Two sports statistics computer programmers walk into a bar …
If familiarity breeds contempt, familiarity also breeds hilarity.
Look, given that we’re stuck with a worsening condition and no one, thus far, has been hurt, we might as well enjoy it by playing the fools we’re played to be. So let’s treat the epidemic of ridiculous graphics and stats as pure satire, as if both the messenger and audience are in on the joke.
For example, ESPN — it always starts with ESPN — during its latest Sunday Night Baseball Challenge To The Central Nervous System, let us in on this fascinating piece of scrolling continuing education:
The Brewers, having beaten the Braves, 2-1, attained their “47th consecutive win when allowing one run or fewer.”
Of course, had any of us been at the wheel of a national MLB telecast, this graphic would not have appeared — not been allowed to disturb or in any way distract viewers from the game being televised — unless the producer’s life was threatened at the point of a knife.
Now, if the Brewers were 39-8 in such games we’d have had something.
ESPN’s NBA draft coverage should have been attached to a laugh track. Consider: First-overall pick “Cade Cunningham has a 58 percent chance of becoming an All-Star.” That’s 58, not 57 or 59 percent.
Reader Brad Berkowitz, a University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of business grad, is still grinding over this one — “What would that formula look like?” — having been taught that such fact-based percentages can’t be calculated for an individual or thing in a stand-alone position.
But then there are stats that exist as indisputable facts, as in why bother? Sunday, during the U.S. women’s Olympic volleyball game against Russia, which has been fecklessly banned from competing in these Olympics as Russia by the IOC for drug-test cheating, NBC’s Paul Sunderland hit us with a plausibly live no-doubter:
“The Americans must win to stay undefeated.”
I’ll give you a few moments to soak that one in …
NBC also delivered the news that Xander Schauffele that day became the first American golfer to win an Olympic gold medal “since 1900.”
Okay, so golf wasn’t contested until the last Summer Games, in 2016, and before that in 1900 and 1904, but, still, Schauffele broke a U.S. drought that lasted 121 years!
Monday, Gary Cohen, calling Mets-Marlins on SNY, was perhaps compelled to qualify the self-evident with stats. Thus after Pete Alonso hit a line-drive home run into the lower deck, Cohen added info we apparently no longer can live without:
“The exit velocity was 109 mph, the launch angle was low, at 22 degrees.”
In other words, conforming to and confirming what we knew in the first place, he hit a line-drive home run.
Late Postie will be missed
I suspect that most of us who work have done so among many people. That has provided the opportunity to have had a Dom Marrano in our lives, thus we share the commonality of the uncommon man.
Dom, an unpolished Gravesend Brooklyn kid who dispensed unassailable wisdom in the time it takes to grunt, died this week at 74. And having broken in under him as a copy boy at The Post starting in 1973, I still try to at least think like him.
Among my earliest duties when The Post operated beneath the Brooklyn Bridge on South Street, was to schlep to and from the one high-end restaurant in Chinatown, Chi Mer, fetching then-Post owner Dorothy Schiff’s lunch.
One afternoon, returning with the goods, I saw Marrano’s orange VW Beetle, co-workers inside, stopped — and stopped and stopped — at a narrow, side street stop sign. Why the holdup?
As I walked even with Dom’s car I could see he was blocked by two dogs who were — how shall I put it? — getting it on right in front of his bumper.
As I began to walk past, Dom rolled down the window and with a twisted, sad smile shook his head and said to me, “And I gotta go back to work.”
Those were the first words he said to me. I signed on for the rest of his life.
Dom didn’t have to say anything to be heard. In 1974 we attended the Pedro Soto-Mike Quarry light heavyweight bout in The Garden’s Felt Forum. Quarry easily outpointed Soto to win a unanimous decision, but the crowd was all for Soto, thus a bottle-throwing riot erupted.
I didn’t know which way to turn, which way to try to get out. A big guy, Marrano grabbed me and shoved me under the ring, from where we safely weathered the storm. That was Dom Marrano, an uncommon common man.
USWNT made it very easy to root against it
Sometime, when you go too far, you can’t make it back. That’s why the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team stands — or kneels — as likely the most U.S.-reviled U.S. team in Olympic history.
Starting with their obnoxious, selfish, boorish anti-American behavior in the 2019 World Cup, this team has been making enemies of the politically bipartisan who would normally need no urging to root for them because they’re Americans. They have since left repeated reminders that the United States is beneath them.
They’ve gripes about living here? Who doesn’t? But did they realize for even a second that they played before audiences with mortgages, taxes and escalating daily bills to pay, just for starters? Cry us a river.
During these Olympics, I’ve yet to encounter even one person who holds them in anything better than disgust, rooting against them regardless of opponents. They’ve been sickened by vulgar, me-first showboat Megan Rapinoe, upset, but not shocked, that she’d be chosen for TV commercial endorsements and a selectively blind, pandering HBO special.
If any of this negative response to this team relates to the presumed death of sportsmanship and patriotism, these are hopeful signs from vastly underrepresented America.
And, not that NBC will pursue it, but I wonder if the rest of the Olympic world knows that Americans couldn’t stomach this crew.
On the other hand, many readers noted that U.S. Olympic female wrestling gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock made it abundantly clear that she was proud to represent the United States, thus forfeiting any chance to appear in Nike commercials.
From reader/researcher Bill Unger:
Game 7 of the 1960 Word Series, an afternoon game won by the Bucs, 10-9, over the Yankees on Bill Mazeroski’s game-ending home run, included a ball put in play every two minutes and six seconds in a game that ran 2:36.
Last year’s World Series finale, Game 6 of Dodgers over Rays, 3-1, saw a ball put in play every six minutes and seven seconds. That Tuesday game ran 3:28, ending just before midnight East of the Mississippi, home to 58.3 percent of the nation’s population.
DB Aqib Talib, among the worst acts regularly seen during NFL games, joined Fox late last season and is returning as a Fox NFL game analyst under the title, “Dynamic New Voice.”
His dynamism includes four suspensions for flagrant misconduct. He also demonstrates the ability to casually speak the lowest gutter garbage. And the University of Kansas man seems semi-literate.
Yep, he’s exactly what Fox needs and wants, and believes we deserve.