Mysteries of Life: Landon, Odell and sabermetrics

My day has been shot to hell.

From the moment I looked at the front page of the New York Times and way at the bottom right hand corner saw, “Beckham Bound for Cleveland.”

There have been rumors, yes, most of which from one sports reporter I loathe, so I was shaking my head and saying, “No way (you asshole).”

So, way. (He’s still an asshole.)

My first reaction was to read the Times piece. Which I did, sitting dead still and upright.

My second reaction was to get onto Twitter and find out what Carl Banks was saying. He was saying sort of what I was feeling. Wow, and stunned, and who knows and he’ll miss Odell.

Because I’ve always believed when a team has a great player, the team must keep him, I was deeply troubled here. While I was able to reckon through letting Landon Collins go, (although not quell my heart tremors since I loved him) no such reckoning occurred to me over Odell Beckham.

Whenever I’m emotionally disturbed by an event, my brain kicks into its, “WTF just happened?” search for an explanation. And so it did this afternoon (it took me that long to pull myself into functionality).

The essential matter was, “What is Dave Gettleman thinking? Why did he do this?” I reject the furious outcry I saw from fans in Carl Banks’s Twitter replies (they want to fire Gettleman RIGHT NOW! call him a CLOWN! hate his guts, blah blah blah — you know, the way male football fans gab). I assume Gettleman is a smart, experienced manager. So why did he let so many good to great players go this past year?

Perhaps I have a renegade point of view because I learned that most players can be good to great depending on two factors: their physical gifts and their coaches. A coach is less an Xs and Os guy than a teacher. There have been some terrific players who were left on the bench thanks to some weird misappreciation or personal animosity from a coach, and there have been some average players who played great because they had excellent position coaches who taught them very well.

This I know. But how to explain the Odell trade?

Then the term, the theory called sabermetrics popped into my head. Those of you who, like me, read Michael Lewis’s wildly entertaining Moneyball — about how sabermetrics worked in major league baseball — know something about it.

I began wondering whether Gettleman could be applying a form of sabermetrics to football. If he is, this could explain what he’s doing when he evaluates players.

I’m not in a mood to try figuring out how sabermetrics could work in football. Baseball is by and large an individual sport. Indeed, the offensive game is pretty much one player — the guy at bat — at a time, while eleven players have to move together on every football offensive play.

Still, how much does a major star like Odell with his glorious stats, thrilling plays and massively pricey contract have to do with the team’s overall performance and success? We all can offer anecdotes but anecdotes are not fact, not in this context.

Anyway, that’s how I’m thinking — in order to make myself feel a little bit better. If Gettleman, a Boston boy, is using sabermetrics here, could it be as effective as it was when the Boston Red Sox brought Theo Epstein on board with his expertise in sabermetrics?

Like Carl Banks, though, I will miss our wild child.


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