn't matter that they didn't win their division; if they are the second best team in the nation then they should be allowed to play for the National Championship.

Losing to LSU earlier in the season shouldn't automatically bar Bama from the National Championship, either. First of all, as stated earlier, they lost in overtime. The game was evenly matched throughout. Secondly, nowhere in the BCS charter does it say the BCS Championship Game can't be a rematch. It says that the number one team in the nation should play the number two team in the nation. If those two teams have already played each other, so be it.

In short, it's ridiculous to say that Bama and LSU shouldn't play for the National Championship simply because they already played once and Bama didn't win its division. The only requirement is that they be ranked first and second by the voters and computers at the end of season. If the voters and computers decide that Bama and LSU should play for the title, then Bama and LSU should play for the title. Sorry, SEC haters. Tell your teams to get better.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ridiculous Fan Comments 11.19.2011

Major League Baseball made it official. According to ESPN, The Houston Astros have been sold and will be leaving the National League's Central division for the American League's West division (Delta Sky Miles Diamond status, here we come). In addition, MLB will adding two wild card teams (one for each league), possibly as soon as next season.

For baseball fans, this news is huge. Realignment hasn't happened since the Milwaukee Brewers made the switch from the American League to the National League after the 1997 season, and the playoffs haven't been expanded since the first wildcard spot was created in 1994. As you probably assume, opinions about these changes are both copious and mixed.

Let's Be Logical has opinions about the changes, too. I could just lay them out, but would that be as exciting as weaving them into a Ridiculous Fan Comments (RFC) post? Of course, not.

As always, I'll give you the comment first, and then my response. Since this is such big news and since the holidays are nigh, I'm going to cover more than one RFC for the first time (consider it a Vultured Mailbag if you want). All comments come from an AP article on titled, "Astros' sale finalized; 2 more for playoffs."

the 15/15 arrangement needs to be temporary...2 new teams should be added within the next few years, both in Southern markets in the NL so that Colorado can move to the AL

posted by 1990_big_z

For those unaware, the "15/15 arrangement" refers to there now being 15 teams in the American League and 15 in the National League. The biggest complaint with this arrangement (and the one I'm assuming big_z has) is that interleague play is now going to occur all season, instead of just during a couple of weeks in May and late-June.

I hate to break it to you, big_z, but interleague play isn't going anywhere. As Peter Schmuck from the Baltimore Sun notes, people still show up in droves for interleague games, even non-rival ones. Owners aren't going to kill any golden geese, especially during tough economic times. Yes, schedule disparities abound due to interleague play (the Mets have to play the Yankees six times every year while the Nationals get the Orioles), and that is a travesty. Fairer scheduling is something the players are asking for, though, so maybe we'll get it as a result of this realignment/collective bargaining session (Don't laugh at my naivete. Call it blind optimism if you want, but don't laugh).

Also, adding two teams to give each league sixteen won't work, either. I know what you're thinking, big_z, if each league has sixteen teams interleague play becomes unnecessary. The problem with that idea is there isn't enough talent in the world to adequately fill the 30 teams that currently exist. How else can you explain why Jo-Jo Reyes remains gainfully employeed? Adding two teams would dilute the talent pool further, which would drive down the level of play, thereby making MLB less watchable. Do you really want to pay money to watch a team whose number two starter and starting second baseman are Kenshin Kawakami and Brooks Conrad, respectively? I didn't think so.

Milwaukee should have went back to the AL where they belong. Houston has been in the NL for 50 years. Apparently history means nothing to Selig. He continues to cheapen the product. Why add more teams to the playoffs, even if only one game? MLB is not the NBA or NHL.

posted by captain_morgan_2008

First of all, captain_morgan, baseball, like every professional sport, is a form of entertainment. Bud Selig's main job, therefore, is to keep people entertained. Otherwise, the league loses fans/viewers, and as a result, money. Adding an extra wild card team is definitely going to keep more fan bases involved longer into the season, and the one game playoff will surely get people talking.

History has nothing to do with it. So what if the Astros have been in the NL for 50 years? They've never won the World Series and have only been once (2005), so it's not like they're one of the pillars of National League. Change can be a good thing.

You are right about one thing, captain. MLB is certainly not the NBA or NHL. Whenever the two wildcard teams get added (either this season or next), 33% of MLB teams will make the playoffs (10 out of 30). In the NHL 53% of teams make the postseason (16 out of 30), while in the NBA a whopping 57% qualify (16 out of 28). Making the playoffs in baseball will still be much more difficult, mathematically speaking at least, even after the two wildcard spots are added.

