Thankfully They Only Come Once Every Four Years

Nothing in the sporting world annoys me more than the coverage devoted to the Olympics.

For starters, a huge portion of the events are rudimentary contests (fastest, farthest, highest, heaviest) where there are no alternative routes to athletic success (the kind of strategizing and randomness that make watching sports interesting). Is it neat to know who the fastest human is? Sure, but a single sentence in the next morning’s newspaper is all it will take to quell that interest. I’m well aware of the years of training Olympic athletes go through in order to push the boundaries of what the human body is capable of, but one-dimensional tests are just plain dull. What should any given silver medalist have done differently? Not have slipped, or gone faster? Wow, we’ll all be talking about that race, lift, jump for years to come (or until that record is broken again in four years).

Same thing with all this Michael Phelps nonsense. Most gold medals in history? Big deal. He’s the biggest fish in a very small pond. The world’s best athletes don’t flock to swimming. I’m well aware that no baseball or soccer player can beat Phelps in a pool, but the inverse applies as well. Can we please get on to the next 47-month stretch when no one cares about competitions like who can swim the fastest?

Fat Camp

“Women” gymnasts are on par with pageant children.

Human interest stories make me nauseous. All the producers and anchors that work on these broadcasts, with their truly inspiring stories with montages and soap opera scores that seem to dominate half the coverage should be pulled out of their studios by the hair, thrown into the street, and beaten to death with gardenhoses filled with leadshot. If you think I’m being harsh, please watch five minutes of Tiki Barber and Jenna Wolfe on MSNBC’s Olympic Update and keep your ears open for the mention of the nation of Hungaria, USA basketball coach Mike Rezevski and hundreds of Chinese volunteers cleaning up algae with their hands.

Thankfully, both Major League Baseball and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association have more or less told the Olympics to go fuck off. FIFA only allows nations three players over the age of 23 to compete for any country in soccer, and even that proves disruptive for important league and cup matches at the club level. Fortunately many professionals opt out, and the World Cup remains the premier international soccer tournament, and with good reason.

Baseball is being bounced from the Olympics after the current games because their player’s union refuses to submit to Olympic standards of drug testing and because MLB itself refuses to allow Major Leaguers to be released from their professional clubs to play in the games (only minor leaguers may participate). Baseball has a well publicized drug problem, but receives way more scorn than other similarly tainted sports like American football and still more than completely compromised sports like cycling. And the Olympic drug testing regimen goes beyond urine samples. Athletes are required to regularly provide blood samples to test for HGH, and there are reports that the tests aren’t even effective. I’m quite surprised NBA players have put up with the whole mess in order to play for their countries in basketball. Furthermore, can you imagine MLB taking time out of an already packed 162-game schedule and interrupting the pennant races of late summer that define the sport on behalf of a bunch of international bureaucrats? Incomprehensible.

While I’m glad baseball is ridding itself of the mess, Fidel Castro raised a stink about baseball being dropped because it was the one source of athletic pride his unnecessarily impoverished nation could cling to. With the best players from around the world busy playing in MLB and Japan’s top professional league, those Cubans who hadn’t yet managed to defect could still get their chance by playing for the Cuban national team and, in the past, beating up on college students and later minor leaguers. Let’s see how many WBC titles the island nation wins in the coming years when it has to go up against the big boys from Japan and America.

All this means a greater importance will be placed on the World Baseball Classic. The first tournament was played in 2006, will be held again every four years starting in 2009, and is baseball’s equivalent of soccer’s World Cup. Since the 2006 WBC produced more drama on the diamond than any Olympic Games in memory, having the WBC as the sole focal point for international competition will only be a boon to the sport. (Perhaps the most compelling storyline involved the upstart South Koreans going undefeated through the first two rounds of pool play, twice beating favorites Japan who admitted shame upon the first defeat and vowed not to lose again, but did. Unfortunately, the two nations met up in the single game semifinals and Japan prevailed, going on to win the first ever WBC crown.) Also, avoidance of this monstrosity can only be a plus.

