Klosterman & The “New” vs. “Old” Media

If this is the only blog you read and you find little reason to head over to ESPN.com these days (like Aaron Gleeman), you might not have heard about the little discussion Bill Simmons & Chuck Klosterman had the other day. The two wrote a “column” on a sports centered site that happens to discuss everything but sports. In between talking about (I kid you not) the movie Face Off and which was Pearl Jam’s greatest album, they take time out to bash blogs and the young generation.

Klosterman: …What will be interesting about the coming generation of people (at least if you’re a writer) is that they will have a twisted concept of what the word “media” is supposed to mean. A term you hear people use a lot these days is “New Media,” which really just means, “Electronic Media, Minus the Actual Reporting.” This is what the Internet is, mostly. I constantly see all these media blogs that just link to conventional “Old Media” articles and pretend to comment upon them, but they add no information and no ideas. They just write, “Oh, look at this terribly archaic New York Times story. Isn’t it pathetic?” But that sentiment is being expressed by someone who’s never done an interview and has no tangible relationship to journalism. It all seems kind of uncreative…But the net result is that all people are starting to assume that the media is inherently useless and that there is absolutely no difference between news and entertainment. This will make the coming generation even more cynical than the current one, which is mostly bad (but not necessarily tragic). I think this is why so many teenagers are obsessed with things like myspace.com: They have lost interest in the world at large, so they’ve decided to just build an interior culture where they are the sole focus. They can live without the world.

What Klosterman doesn’t understand is that it’s not the “New Media” that creates its own world, but rather it’s the “Old Media”. Every summer there seems to be a slow news week that is filled by reports of shark attacks which is blown out of proportion. Each year around 70-100 people world wide are bitten by sharks, with only about 5-15 of them being fatal. Last year in America, 2 people were killed by sharks and there were 30 total attacks. Simply put, you’re 20 times more likely to end up like the bishop in CaddyShack than the skiny dipper in Jaws.

But by watching the news you would never get that impression. Everytime a shark attack report comes on I listen intently for one of those announcers to state some pertinent facts. I wait for someone to say that shark attacks are extremely rare. That beach goers have nothing to worry about & would better serve their health looking for a lifeguard than a fin. But it never comes. By failing to do this the mainstream news is misleading the people. They’re lying by omission.

In 2002, only 0.7% of all deaths in the U.S. were homicides, and there has been only 1 case of mad cow disease in the US. (The person had just traveled from the U.K.) In reality neither of these affects the average individual on a daily basis, but you would never know that from watching the news. The “Old Media” has fabricated their own world where shark attacks, double homicides, and mad cow disease are the norm.

Klosterman blames the “New Media” (blogs) for the masses confusing news with entertainment, but the shoe seems to be on the other foot. The “Old Media” with their “if it bleeds – it leads” mentality has turned the news into entertainment. In their quest for ratings, the news has turned to fantastic stories of murder, rape, drugs, disaster, fire, and sex. To spice things up, the national news channels throw in graphics, scrolling bars, and Tucker Carlsons.

Klosterman is right about the cynical new generation with their 1000 channel televisions, high speed internet connections, and 5 second attention spans, but they are cynical because of the world that they live in. They are born into a world where everyone lies, from their favorite baseball player, to that woman who cooks & does crafts, to the right wing show host. They live in the world where the news is saturated with sensationalism and missing vital facts.

So you have a group of people who are looking for information and opinions they can’t get elsewhere. And that where the “New Media” comes in. Some bloggers give a voice to those that aren’t represented in the mainstream. Some message boards are places to discuss ideas that the press won’t talk about. When Larry King has psychological predator Sylvia Browne on his show, despite her refusal to live up to her promise to be tested for her “abilities” for 4 years, the people have nowhere else to turn but the web. The “coming generation” isn’t fabricating a world for their egos, they’re trying to discover the real world behind the smokescreen that the “Old Media” has created.

Carnival: A to Z

If you don’t know what a Carnival is, click here. Otherwise welcome to KnickerBlogger’s NBA Carnival. I dedicate this to the Pixies who in the late 80s did their concerts A to Z. Meaning they took all the songs they wanted to play that night, and arranged their setlist in alphabetical order.

