Tuesday, July 19, 2011

World's Greatest Athlete

Who is the best athlete in the world?

It’s a simple question with a supposedly impossibly complex answer (Keep that “supposedly” in mind. We’ll be coming back to it.). Critics, journalists, pundits, and fans have pondered this question or some form of it probably as long as sport has been around.

The problem, of course, is that comparing athletes across sports can be harder than comparing apples to ground beef. They’re both food, but they both bring/takeaway different goods to/from the table. A baseball player and a track runner are both athletes (to take a saying from my good buddy Adam, I’ll fight anyone who says baseball players—not all pitchers included—are not athletes), but each sport those athletes play requires different overall skill sets that may share similarities but are largely unique. The same is true for football and cricket players, basketball and racquetball players, swimmers and weightlifters, etc. All true athletes by definition possess athleticism, but figuring out who has the most by comparing them across sports is virtually impossible, and quite frankly, a waste of time.

Of course, that doesn’t stop people from trying. All of those arguments are purely subjective and mostly based on personal preferences and experiences (ex: There’s no way some Euro soccer player is a better athlete than a red-blooded American football player.). Here at Let’s Be Logical, we believe the best and most logical way to discover the true best athlete in the world is through objective measures.

Logically, you’re probably thinking right now, “Objectivity would be great, but how do you do that?” The short answer: by creating the greatest athletic competition known to man. Your thought now might be, “Okay. Again, that’s great, but how do you that?” The ever shorter answer (and this is where that “supposedly” from the first paragraph comes back into play): it’s already been done, and it’s called the Iron Man.

No, not that Iron Man (we’re aware of the naming issues and are working on it). This Iron Man is comprised of approximately 30 different athletic competitions that take place in one day (yes, one day). Each competition focuses on a different athletic skill and covers virtually the entire sport spectrum. Simply completing the competition makes you an athlete. Winning it makes you the undisputed greatest athlete in the world.

Below is an event list from the most recent Iron Man competition. Tell us what you think about it in the comments below and if it sounds like something that would interest you. Follow Let’s Be Logical to stay updated on information and other details about the Iron Man.

October 2010 Iron Man Event List

Mile Run
Kickoff Distance Challenge
Punt Distance Challenge
Field Goal Distance/Accuracy Challenge
Football Throw – Distance Challenge
Football Throw – Accuracy Challenge
Baseball Throw – Distance Challenge
Baseball Throw – Accuracy Challenge
Open Field Tackle Tournament (using flags)
Soccer Penalty Kick Challenge
Disc Golf Tournament
Tennis Tournament
Bike Time Trial
Softball Home Run Derby
Bench Press Competition
Deadlift Competition
1 v 1 basketball tournament
3 point shootout
Badminton tournament
Racquetball tournament
25 meter swim
75 meter swim
Ping-Pong Tournament
Poker Session
Long Jump Competition
100 meter dash

Final thought: While maybe it's not a true test of athletic prowess, Let's Be Logical thinks this athletic competition is entertaining and epic nonetheless.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fixing the MLB All-Star Game

“Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

If the Major League Baseball All-Star game could talk, it would probably say, “Why have all of you been hating on me so much this year? Hate the lame players who skip me or the some of the lamer ones who actually come. I still don’t know who Aaron Crow is or why anyone let Russell Martin into the stadium, let alone the clubhouse.”

Unfortunately, most people seem to heed Ice-T’s advice (he is a bit intimidating after all) and hate the game. People from Yahoo!, to the Miami Herald, to all sorts of places in the blogosphere have been—how can we put this nicely—discussing, sometimes vehemently, the lack of interest the MLB All-Star game (ASG) now generates.

