Friday, November 1, 2013

Should Wacha have pitched to Ortiz

It is always easy to make a decision in hindsight. However, as Michael Wacha was walking David Ortiz, my wife said she thought it was a bad decision. I will disagree with my wife when merited, but I absolutely agreed here. This was before any runs were scored. I mean, why put another base runner on? A few hits, or even one extra base hit, and he scores anyway. Lets compare the alternatives. It’s early in the game, you have one out and a guy at second and it’s scoreless. Pitching to Ortiz Yes, Ortiz had looked like Superman in the World Series, 11 for 15 at that point with 2 home runs, and robbed of another. But the question we have to ask is ‘what is his expected ability at this point in time’. This will always be an educated guess. One way to define ability is by OPS (on base plus slugging). Ortiz has a lifetime OPS of .930, and a post season OPS of .962. His lifetime OPS in the three world series is over 1.300 and his OPS was a mind boggling 2.067 in the first five games. What could we expect in his next at bat? Well, we cannot expect an OPS of 2.067, that is for sure. I don’t think we can even expect an OPS of 1.300. Yes, he already done that in his World Series career in roughly 60 at bats, but one has to believe that is a little inflated. It is much like a baseball team that starts out 20-5. You are pretty sure they are a good team, but you are equally sure they are not going to play at an .800 pace. It has never been proven that players can be clutch, but this is debatable. I tend to think that players can be clutch. I will give credit for Ortiz being a clutch player, and estimate his OPS at 1.2 in the World Series against a typical pitcher. However, I don’t think Wacha is typical, despite his youth. I think he had demonstrated he is above average, even as playoff pitchers go, so lets drop Ortiz expected OPS against Wacha to 1.1. I would add that Ortiz’s home run rate is virtually the same in the post season as it is the regular season, so despite the heroics in the post season, he has not hit home runs at any greater of a pace, and that is a little more than 5%. The big concern with pitching to Oritz is a home run, but we could only expect that for one out of 20 at bats. The next big concern is a hit which scores a run, and, well ok, he had been hitting about .450 in his World Series career, but can we expect in the way of a hit? Probably nothing better than .350, and that is giving him a lot of credit. So, we still expect to get him out 2 out of 3 times. It is real easy to think ‘wow, look what he has done to us lately’ But 15 at bats is hardly a big enough sample size. We could look at run expectancy charts based on runners at first and second and one out or with a runner at second and one out. I am going to skip that for now, for a few reasons, one of which is that I have already thrown out more numbers than I wanted to. Walking Ortiz Yes, the Cardinals might have gotten out of the inning unscathed. But one big problem you have with walking him is that you still have decent hitters behind him. You are trading an OPS of 1.1 for an OPS of .8. Sounds good, right? Not only did you put a runner on, but the complexion of the at bats change. Hitting Jonny Gomes was somewhat of a fluke, but what if Gomes walks or gets an infield hit? The bases are still loaded. When you are pitching with the bases loaded, you have to throw strikes. The batter knows that. I suspect that hitting goes up a little on average with the bases loaded due to the fact that the pitcher has a self imposed smaller strike zone. I know I have thrown all kinds of numbers out. So, lets try to highly simplify this by looking at it this way. You can either a) get out of the inning with no runs b) get out of the inning with one run c) give up two or more runs. The first case is ideal. The second case, you can live with. The third case can be very difficult to come back from (of course, it depends upon the number of runs). I will concede that it might be true that you have a better chance of giving up at least one run by pitching to Ortiz. For that reason, if it is the bottom of the eighth in a tie game, I have no problem at all walking him. But, which way do you suspect, is it easier to give up more than one run? I feel almost certain that it is easier to give up more than one run by walking Ortiz. Heck that second run is already at first. The ironic thing about all of this is that it did not take that much for Boston to score 3 runs. A HBP and double by Victorino who was likely sitting on a fastball in a situation, due in part to walking Ortiz. An easy way to summarize all of this is that the parlay of events seems easier than Ortiz hitting a homerun, something that happens 1 in 20 times as mentioned earlier. In the third inning of a scoreless game with a man on second and one out, unless you are pitching to Babe Ruth or post-steroid Barry Bonds, I think it is a clear decision: you pitch to him. Finally, I am not suggesting that this is why the Cardinals lost the game. But it certainly opened the floodgates.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Where American Idol Went Wrong

