Monday, July 19, 2010

The Kirwan Effect

So, what did I miss yesterday? I jest of course. After all, it's July in the NFL off season which means nothing at all happened. Well actually, I guess one thing has happened. Michael Lombardi has been taking notes from Pat Kirwan and is showing the early signs of two serious problems: 1) "The Kirwan Effect" where one talks at length about an obvious subject without really bringing any new knowledge to the table. 2) The "Statistics in football" problem. This has been kicking about ever since the rise of Sabermetrics in Baseball. What you basically have is lots of people using statistics, as the saying goes, "the way a drunk uses a lamp post, more for support than enlightenment". I refer to his most recent article on where Michael "Did I mention I once worked for Bill Walsh" Lombardi decides to see if his mentor was right about the need for teams to take an early lead with the passing game. So he looks at a trend of teams that scored a lot in the first half making it to the playoffs. He includes the table for 'support'. The subtext of this part of article is of course, like all writers employed by the NFL, to 'support' the move of the league to a pass happy/all pass league. Top of the table are the Patriots, who notched up 282 first half points... only to be dumped out of the playoffs by the run happy Ravens. Things go smoothly from there until we get down to 8 and 9, the Jets and the Cowboys. At this point I noticed the table was actually ordered by first half points differential, or in other words teams that happened to score more than they conceded. Now considering that 8 teams finished ahead of the Super Bowl winning Saints (who were tied for 9th), that might be a cause for alarm that this theory is starting to lose water. Then the fact that the Bengals, Panthers and Falcons all managed to slip in there ahead of the Ravens who went further than any of them would appear to finally sink it. It just represents everything I hate about statistics, where people mindlessly grab at some arbitrary factor such as how many gallons of Gatorade a team drinks during a game to try and help them prop up their latest argument. It wouldn't matter so much if the Saints had been number one, the Colts at two etc, but instead it's just a random spattering of teams, that really tells us nothing more than the fact that shock, horror, !!!, teams that score more points than they concede tend to win games, which leads them to the play offs. I know, revolutionary stuff! The only other thing that's changed lately is that I've had to unfollow Warren Sapp on Twitter (which I'm sure he's gutted about) because he simply tweets too often. Every time I log on, all I see is just a mountain of Warren Sapp tweets and I'm afraid my eyes cant take it anymore. Sorry Warren. Have a great day everyone.


Anonymous said...

"...where one talks at length about an obvious subject without really bringing any new knowledge to the table"


Chris said...

I feel deconstructing an argument that I believe is false is a worthy use fo my time.