SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Interesting Article the Other Day

about a quarterback competition at an FCS school. 


Three competitors -- one, a freshman, one a transfer from an ACC school and the other a transfer from a Big 12 school. 


The school?


The University of Pennsylvania.


No, I am not bashing the Ivies and Penn in particular in this post (there are many other reasons to take pokes at the Ancient Eight and Penn both seriously and for fun).  What I am pointing out that is if the Ivies use their transfer allotments selectively (that is, most transfers are not transferring because they play sports and are wanted), they can help their cause tremendously.


Enter the Princeton Tigers, who have, in the aggregate, the best overall athletic program in the Ivies (and, if not, one of the top two or three).  The wags will say, well, if you lower your standards and take good kids who, absent the sport, wouldn't have had a chance to get into the school, this is what can happen.  Let's put that argument aside, because I do not believe we ever will achieve full transparency on the delta between the non-athletes' admission profiles and the athletes' admission profiles.  (Again, this is not meant to be a swipe, just a discussion).  Think about this, though -- Princeton has done this without any athletic transfers in the past 25 years (and, no, the circumstances behind the football playing Garrett brothers don't count because they were unique and also more than 25 years ago). 


None. 


I once discussed the topic with a Princeton assistant football coach who lamented that the Tigers did not take transfers (one of the reasons is that the size of the school was the smallest or second smallest in the Ivies, and it's hard to take transfers if a) kids don't drop out or fail out and b) if they don't go abroad to study -- there just isn't surplus room).  I offered that it would be nice if the football team could get four a year, because that could really help.  His answer surprised me.  He said, "we don't need for a year.  Heck, we could use one every three years if it's the right one."  And then he told me the story about how the team was short at a critical position because one player left school and another broke his leg and how if they were allowed to take this one kid from one of the service academies or a place like Northwestern, I think it was, that the results for the team could have been a lot different.  Just one player, too.


Princeton will start taking transfers in the next year or so.  Will they take QBs from BCS schools?  They apparently don't need to, because they just landed a QB recruit who turned down offers from many BCS schools because of the high quality of the education he can receive in Tigertown.  Will they augment a key position if they can?  Absolutely.


But so will the Physics Department, Jazz Ensemble, etc.


And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Time Is Mean to the All-Time Greats

Example Number Infinity -- Watching Usain Bolt pull up in the 4x100 meter relay in the World Championships on what was his final anchor leg for Jamaica.  The sports gods just are not kind to all but those who are in or near their prime. 


Jim Brown walked away at the top of his game.  So did Barry Sanders.  Sandy Koufax did too.


Bolt was close to his prime, and he deserved better. 

Chase Utley's Ejection the Other Night

Was a head scratcher, wasn't it?  It appeared that he asked the second base umpire to move out of his line of sight.  Next think you know, the umpire ejected the 38 year-old veteran and one of the most respected players in the game. 


Yes, I really want to see umpires eject one of the all-time greats.  Okay, don't get on me about the fact that Utley is not a Hall of Famer (I would argue that he is a borderline one; sadly, injuries derailed more opportunities for a WAR number that would have put him in).  But to eject anyone for that request?  Was there anything more to it than that?  Or did the umpire have a bet with a friend that he could get on Sports Center if he ejected a famous player on a pretext?  As for the latter, I doubt that came close to happening.  Simplest solution is that the arbiter just had a bad night.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Random Question

Do you remember where you were when Steve Pearce hit two walk-off grand slams in the same week?


Bonus questions:


What team does Steve Pearce play for?


What position does he play?


And, if you consider yourself to be a good baseball fan and don't know about what Pearce accomplished or who he is, console yourself because you are not alone.  Many who had savant-like knowledge decades ago have succumbed to a few basic principles -- 1) so much is written down and available by the few clicks of a smart phone, why memorize it and 2) so much information is going through your head -- precisely because that information is available -- that you don't begin to know facts that you would have thought were foundational decades ago.  Ergo. . . why you might be drawing a blank on Steve Pearce. 


But congratulations should go to Pearce nonetheless -- what he did was quite an accomplishment.


For whatever team he plays for and at whatever position he plays.

Brief Book Review

Buy Baseball America's recently released "Hall of Fame Almanac."  Great 1-page entries for every member of the Hall of Fame. 


The book I would like to see written is a comparison of those who made the Hall of Fame to those whose stats as measured by modern metrics would not have warranted inclusion and those whose stats would have warranted inclusion.  For example, Rabbit Maranville is by no stretch a Hall of Famer, nor are the several members of the Giants and Cardinals who played in the thirties who made the Hall of Fame because their teammates were on the Veterans' Committee.  Or, to paraphrase from Baseball Prospectus, there is a Hall of Fame and a Hall of Very Good.