The complete game might be on life support, but the Florida Marlins refuse to be responsible for its death...
If the complete game were an unwanted fetus, the Marlins would be pro-life. And if the complete game were in a permanent vegetative state - which it
seems to be headed toward - the Marlins would be the last ones to pull the feeding tube. They might even go all the way to the Supreme Court just to
protest its sorry fate. Just two weeks and 12 games into the 2005 season, Florida starters have already notched four complete games. That's more than
the rest of the starting pitchers in the National League combined. And I know it's early, but contrast that with last year, when MLB starters went
nine just three percent of the time. Talk about an abortion...
I've said it before: What good is a nine-inning projection in the virtual absence of the complete game? Sure, the Marlins are doing their part to
question the rhetorical nature of this question. But the overwhelming data across MLB runs contrary to the early-season success of the Florida staff.
And as innings per start wanes with each passing year, ERA - like the acronymically identical women's movement before it - will continue to ebb on the
tide of extinction...
So what's the solution? (Yeah, I'm not just gonna whine about it.) Actually, there are two: 1) A stat that indexes stinginess (earned runs allowed per
inning pitched) as a function of durability (innings pitched per start). And since I'm no mathematician, I'll leave the formula up to the good rocket
scientists at MIT to figure out. Should be easy enough. 2) A qualification. Specifically, the imposition of a minimum number of innings pitched per
game started to qualify for ERA, which would be measured for only starters who've pitched an average of, say, at least 6 1/3 innings per outing. Of
course, a minority of today's pitchers would qualify, but meaning and - more importantly - credence would be restored in this dying metric...
As if the Miracle in Miami wasn't fortuitous enough, the magical ride continues for New England folk hero Doug Flutie, who snagged a line-drive foul
ball off the bat of Tino Martinez in the second inning of the Red Sox-Yankees game this past Thursday. According to the former Boston College
quarterback, it was his fourth straight Red Sox game with a catch of a foul ball, once and for all confirming his status is the luckiest man in the
history of the sports...
Later in the game, Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield was involved in altercation with a fan in the right field stands while attempting to fetch a
caroming ball. "I don't know if he touched me or not," said Sheffield. "I thought my lip was busted." When asked if the spontaneous combustion of his
lip was a regular occurrence, Sheffield declined comment...
In the major sports, the coach (or manager) of the year award can be more than just a little misleading. After all, it's not always given the best
coach in a given year. Take the NBA, for example. Few would argue that Larry Brown has been the best coach in the league for some time now. And some
might say that because Brown is the league's best coach on a year-to-year- basis, he should win the Red Auerbach Trophy every year. Such, however, is
a classic case of logic gone awry...
But the fact that coaches of perennial contenders and non-playoff teams are virtually excluded from consideration speaks volumes about the legitimacy
of these awards, which are given not necessarily to the coach of the year, but to the coach of the playoff team that finishes with the most
surprisingly high number of wins during the regular season. Maybe that's what they should call it: "The Coach of the Playoff Team that Finished with
the Most Surprisingly High Number of Wins during the Regular Season" award. Because it's really nothing more than a collective admission of
prognosticative error by the voting media, who may as well forget about the trophy altogether and just say they're sorry...
Derek Jeter won three championships in his first four years (and four in five) in New York. Ditto for Tom Brady as a starter in New England. Jeter is
the face of the national pastime, the captain of baseball's dynasty. Brady, meanwhile, is the front-man for America's sport, the king of the Patriot
reign. Jeter first gained pop cultural notoriety by dating singer Mariah Carey. Brady, on the other hand, went Hollywood with actress Bridgette
Moynahan. In 1998, Jeter became the first athlete to host "Saturday Night Live" since Deion Sanders in '95. And this past Saturday night, Brady became
the first athlete to do the honors since - you guessed it - Jeter in '98. Which, like it or not, Boston, finally makes it official: Tom Brady is the
Derek Jeter of football. I'm Dean Christopher...