ESPN Investigates Spydome: Fair or Foul?

ESPN reporter Amy Nelson (above) might have some explaining to do.

ESPN: The Magazine looks as though they have recruited the spy kids to investigate the “suspicious” activity of a mysterious white man in the stands of the Toronto Blue Jays home stadium. At least, I’d hope the investigating was done by kids because the kind of logic portrayed in the ESPN article yesterday could only be considered sensible if it had come from the computer of an elementary school student.

ESPN reporters Amy Nelson and Peter Keating are reporting that the Toronto Blue Jays have been stealing signs from the outfield bleachers of the Rogers Centre. Apparently, a white man perched in the out there has been relaying signals using hand motions to the Toronto hitters.

Nelson and Keating have back up their claim with anecdotes from a few unnamed sources as well as carefully selected stats, mostly from the supposedly unbelievably successful 2010 season. Some guys on the unnamed (now named Chicago White Sox) team had seen a man making the motions in the stands as far back as 2009.

Wow, the evidence is overwhelming.

The argument presented in the ESPN article is flawed in a manner that would be expected out of the average person. You would think that the worldwide leader in sports would be smarter than the average person.

As the saying goes, stats are for losers.

The stats presented as clear-cut evidence in the article are hardly that. The selectively chosen stats are clearly picked out by the writers to fit the ultimate conclusion of the piece.

Luckily, due to the mass media of our modern world the excess of statistics discounted by Amy Nelson and Peter Keating are readily available for us.

Dustin Parkes over at his blog “Getting Blanked” gives a great run down of the many flaws to the ESPN allegations. A must-read for anyone remotely interested in the topic.

At his press conference, Alex Anthopoulos gives some real smart answers to the accusations. The answers make you realize why he’s such a good GM. Why didn’t ESPN go over game footage to find the man in white? Why didn’t they talk to any managers, league officials etc.? The list goes on.

What many people have also failed to bring up is the style of hitting implemented in the 2010 season by Cito Gaston and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy. The ESPN article points out the very high percentage (48.9) of pitches swung at by Toronto hitters that lead to the league leading 257 home runs hit.

However, there is no mention anywhere of the swing big or go home approach of Cito Gaston and his staff. Not many people outside of the Blue Jay loop are probably aware of that but for claims this outrageous I would have thought that the homework done by ESPN wouldn’t be so strikingly similar to a 12 year olds math homework finished 5 minutes before class started.

ESPN also attempts to use the substantial differences in the home and away OPS’ of Escobar, Bautista, Wells, Lind and Hill to prove a point. However, Nelson and Keating do not cite the far superior road average and OPS’ of John Buck and Edwin Encarnacion, who’s OPS in 2010 was more than .200 points higher on the road.

Moreover, ignoring the Justin Verlander no-hitter at the Rogers Centre is just another one of the many overlooked pieces of evidence from the crew over at ESPN.

A high school psychology student could tell you that these claims are based on the very common human error of confirmation bias – defined as a tendency for people to favour information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.

It’s a pathetic display by ESPN to publish such a poorly constructed article for the purpose of generating buzz and page views.

Using Vernon Wells’.552 OPS with the Los Angeles Angels at home in 2011 is hardly evidence that connects the Blue Jays with sign stealing. Personally, I would connect his brutal home OPS to have something to do with that average that sits at .210. But hey, that’s just me.

Vernon Wells’ OPS at home was a whopping .276 points higher in 2006. I guess they were stealing signs back then too, eh?

The excessive quantity of circumstantial evidence in the article doesn’t include the possibility of a simple anomaly in an oddly successful power numbers season for the Blue Jays, which can be explained to certain a degree by the Cito Gaston effect as mentioned above.

On top of all this, the writers of the article don’t seem to realize that even if their claims are true, the Toronto Blue Jays organization must be really bad at cheating. Maybe they even hired the same people who helped investigate the allegations because their home record is 28-27 while their road record is 30-30.

I mean, it must have taken some kind of genius in the Blue Jay organization to come up with the idea to cheat with a team that is in no position to compete for a post-season spot.

Good thing the brains at ESPN figured out that 4th place mediocrity in the AL East and stealing signs from the outfield bleachers go hand in hand.

It’s comforting to see that Nelson and Keating finish their article with such a decisive conclusion:

“By themselves, these numbers are circumstantial evidence. Unsupported by data, the four players’ accounts might describe a scheme of uncertain impact. And without proper context, the Yankees’ decision to mask their signs could be chalked up to paranoia. But together, the numbers, the stories and the actions indicate one certainty: Every pitch to a Blue Jay in Toronto is worth watching.”

I’m hearing now that the National Enquirer is embarrassed by the lack of integrity exhibited by ESPN.

Now that’s sad.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Suck it up Cleveland

Cavalier fans are a little bit more than upset over the departure of Lebron James

The Dream team, 3 musketeers, the Lone Wolf finally getting a wolf pack. It doesn’t matter to Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh what you call them, but what does matter is that it is now official that the big 3 will be joining forces down in South Beach after James announced his decision last night live on ESPN.

Cleveland sports fans, who have endured so much heartbreak, were devastated to hear that Lebron James would not be re-signing with his home town team. In an open letter to Cavs fans, owner Dan Gilbert referred to Lebron James’ decision as a “cowardly betrayal,” which I’m sure is a statement that many Cleveland fans would agree with right now. However, I’m wondering why anyone would expect anything less from the man who features a tattoo that reads ‘CHOSEN1?’ Lebron James is a jerk. Always has been, always will be, and that is something that NBA fans are going to have to accept.

