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Monday, March 31, 2008

Bill James on 60 Minutes

No Tivo required.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:03 AM | 270 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, sabermetrics

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   1. Jim Furtado Posted: March 31, 2008 at 08:23 AM (#2724179)
If Sandy Alderson didn't buy into James, Billy Beane wouldn't have had his success. John Henry was more instrumental in bringing James to the Sox than Werner and Lucchino. Don't forget Branch Rickey.
   2. KingKaufman Posted: March 31, 2008 at 09:15 AM (#2724184)
Pretty good piece, but if you didn't know anything about Bill James before it, you'd come away thinking he was strictly a math guy. No mention of what a wonderful writer he is, how much fun he is to read. Would anyone have ever heard of him in the first place if that weren't true?
   3. Morph Posted: March 31, 2008 at 09:47 AM (#2724186)
No mention of what a wonderful writer he is, how much fun he is to read


Yeah, I thought that was unfortunate as well. But you really have to give the piece credit for encapsulating the scope of James’ journey, from night watchmen to valued member of the Red Sox front office. Pretty amazing.
   4. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 09:52 AM (#2724188)
No Tivo required.
Good, because for some reason my Tivo thought 60 minutes started at 7 PM.
   5. Repoz Posted: March 31, 2008 at 10:22 AM (#2724193)
While I found it a quaint fluff piece, two of my staunch anti-sabes friends called me to say they really enjoyed the bit and want to learn more!?

I guess they just needed 60 Minutes to tell them it was ok to crawl out from under their desks...the bombing is over.
   6. AndrewJ Posted: March 31, 2008 at 10:40 AM (#2724195)
Also great to see Bob Costas -- whom everybody immediately stereotypes as Mr. Baseball Traditionalist, resistant to any and all innovation -- gush over Bill's work.
   7. Vrhovnik Posted: March 31, 2008 at 10:46 AM (#2724196)
When did John Locke get off the island and become the Red Sox manager?
   8. dcsmyth1 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 11:02 AM (#2724199)
The 'interview' sucked. I mean, really bad.
   9. Repoz Posted: March 31, 2008 at 11:43 AM (#2724205)
Also great to see Bob Costas

Costas must be hanging around with Keith & Clyde too much...waaay overboard with the Lilliputian Formula 16®
   10. bunyon Posted: March 31, 2008 at 12:19 PM (#2724218)
Also great to see Bob Costas

That's what I thought. Not that it was great to see him, but that he was a guy who could convince people to take a look.

I thought it was a shame they didn't portray more of the fan in James. I think they were getting to it at the end but I'd guess they edited James' humble comments down a bit. Anyway, my wife really enjoyed it and thought it (James') was a great story.
   11. Scoriano Flitcraft Posted: March 31, 2008 at 12:37 PM (#2724226)
This seemed like it was done to give Safer a chance to do a story while on vacation regarding a subject he loves.
   12. Craig Calcaterra Posted: March 31, 2008 at 12:48 PM (#2724231)
You get the sense that James was biting his tongue with that last question about chemistry, or as Safer put it (more or less) "a special group of guys who come together and make magic" or whatever it was.

James' answer: There are guys here who understand that stuff more than me.

The answer you know he wanted to give: It's amazin' how no one ever talks about the great chemistry on a losing team.
   13. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 01:29 PM (#2724257)
Good, because for some reason my Tivo thought 60 minutes started at 7 PM.


Yeah, I assume the NCAA tournament went late; my tivo missed it also.

This tournament cannot end fast enough for me.
   14. Mattbert Posted: March 31, 2008 at 01:36 PM (#2724268)
I thought the best point of the piece was made by Epstein when commenting how James isn't some math wizard who has all these arcane answers for the baseball people; rather, the Sox value him as much for the questions he asks as they do for any answers he might have.
   15. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 01:44 PM (#2724277)
"Also great to see Bob Costas -- whom everybody immediately stereotypes as Mr. Baseball Traditionalist, resistant to any and all innovation -- gush over Bill's work."

Quoted for truth. I think better of Costas, having seen this.
   16. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 01:47 PM (#2724282)
Yeah, I assume the NCAA tournament went late; my tivo missed it also.

This tournament cannot end fast enough for me.


Why? I'd have CBS blocked except for the tourney. Their shows give me a headache within 30 seconds of watching them.
   17. Styles P. Deadball Posted: March 31, 2008 at 01:56 PM (#2724299)
The North Carolina Tarheels are awesome, babyyyyy!!!!!!!!

Let me tell you something!!! Ty Lawson can flat out play!!!!!! This kid is a ptper with a capital P!!!!

And how about Tyler Hansbrough??? Psycho T, that's what they're calling down on Tobacco Road!!!! Mark this down!!! Tyler Hansbrough is going to win the John Wooden award!!!! You can take that to the bank!!!

You can chalk it up right now!!! The North Carolina Tarheels are going to get it done and Roy Williams is going to win his second championship in 4 years!!!

Roy's sayin' "Look at me, Dean Smith!!!!! We're rockin' and rollin' all the way to San Antonio and the national title!!!!"


I can't wait for the silky restraint of a Harrelson or a Sterling after reading that.
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 01:58 PM (#2724301)
The North Carolina Tarheels are awesome, babyyyyy!!!!!!!!


Dick Vitale, I presume?

A more annoying person may not have walked the planet.
   19. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:00 PM (#2724302)
I thought the best point of the piece was made by Epstein when commenting how James isn't some math wizard who has all these arcane answers for the baseball people; rather, the Sox value him as much for the questions he asks as they do for any answers he might have.
Agreed. I think that really got at what's so great about James' writing - he's brilliant at rearranging bits and pieces of baseball wisdom into a new shape that allows for new and different questions to be asked.