By the way, 37.5% of NFL teams make the postseason (12 out of 32).

I can't believe they're actually adding another two teams.. I guess it really is all about the money.

posted by russianshoulders

Welcome to capitalism, comrade.

Well Selig has taken another step in screwing up the game. Why didn't he move his sorry Brewers back to the A.L. from whence they came if he wanted to even everything out? The DH is not baseball, it is not how it is taught, not how it was invented and does not make the game any better. Get back to the basics. Gone are the good rivalries Houston vs. Reds, Dodgers, Reds, Mets, Phillies, Braves. Some of the most exciting playoffs ever. He has set this team of for failure. More playoffs teams are not needed, it is just greed, wanting more fan dollars. Nothing wrong with wanting to expand as a business, why not just make it like hockey and let every team except a few into the playoffs. That will really make the season more exciting. Good job, moron!


Harsh words, TEALCURTAIN, but bonus points for incorporating "whence" into your comment.

Let's start with the Brewers. Formerly being in the American League doesn't automatically make them the best candidates to be sent back. The Astros make a lot more sense for a number of reasons. First, as I stated earlier, they're not one of the pillars of the National League. Second, they have new owners, and making a big change is much easier for new owners that aren't used to things being a certain way. Third, the Texas Rangers make a great natural rival for the Astros, and maximizing the amount of times those teams play each other will help both teams financially and otherwise. Fourth, the Astros are a better geographical fit for the AL West than the Brewers.

I do agree about the DH. I think it should be totally done away with in MLB (except in the All-Star game). I'm not really sure why you mention the DH, though, unless you're just really upset that the Astros will have to start using one. If that's a deal breaker for you, then I have to question your fanhood.

I'm also unclear on the Astros and Braves rivalry. I'm a diehard Braves fan, and I don't consider the Astros a rival in the least bit. I don't know a single Braves fan that does, either. They faced each other in the League Division Series five times between 1997 and 2005, with the Braves winning the first three and the Astros the last two, but does that make them rivals? In my book, no, especially since only one of those series went to five games (2004).

And what, exactly, is wrong with MLB wanting to maximize revenue? They're not doing it in an illegal/immoral way; they're simply giving two more teams a chance to win the World Series every year. Would you be against the Astros making the playoffs as the fifth team from the American League? I doubt it very seriously.

Addition of playoff slots is HORRIBLE. Imagine last year's September if it had this. Braves and Cards both safely in, Sox and Rays both safely in. Instead we got one of the most exciting finishes in MLB history. I hope the players refuse to approve that garbage.

The only reason MLB wants this is to make Red Sox chasing the Yankees more exciting and meaningful. This improves things for one division and makes it much worse for the other 5. Selig is a horrible commish.

posted by Desiderata03

You're not alone in this sentiment, Desiderata03. A lot of people think adding playoff teams will ruin exciting finishes to the regular season.

Let me ask you to imagine something, though. Imagine if the Braves and Red Sox had both won one more game in April. If they had, they would have both made playoffs and we would have a different World Series champion. Both teams could have still tanked in the exact same ways in September, but they still would have made the postseason. Would we all still be lauding the exciting finish of the regular season if that had happened (actually, would all you still be lauding, because I thought it was a terrible finish)? No, I don't think we would. Instead, we would be talking about how the Braves and Red Sox stumbled into the postseason in the ugliest fashion possible (especially if one of those teams had won the World Series). One more win by either or both teams and our perceptions would have totally changed.

Furthermore, even if the new playoff rules would have been in place last season, excitement would have still abounded. Imagine the build-up to a one game series (assuming that's the format they go with) between the Braves and Cardinals or the Red Sox and Rays. Will the Braves/Sox finally win a game they need to win? Do they have anything left in the tank? Will the Cards/Rays be able to leave no doubt that they belong? Can they keep the magic alive? Desiderata03, these games would have been full of excitement.

Enough imagining. The important thing to realize is that adding a playoff team in no way makes it impossible to have an exciting finish to the season. Finishes for the second wild spot can be just as exciting as they have been for the wild card in the past. Plus, teams will still fight to win the division like they always have. In fact, they might start fighting harder. If I were a major league manager, I know I'd rather win the division and get a guaranteed spot in a five game division series than have to risk losing a one game, winner take all "wild card series."
That's it for this installment of Ridiculous Fan Comments.

