It’s easy to tell when there will be leather popping and maple and ash cracking on some distant Florida or Arizona field. No, it’s not the fact that it doesn’t quite get dark at 4 pm anymore. Not even Valentine’s Day or President’s Day. Nope, spring training is always around the corner when the PECOTA projections come out and various fans around the nation go all looney toons over something that doesn’t have emotions and can’t hear them.
The best is when actual teams and players use PECOTA projections as part of the now incredibly tired, “NOBODY BELIEVED IN US!” mantra. No wonder Skynet will bomb us all into plasma one day soon, because so many people have been yelling at computers about nonsense for so long. It does not feel, it does not think, it’s just a formula.
To be clear, PECOTA does not legislate for a couple hitters on one team getting some fiendish BABIP luck, or a pitcher who watches every fly ball they give up hit a fair pole, or injuries, or some reliever who discovers more sweep on a slider in spring training and suddenly turns into Eric Gagne minus the rhino horn or whatever. It’s just if everyone’s performance averaged out of what they’ve done before. The thing about baseball, and sports, is that there are some things that can’t be calculated and provide the spikes and valleys for players and teams alike as we travel the 162-game road.
Here in town, Cubs fans are a little salty that PECOTA says the won’t crack .500, even though it’s the same team as last year minus Cody Bellinger and Shota Imanaga replacing Marcus Stroman, which could be anything. The Pirates are projected to stink even though the stage of their rebuild says they shouldn’t, except they have no hitters. Somehow, according to the projections, the Mets have snuck into the last playoff spot, but that’s mostly to do with the National League being a suckfest.
The real joy comes when somewhere in the season as some player or team outruns projections and their fans are trying to give PECOTA its comeuppance, as if it was something that can be dunked on or care about being dunked on or would feel embarrassed. Or that the BP writers who merely list what the projections say somehow are getting their comeuppance. Might as well go yell at a parking meter. Which, to be fair, we’ve all done, but there isn’t much catharsis there. But it’s February, pretty much nothing is happening in the sports world, so getting one’s dander up about essentially a math problem is about all there is to do.
Ah, the warm, suffocating blanket of Jurgen
For USMNT fans, there was some joy from the Asia Cup yesterday, as Jurgen Klinsmann steered yet another team way below expectations thanks to a lack of imagination or preparation. Ah, memories.
You might not have known that Klinsmann somehow conned his way into the South Korea manager’s job. What you probably guessed is that Klinsmann had no idea how to mold likely the most talented team in the region, worst case the second-most behind Japan, into a cohesive unit. Korea was able to stumble and wheeze their way to the semifinals, which might seem like a decent enough result in the randomness of a knockout tournament.
But look any deeper and you’ll see that Heung-Min Son basically had to miracle Korea into extra time in both the Round of 16 and quarters to get past Saudi Arabia on penalties and Australia in extra time. Against the Saudis they only managed four shots in the first half, and were saved by the barrage at the end of the match when trailing by a goal. They had no shots against the Aussies in the first half. And then they were bounced by a seriously outgunned Jordan team because they were so damn exhausted from playing an extra hour combined against two teams they should have blown off the field.
Klinsmann had already drawn the ire of South Korea fans by choosing to not live in the country while pretty much ignoring their domestic league. And what will have all USMNT fans nodding their heads is that watching South Korea was at times downright painful, given that there was no pattern to their attacking play, no plan for how to break down teams other than Son “doing stuff,” and certainly no plan B. It was just 11 guys out there doing stuff.
At least it can happen to someone else.
The magic of Hakan
Meant to post this for a couple days, but instead of meditation you can just watch this video of Hakan Çalhonğlu’s pass against Juventus on Sunday:
There is beauty in this world.
Original source here
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