The Phillies Bought a Computer

Amaro

On the day after ABC aired an episode of Modern Family, a major prime time sitcom, that was set on a Macbook screen and shot entirely on an iPhone, we learned that the Phillies entered the 21st century by buying a computer.

David Murphy, reporting on the most analytically-challenged team in all of major American professional sports:

Perhaps most significant, the Phillies are investing more than a million dollars in the building of a proprietary computer information system they hope will play a similar role to the Red Sox’ well-known Carmine system, serving as a database for scouting reports, medical histories, statistical models, and more.

The Cubs began building their own computer system in 2012, shortly after luring Theo Epstein, the man who built Boston’s formidable analytics prowess, away from the Red Sox and naming him president. One of Epstein’s early moves was to sign Cuban prospect Jorge Soler to a 9-year, $30 million contract. Compared with the $63 million the Red Sox committed to the signing of Yoan Moncada, maybe you can put a price tag on prescience.

“We haven’t gotten to the point where we want to get to yet,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said, “but we are making that transition and adding to our arsenal, as far as information is concerned. It’s not the first time we’re dealing with it. We’ve utilized analytics in the past, but we’re putting a little bit more emphasis on it and we’re trying to be creative with it.”

Thus far, Ruben hasn’t yet been able to clear the 9×9 cell level of Minesweeper,” added a high-level front office exec with knowledge of Amaro’s computing habits. “But, we’re working on it.”

Joke’s aside, this is a good thing, I guess? Better late than never, right? Problem is: As long as Ruben Amaro and Pat Gillick are in charge (Gillick was quoted as saying “We won five years in a row, and we don’t consider ourselves an analytic organization”), this is never going to become a thing. Just the mindset of we won without them before is flawed, because it fails to consider the fact that, within the last five years, virtually every team has started using analytics, thus putting the Phillies at an extreme disadvantage. Without front office changes, their buying a big, fancy computer is like a phone booth maker adding a cell phone charging station inside its latest model and calling it a day. This should solve our problems! Just need a minor adjustment here. Right back on track!

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ABC’s The Goldbergs Paid a Visit to “The Vet” Last Night

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After being denied permission to visit fake Veterans Stadium, getting permission to visit fake Veterans stadium, and tackling Eagles/Cowboys fan love (a lot for one season), ABC’s The Goldbergs finally visited the lovable hell hole last night.

The whole episode was an homage to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” as the Goldberg crew visited the Vet (standing in for Wrigley) and caught a foul ball, Bartman-style:

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All in all, it doesn’t specifically scream “Hey, it’s The Vet” other than that guy behind them shoving food into his mouth, but we’ll take it. Video after the jump.

Continue reading

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Seven Things You’re Missing If You Aren’t Paying Attention to the Sixers: Bad Ish

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s officially official. It’s been a week since Sam Hinkie sent Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee at the trade deadline, but last night was the first time MCW saw the floor for the Bucks. Against his old team, no less. Things did not go well for the Sixers, but let’s talk about some positives. Here’s what you’ve been missing if you haven’t been paying attention to the Sixers.

1) Though whispers came out of the trade deadline saying the Sixers were listening to offers on Joel Embiid, he’s still here. And according to Grantland, he’s got real value. Embiid was ranked the 35th best asset in the league in Bill Simmons’ annual trade value column. In the entire league. Simmons closed out his praise for Embiid with a lazy and tired dig at the Sixers’ plan, but it’s still a positive.

2) Nerlens Noel’s jumper (and foul shooting) are starting to come together. As Max Rappaport says, the Sixers coaching staff rebuilt his shot from the ground up, and they’re finally seeing it pay off. Here is Nerlens’ shot chart from the start of the season until January, via StatMuse:

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And, with an admittedly smaller sample size, here it is in February:

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That’s some real improvement. Additionally, Noel shot 50% from the free throw line from October through December. Since then, he’s shooting 67% from the line (and getting there at a much higher rate). It’s still not incredible, but it’s good to see real offensive growth from a player who came in as strictly a defensive prospect. Continue reading

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Oh Nos! The Toddfather Hath Departed

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Multiple reports that Todd Herremans has been released by the Eagles. He was technically the longest tenured player on the team and had a cap figure of $5.8 million next season. By cutting him, the Eagles will save about $2.8 million in cap space.

It’s interesting how, in a little over 12 months, the Eagles’ offensive line as gone from a strength to a question mark, at best.

Presumably, Herremans was informed of his release by the team before reports surfaced.

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Pat Burrell Will Be Inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame, Your Woman’s Heart

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The Phillies announced today that Pat Burrell will be inducted into their Wall of Fame:

Left fielder Pat Burrell will become the 37th inductee into the Phillies Wall of Fame on Friday, July 31, prior to the 7:05 p.m. game vs. the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

“It’s a tremendous honor and privilege to be added to the Wall next to Philly’s all-time greats,” said Burrell. “My family and I couldn’t be more grateful for the support from fans. Their votes are the reason that I will now be enshrined in Phillies history.”

Can’t wait.

Side note: I have it on good authority that the last time Burrell was honored in Philly, in May of 2011 to retire as a Phillie, he invited the guys responsible for the don’t let your girl get Burrelled video to the game… and spent the days and weeks before and after it texting the girl from the video, who was dating one of the guys in the group. So, yeah, Burrell was trying to Burrell (v.) the girl in the video about him Burrelling girls. God he’s a legend.

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A Dez Bryant Video May Actually Exist, May Show Nothing

Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Photo credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Kyle went out on a limb to say he didn’t think any scandalous Dez Bryant video actually existed. I agreed with him. Today, we found out that there was at least some kind of incident at a Wal-Mart, but there still may not actually be video of it.