We’ll start with All That Jazz who features a bunch of Gleeman-length blogs, the latest being “Jazz Ride Rollercoaster to Victory“. Moving midwest, Bulls Blog climbs out of his sick bed long enough to check out what swingmen might be available this offseason. Stopping his division winning shimmy long enough to rate the Boston rookies is Celtics Blog. They’re not bloggers, but Kelly Dwyer previews the final week of the season, and Eric Neel proves the West Coast bias that my coworkers and I bitch about while staring at the Atlantic Ocean. Continuing with a West Coast flava, Forum Blue and Gold defends Kobe’s bad grades

HoopInion is the place you want to go if you want to scout out some second rounders. While he’s no John Hollinger (but who is), Father KnickerBocker discusses the Knicks bad defense. Lovin’ the NBA, non-sports blogger Make Me Some Cocoa covers both the East & West. Maybe he can guest write for NBA Fan Blog, who is resting himself for the playoffs.

While Steve Francis sheds his self-serving image on Orlando Magic Fan’s blog, the APQRmetrics group discusses Kobe’s selfishness. Oh typo, I mean APBRmetrics. Further down emotional lane, RaptorBlog.com talks about Wimpsanity’s return to Canada, and SuperSonicSoul feels bad for KG & the Wolves.

The Pistons, representing the East, talks about LeBron bolting after 2007, while the San Antonio SpUrs Blog bemoans the disparity between East & West. I’m sure LeBron leaving isn’t something The CaValier Act wants to consider. Warriors in the City is probably hoping there is a change in the power out West, and hoping eXactlY the same happens in the East is CraZy for the Heat.

Gleeman’s iPod Shuffle

The first blog I ever came across was Aaron Gleeman’s Baseball Blog. I’ve been a regular for at least 2 years, but to this day I’m not sure how I ran across his page. Most likely I found it either through Rob Neyer’s message board (when he was still free & the board more or less fanboy free) or baseballprimer (when you didn’t have to register).

Aaron’s blog is not only one of the longest running sports blogs, but very likely the best. He’s working on many different side projects from Insiderbaseball.com to Rotoworld.com to his own coalition of bloggers at the Hardball Times, and probably a few that I’m missing. Aaron is so well known that even his name has become part of the vernacular. Gleeman-length refers to an article that’s extraordinarily long.

Just yesterday A.G. wrote a column called the The iPod Shuffle

…I thought it might be kind of interesting to put my (generic) iPod on shuffle and see what the first, I don’t know, let’s say 40 songs are that come up.

Keep in mind now that this sort of exercise can really only lead to you guys mocking me for my musical taste (or lack of), so it takes some guts to do it. Music is one of those things where you’re bound to say you like a song that someone else thinks is complete crap. And I also fully admit to liking a wide variety of complete crap.

Also, I realize 99% of you couldn’t care less, but oh well …

So here is my wide variety of complete crap:

1 Firehose Epoxy, For Example
2 Lauryn Hill Final Hour
3 Pixies Wave Of Mutilation
4 Depeche Mode Master And Servant
5 TMBG Shoehorn With Teeth
6 Dead Milkmen Big Lizard
7 REM 9
8 Dead Milkmen Rastabilly
9 The 2 Tone Collection Ylang Ylang
10 U2 The Ocean
11 Smoking Popes Pretty Pathetic
12 Belle & Sebastian Mary Jo
13 U2 A Sort Of Homecoming
14 Belle & Sebastian Roy Walker
15 Barcelona 1980
16 Galaxie 500 Decomposing Trees
17 Sundays So Much
18 TMBG Chess Piece Face
19 Elvis Costello Man Out Of Time
20 The Whole Fantastic World Under Red Umbrellas
21 REM So. Central Rain
22 TMBG Hotel Detective
23 Beatles Mother Nature’s Sun
24 Dead Milkmen (Theme From) Blood Orgy Of the Atomic Fern
25 Pavement Hit The Plane Down
26 Barcelona The Power Of Jen
27 Less Than Jake She’s Gonna Break Soon
28 Firehose Makin’ the Freeway
29 Pavement Stereo
30 Paul Simon Hearts & Bones
31 Elvis Costello What’s So Funny Bout Peace Love & Understandin
32 Dead Milkmen Serrated Edge
33 Ween She Fucks Me
34 REM Pretty Persuasion
35 Pavement AT&T
36 Weezer Glorious Day
37 Lauryn Hill Superstar
38 RHCP Suck My Kiss
39 TMBG My Evil Twin
40 Belle & Sebastian Dear Catastrophe Waitress
41* Ocean Blue It Never Just Might
42 B-52s There’s a Moon In the Sky
43 Rx Bandits Babylon
44 Apples In Stereo Go
45 Skankin’ Pickle Toothless & Grey
46 Planet Smashers It’s Over
47 Modest Mouse Dog Paddle
48 Who See me, Feel Me
49 Sonic Youth Screaming Skull
50 Beautiful South Woman In the Wall

