Sports-Blogging

I'm playing hurt (right hand is in a cast; dodge ball injury; don't ask) and have had to take a little break from blogging, but I have two sports-related items to share.

First, how 'bout the college basketball regional finals. 8 teams, 8 great efforts, and 8 opportunities to win the game inside of two minutes. As a sports fan, you can't ask for much more. I, of course, was sad to see my 'Cats (UK, not Arizona) bow out. I am especially sad to see Chuck Hayes, one of my all-time favorites, lace 'em up for the last time in a Kentucky uniform. The biggest reason human beings love sports, I think, is to get the opportunity to see others attempt to maximaize their potential. Hayes was the epitome of "maximizing potential" and he was a joy to root for. Thanks, Chuck.

On an unrelated note, I advise everyone to read this interview given by baseball historian Bill James.

I'm a big fan of Friedman, Barnett, Locke, and all the other usual suspects, but I'd have to say Bill James was my first libertarian influence. I don't even know if he's a libertarian, but reading how he thought about baseball played a big role in how I thought about, well, everything. He taught me about being rational and how to make an argument; he taught me how to approach problems and how to go against conventional wisdom.

This excerpt provides an example of the power (or necessity) of decentralized rule- and decision-making:

(Interviewer): I remember announcers saying, for years, that in Tiger Stadium the Tigers were letting the infield grass grow very high. Can teams really do that with impunity, create hay fields to protect their groundball staffs?

Bill James: I think so. . .there may be some MLB policy regulating the length of grass, but I’m not aware of it. Honestly, major league baseball—and all sports—would be far better off if they would permit teams to do more to make one park distinctive from another—even so far as making the bases 85 feet apart in one park and 95 in another. Standardization is an evil idea. Let’s pound everybody flat, so that nobody has any unfair advantage. Diversity enriches us, almost without exception. Who would want to live in a world in which all women looked the same, or all restaurants were the same, or all TV shows used the same format?

People forget that into the 1960s, NBA basketball courts were not all the same size--and the NBA would be a far better game today if they had never standardized the courts. What has happened to the NBA is, the players have gotten too large for the court. If they hadn’t standardized the courts, they would have eventually noticed that a larger court makes a better game—a more open, active game. And the same in baseball. We would have a better game, ultimately, if the teams were more free to experiment with different options.

The only reason baseball didn’t standardize its park dimensions, honestly, is that at the time that standardization was a dominant idea, they just couldn’t. Because of Fenway and a few other parks, baseball couldn’t standardize its field dimensions in the 1960s—and thus dodged a mistake that they would otherwise quite certainly have made.

Standardization destroys the ability to adapt. Take the high mounds of the 1960s. We “standardized” that by enforcing the rules, and I’m in favor of enforcing the rules, but suppose that the rules allowed some reasonable variation in the height of the pitching mound? What would have happened then would have been that, in the mid-1990s, when the hitting numbers began to explode, teams would have begun to push their pitching mounds up higher in order to offset the hitting explosion. The game would have adapted naturally to prevent the home run hitters from entirely having their own way. Standardization leads to rigidity, and rigidity causes things to break.

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Who let the Kentuckians in?

Who let the Kentuckians in?

Cool, there's people from

Cool, there's people from Kentucky around here. :-) I'm from Louisville originally, too, and grew up a big UL basketball fan (especially Denny Crum fan). I also grew up hating the UK basketball program (despite the fact that my dad was a diehard UK fan)...until Rick Pitino came in. The teams from the 90's were a pleasure to watch, even if you weren't rooting for them. Tubby Smith has continued in that tradition, although his teams have quite different playing styles. I root for them when they're not playing Louisville, and I was hoping for a UL-UK rematch in the title game.

What I like most about college basketball is that it's a coach's game. (I wish I could coach college basketball.) These are young players who are learning how to maximize their potential, and how to work effectively in a team. And when a team clicks, it's just astounding to watch. And guess what? They don't need any regulations from the NCAA telling them how much playing time each player must have in each game, or requiring players to have N assists, or forcing "free throw shooting training", etc. These things just come because everybody wants to win, and that's how you win games.

Too bad so many of the good ones go on to play in the NBA, where they get that all beat out of them. :-(

Sometimes I compare my professional life to college basketball, and I have to say, college basketball wins out. I work with some bright people, but it's like we're all hogging the ball. And instead of having a coach who's going to bring us together and help each of us maximize our potential, I usually end up with a boss who plays favorites (sometimes that's me, sometimes it isn't), and is more interested in intra-office politicking. But I digress.

This was a great weekend for men's college basketball. The women's games weren't bad, either. I think the UL game was the first time in half a decade (or longer) that I was so enraptured by a game. And then the following day, the same happened with UK. (And then today, my wife asked for a divorce due to all my screaming at the teevee.)

We snuck in inside a bucket

We snuck in inside a bucket of KFC.

I heard its finger-lickin'

I heard its finger-lickin' good, so I can't blame you.

Well, I'm from Louisville,

Well, I'm from Louisville, so I can say I'm quite happy with the way the tournament has gone. :razz: However, I felt quite bad for Chuck Hayes last night, despite the fact that I was kind of rooting for Michigan St. After seeing that look on their faces and seeing how incredibly hard they played, I can't help but be sad. :cry2: