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Dallas Stars Daily Links: Empty Rage Against Explaining the Game, By Charles Barkley

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And why shouting insults at everyone isn't as effective an educational strategy as you might think. Also, Enroth is poised to play some hockey game(s), and Marc Methot is looking for a double nickel deal.

A metaphor of some kind, I am pretty sure.
A metaphor of some kind, I am pretty sure.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

A popular "bit" in our culture involves taking a piece of media--often a movie or an article--and taking it apart line by awful line.  MST3K probably did this as well as anyone, and the brilliance of their mockery inspired a large number of people to follow suit with everything from Fire Joe Morgan to the Flophouse podcast to the old Tyler Dellow excoriations that were so enjoyable (though certain subjects were not always amused).

Satire, riffing, "taking apart," shredding, or whatever you want to call it is pretty fun to do, especially when you sink your teeth into one of those things that's just so, so bad that each line is a veritable gold mine for the prospective shredder.  I've done this, and most of us have talked with our friends about how we need to start a podcast and do this regularly because it would be hilarious, right?  So, that was kind of my first inclination when I read this little chestnut from Mac Engel:

Charles Barkley, you go girl.

Our greatest modern-day sports philosopher dangerously ripped into a crew of people slightly more sensitive than Trekkies, Stars Wars geeks and coffee-house hipsters when he took aim at the world of sports analytics.

"I’ve always believed analytics was crap," Barkley said this week on TNT’s Inside the NBA. "It’s just some crap that people made up to try to get into the game because they had no talent."

Amen. These people belong in the same sentence as referees, sports journalists (guilty as charged) and agents. About 98 percent of us were not good enough to play, so we talk about it, write about it, theorize about it and now offer mathematical formulas that these self-important people really do believe affect the outcome of a game.

[snip]

Beware, Chuck. These nerds have memories longer than a jilted lover, and they know how to use a Google Docs spreadsheet to prove that not only are you incorrect, but that your Hall of Fame career was nothing, and that you are a failure. But Barkley is only slightly wrong when it comes to his scathing indictment on the growth industry that is analytics. A lot of smart people believe it has some use. It undeniably has had an impact in matchups, and it has helped grow a new sector of the sports economy.

My deep annoyance at this influx of numbers and situational stats has been met with scorn and criticism because this batch of nerds refuses to admit that, at its core, sport is simple. That’s why we love it in the first place. See ball, hit ball. Ball go in hoop. Ball go across line.  [Star-Telegram]


Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/mac-engel/article9760319.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/mac-engel/article9760319.html#storylink=cpy

It gets more strident from there, but there's no point is quoting further.  You get the picture.

You know what, though?  I don't need to tear this apart at all.  I think pieces like this that extol the author's own martyrdom at the hands of [always a pejorative term] do the author more damage than anyone else.  It's basically just a loud rant that probably feels pretty good, but it creates approximately zero room for dialogue or respectful discussion.  It's the arrogant voice on the hill--and, to be sure, some of those Engel would characterize as "nerds" are as guilty of this as anyone--telling everyone to shut up and listen because they all just don't get it.

Again, I really think the column condemns itself.  The numbers (or "analytics" if you want to misuse the term) also speak for themselves, which is kind of the point of them.  Sport is indeed simple in its essence, but it's also thickly veiled.  We want to know why players are as good as they are, and that has been the case ever since Babe Ruth probably answered a question about the source of his hitting prowess by crediting Old Gold cigarettes.  Piercing the shroud of mystique surrounding our favorite sports is the impetus for the so-called "analytics movement" just as much as it is the reason sportswriters like Engel have a job in the first place.  We want to know more.

Besides, scary new words like "Corsi" just give us extra ammo for John Klingberg's Calder case.  Who wouldn't be happy about that?

* * * * *

Friday links are here, but don't get too attached to them.  They go bad pretty quickly.  It is Friday the 13th and I don't have a spooky reference or anything.  I made a tuna-and-tomato sandwich for dinner last night.

Here's Mike Heika's update from practice yesterday.  Sure sounds like Ruff sees Enroth as a starter.  [DMN]

John Klingberg is a "force" already.  [Hockey's Future]

Two games for Roussel wasn't enough according to Stanley Cup of Chowder.  I have no idea what act equals what number of games anymore, but probably, cross-checking people in the throat should be discouraged.  [SCoC]

This analysis of the Winnipeg/Buffalo trade is pretty interesting until you get to the part where they say Adam Pardy is a potential trade asset.  Maybe there are two Adam Pardys.  [Arctic Ice Hockey]

Nashville had some coordinates confusion last night, to put it mildly.  Those bumbling ninnymugginses just kept a-runnin' into each other! to put it not as mildly.  [SB Nation]

Minnesota won again last night.  They are 7-0-1 since the All-Star break, while Dubnyk is 9-1-1 with the Wild.  That is called "making a run."  [Star Tribune]

Brenden Dillon got punched in the face kind of hard Wednesday night.  [RMNB]

The Kings wore some, ahem, interesting throwback uniforms last night.  "I would like to accuse the yellow helmets, with the sartorial aggression, in Staples Center."  [Icethetics]

Cam Fowler says the Ducks are trying to acquire another defenseman.  Given how the last few games have gone, it's tough to argue with their logic.  [LA Times]

It's believed that Marc Methot wants $5 million AAV for five years, says Bruce Garrioch.  [Ottawa Sun]

Everyone seems to be pretty certain that Phil Kessel is going to be traded this year.  [Pro Hockey Talk]

What is Kessel worth, though?  What can you get for him?  Aren't we all just terrible people, trying to put a number on our fellow human beings.  [SportsNet]

Ten years later, what did the lost lockout season accomplish for the NHL?  [Grantland]

Remember those streamers coming down from the rafters during two separate playoff series wins in 2008?  Those, or at least similarly-designed confetti guns, may be gone for good due to a lawsuit stemming from an incident in which a part from a confetti gun fell down and seriously injured a child.  [TSN]

Here is a very interesting article about the continuing movement to raise the hoops in basketball to 12 feet. [Sport.Vice]

Finally, Jhonas Enroth spoke to the NHL Live guys about, you know, things: