Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Final Fake Chapter

This morning, as I walked along a fluffy cloud to work, visions of dejected D. Jeter dancing in my head, I noticed a New York Post, blaring the word "Jeeted!" followed by this gem: "Anti-Yankee Yokels Cheat MVP Derek."

Apparently the Yankees don't have enough awards and trophies. They have to just go ahead and pronounce themselves king even when someone else has been given the crown. Yokels? Who would that be? The people that actually watch all the teams, and not just the Yankees? People here in New York think Derek Jeter is the best to ever play the game, because of a very simple formula: (They've seen him be the best player on their team for the last ten years) + (They don't know there are any other teams). If they knew the Yankees weren't the only team in the league, why would they continue to claim victories when they've really lost?

Now back to our story. I also saw last night on TV the headline "Jeter Gypped." So after I saw the Post headline, I realized that we were entering into the final phase of this charade. The charade that started when the New York media decided Derek Jeter deserved an MVP at some point, and why not this year, as long as there's no clear-cut winner? It seemed like the perfect crime. And much like when Keith Jackson would mention his favorite college football player more than once, leading to that player being seen as the leading Heismann Trophy candidate, it snowballed from there. I know Michael Kay sat back and smiled any time someone called Derek Jeter the "favorite" in the MVP race, a race that, this year, he shouldn't have even been in.

The really interesting part was when people started in with "usually his skills are measured by intangibles, but this year he's got the stats to back them up." Where? Do I have to turn my newspaper upside down? He seems to move up certain lists that way. Are they talking about the nerd stats? VORP? Trying to put a number on "value," by using a mythical replacement player? I still don't get why nerds would use unscientific methods, ever. That's like a doctor coming out of the operating room and saying "I've cured your grandma's cancer, using a mix of alchemy and miracle-work." There's no replacement grandma, there's no replacement player.

So the final chapter is the part where New York is outraged (!) Gimme a break. Jeter didn't get robbed any more than any one of five other dudes did. It wasn't his award.

The Daily News, New York's other tabloid rag, gave a different opinion, though. Mike Lupica shouted right back at Post writers: "Jeter Was Not Robbed." I'm glad I'm not the only one. (I'd link to the article, but it's so full of sickening Jeter-love, I wouldn't want to make anyone vomit. Besides the main idea, there's nothing else there.)

Okay, VORP people, bring it on!

(Note that I'm the biggest nerd of all. Just not that kind of nerd.)
The great hypocrisy of that Post headline is that a blatantly anti-Sox Post writer, George King, screwed Pedro out of the 1999 AL MVP.
I haven't vomited in SO long! But you are far from the only one. Slugging numbers and home runs alone made this a non-race. Jeted my a**. This riles me up. Happy holiday Jere. Hi to your parents.
What if your Grandma was going in for the operation, and they came out and told you the surgeon had died last night? Would you want the surgeon that most closely approximated the skill set of the previous surgeon (if not exceeding it), or the surgeon that was most popular with the other doctors and patients because he was known as a nice guy (and occasionally hit important home runs)?

I gotta say, I have no idea what WARP3 and ERA++IQ mean, but I think VORP is a really great way to look at things - especially because unlike Grandma, a SS is only expected to do a handful of specific, measurable things. And VORP is the best, to my knowledge, guess of what will happen to a team if a particular player is removed from a team.
But it's all irrelevant because none of the voters and 99 percent of the fans don't know what VORP is anyway. I certainly wouldn't want the surgeon with the most calming eyes, or that is percieved to be the best but upon further research is just average. And even if he is the best VORPie, does that one thing make him MVP? Like every other stat, it doesn't take into consideration cheap little bloop hits to right field that if the right fielder just moved ten feet in would be outs. And also, if the cameras didn't show Jeter between every pitch so we can see his famous rooting skills and calming eyes, nobody would even think of him for these awards.

There are problems with VORP. The other stats may not tell the whole story either, but at least they are based in reality.
I gotta say, I have no idea what WARP3 and ERA++IQ mean, but I think VORP is a really great way to look at things

Basically, WARP is VORP, but including defense and expressed as a number of wins over replacement. WARP3 is the number normalized over time, to compare seasons across eras, and WARP1 is for comparing guys in-season.

They're both probably the most relevant stats to a guys all-encompassing value. They're very handy (and I like the methodology a bit better than what Win Shares brought to the table).

FWIW Jason- BP has a glossary for these stats that explains what they are and how they're arrived-at.
I still don't get why nerds would use unscientific methods, ever.

This probably explains your confusion here.

There's nothing un-scientific (or nerdy) about it. "Replacement player" is just a name for a baseline performance scientifically (or whatever) arrived at for each position. VORP is a counting stat measuring the number of runs a player produces offensively above that baseline.

It's particularly useful because it naturally adjusts for position, which is necessary (obviously) in determining value. It's less useful, however, because it ignores defense. This is why I like WARP a bit better.

It's usually best to like, understand these things before declaring them "meaningless." IMO.
BTW, the Post had the award shifted to Pudge(Fudge 'Roid)Rodriguez, who lost 25 Lbs in time for the World Series & it showed this year:

News Corp(FOX & The Post), your home for OJ!
Oh. Thanks for explaining the things that I am too dumb to look up because I don't know how to read or use the internet.
Your interpretation of it seemed to suggest you hadn't looked it up. If you have looked it up, from your description, you didn't understand it. I was just trying to help.

Take your "grandma analogy," for instance. It didn't make any sense. No one's using a "mythical" replacement player, nor is it "unscientific," nor are they placing value based on an unscientific, mythical replacement player.

Not to mention the fact that VORP and WARP are both simply a culling of all your favorite non-nerd stats into one normalized number. So really, it should be useful to nerd (me, apparently), and and non-nerd (you, apparently).