Sure, Olympic tennis is pretty much the same as a regular tournament, so it is on par, and Olympic basketball is the focalpoint of international play because basketball hasn’t yet gotten its act together as a sport and come up with their own international tournament, but the rest is rubbish.

Most annoying to me are the kings and queens of the smaller team sports. Listening to former players in the booth no one was ever familiar with blather on like John Madden does about Brett Favre for the likes of Super Dan the Chinese badminton ace or the Netherlands’ field hockey star whom I’m having trouble googling quickly is enough to provoke random violence. Being the bad boy of badminton is like being the prettiest girl at fat camp, or Michael Phelps.

Thomas Boswell started of his legendary 1987 list of 99 reasons baseball is better than football with the following:

1. Halftime.
2. Halftime with bands.
3. Cheerleads at halftime with bands.
4. Up With People singing "The Impossible Dream" during a Blue Angels flyover at half time with bands.

That pretty much describes my reasons for loathing the weird spectacle that is the opening ceremonies. Combine the worst aspects of high and low culture, say the NEA and American Idol, and this is the shit that would result. Later, seeing a Chinese dance troupe take the platform immediately after the final lift in the clean and jerk event blew this whole kind of thing into its own orbit of bizzare and pointless. I'm sure all seven of the Russian weightlifting fans in attendance were captivated.

Then there are the governments that prostitute themselves for the “privilege” of hosting these trainwrecks, with the dubious claims of tourism income and raising their world profile. Let’s banish these games back to Athens on a permanent basis. This crap shouldn’t be any bigger on a global scale than the College World Series, which remains confined to Omaha, Nebraska. Maybe, just maybe, the Olympics are interesting from a Steve Sailer eugenics point of view, but that doesn’t warrant a full month of coverage with a signal-to-noise ratio lower than a presidential election.

Share this

LOL

LOL. Masterfully done.

Swimming

Swimming broadcast on T.V = Proof God doesn't exist.

Another thing about all the

Another thing about all the medals Phelps got. It has very much to do with the set of events : winning all these medals apparently takes roughly the same skills. If the IOC decides that from now on there will be a 80m dash, a 85m dash, a 90m dash, a 95m dash, a 100m dash, a 105m dash, a 110m dash, a 115m dash and a 120m dash, I believe a sprinter will win the most medals.

Ideally the events should be set orthogonally, to reflect something like the principal components of human physical skills.

Heh apparently someone did

Heh apparently someone did just that for decathlon

http://leecreighton.wordpress.com/2008/08/13/166/

Once every two years

Now that they've staggered summer and winter Olympics, it's once every two years.

The one who pays and has his sick fantasies realized is the john and the one who is paid and is slapped around is the whore, and Beijing is taking the role of the john here. Governments, particularly tyrannical governments, love to build monuments to their own glory. What makes monuments monumental, i.e., impressive, is precisely that they are so costly to erect. The bigness of a monument is secondarily about physical bigness, primarily about maximizing cost. So the more costly the Olympics are to the host, the better. The opening ceremonies are, of course, a large part of this.

Much of the Olympic games are little more than pissing contests, but that's a strength when it comes to drawing a casual audience. People who follow major sports and who sneer at pissing contests either don't realize or don't care that it takes a significant degree of sports geekdom to appreciate the major sports - they don't realize (or care) how much knowledge it takes because they've been developing their encyclopedic knowledge over their lives. Not so with pissing contests.

Drop me in the don't care

Drop me in the don't care pile. If the New York Times book review started gushing about Danielle Steel novels, there'd be similar cries of foul.

Excellent point on the pimp/john/prostitute deal.

In this day and age, you

In this day and age, you should consider buying a television with an off switch, or at least one with multiple channels. They've gotten pretty cheap now. That is, assuming you can escape from the clockwork-orange-eyelid-retention chair that you're strapped into.