Since my iPOD is filled with every album from about 5-10 bands, the randomizer isn’t a true cross section of what I listen to. Quite honestly I don’t listen to those bands as often, they’re just a safety blanket on my iPOD. After I was done with the top 40, I forwarded through until I got 10 songs by artists that weren’t in the original list to give a wider view. If you can’t tell, I’m heavily influenced by 80s/90s/00s new wave/modern rock/college radio or whatever they call it these days. I have the feeling I’ll have the most songs that aren’t on any of the other bloggers that decided to participate in Aaron’s game.

#1 fIREHOSE – If you can stand bad punk singing and love the bass, you should own fIREHOSE.

#6 Dead Milkmen – The Sex Pistols had the attitude, the Dead Kennedys were anarchists, the Ramones were cool, but no one could combine punk and witty sarcasm like DM. The most under-appreciated band of all time. 8 original albums (plus live albums & compilations) and they’re only remembered for Punk Rock Girl?

#10 By #2, my top 5 bands, of which I own nearly every album (and of course which take up considerable space on my iPOD) show up. I’m guessing they take up 1/3-1/2 of my iPOD. In no particular order: REM, U2, TMBG, the Pixies, and the Dead Milkmen.

#11 Smoking Popes – Saw a video of theirs on Much Music in college. The only had 3 albums, and then the lead singer decided to do Christian Rock. Reason #581 on why I try to keep my theistic/political views out of my blog. There is no reason to narrow my audience to anything other than the main focus.

#15 Barcelona – They caught my eye by writing a song about the Commodore 64, which is what I use to run the stat page. Just imagine if New Order were computer nerds. I saw them live twice, and they put on a great show & the keyboardist was really nice. No longer together.

#20 Whole Fantastic World – Mark my words, they’re going to be big. Probably the best “find” I’ve had in the last 5 years. Thank you WOXY.

#27 Less Than Jake – LTJ is the recess peanut butter cup of punk & ska. Not crazy about the last few albums, but Hello Rockview is one of my favorite albums both in song content and CD layout.

#33 Ween – Great song title that the randomizer picked, very appropriate for Ween. I wonder how my Google ranking will increase with this one. Welcome pr0n searchers!

And now for open season on KnickerBlogger’s musical tastes in the comments section…

Stats & The Straight Dope

If there is anything I enjoy most, it’s setting people straight when they’ve been misinformed. So let’s remove any doubt from the following facts:

* Man Walked on the Moon
* Dinosaurs Walked the Earth (the first two are for Carl Everett)
* Sylvia Browne has no special powers (unless you think convincing people you have special powers is a special power)
* Billy Beane did not write Moneyball
* Eventually there will be a Nuns Gone Wild (link rated PG)

But what about per minute stats in the NBA? What can they tell us about a player? Doing a quick search on the net reveals some diverse opinions.

But more importantly, per minute stats are a very bad way of assessing a players ability… Per minute stats have made players like Fizer, Lee Nailon, Tskitivilli, R.White and many more look like the could put up MVP numbers if we converted their stats to 48 mpg. What you need to ask yourself is if those teams really have such an awesome player WHY ISN’T HE GETTING MORE MINUTES? The answer is because he isn’t that good and his limited PT and small sample, usually in garbage time, makes him look better than he is…

Kevin Pelton:
NBA statistical analyst John Hollinger wrote in this year’s edition of his Pro Basketball Forecast series, “It’s a pretty simple concept, but one that has largely escaped most NBA front offices: The idea that what a player does on a per-minute basis is far more important than his per-game stats.”

per minute stats def(inately) don’t stay level with changes in minutes…there are guys whose stats per minute would go down with moe minutes. there are also guys whose numbers per minute go up with moe minutes…though in general it’s still a useful measurement.

And two more from the same thread:
those per 48 minute stats are ridiculous and pretty meaningless. I’ve never seen anyone use those except with (Oster)Tag.

I don’t think that proves much at all, per 48 minute stats are meaningless.

According to the general public, per minute stats are bad way of assessing a player’s ability, but are more important than per-game stats. They are a useful measurement that changes with a player’s minutes, and are ridiculous and meaningless. Hmmmm, you’d probably get closer to consensus asking one of those riddles that has no real answer like “which ice cream flavor is the tastiest?” or “how do you determine a college football champion without a playoff system?”