I will, however, sum up my feelings on the changes in case I didn't make them clear enough. I have no problem moving the Astros to the AL West. I also don't have a problem adding two playoff teams. Is it the way I would do things if I were commissioner of MLB? Probably not, but that's for another post. Nevertheless, adding two playoff teams will keep more fans interested in baseball for longer, which can only be a good thing for MLB its franchises. As I stated earlier, change can be a good thing. Is this the best change MLB could make? Maybe or maybe not; sometimes a person or organization has to try a couple of bad ideas before finding the best one. The fact that MLB is trying to improve its product should be worth something, especially for a sport that has been accused many times of being too attached to its past. I think we should at least see how the changes are going to work before passing judgment.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sure, Batman is totally realistic.

He's just a regular dude like me.

Invariably, whenever someone says that Batman is his/her favorite superhero, they give some version of the above statement as the main reason. These are usually the same people that say that picking Superman as your favorite is a cop-out because he's all-powerful and has virtually no chance of being defeated. Furthermore, these haters will claim he didn't earn his powers but simply obtained them by coming to our planet.

No, Batman is not an alien that derives his power from our solar system's yellow sun (Superman). He wasn't given a seemingly all-powerful tool limited only by the user's will and imagination, either (Green Lantern). He was also never in a freak accident that left him with superpowers (Flash, Hulk), and he's not the product of a genetic mutation (X-Men).

 He's just a regular dude just like the rest of us, which means any of us, with enough resources and extreme dedication, could be just like him.

Yeah, he's perfectly normal.
Are you kidding me?

The only thing that makes Batman human is his human DNA. Don't get me wrong, I think Batman is beyond cool (even cooler than Billy Dee), but he's no more relatable, nor his status obtainable, to the average human than Superman.

I won't say that no one could ever be like Batman, but the chances are smaller than minute. In fact, E. Paul Zehr's book, Becoming Batman, discusses the very idea of becoming the Caped Crusader. I haven't read the book, but I did read an interview Zehr did in which he talked about becoming Batman. I recommend reading the article, but I'll summarize the main points below.
  • A Batman illustrator named Neal Adams said that Batman would medal in every event in the Olympics. Zehr logically says that no real person can be "Olympic medal good" at everything, but if he/she wanted to be Batman he/she would have to be exceptionally good in a lot of different areas.
  • The most plausible thing about Batman, according to Zehr is that someone could be trained to be an exceptional athlete, a master of martial-arts, and an expert in gadgetry.
  • Unfortunately, by Zehr's estimation, that training would probably take 15-18 years, due to the expertise required to be Batman (he can't afford to lose, and he has to know how to incapacitate someone without killing them)
  • A well-trained person can probably only fight 3-5 people at a time, not 8-10 like Batman does.
  • A person has to sleep. You can't be Bruce Wayne and Batman and expect to stay healthy for any serious amount of time.
  • You also couldn't fight every night. A real human body can't recuperate in mere hours from harsh fighting night after night.
  • If you managed to become Batman, you'd probably only have about 3 years to remain Batman. Again, all that fighting would take its toll.
Based on Zehr's assertions, and assuming that humans peak physically between ages 25 and 35, a person would probably need to start training between ages 10 and 15 to have any hope of reaching the skill level required to be Batman and then have enough time to actually be him.

Now remember, Batman can't lose. If he does he probably dies, or at the very least a lot of other people do. Also, he never kills. That means the required training isn't some "2 hours a day, 3 days a week" program. It's an "8 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week highly-specialized" program. In other words, someone trying to become Batman would have make that pursuit the sole focus of their life. Last time I checked, training to be a superhero doesn't pay the bills.

That brings us to another issue. Bruce Wayne (Batman's true identity) is a billionaire. Forbes estimates him to be worth over $6 billion, in fact. He can afford to be Batman. You can't.

Going back to Zehr, he stated at the end of the interview that the best way to estimate the number of people who could possibly become Batman would be to multiply the percentage of billionaires in the world by the percentage of people that become Olympic decathletes. In March 2011, there were 1210 billionaires in the world. In the 2008 Olympics, 40 men competed in the decathlon. Based on a population of 6 billion, for simplicity's sake, that's .00000020167% and .0000000067%, respectively (the true percentages would actually be a lot smaller, since the world's population is closer to 7 billion). If you multiply those numbers together, you get a .000000000000001351189% chance of someone actually having the means and ability to become Batman. That's way less than 1 out of 6 billion.

In other words, becoming Batman is all but impossible. While he may not have superpowers per se, he's been given all that he needs (beyond amazing athletic ability, staunch determination and focus, and endless resources) and more to succeed, just like Superman. Sure, he had to train to become what he is, but the fact that he became and maintains what he is proves my point.

