Braves on pace for unprecedented 162-0 season

As Chris said yesterday, it’s fun to get this sort of post title out while it’s still true.  So, while we know that the Braves won’t get 162 perfect innings each out of Gonzalez, Soriano, Wickman, and Paronto (or 324! homers by Edgar Renteria), it still feels good to get a win like that under your belt, especially against a contending division rival.  Of course, now we have the ridiculous post-opening day off day.  I guess you can watch American Idol or some women’s basketball if you need something to do.

Yesterday, I linked J.C. Bradbury’s NY Times op-ed about the effects of expansion, so today I’ll link to a good counter-argument by Phil Birnbaum, who thinks expansion probably doesn’t explain as much as J.C. says.  I’ll be interested to see if J.C. counters that argument again, and I’m anxious to read what he had to say about it in The Baseball Economist.

Birnbaum was preaching to the choir in his other recent post (this time about basketball) on benching players who are in foul trouble.  This appears to have been brought on by the discussion of Greg Oden’s matchup against the Florida big men in last night’s title game, a matchup in which Oden actually thrived.

I’ve argued for a while that it makes little sense to bench a player with two fouls in the first half (or perhaps worse, four in the second half).  Why ignore the reasonable possibility that the player will not foul out by benching him, thus ending the chance of him getting more playing time?  I’d play my best player with only two circumstantial exceptions: fatigue on the part of that player (or other replacement players), or carelessness in picking up the fouls.  Otherwise, there’s no good reason to sit a star player with two fouls.

OSU coach Thad Matta said before the national championship game that Oden had only fouled out once this year, but I’ll bet that’s mostly because of Matta’s insistence on taking him out when he got into foul trouble and the fact that Oden was playing limited minutes due to injury earlier in the season.  I think he could have gotten some more mileage out of the big man if he’d let him play while in foul trouble.  Of course, The Ohio State University reached the final game, and Oden played almost the whole game…and the Buckeyes still lost.  I wonder if anyone will remember five years from now who lost to Florida in both the football and basketball title games this year…

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3 thoughts on “Braves on pace for unprecedented 162-0 season

  1. As far as the foul trouble issue, I’ve always wondered that same thing.

    Here’s the only counter-argument that I can come up with to support the conventional wisdom: players like playing, and they don’t like fouling out. So if they’re in the game with, say, four fouls and 10 minutes to go, they might play inappropriately soft defense for a while, regardless of whether or not that’s what the coach wants, because they (selfishly) don’t want to foul out.

    I still think that’s a pretty weak argument, but I’m just pointing it out.

    And yes, two entire states will remember who tOSU lost to in both title games.

    Also, I’ve now touched both Tim Tebow and Joakim Noah.

  2. That’s an interesting point about player selfishness, and I’d guess that it’s at least partially true, assuming players can control that sort of thing to a degree (probably also true). That’s another part of the balancing act for the coaches, but I think we still agree that the coaches still err on the side of caution too often. Sort of like the football issue of punting/kicking on fourth down, coaches probably fear being blasted for going against conventional wisdom (if they’re not believers in the conventional wisdom themselves).

    I’m sure the folks in Florida and Ohio will remember this year for a while. It’s just a bit boring for the rest of us. I can’t say I wouldn’t love to be in your position as a fan, though. When you go off to some other grad school, are you expecting them to win 15-20 national titles in every sport after you’ve been there 4 years or so? I can’t say I’d be surprised, given your ever-improving high school and college fandom. You should go to Duke, if they offer what you’re looking for.

    I wouldn’t go around telling just anybody what you said about Tebow and Noah.

  3. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s going to be like at the second leg of the UF-OSU home-and-home next December in Columbus.

    Duke’s actually a possibility. Then again, so is staying here.

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