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.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ridiculous Fan Comments 9.4.2011

My name is Matt and I often read the comments on sport articles.

Whew. Admitting that feels good.

I know, I know, it’s ridiculous. The fans that regularly comment on sports articles and message boards are usually the fans that are somewhere between extremely passionate and maniacally obsessed with their teams. They have customized jerseys with their own names on the backs, they call into radio shows, and they yell at you at games when they don’t think you’re cheering loud enough. In other words, logical thought often loses to (crazed) emotional feeling when these fans share their opinions through various mediums.

That’s not to say that all message board and article “comment-ers” are nuts. Some do submit very logically sound arguments and opinions. In my experience, though, that’s usually not the case. As a result, reading these comments is usually a completely fruitless and mind-numbing exercise, much like I imagine watching Jersey Shore would be (if you watch Jersey Shore, you know you hate yourself a little bit every time you turn it on and feel a little dumber when you finally turn it off).

Nevertheless, I still read, and you Jersey Shore fans still watch.

In an effort to make the exercise a little less than completely fruitless, I’ve decided to start writing about it. In a segment titled “Ridiculous Fan Comments” I will pick out the craziest of the craziest comments on the articles and message boards I read (or at least my favorite ones) and provide my own commentary. If it’s well received, “Ridiculous Fan Comments” may become a regular segment here at Let’s Be Logical.

At the very least, it gives me an excuse to keep my addiction.

The first ridiculous fan comment (RFC) comes to us from Jeff Schultz’s article on titled “Georgia gets hammered and doubts aboutRicht grow” (I know what you’re thinking, reading Shultz is almost as bad as reading fan comments. I try to avoid him as much as possible). First, I’ll give you the comment, and then my response.

(Before I do that, I need to say that I’m not going to talk about the game, the team or Coach Richt. Plenty of other people are doing that. Onto the comment…)

Sickening…………….absolutely sickening.

I can’t recall an ERA when The Dawgs performed so badly.

Coach Dooley, if you care anything at all about UGA call Adams / McGarity or whom the he!! ever you need to call to get this ship turned around.

I wouldn’t send my dog to UGA much less my kids at this point.

Class of ‘79

posted by FLA DAWG on 9/3/2011 at 11:55 pm

Really, FLA DAWG? You wouldn’t send your kids to UGA because the football team is struggling? I guess that means that Duke, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, UCLA, Virginia, and Wake Forest are out, too, even though each of these schools rank among the top 25 universities in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the only “successful” football programs in the top 25 are Stanford and Southern Cal (which barely qualifies since it hasn't been that good over the past two years and since the NCAA ruled that nothing good can be said about USC while it's on probation). Saying you wouldn’t send your kids to UGA because its football team is struggling is like saying you wouldn’t visit San Diego because the Padres and Chargers suck.

Also, FLA DAWG, you say you can’t remember an era when Georgia performed so badly. You also claim that you graduated from UGA (I assume) in 1979. Sorry, FLA Dawg, either your memory is bad or you’re just ignoring the facts. Since the 2008 season (when complaints about the program began to move beyond mere grumblings), Georgia has a .600 winning percentage, going 25-16. If you don’t want to count their 10-3 2008 season, Georgia has a .519 winning percentage (14-13) since 2009. FLA DAWG, I’m with you that those numbers are disappointing, but like I said, they’re definitely not the worst you should remember.

From 1969-1970, Georgia posted a .476 winning percentage, going 10-10-1. From 1989-1990, they only won 43.5% of their games (10-13), and from 1993-1996, only 48.9% (22-22-1). I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure all those numbers are worse than the numbers the team has posted over the past 2 seasons and one game. In your defense, FLA DAWG, you said this was the worst era you could recall, so maybe you just forgot about all those other bad seasons, even though you were probably at least 10 in 1969.

Finally, FLA DAWG, do you really think Coach Dooley has the power to dictate a change in the coaching staff of the football team? Even if he wanted to, what do you think he would say to the president that forced him out or the athletic director with no ties to him that would convince them to finally make a change?

That’s it for this post. If I get a good response, I’ll keep the ridiculous fan comments coming. By the way, the information for Georgia’s records came from Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

“Serenity now!”

