Weighing the Parity of the MLB vs. NBA

dm_170501_mlb_fantasy_miguel_sano_twins_3bWith the baseball season roughly a third of the way through, it’s a good time to stop and appreciate how beautifully unpredictable the sport of baseball is.  So many teams are performing better than expected, and worse than expected.  The Twins and Brewers are in first, while the Royals and Pirates lie in last.  Aaron Hicks and Ryan Zimmerman are having great years, while Rougned Odor and Andrew McCutchen struggle to get going.  The league year in and year out features surprise performances (and disappointments) that keep the league entertaining and filled with uncertainty.  Uncertainty that makes it nearly impossible to anticipate who the World Series champion will be.

The NBA, meanwhile, is about to enter the third straight final featuring the Cavaliers and Warriors.  The last seven finals have featured a LeBron James team and have seen only four different winners.  Four different winners doesn’t seem too bad, but when it becomes so easy to predict who is going to be in the finals, it makes the entire season feel boring and pointless.  Take this year for example, since preseason, everyone knew it was going to be Warriors vs. Cavaliers.Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks - Game One  Hardly anyone predicted otherwise.  Now I love a good LePerformance from LeKing in Lefinals as much as the next guy, but I do miss the mystery of it all like you get with baseball.  I felt like it wasn’t even necessary to watch any of the playoffs (still did) because I knew what the outcomes were going to be.  The only real interesting series was the Boston vs. Washington one.  I know it’s not possible, but if every series was like that one, then I would find the playoffs to be much more fulfilling.  It just sucks for the great players out there whose ceiling is losing either to LeBron or Curry.  So many great players miss out on a chance at a ring because of these two great talents and their phenomenal teams.  Yet so many people argue that a player isn’t elite if they don’t have any rings, like the way Shaq does towards Barkley.  But Barkley had to go up against some insane teams like the Pistons and the Bulls, so can you really blame him for not having any?  

Basketball is filled with dynasties and when one dies another one just rises in it’s place.   And with the way things are shaping up in recent years, it doesn’t seem like anything is going to really change.  The Warriors and Cavaliers just keep building their rosters with no other team really looking to stand in their ways.  Even if a team was able to put together a roster to take down the Warriors or Cavs, they would just take the place of the giant they conquered.  There seems to be no stopping dynasties and while I don’t mind seeing great teams, I wish there was a bit more competition against them.

Baseball, on the other hand, has been a bit more balanced.  Yes, we’ve seen the Giants win three in the past six years, but they had even year voodoo working with them that wasn’t broken until last year (Thanks Cubs).  And yes, the Yankees have won 27 in their mlb_a_yankeeswin2_576history, but they’ve been around for over a hundred years, and in recent years, the playing field has been very equal, seeing them win only two since 2000.  Different teams have made appearances in the playoffs and the World Series.  MLB playoffs in the recent years have proved to be a lot more exciting and unpredictable than the NBA’s.  Every team is beatable.  There are no juggernauts going into the playoffs that everyone knows is going to go all the way.  And like we saw with the Kansas City Royals in 2014, underdog teams are capable of making runs all the way to the championship.  But does baseball actually have more parity than the NBA?mlb_g_royals-celebration01jr_668x376

First, let’s look at the playoff lineups since the 2010.  The NBA has featured 28 different teams (Sorry Sacramento and Minnesota) and the MLB has featured 25.  But the MLB hasn’t had their 2017 playoffs yet, while the NBA has.  Also, the NBA has 16 teams make the playoffs each year, while the MLB has 10.  The NBA finals has featured eight different teams with six different champions, while the World Series has featured nine different teams with five different champions.  From the looks of these stats, it appears that they’re relatively even.  So why is this a discussion?

