Pace of Play Isn’t Going Away (via Baseball Prospectus)

[I]n other sports, the fans have compromised perfection for the sake of pace, abandoned the same idealized sport that Dryden laments. Instead, the virtue is not in perfection but in performance under duress. As games have sped up, decision-making time decreases, mistakes get made. On an episode of Effectively Wild a while back, Russell A. Carleton came to the same conclusion: that the pressures of a pitch clock could result in less prepared pitching. This in itself isn’t a problem; pitching under pressure, managing one’s mental energies toward the next pitch, would just become another trait, another way that some pitchers would excel. But the actual, visible product would be diminished, no longer an ideal.

These compromises get made all the time. Playoff structure is a good example: leagues have generally expanded playoff spots to increase drama, at the cost of victory being less representative of overall dominance. Player safety often requires some level of restriction over play. The cynicist can predict these conflicts by the resulting effect on league income, in the present or future tense; the cynicist would often be correct.

But when it comes to pace there’s something deeper at play than just speeding up a game (and why reducing ad times, beyond the obvious reason, was never on the table[).] It’s not so much that baseball is slowing down than that we are all speeding up. There are those who enjoy baseball for this very anachronistic feeling—I am among them—but we as a demographic are getting older.

Manfred’s task will not be changing baseball’s pace, which he could do with the click of a gold-plated pen. It will be to manage it, to foresee the unforeseeable consequences that accompany every rule change and evolution in sport. … Read More

(via Baseball Prospectus)

Hockey parlor games

Found this from FiveThirtyEight:

With the Stanley Cup finals set to start tonight, I thought this would be a fun game to play, especially for hockey fans whose teams are done for the season.

For me, the picking went pretty easy, probably because there are lots of good combinations here. I went with Ken Dryden ($2); Lidstrom, my favorite player, potentially overvalued but always undervalued while he played ($5); Chelios ($1); Mr. Hockey ($5); Super Mario ($4); and John Bucyk, never of whom I have heard ($1). (I originally had Shanahan at LW before realizing I needed two defensemen, hence Cheli and Mr. Bucyk.)

FiveThirtyEight offers a team “formed from an advanced stats point of view.” In this case, that mostly means referencing Goals Versus Threshold (“GVT”), a WAR-like statistic that seeks to present “the value of a player, in goals, above what a replacement player would have contributed.” Their picks:

  • Hasek ($4) – “A steal”
  • Orr ($5) – “the difference between his production at his peak … and that of the next-best defenseman is truly massive”
  • Larry Robinson ($2) – “a higher five-year peak [in terms of GVT] than . . . Lidstrom despite” costing less than half as much as Nick
  • Gretzky ($5) – his “production was such a radical outlier that he’ll be worth the price”
  • Jarri Kurri ($1) and Bucyk ($1) – “both Hall of Famers” and “building a top-heavy team with a few stars and a bunch of lesser players is not such a bad thing.

Post your team in the comments below, and cast your predictive vote for the outcome of this year’s Stanley Cup finals right here:

Ken Dryden: Time for the NHL to Get Head Smart (via Grantland)

I come back to the Crosby press conference. I’m not sure how it could have been done better. The message was that we are in uncharted territory. We know some things, there is much more we don’t know, and we’re going to do what we know and respect what we don’t until we know better. This is serious, and we are serious. And we want you — all those who are watching — to experience what we have experienced and learn what we have learned, because as people who love sports, we’re in this together. It is this same tone, attitude, and approach on head injuries that Bettman and Goodell need to take. … Read More

(via Grantland)