I also agree with kevin that James wasn't biting his tongue at all on the chemistry question. I think Safer misrepresented James and the best of sabermetrics in his implicit claim that the statheads think they have everything figured out. James' response to Safer was that there are innumerable aspects of baseball we don't know and don't understand - and perhaps that we can't understand with both abstraction and precision - and that "chemistry" features prominently among that great group.
   20. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:01 PM (#2724305)
I gotta say, though, Gus Johnson doing the Kansas / Davidson game was brilliant. Best announcer out there if you want to get involved in a game that you otherwise don't care about.
   21. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:02 PM (#2724306)
A more annoying person may not have walked the planet.

What amazes me is how the man can be so loud despite having his head firmly implanted continuously within a one coach's or another's arse. You think it would muffle him at least a little.
   22. bunyon Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:10 PM (#2724316)
What amazes me is how the man can be so loud despite having his head firmly implanted continuously within a one coach's or another's arse. You think it would muffle him at least a little.

He gets his shouting in as he's moving coach to coach. He's up everyone's arse. A truly unique talent.

That said, Davidson should have run some play other than "let the double teamed guy try to break loose". Ugh.
   23. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:20 PM (#2724327)
He gets his shouting in as he's moving coach to coach.

To me, Dick Vitale dropped his pants with his reaction to Bruce Pearl's exposing how corrupt big time college basketball is back in the day. Not even squeaky clean Duke is squeaky clean (amazing how the parents of some of their recruits are able to land cushy jobs they have absolutely no qualifications for), but Dick Vitale wouldn't want to besmirch those greatest men of history--the college basketball coach! Not a crook or charlatan among them. Those 7 footers wouldn't even know how to dunk if not for the genius instruction of the college basketball coach.

(Not that I think the coaches aren't good and important for the player's development, but how about a little measure in the praise? The players aren't just chess pieces being moved around by basketball Einsteins. They actually have to have skill and heart themselves. Their effort is their own and not wholly the product of their coach's greatness.)

OK, rant over. Sorry. Back to Opening Day!
   24. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:24 PM (#2724337)
That said, Davidson should have run some play other than "let the double teamed guy try to break loose". Ugh.

I'll never understand why teams who are losing by one or two near the conclusion of the game and who have the ball feel it necessary to take the last shot. I mean, I understand the premise -- hit a three (in Davidson's case) and end it right there without going to overtime. But with 16 seconds to go, that's plenty of time to set up a play and still have time -- in case of a miss -- to foul a Kansas player on the rebound.

FWIW, the kid who Curry handed the ball off to got a relatively decent look. I just don't think he was at all prepared to take that shot.

And w/r/t the James interview, the only thing I take issue with is that they used Ortiz to disprove the whole 'clutch' debate. Ortiz is a great hitter -- in my mind, that's the reason you want him up at the plate when you're down one in the ninth. Calling him clutch seems to pigeonhole him a bit. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the basic premise of the clutch debate that a career .200/.300/.350 hitter -- over the long haul -- isn't going to be able to keep up a .330/.400/.450 line in close-and-late situations?
   25. Mattbert Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:25 PM (#2724339)
GET YOUR MISERABLE GODDAM LITTLE TOURNAMENT OFF MY LAWN!!!
   26. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:27 PM (#2724342)
Yeah, you want the best hitters up in the clutch. Platoon is relevant, but not "clutchiness."
   27. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:28 PM (#2724343)
GET YOUR MISERABLE GODDAM LITTLE TOURNAMENT OFF MY LAWN!!!


Guilty as charged. That sums up my feelings perfectly.

Where's Bob Feller? I should have a drink with him now that I know what it's like to be a crank.
   28. bunyon Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:28 PM (#2724344)
FWIW, the kid who Curry handed the ball off to got a relatively decent look. I just don't think he was at all prepared to take that shot.


Not to derail conversation on the James piece, but I agree with your post. It wasn't a terrible last shot. But it was too long and with not enough time on the clock. If it's tied, sure, take it down to the very last second. Behind, you have to get a shot off with time for a rebound or foul. I think they were trying this but it was clear that the play they'd called was to have Curry take his man one on one. Which, if they could've gotten it would've made sense. But why they thought KU would let Curry go one on one and not help is inexplicable. In any case, it was a nice run by Davidson.
   29. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:29 PM (#2724346)
Yeah, I assume the NCAA tournament went late; my tivo missed it also.
"Went late" isn't really the right phrase, because they knew that it would. Other networks have no problems building slack into their schedules to accomodate sports, but CBS always pretends that sporting events will end on time. (Has any second NFL game ever ended by 7 on the east coast?)
   30. Mattbert Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:35 PM (#2724353)
Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the basic premise of the clutch debate that a career .200/.300/.350 hitter -- over the long haul -- isn't going to be able to keep up a .330/.400/.450 line in close-and-late situations?

I think the unclutch argument is more persuasive. That is, there are some great hitters who have a history, or at least a reputation, of faltering in big spots. Alex Rodriguez springs to mind.

To me, being clutch means not so much the ability to somehow raise your game under pressure but rather the ability to simply perform at your usual level under pressure and not wither. The guys who have a reputation for being clutch are typically, like Ortiz, plain ol' great hitters who just continue to be great regardless of the situation. Jeter, the archetype of clutch, doesn't perform any better in the clutch...he just doesn't get any worse.
   31. Answer Guy Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:38 PM (#2724358)
Dick Vitale wouldn't want to besmirch those greatest men of history--the college basketball coach! Not a crook or charlatan among them. Those 7 footers wouldn't even know how to dunk if not for the genius instruction of the college basketball coach.

(Not that I think the coaches aren't good and important for the player's development, but how about a little measure in the praise? The players aren't just chess pieces being moved around by basketball Einsteins. They actually have to have skill and heart themselves. Their effort is their own and not wholly the product of their coach's greatness.)


I think some of that is in the marketing of college basketball. Players come and go relatively quickly, especially the big-time ones who bolt for the NBA after one year or two, but the prominent coaches (and, even moreso, some of the programs) are more or less permanent fixtures.

I also can't help but wonder if there's a bit of a racial/cultural component to this as well; the kind of people CBS wants watching this thing probably identify more readily with the coaches than with the players, for a variety of reasons.
   32. Chipper Jonestown Massacre Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:42 PM (#2724362)
Bill James.

