71 thoughts on “Well, there goes the rest of my free time”

  1. I’ve been reading Bill James’s work for 25 years. There are so many echoes of his stuff in this blog every day.

    Bill has taught us that some baseball “truisms” can be examined and debunked. He seems even more delighted when a study verifies a baseball maxim. That means we learned something.

    My favorite parts of Bill’s work are always his comments on players, taems, and managers. He never lets us forget that he’s a fan,

    If he had a litlle more wit, he might be Mac Thomason someday.

  2. I’d say he’s done more than be one of the ones who’s helped it along.

    He’s almost single-handedly responsible for getting the whole movement started.

  3. Bill is more or less the grandpa of statistical fandom. At this point, there is more advanced stuff out there that tells us more, but he is still fun to hang out with and spend an afternoon reading.

  4. Completely off topic, from http://www.al.com/sports/birminghamnews/rmelick.ssf?/base/sports/1202202959194200.xml&coll=2:

    Saban, who said he visited as many as 100 high schools last spring, said he and his staff “have 35 instances last year of other coaches sitting down and talking with players in the spring – clear violations. But I never turn other guys in.”

    In other words, Saban is firing a shot across the bow of the other big programs in the conference. Don’t think about turning him in, because he’s got dirt on you, too.

    I wish Bobby Johnson would be willing to come forward with whatever amount of dirt he’s found.

  5. There’s a great passage on Saban in Michael Lewis’s “The Blind Side.” It sounds like he’s just about the slickest person you’ll ever meet. And that is why he will never, ever, ever be out of a job.

  6. Only because college football—and the SEC, in particular—is so crooked.

    Jim Harrick doesn’t have a job anymore, does he? Then again, UGA’s basketball team wasn’t making the school/conference a ton of money even when they were winning…

  7. The Bill James site will be a fun diversion. I began buying the Abstract in 1983. Opened my eyes a lot, but what struck me (and what a lot of people seem to miss, especially the stat geeks) is that Bill James is a terrific writer. To me, that’s what makes his work most compelling—he can actually tell a story & not bore you to death with numbers.

    UGA basketball has never had any sustained period of excellence, way before Harrick showed up.

    Basically, UGA hoops was nothing until Hugh Durham/Dominique showed up. But strangely, the Durham teams would make the NCAAs when things went awry (injuries, etc.); but when they didn’t & they were slated to do well, they’d be NIT-bound.

    Also, I’m the biggest Harrick hater there is, but he was a fantastic X-and-O basketball coach.

  8. I think you missed my point, ububba. I was just saying that the reason Harrick was run off was because basketball doesn’t matter to UGA. A football coach guilty of the same sorts of violations would, even if he were run off by UGA, find work elsewhere.

  9. The reason Harrick was run off if because that skunk headed piece of cow dung Mike Adams had taken a personal interest in bringing him to UGA. So, when it looked liked it could come back on him, he came down hard on his man and screwed over the young guys that did nothing wrong. Its pretty much the basketball version of the movie “Clear and Present Danger”, with Jarvis Hayes playing the part of Willem Dafoe and Adams being represented by both the short sighted old president and his evil minion rolled into one. Sadly, the schools AD at the time was Vince Dooley, who never got beyond the in the dark, being outsmarted by everyone Jack Ryan you see in the films first 30 minutes.

    Damn Mike Adams! Damn everyone that won’t damn Mike Adams! Damn every one that won’t put lights in his window and sit up all night damning Mike Adams!

  10. Stu,
    I see your point, I think, but I don’t completely buy it as it relates to UGA hoops, in particular.

    While men’s basketball certainly doesn’t matter as much as football at UGA, it matters more than any other non-grid sport at the school. Why? Because it has the potential to make more money than any other sport.

    Although the school hasn’t been very good at it lately, winning basketball is important at UGA. That’s why Harrick was hired. The reason he was let go was because his methods embarrassed the university. He was “building the program,” but at what cost? (Yes, I blame Adams.)

    And remember, with Harrick, this was the 4th shady episode in his career. He’d left a polluted wake at Pepperdine, URI & UCLA before he ever showed up in Athens. After the last scandal, he was radioactive. He wasn’t getting hired anywhere.

    But that wasn’t the first scandal that happened with a UGA athletic team. It happened to the football program in 1986 with the Jan Kemp episode (academic malfeasances too long to recount here). The difference was that Vince Dooley dodged the bullet & administrators (like UGA president Fred Davison) walked the plank instead.

