27 May 2011

42 Club Watch/Leaders

In a way of classifying NBA players inspired by Bill Simmons, I've decided to take a stab at keeping track of who's in and who's out. The concept of the 42 Club is eerily simple. You keep track of the typical triple-double stats: points, rebounds, and assists, on a per game basis. Add 'em up, and if the number is 42 or more, you're looking at a someone who should be in the conversation as a transcendent playoff performance.

A further explanation is in this column from 2006 and in his book, The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy.

Through the conference finals. The list only includes only includes players who won two rounds (sorry Zach Randolph, 35.5). Bold Italics mean still active:

ON THE CUSP: 40-42







LeBron James







Kevin Durant






Derrick Rose






Dirk Nowitzki






Russell Westbrook






Dwyane Wade






26 May 2011

Big Z for DH? Fine by me

In light of Carlos Zambrano's 3-for-3 performance from the plate today and this tweet from Julie DiCaro, I'm going to move that Big Z play DH when we hit interleague play again. There's 6 games in AL parks (3 against the White Sox, 3 against the Royals).

Zambrano has shown himself to be a viable hitting pitcher throughout his career, hitting .271/.278/.458 since 2008 and 22 career home runs. Taking more of a sabermetric approach, Zambrano's ISO (SLG% - BA, which measures a hitter's extra base power) is .190, highest among pitchers with 20 PA. This would have been around the 70th percentile in 2010. This should come as no surprise, as he comes to the plate with the intention of hitting a home run every time. But it's not all in haste, when you consider the company he keeps in this stat. Comparable to Zambrano's ISO in 2011: Joey Votto (.202), Jayson Werth (.198), Jason Heyward (.193), B.J. Upton (.188), and David Wright (.178).

So obviously we've established that Carlos can hold his own at the plate both as a contact and power hitter. He's a very volatile guy though. When he's good, he's SOOO good. And when he's bad, Gatorade machines get destroyed. But he WANTS to contribute. He WANTS to win. He's the kind of guy who if asked would play DH if asked. I'd think he'd jump at the chance.

What implications might this have on his spot in the rotation is anyone's guess. But at the very least I would want to see him in a pinch hitting role more than a few times this season. And THAT'S something you don't need to be in interleague play to do.

19 May 2011

Jim Leyland can take his DH and shove it

Tigers manager Jim Leyland, not one I've known to run his mouth, recently suggested that MLB do away with Interleague play.

In part, he said
"I think this was something that was certainly a brilliant idea to start with," Leyland said of interleague play. "But I think it has run its course. It's not really doing what it was supposed to -- there's no rivalries for most of the teams. I'm sure it helps the White Sox a little bit when they play the Cubs at their park, but it doesn't help Wrigley because they pack Wrigley anyway most of the time."
"We play with the DH rules. The American League gets penalized, even though the record's been decent over the years. We get penalized. Their pitchers are hitting and bunting all year, and they get the advantage of letting their pitchers rest and using the DH when they come here, and we gotta use guys six straight days without Victor Martinez or Alex Avila or somebody. That's ridiculous. Totally ridiculous, and they ought to look into it."
Let's address each point he's making. "There's no rivalries for most teams." I will now personally list all the local interleague rivalries I can think of.
  • Cubs-White Sox (Red Line Rumble/Windy City Showdown)
  • Cardinals-Royals (I-70 Series/Show-me Series)
  • Brewers-Twins (I-94 Series)
  • Reds-Indians (Battle of Ohio)
  • Astros-Rangers (Lone Star Series)
  • Mets-Yankees (Subway Series)
  • Marlins-Rays (Citrus Series)
  • Nationals-Orioles (Beltway Series)
  • Dodgers-Angels (Freeway Series)
  • Giants-Athletics (Bay Bridge Series)
So you are left with the Pirates, Phillies, Braves, Padres, Rockies and Diamondbacks in the NL and the Tigers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Mariners in the AL. Obviously you can't absolutely perfect the rivalries because there are 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League. But MLB is still making a somewhat efficient use of the possible rivalries, with only 10 out of a possible 30 teams not involved in an annual (or near-annual) local interleague series. Sorry Jim, but MLB isn't gonna balk about you as the minority without a rival in the NL.

Leyland's second point "[T]hey pack Wrigley anyway most of the time." I dunno if he's looked at attendence figure, but the Cubs haven't exactly been packing them in this year. The North Siders are averaging a paltry 35,030 per home game, or 85.1% of Wrigley's capacity. Compare that to 37,814 in 2010, 39,610 in 2009, and over 40,000 in both 2008 and 2007, and you get a sense of how attendance has dropped. As someone who has been to 2 games already, that 35k also a gross overestimate of the people who are actually at the game, which I would estimate can't be much over 20,000.