Some of these opinions on per minute stats are a bit surprising considering that a study was published on the topic more than 3 years ago. In the 2002 Pro Basketball Prospectus John Hollinger asked and answered the question “Do players do better with more minutes?” For every Washington player, Hollinger looked at each game and separated the stats on whether or not he played more than 15 minutes. He found that when players played more than 15 minutes, they performed significantly better than when they played less. To check his work, he used a control group of 10 random players, and each one of those improved significantly as well.

The knock on Hollinger’s study is the small sample size, containing less than 25 guys from only one season. Enter Justin Kubatko, the site administrator of the NBA’s best historical stat page www.basketball-reference.com. Earlier this week Justin decided to re-examine the theory using a bigger sample size. Taking players from 1978-2004, he identified 465 that played at least a half season and saw a 50% increase in minutes the year after. Three out of four players saw an increase in their numbers as they gained more minutes, although the average increase was small (+1.5 PER).

Two independent studies have shown that NBA players get better when they get more minutes. A conservative interpretation is that per-minute numbers are universal regardless of playing time. So if a player averages 18 points per 40 minutes, he’ll do about that regardless of how many minutes he plays. A more liberal summary would say that underused players will see an improvement in their per-minute numbers if given more court time. A player that only averages 20 minutes a game is likely to be a little bit better if given 35. So the straight dope is per minute stats are a fantastic way to evaluate NBA players. And dinosaurs existed.

Dirk, The Daring Defender? Odds & Ends

[If you haven’t read yesterday’s column, you’re not visiting often enough. Click here, read it, then hit back on your browser. Then remember to come here more often. :-) ]

Yesterday, I busted out a table with defensive PF stats. It was to see if Dirk Nowitzki statistically was a serious choice for an All Defensive Team spot. One thing I didn’t consider was that there are four spots between all the forwards. So Dirk would be competing against small forwards as well as power forwards. Adding a few entries to my list:

Name...........	DRank	eFG	 PER 	+/-	oeFG	oPER
Tim Duncan..... 1 .431 15.1 -6.7 .403 14.4
Rasheed Wallace 3 .449 14.6 -5.8 .442 16.1
Elton Brand.... 9 .467 15.3 -4.5 .453 14.3
Dwight Howard.. 13 .440 15.1 1.2 .455 17
Tyson Chandler. 2 .447 14.7 -0.8 .463 18.7
Dirk Nowitzki.. 6 .477 15.3 -4.6 .499 16.3
Andrei Kirilenko 30 .496 16.7 -12.1 .371 11.6
Tayshaun Prince 3 .474 14.4 -3.4 .472 13.4
Bruce Bowen.... 1 .500 13.1 -6.0 .500 13.3
Manu Ginobili.. 1 .396 9.8 -7.3 .385 10.2

Andrei Kirilenko’s numbers are just sick. Due to his injury they represent a small sample size, but he’s light years ahead of the non-Duncan field. Whether or not his time missed will cost him some votes remain to be seen. Bowen’s statistics, while still above average, are meager for his excellent reputation. Looking at Ginobili’s numbers reveals a “Hedo Turkoglu Effect.”

For those that aren’t familiar with the works of Kevin Pelton, the HTE describes what happens statistically when a team uses a defensive stopper that can play multiple positions. Bowen defends the stronger offensive player, whether he is at SF or SG. Therefore Ginobili defends the weaker one. Hence the defensive numbers gets blurred between the two. I can guarantee that Manu’s excellent defensive stats are largely the work of Bowen (and Duncan).

A poster by the name of Sterling commented in Cuban’s blog, (not this Cuban blog)

“For instance? Why are the Timberwolves a .500 team? Well the rank right their with the Mavs as far as field goal percentage, 3 point field goal percentage, and rebounding…But, has anyone notice that they rank 28 out of 30 in Free throw attempts….I think they are putting up to many jump shots…

Now imagine the argument and debate…Maybe somebody will find after reviewing several games that the lack of free throws has more to do with certain player(s) (two particularly) getting touches, than anything else?”

Instead of wondering if Sterling uses the same spell checker as myself, I thought I’d tackle his question. At the time of his writing, the T-Wolves had a .558 winning percentage. By points per 100 possession, Minnesota is ranked 5th offensively, but are an awful 19th on defense. The Mavericks are ranked 7th & 6th respectively, so it’s clear that the difference between the two is the T-Wolves lack of defense. Looking at the four factors, Minnesota is average in defensive shooting percentage, but next to last in forcing turnovers. If I were reviewing games individually, I’d start by looking at eFG & turnovers of Minnesota’s opponents.

