Posted on 18 November 2015 by WNST Staff
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Posted on 16 September 2015 by WNST Staff
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Posted on 11 February 2015 by Luke Jones
The spat between Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley and Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is just the latest example in the battle continuing to be fought across multiple sports.
The “old school” way of thinking versus statistical analysis.
Never mind that the mindsets aren’t mutually exclusive, you better choose one or the other in this fight!
Despite being a self-proclaimed baseball nerd — we’ll use that sport for our example — I’ve always maintained it’s up to the individual to decide how dedicated and in depth he or she wants to be as a fan. After all, we’re talking about sports and not matters of national security.
It’s supposed to be fun.
Embracing sabermetrics to adapt how I study the game in recent years hasn’t swayed my enjoyment in watching a perfectly-executed relay or a game-tying home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Finding new ways to educate yourself about the game isn’t a mandate — however, it should be for those who work in the game and want to remain relevant — but it’s silly to criticize simply because we may not understand or be interested.
Admittedly, statistical analysis is heavy as it can quickly start to feel like a calculus lesson instead of a baseball discussion. With many of these advanced stats — OPS-plus, FIP, UZR, and WAR just to name a few — I’ve developed a functional understanding of what they mean and how to apply them without wasting brainpower remembering how to calculate them. It’s akin to enjoying the steak without dwelling on how it’s prepared at the butcher shop.
For anyone not convinced of the value of sabermetrics — but will at least humor me — I typically present three questions:
1. Would you rather have a .300 hitter or a .260 hitter?
Many — not all — traditional fans will go with the .300 hitter, which has long been viewed as a benchmark for greatness, but how much does batting average really tell us?
In this case, the .300 hitter could also be a free swinger who doesn’t walk often and hits for very little power. In contrast, let’s pretend the .260 hitter clubbed 60 extra-base hits and walked 80 times over the course of the season. Under such a scenario, the .260 hitter is likely to be the far superior option without getting into their value on the bases or in the field.
This is why on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) is embraced while batting average is being thrown aside by many statheads as a limited piece of information. If you want to take it a step further, OPS-plus takes into account how a hitter’s home ballpark — think of a pitcher’s park in Oakland compared to a hitter’s park — impacted his performance and allows for better comparison among players across the league.
2. Do you want a pitcher with a 3.70 ERA last year or one who had a 4.00 mark?
Again, many purists will point to the hurler with the lower ERA and be right in most cases, but is it always that simple?
What about the defense he played with in comparison to the group that was behind the other pitcher? What if one was really lucky or had great misfortune over a number of starts?
Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is complicated to calculate, but it uses the outcomes a pitcher solely controls (strikeouts, walks, hit by pitch, and home runs) to produce a value on the same scale as ERA. Its intent is to eliminate factors such as defense and bloop hits in trying to assess a pitcher’s effectiveness and to help predict his future performance.
As an example, the 2014 Orioles ranked seventh in the majors in team ERA (3.44), but they ranked 24th in team FIP (3.96). It reflects just how much Orioles pitching benefited from the exceptional defense behind it — which confirms what many purists witnessed with their own eyes, mind you — and how it would likely fare with an average defense.
3. Would you prefer the shortstop who made six errors or the one who made 12 last season?
This question is a good one as baseball fans have long been prisoners to a lack of data to truly assess defense. Hypothetically, a player could stand in one spot on the field all year and not commit an error, but that would make him quite poor defensively, wouldn’t it?
Sabermetrics are ever evolving when it comes to measuring defense, but numbers such as Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) are finally accounting for how much ground a player covers in the field. The measures aren’t perfect as there is fluctuation from year to year, but we’ve taken giant leaps from the days of simply quoting the number of errors, putouts, and assists a player collects.
To answer the above question, we need to know how the first player’s range compares to the second shortstop. If the latter gets to many more balls in the hole and up the middle, it’s logical to conclude he’s likely to commit more errors, but how many more outs will he also have created in the process?
Of course, the three above questions only scratch the surface of what’s out there in baseball.
Statistical analysis is about accounting for variables and answering questions. There isn’t one fancy statistic that should be viewed as gospel — or a number to which you become a “prisoner” in Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s words — in the same way that no person’s gut feeling or eyeball test is foolproof, either. Computers and numbers don’t play the games on the field, but they can tell us more about what’s happening and what is likely to happen next.
It’s possible to appreciate the human element as well as what the numbers say. In fact, we might even find that a statistic will confirm a gut feeling or an observation.
