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- RT @GlobeChadFinn: Cool flashback in the Red Sox TV booth coming tomorrow night. Bob Montgomery will handle color alongside Orsillo. #
- BSMW Network Post: Football Outsiders Almanac 2009 Interview With Aaron Schatz http://tr.im/uDY3 #
- Check out my interview with @JasonLaCanfora in this week's edition of Patriots Football Weekly. Subscribe here: http://tr.im/uEaL #
- BSMW Network Post: A Wednesday Blog http://tr.im/uDY2 #
- RT @fb_outsiders: Our @doug_farrar with a fantastic WaPo piece on #Eagles Jim Johnson: http://bit.ly/mwlhR #
- BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Safeties http://tr.im/uDcn #
- NH Union Leader sportswriter arrested on "two felony charges of deriving income from prostitution." http://tr.im/uD7B #
- Massarotti's blog changed Dice-K getting fat eating "dumplings and shumai" to "cheeseburgers." http://tr.im/uC34 #redsox #
- BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – The Linebackers http://tr.im/uBqG #
- RT @SportsMediaNews: New blog post: Free NFL Sunday Ticket and Netbook from Verizon and DirecTV http://bit.ly/zoR67 #
- D&C with an interesting interview with the Commish of the UFL #
- Good Bruins interview with Fluto Shinzawa on Toucher & Rich right now. #
- BSMW Network Post: Sox Bullpen = #epicfail Against A’s http://tr.im/uzN9 #
- BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Defensive Line http://tr.im/uzN3 #
- BSMW Network Post: Wednesday’s Viewing Picks http://tr.im/uzAy #
When it comes to statistical analysis of football, no one does it better than Football Outsiders. For the past four years, in addition to their work on the internet, they’ve also published the Pro Football Prospectus. This year however, their publication is titled the Football Outsiders Almanac 2009. So what happened?
From the introduction of the book:
So why the name change, and why aren’t we in bookstores?
For those who don’t know, our frst four books were published through an agreement with Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, the company that owns Baseball Prospectus (as well as the expansion projects Basketball Prospectus and Puck Prospectus). It was PEV that had the publishing contract (first with Workman, then Plume). This year, for various reasons, Plume decided they no longer wanted to publish books related to other sports besides baseball. Other publishers were interested in doing our book, but by the time Plume made their decision, it was too late to get on the publication schedule for 2009.
Thus, because of this mess, they decided to go the self-publishing route.
The head honcho of Football Outsiders is Aaron Schatz, he’s a Patriots fan and New England native. He and I go back a few years, so I asked Aaron to answer a few questions and give us a taste of what to expect in this year’s edition.
I’m not sure what we’re going to do for next year yet. We have a couple of publishers who are interested in putting out Football Outsiders Almanac 2010 as a standard book. Once we get into October and the book is done selling for this year, we’ll sit down and figure out whether it makes sense to go back to a regular publishing format. We definitely lose a lot of the “promotional value” of the book by doing it ourselves, since we’re not in bookstores to catch the eye of casual readers who may not know about our website. However, there are also significant advantages to producing a book online. We keep a larger share of the gross sales. Also, the previous books were written and edited under a completely ridiculous rushed schedule, where we basically had to do the entire thing in about six weeks after the NFL draft. By doing it ourselves this year, we had an extra month. I think it meant a lot fewer errors in the text, not to mention a huge heaping helping of sanity for me and the other writers. My wife definitely prefers the self-publishing schedule because she didn’t have to be a single parent for six weeks.
2) How have you improved the DVOA in version 6.0?
DVOA, for those who don’t know, is our main statistic. It stands for “Defense-adjusted Value Over Average.” We take the success of every single play during the season and compare to other plays based on situation and opponent. We’ve updated constantly since I started doing this back in 2003. The biggest change this year is that we’re now considering the baseline differently for offense and defense. That allows us to better measure some plays that are really the responsibility of the offense only, where the defense has no effect: false starts, delay of game, and aborted snaps. We’ve also improved the way we adjust for teams playing from behind or with a lead in the fourth quarter.