It is a discussion because I do not believe that the stats tell the entire story.  I’ve never been a big fan of statistics.  I do look at them and take them into account, but I do not dive as deeply into them as others.  I believe there are certain aspects of life and sports that stats cannot explain.  When it comes to the MLB and NBA playoffs, it simply feels like there is more competition in the MLB playoffs.  There is more uncertainty due to the nature of baseball.  There is room for more upsets because the game always comes down to a one on one situation; the pitcher vs. the batter.  If one makes a mistake, the other can prevail.  There’s nine players out there as opposed to five in basketball.  Due to this, one player in basketball is able to have a larger effect on the game, like LeBron James, who has proven that time and time again.  In baseball, one player can only affect the game so much.  A baseball team needs to be all-around solid in order to see success, while in many cases, an NBA team can ride on one or two great players.  The NBA and MLB are different breeds, so maybe it is only logical that baseball seems to have more parity than basketball.  

Overall I think the NBA has a relatively decent amount of parity, but it just appears to not.  Perhaps basketball is simply more predictable than baseball because in most situations, the best team will win unlike in baseball, which sees a larger number of upsets.  Is this a bad thing?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I personally enjoy unpredictability in sports, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying this LeDynasty.  I suppose basketball is setup to have dynasties, it appears to be only natural.  I am worried, however, on the future of the game.  In the past, NBA dynasties were birthed, while these days the NBA appears to be headed in a direction where dynasties are created.25warriors-web-master768  The Warriors and Cavaliers are fortifying their teams and are going to hold this league hostage for years.  It would be nice to enter a season for once without knowing who is going to be in the finals, but I suppose that is not going to happen for a few years at least.  At least basketball dynasties aren’t as bad as they are in football (Looking at you Tom Brady) but I do wish basketball was more like baseball and had more mystery and uncertainty, but I am not sure what it would take to stop the formation of super teams.  Would eliminating the salary cap do it?  Or would that only make matters worse?  Who knows.  And who knows if any change will come, but for now I’ll just enjoy the LeDynasty and the Warriors battle it out in the coming week.

Yankee Ticket Troubles

enhancements-1_990x624_home-platecThis past week, the New York Yankees, despite being a first place team with great success so far this year, announced that they were having trouble selling tickets this year.  They claimed that they were unsure as to why exactly this was, but alluded to it being due to a lack of interest from the younger generations.  The Yankees wish to find a way to reach that market and appeal to them. In what seemed to be an attempt to do so, they introduced the “Judge’s Chambers” a place where a small group of fans are selected to sit in the designated area named after rookie outfielder, Aaron Judge.  This was supposed to be fun little thing to help get the young fans more interested in the game.  As a young whippersnapper myself, I know exactly what the reasoning is for the lack of interest in Yankee games, not only for the younger generation, but fans of all ages, and it’s not the lack of fun gimmicks like the Judge’s Chambers.  Instead, the answer is much simpler than that:  Make the game cheaper.

The Yankees have always been known as a very prestigious and high-end organization, but as of late, it has become absolutely insane.  The Yankees are pricing out their fans and making it nearly impossible for the everyday fans to go to the games.  The game is now only affordable for those who wish to make an event out of it and not simply go to watch the team play.  Going to Yankee Stadium is almost a status symbol to show how rich you are at this point.  Me, being the poor college student I am, watch my games from my little laptop screen and when they show the fans in the front rows, I hardly see any of them paying attention.  They’re usually on their phones not even paying attention to what’s going on.  They’re there for show, rather than the Yankees.  Those are not the people you want in the front rows.  You want your passionate fans up there who are actually going to enjoy the game in front of them.  But at Yankee Stadium, that’s not going to happen.  

Now tickets like that in the front rows are expensive no matter what ballpark you go to, but it is exponentially higher in Yankee Stadium.  Now I know that Yankee Stadium does offer cheaper tickets for those who cannot afford the floor seats, but those tickets still start at around $20, depending on who’s in town, and even then it still puts you in the upper decks in the way back.  To compare that to other stadiums, I remember my dad, brother, and I went to Cleveland to see two games a few summers ago and we got three tickets for about $30 each and that put us only 13 rows away from the field.  If you want fans to go to games, make tickets that affordable and maybe they’ll show up.  

