Posts Tagged ‘the Big 3’

In Quasi Defense Of LeBron James

Is choosing teammates worse than inheriting them?

I don’t want to be put in the position of defending LeBron James. As I’ve said, I’m not happy about his decision—it’s basically a sports tragedy. So while I generally agree with those criticizing him, I can’t help but notice some unfair attacks.

Most of these deal with claims about LeBron’s personality. Fans have a tendency to do this a lot: They project personality traits and character flaws onto athletes based on no real knowledge of the players as individuals. If a player strikes out in a key situation, he must be unable to handle pressure. If a basketball player misses the open man, he must be a selfish person. If a football player happens to be the quarterback of a team that loses, he must not be a motivated individual. In a few instances, there is some merit to this—sports would not be nearly as special if it didn’t give us insights into the human psyche.

Far more often, though, it is utter schlock. Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while taking our talents to South Beach…

Is Billy Beane a Good GM?

Up until recently, the answer to this question would be quick: “Well, obviously.” The more relevant question had always been, “Is Billy Beane baseball’s best GM?”

Billy Beane runs the Oakland Athletics, a team in a small market with a low payroll (26th out of 30 in 2009), yet he managed to assemble a consistent contender, as the A’s made the playoffs four years running (2000-2003) and the ALCS in 2006. In that time, Beane became a mini-celebrity, thanks to being the subject of Michael Lewis’ 2003 best-seller Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The book was so successful that a movie adaptation was slated to be made by Steven Soderbergh, with Brad Pitt playing Beane.

Recently, however, Beane’s reputation has started to suffer. The A’s have had two consecutive losing seasons since being swept in the ’06 ALCS, and in 2009 are on pace to have their worst season since Beane took over in 1998.

Now, it should be stated right away that this is not a polemical, anti-Moneyball tirade. The book, which detailed Beane’s use of so-called “sabermetrics” to identify undervalued players, garnered a lot of knee-jerk reaction and criticism, since Beane was seen as bucking tradition (which he was). Continue reading