Game 3: The Sixers

After the Knicks first loss, a hard fought battle on the road against one of the NBA’s best team, came their second loss, an effortless embarrassment on their home court. New York needs to do one simple thing tonight: outscore their opponent. No it isn’t a “must-win” game, but it’s a “they-should-really-win-this” game. The Sixers have been on a steady decline since their 2001 Finals appearance, winning only 33 games last season. Philly represents the Knicks’ easiest challenge to date.

What am I going to watch for in tonight’s game? First is if Nazr Mohammed & Tim Thomas decide to start their season. Neither has made any impact so far, and I’m sure both of them are tired of reading the name Keith Van Horn in the papers. Next thing is if the Knicks are challenging the Sixers’ shots. Their opponents eFG% has been through the roof in the first two games, and I wonder if this is going to be a season long trend or if it’s just an early aberration. As always I’m going to see how much Sweetney & Ariza play. Sweetney hurt his thumb in the Boston game, but I’m more curious how the Knicks’ future continue their development. Finally I’ll wonder if this is the day Lenny Wilkens takes my idea & institutes a trap/press defense.

On another note, there’s been some good blogging going on early on in the year. These Days tops my list, and not just because Shaddax approved of my trap/press idea for the Knicks. If you like basketball, baseball, football, soccer, boxing, or great writing you’ll like his site. Bulls Blog is getting press from the mainstream, which means now is your time to request Matt to write an article about the Bulls on your fantasy team. (Thanks Matt!) Keeping it real for the influx of ex-Americans who can’t tolerate “4 more years” is Scott of Raptorblog, while Jeff is hoping the Celts will make it three championship teams in one year in Beantown. If you have a fantasy team, you might want to check out Gimme the Rock, or maybe Aaron Gleeman (the most famous blogger in the world), if Blogger doesn’t conspire to keep his blog NBA free.

Check them out, as well as the links along the side of the page. There’s lots of great writers out there. Just come back tomorrow, hopefully for a recap of a Knicks win.

Ranting Spree

[If you are looking for the John Hollinger interview, it is just below this article or just click here.]

A quick note to Latrell Sprewell: When a championship caliber team that is already paying you twice what you deserve ($14.6M) this year, offers you a 3 year deal at $9M a year that will run until the age of 37, when no one else in the league will pay you anywhere near that much money…TAKE THE MONEY & RUN, instead of complaining about it.

Of course if Latrell wanted to make mega-dough, he should find out what stats Winston & Sagarin are using for their WINVAL ratings, and concentrate on those. That’s what last year’s MVP Hedo Turkoglu did, and it worked for him.

Personally I think Winston & Sagarin aren’t trying to contribute to basketball knowledge as much as they are trying to be the funniest duo of the 21st century (previous winners: 20th century: Laurel & Hardy, 19th: Gilbert & Sullivan).

Winston & Sagarin 2002-2003 WINVAL ratings were:

1. Kevin Garnett
2. Tim Duncan
3. Dirk Nowitzki

Not bad, until you get to the next two guys:

4. Scottie Pippen
5. Richard Hamilton

Ugh! The rest of the top 10:

6. Stephon Marbury
7. Kobe Bryant
8. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
9. Jason Terry
10. Jon Barry

Interesting that they thought Marbury is in the top 10. Of course, a year later, they would issue this statement:

“Marbury’s one of the top 10 players on offense,” Winston says. “Everybody thinks this guy is a great player. But when he’s on defense, he gives it all back.”

So one year they say Marbury is a top 10 player, the next year they mock anyone would who make that claim. One year Tim Duncan is the #2 player in the league, the next he’s the third best Spur (behind Turkoglu and Ginobili). No wonder they only claim a 60% success rate for predicting future ability. For $29,999.99 a month less I can predict anything 50% of the time.

Winston & Sagarin are the stat version of Joe Morgan. Just like Joe, they contradict themselves and make ridiculous claims. Everytime they come out with these lists, it’s just more ammunition for stathead-haters to roll their eyes “at guys who’ve never been to a game.” Winston & Sagarin are doing harm to those that do meaningful statistical analysis. Maybe I can convince someone who pays for their information, that it would be in their best interest to not let WINVAL ratings be seen by the public. Or better yet, maybe I can convince them not to pay for such poor advice.