All Stars and Hot Dogs

July 6, 2010

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Hot Dog

Joey Chestnut defended his title at the Nathan’s Famous hot dog contest over the weekend – but he was overshadowed by the actions of former champion Takeru Kobayashi.  Kobayashi slipped past security and on to the stage following the contest.  He was arrested for trespassing, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction of governmental administration (yeah, I have no clue what this last one is).  He was released after a night in jail and faces a hearing today.

What’s at the heart of this issue?  A contract.  Partipants at the contest must sign contracts witg Major League Eating.  This contract prevents the eaters from participating in contests not sanctioned by MLE.  MLE says that this is to protect sponsors.  Pepto Bismol is a sponsor of the Nathan’s contest.  If the contestants were to compete in a Tums-sponsored even on the 3rd (or 5th) this would dilute the value of the sponsorship.  Kobayashi insists that he just wants the freedom to participate wherever he wants.

The solution to this seems pretty straightforward – allow for a sponsor’s exemption.  If all the sponsors for an event agree to allow a non-member to compete, then MLE would waive the requirement.  This isn’t a completely foreign concept – the PGA and LPGA golf tours have sponsor’s exemptions for tournaments.

I’ve always been a bit fan of Kobayashi’s, but I was very disappointed to see him stoop to this level.  I hope that he and MLE can reach an agreement at some point.

All Stars

The Major League Baseball All Star Game will be played next Tuesday night.  Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was named to the team.  Jimenez was rocked for 7 runs against the Giants on Saturday, but escaped with a no-decision and currently stands with a record of 14-1.  Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was named to his first All Star game, but will be unable to played due to a broken wrist.  Rockies outfielder Carlos “Car Bomb” Gonzalez is on the “Final Man” ballot.  Vote for him, please …

Matt Holliday (formerly of the Rockies and currently with the Cardinals) was named to the National League team, to the surprise of ESPN, who said “One surprising pick was St. Louis’ Matt Holliday. In the first year of a seven-year, $120 million deal, Holliday is batting .209 with runners in scoring position and has 39 RBIs — fourth-best on the team.

It’s a shame that the dominant provider of sports entertainment would make such a gaffe.  First of all, RBI has long been consider a poor way to judge the value of a player.  The statistic is heavily influenced by the players hitting in front of the batter.  If they don’t get on base, he can’t drive them, in.  The batting average for runners in scoring position hasn’t been ridiculed as much as RBI, but many observer feel that that “clutch hitting” is much more rooted in luck than skill. 

What, then, would I suggest using?  Maybe something like Wins Above Replacement (WAR).  WAR measures a player’s offensive and defensive value, adjusting for their positon and for the value a replacement-level player could provide  (get more info on WAR here).  Where does Holliday rank amongst National League outfielders in WAR?  Yep – first.

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