No Chase in Leaving

Every once in a while, my world stops turning here, but continues elsewhere, meaning that I have one foot in motion and the other at rest. That may make some of you angry, and it's a little awkward for me, but I think it warrants a post in case you don't just love FD for the template.

The big Gatorade gundown: Simple, hella corporate, and yet awakening the competitive spirit I didn't think I had in me. Click on that link and vote for my favorite Jordan moment of all time, so it can end up on a bottle across the nation. For space reasons, they had to cut the part where I suggest MJ finished in this manner to send a message to Bias, who had just had his potential game-winner blocked by Sam Perkins. Not quite the 1992 "eff Drexler" half that Skeet selected, but in the same vein. In case you've never seen it:

At one point, I was thinking of using this web classic:

I've posted it on here multiple times, but what fascinates me is that YouTube has allowed for a rediscovery of early Jordan. This grainy footage of his ninth game, the first time he really exploded as a pro, is quite possibly the most raw example of Michael Jordan, threat to the known universe. And relatively speaking, it might as well have never existed before this video was posted, except as a box score. Certainly, it's only recently that we've been able to drill it into our own heads, to memorize each move and, for me, reassert a past that's quite special in its own right. It's allowed us all to experience a relatively obscure moment as real, even consider it for the canon.

Moving on, the ol' day gig has produced some possible posts of note. I was in a bad mood when I read Dave Berri's "underpaid/overpaid" post, and ended up writing a column about it. Slight slip in terminology notiwthstanding, I think it's a point that had to be made, even if Ziller really hit hardest. I also found out that Berri himself does't think so highly of me, though I suspect he only reads my stuff about him, and might think that everything on FD is by me. Regardless, this blurb is a keeper: "As always happens when I read Bethlehem Shoals, I am left wanting the last few moments of my life back. He generally offers a few personal attacks and then reveals he didn’t quite read what was written."

A commenter suggested that, to paraphrase, I should be sympathetic to Berri because we both look at basketball in an unorthodox way. What do you think?


-Can't miss cult classics for 2009-10

-I am confused about J.R. Smith's gang leanings

-Over at Rethinking Basketball, Q. McCall recaps every single conversation we had at the Storm/Mercury game, most of which involved comparing the men's and women's pro games (as style, and product, etc.)


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At 8/06/2009 9:26 AM, Blogger Bret LaGree said...

Berri shows no interest in allowing anyone else's orthodoxy to soften his rigid thinking. I don't see that having a larger than average blind spot regarding one's own assumptions is especially similar to freedarko's collective unorthodox approach.

I say this as one who really tried to like Berri's work but currently believe that he's most valuable as an object lesson as to the dangers of being uncritical about one's work and as an example of the one guy who values rebounding more than I do.

At 8/06/2009 10:04 AM, Blogger walrusoflove said...

Dude. I'm a longtime FD fanboy. Your work is massively inspirational for me (not limited to hoops). Disappointed to find hate today. Your sh*t is tight enough that there is no need to go there.

"I know that there are bad forces, forces put here that bring suffering to others and misery to the world, but I want to be the force which is truly good" - John Coltrane

At 8/06/2009 10:58 AM, Blogger salt_bagel said...

I like statheads and what they do for the game, but I think they do have a way of thinking that everything they say is self-evident, when usually that's far from the truth. They all do it to some extent, and I would guess it's just part of being very analytical and then trying to package that for a broader audience. Personally, I don't believe Berri's top-down approach is not the best way to measure production, and I feel more at ease with ratings like Oliver's, but I certainly don't have any math/econ chops to back that up.

I've always thought (and still think) that FD had way more to offer than guys like this, not only regarding the obvious difference in content (which is basically a matter of taste whether you like it), but also the environment and manner of discourse (which should appeal to intelligent humans in general).

It's about the audience!

At 8/06/2009 11:06 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

What's that old PLO slogan: "I kill out of love"?

If my ideas had never evolved, or differentiated between the realistic, the idealistic, and the absurd, I'd hope people would come at me. Or as a population, ignore me altogether. Then I'd be on the clock for 15 minutes. Or at least I would should be.

At 8/06/2009 11:07 AM, Blogger Teach said...

The stats and the box scores tell us that Jordan had a great game against the Spurs that night, but the footage gives it context. The announcers don't really know what to make of it; they're seeing the game change before their eyes. For example, there's the comment about MJ basically having the impact of a center at the guard position, which had not been done previously. There's also the awkward nickname of Captain Marvel because at this point in his career Jordan didn't own his image, so announcers probably called him anything that came to mind.

At this point in time, we all know the Jordan myth so well that it's cool to go back to the time when people still got to create the dogma of his myth on their own, like Christianity before Catholicism.

At 8/06/2009 11:21 AM, Blogger Quantavius Sturdivant said...

Good thing that "Captain Marvel" nickname didn't stick.

At 8/06/2009 11:56 AM, Blogger walrusoflove said...

@QS: ditto on 'captain marvel'...made me cringe like nails on a blackboard. imagine telling your grandkids 'captain marvel' stories. almost as ridiculous as 'king james' :)

@BS: I hear ya. Just keeping it in check. I prefer Z graphs, spirit animals, killer graphics, and existential enlightenment to PER/ Win Shares/etc anyday. Obama is prez mainly because of his amazing qualitative aspects; charisma, team chemistry, adaptation to sentiment, etc....haven't seen a quant formula that could give him new stats, set his salary or predict his future production.

At 8/06/2009 12:16 PM, Blogger spanish bombs said...