Slightly more seriously - am I the only one that finds it giggle-worthy that someone can rant against the pointlessness and irrelevance of individual one-dimensional sports such as running and swimming while getting excited about baseball? I'm pretty confident a single newspaper sentence can say everything of interest there is to be said about baseball, football, basketball, soccer, bowling, nascar, golf, and jai-alai - all at once. "Some sports people did some sports stuff yesterday, and somebody won." Let's face it - when it comes to pointfulness and relevance, you don't have much room to talk.

I take it you have one of

I take it you have one of these chairs infront of your computer? Or perhaps not, if you're annoyed to discover rants on blogs?

Whether or not you care for this sport or that, or none at all, there is an important difference between the most popular team sports that offer a wide array of tactics and strategy versus pissing contests like track and field, etc. And, the Olympic Committee purposely favors many unpopular and dull (one-dimensional) sports because it wants to be the big fish and finds this much easier in the smaller ponds. It cultivates its own irrelevance, which is actually a good thing, as any sport with a big international following is much better off going on its own.

any sport with a big

any sport with a big international following is much better off going on its own

One more reason why baseball is really on par with 110m hurdles.

There's the U.S. for

There's the U.S. for starters, then pretty much everywhere I'd want to live in Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan), Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Columbia, Panama, Mexico, Canada and a few European offshoots like the Netherlands and Italy. Baseball is being adopted at the local club level in Australia now, too (interestingly enough on this note, down under women prefer to play baseball as opposed to softball). It's not soccer, but it also wasn't adopted as the character building schoolyard war proxy by the elite private schools of the British Empire and exported to British outposts around the globe, nor could it spread through a ton of nations by land like soccer did in Europe with the U.S. and Canada covering most of North America by themselves. It's branched out fairly well, and really didn't take off nationally until after the Civil War.

X games

I presume your comments extend to the X games, which seems to to be a kind of fringe Olympics. And, in another dimension, to any and all races - bike races and car races included, since these are all who-gets-to-the-finish-line-first games. You seem to prefer combat games, where individuals or teams are face to face. Do you like fencing?

You can add layers of

You can add layers of complexity that can make races more interesting. Bike racing and some auto racing employ teams with the goal of supporting their star cyclist or driver. All of their cyclists/drivers are competing in the race, but the places the supporting members of the team take are of secondary importance to the place they're able to help their star win. I don't watch much racing, but I'll watch a little bit of the Tour de France each summer now that the VS network televises the whole thing.

Personally, I'm not too high on contests scored through judging (figure skating, gymnastics, much of the X Games). Human officials are prone to negatively impacting the outcome of sports when only binary judgments are called for (did the whole of the ball cross the line or not, etc). Adding a subjective element to the process makes much of the outcome feel trivial, especially if victory is decided by a few tenths or hundredths of a point in what already appears a somewhat arbitrary scoring system.

In general, individual sports, and even pairs events such as beach volleyball don’t have the same hook for me. Athletes come and go, but teams are a lot more stable by comparison. My grandfather, father and I all follow (or did follow in my grandfather’s case) the same baseball team. You can’t have the same kind of intergenerational connect with individual sports. A large number of the English soccer clubs playing today were founded in the 1870s and 1880s (the Cincinnati Reds in baseball date back this far as well, and were the first professional baseball team).

The us versus them is a lot of fun. This can get out of hand and cross the line from a proxy for battle into actual violence, but it happens not as a result of sport but of already warring factions incorporating sport into their conflict. The Old Firm rivalry between Protestant and unionist Rangers and Catholic and separatist Celtic in Glasgow for example (click the team names to check out each club’s home jersey, as the kits themselves say a lot).

On an aside, I find it a bit funny when Europeans and Europhiles talk about how violent America is. I’m always reminded of the shortest chapter in Bill Buford’s Among the Thugs, in which Buford, an American, has a brief conversation with the chief of the Sunderland police who cannot come to grips with American football games lasting longer than soccer matches and being more violent than soccer matches, but having opposing fans seated together without segregation and generally no incidence of violence in the stands. The police chief comes across as at a loss for words. You’re also extremely unlikely to be refused service by a bar or put in a hospital by its patrons for wearing the wrong team colors on matchday here in the States.