Now this May and June, attendance at both Wrigley Field and U.S. Cellular Field will get a boost because the Crosstown Classic is always a big draw. But to think Wrigley is fine because it's packed all the the time is absolute ludicrous.

Third: "The American League gets penalized." Leyland even admits that the American League has performed better than the Senior Circuit in the past couple years. Sorry, but that's nothing but an understatement. The AL has enjoyed winning percentages of .531, .548, .591, .543, and and stratospheric .611 the past five years of interleague play. In the 14 years of interleague play, the AL has won more games 10 times, including all of the past 7 years. This is way more than what I would consider a slight advantage.

The biggest advantage the AL has in interleague play is the DH rule. Major League Baseball is the only major sports league in which there is a different set of rules for two sets of its teams. The DH rule changes the way teams are assembled. General managers of American League teams field a lineup knowing they will need to start 9 hitters each game. National League teams need not worry about this, and can "get by" with starting 8 hitters and a throwing the pitcher at the end of the batting order (unless it's Tony LaRussa of course).

Come interleague play at American League ballparks, National League teams are stuck with throwing their best bench players into the DH spot. American League teams must only teach pitchers the nominal of bunting when visiting NL stadiums. The DH rule is dumb enough to begin with, and the error is compounded when major league teams are not bound to the same rules. MLB should either do away with the DH completely (which it was fine with for nearly 100 years until 1973), or allow NL teams to put a designated hitter in the lineup. I'll make it quite clear that the DH should be completely eliminated, and I think more than a few people will agree with me.

So as we come upon another 2 months of interleague play, I'll be expecting more of the same, with the AL beating down the NL when the Senior Circuit is forced to make a bench player a regular in the lineup.

13 May 2011

Only halfway there

So the East comes down to this. Bulls vs. Heat. Rose vs. James. Good vs. Evil.

If you're a basketball junkie, it pits two teams for completely different ends of the spectrum and completely different ways to approach the game. You have the Heat, which my mom dubbed "Three Chiefs and No Indians" back in July, who rely mostly on Wade and LeBron as their scoring threats, are more of a perimeter team, and will beat you with highlight play after highlight play. On the other hand, you have the Bulls, who have the NBA MVP in Derrick Rose, rely on a stifling team defense, go 10-deep even in the playoffs, and carry themselves in a Hardhat and Lunch Pail sort of way.

But it seemed that as soon as the Bulls beat the Hawks, the media immediately jumped on the Heat bandwagon. Below are the Expert Picks from espn.com.


  • Abbott
    In 7
    In 6
  • Arnovitz
    In 6
    In 6
  • Ford
    In 7
    In 6
  • Haberstroh
    In 6
    In 6
  • Hollinger
    In 6
    In 6
  • Palmer
    In 6
    In 6
  • Wallace
    In 7
    In 6

Just two pick the Bulls to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. I don't like how the Heat celebrated after beating Boston like they just won the Finals. Because really...where would a lot of people be if they were satisfied in only getting halfway to their goal? After the Bulls closed out their Eastern Conference semifinal series with a 20-point drubbing of the Hawks, you saw a no-frills celebration, just a shaking of hand and heading into the locker room.

What the Bulls did reminded me of what the Blackhawks did last summer. There was no champagne celebration after winning the division. There was no champagne celebration after winning the conference. The only reason the Blackhawks had to celebrate was winning the Stanley Cup. D-Rose, Boozer, Noah, Deng and the Bench Mob probably don't even have the Larry O'Brien Trophy on their minds yet. Coach Thibodeau being the tactician he is will have his players focus only the next game on the schedule, Game 1 at the United Center Sunday night.

It's because of this that I believe the Bulls have the edge. There's something to be said about only focusing on the task at hand, something I think a lot of us (myself included) can't always say. They have home-court advantage, so a Heat win in Game 7 will have to come in a building in which the Bulls have only lost 6 times all year (including playoffs). I say the teams split each of Games 1 and 2 in the United Center and Games 3 and 4 in the American Airlines Arena, hold home court in Games 5 and 6, and for all of the Eastern marbles, the Bulls submit another big close-out performance and win Game 7.

03 May 2011

Rose and the MVP

To the Derrick Rose detractors: The case of them are missing is the aura that Rose creates around him. He gives and squeezes every possible bit of talent out of himself, and squeezes every possible bit of talent out of his teammates. Howard may dominate both ends of the floor, but if Howard checks out, there is no emotion in the team.

Everyone seems to think that the MVP is to some degree a team award, but if teams can have the game plan "Let Dwight throw up a 40-20 with 5 blocks" and still feel comfortable about beating the Magic, how is that any case for Howard?

**To be updated later**


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