"Lorum Ipsum"

Sports

2012 Boston Red Sox

2012  was an abominable season for the Boston Red Sox – 69 wins, the worst season since 1965 (a season in which the team lost 100 games).  That’s bad.  The 16th worst team in franchise history in winning percentage.  To put that in a little context, this is a franchise with 112 seasons of baseball in the record books – 86% of its seasons have been better.  The only other time the Sox had a worse record in a 162-game season was 1965, going 62-100.

This team gets a bit of a pass however because there have been some truly abhorrent teams in the franchise’s history – the 111-loss 1932 squad; the 107-loss 1926 team; and 105-game losers in 1906 and 1925.  And those were years in which 154-games made up a season.  Exceptionally bad teams, 1906 especially so considering two years previous they had won the American League and three years previous the World Series.

All of which said, let’s mitigate the mitigation: While over the existence of the franchise 86% of it’s seasons have been better,  its the worst season in the last 42% of its existence.  Of the 11-seasons in team history that were worse, 10 occurred in the first 50% of the teams history, from 1901-1956.  Only 2 have occurred in the second 50% of the teams history.

The first year manager of the 1965 squad, Billy Herman, got another year to manage.  The 1966 Sox managed to lose only 90-games – the same number as the 1964 team.  Despite the disappointing September of 2011, the Sox finished with a 90-72 record – a far higher perch from which to fall in one season.  Which makes the 2012 squad that much more disappointing.  Before the crash of September 2011, the Sox looked like a 100+ game winner.  First year manager Bobby Valentine was clearly not coming back for a second bite of the apple.

Going back, the closest drop of that magnitude I can see between two seasons is 1953 (84 wins) to 1954 (69 wins) and then into the 1940’s for an even worse set of contiguous season pairings – 1942 (93 wins) to 1943 (68 wins) unless you want to include the drop between 1946 (104 wins) and 1947 (83 wins).  What makes 1946 so remarkable, and what mitigates 1954 and 1943 somewhat, is that those were 154-game seasons, so the win/loss % is better for 1954 and 1943 than for 2012.

Very disappointing year indeed.

