Sunday, February 3, 2013

Practice Post

Watching the Super Bowl, frustrated by a balky computer printer. Did the taxes and found that we will owe significant coinage. Gonna put 'em away til April I guess. When I'm frustrated, the team I want to win starts playing badly. Why is that? I suppose it could be the other way around.
I want the Ravens to win although I dislike Ray Lewis. But looks like they may be blowing it. Started watching "The Good Wife" on DVD. OK, not great or transcendent. Saw "Lincoln" last week. Good movie. I have played some golf occasionally over the winter. Still very little improvement in my game. 49ers touchdown. Darn. Can tie it with a 2 point conversion. No good.
Larry King used to write a column for USA Today. It was like this. Stream of conscious crap. But this is just a practice post designed to get me back into the art of blog writing.
Listen to my radio station when you get a chance: DanPop . It's good!!

More later. Take care!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pythagorus, what hath you wrought?

Who you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes? That's the question Tom Boswell, ESPN, and other baseball experts have been asking us Orioles fans all season. We see a team that has a record of 71-57 (.555 winning percentage) and currently leads in the American League wildcard race. They see a team with a negative “run differential” that should be (and mark their words, will be, any minute) playing at a .463 winning rate.
Where do they get their numbers from? Well it is a formula know as the Pythagorean Expectation developed by legendary baseball statistician Bill James that uses the difference in the number of runs a team scores versus the number of runs a team gives up to develop an “expected” winning percentage. I get it. It makes sense that a good team scores more runs than it gives up. But since I started doing a little Wiki-research into the statistic, I have been confused as to what it truly signifies. Is it an after the fact analytic tool or a predictive one? If it can be used to predict the results of future games, how so? Over what sort of time frame? Will it accurately predict future records or overall season records that include games already played.
I have seen it described as a predictive tool and have seen baseball pundits use the statistic to argue that the Orioles cannot maintain their current pace and will soon “collapse”. The argument is this: on July 4, the Orioles record was 44-37. Yet in those 81 games, they had been outscored by a total of 26 runs. This is unusual. How can it be?  Answer: the Orioles have won a disproportionate share of close ballgames, while losing most of the one-sided games. Conventional (or “Pythagorean”) wisdom attributes a large proportion of the close wins to “luck” and avers this luck “cannot continue”. Eventually, this pattern will “catch up” to you. Their formula says so.
This formula is simple: take the number of runs scored, square it. Now divide that number by the sum of the squares of the number of runs scored and the number of runs allowed. This will yield an expected winning percentage. In the Orioles case, on July 4, this number was .463. Meaning given the number of runs scored and runs allowed, we would expect them to have won 46.3 % of their games. Yet, they had won 54% of their games.
So is this Pythagorean expectation number an analytic tool or a predictive one? As an analytic tool, the statistic says “There is something unusual about this team. Let's research further”. I absolutely agree with that. But what about its predictive value? I read many sports columns and chats and most of those pundits seem to value it as a predictor of future games. Almost all predicted that the Orioles would “come back to Earth”. They could not expect to continue winning such an inordinate amount of close games. The luck involved evens up and a team's record starts to match its Pythagorean expectation. But does it?

Let's have a look at this year's American League East. On July 4, roughly the halfway point of the season, the numbers looked like this:
Yankees: record 49 wins 32 losses 384 runs scored 326 runs given up +58 run difference
Orioles: record 44 wins 37 losses 341 runs scored 367 runs given up -26 run difference
Rays: record 43 wins 39 losses 342 runs scored 340 runs given up +2 run difference
Red Sox: record 42 wins 40 losses 411 runs scored 361 runs given up +50 run difference
Blue Jays: record 42 wins 40 losses 411 runs scored 384 runs given up +27 run difference

Plugging the runs scored and allowed numbers into the “Pythagorean Expectation” formula yields the following expected win percentage for the teams (July 4 actual win percentage in parentheses): Yankees: .581 (.605) Orioles: .463 (.543) Rays: .501 (.524) Red Sox: .564 (.512) Blue Jays .534 (.512)

 Let's fast forward to late August and as the numbers predict, the Yankees and Red Sox are once again fighting it out for the Division title while the Blue Jays are trying to grab that new second wildcard playoff position. Tampa Bay is hoping to finish with a winning record while the Orioles are once again in last place.

