Archive for May 30th, 2007

LeBron: The Best 22-Year Old Ever

lebron-james-home1.gifBeware, I am about to venture into dangerous waters. I don’t follow the NBA. I’m not good with numbers. But while reading Mizzo’s interview with Dan LeBatard yesterday at The Starting Five, I was prompted to think about the immense pressure that is being placed on a kid of 22 years. When I was 22, I lived in a basement garden-level apartment with my brother and did the dishes once a week. I had the skills to do better, but nobody, not even my parents, got on me as hard as NBA fans are getting on LeBron.

I wanted to compare LeBron’s first four years with those of Michael Jordan, but Jordan had four years of college and a NCAA championship under his belt by the time he was 22, and it still took him some time to become MICHAEL.

So I’ll be comparing LBJ to his contemporary, Carmelo Anthony, and the most successful straight-out-of high school player to date, Kobe Bryant. I’m using per-game averages from Basketball-Reference.com:

Kobe Bryant

Season Age Games Minutes FG% 3PT% FT% TRB AST STL TO BLK PTS
96/97 18 71 15.5 .417 .375 .819 1.9 1.3 .7 1.6 .3 7.6
97/98 19 79 26.0 .428 .341 .794 3.1 2.5 0.9 2.0 0.5 15.4
98/99 20 50 37.9 .465 .267 .839 5.3 3.8 1.4 3.1 1.0 19.9
99/00 21 66 38.2 .468 .319 .821 6.3 4.9 1.6 2.8 .9 22.5

Carmelo Anthony

Season Age Games Minutes FG% 3PT% FT% TRB AST STL TO BLK PTS
03/04 19 82 36.5 .426 .322 .777 6.1 2.8 1.2 3.0 .5 21.0
04/05 20 75 34.8 .431 .266 .796 5.7 2.6 0.9 3.0 0.4 20.8
05/06 21 80 36.8 .481 .243 .808 4.9 2.7 1.1 2.7 0.5 26.5
06/07 22 65 38.2 .476 .268 .808 6.0 3.8 1.2 3.6 0.3 28.9

LeBron James

Season Age Games Minutes FG% 3PT% FT% TRB AST STL TO BLK PTS
03/04 19 79 39.5 .417 .290 .754 5.5 5.9 1.6 3.5 .7 20.9
04/05 20 80 42.4 .472 .351 .750 7.4 7.2 2.2 3.3 0.7 27.2
05/06 21 79 42.5 .480 .335 .738 7.0 6.6 1.6 3.3 0.8 31.4
06/07 22 78 40.9 .476 .319 .698 6.7 6.0 1.6 3.2 0.7 27.3

Um, do you see what I see? First of all, Kobe was allowed to grow into his role on a talented team, and finally began to look like the Kobe we know now by the fourth year of his NBA sojourn. ‘Melo and LeBron were putting up those numbers from the jump.

So let’s take Kobe out of the equation. Comparing Anthony and James, we see pretty much the same player, except for a whopping gap in assists going in LeBron’s favor, as well as a superior three point percentage.

melobroncut.jpgAdd to that the mpg measure, which has stayed north of 40 if averaged over LeBron’s entire career. The Cavaliers are riding this kid like a pony, and he’s responding like a man instead of a boy. I’m chewing my fingernails just writing this. And LeBron has never fallen prey to the dangers of a pro athlete’s life. Whether you think Kobe’s rape charges were trumped up or Carmelo’s suspension this season was warranted, you can’t deny that LeBron has never put himself in a position to face the music either in court or on the court.

Basically, we should be glad King James is this good already. For him to be on the cusp of the finals as the #1 option on his team is incredible. It’s not wrong for us to want more from him, but to expect it, and excoriate him when he fails to deliver is simply unrealistic. We’re basically punishing him for the league’s failure to be more interesting. Our hopes of caring about the finals rest on him getting there.

We should be yelling at David Stern, not LeBron.


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voodoosabermetricsbanner1.PNGVoodoo Sabermetrics reminds us that our love for the team includes our love of individual players. We usually have a favorite superstar hitter or pitcher or both. But what about those guys that you just… like? Maybe someone who pinch hits or steals a base now and then. Maybe an aging vet who is like an extra coach in the dugout. Rather than judge everyone by their stats, we’re going to use unique categories and scoring methods to check out baseball’s characters.