It’s amazing how many Cleveland fans were so delusional to so strongly believe that Lebron James was going to re-sign with the Cavaliers. There was obviously a chance of it happening, but it should not have been such a shock when he chose to play elsewhere. The city of Cleveland is whining like little babies but the whining is hardly justified.

I hear it over and over and over again that if Lebron had any loyalty he would have chosen to stay in the only city that he has ever known and lived in. That Lebron should finish what he started in Cleveland, and bring the city a championship.

Are Cleveland Cavalier fans trying to say that they are 100% loyal fans and support their team and players under any circumstance? It sure seems that way.

My question is what happens in the future when Lebron James loses a step in his game and is no longer the same dominant player that he is currently is. Can you say to yourself that you would give him your unwavering support?

Loyalty goes both way folks, and it is seen so often in sports where home fans turn on their previously beloved players. Donovan Mcnabb was pretty much shown the door in Philadelphia after he has given so much to that Eagles franchise. Where is the loyalty? Green Bay fans now despise Brett Favre after he “left” their team to continue his career even when it was the Packers who wanted him to step aside for Aaron Rodgers. Vancouver Canuck fans were quick to throw Markus Naslund under the bus for his many flaws once his game started to decline a bit.

Furthermore, where is the loyalty when fans are booing their team just because they are not playing their fans’ standards? Don’t give me the garbage that fans deserve to boo their own team because that’s their job, they paid to be at the game and that players make millions of dollars. Unless your team is not putting any effort in I cannot fathom why any fan believes that booing their own team will do any good towards helping their team win games. As a person how would you feel if your so called loyal fans were booing you when you are putting forth your best effort?

Cavs fans are not happy that their latest toy is being taken away

Sports fans treat their players like little kids do with toys. You love ‘em when they’re new, exciting and the best thing out there, but you want to get rid of them when they’re old and no good to you anymore.

I also wonder if people are naive or just too stupid to realize that sports is a business just like anything else. It seems obvious…right?

No player owes anything to any city or team. Lebron James had 7 outstanding years for the Cleveland Cavaliers while he was under contract. He brought them to the NBA finals once and had 2 MVP seasons. Yes it is about time he won a championship, but obviously he feels that he has a better chance to win one in Miami.

Here’s a news flash for everyone. You don’t own your players.

Vince Carter was once the talk of the town in Toronto

Let me pitch out two scenarios and you tell me which one you would rather have. What is a worse feeling for a team? Having your franchise player demand a trade while he is still under contract or have him leave as a FREE agent. As a Raptor and a Canuck fan I have felt the pain of having your franchise player demand a trade prematurely. Vince Carter just stopped trying in his effort to be traded and Pavel Bure flat out refused to play. Once they moved teams they both decided it was time to play again and of course play at an extremely high level. Vince Carter averaged 27.5 points a game in his first half-season with the Nets and Pavel Bure had 58 and 59 goals with the Florida Panthers in two consecutive years.

This was never the case with Lebron James as he had two MVP awards in his final two seasons with the Cavaliers. Lebron James left as a free agent, which means that he has no obligation to his former team for those of you who don’t understand.

I think another fact that is overlooked by people is that this is a once in a forever opportunity for Lebron, Bosh and Wade. When does anyone have the opportunity to play with two of his good friends who also happen to be a couple of the NBA’s elite? This is something that is unprecedented and may never be done again. It seems to me that it would be pretty difficult to pass up on an opportunity like this.

It also should be said that the criticism that Lebron James is getting is not fair at all. It is not the amount of criticism that is unfair but it is the way it is being presented. No matter what choice that Lebron made he would have been ridiculed by some. This was a no win situation for James.

Michael Rosenberg wrote an article for Sports Illustrated yesterday that focused on Lebron taking the easy route by choosing Miami. However, he also says in the article that he thought Lebron was going to stay in Cleveland because he thought that all he cared about was the adoration. So basically he is implying that if Lebron had chosen Cleveland he would have written an article about why Lebron James only cares about being the ‘man’ and wants people to worship him and only him. However, because Lebron chose Miami, Rosenberg decided to write about Lebron finding the easiest route to an NBA championship.

Way to contradict yourself.

I don’t see anything wrong with putting on an hour-long special to announce his decision. Sure it’s selfish and egotistical, but unlike other fans, this is what I expect from LBJ. The NBA loved this special, it created a different kind of hype that the sport probably won’t see again for a long time.

What I didn’t like though about the entire free agent ordeal was the way Lebron gave so many fans a false hope and kept them dangling for so long. Whose to say that those 3 hadn’t decided long ago that they were going to team up and that this whole process was just a big charade? If that is the case then I do see a lot of things wrong with the hour-long special, but until that story comes out I am completely fine with it.

In the end though, the fact of the matter is that only one team was going to happy, and the other teams would be snubbed. That was never going to change.

There is a big distinction between life and sports and we have to be able to differentiate the two from each other. Although, I do know that Lebron James is dead in some of the eyes Cleveland fans. Lebron leaving Cleveland for Miami is not on the same level as losing your job or having a close family member die.

Stop crying and just suck it up Cleveland.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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