Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nerd Hates Stats, Theo Epstein and YOU

One of the reasons I ordered Sirius radio was so that I would never have to listen to WEEI on my drive to and from work ever again. Their radio shows are simply horrible. But their goal of worldwide conquest has expanded as they have gone on to try and create a blog roll of well known columnists to talk about all things Boston. I have no idea who Jerry Thornton is, but he wrote an anti- stats column that is by far the worst, laziest piece of shit I've ever read.

This is Jerry Thornton, doesn't look like a guy that would rip on stats right? I'd expect an ex NFL football player that can barely read or write his own name, and spend his evenings doing steroids to rip on OBP and FIP rather than this nerdlington. Look at him, Thornton looks like the epitomy of "number crunching loser that figures out Jacoby Ellsbury's UZR vs Mike Cameron's".

Well let's look at his arguments:

"There’s no escaping this conclusion: the Stat Geeks have quietly and insidiously taken power. Every hot stove report I’ve read this offseason, every article written from Fort Myers, every statement from Sox brass, has the Stat Geeks’ grubby little fingerprints on it. They’re like the Communist Party plotting to take over Hollywood in the 1950s before Ronald Reagan got wise to them and kicked their pinko butts all the way back to Moscow and Harvard Square. Only, instead of trying to write screenplays full of anti-capitalists rants, the Stat Geeks have succeeded in making otherwise normal, decent, God-fearin’ Americans start talking about VORP (Value Over Replacement Player) ratings and UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) numbers like they really believe in this nonsense."

As a Red Sox fan I totally understand your point. I was talking to my mom the other day about Bill James, and she was really confused so I tried to explain it to her "Mom, he is like Stalin, in that he ruthlessly murders the family of dinosaurs like Dusty Baker and Ed Wade" but she looked at me and said "Hun, are you drunk"? I love comparing Theo Epstein to a Communist, but that begs the question who would be Joseph McCarthy? And by the way are you saying the communist purges of the '50's was a good thing? But Thornton does have a point, I want to see more sacrifice bunting, moving runners along, hell while we are at it tell John Farrell to not bother taking pitch counts either. Numbers! Pfff!

Look, I love Theo. A lot.

But you just said that you hate the standards in which he evaluates players.

At this point you might be saying “Gee, Jer. How do you know so much about Stat Geeks anyway?” Glad you asked because the answer will surprise you. Because I, for a very brief time in my life, was one. Yes, it’s true. Looks like mine and brains, too? As implausible as it sounds, I Was A Teenage Stats Geek. I read the backs of guys’ baseball cards.

Wow me too Jerry! And I remember looking at Daryl Strawberry's Vorp on the back of his Fleer rookie card. Oh wait, what else was on there.
AB, Strike Outs, Runs, RBI's, Home Runs, Doubles and Home Runs. Wow, that is some pretty intense statistics there Jerry. You must have had to bury yourself in your cellar with a T-83 Graphing Calculator to follow baseball games. If you "once" followed these statistics but have become enlightened and stopped with those pesky "statistics" what the hell are you watching? OH I LIKE JACOBY ELLSBURY HE'S A NEAT PLAYER THAT MAKES LOTS OF SWELL PLAYS! Instead of even using basic stats that even my grandmother understand I assume Thornton proposes that Epstein evaluate baseball players by taking baseball cards and sign whatever one is the last to stick to the spokes of his bike.

Things quickly turn personal for Thornton:
But then, I made an amazing discovery. Something that the Stat Geek population doesn’t know and never will. Women. And it changed my life forever, in much the same way that Blossom’s life changed in that Very Special Episode where she gets her period, I would never be the same. As I recall, the exact moment for me came when Phoebe Cates climbed out of the pool in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and took her top off in slow motion to the Cars’ “In Stereo” that did it for me. What Phoebe showed me that day was perfection. I wanted to have them and I was willing to do what it took to get them. Then my whole world was transformed. Suddenly Butch Hobson’s RBI total didn’t mean quite as much. Jim Rice’s total bases faded from my mind.

Right dude, fuck the statistics, get the bitches and the pussy. Have you ever tried to talk to a broad about OPS, it's impossible bro!Just tell the girls you think Josh Beckett is hot. Wait, wait wait. This doesn't make sense:
Does this look like a guy that got girls at any point in his life? Please, you know he has a profile on Eharmony right now "promising long walks on the beach, red wine, and watching the Bachelor by my fake fireplace". By the way Jerry, Bill James has a wife, has written numerous books, works for the Red Sox and doesn't write shitty blog posts for WEEI.

"So as a public service to all like-minded fans, concerned Red Sox citizens worried about the direction the Nation is headed, I’d like to put my ex-Stat Geek skills to us and offer my own formula for judging all statisticians. Let’s call it the NSGR/MMUSRI (Nerdy Stat Geek Ridiculous/Meaningless Made Up Statistic Rating Index). You take any new, obscure baseball evaluation stat and you start with the weight of the guy who invented it, times how many days he’s been wearing the same “Han Solo Shot First” T-shirt, divided by how many times he’s had sex in his life, multiplied by how often his mom cooks his meals add how many days a month he sees the sun times the percentage by which he throws like a girl.

Wow, that sounds like a pretty intense formula. I have a math question I would like my readers to answer: take one angry WEEI blogger, multiply his complete ignorance of basic math, add his complete arbitrary methods of evaluating not only baseball but everyone else in the world, subtract the women he has slept with (constant zero), square it by the amount of jocks that kicked his ass in high schoool and your answer should resemble something like this:

Psst hey Jerry, you realize the Red Sox won two World Series evaluating talent with Satan's wand, I mean statistics right?

Ok how do I add him to my RSS feed.

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