3) I see you’re also doing more College Football in this publication, tell us about that…
Well, as a Bostonian I don’t really follow college football. The line I usually give to people around the country is that if it doesn’t have to do with Doug Flutie, nobody around here really cares. But I also know that college football has a huge following in other parts of the country, and there’s no reason why we can’t provide the same kind of intelligent analysis for the college game. There’s also the benefit of eventually being able to make better projections which NFL draft picks will succeed once we have more data on the college game. So I went out and looked for people who loved college football as much as I love the NFL, who write well, and who had the same outlook on doing advanced stats, and I found Brian Fremeau and Bill Connelly. We’ve been doing their stats on FO for a couple years now, and this year I wanted to expand that with a full college preview. So the book has about 90 pages of college football in addition to all the NFL material. There are stats tables and writeups for every team in the six BCS conferences, plus a handful of the top independents and mid-major teams. The goal of our college content is the same as the pro content– we want to go beyond just ranking the teams 1-120 and really look at WHY teams won or lost last year and why we can expect certain teams to improve or decline this year. College fans will really enjoy it and people like me who know nothing about college football can learn what they should be looking for on Saturdays in preparation for the 2010 draft.
By the way, we have BC projected 14th in the nation, for those people who do care…
4) What are some of the key differences between the Football Outsiders Game Charting Project and the official boxscores and play-by-play.
Oh, we measure all kinds of things in the Game Charting Project, adding detail to the play-by-play so we can better analyze teams and players. The biggest item is probably defensive coverage — measuring defensive backs by how they do in coverage rather than just when they make tackles. We mark the formation on every play. We mark the number
of pass rushers and blockers so we can see which teams do the best when blitzing or not blitzing. We track why passes are incomplete, so we know which quarterbacks tend to overthrow their guys, or who suffers from the most dropped passes. We count quarterback hurries by defenders, dropped interceptions, and a number of other things.
5) Since we’re dealing mostly with a Patriots fanbase audience here at BSMW, tell us something surprising about the Patriots that we’ll learn in the book…
Here are five fun tidbits.
- Last year, the Brady-less Patriots actually had the best offense in the NFL from Week 9 onwards, according to our DVOA stats.
- The Patriots led the league with an average of 6.2 yards after catch; the next highest team, New Orleans, averaged just 5.6 yards after catch.
- The Patriots ran WR or TE screens 30 percent more often than any other offense.
- Showing the weakness of last year’s secondary, the Patriots didn’t have a good pass defense even when they hurried the quarterback. Only New Orleans and Detroit were worse when there was a quarterback hurry. The Patriots allowed a league-high average of 7.3 yards after catch on plays where they hurried the quarterback.
- The Patriots’ 47-7 snowstorm blowout of Arizona was the second-most impressive game played by any team since 1994, according to single-game DVOA ratings. The only team to score higher in one game was the 1994 Philadelphia Eagles, when they beat eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 40-8 in Week 5.
Leading by three runs in the ninth inning, Jonathan Papelbon couldn’t close out the A’s, who tied up the game on his watch, and then Oakland scored more two runs in the 11th inning off Manny Delcarmen to pull out a 8-7 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Amalie Benjamin has a pair of Nick Green throwing errors in the ninth inning leading to Papelbon’s downfall. Michael Silverman has the bullpen handing this one over to the A’s. Robert Lee has the Sox letting one slip away last night. Eric Avidon has a late-inning letdown doing in the Sox. Ron Chimelis has the Sox coughing it up in the late innings. Jim Fenton has the bullpen finally letting up after not being scored upon since before the All Star break.
Benjamin has the Red Sox visibly frustrated and disappointed over Daisuke Matsuzaka’s public criticisms of the Red Sox training methods. Silverman notes that there was considerable emotion coming from the Sox on this issue. Joe McDonald says that Dice-K’s comments are not being taken well by the Red Sox.
Dan Shaughnessy, who took a little ribbing yesterday for only showing up at the park when something stupid is going on, looks at the fall from grace of Daisuke. Ron Borges says that Dice-K just wants to do things his way. Dom Amore has a look at the two sides at odds over training methods. Mike Fine has more on the situation.
Ben Collins examines the bullpen meltdown. Rich Thompson has Clay Buchholz with nothing to show for his work yesterday. Lee says that this was a rare meltdown for the bullpen last night. McDonald looks at Green’s ninth-inning miscues which led to the A’s being able to tie the game. Jennifer Toland observes that usually a three-run lead and Jonathan Papelbon on the mound are enough to win.
Alex Speier looks at the toughest 24 hours of the Red Sox season. David Willis says that it would be worth giving up Buchholz in order to get Roy Halladay. Joe Haggerty has Buchholz ignoring the trade rumors.
Lenny Megliola has a memorable week coming to a fitting end for Jim Rice. Jennifer Toland has more on the honor by Rice, who was emotional at Fenway last night. Thompson looks at Jim Rice’s uplifting moment last night, and Collins has more on No. 14 being retired by the Red Sox. Chris Helms has Rice proud to be among the Sox elite. Chimelis has another Hall of Famer joining the ranks of retired numbers.