Oh wait, that's not how it is? In fact, the Pythagorean numbers derived above are way off for 4 of the 5 teams. Boston and Toronto have collapsed leading to overall records well below the Pythagorean Expectation. Tampa Bay and Baltimore have continued winning games and are now both fighting for the playoffs. Interestingly, the Yankees record has declined to the point where their current winning percentage exactly matches the July 4 Pythagorean expectation of .581.
So what does it mean? In a word, nothing. At least this year for this division. The Pythagorean Expectation points out that “something is going on” with the Orioles and Red Sox. But it certainly did not predict the second half results accurately. There is something unusual about both teams. Why are the Orioles better than they should be? And why do the Red Sox suck? (other than because of their obnoxious fans)? In the Orioles case it probably involves shaky starting pitching combined with great relief pitching. For the Red Sox, injuries have hurt as well as a reported lack of team chemistry. Certainly, Red Sox management showed little faith in the Pythagorean numbers last week when it made the decision to blow up their roster. It boils down to that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” thingie. Works for the O's, not so much for the Sawks.
Oh and one other little difference: Who would you rather have manage your team? Bobby Valentine or Buck Showalter?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Has it really been 8 months?

Someone I know died recently. I didn't know her well but I liked her. Thinking of her makes me smile. Someone from work who was part of "management". But unlike many, she was able to be tough without bullying or demeaning others. This is too rare a management skill and should be valued highly.
I'm in my 50's, so any unexpected death of an acquaintance always bothers me and instantly becomes all about me. I just have difficulty with the idea that you're alive one day, dead the next, and forgotten the day after that.
Yes, I know. Live each day as if it could be your last, value and treasure your loved ones, do your best to make a difference to somebody, etc.
But sadly, it ends up the same for us all.
I hope you weren't looking for wisdom here, because that's all I've got.
Anyway, goodbye Carol. I'm glad I knew you.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Back for a bit

No more Songs of the Day. Awww. But even better, sort of. My own radio station: DanPop. Access it at Or just look to your right and click on the DanPop widget.

I've been thinking of doing some more blogging. Seems like Facebook has killed blogging and Twitter is killing Facebook. What next? Can we communicate in less than 140 characters? But I'm gonna try more blogging as I think its good therapy for me.

Anyway, give the radio station a try. I'm keeping it fresh and play all kinds of music. It's fun. If you listen and like it, send me a message (bottom of the station page) and click on the star near the small picture of Homer Simpson on the left and give the station a good rating.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Musical Memories

My IPOD played "Space Oddity" by David Bowie today. Strange how memories work. Because it brought me back to about 1973 when I was a freshman in high school. One night I was in my room listening to Roanoke Virginia's WSLQ on my clock radio when they played "Space Oddity" followed immediately by "Walk on the Wild Side". First time I had heard either and I was awed. These were the 2 coolest songs EVER! I wasn't the only one because the next day it was a major discussion point with several of my classmates.
They're still pretty cool songs.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sad Day for Me

Today is a very sad day for the blogging me. Although I haven't been posting many songs of the day over the past year, often I would hear a song and tell myself to post it. I went to to upload the song "Everlasting Love" done by Robert Knight and was greeted with this message:
Vox is now closed.
Thank you for your love and support of Vox over the years.

All I can say, is thanks Vox for letting me store and post all that music over the past 4 years. Loved it.

Anyway, looks like no more songs for awhile. Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sunday Song(s) of the Day

Got Your Heart by Anders Osborne
The Joker by the Steve Miller Band

Continuing the New Orleans theme, a brand new song by New Orleans native Anders Osborne. And because I'm old, every new song reminds me of an old one, and this time its the Joker by Steve Miller. Don't you worry!

03 Got Your Heart from

08 The Joker from