Pass.
   33. bunyon Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:43 PM (#2724364)
To me, being clutch means not so much the ability to somehow raise your game under pressure but rather the ability to simply perform at your usual level under pressure and not wither. The guys who have a reputation for being clutch are typically, like Ortiz, plain ol' great hitters who just continue to be great regardless of the situation. Jeter, the archetype of clutch, doesn't perform any better in the clutch...he just doesn't get any worse.

Of course, if you're a guy who is able to maintain in a clutch situation and you're facing a guy who isn't, your numbers may actually go up. I think this is one of those areas where sample size, number of variables and uncertainty will prevent us from ever really knowing THE ANSWER.

I think it has been shown, well enough, that you don't want some "clutch" player who isn't all that great up instead of a guy who is really good but may come down a bit in pressure situations. Say you were offered ARod or Francisco Cabrera (vintage 1992) in a clutch situation. You go with Arod every time.

If it's Ortiz or Arod you probably go with Ortiz. I guess I'd view the "clutch" adjustment as being pretty small over the long haul. Maybe Arod (for argument's sake) is .0006 worse and Cabrera is .0006 better. That doesn't make up the huge talent difference. But between Ortiz and Arod, maybe it does.
   34. SoSH U at work Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:43 PM (#2724365)
"Went late" isn't really the right phrase, because they knew that it would. Other networks have no problems building slack into their schedules to accomodate sports, but CBS always pretends that sporting events will end on time. (Has any second NFL game ever ended by 7 on the east coast?)


Yes, but knowing that, couldn't you have built that into your Tivo calculations?
   35. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:44 PM (#2724368)
I think the unclutch argument is more persuasive. That is, there are some great hitters who have a history, or at least a reputation, of faltering in big spots. Alex Rodriguez springs to mind.


Alex Rodriguez, 2007:

overall: .314/.422/.645
close & late: .357/.439/.686
bases loaded: .500/.444/1.286
runners on: .329/.443/.719
runners on, 2 out: .326/.435/.816
scoring position: .333/.460/.678
scoring pos, 2 out: .318/.448/.776
september: .362/.470/.723
   36. Answer Guy Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:46 PM (#2724369)
Everyone in the country who ever went to college can immediately identify with the players.


Some people went college a long time ago.
   37. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:46 PM (#2724370)
Yes, but knowing that, couldn't you have built that into your Tivo calculations?
No, because I pay no attention whatsoever to the tournament, so I had no idea it was even being broadcast on Sunday, let alone that it was on CBS.

I realized the possibility at about 8:20, just when the baseball season was starting, which was about 20 minutes too late.
   38. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:48 PM (#2724373)
Some people went college a long time ago.

Especially the CBS audience. "Martha, is that that James Meredith everyone keeps talking about? I must be seeing quintuple again. Get me my pills."
   39. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:48 PM (#2724374)
Yes, but knowing that, couldn't you have built that into your Tivo calculations?


The problem is that if you didn't realize there was a basketball game on, like me, you didn't program tivo effectively.
   40. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:52 PM (#2724381)
The problem is that if you didn't realize there was a basketball game on, like me, you didn't program tivo effectively.

When I briefly had tivo, the damn thing programmed me. You vill vatch Space Ghost now, Herr Shooty.
   41. SoSH U at work Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:53 PM (#2724382)
The problem is that if you didn't realize there was a basketball game on, like me, you didn't program tivo effectively.


I just always assume CBS' Sunday programming is going to be running late, since as David mentioned, it usually is.
   42. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 02:55 PM (#2724383)
Post-season:

.279 .361 .483


Regular season: 7350 at bats
Postseason: 147 at bats
   43. Fred Garvin is dead and Joe Biden is alive Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:00 PM (#2724392)
I gotta say, though, Gus Johnson doing the Kansas / Davidson game was brilliant. Best announcer out there if you want to get involved in a game that you otherwise don't care about.

I agree, if for no other reason than the fact that in every event he broadcasts, he goes completely insane by the end of the game.
   44. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:03 PM (#2724394)
Now let's look at big papi:


Ok.

"big papi" career: 289/.384/.559
"big papi" in the 9th inning: .228/.328/.446

Oops.

Obviously he chokes in the 9th inning.

Hey, random splits in data are fun!
   45. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:06 PM (#2724396)
Throwing out these numbers to determine who is clutch and who isn't is pointless. There are too many variables. Not every close and late AB is clutch, nor is every postseason AB. And not every out in a clutch situation a sign of unclutchiness. It's just as much about body language and approach at the plate as it is production. Nor is there any reason to believe that being clutch is something that will remain constant from a players 20 through their forties. Most of the discussion on the subject here is superficial and mastubatory, no one is looking to uncover the truth, just to find random factoids to support their belief. Until someone wants to dig through retrosheet and the MLB video records for dozens of players over their entire careers, no one is going to prove anything or convince anyone.
   46. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:08 PM (#2724400)
Exactly, Ray. Sufficient post-season sample size to reflect a trend.


150 at bats amounts to six weeks of play, stretched out randomly over 12 years.

Did you miss the 2004 ALDS?
   47. Red Menace Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:09 PM (#2724401)
As to the Davidson ending I thought coach McKillop made a great call on the last play. Too many coaches would outsmart themselves in that situation. Planning to have Curry take the ball up, cut behind a screen and fire was the simplest, best play. If Archambault or Gosselin had the ball in their hands at any time in those final seconds I would have crapped my pants.

The mistake was that Curry should have shot with six seconds left when he broke the defender's ankle. Richards (who took the last shot) had been cold all night and he was well out of his range. I would have liked the chances better with Curry squaring himself in midair and shooting with three men in his face than with any other player shooting.

I'm still depressed from the long ride home from Detroit...
   48. Ron Johnson Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:13 PM (#2724410)
Quoted for truth. I think better of Costas, having seen this.


