Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sports-Chat Silliness

Bill Simmons had the following exchange in a chat yesterday:
Dave (Vacnouver, BC)

OK, Explain to me how people still feel judging a QB by wins and losses is valid after most knowledgeable observers have agreed that we shouldn't use W's and L's for baseball pitchers? QB's are just as dependent on the rest of the team as pitchers, or am I missing something?
Bill Simmons (3:42 PM)

Totally fair point. I'm more interested in the "how many times did you lose as a favorite and win as an underdog" portion of that record. A great QB should take care of business with a better team, especially at home as a big favorite. For Brady, SB 42 + last Sunday are big-ass blemishes on his resume. Same for Manning losing 7 playoff games in which his team was favored.
This is odd (and perhaps a measure of how seeing sports through the prism of gambling can distort your perception of performance). His response totally ignores the point of the question: a quarterback is only one member of a large team and is on the field only half the time, and therefore has a limited impact on the outcome of the game. A team is capable of losing a game in which the QB plays quite well, regardless of whether the team is favored or not. Vegas' bad judgment on a team's defense ahead of time shouldn't have any bearing on how the game impacts a QB's reputation.

The question aside, what an weird way to evaluate quarterbacks. Not that it's a worthless detail, but, in determining whether or not the game is a blemish on a QB's record, who was favored seems more like an afterthought than a vital piece of the puzzle (the vital and obvious piece being, Did the QB play well?). By Simmons' logic, Brett Favre deserves to be dinged for Super Bowl 33 (three TDs, one pick, 256 yards) more than Drew Bledsoe the year before (two TDs, four picks, 253 yards) because Favre was an 11-point favorite against the Broncos in 1998 while Bledsoe was a 14-point dog in 1997.

In other news, I'd forgotten how ridiculous Brady's MVP against the Rams was. The Greatest Show on Turf gets held to 17 points, Ty Law returns an interception for a touchdown, the first 15 minutes of that game are just a parade of huge hits by the Pats' secondary that scare the Rams O into a shell, but Brady's 16-27 for 145 yards and a single TD takes the trophy.


jd said...

Good post. Simmons has been on a kick all season about a quarterback's worth residing in "character" and "will" and other intangibles that lead to victory. It reminds me of the neocon guide to defeating insurgencies. Not that it's all wrong - quarterback leadership really is important for an offense - but it is a bit weird to see from a guy who has largely accepted statistical analysis in the two sports he seems to know more about, basketball and baseball. We've been over this before, but all the discussion during the last few weeks has served to remind that Simmons really isn't very perceptive about football.

Who you rooting for in the Super Bowl? This Stiller fan is pretty much resigned to the Packers as the fan fave, although I welcome Vikings and Bears fans into temporary allegiance.

jd said...

PS Oh how I do love this:

Viva El Big Ben!

pc said...

Yeah and he referred to himself as among the top 1 percent of football diehards in the same chat. That's kind of a weird thing to brag about; obviously, if you are paid to write about sports, and you have access to lots of pros, you can dedicate a lot more of your life to it than the average person. So you have a cooler job than me and know more about football--goodie for you. But odd also because for all his die hard-ism, he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about a lot.

I don't have really strong feelings this year, but I'm leaning Packers. I'm mostly just happy the Pats lost. I like Tomlin, but Big Ben is a hard guy to root for. Although I think if Rogers wins and gets anointed Joe Montana Jr., we'll be sick of him very soon too.

jd said...

All true. I would just note, however, that those who claim they're rooting for the Pack due to Ben's monstrous nature might want to recall this past off-season.. Not a repeated pattern like No. 7, but not boys-being-boys either. Also, I lived in Wisconsin in the late '90s and don't recall that Packer fans were exactly eager to disown Mark Chmura after his momentary indiscretion.

pc said...

Hey you got spammed, not sure why...yeah that's a shady story. You can't hold it against steeler fans for supporting the squad despite number 7, I mean every team has at least one total shadeball who's done something awful. Probably more like twelve, actually. Sanchez had that accusation at USC. Though Roethlesburger's charges were more clear-cut than normal. Anyway, it's kinda silly to make it about that, in retrospect. I'll root for the Packers so that the Steelers don't win for a third time in seven years, then. Go parity!!