Check the Bay Area Sports Media for West coast coverage of last night’s game.
The Herald notebook has the Sox still in the thick of the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. Benjamin’s notebook has Clay Buchholz making it through this outing with better results than his last. The Projo Red Sox journal has the Sox trading Mark Kotsay to the White Sox for outfielder Brian Anderson. Their postgame journal has Buchholz’s solid start being wasted. Avidon’s notebook has more on Dice-K being at odds with the Sox. Chimelis’ notebook has more on the trade with the White Sox. Toland’s notebook also examines the Dice-K issue.
Mike Reiss looks over the training camp roster and sees a pretty stacked team. Shalise Manza Young lists the teams to beat in the NFL this year. Glen Farley previews the special teams. Karen Guregian looks at Tom Brady’s approach for this season, and whether his knee will be on his mind.
Hector Longo says that all eyes will be on Tom Brady tomorrow. Rich Garven says that the Patriots are aiming for a return to the postseason this year. Mark Farinella says that the Patriots defense still has issues. Longo says that the offensive talent can’t be touched, but there are still questions on defense. Christopher Price looks at the linebackers.
Chimelis has former Celtic Dee Brown being named head coach of the Springfield NBA DL team. Jessica Camerato has Rajon Rondo trying to be a leader by example. Frank Dell’Apa says that Gabe Pruitt’s time with the Celtics might be coming to an end.
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- RT @mikesofine: Francona disappointed in his $102 million man: http://bit.ly/11mnOE #
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- Stop the presses, MUST-LISTEN radio: RT @weeisports: Lenny Clarke will join Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning at 8:10am. #sarcasm #
- BSMW Network Post: Our Tuesday Links http://tr.im/urGB #
- BSMW Network Post: Free Advice for WBZ-FM http://tr.im/urpc #
- BSMW Network Post: Today In Patriots History – Victor Kiam Agrees To Buy Team http://tr.im/urp6 #
- RT @celticsblog: Rosen calls KG overrated, front runner, and choker – http://bit.ly/b70Lr #
- BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Tight Ends http://tr.im/upXp #
- BSMW Network Post: Tuesday’s Viewing Picks http://tr.im/upB9 #
- RT @PaulESPNPR: Gems from BBTN research group 3: Daniel Bard hit btwn 99.3mph and 99.8mph 5 times last night. #
- BSMW Network Post: Beckett Has A’s Well In Hand http://tr.im/uoZo #
- BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Offensive Line http://tr.im/uoP3 #
I’ll admit, I’m a little obsessed with the idea of a viable second sports radio station in Boston. Other cities have several, (Dallas has four) so why can’t it work here?
I have to say, while I’m excited for the premiere of the new 98.5FM The SportsHub on August 13th, the early feeling I’m getting is that it is just going to be more of the same. Speaking right now, on July 28, WEEI doesn’t have much to worry about.
Let’s look at what we know thus far:
Toucher and Rich will be the morning show. I’ve listened to them a little bit since the announcement was made, to try and get a feel for what they have to offer. When I listened yesterday, the segment was about what to do when you accidentally pee on yourself. While they no doubt will talk more sports on the new station, it’s still not going to be an all-sports program. There’s some “rule” out there that says all sports in the morning can’t work. OK, say that’s true. T&R will hopefully stay away from the nasty, biting political talk that dominates D&C, and will ideally keep things pretty light in the mornings. How do the sports fit in? Will they do regular “sports flashes” or whatever they’re going to call them? What type of guests will they have? That’s going to be a big factor in whether the show can compete.
My formula for the show would be to talk at a minimum 50% sports, with guests each hour, and keep the rest of the show light. Do some humor, some pop culture, whatever. Don’t try to become the moral compass of the Commonwealth. Stay away from the nastiness.
I can see myself still listening to D&C a fair amount of the time, especially when they have guests, and on Patriots Mondays and Fridays.
Gary Tanguay is going to do the mid-day show. Which Gary Tanguay are we going to get? I generally like Tanguay, except when he goes into his patented “panic” mode. It happens way too much for my taste. He just sounds fake, contrived and generally ridiculous. Some of the Patriots pregame shows that he has done are examples of the worst radio I have ever heard in my entire life. At times during the Patriots 2007 season you’d have thought they doing a pregame show for the 2008 Detroit Lions.
(By the way, Tanguay will still be hosting the Patriots pre and post game shows on 98.5 along with Scott Zolak and Andy Gresh.)