Unless I'm very much mistaken James and Costas go way back. I'm pretty sure they did some talk radio together in the 80s.
   49. Fred Garvin is dead and Joe Biden is alive Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:19 PM (#2724419)
The mistake was that Curry should have shot with six seconds left when he broke the defender's ankle.

Another mistake was that during the entire play, Sander was totally uncovered for an easy drive to the hoop for a dunk/lay-up that would've tied the game. There was no one within 10 feet of him.
   50. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:22 PM (#2724423)
It's not so much I missed it, Ray. It's that the memory of it has been obscured by the subsequent 2004 ALCS.


He did fine in the 2004 ALCS, obviously. He put up a .900 OPS against a playoff team.

He was 7-17 with 2 HRs over the first four games of the series. Had Mariano Rivera not choked :P and blown the save, Rodriguez would have been an ALCS hero on his way to the World Series.
   51. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:23 PM (#2724427)
Quick thoughts:

It was a pretty fluffy piece, but I guess a good one for one not accustomed to baseball, let alone sabermetrics. My mom really enjoyed it.

I agree that I wish they would have said more about his writing and given some examples. They gave the impression that he's a math nerd with writing incomprehensible to the layman. That's the furthest thing from the truth. He made stats accessible to people that didn't even know math that well.

My dad got a big kick out of the "closer fallacy". He's been harping on that for years.

I'm really shocked they didn't mention Moneyball. I thought for sure that would be a topic of conversation.

Bill James went to "a large state school". Why the heck couldn't they say KU? Give credit where credit is due! You just showed them winning a basketball game, and they did show a picture of William White Hall, just say the name!

Steffen Curry is really, really good at basketball. He had Andrew Sander wide open for the last shot, but couldn't see him. I really think since KU was so focused in on Curry, Davidson probably could have gotten off a fairly easy two point bucket. Thank god they didn't.

I always TiVO "Cold Case" because "60 Minutes" always starts at 6:30 Central due to sports. I hate that CBS doesn't account for this, and that TiVO is subject to CBS's quirky scheduling whims.

GO HAWKS!
   52. Ron Johnson Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:23 PM (#2724429)
Sufficient post-season sample size to reflect a trend.


Well no. Standard error in a 200 PA trial is on the order of 110 points of OPS.

Or to put it another way, do the stats for full-time players in the middle of May tell you anything worthwhile about how good a player is?
   53. Run Joe Run Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:27 PM (#2724436)
I hate to rehash old ground - but did James actually ever write that there is no such thing as a clutch hitter or did he write there is no evidence that clutch hitting exists. I believe it was the latter. Important that James didn't deny clutch hitting, just saying at the time there was no evidence.

James now has clutch hitting on his website, so why didn't Morley ask him about it. Also, I do recall that James had stated that he thought if anyone was a clutch hitter, Ortiz was. That really wasn't what 60 Minutes conveyed.
   54. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:27 PM (#2724437)
Other networks have no problems building slack into their schedules to accomodate sports

I don't know what world you live in, but in the world I inhabit, every single network fails to accommodate sports into their schedules.

I, too, was disappointed with the final play by Davidson. In that situation, I push the ball quickly upcourt (rather than walk it up) and run my normal offense, but with an eye on the clock.
   55. Answer Guy Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:31 PM (#2724440)
C'mon guys. Have any of you played basketball at that level? You're criticizing a guy who carried his team on his back all season for not visualing the entire court in the heat of the moment with three defenders draped all over him and sticking to the program coming out of a timeout.


I think it's more that either he or the Davidson coach (or both) should have realized during that timeout that there was no way Kansas was going to let Curry take that last shot, come hell or high water.
   56. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:31 PM (#2724444)
I hate to rehash old ground - but did James actually ever write that there is no such thing as a clutch hitter or did he write there is no evidence that clutch hitting exists. I believe it was the latter. Important that James didn't deny clutch hitting, just saying at the time there was no evidence.

I think he wrote that there was no evidence that clutch hitting existed and is now fighting against the notion that this lack of evidence means it absolutely doesn't exist. He holds out that it may, in fact, exist, but we haven't discovered the right tool yet to measure it. Is that about right?
   57. Red Menace Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:33 PM (#2724448)
kevin, I don't mean to criticize Curry. He had an unbelievable tournament. I think he should have gotten a shot off earlier, but oh well. My main reason for chiming in was to defend the idea of having the ball in Curry's hands the entire time rather than running a play.
   58. bunyon Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:34 PM (#2724449)
Steffen Curry is really, really good at basketball. He had Andrew Sander wide open for the last shot, but couldn't see him. I really think since KU was so focused in on Curry, Davidson probably could have gotten off a fairly easy two point bucket. Thank god they didn't.

I'm not trying to be critical so much as figuring out the "mistake" if there was one. The quote points one out: KU was surrendering the two pointer. Davidson essentially decided that Curry would take a 3 pointer, no matter what. Clearly that was optimum, but no way was KU giving that up. He could have dished early and had a teammate take a relatively open three or gotten a really good two, all with time on the clock. And, yes, that is really easy to say in hindsight or when you're not on the floor. But I also think the way KU had been defending him made it really, really, really unlikely Curry could get a 3point shot off and Davidson should've known that during the timeout.
   59. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:35 PM (#2724452)
Well no. Standard error in a 200 PA trial is on the order of 110 points of OPS.

Or to put it another way, do the stats for full-time players in the middle of May tell you anything worthwhile about how good a player is?


If we split up ARod's career into 42 samples of 200 PA each, each sample made up of ten random 3-7 game stretches, would a sample of .279/.361/.483 stand out in any way?
   60. Red Menace Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:35 PM (#2724453)
I think it's more that either he or the Davidson coach (or both) should have realized during that timeout that there was no way Kansas was going to let Curry take that last shot, come hell or high water.


I still maintain that Curry throwing up a heavily contested shot would have given the Wildcats better odds than anyone else shooting, even if it's Sanders with an open layup.
   61. Fred Garvin is dead and Joe Biden is alive Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:38 PM (#2724460)
C'mon guys. Have any of you played basketball at that level?

