Fringe Friday – Numbers mean nothing edition

on June 2017 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

This week has seen the culmination of a variety of statistics that would make accountants giddy with excitement for the different stories they tell. Some of the stories confirm greatness, others forge legends, while some… some can outright deceive us. But facts are facts and who are we to dispute them? Oh wait a second, we are in the President Trump era of alternative facts, therefore I can make these numbers mean whatever I want them to mean… covfefe? I mean, right? So let’s move on then with Fringe Friday – the Numbers mean nothing edition.

We shall start with the NBA where for the third consecutive time, the Golden State Warriors have met the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Finals. Personally, I don’t believe the last 3 games of the series was enough to salvage the boring playoffs, but they were lots of fun to watch. No surprise to anyone as Golden State are once again champions, but LeBron James did make you pause and question it, even if it was for only a second. That is why I can’t stand it when fans tear him apart for his 3-5 record in the Finals. Those numbers state he is not in Michael Jordan’s class. But let’s take a close look shall we. LeBron (yes, he himself) has lost twice to Golden State, arguably the best team ever assembled; he has lost twice to San Antonio, arguably the best franchise in the last 20 years; and he lost once to the Dallas Mavericks. OK, the Mavericks defeat did get away from him. How do you possibly fault him for four of those series defeats?

In his first loss to the Warriors, he literally won two games by himself as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were injured. After the Cavs defeated the 73-win Warriors team the following year, Golden State felt they needed to add Kevin Durant to beat James and they were right, they did need him. Durant scored over 30 pts in each Finals game and was dominant whenever his team needed him most. Durant’s counterpart, Mr. James didn’t just sit idly by and let it happen, he did everything he could to stop the Warrior juggernaut this year. “Everything” by the way, since we love numbers so much, was just averaging a triple double not for just a game or two, but for the entire series. Something that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson or even Michael Jordan never did. So vilify LeBron all you want, but don’t tell me his 3-5 record means anything other than the fact that quite simply, the greatest NBA player just couldn’t beat two of the greatest NBA teams ever assembled. But he almost did.

Toronto FC II June 14

The numbers for Toronto FC II however, have not been good so far this season as I have written about in the past. They finally however have a positive result to match their positive play. The 1-0 victory this past week over visiting Orlando B snapped a 12 game winless streak that dated back to March 25th. It was a big sigh of relief from both the coach and the players.

“They always say don’t get too high with the highs or too low with lows, but we’re absolutely ecstatic today” Coach Jason Bent said after the win.

Now that it is over, we can examine the streak a bit more closely. With 7 losses, 5 draws and being outscored 16-3 during that stretch, the numbers are quite dismal. But they are also deceiving. When you score only 3 goals in 12 games yet have 5 draws, that’s still pretty good soccer. If you take away the first two losses, TFC II have only allowed 9 goals in 10 games, which is also quite good.

Toronto FC II shoots on Orlando B

On the offensive side, you just need to count the 2 posts and 3 crossbars hit in the last two games to note that their play has been improving. Their early problems focused on incorrect decisions in the final 3rd whether it was a poor run, a missed pass or over dribbling. Now they are making the right plays, but missing the target by just inches. Hopefully they can carry this momentum forward and start climbing up the table as those numbers still matter.

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