    I mention these 2 scandals to show that both the hoops & gridiron programs have had its reckless moments. Big money or the idea of big money can do that.

  11. And remember, with Harrick, this was the 4th shady episode in his career. He’d left a polluted wake at Pepperdine, URI & UCLA before he ever showed up in Athens. After the last scandal, he was radioactive. He wasn’t getting hired anywhere.

    This is exactly my point, though. AAR said Saban will always have a job, no matter what. That holds true in football, particularly SEC football.

    It’s not the same for basketball. There are limits in that context.

  12. ububba,

    I don’t buy the Jan Kemp as hero, University run amok nearly as much as you appear to. I was on campus when the first shots were fired (but wasn’t in the J school / Red & Black. where trivia was undoubtedly exchanged or heard).

    When the story first broke (Kemp fired, replying that all she was doing was trying to stop academic abuse), was approximately February 1982. I was training to become a tutor in Developmental Studies (I never did it. Got a part time law gig instead). The people I knew in Developmental Studies all said she was a nut. They told me there was nothing to it. They said they had never been pressured by people to pass athletes.

    And, Jan Kemp never accused anybody in the Athletic Department of anything. She said University people in Academic Affairs pressured her to pass people and specifically said the only contacts she had with Atheltic Department people were occasional calls from coaches checking on academic progress and if she had a complaint (student not coming, work not turned in) it was obvious that the coaches tried to push the student to “do right”.

    So, it isn’t comparable to Harrick at all.

  13. Bill James taught me critical thinking.

    And the starting five for the All-Cool (not necessarily best), post-Dominique UGA basketball team is as follows:

    PG: Rashad Wright
    SG: Willie Anderson
    SF: Reggie Tinch
    PF: James Banks
    C: Terry Fair

    Nobody explicitly asked for this information, but the desire for it among the denizens of this board has been bubbling just below the surface for some time, so I decided to go ahead and post it to save someone the trouble of making an actual request.

  14. I am definitely with ububba on his assessment and also back ububba and doubledawg on my complete and utter disdain for Michael Adams – that is until last month when Adams led the unsuccessful charge to push back at the NCAA’s (and the scared Pac 10 and Big 10) on creating a college football tournament, finally.

    (overall, still not a big Adams fan but with him on a BCS tourney).

    Anyway, we have the #1 Gymnastics team pretty much every year, plus we also have top 10 level programs in Golf, women’s basketball, swimming and Tennis (in fact, UGA alum John Isner just gave Roger Federer a fantastic match at the U.S. open winning 2 sets and acing him 18 times) – and yet none of those sports have the big money potential of Men’s college Basketball.

    It’s why so many Georgia fans are now ready to be done with the Dennis Felton area as you & I discussed last week.

    I am not suggesting we should be getting Roy Williams and hitting the Final 4 every other year, I just think many fans would like to see Georgia be a lot more competitive, get better recruiting classes (or hold on to star players – Georgia’s best recruit during the Felton era is now the 2nd best player at Memphis) and at least make the tournament every few years.

    On the TV packages alone, there’s a lot more money to be had, no matter how dominant we are in these “lesser” TV sports.

  15. Jim Harrick – scub bag and a cancer.

    I hope that flea-ridden a–hole is never within 100 miles of any true Dawg fan.

  16. Thanks, Mac.

    I had forgotten about Jumaine Jones. He had a pretty stellar career in Athens as well and was fairly dominant at the collegiate level.

  17. #22


    Vern Flemming was at Georgia at the same time as ‘Nique – that’s why he wasn’t put onto the all POST ‘Nique era.

  18. Not to nitpick at anyone, but I do not think putting Harrick and Saban in the same conversation as it pertains to running a dirty program is justified. By all accounts none of Saban’s programs have ever been found guilty of violating any major recruiting rules.

    Just for reference sake that article that you mention goes back to last year when there were a lot of accusations sent into the SEC office about Saban making contact with players during non-contact times. Nothing ever came about it, but I think it irritated Saban when in his mind he has seen other coaches do the same thing.

  19. Vern used to be in the lineup, but was replaced by Patrick Hamilton, who was in turn replaced by Wright. I don’t expect anyone but ububba and a couple others to remember Hamilton, but I’m partial to him.