Yes, insofar as I once played pickup basketball with Ricky Calloway.
   62. Mike Webber Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:40 PM (#2724467)
Bill James went to "a large state school". Why the heck couldn't they say KU?


I think they recognize that going to KU is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.

GO KSU!

Actually, I think it might because he said that what they were trying to teach him he would only take and use in relation to baseball.

Incidentally, no one would be happier than Bill that a discussion about him would be completely derailed to talk about a KU basketball game.
   63. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:46 PM (#2724477)
I think he wrote that there was no evidence that clutch hitting existed and is now fighting against the notion that this lack of evidence means it absolutely doesn't exist. He holds out that it may, in fact, exist, but we haven't discovered the right tool yet to measure it. Is that about right?


That's how I understand the "Underestimating The Fog" essay. Alot of baseball studies trying to find a skill look at y-t-y correlation of stats. As I understand it though, there's too much noise in the data in many instances which means that absence of evidence in these studies doesn't mean evidence of absence.

I don't know what world you live in, but in the world I inhabit, every single network fails to accommodate sports into their schedules.


FOX usually has a postgame show after football (The OT) that runs until 8 Eastern.
   64. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:55 PM (#2724490)
I don't know what world you live in, but in the world I inhabit, every single network fails to accommodate sports into their schedules.

FOX is good at it. I've never noticed the other networks to have much problem having their prime time programming start on time after a golfing, NBA or NASCAR event.

I'll add a caveat about my above statement on Davidson having an easy two. While its true KU probably was focusing so much on Curry shooting a three, that they were very vulnerable to allowing a two, its also a big risk because KU's athleticism is so good that they could get back on defend a two.

However, I think it also increases the chances of a foul situation, which I think Davidson would have done well in.

Its easy to say in hindsight. Obviously at the time you want the ball in the hands of the best player on the court which was Curry.
   65. Red Menace Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:57 PM (#2724497)
Apologies to all who have no interest whatsoever.

My main point is that I liked the call to put the ball immediately in Curry's hands. Someone said they should have run their normal offense, which consists of players who are absolutely no threat to shoot holding the ball beyond the arc and waiting for Curry to come off of screens. It hadn't been working all night and I think it was a great call to have Curry bring the ball up.

You can make the case that they should have gone for the wide open layup (wow, I can't believe I'm about to argue against this). My brother spent the entirety of the final time out screaming, "One shot for the final four!" and I can't really blame McKillop for going for it.
   66. _ Posted: March 31, 2008 at 03:58 PM (#2724498)
I think Safer got one thing backwards. He said something about how people used to assume that pitchers were responsible for opposition stolen bases, but that James discovered it's actually catchers. If anything, the opposite occurred, and in any case it was strange that of all the things he could talk about he mentioned that.
   67. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:07 PM (#2724507)
I've never noticed the other networks to have much problem having their prime time programming start on time after a golfing, NBA or NASCAR event.

After any football, baseball, or college basketball game, it seems all networks don't properly allow for time.
   68. Mattbert Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:07 PM (#2724508)
Regarding A-Rod and clutchiness:

That is, there are some great hitters who have a history, or at least a reputation, of faltering in big spots.

I think A-Rod's case is a better example of the bolded bit than the overall point, so it's my fault for obfuscating my own point by bringing him up. A-Rod's unclutch rep was generated by his two utterly dismal playoff performances in 2005 and 2006. Last year didn't help; despite not being awful, he wasn't nearly as good as he was during the regular season either. But all of that tends to ignore the fact that he was a veritable postseason monster up until 2005. It's a mixed bag.

I don't view A-Rod as being particularly good or bad in the clutch, but I do think his struggles in the 2005 postseason got into his head come playoff time in 2006. He was absolutely miserable in that Detroit series, and I don't think that was just random. That said, I must reiterate that I don't believe that was an example of player who is, intrinsically, unclutch. I believe that was an example of an excellent player going through a rough stretch mentally and choking badly as a result.

So, as more general clarification, I find the idea of a player choking to be far more believable than the idea of a player being clutch. I have difficulty envisioning a mechanic by which a player may will himself better, i.e. "rise to the occasion" or "feed off the intensity" etc. A player collapsing under pressure, though, is a lot easier for me to understand.
   69. Ron Johnson Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:08 PM (#2724511)
80. I'm pretty sure that it's the 1983 Abstract when he goes into the prevailing conventional wisdom that you ran on the pitchers.

He was the first to simply go through the game records and track how many bases were stolen off any given catcher.

Actually, given the way the information was arranged back then, the best he could do was stolen bases per games started.

One of the earliest example of his actually checking whether conventional wisdom is correct.
   70. Run Joe Run Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:10 PM (#2724513)
I have noticed this - reporters get stuff wrong - lot's of stuff wrong. I am not talking about when they just make stuff up, but when they are responsible for getting it right. In the past couple months I have noticed that 60 Minutes didn't seem to "get" a couple stories (the mortgage crisis). Here in the James interview, they didn't get much really wrong, but seemed to miss the whole point of what James meant to baseball. Maybe because we still are debating his legacy.
   71. _ Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:18 PM (#2724523)
But, but. . . hasn't the research (and general observation) shown that pitchers DO have a huge influence on stolen bases? Look at Terry Mulholland, or lefthanders in general, or knuckleballers, or Nolan Ryan, or Greg Maddux. It's not either or, certainly, but still - I didn't get it.
   72. dlf Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:19 PM (#2724527)
#84 ~ I think it was the 1982 Abstract. Pg. 13 of that year's book:

They may steal on the pitcher, but they still steal a hell of a lot more against Joe Nolan than they used to against Johnny Bench. It is true, however, that there are wider differences in the OSB rates of various pitchers than of various catchers, which would suggest that the pitcher can do more to prevent or allow a stolen base than the catcher can
   73. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:19 PM (#2724528)
You can make the case that they should have gone for the wide open layup (wow, I can't believe I'm about to argue against this). My brother spent the entirety of the final time out screaming, "One shot for the final four!" and I can't really blame McKillop for going for it.

