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Sports Then and Now


Wake Up Baseball Fans – WAR is Fake and Meaningless

Posted on July 28, 2018 by Dean Hybl
Mike Trout is a great player, but sabermetrics thinks he is one of the greatest of all-time.

Mike Trout is a great player, but sabermetrics thinks he is one of the greatest of all-time.

As a baseball fan who has been paying attention to baseball stats since the early 1970s when my primary motivation to learn to read was so I could read the statistics on the back of baseball cards, I have reached my limit with those baseball “stat geeks” who have taken the game I love and turned it into a mathematical equation that seems more designed to show how smart they are rather than really identifying who the best baseball players are.

I started reaching my limit over the last several years when the sabermetrics craze has minimized some baseball greats while pushing others to a higher level, regardless of what their real statistics say.

The greatest example of this is Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout. If you judge baseball based simply on sabermetrics, you will likely try to argue that he is the greatest baseball player since Babe Ruth, heck, maybe even better.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Mike Trout is a great player, but I am not yet ready to consider him in the same conversation as some of the all-time greats.

Earlier this year, there was an article claiming that Trout was on his way to having the greatest single season in baseball since Ruth. That sounds amazing, but at the time he was hitting .below .300 and was not ranked among the league leaders in home runs or runs batted in.

What the sabermetrics folks have done is change the definition of what is considered important in judging the success and greatness of a baseball player.

For generations, batting average, home runs, extra base hits and runs batted in were the primary stats used to judge greatness. Heck, those were most of the stats listed on baseball cards when I was growing up. Secondary to those would be things like runs scored, on base percentage and slugging percentage.

Beginning in the mid-1980s with the publication of Bill James Baseball Abstract and continuing at a greater pace as fantasy baseball (originally known as rotisserie baseball) started building in popularity, there has been a growing desire among some baseball fans to look at the value of players in different ways.

Bill James originally devised the idea of “win shares” and that concept has been taken to a greater extent through sabermetrics with what is now considered by some baseball fans as “THE” measurement statistic of a player’s value known as WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

While I am not going to pretend to know enough about WAR to explain how it is computed, it is very clear that at some level WAR is designed to reward players who do more than just get base hits, drive in runs and hit home runs. Players who score well in WAR tend to get on base a lot, score runs and are quality defensive players.

In 2012 there was quite an uproar when the old school baseball definition of greatness clashed head-on with the new school definition of value for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.

At first glance, the 2012 AL MVP voting should have been a “no brainer”. Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera had an amazing season in becoming the first American Leaguer since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the triple crown (lead the league in home runs, batting average and RBIs). Read the rest of this entry →

Keeping It Organized: 4 Fundamental Principles of Running a Football Club

Posted on July 25, 2018 by Katherine Taylor

soccer ballThere is a lot of leadership that goes into the successful running of a football club. While the strategic direction of the club is often determined by the club manager, much of the strategic decisions remain in the hands of the directors. And the manager has to have enough justification for every approach he takes because at the end, results are the true measure of success. The very survival of the club depends upon these results.

In order to guarantee the desired results, there are certain fundamental principles that should guide the leadership of any club. Here’s a rundown of four of these guidelines.

Have a philosophy

Coaches are known to bring specific styles and approaches to the football teams that they manage. However, managers come and go, and the club should be able to retain some kind of identity even in the absence of these important individuals and their distinctive styles.

It is the club’s way of doing things that gives it its identity. It is imperative therefore to have a club philosophy; a vision, a set of values which clearly define the way of doing things within that particular club.

Once you develop a solid club philosophy, the next important phase of things is to see to its survival. Make your players develop an understanding of how things are done in the club. Every new sign-on needs to be properly onboarded and absorbed into this culture. Similarly, every new manager should abide by the club’s philosophy even as they play around with it to develop a winning style.  Read the rest of this entry →

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Old School Football Players: Where Are They Now?

Posted on July 24, 2018 by John Harris
Ronnie Lott

Ronnie Lott

Some football stars never leave the sport. After concluding his Hall of Fame playing career as a tight end, Mike Ditka became a Super Bowl-winning coach and then transitioned into the media world as analyst after he put down the clipboard.

Others follow a different path and disappear from the public eye. When they do, it’s easy to lose track of their whereabouts. But many of those who have seemingly fell off the face of the earth are now living truly fascinating lives.

From Silicon Valley and the big screen to entrepreneurship and the courtroom, the following four football players are worth catching up with even decades after they took off their cleats.

Ronnie Lott

Ronnie Lott was a hard-hitting safety known for striking fear into receivers who dared cross the middle of the field and quarterbacks that he blindsided sprinting across the line on a blitz. The Hall of Famer, four-time Super Bowl champion, and 10-time Pro Bowler for the San Francisco 49ers then made a very successful transition to the business world, leveraging investments in a few car dealerships into larger ventures and roles in the Bay Area and Silicon Valley with firms including HRJ Capital, GSV Capital Corp., and Fortress Investment Group. “He’s been a winner on and off the field and accordingly has earned enormous respect in Silicon Valley,” said GSV in a statement after the venture capital firm added Lott to its board of directors in 2015.