If you watch Seinfeld, you probably know that this quote was made famous by George Costanza’s somewhat deranged father Frank (If you count yourself a Seinfeld fan and didn’t know that, first of all, shame on you. Second, stop reading right now and watch the episode, “The Serenity Now.” It’s a must see. Actually, finish reading this, and then watch it).
Now, I don’t claim to have much in common with Frank Costanza. For instance, I’m not deranged, I don’t have a bald son, and I’ve never had a passionate affair with a Korean woman (or any woman). Like Frank, though, I am very frustrated right now and wish that yelling “serenity now” would calm me down.
Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to happen, at least not until Freddi Gonzalez quits treating Jason Heyward like a worse version of preseason-Willie Mays Hayes (before he quit hitting like Hayes).
I’m well aware of the terrible sophomore season J-Hey is suffering through. I’m also well aware of the injuries he has dealt (and may still be dealing) with. Being relegated to fourth outfielder behind Jose “Georgie” Constanza, though is beyond ridiculous and has gone on for long enough.
To see why, go here. It’s a great explanation.
I’ve been uneasy with Heyward’s benching since the beginning, but, admittedly, it was hard to defend his play. I figured he get a day or few off and then get a chance to show he's turning things around. That hasn't happened, and the longer it's gone without him getting regular playing time the more frustrated I've gotten.

Sunday I was pushed over the edge.

If you didn't see the game, allow me to rehash. The Braves were playing the rubber game against the Cubs.  Matt Garza (a righty) was on the mound for the loveable losers. Heyward was actually starting, probably because the Chipper was getting the day off. Fastforward to the bottom of the 6th, the score is 4-4. John Grabow comes in to pitch for the Cubs. He's a lefty. Heyward's line against lefties this year is .167/.257/.300, which is terrible. Lo and behold, he gets a base hit to right field. He later scores on a throwing error by Grabow, giving the Braves a 5-4 lead.

Unfortunately, Carlos Pena hit a massive two-run homerun in the top of the 7th to put the Cubs back on top, 6-5. Jumping to the bottom of the 8th, we see the score is the same, and Heyward is due up second. Sean Marshall (another lefty) is now on the mound for the Cubs. Freeman leads off with a ground out to second. Instead of letting Heyward hit against this lefty though, Fredi Gonzalez pinch hits Chipper Jones (he grounds out to shortstop).
Somebody please tell me, other than being down by a run, what was the difference between the 6th and 8th innings? Fredi Gonzalez was obviously ok with Heyward hitting against the lefty in the 6th, what changed during the 8th? Did Fredi not take a look at Heyward's numbers against lefties until the 7th? Did he think that since Heyward got a hit off the lefty in the 6th he wouldn't be able to, statistically speaking, in the 8th?
I just don't get it. Why not let Heyward hit? I might understand if there had been a runner in scoring position, especially with Chipper's .392/.442/.581 with RISP, but the bases were empty, and Chipper is nowhere near the power threat he once was (by the way, Chipper's numbers with the bases empty: .203/.300/.374.  Heyward's numbers you ask? .218/.294/.409, but his numbers against lefties rightfully trump those. Like I said, he's having a bad season.).

Heyward is supposed to be a future star of this team and the league. Give him a chance to prove himself, or to at least prove that he's beginning to turn things around. Don't take him out immediately after he's been successful in an identical situation. I don't care how understanding Heyward claims to be about this whole situation; you can't tell me that being taken out after being successful doesn't at least somewhat affect/bother him.
If he's injured, put him on the DL. If you think he's just too terrible right now to play, send him up I-85 to Gwinnett and let him work out some kinks. Heyward is too talented and too important to the team to be collecting dust and rust on the bench.
Statistics for this post were taken from and

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Interview with the World's Greatest Athlete

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Iron Man Challenge, the perfect competition for determining the world’s greatest athlete. I probably should have mentioned at some point in that post who the current greatest athlete in the world is. I shall rectify that mistake now.

His name is Adam Newland, and he’s an educator from the Athens, Georgia area. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2008. In addition to teaching, he coaches baseball, football, and wrestling. When he’s not teaching or coaching, he’s often updating his excellent blog, “The TV Czar Says…” He truly is a man of many interests and talents.

I was able to catch up with him recently and ask him about his thoughts about the Iron Man Challenge and being the greatest athlete in the world. A transcript of that interview is below.

Let's Be Logical: First of all, after 8 months, does being the greatest athlete in the world still feel special?

Adam: Every time I think about my victory, it still feels fresh. I can still picture standing atop the Showtime Bowl seats doing the title belt celebration.

LBL: Describe your thoughts going into last year’s Iron Man Challenge. Were you confident? Worried?

Adam: I felt pretty good about things. I knew there were some events where I didn’t have a chance of winning, but I felt that I could limit the damage there while winning some of the other events.

LBL: Which Iron Man Challenge event is your favorite? Least favorite?

Adam: My favorite is the Penalty Kick Shootout. You get a great understanding and appreciation for the pressure that pro guys are under when you do that event. My least favorite event is poker. I like poker, but if you run cold for one hour, one night, you can give up a ton of points. Furthermore, it occurs towards the end of the night and makes it tough to keep from falling asleep.

LBL: If different from above, which events are your strongest and weakest?