It is true that the 2011 MLB All-Star game garnered the lowest ratings ever for an ASG, a 6.9 according to USA Today (By the way, a 6.9 rating means that 6.9% of all television equipped households in the United States—about 1,159,000, according to Nielsen estimates—were tuned into the game at any given moment. For a more complete definition of television ratings, go here.). Before we panic and say mean things about Bud Selig (which is usually fun) let’s logically consider what this low rating really means.
  • A closer look at the ratings from July 12, 2011, the night of the ASG, reveals that the All-Star game was the second most watched program of the night, behind America’s Got Talent (the fact that America’s Got t Talent is the highest rated show any night is scary and probably speaks to the downfall of society, but that’s a discussion for another time and probably another blog, like the TV Czar’s)
  • In the all important 18-49 demographic (to see why it’s important, click here), the ASG came in 2nd again to America’s Got Talent (one more side note about that show: If asked to pick the grammatically correct statement, I wonder how many Americans would choose “America’s Got Talent” over “America Has Talent.” Probably more than I want to know.). 
  • According to Daniel Fienberg at Hitfix, the ASG was able to beat America’s Got Talent in the ratings battle last year. 
  •  Other sources show that the ASG still does better on television than other sporting events, including the supposed almighty NCAA tournament.
What I take away from these points:

The All-Star game is still a pretty popular draw for a Tuesday night in July. Unless you’re Ricky Bobby, 2nd place isn’t bad. Also compared to other sporting events, especially similar ones (the Super Bowl doesn’t count, regular television doesn’t compare to it), the ASG is the obvious fan favorite.

Still ratings are dropping. Of course, due to segmentation, ratings are dropping for everybody. But, if the ratings are dropping, especially enough to start losing to a show it used to beat, then something is probably wrong. When something is wrong, the logical thing to do is fix it.

So let’s try. Below are my thoughts on how to improve the MLB ASG. Before I start, let me say that as I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of discussion on the web and television about how to fix the game already. So, you may have already heard a lot of my ideas before.


I’m approaching this with the sole thought of improving ratings. Higher ratings increase ad revenue, which in turn increases the amount of money FOX will pay MLB to keep showing the game. The lover of the game of baseball in me won’t agree with some of the suggestions I’m making. Love of baseball doesn’t increase ad revenue, though, higher ratings do.

Suggestion 1: Increase the fan vote

Right now, fans vote for starters and the 30th man on each team. Why not let the fans vote for more players? The lover of the game in me says because sometimes fans are stupid and vote for undeserving players. The ratings chaser in me says that if the players the fans want are playing then it’s more likely the fans will watch. Plus, fans have been voting somewhat smarter lately.

Let the fans pick the starting pitchers. If they can vote within 48 or so hours for the 30th man, they can vote within 36 or so hours for the starting pitchers.

Suggestion 2: Quit Being Socialist

America isn’t socialist (yet), and neither is baseball (okay, you might could make an argument, but go with me here). There’s no reason for every team to have a representative at the game. I can name every team in MLB and probably at least two players from every team, but I had no clue who Aaron Crow was until I started writing this article, and I watched the entire game. By the way, he’s a pitcher for the Kansas City Royals (stats here).

No offense to Aaron Crow, but he had no reason being on the AL roster. I’m not saying he’s not good, I’m saying that Ron Washington only picked him because he didn’t have another player from Kansas City. That’s dumb. Ron Washington should be free to pick the BEST players available, especially if the game means something. I’m willing to bet that the Kansas City fans that watched the game didn’t watch only for a chance to see Aaron Crow pitch. Those fans probably would have watched even if Crow didn’t make the team. The same is probably true for other teams with a token player. I know I wouldn’t be more likely to watch the ASG just because one of my sorry team’s players made the ASG solely because my sorry team had to be represented. In fact, I would probably watch the All-Star game just to see some actual good players and then be upset when my sorry team’s token player got in and took an actual good player’s playing time. Which brings us to my next suggestion…

Suggestion 3: Let the best play longer (or Quit Being Socialist, part B)

Fans want to see the starters (the players they actually pick) play, not get two at bats and hit the showers. The problem is, the coaches feel a duty (whether via pressure from big, bad Bud or not) to get everyone in. Again, no one wants to see Aaron Crow pitch (fortunately, he didn’t). 

One obvious way to find more playing time for the best players is to cut down the roster size, which becomes easy when we take away the “every team must be represented” rule. Allow for 16 position players (two at every position) and 13 pitchers (which should be more than enough for a game). That’s 29 on each roster, which is still 4 more than an actual roster carries. The difference with the proposed break down, though, is that each starting position player would play at least half the game.

