Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Successful, Amusing, and Awesome Failures

The Common Man's not going to lie, after a long and busy day at the new gig (and not wanting to anger the new overlords by blogging in the office), and choir practice tonight, The Common Man doesn't have it in his heart to throw down with anything resembling a lengthy, engaging argument. But given that the benevolent Rob Neyer drove boku traffic to The Common Man's realm on Monday (and thanks to Lar at Wezen-ball for attracting Rob's all-seeing eye),
The Common Man feels inspired to keep giving. So in celebration of a terrific couple days here at TCM.com, here's a bunch of awesomeness:

-Speaking of Lar, that man seems to have an unending list of fascinating questions. His latest is, by far, the most interesting to date. Lar's search for a twin holy grails of baseball was, spoiler alert, ultimately unsuccessful in that no two games proved remotely identical. But his brilliant idea, execution, and explanation made the trip entirely worthwhile. And The Common Man can't wait to hear about more adventures with the Retrosheet database, and will gladly ride along as Sancho again.

-Speaking of quixotic quests, Gary Matthews Jr received permission to leave Angels came for a day after learning he was being demoted to the team's 5th outfielder. He was presumably off looking for his lost talent (or, perhaps more accurately, luck).

Anyway, his AWOL adventures led to the following IM debate between The Common Man and loyal reader, commenter, and occasional guest poster Bill:

TCM: I love that Gary Matthews essentially needed a personal day because he didn't see the writing on the wall
Bill: heh. yeah
TCM: umm...Gary? everybody was saying the same thing last year, and you haven't gotten any better and you didn't need a day off then
Bill: right
Bill: so the Pierre deal has to be considered worse than the Mathews one, doesn't it?
TCM: Matthews: .242 .319 .357, 77 OPS+ last year
Pierre: .283 .327 .328, 72
given position, yeah I'd say you're right but it's closer than I'd have thought
Bill: I guess I'm thinking from the perspective of the time they were made. Both have pretty much been zeroes since. But Mathews was coming off an all-star year. The BABIP data and all of that would've told you it wouldn't happen again, but at least it happened. Juan Pierre had lucky-empty-batting-averaged his way to two good years three years BEFORE the one he signed in, and had been consistently terrible in the two seasons between that and the contract. And Mathews was (wrongly, apparently) perceived as a good CF, while Pierre's defensive shortcomings were well known
TCM: you're probably right that the idea was worse to sign Pierre but the outcome has been the same and ultimately, that's what we tend to be judged on
Bill: I mean, they were both terrible signings at the time. But the Pierre one was shoot-yourself-in-the-head terrible, while the Mathews one was only you'll-never-work-in-this-town-again terrible
TCM: I suppose I have trouble distinguishing between degrees of terrible. When something is terrible, it simply shouldn't be...case in point: the new Knight Rider and, um...yogurt flavored Pepsi. Both bad ideas for different reasons but it doesn't change the fact that neither should exist
TCM: I should point out I'm talking about the contracts, not the people I have no problem with the existence of either Juan Pierre or Gary Matthews Jr
Bill: that's an important distinction
TCM: right, I don't want to take away their right to exist. just their right to exist in an undeserved opulent lifestyle of self-delusion I wish someone would sell them on the idea of flood-proof furniture

-That last joke (which you probably didn't get) would have been funnier if you had read Pablo Torre's fascinating article in this last week's Sports Illustrated, where he recounted the reasons professional athletes end up on the skids. Torre reports,
• By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

• Within five years of retirement, an estimated 60% of former NBA players are broke.

• Numerous retired MLB players have been similarly ruined, and the current economic crisis is taking a toll on some active players as well.

Because athletes tend to be painfully ignorant of financial systems, overly trusting of friends and family members (many of whom mean well) who care for their money or have "investment opportunities" to share, have high rates of divorce (especially after their playing careers end), and far too eager to own businesses rather than invest in mutual funds or common stock they are vulnerable to rapid financial decline when their careers end (and sometimes before). Perhaps the best story Torre spins is the shortest, and comes from Matthews' teammate (and replacement), Torii Hunter:
"About five years ago, Hunter says, he invested almost $70,000 in an invention: an inflatable raft that would sit under furniture. The pitch was that when high-rainfall areas were flooded, consumers could pump up the device, allowing a sofa to float and remain dry."

What would happen when the sofa reached the ceiling is, of course another matter. But The Common Man kind of would root for the couch to find its way out of the house somehow. He would love to watch Torii Hunter shoot the rapids in his La-Z-Boy, wouldn't you? It's amazing this didn't catch on. If anything could cheer up those poor people along the Red River, it's Torii paddling by on a Hide-a-bed.

-Finally, to celebrate Rob Neyer's visit, and those of you who followed the gentle song of his pipe, The Common Man feels like something needs to get blown up. After all, it's been a while since there's been a good explosion around here. In the spirit of things, however, The Common Man has found the following Mythbusters clip, where Adam and Jaime try to knock the cover off a ball. The Common Man thinks this will suffice:


lar said...

Hey, good work on the "quick" post, TCM (and I'm not just saying that because of the compliments).

and I love the idea of Sancho. Does that make me Don Quixote? Is that a good thing?

BikeMonkey said...

gig? congrats on the new job d00d!