Adam: I think my strongest event is racquetball. I am the best racquet sport player of our group. Couple that with a decent understanding of the game, and you get complete domination. My weakest event has to be swimming. I can’t swim, and my lung capacity is seriously lacking.

LBL: From looking at the event list in a previous post, people can see that the Iron Man Challenge is obviously very physically challenging. What would you say is the hardest thing about the Challenge that people who have never participated might not expect?

Adam: You don’t anticipate how mentally exhausting the whole ordeal is. Because of a lot of the competition is based on skills, it requires laser sharp mental focus for 14-18 hour period without a let up. If the Challenge is close late, the person with the stronger mental focus capacity will carry a significant advantage.

LBL: How do you personally train for the Iron Man Challenge?

Adam: I trained in an event specific nature. I thought about all the different events and worked those skill sets. The main thing I learned last year from the year before is that being in great shape helps a ton. I was a lot lighter last year than the year before and it translated into better physical stamina because I wasn’t lugging around an extra 20 pounds of weight.

LBL: What advice would you give to a new competitor?

Adam: Understand your strengths and make sure you absolutely dominate those events while finding ways to mitigate your weaknesses. You can’t just say I suck at hoops so I won’t train and take last place. Those points add up fast.

LBL: Let’s switch gears a bit. In addition to being the reigning greatest athlete in the world, you’re also one of the founders of the Iron Man Challenge. Tell us a little bit of the history of the competition (e.g. Who’s idea was it? How did it get started? How has it evolved? et cetera)

Adam: The idea itself actually sprang up somewhere in the neighborhood of the year 2000. My older brother (and co-founder) discussed the idea amongst his group friends. The ideas were there, it just never materialized. It continued to come up in conversations throughout the decade, which culminated with my brother and I basically looking at each other and saying “Screw it, let’s do this thing.” We were fortunate enough to get Jaime Tyler to join us that first year, and we were off and running. We pretty much winged it the first year, but I think we have gradually changed this thing for the better with a more sophisticated process for event selection.

LBL: What goes into deciding which events are included in the Challenge? Are there any events you would like to see added or taken away for the next Iron Man Challenge?

Adam: Every year, the Iron Man Committee (myself included) evaluates last year’s schedule and search for ways to improve and or streamline the Challenge. We want the events that are going to test athletic skill in addition to tests of brute strength, speed, and endurance. It’s no secret that Usain Bolt could run faster than I could, but could he beat me in racquetball? I say no. Therein lays the greatness of the Challenge.

I don’t need any events to change (except for disc golf, ugh), but I wish we could find a way to make a two-day affair. Some things have been sadly cut due to time constraints (ex. Golf). That being said, a two-day showdown would be a logistical problem for some people.

LBL: Finally, do you intend to defend your title this year?

Adam: I consider myself a fighting champion. I refuse to rest on my laurels. I look forward to being crowned the first two-time winner of the Iron Man Challenge. This is the year I make history.

Based on his responses, I thought of another question to asl Adam after the initial interview:

LBL: You mention the importance of mitigating weaknesses and focusing on strengths. Does that mean you feel that strategy plays an important role in the Iron Man Challenge? Is there a lot of strategizing (or strategery, if you prefer) from event to event during the actual competition?

Adam: Strategery plays a huge role.  For example, there are a few events where you are superior to me and there will never be anything I can do about it.  Therefore, I don't focus on trying to be better than you at those events, but I will do my best to make sure I am better than everybody else at those events.

Strategery also plays a role from event to event.  You can't max out on every event or you will be shot by 4:00 pm.  I start with a rough outline of the events I am going 100% to win and adjust as the points start piling up.  I know if I miss my mark, I have to find some places to pick up some points.  On the flip side, if things go better than expected, maybe I get to ease up on a few events that I thought I was going to have to go 100% in.


Please leave any comments or questions about the Iron Man Challenge in the comment section below. If any questions are directed towards Adam, I’ll make sure he gets them. Follow this blog for recurring updates and information about the greatest athletic competition in the world, the Iron Man Challenge.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Illogical Story of the Week #2

As the title states, this is my second illogical story of the week post. If you missed the first, you can find it here.

We’re staying away from North Korea, lightning strikes, and deer gland medicine this time, and focusing on something more American.


More specifically, the Atlanta Braves and their logic-defying struggles against the Washington Nationals.

The Nationals became the Nationals in 2005. Before that they were the Montreal Expos. Since their move to Washington, the Nationals have a win-loss record of 464-616 (including today’s loss against the Braves). That’s a winning percentage of .429. They’ve never had a winning record, and have only finished at .500 (same number of wins and losses) once, in 2005. They do have a shot this year to finish above .500. Their best finish in the National League East Division was 4th (out of 5) in 2007. In 2008 and 2009, they posted back-to-back 100+ loss seasons. Even one 100 loss season is abysmal. To the Nationals’ credit though, they do seem to be improving and have some decent young talent coming up in their farm system. The future is at least partly sunny for them.

