In case you were busy dancing like no one was watching, despite the fact many, many people were watching, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
Clayton Kershaw pitched a shutout and hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants, 4-0 to open their 2013 season. "I've been playing at such a high level for a number of years, and now it's time for me to make an impact at every level of the franchise," Kershaw said after the game, while directing traffic in Dodger Stadium's serpentine parking lot, adeptly moving those headed to the 110 away from those headed toward the 101. Kershaw reportedly spent the remainder of his evening helping the grounds crew reseed the playing surface, before finally heading to the locker room to do the team's laundry.
Mike Conley and the Memphis Grizzlies sent the Spurs to their second consecutive defeat, winning in Memphis, 92-90. Conley hit the game-winning shot with six-tenths of a second left on the clock, but was also held without a steal for the first time in 64 games. "I'm out of the game," Conley said after the win. "I've been taking things my whole life, but I'm done. I've got a wife now, and I think a more stable life is what we need." Despite these comments, Conley was, admittedly, "intrigued" by a plan that Marc Gasol was putting together for "one last big score," but at press time had still refused to commit to any more steals in a potential first-round matchup with the Denver Nuggets.
Fantasy baseball ain't what it used to be. Back in the day, you would have maybe one or two people in your league who did any research beyond glancing at last year's Triple Crown stats and buying a couple of magazines. Any knowledge above and beyond that level and you were a virtual lock to finish in the money and maybe get labeled a witch for your prognostication skills.
That's history now. Even the biggest Luddite in your league can fake his way through a conversation about new-age stats. The key is to wield those advanced numbers, then combine them with other factors — age, health, team, competition, park effects, and dozens of other considerations — to produce usable intel you can take to the draft table.
One of the easiest ways to find a gap between last year's fantasy stats and this year's expected results is to scrutinize a pitcher's Fielding Independent Pitching. FIP seeks to strip out events over which a pitcher has little to no control, and focus on his core skills, especially strikeout and walk rate. (You can read a longer-form primer on defense-independent stats here.)
Baseball is a complicated game, the results of one day, one month, even one season subject to slumps and streaks, injuries and recoveries, players controlling their own destiny and players having their fate decided by a bad hop or a bad call. With the Boston Red Sox on the brink of a lost season, we now have a nuanced explanation for their woes, one that considers all the complexities of a 162-game season and elucidates all that's gone wrong at Fenway Park in 2012.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday.
On Monday Night Football, the Jets beat the Dolphins 24-6. Despite threatening to get ejected in the second quarter, Brandon Marshall lasted the whole game, catching six passes for 109 yards. (Internal monologue: But, but I could have sworn Marshall would live up to his promise and get ejected. Oh well. I guess he's just crazy )