Carl Weathers

Though many people only know him as Apollo Creed and other prominent Hollywood roles on the silver screen, actor Carl Weathers first reached stardom as a football player. As a defensive end, he played college ball in Southern California for the San Diego State University Aztecs before going on to play in eight NFL games from 1970 to 1971. He didn’t quite have what it took, however, and made the tough choice to abandon his dream and switch to acting — a decision that now looks genius in hindsight. After earning a degree in drama in 1974, he gained global fame through his iconic performances in the “Rocky” franchise and would go on to earn acclaim for his work in “Predator,” “Action Jackson,” “Happy Gilmore,” and “Arrested Development,” among other films and television shows. Read the rest of this entry →

7 Tips To Becoming A Paintball Pro

Posted on July 24, 2018 by Shakshi Talwar

Becoming-A-Paintball-ProPaintballing is a sport that is always changing. Most individuals don’t realize it, but not only are the rules of the game changing, but the ways that individuals are playing the game are changing. Individuals are now undergoing relentless tactics and techniques at home to improve their game. So, what are of the best tips that can enhance your game and make you really stand out on the field?

Avoid Rapid Firing?

It is hard to deny that Extreme Sports Land offers some of the best paintball guns available on the market. In fact, if you are utilizing one of their guns it could be easy to expect to shoot anywhere from five to eight shots a second. In the heat of battle individuals can rapid fire at their targets, which can be both good and bad. If you aren’t completely careful you will find yourself with an empty chamber on the battlefield or constantly reload.

Be Careful Of Your Gas Supply

Most paintball guns are powered by pressurized carbon dioxide gas and each gun will only hold a certain amount of gas. While most advanced guns are only fitted with a twenty-ounce tank, this can run out pretty quick if you are constantly pulling the trigger. Always avoid dry firing the trigger when there are no pellets in the gun, because it will consume some of the energy from the 800 shots that you are allotted. Read the rest of this entry →

How to Keep Kids Safe in Little League

Posted on July 16, 2018 by Scott Huntington

Nothing says summertime like baseball. And across the nation, kids have a ball playing on their little league teams. Sadly, some of them will end up injured.

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When we think of dangerous sports, baseball generally doesn’t rank high on the list. However, the tragic case of little Nader Parman II demonstrates that even a relatively tame sport can turn deadly. While cases such as Parman’s are considered freak accidents and are blessedly rare, failing to take proper safety protections can lead to serious injury. To keep your littles safe on the diamond, adopt the following safety measures:

1. Learn CPR and First Aid, and Be Sure All Coaches and Assistants Are Trained in It

Most adults who work with children, from school professionals down to summer playground leaders, are required to be trained in CPR and basic first aid — but don’t take that for granted. Inquire as to whether your child’s baseball or softball coach is certified. It’s a good idea if volunteer assistant coaches and other adult participants get certified as well.

As a parent, it’s always a good idea to get certified in first aid and CPR yourself. You will hopefully never need the skills, but it helps to know you’re prepared should an emergency occur.

2. Warm up and Cool Down Properly

Just like adult exercisers, children need to warm up and cool down properly before engaging in physical exertion. Contrary to popular opinion, warming up doesn’t necessarily involve heavy stretching. Rather, focus the warm-up on mobility exercises and exercises made to increase heart rate gradually. Read the rest of this entry →

How to Decide Between Skiing and Snowboarding

Posted on July 16, 2018 by Scott Huntington

Skiing and snowboarding are the two primary choices for those who want to take up a winter sport, and both activities make the winter season more exciting. Since skiing and snowboarding are both so popular, many are curious as to which one they should learn first. Before choosing, you have several factors to consider.

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The Learning Process

The first week or two of learning snowboarding or skiing will vary based on which you choose. Skiing tends to be more gradual in its learning process, with navigation being more comfortable to start. You do have ski poles to help your balance, after all. Since your legs are separated during skiing, you can throw one foot out to help rebalance yourself if needed. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Bill Freehan: Michigan Man
      May 12, 2018 | 6:21 pm

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was an 11-time American League All-Star at one of the most demanding positions in baseball, yet outside of Detroit his exploits have been largely forgotten.

      For more than a decade, Bill Freehan was the rock behind home plate for the Detroit Tigers. In addition to earning All-Star honors 10 straight years and 11 times overall, Freehan was a five-time Gold Glove winner and in 1968 finished second in the American League in the MVP voting.

      A true “Michigan Man”, Freehan played his entire sports career representing teams from Michigan.

      Read more »

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