Our High Voodoo Council are:

Jack Cobra from The Cobra Brigade Neighbor Quotient and Scrappiness
Texas Gal from Ladies… Hottness and Behavior
Sunil from Hurricanes Are For Drinking Atomic Mass and Exposure
Jon Pyle from Pyle of List Clutchness
Sooze from Babes Love Baseball Jollyness
TC from Mr. Thursday’s Curious Mechanism Appearance and Quotability
Extra P. from The Extrapolater Name Quality (including nicknames)

We decided to write about our next victim when we thought he was just on steroids. Halfway through our torturous and meticulously researched process, we discovered that perhaps he liked ye olde greenies as well. Add to that that he is the only person to even tangentially apologize or take responsibility for the drug problem in MLB, and he’s a pretty interesting cat.

Meet Jason Giambi


Name: Jason Giambi. Jason…. Giambi. I got nuthin’. Except for that ancient dude who killed the Cyclops captured the Golden Fleece, guys named Jason are not usually that rough n’ ready. And yet Giambi has a real ring of organized crime, or better yet New York City politics about it. The problem is, the given name and surname don’t work together too well. And don’t even get me started on Jeremy.

Then there’s the nickname – “The Giambino”. Bad, bad choice, though it was levied upon him by a broadcaster. Since the rallying cry of the anti-steroids movement is “The Bambino did it on hot dogs and beer!”, this is what we call an ironic choice of nickname (look it up, Alanis). And not in a good way.

I cannot, in good conscience, award Jason “The Giambino” Giambi any points for name quality.


sunil.jpgAtomic Number: I remember hearing stories about the Oakland A’s clubhouse back when Jason Giambi played there. The accounts all portrayed them as a fraternity, like the Deltas. I always thought that Giambi would be their Bluto. Except instead of booze, HGH was Giambi’s performance enhancer. Giambi’s stint with the Yankees, then, is a bit like Bluto goes to Corporate America, where his hard-partying, boozing, roid-shoting-ways are no longer acceptable.

biggiambi.jpgTo make matters worse, Giambi keeps apologizing for using steroids, which only serves to rile up a media that is foaming at their collective mouths with self-righteousness. Look, we all know Giambi used steroids. We also know that probably (conservatively) three hundred other players used them. Let’s try to see Giambi’s awkward attempts at making things right as a positive, as opposed to the alternatives, deceit (Rafael Palmeiro), self-aggrandizement (Jose Canseco), or blubbering (Mark McGwire). All of this has nothing to do with clubhouse chemistry (does it ever?), so lets just agree that Giambi’s atomic number is MVIV, a form of Roman alphanumeric code that may be translated to read “toga.”

Exposure: Remember the deoderant commercial that Giambi inked right when he moved to New York, how he ended it by flexing in front of the camera? Yeah, that wasn’t such a good idea. Giambi’s level of exposure is five out of ten. He’s a big name within the game, but the superficial sports fan has no idea who he is, and without any endorsements, they never will.


jackcobra1.jpgNeighbor Quotient: After reading about Giambi the last week or so I figure he’d be the type of neighbor who would steal my morning paper for two years and then apologize for it as he was selling his house. Thanks buddy. On top of that, he’d probably steal my wireless internet, somehow piggyback off my cable tv and probably hit on my teenage daughter (if I had one, I’m only 28) while I was on travel for work. I would probably send him a Christmas card, yet never get one in return. My wife (I’m not married, I’m only 28) would probably make him some cookies on a very nice Christmas platter, only to never have it returned. My 10 yr old son (I don’t have kids, I’m only 28) would probably offer to cut his grass for $10 and Giambi more than likely wouldn’t pay up. Giambi as a neighbor would suck. -1000 out of 10.

Scrappiness: Let’s see, he had to cheat in order to make millions of dollars and is now hoping the fans feel sorry for him? On top of that, he’s a horrible fielder, he strikes out too much and his brother cost the A’s a trip to the World Series. He runs about as fast as a refrigerator, throws like Barney Rubble and watching him try to field a ground ball is like watching a pig on ice. He’s the DH now, so he sits in the dugout for 97% of the game trying to figure out where he’s going to drink at after the game. Giambi disrespected the game by cheating and by adding that on top of all of his other crapburger characteristics it gives him a -964 out of 10 on the scrappiness scale.

