This week, I have been listening to Mike and Mike on my local ESPN station, and a couple of strange things have come up. Even though I have never been involved with professional sports in any way other than that of a fan, they just do not make sense to my analytically-oriented ears.
- Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are the best quarterbacks of their era because they were competitive. Well, okay. I do not know very many stats about the NFL, in part because football stats are very rudimentary and inconsistent, so I am going to assume that Brady and Manning really are the best quarterbacks of their era. However, the simple act of their being extremely competitive guys is not all that that is. If you’re not a competitive person in some way or another, be it in business or out on the field of play, there is no way that you can get a job in professional sports unless it’s as a ticket vendor or something. There are so many people who would love to have their jobs for a living that it’s impossible. I would be willing to bet that, if you could find an objective way to measure the unapolgetically subjective trait of competitiveness, there would be several quarterbacks in the NFL who are more competitive than Brady and Manning. This is not a knock on either guy; it’s just that they both have football backgrounds, and Manning has absolutely phenomenal football genes. (For those of you who are older than I am, I’m sure that Archie Manning rings a bell.) That’s just it.
- The chemistry of a baseball clubhouse affects the results on the field. Okay, within reasonable limits, I am willing to concede that chemistry plays a minor role in some sports, football especially. However, baseball is not one of them. Baseball may be the most individually-oriented team sport in existence; cricket is the only more individual team game I can think of off the top of my head. You hit the ball, you run; you throw the ball, you expect the other guy to catch it; you run, you hope you catch the ball. This is not to say that baseball is not an incredibly hard game-I hit .040 or something in my last year of Little League-what I am saying is that it’s mostly on you, not the other guy. ESPN commentators love to say that Major League Baseball athletes are professionals and usually act accordingly. Well, if that’s the case, then they are not going to lower their level of play simply because they don’t like their manager or their ace pitcher. Everyone has a big role, but simply excluding a player is stupid because of how the roles are defined, and if you pout, you tend to get benched. That’s all I have to say.
Thank you for reading, please comment, and please come back.