Going old school in a new era

Confession time.

I am a 38-year old curmudgeon.

I'm not speaking about everything in life. There have been the occasional old man rants over the years. Clickbait headlines will always annoy me. And don't get me started about keeping people off my lawn.

And today, I'm going to add sports to the list.

Am I shaking my fist at the television (or internet), complaining about the lack of respect these kids have today for the game? No. If anything--thanks to the rise of the internet--there might be more respect for the history of the game than there ever was.

Will I stand on a soapbox and tell you how today's players in various leagues aren't as good or as tough as the players of yesteryear? No. Generations produce different aspects of greatness, with things like safety coming into play. (Though I will say there is a certain league that has done a fair amount to eliminate fun from their games. Different story, different time.)

Sports are ingrained in me. I will take watching a sporting event--ranging from basketball to soccer--over most things any day of the week. Professional sports leagues are constantly evolving and need to in order to keep new generations interested. There is something to be said about keeping connected to the older generation's ways, though.

Baseball

Moneyball is a great book and a fantastic movie. Billy Beane stands at the forefront of the analytical movement. And the rise of thousands of stat categories are trying to ruin reading about the sport for me.

Give me the "back of the baseball card" stats any day of the week. I don't need to know how hard a pitch was hit. I can see with my eyes. Batting average on balls hit in play? No thanks. Batting average is simple enough for me, as are home runs, runs batted in, and runs scored. These numbers are still pretty indicative of a player's worth and value yet there are articles that don't even mention--even casually--what these numbers are.

To an older generation of fans, these are the numbers that matter. And don't even get me started about strikeouts. Strikeout numbers are through the roof, but back in the day being struck out meant something. There was a failure aspect to it, especially with runners on base.  Back in the day, one would just check in to see how many times Mickey Tettleton or Rob Deer struck out. Now, the top-ten leaders in single-season strikeouts are all from the last ten years, including the great Kris Bryant.

Speaking of great players: I don't need wins above replacement (WAR) as a stat to tell me the value of Mike Trout. Your all-world MVP is injured? Of course your wins are going to take a nosedive.

I may never break and get swayed to the new age analytical fans' way of thinking, but I am bending. I pay closer attention to WAR for the middle-of-the-line players. And on-base plus slugging has crept its way into my heart, but I'll take a good runs scored stat any day of the week.

Basketball

My old school view on basketball is less about stats and more about the super teams way of thinking seeping into the league.

It's been touched upon in the halls of this blog already, but I'd rather see teams build around a core unit than buying a team.

Now, I'm not saying free agency is bad. Players should have the right to choose who they play for and how much money they can make. It's a free market and I applaud that.

What I don't like is the idea of general managers/owners blowing up a team that won, say, 53 games by removing players from the roster that got you to this point. There's something to be said about adding a piece or two, but possibly mortgaging depth/a future by bringing in two to three more superstars isn't always going to work. 

By adding essential pieces--say one more scorer and a solid defensive player/rebounder--a team can keep the winning intact. In turn, the team that has played together for a few years has a better chance at winning than a team throwing a bunch of superstars together and hoping for the best.

The Golden State Warriors won a championship without Kevin Durant, mostly with a homegrown team and a few key pieces (not necessarily stars) via free agency. Even the super team of the Miami Heat with LeBron James and Chris Bosh had Dwyane Wade and a collection of players that had been in Miami for years.

While we're at it, bringing back the mid-range jumper would be a nice thing as well. Watching the Lakers-Celtics rivalry discussed on ESPN recently, I watched footage of games that seemed to be played quicker, was more fluid, and had the mid-range jumper on a fastbreak instead of jacking up a three. (And fast breaks that were done with mostly passes, not just dribbling. The Lakers could move the ball down the court with three passes only and get a layup. Kevin Love and the Cavs are only one of a few teams I see do that in today's modern game.)

I really do love sports. It's just sometimes I really do like how they were played and discussed in my day. Of course, this is coming from a man that still likes to listen to games on the radio. 

So what do I really know.

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