Wednesday, August 02, 2006
My Letter To 'The Sports Guy'
I love your columns, read them a lot, and as a Red Sox fan, I love any articles about the Sox that you do. I just got done reading your comparision between Bird and Papi, and I have to say that I disagree with you through and through.
Now, I am a huge Sox fan, and also (and sadly) a Knicks fan. So I obviously love Papi, and have no real feelings towards Bird. However, I'm sure that if Bird was black, he wouldn't be considered a top 5 player (pardon my Scoop Jackson. I don't want to start playing the race card, but that's just how I feel). Anyway, I think that Papi is on a level higher than any athlete I've ever seen, especially Bird.
Your stats said it best, that in the past 1 1/2 seasons, Papi has "converted" on 14 of his 15 game ending chances. And that doesn't include his '04 post-season, in which numbers and words can not merit that performance. Now, I know he had 4 or 5 walks in that, but that's still a success. Let's look at that again. 14 of 15...
The reason I say that is because baseball players have a 35% chance of getting on base (the good ones) every time they come to the plate. Now, consider Papi does his damage against top-flight pitchers, given that they are closers, let's lower that chance to 25%. Now I am no math guru, but converting 14 of 15 chances is a 93% sucess rate. I mean, that is simply out of this world. If you even take away his walks, it's STILL 66% chance that he will end the game on a hit. Now, compare that 93% success rate to the average of 25%...and my god you know he's clutch.
As for Bird, the average basketball player has a 50% chance of making a shot. I have no clue what Bird's stats are when he takes a shot with the game on the line, but if they were higher than 70% I'd be astonished. And I know you may say that it's not all about the shot, but it is. You put the ball in the hoop to score points, and scoring points wins games...it's as simple as that. So by Bird making 70% of his game-winning shots (which may be a generous number) compared to the league average of 50%, you can't possibly say he is more clutch than Papi?!
Now, I hated to bust out the formulas and percentages, but as an avid reader of your column, I just had to respond. I respectfully disagree with your opinion on this case, even though I know you LOVE Bird, but Papi has basically reinvented clutch.
I mean, 14 of 15, come on that's unreal. That sounds like A-Rod's numbers in a mid-April, mid-week series against the Devil Rays (zing....)
Hope you get a chance to read this, thanks for your time.