If you want me to blow smoke up your ass and tell you how much sense you're making, I definitely can. But if you'd rather hear my opinion (and I understand this may not be a definite anymore), the whole "VORP is nerdy" tirade was dumb, not just because it's essentially cutting off an extremely viable stream of thought/ evidence just because it doesn't fit your Jeter-hating, but also because you obviously didn't have a grasp (or at least, didn't display a grasp) of the concept.

I'm not trying to be a jerk at all, it's just my opinion. You seem to be taking that on the chin for some reason, so I apologize for that, but I think I've been pretty fair. Sorry, if you tell people you're convinced that Derek Jeter cheats when he plays baseball, you're going to get a lot less favorable response than I gave, wherever you are. It's patently ridiculous.

Anyway! Happy Thanksgiving.
I have many reasons I don't care for Jeter. He's a living tutorial on "how to deceive umpires." He takes credit for thinggs he has nothing to do with in his fist-pumping ways. He is smug and arrogant. The things AJM is saying about the way he handles the A-Rod situation are exactly right. It's pretty plain to see. He'd sooner have his team lose than solve the problem, which he should be capable of doing.

The things that he can't control, like the fact that we have to see his face in the dugout between pitches, the commercials, the parents, the way the media fawns over him when much of it either isn't or was never deserved, well, that stuff makes me want to puke. And I never hear him say "Hey, why are the cameras always on me when I'm not doing SHIT?" He loves the attention so much. And I'm not a big fan of that type of person. All this plus the fact that he's the exact thing that represents, to me, the purest evil of the baseball world: the star of the New York Yankees.

When I see him do certain things, I like to call him out on them. In real life. I'm glad I started this blog, because people now get to read what I say, hear my point of view, and decide whether to agree or not. I'm not gonna come on here and say "I respect him, he's great," bla bla bla, because I'm not trying to win a job at a newspaper or make anyone like me. But, as I've seen in my comments, some people feel the same as I do about the guy and are happy that I say what I feel. Even if there weren't, I'd still say what I feel.

Re: nerd stats. Look, as I said, we're all nerds just for talking about this. I sit on retroshet for hours looking at boxscores, trying to figure out things that no one else in the world would ever care about even if you offered to pay them to. I even went to college 13 years ago hoping to have a career in statistics, hopefully of the baseball variety, because it was what I was good at. (Until they started throwing shitty calculus classes at me. In, like, the morning.) When I said "nerds" I meant the people who came up with all these newer stats, many of which I don't buy. I totally don't know everything about every stat. But I know the basics. And I know that when they start talking about things like "He does this much better than a replacement player," not only to I not feel like you can't put a number on that, but you can't tell what the replacement player would've done anyway. And I know, that's not what it's supposed to mean. But the fact that someone just "decides" where to set the bar just kills it for me. It seems, like I've said before, that these people (and don't get me wrong, I love trying to make up new stats, and figuring out ways to make a team better, and in the overall sense, if we're doing whatever it takes to beat the Yankees, and they're sitting there clueless, I'm all for us making the attempt) are trying to figure out exactly what will happen before the games are played. And to ME, that's no fun. It's almost like these stats are saying "Look, here's the proof, this is what happens when you do this..." And I don't want to know. I like the human element and playing hunches and all that crap. And a guy who stinks hitting a game winning home run, and being rewarded and praised instead of being told "The computer says you'll go right back to stinking. Good-bye."

Me and my dad have this ongoing baseball dice-rolling league. We started in '88, stopped, revamped it in '01, stopped, and just started it up again. So every once in a while, I play some games and report back to him on the stats. (Remember Mike Stenhouse? The guy is awesome in our league.) I love adding up all the stats and seeing who has the most hits, doubles, homers, etc. But the "thrill" for me is when the boxscores are done and I get to roll those dice. (ie play the game) Does this make sense? It seems like the people coming up with these stats don't roll the dice, symbolically or figuratively. And in our league, the stats really WOULD all even out, were we to play a million games, because it's dice! And I STILL want to play hunches and root for certain guys to do well and we STILL say "Oh my god? Joe Hesketh gave up 6 runs? That's CRAZY!"

Happy Thanksgiving.
Special to BS Memorial.
This is such an old issue you probably won't read this but I did feel compelled to give you an example of whatI thought was the most egregious piece of cheating by the silver medalist. And that is a few years back when he lay his body down across our runner (Bill Mueller?)when he couldn't make the double play. The umpire called our guy out instead of giving him third base. If said runner had been given the base he'd have scored on the hit to follow. Didn't happen; we lost. Silver medal did an academy-award worthy performance for the umpire: Oh, I'm such a clumsy fellow; I have no idea how I fell on him. I just coudn't get up, either.
Now obviously, some fans might have another explanation for this maneuver on Derek's part, like... how about.... the umpire was on Steinbrenner's payrole. Now your explanation, BS,might be more in the way of Jeter deciding to just try something illegal and see if he could get away with it or some other philosophy of baseball point. But what fun is that? And BS, Jeter RHYMES with cheater!
I guess it's like the word "hate" in the following two sentences: I hate the Ku Klux Klan; I hate the Yankees. In the former, "hate" means I want the KKK and everything they stand for to be removed from the face of the earth. In the latter, "hate" means DON'T GIVE THEM AN F-ING INCH!
Ergo: Jeter is a cheater.
Ergo II: If only I knew one-tenth as much about baseball as BS Memorial. Then, for starters, I'd be able to fill in all the
blanks in my cheating example--if the runner, in fact, was Bill Mueller, the game, the date, who the umpire was, an alternative meaning of the word fun, etc.
Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

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