This is fair to consider. I believe it was Sanders (fairly certain, although aside from Curry I don't know the Davidson players by their face) who at one point was wide open at the top of the key (the guy who was guarding Sanders was 'showing' on the screen and fell down). Even if Sanders got the ball, he still would've needed to get to the rim for the lay-up/dunk, and I'd bet a Kansas defender would've been there to hack the hell out of him -- and isn't Sanders basically a 50% free throw shooter? Is that really better than the shot they got from Richards?

I just don't think you can 'blame' (I'm using that loosely here -- it's tough to criticize in such a hectic situation) Curry for giving up the ball. As kevin said, KU had him completely covered -- Davidson ran at least two or three separate screens for him and Kansas defended those screens about as well as possible, absolutely blanketing Curry -- so he gave the ball up to an open teammate who got a relatively decent look (albeit from a few feet beyond the arc).

It was without a doubt the best game of a weekend chalked full of blowouts, and ranks up there amongst the best games of the tourney (right up there with Marquette/Stanford -- awesome game, even if (I'm a Marquette student) it was the most heartbreaking sporting event of my lifetime). That being said, I have epic expectations for next weekend. When Memphis actually plays defense, they can hang with anyone. UNC looks unstoppable and both UCLA and Kansas are talented as hell.
   74. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:26 PM (#2724541)
That's how I understand the "Underestimating The Fog" essay. Alot of baseball studies trying to find a skill look at y-t-y correlation of stats. As I understand it though, there's too much noise in the data in many instances which means that absence of evidence in these studies doesn't mean evidence of absence.
The problem is that James' Fog essay missed the point. If you can't see it through the fog, that doesn't prove it isn't there, but it does prove that it isn't bright enough to be seen.

Or, to drop the metaphor, if "clutchiness" is hidden in the noise, it may exist but it's too small a factor to matter. There may be a mathematical distinction between "doesn't exist" and "can't be detected," but there's no <u>practical</u> distinction.
   75. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:27 PM (#2724542)
A player collapsing under pressure, though, is a lot easier for me to understand.


It's not easy for me to understand how a player who "collapses under pressure" makes it to the majors in the first place (let alone, in the ARod example, becomes one of the greatest players ever to play the game).

Bonds is a good example. For years people would talk about how he "couldn't" hit in the postseason. Then after the 2002 playoffs, nobody talked about it anymore.

Peyton Manning shows that this idiocy is not limited to baseball. He couldn't win the big one. Until he could.
   76. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:34 PM (#2724557)
See above. He had to acquire a chemically-induced edge on his peers before he broke out of his choking cycle.

Well now, I'm convinced. I'm going to start a steroids regimen tomorrow. There is clearly nothing they can't accomplish!
   77. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:38 PM (#2724566)
Bonds is a good example. For years people would talk about how he "couldn't" hit in the postseason. Then after the 2002 playoffs, nobody talked about it anymore.

Randy Johnson used to be a playoff choker. Until he wasn't.
   78. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:40 PM (#2724569)
See above. He had to acquire a chemically-induced edge on his peers before he broke out of his choking cycle.


Did you miss the 1992 NLCS?
   79. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:42 PM (#2724575)
Bonds is a good example. For years people would talk about how he "couldn't" hit in the postseason. Then after the 2002 playoffs, nobody talked about it anymore.

Randy Johnson used to be a playoff choker. Until he wasn't.


This is where the noise comes in. Maybe clutch ability is something a player can develop as he matures or lose as he ages. It seems a hoplessly complicated weave. All I know is I'm convinced Marco Scutaro has some kind of walk-off hit ability. Scooter is freakin uncanny in those situations. (And no, I'm not going to look up the stats to dispel this myth that may exist in my own mind. I like the myth.)
   80. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:42 PM (#2724576)
Randy Johnson used to be a playoff choker. Until he wasn't.


Kenny Rogers is a great recent example: 23 scoreless innings in the 2006 playoffs, including a huge game against the team he was supposed to choke against, the Yankees. (Although people may have varying views on whether the foreign substance issue diminishes that a bit.)
   81. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:45 PM (#2724581)
This is where the noise comes in.

When it comes to using the playoffs to measure clutchiness, the extremely small sample size means it is ALL noise.
   82. Shredder Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:46 PM (#2724586)

I think it's more that either he or the Davidson coach (or both) should have realized during that timeout that there was no way Kansas was going to let Curry take that last shot, come hell or high water.
Sorry, but you have to have the ball in the hands of your best player, especially when he is orders of magnitude better than everyone else on your team. If you call a timeout there, or ask him to give the ball up, there's no guarantee he gets it back, and you HAVE to have the ball in his hands at the end of the game. Credit Kansas, who made a great play defensively. Curry got his man in the air, was ready to pull the trigger, and the Kansas guy (Robinson?) rotated beautifully. If only that sack of crap Bill Self had decided to actually guard the perimeter like that in 2003, Illinois may have made it to the sweet 16 instead of letting Notre Dame fire away at will.
To me, Dick Vitale dropped his pants with his reaction to Bruce Pearl's exposing how corrupt big time college basketball is back in the day.
Bruce Pearl is human excrement. That's the only time Vitale has been right in his entire life.

And not liking the tournament because of Vitale is a pretty stupid argument, since he doesn't even work for CBS. If you don't like Vitale, don't turn on ESPN.
   83. Shredder Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:50 PM (#2724593)
As for James, I saw the segment last night. I thought it was flattering, but it was too brief to spend time delving into things like why "there's no such thing as a clutch hitter", and why David Ortiz is a bad example of a clutch hitter (I'm under the impression that he's a pretty good hitter all the time). Also, I think they could have focused on more on his impact on people like you guys. A lot of the real work in the field is being done by people he inspired. A minute or so with tidbits of interviews of his disciples in the field would have been nice.
   84. Dizzypaco Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:57 PM (#2724601)
why David Ortiz is a bad example of a clutch hitter (I'm under the impression that he's a pretty good hitter all the time).

