Category Archives: Rants ‘n Ramblings

Small Sample Overreactive Fantasy Rant, Installment 1: “Matt Kemp Sucks”

Matt Kemp sucks. He is batting .125 right now because he is bad at baseball. When he swings a bat, you can tell that he feels a little awkward, due to the unfamiliarity of the action. I bet young Matthew always was more of a soccer player growing up but his parents pushed him toward a sport for which he possessed no natural proclivities and at which he never really had any chance to succeed.

The Dodgers should send Matt Kemp back to Double A Single A, rookie ball. Apart from allowing him to work out his issues with the bat, the move will also help to improve his strength, which he clearly hasn’t fully developed yet. Low A is also a great way for a scrappy, but obviously talentless ballplayer like Matt Kemp to see the country and make a living wage for a summer. There will be lots of other players in rookie ball to teach him a thing or two about hitting, which will come in handy when he returns home to work as a “batting cage technician” at the Fun Center his uncle owns over in Tulsa.

Matt Kemp is probably the worst player in the major leagues right now. In the first inning he joined Marlon Byrd as the only person to have been struck out by Clayton Richard this year. Mark Ellis and Josh Beckett would later join this club as well, making it even more clear that Matt Kemp simply wasn’t meant to be a professional baseball player. Kemp was also the only one of the Dodgers top four hitters to fail to get a hit off Clayton Richard in the first inning. That’s because he sucks.

How much does Matt Kemp suck? He sucks so much that when the Dodgers play an American League team in an American League ballpark, they would be better served to utilize Juan Uribe or Justin Sellers as designated hitters, (Kemp can’t play the field anymore because he’s too slow). Matt Kemp sucks so much that the Dodgers wouldn’t be able to trade him to the Yokohama Baystars of the Nippon Baseball League for an unrefrigerated and already open bottle of Sapporo, even if the Dodgers agreed to pay his entire contract. Matt Kemp sucks so much that if he were to inquire about the possibility of playing for France in the World Baseball Classic, reasons Coach Jim Stoeckel would provide for not adding him to the roster would include: 1) You were born in Oklahoma, 2) You don’t have any French relatives, 3) You don’t have French citizenship, and 4) I’m afraid we can’t really make room for you on the roster right now.

I really think it’s unfair that just because a bunch of other people drafted Matt Kemp in the first round, I’m not allowed to drop him in my fantasy league. As far as I’m concerned, whoever wants him can have him, because his career will probably be over by July. I don’t need that kind of player on my fantasy team. I would much rather have John Buck, Mark Reynolds, or Michael Saunders. You know, real ballplayers who hit over .300 and frequently hit home runs or even steal bases.

Matt Kemp sucks.

Blind Men Only See Black Skies

by Justin Freeze

In his most recent article, Owen tried to convince you of two things: (a) that steroids have a substantial positive impact on a baseball player’s performance, and (b) that this impact clearly shows up in the statistics of the period. If you did as little honest digging as Owen and those who think similarly seem to have done, you were probably convinced. However, I am confident that by the end of my piece, you will realize that these arguments collapse once their severely exaggerated credibility is exposed.

My goal with this post is not the masturbatory self-congratulation that Owen appears to seek. Rather, it is to provide a dispassionate examination of the facts surrounding steroids and their potential impact on the game of baseball. I shall start, as all good science should, with the null hypothesis: steroids do not significantly impact the game or its players’ performances in any perceptible way. We shall see if the available information is able to refute that hypothesis.

I present my article in three parts. Part 1 – Medical Science and Steroids will examine the medical research on the impact steroids have on the body, and whether this translates to better performance in the batter’s box. Part 2 – The Discontinuity Dilemma will look at the curious cases of abnormal performances during the so-called “Steroid Era”, and whether or not this allows us to reasonably conclude that certain players were juicing during this period. Finally, Part 3 – Should We Care? wraps up my piece by questioning whether or not this whole debate ought to affect our assessment of baseball and its history.

Those who are neither friends of math nor logic, nor those who are so obsessed with proving their own dubious correctness that they refuse to engage in fair discussion need not read on. To pun on Owen’s title, the correlation between blindness and thinking you’re always right is also one.
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The Correlation Between Knowing What Science Is and Being Right Is 1.

By Owen McMurtrey

During our most recent podcast, an argument arose between Justin and myself in which I claimed that an expository essay on steroids in baseball was “flat-out wrong” in its claim that anabolic steroids do not improve lower-body strength sufficiently so as to affect the distance that a ‘juiced-up’ batter can hit a baseball. Here at Sports Symphonies, we’re all about bold claims, and so, rather than using ‘hedge language’ as my old history professor George Vrtis would call it (an avid White Sox fan, good man), I just said that this Mr. Eric Walker, the author of the aforementioned expository essay, was full of shit. One benefit of making such bold claims is that it offers the claimant, in this case myself, the opportunity to gloat mercilessly in the face of any and all counter-claimants when able to  demonstrate my supreme rightness (in all other instances, the issue of my being wrong will be quietly and politely ignored).

First, let’s clarify the structure of the argument that we’re dealing with:

1) A batter generates power using primarily the muscles of the legs and torso. Arm, shoulder, and chest muscles are not as important.

2) All other things being equal, stronger leg and torso muscles will allow a batter to hit the baseball farther.

3) Anabolic steroids (and, therefore, HGH, since they work similarly) significantly increase lower-body strength in baseball players.

4) The use of anabolic steroids enabled players who took them to hit more home runs than they otherwise would have and this is evident in the baseball statistics.

I believe we agree on items 1) and 2), but we clearly disagree on item 3), which is what this debate is basically about. We also disagree on item 4), to an extent. I believe that it is impossible to prove item 4), and I also believe that the effects of a few bad apples taking steroids across the whole game was relatively small, but we’ll get to that later.

In the case of item 3), my bold prediction paid off. For I am RIGHT! Behold, Raphael, Justin, and probably no more than four other readers:

Storer et al. (2003) found that testosterone caused a dose-dependent increase in maximal voluntary strength of the leg (i.e., amount of weight lifted in a leg press), as well as in leg power (i.e., the rate of force generation).

Storer

And:

Bhasin et al. (1996) fount that “in the testosterone-plus-exercise group, the increase in muscle strength in the squatting exercise (38 percent) was greater than that in any other group, as was the increase in bench-press strength (22 percent).”

Bahsir

I could stop here and just move on. But no. It is not enough that I am right. I, in my great magnanimity, will explain just exactly how any and all counter-claimants are wrong and why their wrongness is a product of their inadequacies as critical thinkers.

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