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.