Is there a link to Berri complaining about you?

If you're gonna pick stat fights, could you pick one with the Hot Hand guy? Berri basically admits that his model is just least-squares regressions of stats on wins; Huizinga does the same, but for a dataset which desperately needs fixed effects, which I didn't find anywhere in his paper. Does Silverbird still work here?

At 8/06/2009 12:21 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

He complains about me in the comments section of his initial post, after someone tells him to read my column.

Silverbird is busy with book stuff, as I probably should be. But my point here wasn't to actually engage in stat-fighting, but to question whether in this case, the stats even address the phenomena of pro basketball.

At 8/06/2009 12:27 PM, Blogger Teach said...

Stats will not and can not explain Captain Marvel as a terrible nickname.

At 8/06/2009 12:34 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

The stat guys have their place, and can help shed some light on some things, but Shoals is right on the money with regards to how it seems like they don't even watch the games to see if their stats make any sense. My favorite example of this is John Hollinger's pet stat, PER, which tells us that Zach Randolph was a better player last year than Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Rajon Rondo, Caron Butler, etc. I submit that any stat that arrives at this conclusion has a few flaws. At least Berri's aforementioned stat arrived at a conclusion so obvious that it's silly to bother verbalizing, thus proving it's almost surely correct (though pointless). But the main problem with many of these stat guys is that if their stats produce a conclusion which seems to definitely not be true, rather than trust what common sense tells them, they throw that out and just believe that the stat tells them all they needed to know.

At 8/06/2009 12:47 PM, Blogger W2 said...

@ Wild Yams...Reagarding Hollinger and Z-Bo...

If Hollinger wanted to find out that Randolph was better than Rondo and Butler and Melo, he shoulda just asked Z-Bo. Fuck the stats.

At 8/06/2009 12:49 PM, Blogger Eg said...

@ Wild Yams -- At least Hollinger recognises that PER is a useful metric, not The Unequivocal Truth. I think he'd be the last to suggest Randolph is better than any of those guys.

@ BS -- If Captain Marvel had stuck, would Jordan have ever become GOAT? Perhaps not. That's why we need an awesome nickname for Kevin Durant as soon as possible. KD24 or whatever horror is in vogue will not suffice. Durant might not ever contend for best ever, but he needs nickname that elevates him to rarified air.

At 8/06/2009 12:52 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I like Captain Marvel for Durant. Speaks to his throwback look, if not game, and the understated/overstated murk of it fits both his game and his shy intensity.

At 8/06/2009 12:56 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

I think Skeets' 'Durantuala' is a fine nickname, and Durant himself has co-signed on it. Just hasn't hit mainstream yet.

At 8/06/2009 1:36 PM, Blogger Phil said...

fyi: you were too hard on WoW.

At 8/06/2009 1:55 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

@ Eg -- I actually get the impression that Hollinger does think that PER is the "Unequivocal Truth". If you ever read his articles on MVP voting, for instance, he always seems to take a stance like "Well, the stats say it's this guy, so that's where my vote goes."

In any event, like I said, any metric which tells you Zach Randolph had a better year than those other guys needs to be reworked. I can't help but seriously doubt how useful a metric it actually is when it spits out results like that.

At 8/06/2009 1:58 PM, Blogger dickey simpkins said...

The problem with Berri is unlike Hollinger who recognizes PER is not the end all, be all for player evaluation, Berri actually thinks WoW is the best way to evaluate a player, regardless of context, contracts, situation, etc. It's such a simple-minded point of view backed up by a complicated formula that even fans who swear by advanced stats tend to bash it.

The bigger problem with advanced statistics is that the bloggers/authors out there who post frequently on the topic don't have the manpower to pursue better options. We all know Daryl Morey and other GMs have their hands on APM, and have hordes of statisticians/analysts to crunch the numbers. Does Kevin Pelton have these resources, or Kelly Dwyer? We're forced to use what we have available.

At 8/06/2009 3:06 PM, Blogger Andy said...

I just wish we'd gotten to see more Artis Gilmore and George Gervin on that 1984 video...

At 8/06/2009 5:03 PM, OpenID bigbammorris said...

Anyone read the WNBA post?

I think the issue discussed where there is far more versatility in the WNBA is counter to how the industrial world progresses.

Industrialization pushes toward specialization as you can see in our nation's past.

So, why would it be different in sports?

Sure you will have some people who are talented at a whole host of things but teams will want more and more players to fill a role much like a bruce bowen would.

Would Bruce and his highly specialized game been acceptable 30 or 40 years ago? I don't know.

I feel like the wnba and women's sports in general are in a relatively juvenile state and thus you will find more versatility and less specialization.

That doesn't necessarily mean its less aesthetically pleasing but I don't really think it means the opposite either.

At 8/06/2009 5:07 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

What's weird is that yes, non-differentiation is indicative of an earlier time (in sports, society, cells). But then in the NBA, we're again seeing players who blur lines. Hard to tell if the WNBA is futuristic or atavistic. And if, in some weird way, the NBA is going back to its own roots.

At 8/06/2009 5:14 PM, Blogger signals3_t5 said...

The bigger problem with advanced statistics is that the bloggers/authors out there who post frequently on the topic don't have the manpower to pursue better options.

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At 8/07/2009 2:43 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

Less about Berri (who is clearly a loser) and more about YouTube clips of young Jordan!!! I've seen that rock the cradle dunk many times on highlight reels, but missed that he and the rest of the team ran off the court immediately after it happened. So sick!

(Oh shit! 23 comments! I'm going to lock it up now.)


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