Sadly, however, it is not just the ticket prices that are the problem, it is everything about the trip that is expensive as well.  Even if you do purchase a (relatively) cheap ticket at Yankee stadium, your bill could start at upwards of $50 before you even step through the gates.  Parking for Yankee Stadium is an absolute killer, sometimes being up in the $40 range.  poughkeepsie_train_stationNow if you’re like me, a college student at New Paltz, there’s no way in hell you’re driving into the city, so you just drive over to the train station in Poughkeepsie and take the train into New York and avoid the parking fees.  But that train round trip is just about equivalent to the parking fees, so there’s really no difference in pricing there.

So you finally get inside, you’re having a good time, but at some point you’re gonna have to eat.  It’s just tradition.  If you don’t get a beer and a hot dog when you’re at the stadium then what the hell are you doing?  You don’t belong there.  So you get in line, get your food and drink, and all you bought was a beer and a hot dog, yet you’re looking at a bill over $20.  That’s just absolute robbery.  I can go to my local pizza place and buy a pitcher of beer for $4.  There’s no reason to make your prices that outlandish.  I’m sure you make enough money as it is.54f93018536f8_-_yankees-nathans-hot-dog-6sfqac-xl

These next grievances are a bit off topic due to the fact that they have nothing to do with money, but they still have to do with getting people interested in going to the games.  I just wanted to address it while I’m on the subject because I don’t know when else I would be able to.  Yankee Stadium has the reputation of being sticklers when it comes to rules and such.  When at Yankee Stadium, it is nearly impossible to stop and stand anywhere.  Even if you stop for a few moments, a security guard is bound to come up to you and tell you to keep moving. It’s a good policy for keeping foot traffic moving, but it takes away the ability to stop and take in the stadium.  Sometimes I just want to enjoy a view of the stadium from a location different from my seat, but that is just simply impossible at Yankee Stadium.  At other stadiums there is plenty of room to stop and look on, but not at Yankee Stadium.  

Another rule they have at Yankee Stadium is they do not allow people to move down.  I understand this if people are taking people’s seats, but for the most part, they’re not.  And if they are, the people whose seats they are simply show them their tickets, and the people will move.  Problem solved.  I do not understand letting people enjoy seats that aren’t being used.  Not only will it please the fans, but it will also make the stadium appear fuller, thus influencing people to come out to more games, seeing it as a hot commodity, and will also bring more advertisers in because they notice that more people will be able to see their ads.  No one loses by letting people move up.  Even if they still don’t want people to move up right away due to monetary reasons, they could at least allow it after say the 5th inning or so, that way people don’t take advantage of seats that they did not pay for.

Everything that has to do with going to a Yankee game is expensive.  There is simply no way to avoid the high prices of the game, making it very difficult for your everyday fan to go to a game.  The only aspect of the game that I give them a pass for is the price of souvenirs because those prices are fairly consistent throughout all Major League stadiums.  When you pair the pricey, well, everything, of Yankee Stadium with the strict rules, the entire event seems unappealing to your everyday fans.  Turning off your everyday fans from going to the games is the biggest mistake you could make when it comes to business.  Everyday fans are the heart and soul of your business, you cannot upset them.  Sadly the Yankees have appeared to do this with their expensive tickets and such.  This has led those fans, like myself, to look to other stadiums to attend games at, or simply not go at all.  If the Yankees are to get the fans back into the stands, they need to make it more affordable for them.prog_top

The LeBron vs. MJ Argument and Why it Should End (Or At Least Put Off)

Whether it’s with your friends at your school or your co workers around the water cooler, at one point in time you’ve found yourself involved in an argument about who’s the greatest; Michael Jordan or LeBron James.  Hell, I found myself arguing with a 6-year-old girl I met at a Chuck-E-Cheese about it.  And with each of these arguments comes anger, stubbornness, and someone thrown into the ball pit at Chuck-E-Cheese (I’m embarrassed to say who in my case).  This argument about who is better has happened for years now, with people flinging stats left and right trying to gain leverage in the debate.  Now I’m not here to discuss who I think is better, I am here instead to explain why this entire debate is unfair, pointless, and time to be put to rest.