Thanks, Extra P. I feel better now.


texasgal-96.jpgHottness: 1
Giambi, more than any other player, personifies the Yankees for me- in all his juiced up, greasy, tattooed, asshole, pug-nosed glory. His thuggy visage was made for wearing those Yankees pinstripes. He is not hot. He is so far from being in the realm of hot, he can’t even see the glimmer of hottness in the distance. Giambi would be a shoo-in on all All-Ugly Team for the MLB. However, he is more palatable than Boomer Wells- though only slightly- so he gets the minimum hottness level of 1.

Behavior: Orange (High) on the Terror Alert Scale
So there’s the assholish attitude. The boozing and womanizing. And, of course, the ‘roids. But the biggest danger Giambi poses isn’t what he does- it’s what he SAYS. Dude cannot keep his trap shut. But at least he admits (sort of) that he’s screwed up… so at least there’s that. In the wake of the MLB’s gag order, Jason gets a solid orange on the Terror Alert Scale- with the possibility of moving to red-alert level on a moment’s notice.


mrthursday-96.jpgMy numerical scores will correlate to the alcohol contents of various beers. In case you care, here’s the scoring system.

Appearance. We should probably just start calling this section “Moustache?” Jason Giambi, once upon a time, looked like a cheesy biker guy, displaying baseball’s ubiquitous goatee, as well as some [sarcasm] totally rad [/sarcasm] tribal tattoos on his left shoulder. I mean, look at him in this picture. Look at him. You can just tell he’s saying to some puny, 8 year old, “Make that out to whom, motherfucker?!” The kid then micturates himself, because Jason Giambi is a scary fucking Bronson-esque kind of dude.

giambistache.jpgOf course, then The Great Giambino scored himself a mighty contract playing ball-whacker for the navy pinstripes. No more small town baseball for Oakland, no sir. Big city means big bucks, and big bucks mean Giambi had to shave his stupid goatee. While I applaud the removal of the goatee, a naked-faced Giambi looks like a goddamned naked mole rat. Yikes. There was hope for Giambi last year, though. In an effort to be more like beloved Yankee Donnie Baseball, this ugly fellow grew himself a moustache. Look at this moustache! It is power! It is the balls! Behold, it bristles in the wind as Bull Giambi scores.

Jason Giambi, I demand the regrowth of your once-proud glorystache. Grow it, and I offer you the Sam Adam’s Utopias. Grow it not, and I give you nothing, you disgusting bastard. Nothing at all.

Quotability. Is this category not why the Voodoo Council chooses the Giambinator for our considerable and varied wraths and kindnesses? Anyway, Giambi went off last week about how Major League Baseball should have apologized a long time ago, admitted their mistake, and tried to move forward openly, blah blah blah. Giambi is one slick-shit. He’s now apologized at least twice for doing steroids, without actually ever saying that he did steroids.

His most recent apology may have been more layered–that is, even more slick–than initially supposed, as there’s a rumor going ’round that Giambi failed a drug test for greenies last year. Peter Gammons says Giambi didn’t, and I’m inclined, generally, to always trust Gammons, even if he isn’t quite the dominating presence he once was. Regardless, amphetimines or not, Jason Giambi is an insurmountably humongous douche.

In the end, Giambi has a huge yap that blows hard as the wind. Of course, with all this jibber-jabber, he never, ever, says anything funny, or particularly memorable, unless you’re a big fan of ambiguous, shadowy, backdoor mea culpas. “Jason…” (breaks bottle of Guiness Kaliber over table, holds sharp, shattered bottle remnants toward Giambi), “you get off my property right now, fuck you very much.”



Jason Giambi can get pretty jolly, especially in the past year. Allegedly. However, considering his BALCO testimony, public apologies and semi-mean bat, I’m going to be forced to give the Giambino a Mark McGwire on the jollity scale: he’s festive when he’s not in major league trouble.


Speaking of Clutchness, I’m calling in a pinch hitter for today’s clutch measurement. Jon Pyle has volunteered to play hero or goat in the 9th inning today, as Gary GNU is being devoured by cicadas or something like that (I think that’s what the email said):

jonpyle-96.jpgHello! My name is Jon Pyle, you may remember me from such blogs as Pyle of List! I’ll be your guide today through the wonderful world of Clutch. Gary GNU is so clutch that he’s out living it, not stuck behind some desk writing about it like you or me.

