Wednesday, February 08, 2006

WMF© (Weird Mitigating Factors)

Ok maybe it's NOT this ground breaking...
Here at Keep Your Sox On we try to do two things: provide a little fan-fare for the Red Sox (and Baseball in general) and crack some jokes. Granted the latter may be more noticeable than the former in the off-season but when it comes down to it, we are baseball fans. Now as far as I can tell there are three types of baseball fans. The Traditionalist (“stats have their place, but it’s all about chemistry and intangibles”), the Modernist (“chemistry and intangibles have their place, but it’s all about statistics”) and the Casual Fan (“who’s playing?”). With the obvious differences, these groups are known to argue and choosing a side in this conflict can end friendships, divide families or at least split bar tabs. However, even with all the bad blood, all parties involved would rather just watch baseball (except the Casual fan who wants to watch Grey’s Anatomy and flip back and forth to baseball).

Besides Peter Gammons (who is the Henry Kissinger in the Modernist/Traditionalist war) there has been very little progress in bridging the ideological gap. So for the sake of peace, chemistry and VORP… I present to you a form of detente. What I have come up with is a new statistic that will calculate the incalculable, measure the immeasurable and cause more debate than inter-league play (sucks) and the DH (rocks) combined. I give you: Weird Mitigating Factors (WMF).

Here’s how it works: once you get past the ballpark, the players are human beings and are impacted by the world around them both negatively and positively. They take their experiences with them and often, these outside issues can impact their play or the play of their teammates. What WMF tries to do is take these “Weird” “Mitigating” “Factors” and by using a tried and true (made up) scientific method, calculate what the oddities in their life will do to their baseball playing ability. Sounds confusing? Well it isn’t! It’s as easy as reading the public interest pieces in the sports page or on ESPN.

There are 6 categories to consider when tabulating WMF. Each category has negative and positive points.

#1. Family Life
Is your family great? Do they often appear at charitable events? Did you just get married or have a baby? Did the loss of a kid/spouse/parent inspire you to champion a cause? Well that’s going to get you a POSITIVE point or two depending on how great they are.

Is your family crazy? Do they often appear in police lineups? Did your wife just leave you because you got caught cheating? Did you lose a kid/spouse/parent to a drunken auto accident or deportation? Well that’s going to be a NEGATIVE point or two depending on the awful circumstance.

#2. Public Service
Are you a public servant? Do you hold charitable events and fundraisers? Do you donate funds or time to worthy causes? Is it common knowledge that you are a good guy outside the ballpark? If so, then you are going to earn some POSITIVE points. Boy Scout.

Are you a public menace? Do you hold up banks and rob fans for extra funds? Do you donate time to skanky whores who are often undercover cops? Is it common knowledge you would be criminal if it wasn’t for baseball? If so, I think you could get a couple of NEGATIVE points.

#3. Personal Chemistry
Are you clubhouse guy? Do you like everybody and does everybody like you? A fan favorite who gets cheered at every plate appearance? Do you have any clutch moments that will live on forever? All POSITIVE points for you and maybe some for your teammates.

Are you a clubhouse cancer? Do you dislike a certain ethnicity or ideology and let that bias show? Do you spit/punch/yell at fans? Are you the LAST guy anyone wants to see up when the game is on the line? Lots of NEGATIVE points for you and maybe a few for your teammates. Jerk.

#4. Media Coverage
Do you shine in the spotlight? Are you a friend of the press that hounds you night and day? Do you have a one-liner to deflect their constant badgering? Do you let your outstanding play take center stage? Have some good defense or timely offense netted you national attention? Then the POSITIVE points are well earned.

Do you squint in the spotlight? Is the local media outlet making you feel like a criminal (especially if you really are one)? Do you hit/push/yell at cameramen? Have you made a boneheaded play or said something really stupid/racist/arrogant that has gotten national coverage? Are you a total prima donna? Lights! Camera! NEGATIVE points!

#5. Trades or Free Agency
Are you in a new place you have always wanted to play in? Hometown perhaps? Are you leaving a bad situation for one that will better show off you skills? Is it your contract year and you have to play well to earn that big paycheck? Well you are moving in with some POSITIVE points.

Not where you want to play anymore? Did a team cut/trade/not trade/non-tender you against your wishes? Are you a soulless mercenary that only cares about money? Is it the first year of a fat, over valued contract and you are thinking about taking it easy? Then that check comes with NEGATIVE points.

#6. Wild Cards
This could be anything. You might have unusual high or low expectations. Maybe you are coming off a season full of injuries/surgery or coming off a season where surgery was required and not done. You could have the Cream and the Clear next to your jock itch powder. You could have done something totally amazing or amazingly stupid and you defy categorization. Maybe I forgot something. Whatever it is, it could be either POSITIVE or NEGATIVE when it comes to your WMF rating.

Now that you have the ground rules, let’s take a look at some examples:

Curt Schilling

  1. Wife and kid. She’s a little bonkers but nothing to file restraining orders about. (+1)
  2. Started “Curt’s Pitch for ALS”. Can’t knock a guy for fighting Lou Gehrig’s disease. (+2)
  3. Kind of a jerk. Outspoken and can rub people the wrong way. This happens a lot. (-2)
  4. A friend of the camera. Always has a line. Problem is it’s not always the PC line. But then again he never laid a finger on Dan Shaughnessy. (-1)
  5. Not going anywhere. (even)
  6. Coming off a major injury. Looks better than he did all last year. Has been talking tough and is totally happy with the way the front office aligned itself. (+2)
    That gives him a +2 WMF to start the 2006 season.

Barry Bonds

  1. Parades his son in front of cameras saying his family is being torn apart. Nice. (-1)
  2. Does some work with the United Way. (+1)
  3. A total ass. Has some race relation problems and a “me first” attitude. Went a little nuts when the Giants talked about moving his batting order. (-3)
  4. Likes the camera, but says he hates the media. Can’t have both. (-2)
  5. Not going anywhere. (even)
  6. Coming off a major injury. Looks better than he did all last year. Is coming off a major steroid scandal but is still chasing history and the all-time homerun title. (+4, would have been even more if not for the ‘roids)
    That gives him a -1 WMF to start the 2006 season.

See? It’s simple! The numbers in the calculation are really up to the person reviewing the player. There will naturally be some bias here (it IS a Red Sox site) but I will try to be realistic. Also, remember these stats aren’t fixed throughout the year. If Bonds suddenly donates all of his money to charity or Schilling goes on a 3-state killing spree, there will be some fluctuation. Now what do these stats mean when taken into game terms? Not a damn thing. But it does give you a bit of a foundation to look at when trying to quantify a player’s character or mindset. Let’s put it this way. I would much rather have a team with all +WMF than all –WMF.

I hope this is well received in the manner it was intended and can spark some debate. Eventually this whole mess is going to end up as a side bar on the site. We will have a few weekly WMF rankings when the season starts. Have a ranking you want to see? Think I missed some big factor when ranking your favorite player? Want to give a player a WMF ranking of your own? Then drop it down in our comment box. Just be prepared to back it up.

For the record… the LOWEST current –WMF is not held by a Yankee. Former Red Sox closer Ugeth Urbina is presently in a Venezuelan prison awaiting trial for the attempted murder of workers on his plantation. He and friends attacked them with machetes and doused them with gasoline. He has a -20 WMF. He is much worse than the worst Yankee, Gary Sheffield who has -19 WMF.