Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tim McCarver Does Research

Long before this site existed, Tim (my co-authoer, not McCarver) and I used to email back and forth about our favorite dumb comment of the week... usually, it was made by Joe Morgan. But it could also be made by guys like Billy Packer, Al McGuire, Jerry Glanville... and a litany of others, like Tim McCarver.

One of my absolute favorite sites to check out every day is Fire Joe Morgan, which is easily one of the funniest sites I've ever found. They take terrible sportswriting and broadcasting to task and they do it with logic and facts. (Unlike us, who just bash people because we don't like them.)

Well, last night in the Red Sox-Indians game, McCarver was blathering on during the Indians big fifth inning -- an inning that was started by a Casey Blake home run -- about "big innings" and how they start. He said, and this is as direct as I can do:

"You would think that a leadoff walk would lead to more big innings than a leadoff home run. But we've done the research and it turns out that more big innings have come from leadoff home runs than leadoff walks."

Wait, what? I was watching the game with my wife and parents and I asked them if they heard it. They did and they were equally befuddled. How, Tim, can you possibly think that "you would think" that walks would be akin to home runs in any way? Just because people talk about how bad leadoff walks are doesn't make them more dangerous than home runs. A home run is the best possible outcome in an at-bat. A leadoff home run means the leadoff guy scored a run all by himself. A walk simply means there's one guy on base and zero runs have scored.

It all sounded so familiar to me, so I went to FJM, searched on McCarver and, sure enough, Tim has put this pearl of wisdom out there before. And FJM desconstructed it brilliantly:

"In my mind, conventional thinking on this subject goes like this: if the first hitter in the inning scores one run all by himself, it's more likely that his team will score two+ runs that inning than if he does not. Because in that situation, in order to achieve a multiple-run inning, the team has only to score one additional run. Instead of two runs. See how that works?"

Why, oh why, do people like Tim McCarver continue to draw a paycheck? And how much must Joe Buck just grind his teeth when he has to listen to Hayseed McCarver make comments like these?

9 comments:

boilerdowd said...

funny stuff...

Ryan said...

Admittedly, I don't generally have a problem with Tim McCarver, because I have so much overwhelming hate for Joe Buck that I hardly notice he's there.

J Money said...

See, and I don't understand why people hate Joe Buck. He's one of the few play-by-play guys I think is very good.

Brj said...

The conventional wisdom is that the solo HR is a rally killer, that to get a really BIG inning you need is baserunners.

I don't have a subscription to Stats, Inc. so it's hard to validate or dispute his research. It depends, I think, on what your definition of a "Big Inning" is.

Ryan said...

Buck certainly has the voice and knowledge of a good play by play guy, but he infuses way too much personal bias in his commentary.

nick said...

brj- He was reffering multiple run innings.

boilerdowd said...

I think there's a simple equation that might help out:

1 Walk= Baserunner
1 HR= Run

J Money said...

www.firejoemorgan.com has some interesting statistical info up about this.... and the more you read it, the more you realize that it's POSSIBLE McCarver had a point. However, that assumes he was thinking in a very deep statistical way that I'm not sure he's capable of.

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