Am I saying Batman is lame? Of course, not. Batman is the polar opposite of lame. I'm simply saying that Batman's existence is no more reasonable than Superman's, and that one shouldn't praise Batman's realism while hating on Superman's lack thereof.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ridiculous Fan Comments 9.23.2011

We're back with more Ridiculous Fan Comments!

This week's comment focuses on the Atlanta Braves (yes, all you football nuts, it's still baseball season), and just like the first installment of RFC, comes from the Atlanta Journal Constuition's website (which is proving to be a real RFC hotbed). More specifically, this comment comes from Mark Bradely's blog post titled "It's a big day for the reeling Braves, and they don't even play."

Just like before, the comment first, then my response.

I believe that Braves have wilted for second straight year due to some conditioning issues. If you at this disturbing trend, it’s apparent that something may need to be implemented in order to avoid this type of situation in the future. Last year it was the regulars breaking down (Chipper, Prado, Jurjens, etc), and this year it’s starting pitching (Jurjens again, Hanson). It’s the old axiom that “fatigue makes losers of everybody”.

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to put Costanza back in the lineup at the number 1 or 2 spot in the batting order. I know Heyward is starting to hit better, but he’s just not making enough of an impact in the lineup to make a difference and SOMETHING needs to be done to manufacture runs.

posted by Braves73 on 9.22.2011 at 1:06 pm

A two-pronged comment! I haven't seen one of these effectively pulled off since the Great Commentapalooza of 1949. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to keep waiting for another good one, because this one falls short on both fronts. A piece of advice, Braves73: before you attempt the two-pronged comment, at least make sure your first prong makes sense.

You cite conditioning issues, and the injuries those issues allegedly caused, as a reason for the Braves' late-season struggles the past two seasons. Let's take a look at the injuries of the players you mention and see if your allegation holds up.
  • 2010 Season
    • Chipper Jones tore his ACL in August. As both WebMD and MedlinePlus state, ACL tears are common for many types of athletes. Neither article cites a lack of conditioning as a cause.
    • Martin Prado suffered a torn oblique muscle and a hip pointer on September 28th, causing him to miss the rest of the season. He said himself that he got injured making a diving catch and aggravated it further swinging the bat the next inning. That sounds more like a freak injury than an injury due to poor conditioning to me.
    • Jair Jurrjens had a couple of big injuries in 2010. First, he strained his hamstring, another injury that many athletes experience. He fully recovered from that injury, however, and went on to pitch very effectively in July and the first half of August. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit him again, this time in the form of a slight meniscus tear. The Stretching Institute says that traumatic events usually cause meniscus tears in active people under the age of 45. WebMD says twisting or turning quickly with the foot planted can be a cause. In other words, it's another injury that sometimes just happens. In the spirit of full disclosure, The Stretching Institute also says that balancing exercises, stretching, and strengthening are among effective preventive measures for meniscus injuries. Nevertheless, we can logically assume that the Braves' overall conditioning program isn't to blame for Jurrjens' injury since no other Braves' pitcher has suffered a meniscus tear recently. You might say that even though he's not a pitcher Chipper Jones tore his earlier this year, but I say that that could just as easily be attributed to Chipper being old (for a professional baseball player) and having knees with A LOT of miles on them (WebMD says that as a person ages the meniscus gets worn and tears more easily. Chipper has probably put more stress on his knees than the average person, which logically means he probably has more knee problems than the average person.)
  • 2011 Season
    • For the second straight year, Jair Jurrjens ended the regular season on the disabled list with a knee problem. As stated above, last season was a torn meniscus; this season the Braves are only calling it a knee strain. According to MedlinePlus, a knee strain can be caused by excessive physical activity, improperly warming up, or poor flexibility. You might be thinking that poor flexibility could be the result of a sub-par conditioning program. I might be inclined to grant you that assertion, except that Jurrjens said himself that he included a rigorous stretching regiment in his conditioning program this year in order to avoid the injuries he experienced last year. In other words, he's reportedly focused more on conditioning and fitness this year than ever before. That tells me that we cannot logically assume that his current knee problem is the result of poor conditioning.
    • Tommy Hanson hasn't pitched since August 6th because of shoulder soreness. ESPN called it tendinitis, which MedlinePlus says can be the result of overuse or injury. Hanson was also diagnosed with a small rotator cuff tear, but such tears are common among pitchers. Hanson's main problem is inflammation and soreness in the shoulder. According to WedMD, poor stretching/conditioning does increase the risk of tendinitis, but most often it is caused by repetitive movements like pitching. Could poor conditioning have led the Hanson's shoulder issues? Quite possibly, but so could simply being a pitcher.
So Braves73, out of the 4 different players you named, only one had/has an injury that could reasonably be related to poor conditioning, and even that injury could just as (if not more) reasonably have a different cause. Logically speaking, your first prong just doesn't hold up. Let's move onto the second one.