If more statheads were willing to explain their rationale and more traditionalists were open to learning, we wouldn’t have the embarrassing exchanges like we saw this week between an NBA general manager and one of the great players in league history.
There’s a place for both statistical analysis and traditional evaluation if we’re willing to embrace both.
And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a Hall of Famer to do it.
Posted on 05 December 2014 by WNST Trips
We’re trying to get more aggressive and do even more WNST trips to Wizards games in D.C. than usual this season but can only do these trips based on demand. If you love the Wizards and the NBA and don’t like the drive before and after games, our trips have an eight-year track record of being easy, fun and affordable. We appreciate you supporting all that we’re doing to grow the hoops community in Baltimore. If you know of other NBA and Wizards fans in Baltimore, please help us spread the word and fill some buses with hoops fans.
All aboard another Jerry’s Collision Center Wizards Bus to D.C. as Washington takes on the New York Knicks at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 3, 2015. Our Gunther Motorcoach will depart from the White Marsh Mall at 4:30 p.m. with a pickup from Catonsville/UMBC I-95 Park N Ride (at Rt. 166) at 5 p.m. All tickets are upper level in the Verizon Center and include a limited supply of cold beer (for those 21-and-over) en route and snacks, soft drinks and fun videos and giveaways.
We will be able to accommodate larger groups upon request and always keep groups together.
We hope you join us for a night of hoops and fun aboard the Jerry’s Collision Center WNST Wizards Bus to D.C. Families and children are welcomed and encouraged to join us! It’s a great night out!
Your PayPal receipt is your ticket and we always throw you an email 48 hours before the game to confirm everything. All you need to do is purchase and we’ll see you at the bus. We bring the game tickets with us. Nice and easy!
If you have any questions, throw me a note: firstname.lastname@example.org
COST: $90 per person
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Posted on 18 November 2014 by WNST Staff
John Ourand joined Nestor to talk about the NBA and the Washington Wizards. With all of their young talent, they look to build off of an impressive season last year. Like the 2013-2014 season, they hope to make some noise in the Eastern Conference this year. LISTEN HERE.
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Posted on 14 August 2014 by Brandon Sacks
In case you have been living under a rock since April, you have at least been hearing some intermittent updates about what has been happening with Donald Sterling and the LA Clippers. In case you need a refresher, here’s a quick recap.
On April 26, TMZ released phone calls Sterling made on his personal phone where he said he did not want African Americans to attend his games. The general public did not like this and called for the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, to do something about it. Eventually, it was ruled that the NBA would force the sale of the team. Sterling fought this idea, obviously wanting to keep his team. Eventually, his wife made the sale to Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft. After a legal battle of his mental capacity to make the sale and be responsible for doing so, the sale was finalized today for $2 billion.
The sale of the team gets it out of the hands of someone who may not have the highest opinions of a certain racial group, which is exactly what most people wanted. Many say there is no place in sports for racists, which is something that makes sense. However, once all of the rage settles from the initial comments, everything became quiet until today’s sale. The question that seems to still be lingering is how the sale really settles anything.
Here’s a little lesson in history. In 1981, Donald Sterling purchased the San Diego Clippers for $12.5 million. In 1984, the Clippers moved to Los Angeles, and in 1999, they began playing in the Staples Center. Since moving to the Staples Center, the Clippers have become consistent contenders in the Western Conference.
That being said, something that sticks out is the amount of money he initially spent on the team. He bought the team for only $12.5 million. The team was just sold for $2 billion, or 160 times the purchasing price. If that number isn’t bothersome, maybe this one is: Sterling just made $1,987,500,000 for making racist comments.
Thats right. Sterling, who made a few racist comments and was forced to sell his team by the league as a result, just made close to $2 billion. What message is this sending to everyone? Nothing good will come from paying an alleged racist to just go away.
As the shock continues to set in, many may begin to wonder what the proper punishment should have been. The NBA filed a lawsuit against Sterling over what happened, but this is only a consequence of a poor decision from the start. It’s a shame that this series of events has occurred because this is the first thing that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will be remembered for doing. Unfortunately, the consequences of the lifetime banishment and forced sale of the team have the very real potential to tarnish the reputation of Commissioner Silver.
If there’s something to take away, just remember that people were outraged that Sterling made his racially disparaging comments, but no one has expressed any discontent for the amount of money he made after selling the team. Can people really be angry at him if they ignore this fact?