    Litterial was rendered ineligible when we beat LSU (who had Shaq, Stanley Roberts, and Chris (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) Jackson) for the SEC title with him on the bench.

    Kessler was our most decorated player in the post-Nique era, but Banks and Fair is a tandem I’ve never been able to break up.

    Jumaine disappeared in big games.

    As far as UGA’s best five, I’d say:

    PG Fleming
    SG Green
    SF Jarvis Hayes
    PF Willie Anderson (playing out of position, but he could do anything)
    C Kessler

  20. Alex,

    Reggie Tinch is the reason a buddy and I came up with the All-Cool team in the first place, so he gets a lifetime pass. He was probably not in the top 30 in terms of talent, but few players I’ve ever seen played as hard or were more intimidating. Nobody messed with Reggie Tinch.

  21. I loved Reggie Tinch, just talent-wise, I couldn’t put him ahead of those other guys. And he does have a great name too…


    I would be very tempted to put James “Hollywood” Robinson ahead of Mo Williams at PG.

  22. As Jerry said about Morty “#1 Dad” Seinfeld vs. Izzy “World’s Best Dad” Mendelbaum, “I’m not sure how official any of these rankings really are.”

  23. Michigan’s starting five:


  24. Cliff,
    I never said that Jan Kemp was a hero.

    But Jan Kemp’s mental stability and the lengths to which UGA went to discredit her have little to do with the fact that UGA’s developmental studies program “exited” student-athletes who were not qualified to join the regular curriculum. Why? So that they could retain their athletic eligibility.

    Who benefitted from that scenario? The university & the athletic association. It sure didn’t help the careers or legacies of university administrators.

    The point is: Like the basketball program under Harrick, the football program cut corners & gave breaks (or bogus tests, in Harrick’s case) that were not afforded to regular students. As a UGA grad, that still does not sit well with me.

  25. The Twinkies just picked up Livan Hernandez, who was undoubtedly attracted by the team’s nickname, and will pay him $5 or $6 million, with incentives up to $7 million — also known as a little less than half of what Johan Santana will make in 2008. On the other hand, I expect Livan Hernandez to be only slightly more effective in the AL Central than Horacio Ramirez in the AL West.

    On the whole, I’d say that you’re not a good GM, Bill Smith.

  26. The All Time Starting 5 – North Carolina

    PG: Phil Ford
    SG: Walter Davis
    SF: Michael Jordan
    PF: James Worthy
    C: Sam Perkins

    I suppose you could flipflop Jordan and Davis. It’s amazing how many people have no clue how deadly a shooter Davis was. I still get hives about the ’77 NCAA title game. It was the one time Dean Smith out-thought himself. If he plays it straight, instead of going to the 4 Corners, we win that game going away. Oh well…

  27. All this stuff is the reason I don’t follow college sports that much. College athletics is, with some exceptions, incredibly corrupt. And the administrators turn a blind eye, especially at the less elite schools, because (1) winning sports teams attract applicants and money; and (2) a large number of big-money alumni couldn’t care less about the academic standards of the school but care a lot about the sports program and can make life pretty hot for administrators that get in their way. When I was a grad student at UGA, it was pretty well known that Dominique Wilkins didn’t spurn the ACC because of Georgia’s English department. I don’t think any of this necessarily affects the quality of the college itself but, for an institution that is supposedly trying to inculcate some sense of integrity, it doesn’t send a very good message. At least in the NFL and NBA, there’s no (well, less) pretense about what they are doing. It’s hard for me to watch a college football game and listen to the commentators bloviate about student-athletes. And, while I certainly don’t think the corruption is limited to the SEC, I do think that it is especially prevalent there because of the overwhelming focus on college sports.

  28. Georgia Tech Starting 5

    PG: John Salley
    SG: John Salley
    SF: John Salley
    PF: John Salley
    C: John Salley

  29. Sure. I’ve never followed college basketball much at all, so I don’t think I even know who you’re talking about.

  30. I like the Price/Anderson duo better, but you really think Scott gets in over Harpring? I think that’s very debatable. As is Geiger over Salley.

  31. I felt that Scott was a better player at his peak (though most of his career was a depressing decline, and I’m not dogmatic about it) while Geiger was more of a true center and scored and rebounded more in a career almost as long as Salley’s.

