Rick's List — No More Sports Stats Edition
Because we have the technology to compile and categorize them, and because there are people with nothing better to do than to explore the possibilities thereof, we now are privy to more sports statistics than necessary.
Yes, like most sports enthusiasts, I am a fan of the "yardstick assessment" by which we measure achievement in athletics. Henry Aaron hit 755 homers! Jack Nicklaus has won 18 majors! Michael Phelps won 28 Olympic medals!
These are the sort of statistics we can all enjoy without eating aspirin.
But things have gotten a bit out-there in terms of the arcane minutiae now tabulated. If Einstein came up with E = mc2 today, an on-air commentator would glibly say, "And you know, Donny, Einstein is just one-for-seven lifetime when it comes to shaking the foundations of physics on three-days rest."
I say this in full awareness that the assimilation and application of refined statistics probably help teams and athletes improve their performances. But beyond that, whether on sports-talk radio or ESPN panels or as "helpful" info during game broadcasts, I don't want any more evolution in sports statistics.
I know, I know: This sort of crusty atavism would surely cause derisive hoots from the Algorithmic Brujos at an outfit like Next Generation Stats — an outfit that seems to work for the National Football League, tabulating figures on some truly weird topics — or at StatCast Baseball, a think tank that similary accrues arcana for the Big Leagues.
From the former, just one of their numerous "forward passing" statistics is called "Aggressiveness" and "tracks the amount of passing attempts a quarterback makes into tight coverage, where there is a defender within 1 yard or less of the receiver at the time of completion or incompletion." The latter? They calculate stuff like "exit velocity" and "launch angle" for batted balls.
Well, I'd like to introduce RickStats, which provides data for announcers that will make it more fun for any listener who doesn't have a PhD in calculus. Using RickStats, an announcer might share:
1. "Max, the number of times Johnson has completed third-down passes changes dramatically depending on whether he's throwing with his arm or his foot."
2. "Quinn, according to RickStats, almost 72 percent of the relief pitchers in the American League have tattooed images of one or more of the Transcendentalists on their backsides."
3. "Chuck, this Falcons defense is tough in the Red Zone, particularly when armed with the shivs they made in prison."
4. "That's it, Joe! By stitching that Batesville Caskets patch onto the sleeve of his golf shirt, young Hunter Talcott has just shattered the PGA record for number of sponsor patches on one piece of clothing or equipment!
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