1932 43 111 0.279 64 Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1926 46 107 0.300 44½ Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1925 47 105 0.309 49½ Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1906 49 105 0.318 45½ Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1927 51 103 0.331 59 Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1930 52 102 0.337 50 Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1928 57 96 0.372 43½ Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1929 58 96 0.376 48 Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1965 62 100 0.382 40 Did not make playoffs 9th place in American League
1907 59 90 0.395 32½ Did not make playoffs 7th place in American League
1922 61 93 0.396 33 Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1923 61 91 0.401 37 Did not make playoffs Last place in American League
1931 62 90 0.407 45 Did not make playoffs 6th place in American League
1960 65 89 0.422 32 Did not make playoffs 7th place in American League
1933 63 86 0.423 34½ Did not make playoffs 7th place in American League
2012 69 93 0.426 26 Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League East
1924 67 87 0.435 25 Did not make playoffs 7th place in American League
1966 72 90 0.444 26 Did not make playoffs 9th place in American League
1964 72 90 0.444 27 Did not make playoffs 7th place in American League
1943 68 84 0.447 29 Did not make playoffs 7th place in American League
1954 69 85 0.448 42 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
1992 73 89 0.450 23 Did not make playoffs Last place in American League East
1945 71 83 0.461 17½ Did not make playoffs 7th place in American League
1994[d] 54 61 0.469 17 Playoffs cancelled. 5th place in American League East
1961 76 86 0.469 33 Did not make playoffs 6th place in American League
1920 72 81 0.470 25½ Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League
1963 76 85 0.472 28 Did not make playoffs 7th place in American League
1962 76 84 0.475 19 Did not make playoffs 8th place in American League
1997 78 84 0.481 20 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League East
1987 78 84 0.481 20 Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League East
1983 78 84 0.481 20 Did not make playoffs 6th place in American League East
1936 74 80 0.481 28½ Did not make playoffs 6th place in American League
1919 66 71 0.481 20½ Did not make playoffs 6th place in American League
1959 75 79 0.487 19 Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League
1921 75 79 0.487 23½ Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League
1908 75 79 0.487 15½ Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League
1993 80 82 0.493 15 Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League East
1952 76 78 0.493 19 Did not make playoffs 6th place in American League
1985 81 81 0.500 18½ Did not make playoffs 6th place in American League East
1944 77 77 0.500 12 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
1934 76 76 0.500 24 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
2001 82 79 0.509 13½ Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League East
1911 78 75 0.509 24 Did not make playoffs Tied for 4th place in American League
1935 78 75 0.510 16 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
1989 83 79 0.512 6 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1976 83 79 0.512 15½ Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1958 79 75 0.512 13 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League
1905 78 74 0.513 16 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
1991 84 78 0.518 7 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League East
1980 83 77 0.518 19 Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League East
1974 84 78 0.518 7 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
2000 85 77 0.524 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League East
1996 85 77 0.524 7 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1971 85 77 0.524 18 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1937 80 72 0.526 21 Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League
1913 79 71 0.526 15½ Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
1910 81 72 0.529 22½ Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
2006 86 76 0.530 11 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1984 86 76 0.530 18 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League East
1968 86 76 0.530 17 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League
1957 82 72 0.532 16 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League
1940 82 72 0.532 8 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
1981[c] 59 49 0.535 Did not make playoffs 5th place in American League East
1970 87 75 0.537 21 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1969 87 75 0.537 22 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1947 83 71 0.538 14 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League
1990 88 74 0.543  — Lost ALCS to Oakland 1st place in American League East
1956 84 70 0.545 13 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
1955 84 70 0.545 12 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
1941 84 70 0.545 17 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League
1972 85 70 0.548 ½ Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League East
2010 89 73 0.549 7 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1988 89 73 0.549  — Lost ALCS to Oakland 1st place in American League East
1982 89 73 0.549 6 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1973 89 73 0.549 8 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League East
1953 84 69 0.549 16 Did not make playoffs 4th place in American League
2011 90 72 0.556 7 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
1902 77 60 0.562 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League
1951 87 67 0.564 11 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League
1998 92 70 0.567 22 Lost ALDS to Cleveland 2nd place in American League East (Wild card)
1967 92 70 0.567 Lost World Series to St. Louis 1st place in American League
1979 91 69 0.568 11½ Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League East
2002 93 69 0.574 10½ Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League East
1999 94 68 0.580 4 Lost ALCS to New York 2nd place in American League East (Wild card)
1901 79 57 0.580 4 Did not make playoffs 2nd place, behind the Detroit Tigers
1909 88 63 0.582 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League
2009 95 67 0.586 8 Lost ALDS to Los Angeles 2nd place in American League East (Wild Card)
2008 95 67 0.586 2 Lost ALCS to Tampa Bay 2nd place in American League East (Wild Card)
2005 95 67 0.586 —[e] Lost ALDS to Chicago 2nd place in American League East (Wild card)
2003 95 67 0.586 6 Lost ALCS to New York 2nd place in American League East (Wild card)
1939 89 62 0.589 17 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League
1986 95 66 0.590  — Lost World Series to New York 1st place in American League East
1916 91 63 0.590  — Won World Series 1st place in American League
1938 88 61 0.591 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League
2007 96 66 0.592 Won World Series 1st place in American League East
1917 90 62 0.592 9 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League
1975 95 65 0.593  — Lost World Series to Cincinnati 1st place in American League East
1914 91 62 0.594 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League
1918 75 51 0.595  — Won World Series 1st place in American League
1995 86 58 0.597  — Lost ALDS to Cleveland 1st place in American League East
1977 97 64 0.602 Did not make playoffs Tied for 2nd place in American League East
2004 98 64 0.605 3 Won World Series 2nd place in American League East (Wild card)
1978 99 64 0.607 1 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League East
1950 94 60 0.610 4 Did not make playoffs 3rd place in American League
1942 93 59 0.611 9 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League
1904 95 59 0.616  — World Series canceled[b] 1st place in American League
1948 96 59 0.619 1 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League
1949 96 58 0.623 1 Did not make playoffs 2nd place in American League
1903 91 47 0.659  — Won World Series 1st place in American League
1915 101 50 0.668  — Won World Series 1st place in American League
1946 104 50 0.675  — Lost in World Series to St. Louis 1st place in American League
1912 105 47 0.690  — Won World Series 1st place in American League

The Intuition of Batting Average

One of the most intuitive aspects of the game of baseball is the concept of ‘Batting Average.’ It’s as simple and intuitive as the game itself: Number of Hits divided by the number of At-Bats. It’s a serviceable construct of measuring a batters’ hitting prowess.