My free advice for this program is for Tanguay to aim for more of a “Dan Patrick Show” type of feel. I think Tanguay could pull it off if he was setup correctly. He needs to talk, to inform, to entertain, not just stir things up with the aim of getting reaction. From what I’ve heard there will be rotating co-hosts on this show. I’d actually rather see the show setup so that Tanguay is the main figure, with a sidekick, to toss things off of, and a series of call-in guests. These can be local, but I might actually prefer outsiders, especially writers or radio hosts from cities that have a team playing the Boston team that day. Also reach out the local beat writers, especially for the Bruins and Patriots, to give us the latest on those teams.
Depending on how it goes, I think I’m still going to have heavy doses of Dale & Holley, which for pure sports talk, is the best show WEEI has to offer.
Now we come to Mike Felger. When Felger started his show on 890ESPN, he vowed that his show wouldn’t follow the WEEI model and spend “four hours talking about Manny peeing in the wall.” The show got off to a promising start, but when the ratings didn’t follow, he changed course and jumped back to the WEEI style, and eventually back to WEEI itself. The mistake made here was concluding that the poor ratings were due more to a horrific signal rather than to a rejection of the early content of the show.
It was reported this week, first by Ken Fang, and then by Jessica Heslam, that WBZ-FM made a hard run at WEEI regular Lou Merloni, who after auditioning for a spot with Felger, decided to sign a deal to remain with WEEI. (Interestingly, Fang reports that CBS rejected Merloni after hearing his audition…spin?)
That’s not encouraging to me. Not that Merloni remained at WEEI, but that WBZ-FM thought that he was the guy to target. This just tells me that they’re looking to rob WEEI of “talent” and perhaps copy the model. Merloni was their top target? Why? When he first came on the air, he was a breath of fresh air, but time spent at the knee of Glenn Ordway has turned him into just another voice, especially when talking sports other than baseball. He’s good as a baseball analyst, but I don’t really want to hear his take on the Patriots defense.
After failing to get Merloni, who is Felger/WBZ-FM going to go after next? Fred Smerlas? Steve DeOssie? Bill Burt? Ron Borges?
Like the Tanguay show, this program is also supposed to have rotating co-hosts. I’d prefer a “Mike and the Mad Dog” approach to the afternoon drive. Have two permanent hosts, who can talk knowledgeably on any sports topic, and attract intelligent callers who bring something other than a tired shtick to the airwaves. This is probably a total pipe dream on my part, because the “rule” of Boston sports radio seems to be that you can only talk Boston sports. Besides, who currently in the Boston media is going to be able to do this? If they’re not willing to bring someone in from the outside, maybe the rule needs to be rewritten.
I would settle for a smart, informative show, with again, many guests. Bring in some of the beat writers from the smaller papers as call-in guests. (Much better than four hours of Fred and Steve) Get some national voices to talk about big events elsewhere. Whatever you do, don’t pound the same topic into the ground for three straight weeks. Or even three straight hours. Keep it moving.
Do that, and I might never listen to the Big Show again, which despite the ratings, is the weakest show in the daytime WEEI lineup.
We don’t know yet about the overnights or weekends. I don’t have as strong of opinions on these timeslots, so I’d be welcome to suggestions. Ben Maller is looking for work. He’s a national guy with a pretty big following, who was let go from FoxSports Radio after doing the overnights for quite a while. Does Ted Sarandis want to get back into the radio game?
On the weekends, would you just go national and carry as many college and pro sports events as you could get your hands on, or would you do more local programming? A show devoted to the Bruins? A Sunday morning NFL show leading into the Patriots (in addition to the three-hour pregame show)?
Overall, the new station has a lot of work to do if they hope to compete with powerhouse WEEI. Some of the early moves leave me thinking that rather than competing with, they’re trying to copy WEEI. That’s simply not going to work. If someone wants to listen to WEEI, they’ll listen to WEEI, who already has their formula perfected, not to a startup that is merely trying to imitate them.
For all the criticism I aim at WEEI, I have to tip my cap to them for what they’re able to accomplish in terms of ratings. They’re very good at what they do, which as Chad Finn famously put it, is catering to the lowest common denominator.
If WBZ-FM hopes to succeed, they need to target and cater to the reasonably intelligent and informed fan base, not the just the casual fan. Bringing in Tanguay and Felger (and chasing Merloni) aren’t a promising start to that end. Prove me wrong, guys. If you’ve got any further questions on programming, my fee is quite reasonable.
Josh Beckett went seven innings last night, striking out 10, and the Red Sox offense came to life last night, leading to a 8-3 Boston victory over the Oakland A’s at Fenway Park.