People sometimes think that if a player doesn't perform exceptionally well in clutch situations for his entire career, he's not a clutch hitter. For about three years or so, Ortiz's performance in certain types of situations was insane. Its possible that it was random chance, noise, but I don't believe it was the case, and you'll never convince me to change my mind. He did not perform especially well last year in the same types of situations - nevertheless, I believe Ortiz is a great example of someone who was a great clutch hitter for a few years.

People freeze up under pressure. It's happened to me.

Amateurs freeze up all the time. In general, if you're the kind of person who is going to freeze up under pressure on a baseball diamond, chances are you're not going to make in the majors at all, IMO. There are probably a couple of exceptions, but only a couple.
   85. Shredder Posted: March 31, 2008 at 04:58 PM (#2724604)
Randy Johnson used to be a playoff choker. Until he wasn't.
I wonder if these situation are tougher for pitchers. Their job is much more mechanics based, and they stand with the ball for a long time (relatively) thinking about what they have to do to execute their pitch. A hitter has to focus, of course, but so much of hitting is just reaction. He doesn't have a lot of time to think. It would seem to me that if I'm going to be affected by the drama of the moment, I'd rather just have to react to something without thinking about it.

It kind of makes me think of Josh Shipp, to bring this back to college basketball. Shipp's been in a huge shooting slump the second part of this season, and he's passing up a lot of catch and shoot jumpers, and waiting for wide open looks, and I think it's hurting him. It's a little counterintuitive, but I think on those open looks, he thinks about the shot, and the consequences of missing, and he subsequently has performed poorly. But against WKU the other night, with the clock winding down, he cans a circus three, that was mostly luck, but he probably benefited from being forced to take it. If he could get back to the gunner mentality, I think he'd be OK again (he also needs to start getting back to his mid-range and slashing game, but that's another argument).
   86. bunyon Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:00 PM (#2724607)
One of the earliest example of his actually checking whether conventional wisdom is correct.

And there is the single sentence that summarizes the greatness of Bill James.
   87. Shredder Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:01 PM (#2724608)
I believe Ortiz is a great example of someone who was a great clutch hitter for a few years.
But I think a better example would be a guy who isn't a great hitter who performs great in the clutch. Mark Lemke's performances come to mind, although over his whole post-season career, he wasn't really that special, which probably just reinforces the point.
   88. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:03 PM (#2724612)
In general, if you're the kind of person who is going to freeze up under pressure on a baseball diamond, chances are you're not going to make in the majors at all, IMO.

That does not make sense to me. The pressure involved in a Major League game, with 45,000 fans screaming and lightbulbs going off is totally different from anything else in baseball. You think playing in college or the minors prepares you for. There is no process in the lower levels to weed out those who would choke under Major League circumstances. This also assumes that no personal issues arise between the time they work their way up to the bigs and the time they fold in a clutch situation. Any number of things in a young man's life can effect his ability to deal with pressure.

In my experience, the difference between playing in front of 30 people and 300 is very noticeable, I can't imagine what 30,000 is like. What's more, the guys who have actually played the game on the Major League level believe in clutch and unclutch players, so you can't really play the "you never played Major League Baseball" card.
   89. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:03 PM (#2724614)
Bruce Pearl is human excrement. That's the only time Vitale has been right in his entire life.

I don't disagree that Pearl shouldn't have taped the conversation, but once the corruption had been exposed it amazed me how quickly the college sports organization closed ranks, stuck their fingers in their ears, and starting humming loudly. I love college basketball and football, but man, the whole thing is a fraud. It just is. And really, even that doesn't bother me. It's the posture of moral superiority college football and basketball coaches ape that really bugs me. It's the same thing that irritates me about politicians. I miss Jerry Tarkanian. That guy gave no illusion he was the savior of youth or some moral compass for the community.

Anyway, all of this isn't a big deal. I have no idea why I'm even harping on it.
   90. Conor Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:06 PM (#2724618)
Sander was open at the 3 point line on that last play after KU hedged on the screen. (Unless I am misremembering the play.) He was something like 6-30 on 3's. I saw Davidson play a few times; he doesn't strike me as the kind of player that was going to create anything on his own getting the ball at or around the 3 point line.

The one issue with the play is that they had Curry on the ball. Richards is a hell of a ball handler, and he's stronger and may be a better finisher (he is stronger than Curry.) He is a very good decision and is always looking to find Curry. They may have been better off putting the ball in his hands, running him off a screen, letting him turn the corner and see if he could either get to the rack or (more likely) finding Curry. The best argument for letting Curry handle the ball, as I see it, is that its harder to double a guy from the middle of the floor, whereas if you were running him off screens you could just switch everything and try and stay in front of him. But at the same time, if that is your goal, you don't really want to give him a ball screen because you have to know KU is going to hedge it big time, especially when the guy setting the screen isn't much of a threat.
   91. Nineto Lezcano hits the pinata for the candy (CW) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:16 PM (#2724651)
That does not make sense to me. The pressure involved in a Major League game, with 45,000 fans screaming and lightbulbs going off is totally different from anything else in baseball. You think playing in college or the minors prepares you for. There is no process in the lower levels to weed out those who would choke under Major League circumstances. This also assumes that no personal issues arise between the time they work their way up to the bigs and the time they fold in a clutch situation. Any number of things in a young man's life can effect his ability to deal with pressure.


Yes, but by that measure, ALL situations at the major league level are pressure situations. So what you're arguing here is that there's a creature that can withstand the enormous, soul-crushing pressure of playing in The Show, but you add just a bit more pressure and they crumble. You're asking for a hell of a fine-tuned ability to withstand pressure situations.
   92. Shredder Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:17 PM (#2724657)
he best argument for letting Curry handle the ball, as I see it, is that its harder to double a guy from the middle of the floor, whereas if you were running him off screens you could just switch everything and try and stay in front of him.
I think the best argument for letting Curry handle the ball is that it has to be in his hands at the end of the game. If you're going to go down, go down with your best player having a chance. He did all he could, Kansas defended it perfectly. If that guy doesn't switch at the end, he's got a pretty good luck after getting his man in the air.

