The Sound of Madness

gusjohnson

Hello Madness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again,
because a vision loudly creeping
left its seeds while I was sleeping,
and the aural vision that was planted in my brain
still remains
within the sound of Madness.

Last night, Fox Sports Live teased us by announcing a late-March appearance on their program of the great Gus Johnson, the Detroiter who rose to prominence as a college basketball announcer for CBS, working the NCAA men’s basketball tournament from 1996 to 2011. If you don’t recognize his name, surely you’ll recognize his voice. In short, Johnson was the genuine article, calling wild tournament games with pitch-perfect passion. None were better. None could be better. Cry while you while away your day with the Gus Johnson Soundboard.

Cry because, in 2011, Fox Sports hired Johnson away from CBS, and CBS let him leave, but CBS retained the broadcast rights to the tournament. Fox’s attempt to convert Johnson into the American voice of soccer did not work.

In Johnson’s absence, CBS appears to have tabbed Bill Raftery as Johnson’s spiritual replacement, a role for which he is ill-suited because 1) Johnson himself is irreplaceable and 2) Raftery is not a good broadcaster. That second point is an Unpopular Internet Opinion, so you have to read another paragraph on the subject.

Raftery seems ok enough in one-on-one settings away from a basketball broadcast, such as this segment on last week’s episode of Garbage Time. Get him on an NCAA tournament broadcast, though, and he is the worst. In a word: unlistenable. I’ve never heard anyone work so hard to consciously fabricate an air of spontaneous passion. Raftery is the unintentionally funny kid in high school who became self-aware, realized why people liked him and thought he was funny, and then actively tried to replicate his past affect to gain popularity, something that’s even more tortured to witness than this sentence is to read. Raftery is Tony Montana, who becomes a reckless wreck after buying too deeply into his own product. I’d rather hear Brian Collins call a tournament game than Bill Raftery.

The present situation is untenable. There can be no missions accomplished, no peace in our time without a reunification of Gus Johnson and the NCAA tournament. Messrs. Berson and Shanks: Tear Down This Wall.

And the people bowed and prayed
to the neon god they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
in the words that it was forming.
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
and tenement halls
and whispered in the sound of Madness.”

#FreeGusJohnson

Baseball Notes: The In-Game Half Lives of Professional Pitchers

baseball notes

Early in Victor Martinez’s career-renaissance season, that being the 2014 Major League Baseball season, I expounded– in a manner so brief it likely took less time to read than the length of an average Martinez plate appearance– upon one component of the (i.e., Rod Allen’s, colloquially) notion of Martinez as a “professional hitter”: Martinez’s ability to extend his plate appearances. I contended that one of the team benefits of Martinez’s approach is that it pushes pitchers to reveal more of their arsenal earlier in the game.

In looking for general evidence of this beneficiary concept by inverting the point of focus from hitters to pitchers, I found Ben Lindbergh’s recent analysis of pitcher performance. The broad, basic point: within a game, pitchers perform worse each subsequent time they face a batter.

pitchingthroughtheorderThus, if batters benefit from increased exposure to a pitcher, it would seem to make sense that, assuming they’re paying attention in the dugout, Martinez’s teammates would benefit further from the disproportionately lengthy plate appearances Martinez induces. Lindbergh’s conclusion confirms this:

The times-facing-hitter penalty isn’t as much a fatigue effect as it is a familiarity effect that compounds as hitters have time to study their prey.

(His article goes on to discuss pitchers’ attempts to strike back against this trend.)

While many will be watching Martinez for the wrong reasons this season, keep an eye on him and his ilk to see whether they can continue to help their teammates in secondary ways, regardless of what happens to their own primary production.