One of the curious things about “batting average” is that while it’s quite possibly the most intuitive measurement in the game of baseball, and hence it was one of the first measurements of the game, it wasn’t created until baseball had been organized for almost two decades.

Harry Chadwick, a Britton who found himself enamored by early baseball in the 1850′s while he was covering cricket as a journalist.# Chadwick came to develop the first baseball box score and edited theThe Beadle Baseball Player the first baseball guide for public consumption.# He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1938 by the veteran’s committee.

Growing up in the late 20th Century, batting average has always been that hits/at-bats ratio and has always been reported to the thousandths decimal place. It feels so completely intuitive and so perfect for the game. However, as intuitive as it may be, it relies on two other statistics which had to be developed first – “hits” and “at-bats.” The elemental nature of these statistics reveal how far the game has come, and how non-intuitive the measurements of the game are.

When the Batting Average was formally adopted in 1876, it took the form of the statistic we know today, however prior to being formally adopted, it was actually a measurement of the number of hits per game. Of course the definition of these elemental statistics have changed and have therefore influenced the measurement of a batting average: for instance, for a year in the late 1800′s, bases-on-balls were counted as hits and plate appearances, which had the effect of driving up batting averages for that year – many up near .500 – and it was discontinued for the following season.# Increase the number of hits to plate appearances using a 1:1 ratio and you’re going to increase batting average, even though it does not reflect the batter’s skill at hitting. The idea, however, was to measure what was going on at plate appearances. Of course, at the time, it took 5-balls to receive a base-on-balls and 4-strikes to strike out.#

Consider the work involved in building the game we know today, a game that is ever more statistically oriented – particularly with the advent of ever faster computers – and it just doesn’t seem as intuitive. The builders of baseball didn’t know what they should be measuring, but they knew the game could be quantified. That’s the intuitive part of the game – it can be quantified, but figuring out how or what to measure is the difficult part.

References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Chadwick_(writer) retrieved on 10/10/2010

http://www.ulib.niu.edu/badndp/chadwick_henry.html retrieved on 10/10/2010

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batting_average retrieved 10/10/2010

http://everything2.com/title/Evolution+of+pitching+rules retrieved 10/10/2010

http://www.cosmicbaseball.com/bstats17.html retrieved 10/10/2010


Why History Matters in Sport

In an age where “epic” has come to mean something quite clearly less than its formal definition – it now means a fantastic night out as opposed to a civilization defining moment – indicating a societal disconnect with the past, our professional sports constantly remind us of their respective histories and where the current day matches up. We look to ritual and history to compare our place in the world and to provide reassurance of lasting importance.

Lord Stanley’s Cup is the oldest trophy in North American sport, dating back to 1892, predating even the current National Hockey League (NHL) the league which awards it to its champion. The NHL markets it’s “Original Six” as the foundation of the league that today numbers 30 teams, in such far flung locations as Anaheim, California and Charlotte, North Carolina. The National Football League ensures we know just how many Super Bowls have been played by adding Roman numeral nomenclature to each game. The crests of MLB’s National League prominently displays the year “1876″ as a reminder of its founding.

It becomes a means by which each game reassures us that they have a foundation and creates an expectation of its continued existence. The period of time to which the “Original Six” refers was a time of stability in the NHL, the longest period of stability in the league’s existence. No team folded, relocated, changed its name. With the expansion of the league in 1967, the landscape of the game changed ‘” the league doubled in size ‘” and by the early 1970s, some of those expansion teams began to move and financially struggle. There was a need to reassure the fan base that these transitions did not threaten the game. Note the NHL does not promote the actual age of the Stanley Cup ‘” far older than any of the “Original Six” teams – but promotes the league and the game through referencing the history of the franchises.