Suggestion 4: Don’t Show Them the Money if They Don’t Show Up

The number of players not showing up to this year’s game has been well documented. If a player doesn’t want to play, that’s his prerogative, but that doesn’t mean he should get his all-star bonus. A legitimate injury is one thing (that calf didn’t look too sore when you were rounding the bases for number 3,000, Captain), but simply resting or just choosing to skip the game should result in the forfeiture of the bonus.

You have the power to make this happen, Bud. Just convince your owners (without colluding of course), to stipulate in player contracts that the all-star bonus is only applicable if they go to the game, barring an injury that results in being placed on disabled list.

There’s obviously more that can be done to improve the game, but I’m up to almost 1,400 words, so I’m going to wrap things up. Like I said, you can find many great suggestions all over the interwebz. In short, my ideas for improving the ASG focus on improving ASG ratings and are:
  • Let the fans have more say in the vote, such as but not limited to voting for the starting pitcher. 
  •  Don’t select a player from every team just to select a player from every team. 
  •  Cut down on roster sizes so the starters can play more. 
  •  Don’t pay the players unless they show up for the game.
All of these ideas involve giving the fans more of the players they actually want to see. It may not always be the best way for getting the most deserving players in the game, but more often than not those that deserve it will still make it. Feel free to leave your ideas for the ASG in the comments below.

I’ll leave you with suggestions my wife gave me for improving the game:
  • More interviews with players with interesting tidbits about their lives. 
  •  Bribery (for instance: “Wednesday only: Tell a cashier at your local Taco Bell which team scored first and win a free taco!”) 
  •  Charitable cause (“Watch for the special four digit code, and then text, call, or enter that code on the Internet within 30 minutes. State Farm will donate $1 to cancer research for each entry.”) 
  •  Super Bowl halftime style concert during the 7th inning stretch (some ideas are better than others).

Illogical Story of the Week

an excerpt from an article on espn.com (find it here):

"North Korea officials blamed traditional musk deer gland medicine used after a lightning strike for five positive tests for steroids at the Women's World Cup."

I have no words to even attempt to dissect this.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

MLB Realignment: The Fairest Way to Do it

The title of this blog is “Let’s Be Logical.” I think if more people used basic logic (or common sense) a lot of our world’s problems—economically, socially, etc.—would disappear or at least become much more manageable. Alas, usage of sound logic among the populace seems to get lower and lower by the day.

I’m not here to solve the world’s problems. Yet. What I do want do is occasionally take an issue and present possible solutions in a logical way. Sometimes I’ll provide input on what I think is the best course action, and sometimes I won’t. I mainly just want to present the facts.

Not all of my blog posts will be like this, but hey, it is in the title. Logically speaking, the title of the blog should match at least some of its contents.

The first issue I’m going to write about is Major League Baseball (as you might have guessed from the post’s title—see, we’re already being logical). Baseball is a passion of mine, and Major League Baseball is my favorite professional league to follow. By the way, college football is second. I know, it’s not professional (at least it’s not supposed to be). 

Specifically, I am going to discuss the realignment issue that is the hot topic in MLB circles right now. For those who may be unaware, realignment basically deals with changing the way the 30 teams in MLB are organized. One of the root issues of realignment is fairness. As such, I want to present the fairest realignment option possible. By fair, I mean that no team has a scheduling advantage over any other team when it comes to making the playoffs.

No teams will be added or taken away from the current 30 that comprise MLB. As far as I or anyone else seems to know, that is not even remotely an option of the realignment discussion. Personally, I think there’s barely enough talent to field 30 competitive teams, much less 32.

If you are unaware of the current set-up of MLB, look here. It will show you how the leagues and divisions currently work. Look here for information about the playoffs.

The Concept: No Leagues or Divisions; Schedule is completely balanced

This option does away with all divisions and both leagues. Now, every team is in one, giant pool. Every team would play every other team 6 times (3 at home, 3 on the road). That equals a 174 game season. If MLB wanted to keep the playoffs at 8 teams (which is unlikely), then the top 8 teams would make the playoffs. If the playoffs are expanded, the top 10 or 12 or how many ever teams would make it.

Fairness Level: 10/10

This is the fairest option possible. Every team plays every other team 6 times. In other words, the schedule is perfectly balanced; every team has the same schedule. Teams can’t complain about another team having an easier schedule.