  32. All-Ivy Team:

    PG Matt Maloney
    SG Geoff Petrie
    SF Bill Bradley
    PF John Hummer
    C Chris Dudley

    Unsurprisingly Princeton-heavy. Actually, there’s an argument for Jim McMillian over Bradley.

  33. sansho1,
    I liked Pat Hamilton—good defender, good shot, maybe not assertive enough. But I loved Vern Fleming. Saw him score 44 points against Vandy once—most coming from driving-to-the-basket 3-point plays.

    The 1983 Final 4 is obviously the high-water mark of the program (beating St. John’s with Mullin, beating UNC with Jordan); but I’ve never had a happier moment at the Coliseum than when UGA beat LSU for the SEC title. Thanks, Neville Austin.

    My all-time fave Bama player was Leon Douglas. That 1976 Bama team (with TR Dunn) had the great, undefeated Indiana team down by 3 points with about a minute to go, but couldn’t seal the deal.

    I’m also partial to some of those Auburn players: Eddie Johnson, Charles Barkley & Chuck Person come to mind.

    And those Barkley vs. Dominique duels were almost as good as Bo vs. Herschel.

  34. Ran into Miguel Cairo today. He works out down at the Winning Inning, this place inside of Jack Russell Stadium, where the Phillies’ old Spring Training complex is down here in Clearwater. That’s where we play our home games. Anyway, apparently he’s got a minor league invite to the Mariners (that will make some of you sleep at ease), and he told me to move my car so he could pull his BMW SUV into the car port area. What did I do? I punched him in the face. He’s Miguel Cairo, not Miguel Cabrera. I don’t take that kind of crap.

  35. Well, it’d be close between Cunningham and Worthy, but since I was a senior in HS in ’82, my vote goes for Big Game James.

    Daugherty was, in my opinion, a better pro than a college player (although he didn’t suck at Carolina), and Perkins is the number 2 all-time scorer AND the all-time leading rebounder in Carolina history.

  36. You know your team has an illustrious hoops history when people like Antawn Jamison, Tyler Hansbrough, Kenny Smith, Eric Montross, Bobby Jones, and Larry Miller can’t even make it into the conversation of All Time Best starting 5.

  37. @9 and 27


    Maybe you and I have different definitions of “dirty,” but do you have specific allegations against Saban?

    I’ll sit back and wait for your answer, thanks.

  38. You mean besides illegal contacts and payment to players, Cary? No, none besides those. Par for the course in this conference, though, so he won’t ever have to face any music.

    On another note, I’m composing this from beautiful Memorial Gymnasium, where the Commodores lead UK by 30 at the half.

  39. You would think, but the Bible makes exceptions for current and former Yankees. So, Chris Woodward is fair game.

    In all seriousness, he’s a pretty cool guy. He talked with a couple guys on our team, and has a really nice family. We met his wife and his two kids (well, only two were there), and his son’s a pretty good ballplayer. But yeah, he did have to tell me to get out of the way of his car because mine was blocking his. Apparently his wife didn’t wanna run across the parking lot in the pouring rain. Wuss…

  40. What’s the deal in the Vandy game? UK only have 3 or 4 players on the floor?

    55-14 last I saw. That sounds more like a football score against us.

  41. @57

    Stu, payments to players?? Who? When? Where? How much? Because I’ve hung here for more than a little bit, I know you understand the term “specific.”

    As for the potential for the type of illegal contact described in the article you referenced, I wouldn’t characterize that as dirty. Similarly, I also wouldn’t consider myself a criminal for jaywalking.

    From the article..
    In the past, college coaches were allowed to evaluate high school players during the spring, but not actively recruit. That meant no direct contact with prospects. Any contact had to be unintentional and brief – although “brief” was never clearly defined.

    At the January NCAA convention, the SEC proposed legislation to prohibit head coaches from making off-campus spring evaluations. It passed unanimously, and became effective immediately.

    So it was fine for Saban and other head coaches to be on a high school campus last spring to evaluate players, but they were not supposed to have more than brief contact with them, “brief” not being defined by the NCAA.

    Are we supposed to consider someone dirty, with all that name conveys, for potentially spending a period in front of a student-athlete beyond some undefined measure of time??

    Seems a bit extreme to me. I’ll wager others agree.