___________________________________________________________________

Previously
Baseball Notes: Rule Interpretation Unintentionally Shifts Power to Outfielders?
Baseball Notes: Lineup Protection
Baseball Notes: The Crux of the Statistical Biscuit
Baseball Notes: Looking Out for Number One
Baseball Notes: Preview

Tom Izzo Is The Best Coach In Modern NCAA Tournament History — By Far (via FiveThirtyEight)

A No. 7 seed unseats a No. 2 in the NCAA tournament’s second round about twice every three years, but there was something about Michigan State’s upset of Virginia on Sunday that felt more routine than that. Perhaps it was the fact that the Spartans had toppled the Cavaliers just last season, but beyond that, no second-week tournament run from Michigan State qualifies as surprising at this point. As you might have heard, Izzo’s Spartans are now 13-1 all-time in the round of 32, and they’ve visited the Final Four more often (six times) than they’ve lost in the tournament’s opening weekend (five times).

Digging deeper into the numbers only solidifies Izzo’s reputation as Mr. March. A few years ago, FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver wrote about how unlikely Izzo’s teams were to have consistently advanced as far as they did from the seeds at which they started — and that was at the very beginning of the five-season stretch (from 2010-present) where the Spartans advanced to four regional semifinals and one regional final. By any standard, Izzo’s teams tend to wildly exceed their expectations once the NCAA tournament commences. … Read More

(via FiveThirtyEight)

Two Points, Two Penalties for Abdelkader: One Wings Win

Aldland hits the road to see the Red Wings square off against the St. Louis Blues. The matchup was a close one that ended in sudden death overtime — after just 24 seconds of it.

Joe Louis Arena

Joe Louis Arena

Jimmy Howard warms up

Jimmy Howard warms up

A pane of glass is replaced midway through a very physical game

A pane of glass is replaced midway through a very physical game

Joakim Anderson (18) faces off against David Backes (42)

Joakim Anderson (18) faces off against David Backes (42)

Jimmy Howard scuffs up the crease

Jimmy Howard scuffs up the crease

Red Wings celebrate Justin Abdelkader's overtime goal

Red Wings celebrate Justin Abdelkader’s overtime goal

Read the full review here.

ALDLAND’s March Madness Bracket Challenge: Sweetening the Pot

On Monday, Brendan announced ALDLAND’s 2015 March Madness bracket challenge. This is our fourth year hosting an NCAA tournament contest, and our second in a row partnering with Baddeus Thaddeus Lenkiewicz. Important: there still is time for you to join. Click here to submit your picks for a chance to win limitless fame and one of the other “prizes” Brendan detailed in his post.

As an added incentive, we are bolstering the first-place prize package with a Mike & Mike Fifteenth Anniversary t-shirt from the gift basket the Mikes sent us for being such good listeners and always finishing our dinners before getting up from the table. Shirt is one-size-fits-you because they only sent us one (a Golic-ish XL).

Enter your picks here, and read about all the details here.

Garbage Time debuts with Adam Carolla unchained

Fox Sports 1’s newest show is a weekly program hosted by Katie Nolan. Based on the debut episode, which aired Sunday night at 9:30 and is available in its entirety here, the program will mix “Weekend Update”-style headlines with Olbermann-like short commentary segments, and guest conversations. We already know from her extensive online work and role on the late Crowd Goes Wild that Nolan can be both funny and precisely critical.

What remains to be seen is whether she can use her growing influence to draw good guests. If the premiere episode is any indication, this shouldn’t be a problem either. The first guest was FS1 NFL guy and (possibly former) BlackBerry user Peter Schrager, who seemed to succeed at 1) avoiding the use of his chair’s right armrest, and 2) convincing Nolan that wild wheeling and dealing during the NFL offseason is a good thing. Next up was Adam Carolla, who reportedly and completely believably “spoke at” Nolan for the better part of an hour to fill a five-minute segment, which is embedded above. Schrager and Carolla were good first-episode guests because they are interesting and entertaining, but also because they are used to carrying their own segments, ensuring that there would be no lulls in the conversation.

Garbage Time airs Sunday nights at 9:30 on Fox Sports 1.