Michael Silverman says that the Red Sox had little trouble exploiting the weaknesses of the A’s last night. Amalie Benjamin has Adam LaRoche leading the offense with two doubles. Jeff Goldberg has Beckett and the Sox offense having their way with the A’s. Paul Kenyon says that a balanced offense was the key last night. Bill Ballou has Beckett with another Cy Young-worthy effort.
Alex Speier has Daisuke Matsuzaka and the Red Sox at odds over his training methods and the best way to keep him healthy. In a Japanese article, “Matsuzaka still laments the fact that the Sox do not permit him to practice nagekomi, or marathon throwing sessions.”
Ben Collins has Beckett setting a model for pitchers everywhere, with his quick, efficient work. Ron Borges says that tonight is a critical night in the career of Clay Buchholz. Bill Burt says that David Ortiz, not John Smoltz is the reason for the Red Sox struggles recently. Joe McDonald says that trade deadline week can be an anxious time in the Red Sox clubhouse. Mike Fine agrees that this can be an unnerving week for the players. Chaz Scoggins has the Red Sox taking a break from their summer slumber at the plate.
Brian MacPherson has a look at the Red Sox bullpen, which has not allowed a run since before the All Star break. Rich Thompson has Mike Lowell pondering where he is going to fit in the new lineup. Jim Fenton has Adam LaRoche impressing early in his time with the Red Sox. McDonald has Terry Francona hoping that Pete Rose can be reinstated into baseball. Speier teaches us a few more lessons from the Sox’ win.
In a fresh, new take, Gerry Callahan says juicers shouldn’t be allowed in the Hall of Fame. Also, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.
Benjamin’s notebook looks at how Mike Lowell is going to deal with reduced playing time with the addition of Adam LaRoche. Silverman’s notebook says that the Sox might wait and make a waiver deal in August. Goldberg’s notebook says that a lot of the names you’re heading associated with the Sox in trade talks are just rumors. The Projo Red Sox Journal says that the Blue Jays probably won’t trade Roy Halladay within the AL East. Burt’s notebook has Clay Buchholz getting another chance to impress. Ballou’s notebook has a look at Adam LaRoche’s fast start with the Red Sox. Fenton’s notebook has Beckett continuing his Fenway dominance.
Christopher L. Gasper examines the makeover that the Patriots have had at the cornerback position, but concludes that we don’t know for certain if they actually got any better. Ron Chimelis wonders if Tom Brady will be a hit again, or if he’ll just get hit hard again. Mike Reiss examines the top issues heading into camp, including his favorite topic, being able to make stops on third down.
Christopher Price checks out the defensive line for the Patriots. Mark Farinella has the Patriots signing top draftee Patrick Chung. Glen Farley says that tight end is still a weakness for the Patriots despite the offseason additions of Alex Smith and Chris Baker.
Jim Donaldson says that it was easy to root for old-time team owners like Billy Sullivan and Art Rooney, but not for modern hipster doofuses like Daniel Snyder and Mark Cuban.
Mark Murphy has the Celtics and Pacers reworking a deal that will eventually bring Marquis Daniels to Boston. Robert Lee says that Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace have a friendship that goes way back. Jeff Howe says that the Celtics are adding onto the big three this offseason.
Sarina Mathai has the Boston College football team picked to finish last in their division of the ACC, but Conroy has head coach Frank Spaziani liking his team. Conroy’s notebook has a positive update on the health of linebacker Mark Herzlich, who battling Ewing’s sarcoma.
- BSMW Network Post: Even More Monday Links http://tr.im/ukte #
- RT @sportsguy33: Link: Howard Bryant's feature on Billy Beane was worth the read. http://tinyurl.com/nasx9v #
- RT @MikeReiss: Globe colleague Christopher Gasper with some Pats news — Crable on PUP. http://tinyurl.com/met4jd #
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- BSMW Network Post: Today In Patriots History – Hannah Hits The Hall http://tr.im/uhip #
- RT @bostonradio: Patriots Radio Network on-air crew – Gil and Gino on p-b-p, Gary Tanguay(host) w/Scott Zolak an Andy Gresh. #
- BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Wide Receivers http://tr.im/uf8F #
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- RT @JonCouture: Red Sox Gm 97 (6-2 L) Reloaded at http://bit.ly/GQMax – Raging at Michael Silverman's dumbass column takes time, apparently #
- BSMW Network Post: Season’s Greetings – the Running Backs http://tr.im/udnH #
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- BSMW Network Post: Smoltz Lets Sox Down Again http://tr.im/ucCa #