Monday, January 28, 2008

Two funny jokes

Celebrity pick from Gilbert Gottfried on KSK. Having seen The Aristocrats is helpful. A South Park version can be seen here.

Roger Clemens' agents have released The Roger Clemens Report in an ill-conceived attempt to further convince the three people who believe Clemens has been steroid-free throughout his career. The first problem though, is that it's called "The Roger Clemens Report."

(bh gags)

Clemens appears no more sympathetic or innocent than he has at any point since the Mitchell Report was released. The authors of this report assert that Clemens has experienced "largely unpredictable ups and downs that all major league pitchers endure in their careers (Pg. 6)." What is most telling about Clemens career, as has been argued ad nauseum, is the abrupt change between 1996, when Clemens was with Boston, and 1997, his first year in Toronto and, allegedly, his first year using any kind of steroid. We all know ERA is not the best measure of a pitcher, but all stats cited come from the most recent report:

1996 - 3.63 ERA, 257K, 106BB = 2.42 K/BB
1997 - 2.05 ERA, 292K, 68BB = 4.29 K/BB

The report suggests that 1996-'99 represented Clemens' peak as a pitcher (3), though with even a very quick glance at the report one recognizes 1996 should not be included in that statement. The report also suggests that ERA is affected by a pitcher's switch between leagues, though that does not address Clemens' precipitous drop in ERA and large increase in K/BB upon a switch to Skydome in 1997. While the authors imply that the stadium switch was partially responsible by alluding to the "hitter-friendly" nature of Fenway Park, they fail to provide a breakdown of Clemens' statistics away from Fenway, in pitcher-favored parks, or why Clemens was able to pitch well in 2004 through 2006 in hitter-friendly Minute-Maid, despite a switch to the N.L. One would think, at best the benefits derived from switching leagues might be overcome or at least cancelled out due to pitching in such a small stadium. The authors cite Clemens' 2004 through 2006 Houston resurgence was due to his being an "extemely experienced and knowledgable pitcher," who was "pitching for his hometown team for the first time in his career" (7). His 2006 success is attributed to his late-season start and not having to travel. Clemens' experience, knowledge, and motivation was worth a run per game ERA improvement between 2003 and 2004, and another run between 2004 and 2005.

The authors cite ERA Margin as a "sound and reliable measure of the quality of a starting pitcher's performance" (4). Clemens has experienced significant improvement in his ERA margin over the previous seasons in '85, '86, '90, '94, '96, '97, '00, '04, and '05, with jumps over 1 point better in '90, '94, '97, and '05. Interestingly, his ERA margin jumped a remarkable 1.03 points between 2004 and 2005, which cannot be explained through the authors' assertion that a drastic improvement can be achieved by switching leagues. Clemens was however still in tiny Minute-Maid Park. The authors also document the ERA margin over the careers of Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, and Nolan Ryan. While they are successful in demonstrating he indeed a pitcher's ERA margin fluctuates some degree from year to year, charts also show that, unlike Clemens, Schilling and Johnson have sustained generally the same levels of quality over an extended period of time with fluctuations nowhere near the same level as Clemens, aside from during injury-plagued years. Ryan, the pitcher to whom Clemens is most often compared, also remains relatively stable, though not to the extent of Shilling or Johnson. Ryan's ERA margin represents a pitcher who pitched at the same level over extended periods of time with a year here or there which doesn't fit. Clemens, meanwhile spent between 1999 and 2003 performing below his career ERA margin, then suddenly achieved the next three years above and well above his average.

The bulk of the report, following the initial Clemens/Ryan/Shilling/Johnson breakdown, is a collection of information regarding Clemens' run-support (irrelevant), DL stints, circle-jerk based on Clemens' late '96 season through the beginning of '99 (coincidentally, the first Brian McNamee-influenced years), his overall '99 crumminess, his rebound (again, coinciding with McNamee involvement), Houston studliness, and again, New York crumminess.

In the end, this feels like a whole bunch of nothing meant to blind the public with a whole bunch of nothing. What do the statistics cited by the Hendricks' and the rest of the report's authors mean? Nothing. Other than that we know some of Clemens' best years, as demonstrated by the Clemens camp, came in some of the years in which McNamee, as demonstrated in the Mitchell Report, was very involved with Clemens. Clemens and his group of con-men have showed us repeatedly that they expect simply supplying some form of information, regardless of relevance or importance, will sway public opinion in his favor. Whether it was the McNamee phone call, which was as useless as this report, the "60 Minutes" interview, which was more damaging than anything Clemens has done, or Clemens' lawsuit against McNamee, which was a transparent attempt to avoid public Senate testimony and influence opinion even though there is no way the Clemens team wins the suit, nothing has persuaded us to believe this guy.

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