  42. The 76 Alabama team was great:

    Anthony Murray
    TR Dunn
    Reggie King
    Ricky Brown
    Leon Douglas

    They crushed the Carolina team of Ford, Davis, Kupchak, LaGarde and Kuester and should have beaten Indiana….

    There is a place for Butch Graves on the Yale team–4 Dudleys (a TD man no less) and Graves….

  43. #36…

    i’m a long time UNC grad and fan…but your list is a bit, well, ahem…

    SG-Jordan (who, by the way, played the 2 not the 3 at UNC)…who was MUCH better in the NBA, and I hesitate to put Larry Miller here as COLLEGE players.
    SF-Charles Scott (amazing player) or Lennie Rosenbluth or Billy Cunningham.
    PF-Bob MacAdoo (he only played one year, but the man averaged, AVERAGED, 22 and 12 for DEAN…)
    C-Perkins (amazing when he wasn’t as big as he was his later years).

    #63…the only reason you “crushed” us was the fact that davis was hurt. But that ’76 Alabama team was GOOD.

  44. I agree with Mac’s GT team for the most part. However, I like Harpring more than Bosh and I’m going to stick someone else at center there:

    G – Mark Price
    G – Kenny Anderson
    F – Dennis Scott
    F – Matt Harpring
    C – Rich Yunkus

    Yunkus is Tech’s career leader in points and scoring average, and he did play center, so I say he’s the one to be there.

  45. All Vandy:

    Clyde Lee
    Jan van Breda Kolff
    Billy McCaffrey
    Dan Langhi
    Derrick Byars

    Perry Wallace deserves mention because he broke the ‘color barrier’ and helped to change the SEC.

    I await Stu’s comment…

  46. Indiana University Basketball Top 5:

    Just take the staters for the undefeated ’76 team. And unless you come up with a a UCLA that has both Walton and Alcinder, I don’t think any other five mentioned here beats them.

  47. Make that “a UCLA team.” I stumbled when I tried to decide whether it should be “a UCLA” or “an UCLA”!

  48. Cary,

    First of all, my apologies for the brief, not-fully-responsive post last night. As I mentioned, I was at a basketball game (which, incidentally, should give you an indication of just how addicted to this site I am) and therefore on a BlackBerry, which means I wasn’t really willing/able to post something with much length. I probably should have waited to post anything until I could post something more substantive. Again, I’m sorry.

    As for my “dirty” comment, perhaps I was unclear. The article I cited above was not what I was making reference to. That article simply provided grounds for my earlier point about Saban firing a shot across the bow of other SEC coaches. The remark about him being “dirty”, I can assure you, was not intended to reference only the sort of illegal contact referenced in that article. I was attempting to encompass the whole of his conduct with that single descriptor. I guess the brevity of my post last night made it misleading.

    As to the specifics you’ve requested, many are out in the public. I’m not going to waste time trying to prove indisputable truth to someone who seems rather predisposed against believing it. (Seriously, you’re going to argue that Saban is clean? Really? I wonder what you’d say if you weren’t wearing the crimson-tinted glasses.) If you’re interested, I suggest you google the terms “Saban” and “cheating” or “NCAA violations”. You’ll find, if you’re willing to look, that he’s been turned in more than perhaps any other coach in major college football. And you’ll find plenty of examples of what I’m talking about, I think.

    And as for the things which fit the “dirty” label I applied but which are not yet public, well, I don’t think this is the place to make them so. I’ll leave that to the people who work closely with the NCAA. I’m sorry if that displeases you or if you think that makes my claims less valid. I don’t know what to tell you.


    My list would be different, although I’m not sure it would be comprised of better players. Just ones I happen to like more.

    C Will Perdue
    PF Clyde Lee
    SF Matt Freije
    SG Barry Goheen
    PG Derrick Byars

    I can’t even consider VBK because of how he killed the program as its coach. And Shan Foster or Billy McCaffrey should really be the SG on this team, but Goheen hit too many clutch shots for me to leave him off. Oh, and AJ Ogilvy, if he stays another 2 years (pretty unlikely), will replace Perdue. He might do it after one more year.

  49. Nice list, Stu.

    I was thinking Will Per-Dunk, too.

    And I remember when Barry Goheen hit two buzzer beater threes in one game against UGA (one at the half and one for the win). The shot he hit against Pitt in the NCAA tourney (’88?) that got Vandy into the Sweet 16 might be enough by itself to get him on the list.

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