Clutchability Factors:

There is no scientific evidence that steroids or HGH can enhance someone’s ability to deliver when it matters. But, there’s also no evidence against it either. Touche! As C+C Music Factory would say: things that make you go “hmmmmmm”.

Body of Work (The SportsCenter Factor)
If you ran a highlight package of Giambi clutch moments it would be roughly 30 seconds long and not include the playoffs. You would need their best anchors and catchphrases to even make this one watchable. (My most recent favorite SC baseball catchphrase: “I got 99 problems but this pitch ain’t one.”) But he would have some of the sweetest walks in the business.

The Time Machine Test AKA What if?
If his brother Jeremy Giambi slides against the Yankees in the 2001 playoffs we might be having a different discussion. Maybe Oakland advances and even wins a World Series that year, giving Giambi a ring and a heralded playoff resume. Pretty freakin’ clutch. But, then we would be deprived of Jeter’s flip. And I don’t want to live in a world without that play. We’d probably be speaking Dutch by now if it never happened.

Do you remember when the biggest controversy for Giambi was about whether or not he would have to get rid of his trademark sideburns? I’d bet he’d like those days back. It’s a fact that sideburns increase one’s propensity to be clutch, so shaving them off to adhere to a facial hair policy was a bad move. Plus he lost the boozing party boy mystique in the process. Double bad move.

Final Clutchability Rating: “Ay!”
Using the Arthur Fonzerelli Scale of Clutch, he’s on the first level. This means he could never start a jukebox by punching it and probably wouldn’t make it with either of the Tuscadero sisters. For those unfamiliar with the Arthur Fonzerelli Scale of Clutch it goes from “Ay!” to “Ayyyyy!”


Jason Giambi’s wikipedia page has one of the top unintentional comedy lines of all time:

When Giambi entered the league he came under the wing of Mark McGwire, whom he credits for greatly improving his career.

Hey, I’m sure that’s true, but we here at Voodoo Sabermetrics aren’t here to talk about the past.

Maybe Giambi is not completely to blame for his role at the center of the steroids scandal. Can you really blame a kid, coming up on the mean streets of West Covina, for taking any advantage he can to get out? Walk a mile in another man’s size XXL warmup jacket before you judge him, OK?

I really get the sense that this would have all gone so much better for Jason if he had just stayed in Cali playing “crazy biker dude”.


Read past issues of Voodoo Sabermetrics here.

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Read Part one here.

Yesterday I looked at the #1 seeds on the left-hand side of my official NCAA College World Series brackets.  Today I’m going to finish up by going down the right hand side, starting with:

ricebaseball.jpgRice Owls: (49-12) #2

Location:  Reckling Park in Houston, TX

Rice took the Conference USA title in a 16-8 beating of East Carolina (no slouches, ECU took the #2 slot in North Carolina’s regional).  They had an uncharacteristic pitchers’ duel in a Semifinal loss to Memphis on Saturday, but came roaring back to beat the Tigers 20-9 the same day.  Double-elimination is an interesting beast….  Side note: The Owls play in an all-Texas bracket, hosting Prairie View, Baylor, and Texas Christian.

MLB alums:  Lance Berkman, Bubba Crosby, and Jose Cruz, Jr.  The list

aggies.jpgTexas A&M Aggies:  (44-16) #11

Location: Olsen Field in College Station, TX

The Aggies took out the 300-lb burnt-orange gorilla on May 24th, during the second day of the Big 12 Tournament.  Then they tripped up Kansas State and topped Baylor in the final game to claim the title.  Sounds like they’re getting hot at the right time.

MLB alums: Chuck Knoblauch, Casey Fossum, Logan Kensing.  The list

mizzou.jpgMissouri Tigers:  (40-16) #17

Location:  Taylor Stadium in Columbia, MO

As a Kansas alum, it pains me to write this, but the Tigers were good this year.   They invested a lot of money in upgrading their facilities, and it paid off this year, as the team played well, and the tournament regional returned to central Missouri.  Dangerous Miami lurks as the #2 seed in this region, though, so Mizzou better look sharp.