There’s also something about suffering as a supporter that makes victory, if it comes, so much more rewarding. There is a special level of contempt for casual sports fans who shift their allegiance based on the success of different teams within a sport. This is far more prevalent in individual sports when local or generational ties are nonexistent or far rarer. If the Chicago Cubs, who currently have the best record in baseball, are able to win the World Series this season, it’s going to mean a lot to fans who may have been waiting as long as a hundred years since they last won it in 1908. Frontrunners may jump onto the Cubs bandwagon, but there is no way they’ll get the same kind of satisfaction if the Cubs can finally rid themselves of the curse of the billygoat. If the Cubs won, I'd even feel a little joy on behalf of three friends who are Cubs fans, who were let down in 1984, 1989, 2003 and 2007. One who's grandfather was let down in 1945.

There’s a shared experience among supporters of each team or club that I don’t find in individual sports. Perhaps this collectivism strips me of my libertarian street cred, but if kept confined to the trivial but entertaining sports world, I think it is a positive. I don't get this same vibe with Team USA and the Olympics because it's such a huge, throwntogether mess. When you have separate events like the World Cup and World Baseball Classic, there's also definitely an element of nationalism, but it doesn't rub me as roughly as the Olympics because governments aren't really using the competitions as monuments to their own glory. They're international tournaments celebrating a particular sport, not the athletic prowess of nations, or to an extent less so than the Olympics.

Two words

You can't find better porn

You can't find better porn on the internet?

There's porn on the internet?

Why didn't somebody tell me?!?!

Trekkie!

Grab your dick and double click.

Haha, you beat me to it. Why

Haha, you beat me to it.

Why you think the web was born, Kate Monster?

Yeah I can't figure out

Yeah I can't figure out where Misty's hips end and her waist begins.
I think somewhere under her armpits.

Plus, I think she's wearing padding in your picture.

Relative to MLB, her husband

Relative to MLB, her husband is also t3h suck.

You can find better porn

Kyle,

Your last comment is titled "You can't find better porn". Which was a hard statment to swallow. The contents say "You can't find better porn on the internet. Till I saw your question mark I thought you were just a little bit over the top.

Sorry but not only haven't I watched the olympics but I couldn't read that stat chart either because I don't follow baseball. I don't know what good stats would be and their link to the explaination only told what the abreviations were for and not what they meant, what an average player would have, what the maximum possible value is, etc.

Good News

There's a stat used as a rough measure of offensive value that's fantastic for a quick eyeballing of a player's prowess. Check out OPS+ on that page. It's normalized by position so that the average offensive performance at a player's position is roughly equal to 100. Anything above 100 is above average offensively at a position (in Treanor's case, catcher), anything below 100 is below average offensively.

Baseball statistics, because of the game's linear nature moving between static state to static state, are probably the most informative of any sport I'm aware of.

Ok, but I still don't

Ok, but I still don't actually know what it means for good players because I don't know the distribution. Might be that all the really good players get scores north of 1000. Is it a bell curve around 100? Obviously not unless numbers less than zero are allowed. How far below average is a score of 50 say?

Now I can make reasonable assumptions on the lower end. I can assume it starts at zero and goes up. Simple question. Does Trevors 71 OPS+ score mean he is in the 35th percentile? Not sure. If the distribution was flat then he would be. The distribution however may drop off very fast and he might well be way down in the single percentiles. A histogram would be helpful here.

All I know from this is that he's worse than average. If I assume a reasonable distribution far worse than average. But I don't know.

I'm especially leary to actually believe I'm understanding what's going on here because I see flaws in my understanding.

If I understand correctly then how can Trevors "162 Game Avg" OPS+ be 71 while at the same time his "Career High" OPS+ be 64. He plays 162 games where at least half the time he has done better than 71 yet, he's never broken 64. That sounds pretty much impossible.

Based on the description of "162 game avg" and "Career High" in the links I would expect the CH to be on the order of 162 times smaller than the 162GA. If you literally do what they said they were doing.

So no this is not "good news" with regard to me understanding what's going on in this chart.

