Monday, February 11, 2008

Thoughts and observations at the end of a season

The Patriots took us for one hell of a ride. Eighteen straight before losing in the Super Bowl.

Sure, right now that's a Pyrrhic victory.

But as I have previously noted, this will, one day, be reflected on in the same manner as the Buffalo Bills achievement of making it to four straight Super Bowls.

Now that it is over, however, the Patriots have to look to the future.

Someone out there, probably the Jets, is going to vastly overpay for free-agent corner Asante Samuel's services. There's also a chance that the Jets will pursue free-agent Randall Gay as well, although I can see him potentially taking less money (than he would get from the Jets) to stay with the Patriots due to the potential of an expanding roll with the Patriots with the impending absence of Samuel. A side note - for all the negative that has been said about Ellis Hobbs by New England fans, he actually had a solid year statistically.

First published in the Providence Journal -

According to Stats Inc., an independent sports information and statistical analysis company, opposing teams threw in Hobbs’ direction 106 times this season, ranking him 13th, but Hobbs gave up only four touchdowns. There were 44 defensive backs in the league who gave up more touchdowns than Hobbs.

Receivers caught only 58 passes in those 106 pass attempts (54.7 success rate), which is a low ratio compared to other defenders in the league. Among defensive backs thrown against at least 30 times, 156 of them were less successful than Hobbs...
Rodney Harrison, who is under contract for another year has announced his intention to play at least one more season - meaning that Eugene Wilson is the likely odd man out in the safety rotation.

The fate of Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau are still in question on the defensive side of the ball, and Rosevelt Colvin is scheduled for a jump in salary.

I wouldn't be surprised to see at least two of the three back in uniform next year, with one of them very likely being Colvin.

On the other side of the ball, the only major change I see is the team terminating their contract with Donte Stallworth. While I have my doubts that Stallworth will wear a Patriot uniform next season, it wouldn't surprise me if he renegotiated his deal.

Texas toast revisited...

I love agent and lawyer's a lot like marketing speak. It's not a's an action figure (dolls are for girls). It's not a "used car" any's "certified pre-owned." It's no longer a retirement home, it's "an active seniors community."

By now everyone knows that Roger Clemens agents, the Hendricks Brothers, have put out their little piece of propaganda in an effort to show there was nothing unusual in an athlete getting better in his mid-thirties after three straight years of health issues and declining know, the time period when no player in the history of any sport got better without the aid of performance enhancing drugs?

Well, here's a little tidbit from the AP report about some statistics guys at the Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School - one of the most renowned business schools in the world had to say about the little report and the Clemens' party reactions -

His agent, Randy Hendricks, responded Sunday to an article by four professors from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School who criticized an 18,000-word statistical report Hendricks Sports Management issued to rebut accusations that the pitcher's career rebounded about the time he is accused by McNamee of using performance-enhancing drugs.

Hendricks' report compared Clemens' performance during the second half of his career to those of Nolan Ryan, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson.

"By comparing Clemens only to those who were successful in the second act of their careers, rather than to all pitchers who had a similarly successful first act, the report artificially minimizes the chances that Clemens' numbers will seem unusual. Statisticians call this problem selection bias," professors Eric Bradlow, Shane Jensen, Justin Wolfers and Adi Wyner wrote in Sunday's Times.

They compared Clemens' ERA and walks plus-hits-per-inning with those of 31 pitchers since 1968 with 3,000 innings and 10 or more starts in at least 15 seasons.

"The available data on Clemens's career strongly hint that some unusual factors may have been at play in producing his excellent late-career statistics," they said, while adding, "in any analysis of his career statistics, it is impossible to say whether this unusual factor was performance-enhancing drugs."

Hendricks said the criteria used by the professors was flawed, and that they ignored criteria such as Clemens' ERA margin vs. that of the league and strikeouts. Hendricks' report tried to refute any perceived misconceptions that Clemens' career was on the downside when he left Boston after the 1996 season. While the professors claimed Clemens was in decline in his late 20s, Hendricks pointed out Clemens was an All-Star in consecutive years from age 27-29, finished second in Cy Young at age 28, then won it the following year.

"The professors make the mistake of thinking that his career arc should look like the arc of every other pitcher in their selected group," Hendricks said in a statement. "These 'statisticians' are engaging in precisely the kind of insinuation with their words that they say cannot be proven by statistics."

So...the Hendricks want us to believe that his career compares favorably to other pitchers based only on the statistics they chose for the report...not based on what's considered the accepted methodology for any proper academic study. As long as the general public doesn't get to hear about improper methodology like "selection bias" this is something that might work on a handful of people who have been undecided in this whole charade...people who like to be spoon-fed their facts, and don't want to dig a little deeper for the truth. But to anyone that really sits back and looks at some basic facts of the human body and athletics at the highest levels, this just smacks of more desperation.

On a sadder note...

I would like to take a moment to note the passing of Roy Scheider.

Sure, he wasn't an athlete, and wasn't known for taking rolls in sports films like Burt Reynolds in The Longest Yard, or Dennis Quaid in movies like Everybody's All-American and Breaking Away, but he still had his moments - he had a small uncredited part in Paper Lion, the George Plympton bio-pic starring Alan Alda, and of course, for sport-fishermen everywhere, Jaws. Beyond that, I suppose you could make an argument for the movie Marathon Man, in which he plays the brother of Dustin Hoffman who is training for the Olympics.

Scheider was an excellent actor, at the top of his game in the 1970's through to the early 1980's, including a very deserved best actor Oscar nod for his portrayal of Joe Gideon, director Bob Fosse's alter ego, in 1979's All That Jazz.

But the reason I mention him here is this exchange he had while playing Dr. Heywood Floyd with John Lithgow's Walter Curnow in 2010...

Heywood Floyd: I'd love a hot dog.
Walter Curnow: Astrodome. Good hot dogs there.
Heywood Floyd: Astrodome? You can't grow a good hot dog indoors. Yankee Stadium. September. The hot dogs have been boiling since opening day in April. Now that's a hot dog.
Walter Curnow: The yellow mustard or the darker kind?
Heywood Floyd: The darker kind.
Walter Curnow: Very important.

Anyone who spends time at the ballpark gets this.

But, in regards to Scheider, I think it's more appropriate that he be remembered with this exchange from All That Jazz with Angelique, who is symbolic of death...

Joe Gideon: No, nothing I ever do is good enough. Not beautiful enough, it's not funny enough, it's not deep enough, it's not anything enough. Now, when I see a rose, that's perfect. I mean, that's perfect. I want to look up to God and say, "How the hell did you do that? And why the hell can't I do that?"
Angelique: Now that's probably one of your better con lines.
Joe Gideon: Yeah, it is. But that doesn't mean I don't mean it.

It's showtime folks!


David Sullivan said...

Jaws is one of my all-time favorite movies. We'll miss you Chief Brody.

"It's only an island if you look at it from the water." Classic!

Kevin Smith said...

There are this handful of movies that, if I come across it on television, no matter what part it's on, I have to watch. Scheider was in two of them - Jaws and All That Jazz. One of the others - The Outlaw Josie Wales.

"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

Chris Stone said...

good stats on Hobbes. I thought he was being targeted... which made sense with Samuel being in the other corner. On that last to-be-forgotten-as-soon-as-possible TD reception, it seemed to me someone else should have been back there. Plax was usually double teamed, wasn't he?

*my appoligies if this is common knowledge... i am just starting to be able to handle looking at the sports news again.*