The Super Bowl did not begin to bear nomenclature until the third game, with the previous games retroactively numbered. The game itself was a championship between two rival leagues and it was not until a merger was planned that the number of these games would be significant – this was a game that would remain, so become invested in it. To this day, the Super Bowl represents the National Football League, a league with a history of team movement, bankruptcy, and failed franchises with little by way of stability. The “big game” is the history upon which the NFL predominantly relies although it protects its history where that history is important: When the Cleveland Browns pulled up stakes to move to Baltimore, the city kept the name “Browns” for a future incarnation of the team; Thanksgiving Day games are still played in Detroit and Dallas every year because that is where they have always been played, regardless of how good or bad either the Lions or Cowboys are. The Detroit Thanksgiving Day game reaches back to the founding of the league, demonstrating the importance of ritual and history.

Professional baseball in the United States needs little overt reference to history ‘” until the league expanded in the 1960′s, the two leagues remained stable over 60 years. There was no question the time honored game would remain. There is no overt reference to the number of World Series that have been played ‘” it’s always been a part of the American landscape. Almost to the point where the games history and ritual becomes a hindrance to modernization ‘” when the league announced a plan to include advertising for a Spider-Man movie on the bases in 2004, a controversy erupted. Nothing had ever been displayed on the bases themselves. The game itself is steeped in history.

We compare records, review historic trends, and measure our current players and teams against those which have come before. It doesn’t matter that two of the “Original Six” have won the Stanley Cup only once since 1993. What matters is that the framework and context is set such that we can refer to that history and to hold onto it. It matters that we can look back at the New England Patriots chasing a “perfect season” and compare their run to that of the 1972 Miami Dolphins. It matters that when we hunker down in mid-winter to watch the “Big Game” that there have been some 40-odd contests which have come before, because we know we’ll be right back here next year at about the same time.


Longest Names in Sport

According to the Social Security Administration, over the last 100-some odd years, the average first name has been 6-letters long. The top 500-websites have URL’s (the domain name) averaging 6-characters. 6, it would seem, is the magnetic north of what we consider the optimal length of name (although the average domain is 11-characters). So what is the average length of last name? Interestingly enough, despite having Social Security information since the 1930′s, an explosion of data captured from IT departments from registered users, and the hyperactive data collection of our search engines, there does not seem to be any official statistics on the US average of last name length.

According to a website that specializes in such information, the longest personal full name ever used “Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff,” which tops out at some 746-letters. It seems Mr. “Wolfe+585″ was most notable for having had that name.

Sport is really my interest, not onomastics, and so after watching Clay Buccholz of the Boston Red Sox pitch to his catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and deciding that was likely one of the longest pairing of names between pitcher/catcher batteries, the question had to be asked — “What are the longest names in sport?”

“Salty,” as he is called, and William Van Landingham, former pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, share the record for the longest names in Major League Baseball (NHL) history at 20-characters. Imagine a battery of Van Landingham and Saltalamacchia. In addition to the length of his full name, Van Landingham also has the distinction of being one half of the longest pairing of combined names of two starting pitchers in history with his opponent on May 29, 1996 Jason Isringhausen. Note Saltalamacchia’s first name is 6-letters: dead average. As an aside, the shortest name in MLB history is Ed Ott of the Pittsburgh Pirates and California Angels. Ott’s name is not a shortened form of “Edward,’ his given name is actually “Ed.’

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond of the New Jersey Devils holds the record for the longest name in the history of the National Hockey League (NHL) with 26-characters, also likely holding the record for the number of hyphens in one name as well. The National Football League’s (NFL) record holder also has 26-characters, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie of the Arizona Cardinals.

By far, the longest name belonging to a professional athlete is 49-characters. Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo. The giant from the Congo is 7’2″ and when last he played National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball, he was also the oldest player at the time as well as the holder of the longest name. When one wonders if his name-length record will be broken, the answer is as clear as the pronouncement of the Denver Nuggets public address system – “Not in the house of Mutombo.” In other words, not very likely anytime soon.

Reference Material:

As of this publishing, there’s no answer for the question of average last name length on Quora:http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-average-length-of-last-names-in-the-United-States

Baby Names Length Stats: http://www.mymonthlycycles.com/babynamesl.jsp

Domain URL Length stats: http://media-monopoly.blogspot.com/2008/08/domain-name-length-of-top-500-websites.html and http://www.searchengineknowledge.com/domains/length.php

Wikipedia Family Name: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_name

Longest full name http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfe%2B585,_Senior andhttp://thelongestlistofthelongeststuffatthelongestdomainnameatlonglast.com/long42.html


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