Often times for rate

Often times for rate statistics a minimum number of at bats is needed before the rate stats are considered towards things like batting titles (player with the highest batting average in a season in each league). I'm not sure on what the specific threshold Baseball-Reference is using, but it appears that's what's going on with his career high.

OPS+ is calculated like so...

SLG = Slugging percentage (how many bases a player averages per at bat, with one base awarded for a single, two for a double, three for a triple, four for a homerun and none for an out).

OBP = On base percentage (what percentage of the time a player reaches base safely through hit, walk, or hit by pitch).

100*((Player OBP/League OBP)+(Player SLG/League SLG)-1)

Negative scores are possible, but very rare. The highest three single season OPS+ all belong to a roid-fueled Bonds: 268 (2002), 263 (2004), 259 (2001).

Keep in mind that there are different levels of defensive skill required for different positions, and that league average OBP and SLG refer to the average OBP and SLG of other players at the same position.

The defensive spectrum, as it's been labeled, looks like this (goes from least challenging to most challenging defensively):

1. Designated Hitter
2. First Baseman
3. Left Fielder
4. Right Fielder
5. Third Baseman
6. Center Fielder
7. Second Baseman
8. Shortstop
9. Catcher
10. Pitcher

Designated hitters don't play in the field at all, and hit in place of pitchers in the American League (but not the National League, where pitchers still bat). Numbers two through five all play at the corners of the baseball field and numbers six through ten are all up the middle defenders.

One point of interest, is that shortstops, while playing a more challenging position defensively, are better hitters than second basemen on the whole. The positions are very similar, but because the bases are run counterclockwise, second basemen playing on the right side of second base (shortstops play to the left) are much closer to first base where much of the action is. They make much shorter throws and have more time to field and throw the ball than shortstops. Thus, all of the best athletes who play middle infield gravitate towards shortstop. The vast majority of Major League second baseman are players who couldn't handle shortstop as they moved up levels in the minor leagues and were then shifted over to second base. Occasionally a very good fielding third baseman with an arm too weak to handle the position will be shifted to second base, but generally shortstops and second baseman are all coming from the same pool of players with the best athletes able to stay at shortstop. That superior athleticism translates into better offensive production for shortstops on the whole, as compared to second basemen.

I wasn't able to Google a histogram of OPS+ but it does turn out bell curvy. Almost everything in baseball does.

Here's a histogram of OPS

Here's a histogram of OPS for center fielders.

Looks like the median player has a score of 85. It's not a bell so the median is lower than the average score. Thus where Trevor a center fielder his score of 71 is below the median and the large bar at 81-90 doesn't help him move up in percentile. Eyeballing it he would be about the 20th percentile, with 4/5 of players better than him.

You did notice that I said I am not interested in baseball. You are making me feel guilty for wasting your time here.

My time wasting is a sunk

My time wasting is a sunk cost. If not here, certainly somewhere else. You shouldn't feel any guilt.

Spoken like a born loser

Sports are not for everyone. I imagine you got picked last for kickball in the second grade or something.

Nay. But I'll spare you the

Nay. But I'll spare you the tales of my high school athletic glory days. I've got good genes, though.
(Link 1, Link 2).

So it's genetic

You have football and basketball genes and, apparently, no beach volleyball genes. No wonder your preference. Or are you ashamed of your beach volleyball genes?

I have no family history of

I have no family history of success or even participation in volleyball, but I feel fairly confident I can debunk this theory, as I don't follow basketball. Nothing really wrong with it, but I already watch college hockey and English soccer in the winter.

Hey I was always picked

Hey I was always picked last, how does that make me a "loser", i.e. someone with a general disposition to quit or lose regardless of the task or goal ?

Swimteam gojira gif is hilarious

What's its origin? Who made it? The swim team's victory antics really did lend themselves to this.

Someone on /b/, but I got it

Someone on /b/, but I got it second hand in an e-mail from another /b/tard.

I'm sold

I've just been all the way through /b/. Only ten pages - no archive. A pity. It's amusing.