April 17, 2014

Who promotes sports analytics? Musings from Day 2 at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference

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“So why are you here?”

“I’m here for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s this annual sports analytics conference. It’s been happening for eight years. It was at Hynes this year; there were 2,000 attendees. It’s kind of a big deal. It had 2,700 attendees last year.”

“So it dropped?”

“Well, yeah. It was at Seaport last year. They moved it to Hynes this year and knew there would be smaller space.”

“So what sport did it focus on?”

“Well, mostly basketball. Because one of the co-founders is the GM of the Houston Rockets. But it kinda dabbled in other sports. And mostly, teams just supplied talking points and the value was in the hallway conversations. But please, keep asking questions. You’re amazing.”
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While We’re Waiting… Crashing Z’s party?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“I keep hearing that LeBron James will be attending Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement ceremony on March 8 at Quicken Loans Arena. So much so that I felt obligated to write about it.

According to multiple sources I’ve spoken with, there is a very good chance that James will be attending the Cavaliers game against the New York Knicks on Saturday to show support for his longtime teammate and friend. It is not believed that James will have any role in the ceremony, but there is an expectation that he’ll be in the building as Ilgauskas’ No. 11 jersey is raised to the rafters.” [Bowers/Stepien Rules] [Read more...]

What’s up, Sloan? Thoughts from Day 1 of sports nerd heaven

sloan picThis weekend, I’m hanging out at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. It’s an annual nerd heaven. I’m in nirvana. I’ve been dying to go for years. I sincerely wish my colleague Craig Lyndall could be here again this year with me too.

Friday was Day One of the jam-packed two-day conference. It’s overwhelming. It’s exhausting. It’s terrific. SSAC is now in its eighth year of existence. Although its purpose and future is debatable — Paul Flannery had a great look in Boston Magazine — it remains a hell of a lot of fun.

To provide an additional insight into my constant live-tweets from the first day, here are some quick thoughts related to the status of analytics in sports and this sensational conference: [Read more...]

The Lakefront Pipeline

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Who knew that a tiny Division III Jesuit school nestled in Cleveland, Ohio’s east side would become one of the NFL’s most prized factories of coaches and general managers? Well—everyone who was fortunate enough to witness it all unfold.

On an early August evening in 1995, the John Carroll University football team gathered at the 50-yard line at Wasmer Field. The 5,000-seat stadium in University Heights, nestled among tall trees at the eastern edge of campus, corralled the day’s humidity. Head coach Tony DeCarlo congratulated his team of 100 or so guys for good work during the season’s first set of two-a-days.

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While We’re Waiting… Revisiting the Indians huge comeback against the Mariners

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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A must read on the Indians’ epic comeback win over the Mariners. “That’s Kenny Lofton getting tagged out at home with one down in a five-run game. What you don’t see is that Lofton hesitated before breaking for the plate. We know now how the game ended, but at the time, this was a terrible mistake. There would’ve been very little benefit had Lofton been able to score. His getting tagged out lowered the Indians’ win expectancy from about 6% to about 1%. The break-even rate on the play was about 99% — that is, for Lofton to go, he would’ve had to be 99% sure he’d make it safely. Maybe he could’ve made it if he didn’t hesitate. This was just a player getting over-excited, and as part of the Mariners’ late-inning collapse, they were given a very fortunate break. They still gave the game away.” [Sullivan/FanGraphs] [Read more...]

NFL needs to examine its proposed method for cleaning up language

Browns QBert Swearing 595

I fully support the NFL’s initiative to clean up it’s language and reform their (ahem) unorthodox workplace. We’ve seen some of the strange and destructive side effects of allowing such a “unique” culture to persist around the game of football. We have a better view of it than ever before thanks to the information age. From Richie Incognito in the professional ranks, all the way down to Steubenville, it’s been an interesting couple of years for the culture of football as it stands trial in a great many courtrooms – both real and of public opinion. Seeing it all up close and personal, the NFL is right to change their ways, but that’s not what I want to talk about. While I support the NFL’s common sense initiative, I’m scared of the way they are proposing to eradicate this language from their game – namely via 15-yard penalties.

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While We’re Waiting… Mike Brown’s future is ?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“Last, but certainly not least, is everyone’s favorite veteran pinch-hitter Jason Giambi, the man responsible for several clutch hits, including a two-run walk-off home run against the White Sox in late September that I and many other Tribe fans in attendance at Progressive Field that night won’t soon forget. That was last year.

Now heading into 2014, Yan Gomes has, in a sense, graduated to the starting lineup, creating an opening in the Squad. Mike Aviles will most assuredly return to the same role he filled last season, as will Ryan Raburn, but he is projected to share time in right field with newcomer David Murphy. That leaves two or maybe only one spot open on the bench up for grabs depending on how many pitchers Terry Francona will choose to carry on the roster to start the regular season. But for the sake of discussion, let’s just go with the traditional four players for now.

