Posted by: mdegeorge | May 14, 2010

Weekly Diagnosis: 5/14

The inaugural WD has been generously granted a full rich week in which Lebron James apparently played the worst game in NBA history (funny, must not have been any of the three I watched), the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” got a whole new appreciation, and the World Cup countdown took a scientific turn.

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Clueless in Seattle

It was revealed by the Tacoma News Tribune on Monday that 40-year-old Ken Griffey, Jr. was unable to pinch-hit in a game last week because he was sleeping in the clubhouse. Two of the team’s “younger” players—though to be fair, everyone short of Don Wakamatsu, Rick Adair, and the ghosts of John Olerud fits that category—reported seeing him sound asleep in a chair in the seventh inning.

Looking at Whiffey’s numbers this year, it strikes me as odd that it’s taken five weeks to finally nab him catching Z’s in and around Safeco Field. As of Monday, he’s batting a robust .208 (16 for 77) with two doubles, zero homers, five RBIs, six walks and 15 strikeouts. His average places him in good company, nestled him between Tampa’s Sean Rodriguez and Cleveland’s Jhonny Peralta.

But the story had some more turns in store. First, Mariners’ players refused to talk to the reporter who broke the story, even escorting him from press conferences, after a players-only meeting conducted by Mike Sweeney ascertained that none of the players had actually spoken to him. The ordeal even made the future Hall of Famer Griffey break down and cry.

Then, in what can only be described as a transparent attempt to diffuse the situation and allow Seattle to return to playing .382 ball in relative anonymity, Griffey’s agent reported that the story was mistakenly published prematurely. He wasn’t chastising the writer, but rather painting it as a simple administrative error.

Something smells fishy in Seattle, and it’s not just from those guys throwing fish at the market.

Do I need a co-pay?

Here’s a story right up the Sports Doctor’s alley, and for anyone who’s been ostracized by friends for arguing that something other than the Adrian Gonzalez trade countdown clock is happening in the San Diego baseball scene.

This week, San Diego pitcher Tim Stauffer was diagnosed with appendicitis and underwent an appendectomy. The diagnosing physician: Stauffer, himself. The right-handed pitcher typed his symptoms into an app on his iPhone and went to team trainer, who verified the diagnosis.

As far as we know, the Richmond alumnus didn’t manage to collect a medical degree in his illustrious two years at Richmond. But this might bet the best chance for the fourth overall pick in the 2003 MLB Draft to get in some advertising work, since his 10-15 record and career 4.57 ERA doesn’t appear to be doing the trick.

Courting the King

The Lebron James circus is officially in town. Now that his Cavs are eliminated from the playoffs, let the speculation over his future destination begin!

Once the NBA clears out all these silly little basketball games, then we can get the Lebron James Magical Mystery Free Agency Tour going in full force. (By the way, how terrible have these games been? Three sweeps in four Conference Semis and Bron-Bron is going home after the Cavs folded like a poorly assembled tent? Gary Bettman must be loving it.)

So many questions are coming up already:

Are the Knicks willing to sign Bron, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade all to max contracts and pair them with two minimum-wage concession stand workers and three cartoons a la Space Jam?

Would new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov be willing to give Lebron the max deal plus Kyrgyzstan to lure to him to Brooklyn? (Seriously though, Prokhorov’s net worth is $13.4 billion and the former Soviet republic’s GDP is only $5.08 billion. It would be an awesome summer home.)

What can Cleveland do to keep him short of ceasing to be Cleveland and becoming a cooler city?

But my biggest query, and the one whose answer may be the most vital over the next three months is, who will ESPN force to follow the LJMMFAT day and night, combing and analyzing the useless minutiae of the search for a new home? The Pedro Gomez to his Barry Bonds, the Sal Paolantonio to his Terrell Owens? Early money is on George Smith, but I’m hoping that Rachel Nichols makes an impact on this before long

Some not-so-sweet science

Leave it to England to prove that getting a grant for scientific research isn’t as rigorous as a process as it once was.

The compendium of soccer studies was released this week, chronicling some of the highlights (read: useless correlations) in soccer research over the past several years. A few of my favorites:

Soccer players with ring fingers longer than their index fingers tend to be more successful. But don’t go trying to stretch your son’s or daughter’s fingers, it’s based on prenatal conditions that control other traits helpful to soccer prowess and just an incidental side effect.

Soccer has a higher upset frequency than any of the four major American sports, and its upset rate is 25 percent higher than American football.

And finally, in light of England midfield star Frank Lampard’s admission that the Three Lions are terrified of a penalty shootout at the World Cup, hospital admissions for cardiac arrest the day of and after a nation’s team loses in a penalty shootout spike drastically. I guess it really could be a save that was to die for.

If you want something a little more interesting in this genre, check out this paper by, among other, Steven Levitt of Freakonomics fame. It’s a look at soccer players’ general proclivity not to shoot penalties straight down the middle despite the fact it is the most likely spot to score.

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