LeBron James and Michael Jordan are two of the most elite athletes in the history of sports and have dominated their eras of basketball since their respected entries into the league.  Michael Jordan’s career spanned 15 years, saw six rings, and brought basketball to the level of popularity we all know it as today.  LeBron James is in his 14th season and has seen three rings, and has brought constant talk as to if he is better than Michael Jordan.  Now, admittedly, I have engaged in said arguments, but all in all, I believe that it is silly and premature to have these arguments and I will explain why.

When it comes to the content of these arguments, the main focus is on the playoff performances of both players.  Many people tend to look at their number of rings and say that Jordan has three more championships than Lebron, so he is automatically better.  If that was the case, however, then by that logic, Robert 451682-chicago-bulls-guard-michael-jordan-holds-the-nba-championship-trophy-aHorry, Frank Ramsey, Jim Loscutoff, John Havlicek, Satch Sanders, K.C. Jones, Tom Heinsohn, Sam Jones, and Bill Russell are all better than Michael Jordan (Note: Arguments can be made for the latter).  So how is that a fair comparison?  I’ll tell you how; it’s not.  While championships may be an important sign of success and dominance, they do not always accurately represent the player.  Take Charles Barkley, for example.  Charles Barkley is arguably one of the best power forwards of all-time, yet he doesn’t have a ring.  Meanwhile, Larry Siegfried, a career 10.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 3.5 apg player, has five.  So is Larry Siegfried better than Charles Barkley?  Hell no.  God no.  So how is it fair to judge Jordan and LeBron the same way?c03-barkley-before-13-4_3

Another argument that comes into play is the fact that this is a different era of basketball.  A more competitive era of basketball.  An era filled with better athletes and better competition.  LeBron plays amongst players that are simply physically bigger and better than anything that Michael Jordan played against.  Biologically and historically, athletes are going to be better as time goes on.  The players develop alongside the game.  Now while I agree with this, I feel it is more important to look at the player within the era and what he accomplished.  Look at it this way: Babe Ruth is considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, but if you were to put him in the modern-day, where the average starting pitcher throws 95 mph consistently and the breaking balls are even nastier, he wouldn’t be nearly as good, yet I still consider him one of the greatest to play because of what he did during his era.  Tying it back into this debate, you need to take into account some of the teams that Michael Jordan and company went up against.  Michael Jordan had to go up against teams like the ‘86 Celtics, led by Larry Bird, and the Bad Boys Pistons team lead by Isiah Thomas.  LeBron played some tough teams, but for the most part, nothing like what Jordan played against (see 2011 Mavs).  In order to just reach the finals, Michael Jordan had to go through some of the toughest teams.  Many point out that Jordan had been eliminated multiple times in the first round of the playoffs while LeBron has not, yet they fail to realize that Jordan was going up against some tough teams, no matter what era you’re looking at.  Twice he and his Bulls got swept by Larry Bird’s Celtics, arguably one of the best teams in history.  Jordan played against some of the greatest talents in NBA history, but so has LeBron.  Jordan went up against guys like Bird, Thomas, and Barkley.  LeBron went up against guys like Garnett, Pierce, and Allen.  “But Zach, those last three guys were all on the same team.”  Yeah, well I just wanted to stick with the rule of three.  Can’t list those three without the other.  “Zach it just sounds like your list of talent for LeBron is inferior in comparison to yours for Jordan.”  Alright fine, want me to list some more?  Gilbert Arenas, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh (Yes he had to face them before he joined them) Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, Ben and Rasheed Wallace (Damn good 2006 team) Derrick Rose, Paul George, John Wall, Isaiah Thomas, Demar Derozan, I could go on.  Just like I could with Michael Jordan.  Talent is simply timeless.