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Posted on 13 August 2014 by WNST Staff
WIZARDS ANNOUNCE 2014-15 SCHEDULE
Posted on 01 August 2014 by Nick Dorsey
Durant to DC Talks Must Settle
With LeBron James going back to his hometown team, discussions around the country have escalated regarding another NBA star heading back to his hometown in the near future. Kevin Durant, arguably the leagues best player behind James, is set to be a free agent at the end of the 2015-16 regular season and already talks have begun on the possibility of the Thunder star coming back home.
There is a legitimate shot that the 2014 NBA MVP could wind up in a Washington uniform for the start of the 2016-17 regular season, but the chatter must settle for now.
The former Longhorn standout still has two more seasons in Oklahoma City and his deal is not similar to what LeBron James had in Miami. When Durant signed a five year contract extension in 2010, his deal did not include an opt out clause after the fourth season. So unfortunately for Wizards fans, he cannot opt out after the upcoming season.
The coming back home hype for Cleveland fans was warranted after the conclusion of the 2012-13 season because there was a chance that James would opt out of his final year in Miami. The city of Cleveland remained patient for a whole season and the Akron native did what they had hoped.
Wizards’ nation is now feeling what Cavs fans did over a year ago, but it is a different situation. Washington must be patient due to the fact Durant cannot opt out of his final year and hit free agency.
As enticing as it may sound to land one of the biggest stars in the game, Wizards fans must play the waiting game. The game will not be too difficult because of the potential this team has for the upcoming season. With all the pieces added to the puzzle from the off-season, there are high expectations. So for now, Washington fans should just live in the moment because this season has a chance to be something special.
Washington Capitals Potential Forward Lines
With training camp on the horizon, everyone will await to see how new head coach Barry Trotz tinkers with the Capitals forward lines. Since Washington did not address the hole left at second line center by Mikhail Grabovski, there is uncertainty how the top six will shake up.
Trotz recently dropped hints regarding potential replacements for Grabovski, who signed a deal with the New York Islanders in free agency. The former Predator head coach mentioned the possibility that players like Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky could fill that center void.
With Brooks Laich back in the swing of things assuming he stays healthy, the top six can get tricky. Even the top nine becomes crowded with some of the younger prospects trying to climb their way into the lineup. With that being said, it is time to sort out the four forward lines and evaluate the possbilities.
1: Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin
2: Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Troy Brouwer
3: Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward
4: Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Jay Beagle
As of now, the above line up could set up to be the top four forward lines for the Washington Capitals. It is possible, but there are several different ways these lines could change and it begins at the top.
Brooks Laich has seen his time on the wing playing along side Ovi and Backstrom in his career, but he was given a contract extension years ago based on his ability to be a quality two-way center. So if Laich can stay on the ice, he could find himself filling the void at second line center.
The third line should remain in tact because that combination above was consistently the most productive line throughout the season. Ward and Chimera had career years and their chemistry on the ice would be tough to separate.
The biggest problem that arises from this current lineup is Tom Wilson playing on the fourth line. Wilson is a young promising player and it is now his time to see increased minutes. Remaining on the fourth line will not help Wilson get those minutes, so he could find his way into the top three lines.
The wildcard of all this could be last years first round selection Andre Burakovsky. The 2013 first rounder had a tremendous season for the Erie Otters in the OHL, so there is temptation to bring him up to the big league. If he shows flashes of promise in training camp, Burakovsky could find himself on the big roster.
With all that being said, here is another look at how the lineups could unfold for the upcoming season:
1. Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin
2. Tom Wilson, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer
3. Jason Chimera, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Joel Ward
4. Eric Fehr, Michael Latta, Jay Beagle
The first line does not see much change except for the swap of MoJo and Laich. This second line is assuming that Trotz hopes for Laich to hold onto the second line center position. This top six seems ideal for a couple of reasons.
Tom Wilson gets a lot more experience cracking the top six, which will be imperative for his growth. The second line has the make up of a Trotz style in which accountability is a priority. Laich is a very good two-way center while Wilson brings another dimension of physicality. Troy Brouwer got hot scoring toward the tail end of the season and this line would depend on him to continue providing points.
The third line had a minor change in dropping Fehr to the fourth line. Kuznetsov did not play a lot of center last season and with this lineup, he would get the much-needed experience at playing that role. Ward and Chimera were the constant point producers from the third line last season with the center position being interchangeable between Grabovski and Fehr. Kuzy could find his way to become the second line center if Laich re-aggravates past injuries.
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