Sounds like no big deal, right?” [Dungan/Indians Baseball Insider] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Which Browns could get the axe?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Possible Browns cap casualties. “3. Jason Campbell, QB (8th Highest Cap Figure) – After a couple of solid performances last season, Campbell came right back down to earth and looked awful by the end of the year. If Campbell is our starter at any point in the future, we are in big trouble. With that in mind, his future with the team comes down to, “how much money are the Browns willing to pay a backup quarterback?”

Because Campbell played 45.39% of the team’s offensive snaps in 2013, he triggered an incentive to increase his base salary in 2014 from $2 million to $3 million. Campbell is due a roster bonus of $250,000 on March 13, bringing his cap hit in 2014 to $3.25 million. He’s not worth it — I’d rather bring another veteran backup quarterback in, or draft a later-round quarterback and mold him into a backup. If the Browns cut Campbell, who is in the final year of his contract, they won’t owe him a penny this season.” [Pokorny/Dawgs By Nature] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Your syllabus is waiting

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“Silver made it plain during the lockout that he sought a league where it was darn near impossible for the elites to hoard talent, where poachers wouldn’t be able to trade late first-round picks to rebuilding teams for those teams’ best or second-best players, repeating the cycle where the rich got richer, season after season.

And last week, Silver’s vision came into focus. There were trades at the trade deadline, but by and large they were new NBA trades. Trades where second-round picks weren’t a throw-in but the centerpieces. Trades not for players or for picks, but for roster spots.” [Aldridge/NBA.com] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Spring (Training) is in the air

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Wow Sabathia. 40 pounds lighter? “However, Sabathia’s weight loss has created plenty of consternation for armchair pitching coaches. His average velocity fastball was a career-low 91.3 mph last season, according to FanGraphs, and has gone down steadily since it peaked at 94.1 during his first season in New York. Thus, it is easy to expect that Sabathia’s fastball will continue to lose steam this season as he will be putting less weight behind it, though recovering from offseason arthroscopic elbow surgery also surely had something else to do with his diminished velocity.” [Perrotto/Sports on Earth] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Welcome to Cleveland, Spencer Hawes

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Spencer Hawes certainly fits offensively, but does it really matter? What’s next? “Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Tyler Zeller, and Anthony Bennett aren’t gangbusters but hardly lack for talent. Redundancy and inconsistency plague the Cavaliers’s big men, deficiencies owed to youth and health concerns that the presence of Hawes will help mask. His three-point shooting affords Cleveland offensive space the others – despite Varejao’s supreme improvement from mid-range – can’t, and he’s helpful as a passer and rim-protector, too.” [Jack Winter/Hardwood Paroxysm] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… A winning streak. We remember these.

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“In the short term, some things have changed. The Cavs have been very good on both sides of the ball over these five games, but they’ve especially soared on offense. The Cavs have scored 107.6 points per 100 possessions during the streak, a mark that would rank at the edge of the top five overall, per NBA.com. That’s heady stuff for what has been a stagnant, bottom-five offense most of the season. They’ve been stingy on D, too, thanks to a philosophical shift that has probably been difficult for Mike Brown given his usual preferences on that end.” [Lowe/Grantland] [Read more...]

On Crescent City, Community and Creation

Worst arena name in the NBA or not, New Orleans killed it last weekend

Devastated by a ravaging storm nine years earlier, New Orleans is, somehow, light years ahead of Cleveland

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While We’re Waiting… No Team Beard in Cincinnati?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“Q. “If their favorite quarterback is off the board, how do you feel about Sammy Watkins and maybe a quarterback at 26 or 35, and having said that, does Derek Carr project as a long term starter worth taking?”

Mayock: “Oh, Watkins. Watkins would be awesome there. I think they can get a running back in a bunch of different places, given the number of picks the Browns have had year. I’m all in on that kid, he can really play, and regarding the quarterback, yeah, I think Carr would be an interesting guy at 26.” [Pokorny/Dawgs by Nature] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Losing the war against ads on uniforms

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“The narrative now is that the trades went well, the drafts went bad, and everything else just failed to happen quickly enough. Pieces were well intentioned, but didn’t fit together. They were scrawled in notebooks, filled in quotes after leading questions in prewritten Word documents, saved into WordPress and uploaded and translated into a thousand pageviews a minute, then leveling off into oblivion like that horizon. Always visible, always drawing your eyes, but meaning nothing at all.” [Jackson/Stepien Rules]

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Good look at Ward’s game from film. “Ward had 112 tackles last season, third-most among safeties. His nine tackles for loss (per STATS, Inc.) were tops on the team and second among safeties behind only Kansas City’s Eric Berry. At 5-10, 200 pounds, Ward is not the biggest safety in the league. But his strength shows on the field, and he plays bigger than he is.” [Kapadia/PhillyMag.com]

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“The loudest voices behind the change are Nick Saban and Bret Bielema. If Ohio State fans needed more ammo to dislike the Mouths of the South, they’ve found them. Incensing not just Buckeye Nation, is that the proposed changes are being done so under the guise of player safety.