Jason Heyward has basically been playing everyday since August 30. Since then his line (batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage) is .273/.400/.400 with 1 HR, 6 RBI, and 8 R. His line for the entire season is .227/.322/.394, so obviously he is playing much better lately (his line before August 30: .220/.307/.393). 

Jose Constanza's line since August 30 is .190/.190/.190 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, and 2 R. Granted, he hasn't been playing that much since Heyward starting getting more time, but it's obvious that he is slipping. If you're not convinced, consider that Constanza's line on August 16 was .403/.439/.548. By August 26 (while he was still playing regularly), his line had fallen to .341/.385/.447 (From August 17-August 26 he hit .174/.240/.174). Now it stands at .311/.348/.396.

The first thing you said, Braves73, is that it wouldn't hurt to put Constanza back in the 1 or 2 spot in the batting order (I'm not even going to get into illogical thought of removing Bourn from the leadoff spot). With an overall OBP of .348 (.190 since August 30), batting Constanza in the 2 hole is definitely not a good idea. Furthermore, Braves73, Heyward has been making an impact. Since he's been playing regularly, he's been getting on base 4 out 10 times. It's not his fault that the Braves are hitting below .200 with runners in scoring position in September.

That's it for second installment of Ridiculous Fan Comments. Thanks for reading.

P.S. Heyward's slugging still may not be where you'd want it for a middle of the lineup guy, but if he can keep getting on base at a .400 clip, hitting him in the 2 hole in the playoffs (if the Braves make it) might not be a bad idea. Of course, if he's going good in the 7 or 8 spot, it's probably not a bad idea just to leave him there.

As usual, player stats came from

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Logical Disdain

I abhor the Philadelphia Phillies.

They are without a doubt my least favorite MLB team. Least favorite isn’t even the right term, because favorite implies at least miniscule admiration. So I’ll say it this way: I despise the Phillies more than I despise any other MLB team, and that includes the Yankees and Red Sox. In fact, I might despise them more than any sports team period.

I know what you’re thinking. Abhorrence? Really? Don’t you think you’re being a little too emotional, Matt? Aren’t you supposed to be the giver of all things logic?

To that I reply, I do like to deal in logic, and I’m not swaying from that with this. As a lifelong Braves fan, is it not logical for me to have a strong disdain for the Braves’ biggest/toughest foe? I say not only is it logical, but that it should be required for anyone that claims to love the Braves.

If you don’t buy my explanation, too bad. This is my blog and I’ll justify my logical thinking as I please (Just kidding. Thanks for reading. Please come back.).

Seriously, though, in our politically correct, afraid to upset each other, everyone’s a winner because they breathe society, we’ve gotten away from clean-old fashioned hate, and that’s a shame. Maybe it’s because a more than a few losers have taken that sentiment too far and resorted to physical or extreme verbal violence, which I in no way condone and which has absolutely no place in sports or any walk of life. Or maybe it’s, as I’ve alluded to, because we’re just too afraid to offend anyone these days.

The thing about offending people, though, is that as long as it’s not over the top or excessive, they usually get over it (eventually), especially if they manage not to take it personally. By the way, that’s an area in which we all could probably improve. The next time someone offends or ridicules you, try not to take it personally and see how your feelings and reaction to the situation differ from normal. The improvement might surprise you.

Anyway, I digress. I’m starting to get too deep. This post is about the Phillies and how much I loathe them. You might say to me, “Matt, the only reason you don’t like the Phillies is because they’re good and beat the Braves and win the NL East.” And to that I’d say, “You’re absolutely right.” Why would I despise them if they were terrible? True fan hatred takes energy; I can’t afford to dole it out on unworthy opponents. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like the Mets, either, but my disdain for them is nowhere near what it is for the Phillies because the Mets are terrible and don’t pose a real threat to the Braves. Call me a bandwagon hater if you want (I prefer judicious), but it’s the truth.

(Final Thought: College sports are a completely different animal. As a Georgia fan, I still hate the Tennessee Volunteers even though they’ve been awful lately simply because they’re Tennessee. College hatred runs deeper and is more irrational because college sports are more (excuse my use of the “e” word) emotional. That’s just the way it is.)