Over that same period of time, the Atlanta Braves have a record 566-518, good for a .522 winning percentage. Assuming they don’t tank for the rest of this season, they will have 5 winning seasons during that span. The Braves best finish in the NL East was 1st in 2005. They also made the playoffs last year as the National League Wild Card team. Their worst record was in 2008, when they went 72-90. It should probably be noted that this time period has actually been the worst for the Braves since the late 1980s, right before they began their unprecedented streak of 14 straight division titles. Still, 5 winning seasons out of 7 and 2 (hopefully 3) playoff appearances isn’t that bad. Just ask fans of the Pirates, Royals, Orioles, or…wait for it…Nationals.

Despite all this, the Braves are a measly 61-60 against the Nationals since the Nationals moved to Washington (2005). 61-60! To me, that defies all logic. As I wrote in a previous post, the Nationals are one of the four teams in all of MLB that hasn’t finished in the top 10 in regular season standings in the past 5 years. Yet the Braves are only one game over .500 against them since 2005.

What is it about the Washington Nationals that the Braves struggle with? I’m a firm believer that even the worst teams in MLB are tough to beat ALL the time, but a supposed regular contender (for a playoff spot at least) should be able to regularly beat a team that hasn’t mustered a winning season since I graduated high school (Note: Technically it’s been longer than that. The last time the Nationals franchise posted a winning record was 2003, when it was still the Montreal Expos. The Braves were 12-7 against them that year. Go figure).

Maybe it’s because the Braves often play up (or down) to their competition. Some have argued that. If that were totally true, though, wouldn’t you expect them to have a better record against the Phillies than 53-68 since 2005? Personally, I don’t think there is a good reason for the Braves’ struggles against the Nationals, which is why it’s the illogical story of the week.


Special thanks to and for providing all the data for this post.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"You know we're living in a society!"

If you can identify where this post’s title comes from, kudos to you for what I would call an immense knowledge of Seinfeld. If you can’t, you can go here to see George utter these words in some compiled clips of The Chinese Restaurant from season 2 of the greatest comedy ever.

Anyway, it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve moved since then, and for a while I was without Internet. I should probably do a post on how ridiculous the price of internet is, but that’s not the biggest thing crawling under my skin at the moment. No, I’ve got another itch to scratch right now.

We like to think we’re pretty easy going here at Let’s Be Logical. I live under the belief that I’m mostly in charge of my own attitude and happiness. I don’t have to let my situation dictate how I feel. Yes, life is tough and sometimes you get dealt a terrible hand, but for the most part we can choose whether or not to be happy.

With that being said, there are still things in life that frustrate me, that make me yell, “You know we’re living in a society!”

Today, I’m yelling that at non-existent fantasy baseball players. These are the people that draft a team and never check it again or lose interest after a few weeks. I know no one likes hearing about anyone else’s fantasy teams, but I need to show you what I’m dealing with.

In my Yahoo! fantasy baseball league (where I’m currently tied for 1st, by the way) there are 12* teams. I use an asterisk because the commissioner had to draft a second team, which he named “whoyoucallingaNYJER?” because he couldn’t find 11 other people to participate. At least, that’s what I’m assuming he did because whoyoucallingaNYJER is quite possibly the worst fantasy baseball team of all time. Not only is it 0-17, it’s only scored 1568.7 points all year. To put that in perspective, the second worst team in the league, the aptly named “KennyPowersAll-Stars”, is 1-16 with 4783.66 points. That’s a 3,000+ point spread between 11th and 12th place! There’s only a 2,200 point spread between 1st and 11th.

That’s not where my beef lies, though. At least the commissioner (assumingly) drafted that terrible team on purpose and isn’t trying to use it to help his other team win. My beef is that among the other 11 teams, only 3 have made moves in the past week, only 4 since July 18, and only 6 since June 3. Three of the teams haven’t done anything at all or since April, the first month of the MLB season.

For a 12 team league, that’s ridiculous, even if one team is a dummy team. I know the season is long, but guess what, it’s been 162 games for both leagues since 1962. You should know that going into the fantasy season. If you don’t think you can keep up with it the entire season then don’t play. I know it’s no fun if your team sucks, but you know what else sucks? When I can’t make any trades because ¾ of the league has quit paying attention. Besides, your team may not suck so badly if you actually checked on it every now and then.

While it’s not a serious one, joining a league, especially with people you know, is still a commitment. Not paying attention to your team makes playing less fun and more difficult for those actually involved in the league. If you’re one of these people, I’m not asking you to start paying more attention (although that would be wonderful), I’m asking you to do the rest of us a favor and asking you to quit fantasy sports altogether.