Yeah Jeets! And Other Sports News
Derek Jeter is upset that the Marlins’ strategy of…trading all of their players of any quality for a fraction of their value has not produced results, and also fired the team’s head of business ops, because clearly it’s his fault the team can’t sell “we’ll take your money and stuff it all directly into our pockets” to Miami taxpayers. (Why Miami fans aren’t flocking to see a team with a -88 run differential after 38 games is truly one of the world’s great mysteries.) I also see that they’re carrying on in other aspects of the Loria/Samson tradition:
He wanted the dogs out of the clubhouse. No, it was worse than that. Gary Denbo, the Marlins’ vice president of player development and scouting, could not tolerate the dogs, who had been a popular part of the Greensboro Grasshoppers’ scene since August 2006, fetching bats, carrying buckets of balls to the plate umpire, running the bases after every game.
The dogs are such a phenomenon that the bucket of the late Miss Babe Ruth, a Labrador Retriever who once worked 638 consecutive home games, is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But Denbo, making an unannounced visit to the Marlins’ Low-A affiliate in June 2018, was not interested in upholding tradition. He took one look at the two dog kennels in the clubhouse and demanded that they be removed, berating a clubhouse attendant, a longtime employee of the team who is in his 50s.
The exchange was the breaking point in the Marlins’ 16-year relationship with Greensboro, according to the team’s president and general manager, Donald Moore, who said he simply could not work with Denbo. Moore subsequently made a deal with the Pirates’ organization, and the Marlins settled for a much less advantageous affiliation in Clinton, Iowa, where the ballpark is considered outdated and remote.
That dispute was not an isolated incident for Denbo, 58, a longtime mentor and confidant of Marlins CEO and former Yankees great Derek Jeter. Denbo has transformed the organization with his brusque and at times overbearing manner, and he remains a polarizing figure in his second full season with the Marlins, eliciting strong loyalty from those who support him and strong enmity from those who do not.
Say what you will about “lose as many games as possible and be the biggest assholes you can possibly be about it,” it’s an ethos! Anyway, excited for Jeter to get named Sloan’s SUPERGENIUS OF THE YEAR after Miami’s 3rd consecutive 105+ loss season shows that they really understand the process of building a champion.
Speaking of the misuse of “analytics,” I don’t know if this assessment that the Rockets couldn’t even win 6 six against the Durant-free Warriors because they refused to adapt their gameplan is accurate. But if so, it’s pretty hilarious. The whole point of game theory is that optimal strategy is contingent on the choices made by your opponent! This seems like an elementary point, and yet one of the most crucial reasons Bill Belichick has 8 Super Bowl rings is how many organizations fail to grasp it.
Finally, I don’t need to produce the Twitter receipt because Carolina lost Game 1, but my NHL conference final picks are ‘Canes in 6 and Sharks in 7. To make a point of broader interest, whether you prefer a high-replay or no-replay equilibrium, the NHL has become a model of how not to implement replay, producing a system that is the worst of all worlds. NHL replay reviews generally take forever, and are used primarily for two purposes. The first is to make goaltender interference calls according to an apparently wholly arbitrary standard that provides zero comparative advantage over just letting the on-ice officials make the calls. The second is to review goals to see if chickenshit, immaterial offsides violations occurred. The latter is an awful idea in general. But the application that marred Game 7 of the San Jose/Colorado series was particularly ridiculous. This particular application of the rule causes the logic completely collapse on itself. If we have to spend 5 minutes reviewing goals for trivial offsides violations in the name of the (ludicrous fiction) than in NHL games the rules are applied in hyperformalistic manner, then the replay still didn’t get the call right, because the Avs should have been assessed a minor for too many men on the ice. Instead the result is that Landeskog was treated as being on the ice for the purposes of the offsides review but not for the too many men infraction, which is just stupid. The previous norm, in which Landeskog was treated as being off the ice for both purposes because he was not actually involved in the play and nobody thinks you need to crack down on the backup goalie for not opening the door quickly enough or whatever, makes much more sense.
As Mike Tanier argued with respect to similar dumb used of replay in football, if you’re going to have replay then you need to rewrite some of the relevant rules to insure that replay review doesn’t upend the longstanding spirit of the rule in a way that just makes the game worse:
The fumble-touchback dates back to a forgotten era when the change of possession was no big deal. Teams sometimes punted on first down back then, and fumbles were frequent, so there was little controversy about giving the defense the ball after a minor miscue.
The fumble-touchback should never have survived the 1933 NFL rule changes that took away touchbacks for incomplete passes in the end zone and modernized football in many other ways.
But the fumble-touchback remained a vestigial organ in the rulebook because it was almost never applied. “In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, it was exceedingly rare,” football historian T.J. Troup told Bleacher Report. “You never saw it.”
High-definition slow-motion replays on portable tablets and an almost fundamentalist devotion to the language of the rulebook now allow referees to get the call exactly right. But what are they really getting “right” when they hand freebie turnovers to a defense that failed to stop the offense from getting within microns of the end zone, all based on a few frames of video footage and some language from the leather helmet days?
There’s a similar problem in MLB with calling baserunners out because they lose contact with the bag for a 20th of a second. Replay is a tool; it can be put to good use, but slowing games down for the pretense of formalism that produces outcomes nobody really considers fair is silly. And the NHL’s current approach, where some goals are randomly thrown out for incoherent or incomprehensible reasons but refs can’t ask for help on game-changing major penalties, really makes no sense.