The only thing that would have made more sense would have been for him to drive, and either go to basket, or draw and dish and send it to overtime, but I think in that situation, with their one pretty good player having fouled out, you have to try to win it in regulation.
   93. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:19 PM (#2724661)
but by that measure, ALL situations at the major league level are pressure situations.

Not really. The difference between the crowd in the first inning of a game and in the ninth inning in close game during a big AB is very clear to any one watching.

So what you're arguing here is that there's a creature that can withstand the enormous, soul-crushing pressure of playing in The Show, but you add just a bit more pressure and they crumble. You're asking for a hell of a fine-tuned ability to withstand pressure situations.

There are lots of players who have the physical tools to play at the AA level but simply can't cut it against Major League competition. Some guys have just enough stuff to make it as a LOOGY but would be bombed as a starter. Some guys can be kill righthanded pitching, but can never hit better than .200 against lefties. There are situation specific physical ceilings throughout baseball. Why shouldn't there be physcological ceilings as well?
   94. bunyon Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:20 PM (#2724667)
At the end of the day, then, Davidson lost because there was no one other than Curry who was even a credible threat. Which is, in a team game, how it should be.
   95. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:20 PM (#2724668)
That does not make sense to me. The pressure involved in a Major League game, with 45,000 fans screaming and lightbulbs going off is totally different from anything else in baseball. You think playing in college or the minors prepares you for. There is no process in the lower levels to weed out those who would choke under Major League circumstances.
I don't know what this means. Pressure is pressure. Sure, you can have more pressure or less pressure, but there's no reason to think that pressure in the major leagues is greater than pressure in college or the minors. Consider that if you screw up in the World Series, you don't get a ring; if you screw up in college or the minors, you don't get a career. The individual stakes are higher at lower levels.

This also assumes that no personal issues arise between the time they work their way up to the bigs and the time they fold in a clutch situation. Any number of things in a young man's life can effect his ability to deal with pressure.
And perhaps Rafael Belliard was a slugger who just had personal issues arise between the time he walked out of the on deck circle and the time he reached the plate. Once you posit magic green elves that can make effects come and go at will, you're out of the realm of science and into the realm of faith.
   96. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:21 PM (#2724672)
The pressure involved in a Major League game, with 45,000 fans screaming and lightbulbs going off is totally different from anything else in baseball. You think playing in college or the minors prepares you for.


Yes, but, I don't care how much of a choker someone is, after playing in front of "45,000 fans screaming and lightbulbs going off" enough times and you will habituate to it.
   97. JC in DC Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:29 PM (#2724683)
I agree with DMN about pressure, Kevin. It's really a kind of existential problem: for the 22 year old, they think law school rejection's the end of their lives as much as the parent will. I reject, however, the notion that pros don't choke b/c they've been filtered out before hand. I've seen too many basketball players who couldn't get the ball to the rim on a free throw to believe otherwise.
   98. JPWF13 Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:33 PM (#2724691)
The individual stakes are higher at lower levels.


Youre kidding, right?


Well think about:

a 22 year old baseball player who knows that iof this year he doesn;t get out of the FSL he never will land his dream is over...

versus the 30 year old vet who is financially set for life, and gee it would really suck if he blew another save and lost the closer job...

... and then you'll realize that your analogy comparing a 22 year old with a 38 year old lawyer having a midlife crisis holds no water.
   99. Cowboy Popup Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:35 PM (#2724693)
Sure, you can have more pressure or less pressure, but there's no reason to think that pressure in the major leagues is greater than pressure in college or the minors.

I think there are plenty of reasons to think that.

Consider that if you screw up in the World Series, you don't get a ring; if you screw up in college or the minors, you don't get a career.

That's not really true. If you screw up a big play in college or the minors, chances are no one outside of a few hundred people are watching, everyone will forget for the most part anyway because those games don't mean much.

The individual stakes are higher at lower levels.

Time and time again you hear ballplayers say how much a ring means to them. Professional athletes are competitors, and being part of the best team in the world seems to have a lot of value to them. Even ignoring all the environmental differences between the two, which I believe to be a huge factor, you'll be hard pressed to convince me that winning a AA championship is more important to a ballplayer than a World Series ring. We aren't talking about overall performance, we're talking about the performance of some players in very specific situations. Maybe to some guy scraping to get buy the AA game is huge, but to future Major Leaguers, with their eyes set on the show, I doubt it's more than a drop in the bucket. I played with guys in football, basketball, and baseball who went on to play at much higher levels and the big games for those us who topped out in high school or college never seemed to mean as much to them. Heath Benedict, RIP, was never nervous to go out and play Blair. Neither was Fernando Perez when we went to play Steinart.

Once you posit magic green elves that can make effects come and go at will, you're out of the realm of science and into the realm of faith.

You can't prove it exists or doesn't exist, so you choose to not believe in it. I have no problem going on faith.

Yes, but, I don't care how much of a choker someone is, after playing in front of "45,000 fans screaming and lightbulbs going off" enough times and you will habituate to it.

I think you'll find that that is generally true. I think specific cases can arise where a trade or a contract or playing in front of a hometown crowd can alter a normally sound player's clutchiness, but in general, yes I agree that maturity will generally iron out any unclutch wrinkles in a player's career. But there are also guys who never mature and will choke until they're 95 and playing Canasta (Benitez).
   100. Dr Stankus and the Semicolons Posted: March 31, 2008 at 05:35 PM (#2724694)
I've seen too many basketball players who couldn't get the ball to the rim on a free throw to believe otherwise.


Well, clearly you don't watch the game with same experienced eye as kevin.

Hasn't he already established that he knows more hoops than you?
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