Along the lines of talent, it matters who you’re supported by. Although one player can make more of an impact in basketball, who your teammates are matters.  During his career, Jordan had a pretty nice group of guys to work with.  Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Horace Grant, and countless other great role players.  LeBron in his early career was sent out there with a lineup that featured Anderson Varejao at center…Jokes aside, he was a good defender at his peak, but the point is LeBron in early parts of his career was equipped with jack shit compared to the supporting cast that Jordan had.  That is partially why LeBron left to go to Miami, which brings me to my counter argument to this point.  LeBron eventually did have a good supporting group.  His big 3 in Miami was insane and featured some great role players that really contributed when it mattered most (See Ray Allen Gm. 6 3-pointer vs. Spurs).  And then when LeBron came back to Cleveland, he was once again well-equipped, besides 2015 when the team was riddled with injuries.  Having Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on your side is a big boost for LeBron.Kevin-Love-Kyrie-Irving-Champs-Cover

Now we have come to the end of this little ol’ random of mine, so I am going to end it with some closing notes on this whole debate, maybe explain myself a bit better and tie up some loose ends.  It isn’t right to compare these two players, or at least not at the moment.  Let LeBron play and finish his career, then we can all take a step back and look at what the two of them have accomplished.  But until then, let LeBron play.  And I know that I have come across as a LeBron supporter throughout all of this.  While he may be one of my favorite players to watch, I do not lean in his favor, nor do I lean in MJ’s favor.  I talk more about LeBron simply because I have seen more of him than I have seen Jordan.  I grew up with LeBron, not Jordan, so can you blame me?  Still, though, I know enough about Jordan to know that he is an exceptional talent and it is truly tough to top a player like that, I mean, just watch tape of his flu game and you’ll see the type of player Jordan is.  And I do admit that Jordan’s stats vs. LeBron’s are better, especially in the playoffs.  I just feel that it is simply too difficult to compare the two, especially since they both played in different eras of basketball.  If the two played alongside one another, sure, go right ahead compare and contrast them until your face turns blue, but their careers never crossed.  So let the greats be great and just enjoy it while it happens.  Basketball is a game, it’s meant to be fun and enjoyed.  No sense in worrying about who’s better than who.  Just watch and treasure the game.

Eating Etiquette

I still find it hard to believe that some people still have no idea how to properly eat their meals.  It’s something that humans have done since the dawn of their existence, yet not all of us have seemed to figure it out.  How hard is it for proper eating etiquette to evolve with human existence?  I’m no scientist, so I do not even know if that is possible, but is it too much to ask?  At least have your parents teach you not to eat with your mouth open or inhale your food like a fucking shopvac.  How hard is it to slowly put the food in your mouth, close your mouth around it, and then chew with your mouth closed?  It’s not like I am asking people to build a god damn nuclear reactor, it’s simply keeping your lips closed and chewing.  Honestly it’s like I am surrounded by a bunch of savages who learned to eat by watching a pack of wolves.  The worst is when someone has headphones in so they cannot even hear themselves eating and so they think they’re being quiet, when in reality they’re sounding like someone dropped a spoon down into the garbage disposal.  My god is that the worst.  Makes me want to rip their larynx out and strangle them with it.  Now despite my frustration with this matter, I have (begrudgingly) accepted that some people are simply not capable of doing this simply function.  That’s alright.  Some people simply are incapable of doing certain daily activities.  I, myself cannot wink.  Just the way it goes, I suppose.  But these people at least need to pick their spots better.  Don’t decide to eat a crunchy loud-mouth salad in the middle of a class.  Do you really need to eat that bad, my friend?  Or, you know, pick a meal that doesn’t sound like twigs getting stuck in a bloody lawnmower.  This might actually infuriate me the most because these people are just being downright inconsiderate.  You see all these students trying to focus, including myself, and you choose to eat a fucking salad in the middle of the class.  Hard to hear a professor discuss the role of women in 19th century Japan when your godforsaken lawnmower is shitting itself.  Either pick your spots better or learn to eat like a civilized citizen.  Not too much to ask.  Lastly, I wrote this over the course of twenty minutes, and the man next to me has still yet to finish his salad.  Inconceivable.  Utterly Inconceivable.

Sincerely,

A Man Who Suffers From Misophonia