The many things I would like to see change about American Idol. The auditions: I do not like to see people making fools of them. I guess a good portion of America likes to see that (it makes them feel better seeing other people fail). I never really thought it was that funny and kind of felt sorry for them. The main thing is that I wanted to see some decent singers. Part of the enjoyment was to ‘play along with the show’. I want to see singers that are 6’s, 7’s, and 8’s in addition to the 9’s and 10’s. The 6’s thru 8’s are more fun to assess. Do you agree with the judges or not? Where is the anticipation of seeing whether they go to Hollywood or not if the singers are primarily 9’s, 10’s and 0’s? The save: Here is the problem I have with the save. There is no way they are going to use it in the first 3 weeks or so. Just no way. So, why bother? Oh, I know. Much of America is well. not very smart, and probably thinks there is a chance they use it early on, so AI wanting to boost ratings in any way possible, will sell out to do so. The judges: I did not watch it for the first five years, and part of the reason is that I did not like how the judges influenced voting. It just seemed clear to me. In season 6, when LaKisha Jones sang in the round of 24, Simon said something to the effect, “Everybody else might as well pack their jobs; this competition is over”. Well, according to Dialidol (which estimates number of votes), she was head and shoulders ahead of everyone else in the voting that week. She did end up finishing fourth, but the fact is that she lost her luster and in my opinion it was because she fell out of favor with the judges?. Did she lose her singing ability in those few weeks? No. This is not to say that the judges dictate all winners? But their influence is strong. You know what I think would be a neat idea. Let the judges assess the NEXT night. That way the vote is completely clean. Do we really need judges? Nicki Manaj? Steven Tyler, who had used the word ‘beautiful’ 7481 times. Okay, I am exaggerating a little, but not by much. The other problem with the judges is the criticism they have when a singer does not want to be ‘pigeon holed into singing a certain way. For instance, if they expect a singer to sing a soft rock song, and they sing something else, they might say something to the effect “you have not defined yourself”. If that is the case, then I guess the Beatles, Lady Gaga, and others never defined themselves either since they were quite versatile also. I think the judges have to say something, to make it look like they are really mentoring. Spare me. People such as Jimmy Iovine are more needed than the judges. The judges are also too partial to some of the newer music. I guess much of the public likes it (yes, I am as dumbfounded as you), but further, they not only deter singers from singing older music but will then likely say that that ‘song did not fit you, ya da ya da ya da’ , as they did with Charlie Askew when he sung a somewhat obscure song by Genesis, it only reached 73 on the American charts …… I thought he did a nice job, and it was soooooooooo nice to see him pick what I thought was a catchy song from the eighties from a big name group. Keith Urban said he thought he was disconnected; I thought the song perfectly captured him and his admitted struggles in life. So, the judges dissed him, America followed along, and he was out. Another case where I can almost guarantee you that if the judges had praised him, he would have been safe. The last song on the final night of the competition: With the finale, both singers should end with the exact same song. The voting is too song dependant (you remember the last song by each more vividly), and this was never more clear than last year when Phillip Phillips had the catchy song ‘Home’, and I have to believe it heavily swayed the voters. He might have won anyway. Of course, AI likely does this so they can market two new songs. They never miss an opportunity to sell out. The voting: Speaking of selling out, the voting is really laughable. Restrict it to one vote per person, and you have a more legitimate process. The guest singers; the overall production: There is way too much dancing and newer stuff. Can’t we just see people sing great songs? Interview them for a few minutes (I think that would draw viewers also). If you saw somebody like Phil Collins and he talked for a few minutes about what he has been doing recently, I know I would be watching. I know that it is hard to get some of these singers from the 70’s and 80’s, but you have hundreds to choose from. As it is, I surf the net (or go to the kitchen to make a smoothie drink) during much of the AI telecast. My wife and I watched about 10 minutes of AI this year, after being devoted followers for the last 6 years. Sadly, we do not even miss it. Bring back Charlie Askew, and get judges who will say relevant things, not just talk for the sake of talking, and we may rethink our position.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Setting the record straight with Mother Teresa

A recent Canadian study has stated some unflattering things (to say the least) about Mother Teresa (to say the least). @Kimberly Schupp-Miller stated this “The researchers mentioned, ‘her dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political affiliations and her overly dogmatic views about contraception, abortion and divorce…… The study even went on to claim that Mother Teresa found it beautiful to see the poor suffer” I am not going to pick each of these things apart, but will make a few comments. I have always believed that anybody can take anybody else, and make them look bad. Even Mother Teresa. Heck, lawyers frame things all the time to influence people. Perception becomes reality. To begin with, we are all human. We all have flaws. Even humanitarians can fall short of society’s expectations of them, and their expectations of themselves. So, let us take a step back here, and look at the objective evidence. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to God. That is a reality. Anybody who does not understand that needs to have their head examined. Now, did she make perfect judgment along the way? Nobody does. One of the chief complaints about her was that she did not use the millions of dollars that her foundation raised to help the dying. The quote above, ‘found it beautiful to see the poor suffer’, makes it sound as if she wanted that to happen. Nobody truly knows what went through her mind, but my guess (which is as good as anybody’s to the extent that nobody can truly get ‘inside her heart’ ) is that she might have had the Beatitudes in mind. Further, this was a response to a question that asked “Do you teach the poor to endure their lot”. She did not say that she taught the poor to endure their lot. She seemed to be saying that many poor are acting as Christ would want them to. There are millions and millions of homeless, dying people. She knew that even with money she raised, there was a limited amount that she could do. Yes, she probably could have saved some people that ultimately died. Did she want them to die? Of course not. But she knew that many would, and her life was dedicated to comforting those who were ‘likely’ dying. Do people think she gave all her money to the Church?She started with 13 members in Calcutta and it eventually grew to more than 4,000 sisters running orphanages, AIDS hospices and charity centers, etc. etc. Did she mismanage her money? Probably But she was not a business woman. If you want to say she could have had better judgment with the money her charity raised, fine. She probably did. But to largely smear her name by distorting what she did and her intentions shows ignorance to what she was all about. She was about as selfless as anybody in the last two thousand years. She was committing to following Christ’s teaching, and was as non-wavering as the North Star when it came to her single minded devotion to God.