MLB alums:  Nobody interesting, though Ian Kinsler apparently spent 2003 there before leaving town in a cloud of dust on his way to ASU.  Smart man.

razorback.jpgArkansas Razorbacks: (41-19) #13

Location: Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, AR

Another team that was ousted by the eventual #1 overall seed in Vanderbilt.  As we have seen throughout the brackets (Ole Miss, South Carolina, etc) teams that lose to the Commodores are not being penalized, as the SEC pulled in four regional #1 seeds overall.  Bad news for Albany, Oklahoma State, and Creighton – you’ll be hearing “Sooooey, Pig!” in your nightmares for the next few days.

MLB alums: Eric Hinske, Kit Pellow, Cliff Lee.  The list

fsumient.jpgFlorida State Seminoles: (47-11) #6

Location: Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, FL (what do they call it, The Big Athletic Supporter?)

The Seminoles had a marvelous regular season, coming out on top of the Atlantic Division of the ACC without ever suffering two losses in a row all season.  That streak came to an end in the ACC tourney, when they lost to Miami and then national #15 Clemson, leaving the championship game in the hands of Wake Forest and UNC.  I’ve seen them play in person, however, and I would never count them out.  What I said about Arkansas’ “Sooey!” goes double for the goddamn hellspawn Tomahawk Chop. The best thing at FSU? The Bat Girls.

MLB alums: Dick Howser, Tony LaRussa, Deion Sanders, J.D. and Stephen Drew, Doug Mientkiewicz.  The list

chanticleercatcher.jpgCoastal Carolina Chanticleers:  (48-11) #10

Location: Coastal Federal Field in Myrtle Beach, SC, home of the Carolina League’s Pelicans.

The Chanticleers have my favorite mascot of any #1 seed.  It’s some kind of militant chicken out of Chaucer.  Awesome stuff.  They are also one of the #1 seeds playing in a “neutral site” – presumably because Myrtle Beach can handle more fans than Charles L. Watson stadium in little ol’ Conway.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hope these guys make it to Omaha.  I’d have to break out the “One Shining Moment” of college baseball if that happened.

MLB alums:  None that I can find.  I get the feeling this year is one in a million.

southcarolina.jpgSouth Carolina Gamecocks:  (42-18) #9

Location: Sarge Frye Field in Columbia, SC

This should be a marvelous sendoff for Frye Field, which is making way for an as-yet unnamed shiny bauble of a new stadium.  I’m a little bummed that it will take a near-miracle for us to see a Chanticleers/Cocks matchup in Omaha.  And that’s the only way I’m going to see it, because South Carolina is waaay too humid for me this time of year.

MLB alums: Mookie Wilson, Brian Roberts, Adam Everett (Roberts and Everett also attended other schools).  The list

tarheel.jpgNorth Carolina Tarheels: (48-12) #3

Location: Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC

The ACC champs won a close tournament final and earned a home game in the regional.  They showed that they were ready for the host role by selling out Boshamer in one day.  The only other school to manage that was the #1 overall seed Vanderbilt.  Carolina is the cradle of minor-league baseball, and nothing could be finer than Carolina blue on the field of green, with a raucous crowd behind them.  The Tarheels share their region with Western Carolina, East Carolina, and…. Jacksonville.  Damn, that’s anti-climactic.

MLB alums: Moonlight Graham, B.J. Surhoff, Brian Roberts (also went to South Carolina), Andrew Miller.  The list

toreros.jpgSan Diego Toreros:  (43-16) #8

Location: Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego, CA

How galling this must be for the Toreros.  Casual baseball fans already confuse USD with SDSU, but now the lesser-known school has to play a crucial regional in the stadium of their overshadowers.  I actually should have posted the San Diego profile yesterday, but I skipped right over their seed in the 2 1/2 pt type the NCAA favors for brackets.  I am ashamed, because Toreros comes in a close second to Chanticleers on my nickname list.  It won’t happen again.  Just remember, don’t look for Tony Gwynn – San Diego State didn’t even make the field of 64.

MLB alums: A very short list.  John Wathan and Brady Clark, with Yankees prospect Kevin Reese hoping to rise to the occasion soon.  The list

There’s a nice blend of traditional powers and programs on the rise in this year’s tournament, and of course there’s a strong southern flavor to the proceedings.  I believe this is the sort of thing ESPNU was made for (if it wasn’t, well, it should be), so hopefully we’ll get to see a few games on the tube.  If not, drop by the nearest host stadium and see what the fuss is all about – you’ll be glad you did.

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