Saban, Bielema and others say that substitutions in the first 10 seconds of the play clock would cut down on injuries. Good luck finding many colleagues who will agree. There’s never been a study on the matter and no data exists. Rich Rodriguez, Mike Gundy, Mark Helfrich and Leach have led the chorus of criticism.” [Rowland/Eleven Warriors]

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Boooooo! “Uniform advertisements are coming to the NBA, because they are a proven source of revenue that already exists in European sports leagues, MLS and the WNBA, and because, though fans will complain, it won’t stop anyone from watching basketball. Adam Silver has confirmed there will be ads on jerseys sometime in the near future. The league is trying to figure out where to place them and what size they should be. I doubt we’re going to see getups that look like they belong to the Oklahoma EAT KFC! City Thunder, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the NBA starts out with lower-back bumpers and works up to something like what we’re currently seeing in the WNBA. At any rate, prepare yourself for this, because you are irrelevant to the process that will make it so.” [McGowan/Sports on Earth]

While We’re Waiting… The next GM for the Cavaliers will be?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“If Lindor shines this spring and demonstrates consistency in the minor leagues, he could provide a spark to the Indians lineup at some point in 2014 if an opening arises. Cabrera has suffered two injuries in the last four seasons that have sidelined him a month or longer. If Lindor shined in the minor leagues and Cabrera was injured, the Indians could consider a midseason promotion to the majors and keep Mike Aviles in a utility role to help guide and mentor the young shortstop.

If the Indians were to for some reason fall out of contention, Cabrera could be dealt at the trade deadline to a contender and Lindor could receive and early promotion to the Tribe’s roster. Barring injury to Cabrera or unforeseen struggles by the Indians in the standings, it’s unlikely Lindor would see the big leagues before September. He could, however, provide a spark to the lineup for a stretch run like Jose Ramirez did a year ago or Xander Bogaerts did for the Boston Red Sox. Bogaerts cracked Double-A at just 19 years of age and the big leagues at 20, just like Lindor could this season.” [Brandywine/DDTWLN] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Are the Cavs buyers or sellers?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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My good friend at FTS shares the usual options, then mentions this possibility too. “And what if the Cavs are actually buyers? Are they willing to put Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Anthony Bennett in deals for star type players, even as they have put together really good games of late? You would think so. But what about short term deals for guys like Pau Gasol? The team already went out and added Luol Deng. If the team really is hoping to make the playoffs, doesn’t it make sense to give yourself every opportunity to get there?” [David Zavac/Fear The Sword] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Masterson or Jimenez, all about the cash

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“And what of Justin Masterson, whose contractual situation has been perhaps the most interesting plot point of an otherwise tame Tribe winter? Certainly, you always want to make every effort to lock up your staff ace, particularly given what’s lined up in the pipeline. But the sizable, $3.75 million gap between Masterson’s request ($11.8 million) and the Indians’ offer ($8.05 million) only illustrates how difficult his value is to pin down at present, if only because his excellent 2011 and 2013 seasons did not come in succession.

Still, Masterson’s been durable, and he’s overcome the stigma that his splits might make him more effective as a relief option than a starting one. Trouble is, he’s too tantalizingly close to free agency to go overboard in his generosity at the bargaining table. The Draft pick compensation issue that has cratered Ubaldo Jimenez’s market has to be a point of concern for Masterson, because a 2012-like year could put him in a similar situation (assuming, of course, the Indians would make a qualifying offer at that point). But anything resembling his 2013 effort would probably solve that problem, because his track record doesn’t vary between two extremes the way Ubaldo’s (and Ervin Santana’s) does. Personally, I think he’d fare well.” [Castrovince/MLB.com] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Mostly positive reactions to latest Berea upheaval

While We’re Waiting is a space on the WaitingForNextYear website where we share links every day. We’ve been doing it for about four years or so. Denny Mayo used to be much more amusing with his intros, if you recall. You know the drill: Email us with suggestions at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Harsh words about Joe Banner and his departed regime from this former Browns.com writer: “There’s a pattern here. The Browns have long had trouble figuring things out, and if it makes any sense, Haslam might be starting to figure that out. Now, if the Browns can just nail their two first-round picks, Haslam can be cleared of wrongdoing in the FBI investigation of his Pilot/Flying J companies and Farmer and Pettine can be on the same page in March, May, August and November, the Browns might just be able to eventually rejoin the ranks of the NFL living and competing again. Deep breath, Browns fans. With Farmer in charge, all of that (or at least some of that) has a better chance of happening.” [Zac Jackson/Fox Sports Ohio] [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Best case Browns scenario?

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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“A man swings a stick at a ball and then runs around in a circle. A group of men run into another group of men while another man either attempts to run through or around them, or throw a dead animal over them. Five people toss a piece of rubber in a bucket by bouncing it on the ground. None of those activities make a lick of sense without context. They would look, to an alien, completely stupid. We only attach importance to them because we’ve been watching them our whole lives. They are normal to us only because they are ours.

So you and I are laughing at curling, but this is only because you and I watch it every four years and therefore only notice its eccentricities. Why are they on ice but not wearing skates? Why are the bagpipes played before every match? Is this the only sport ever invented in which the primary object used in play has a handle? And sweet mother of mercy, what is with all the brooms?” [Leitch/Sports on Earth] [Read more...]