Other Pros of this Option

Since every team plays all the other teams, rivalries (like the Red Sox/Yankees) would remain intact. Also, every team would get to host every other team for 3 games, which means fans would have the chance to see any team or player play in their local team’s stadium. 

Likelihood: 0%

A lot of people are griping at the possibility of losing the divisions. Imagine if they took away leagues, too. It won’t happen, and it probably shouldn’t. Some traditions after all, are a good thing (I’m NOT looking at you, DH) Also, the importance of the regular season could dwindle immensely (especially if the playoffs are expanded). We don’t want MLB to become the NBA.

Another potential negative is that the same teams might make the playoffs every year, further decreasing interest in the sport. Take a look below at the top teams in MLB for the past 5 seasons in regards to regular season standings. Obviously, we can’t assume these seasons would have ended the same way under the proposed format, but it’s the best data we have to go on. I’ll include the top 10 teams each year because as stated earlier the playoffs are probably going to be expanded.

Red Sox

Red Sox

Red Sox
White Sox

Red Sox

White Sox
Blue Jays

(This list was compiled from baseball-reference.com)

By my count, 26 different teams filled what would have been 50 possible playoff spots under the proposed system. That’s 26 out of 30 total teams. Only the Pirates, Royals, Nationals, and Orioles failed to crack the 10 in final regular season standings over the past 5 seasons (again, by my count). I’d say that’s pretty balanced. So, the argument that the same 10 teams would make the playoffs every year may not be valid.

Still, taking away the leagues and divisions is probably a bit much, especially for all those baseball purists. Furthermore, no one, and I mean no one, wants to lengthen the season by 12 games.

A possible alternative that would allow the leagues to remain would be for each team to play the other teams from its league 6 times each and teams from the other league 5 times (An NL team would have to be switched to the AL). The top 4 or 5 teams from each league would make the playoffs. That would make the season 159 games. This is still mostly fair because teams in the same league would have the same schedule. Scheduling such a format would probably be a major headache, if not virtually impossible, though.

That’s it. The fairest realignment option possible. Will it ever happen? No. Should it? Not if it means 174 games. If we're talking about the 159 game plan, the biggest issue I can think of at the moment is that it could vastly decrease interest in the regular season. Other than that, it seems like an interesting idea to me (of course, I did think of it). Admittedly, it’s a bit outrageous and would require a major overhaul of how MLB currently operates (major change isn’t always a bad thing). Sometimes, though, it takes considering the most outrageous ideas to come up with the best idea.


My current favorite realistic ideas for realignment can be found here and here. They both keep the divisions and leagues intact and balance out the schedule pretty well.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The First Post

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Blog. Blog. Blog.

Is there a difference? The future buzz noted in 2009 that Technorati (an Internet search engine for searching blogs, according to Wikipedia) had indexed 133,000,000 blogs since 2002. That's a large number. Of course, as this website indicates, estimating the total number of blogs on the Internet is basically a futile exercise. Suffice it to say that there are probably more blogs on the internet than a person could ever count.

With that in mind, let's go back to the question: Is blogging anything more than someone blowing some virtual hot air? For the vast majority of blogs (at least 90%) I'm going to say no. Sure, there are some important, informative, entertaining, and even life-changing blogs out there, but as the title of this blog says, let's be logical: most blogs are full of fluff that no one needs to know.

But you know what? That's ok. The Internet itself is full of fluff that no one needs, but it's still a pretty cool thing. If someone wants to write a blog, more power to them. If someone wants to read that blog, more power to them, too.

That's where I come in. I've often mulled starting a blog in the past but never took any action. For one, I'm mostly a private person. Second, as I said earlier, there are a lot of good blogs out there written by a lot of talented people that put a lot of time and effort into their work. I don't know if I can or even want to put enough time into a blog to make it as good as I'd like, or if it even has a chance to be good. Third, I don't even know what I would blog about. I have nothing I really want to focus on like sports or tv because, as I've said, there's a lot of talented people that already focus on that stuff.

So, where does that leave me? Well, I think this is something I'm going to try out, to see how it goes. Who knows, maybe I'll enjoy it, and maybe other people will, too. Maybe not. There's only one way to find out.