According to Mike Florio, the NFL has (surprise, surprise) at least known the details of a supposed incident for over a week. The Lancaster, Texas police department sent NFL Media an incident/investigation report “via the Texas Public Information Act” regarding said incident. Here’s how Florio describes what the report says:

An unknown person called the police to explain that a black female was “being dragged from one vehicle to another vehicle” by a black male. The vehicle the woman was dragged from was a Mercedes registered to Dez Bryant.

When a police officer responded, a Wal-Mart security guard explained that he arrived at the scene with the door to the Mercedes still open and a child’s toy on the ground, but that no one was present. Then, two men pulled up in an Escalade registered to Dez Bryant. The two men, Carl King and Christopher Mitchell, said they received a call from the alleged victim, asking them to pick up “her” Mercedes.

Then, a Bentley arrived in the parking lot, with the alleged victim and Dez Bryant inside. The alleged victim claimed that she had an argument with a man named Alex Penson, that she was not assaulted or injured in any way, and that it was “just an argument” with Penson. The alleged victim claimed she was dropped off at a friend’s house, and that she contacted Bryant to pick her up.

The responding officer determined after talking to all parties that there was no offense, and that everyone was free to go.

Florio said the video is likely to come out (if there is one), but what it would show is up in the air. If what the police believed what happened actually happened, then Dez has done nothing wrong. If not, this could be an issue.

There is still not one even remotely legitimate source that has said they’ve seen the contents of a video.

And on the whole “5x worse” thing: Abuse is abuse. It’s terrible. It doesn’t need to be hyped up or quantified for hits or put side-by-side with other instances of abuse to decide which is worse. It’s always indefensible. If a video does come out and it shows Bryant abusing a woman, we’re going to be inundated with people wondering if what he did was worse than what Ray Rice did, if he should be suspended for longer than Rice was, etc. At the bottom of it all, Rice should probably be in jail, and if there is video of Bryant dragging a woman across a parking lot (which there may or may not be), he should have been arrested too. Instead, it becomes fodder for pundits and ESPN and hot takes on your Facebook timeline. We can talk all day about whether the NFL is handling domestic abuse the right way, but before it even gets to them, it has to be dealt with.

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RADIOBLOGWARS: It Looks like We’ve Gone to the Mattresses

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This would prove to be a source of much contention 

Tony Bruno and Josh Innes had me on their show today to basically have a debate about my previous post– that CBS Philly and WIP running with reports about Dez Bryant from Terez Owens is reckless at best. All fair, all part of this silly little February game. But the conversation quickly turned to our RADIO WARS coverage, which often focuses on Josh and the recent turmoil at WIP. You might imagine how things devolved from there. The audio is here.

Innes pressed me on my continuous reporting that he’s operations manager Andy Bloom’s “boy.” Which he is, according to the numerous people I’ve spoken to over the last year. Bloom, whose career is still a thing partly because he played a role in bringing Howard Stern to the Philly airwaves some time ago (many people have told me, separately, that he seems to think Innes is his next Stern), has put his eggs in Josh’s basket. That’s not a slight to Innes, or even Bloom, but it’s reality, or at least the best version of reality that anyone can possibly report.

Then Bloom, whom I’ve never had a conversation with in my life prior to today, saw an opportunity for classic, 90s shock jock radio sitting on a tee and jumped in the studio, calling me a “fraud” and a “first-rate a-hole” and accusing me of F-ing over people’s lives. Like a big, gravelly-voiced baby, Bloom explained how he had a problem with our (almost entirely accurate) coverage of the changes at his station. He may not have liked it*, and I get that, but that’s his problem. And I can’t help it if a good number of his employees, ex-employees and competitors think he’s a joke.

*Even if we basically served as an extension of WIP’s PR department with all of our posts about the new Afternoon show, including the one about his stupid-ass idea to give Innes a fake suspension– also accurate, by the way.

I pressed him for an example on the F-ing over people’s lives thing, because I was generally perplexed by that one, but Bloom, bravely, walked out of the studio after encouraging me to call him in his office. Which I did.

Typically, out of respect, I’d extend the professional courtesy of keeping a private conversation off-the-record, even if no such terms were discussed or even implied. But, when you call me an asshole on live radio without even attempting to explain the statement, you lose my respect. Continue reading

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Reporting on Dez Bryant Thing Is an Absolute Mess

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There might very well be a video of Dez Bryant making a Will It Blend? video with a baby or something similarly heinous, but I’m skeptical. Either way, this is how rumors spiral out of control: This CBS Philly-WIP story, citing an extremely unsubstantiated “report” about Bryant from Terez Owens, is now the most up-voted result when you search “Dez Bryant” on Reddit, the second hottest Dez Bryant result of the day on the site, and currently sitting atop the /r/Eagles subreddit.

That’s CBS Philly, a decidedly mainstream outlet, with a name that instantly legitimizes anything it gives credence to, throwing the “report” tag on the “five times worse” line, which came from a rumor-mongering gossip site that once reported that Russell Wilson is gay, thus legitimizing the so-called report. And as I write this, Joey, who runs Terez, is on WIP with Josh Innes (who compared Terez Owens to us and Deadspin*) and Tony Bruno, and said he hasn’t seen the video, hasn’t seen a screenshot, but “heard from a buddy who is kind of an insider from that angle” that there’s a bad Dez Bryant video. “I peddle smut,” he said, before reiterating that he doesn’t actually know if there’s a video.

Maybe there is a video that is “five times worse” than the Ray Rice video, but that doesn’t excuse the media’s embarrassing handling of this.

*Bullshit. Imagine if I did all this with the Riley Cooper video without actually seeing it– people would’ve slaughtered me. 

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