Tidbits

I’m back from a weekend trip to Illinois.

A quickie for now, regular blogging to resume forthwith.

1) Andy Schwarz, whose work is terrific, explained last week that UAB was probably *not* losing money on football, contrary to their claims about why they decided to cancel their program. This runs contrary to most analysis of the decision. Andy doesn’t provide much of an explanation for what the actual motive was, if finances weren’t the culprit (and of course, institutional leaders might misunderstand finances, just like political leaders continue to insist on the need to reduce deficits, when it’s not necessary – or even a good idea – to do so).

But Schwarz’ guess is that very few if any other FBS schools will follow suit, at least not if finances are their primary concern.

2) Jay Cutler now leads the NFL in interceptions. Haven’t we talked about this before? Here’s a tip for sports analysts – when a plays really well sometimes and plays like crap a roughly equal amount of other times, he’s not “inconsistent.”

He’s mediocre.

3) Finally getting around to reading Dave Zirin’s entertaining book, Bad Sports, a series of profiles about all the obnoxious, taxpayer-bilking owners out there. In his chapter on George Steinbrenner, Zirin does what so many sportswriters have done – he writes Bernie Williams out of the history of the Yankees’ recent dynasty. Like many others who’ve referred repeatedly to the “core four,” Zirin credited the likes of Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Mariano as homegrown players integral to the Yankees’ run from the mid-1990s through 2009. The heart of their success came from 1995-2003. 1995 was the first year the Bombers made the postseason since 1981. And over the following eight seasons, they won four world titles and six league pennants – among the greatest stretches in the history of the sport, only surpassed by some previous Yankee teams. And Bernie was a great player throughout that run, until his performance fell off the table in 2003. In those first eight seasons of the new dynasty, Bernie never had an OBP below .390, and only once did he slug under .500. A model of consistency, he accumulated between four and 6.4 wins above replacement in each of those eight years, according to baseball-reference.com. In fact, Bernie totaled more WAR in those eight years than Jeter did in his first eight years as a full participant in the Yankees’ reign – from 1996-2003.

As Baseball Prospectus once said, it’s hard to believe that a great Yankee centerfielder playing in the midst of a dynasty could receive so little attention.

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