Thursday, August 23, 2007

Viking fans can root for Daunte (Blizzard)

Daunte Culpepper in Oakland
John Clayton says that Daunte Culpepper looks good right now, and he could be the Raiders' starting QB. As a Viking fan, I wish Daunte the best.

I thought Daunte bought his own ticket out of town after 2005, and when he was sacked or intercepted last season with the Dolphins, I spontaneously cheered. Daunte certainly broke our hearts many times. But things were never easy for Daunte in Minnesota. He was always hampered by an absolutely dreadful defense, and a lot of Viking fans never really believed he was a good quarterback (so many quarterbacks, including Warren Moon, Brad Johnson, Randall Cunningham, and Jeff George, were able to put up good numbers in Dennis Green's offensive system that a lot of people took the success for granted and really hammered Culpepper for the turnovers).

But time has passed. He's playing on a forgotten AFC team and I hope he revitalizes his career. If I could cheer for Randy Moss on the Raiders, I'm sure I can cheer for Daunte Culpepper on the Raiders (though I don't know yet whether I'll be able to cheer for Randy Moss on the Patriots--I really don't know until I spontaneously react to a play).

Dostoevsky and Me and Sports
A few weeks ago in a New York Times book review David Leonhardt wrote

"of the economics profession’s imperialist movement. For the last decade or so, economists have been increasingly poking their fingers into other disciplines, including epidemiology, psychology, sociology, oenology and even football strategy. These economists usually justify their expansionism on two grounds: They say they’re better with numbers than most other researchers and have a richer understanding of how people respond to incentives."

I frequently read and respect the statistical analysis of football and basketball I read on some websites. But I am the naive fool that still believes statistical relevancy isn't the only relevancy; I don't believe statistics and economic theory can explain our lives, and while I generally put a great deal of trust in statistics to understand sports (as you might tell from links I provide), I never accept that statistics alone can explain sports.

Sometimes when I feel like a philistine over my own skepticism of some statistical analysis, I have to remember Dostoevsky (evidently, as this is something like the third time I've talked about this on this blog). Dostoevsky reminds me that it's the world that has gone mad, not me, and at any rate even if it is me that has gone mad, that's alright too. Perhaps I bastardize my Russian master, but Dostoevsky wrote (most prominently in Notes from the Underground) of the inexplicable nature of human desire and behavior, how rational systems to explain or dictate human behavior are always doomed to failure. I generally think he's right. And I also think the concept can be applied to sports. I trust rigid statistical analysis 95% of the time, and believe it illuminates the nature of the games we watch. But I also believe there are some factors of human behavior, even in sporting events, that cannot be statistically quantifiable. These factors don't fit a statistical system: they are not quantifiable, and thus not predictive or useful in analysis. But they do still exist, and it is OK to accept and believe this (you run into trouble when you try to make arguments based on these intangible factors).

Statistics are useful, and should be used; they help explain reality. Statistics are not, however, reality itself. Just ask the underground man.

(sorry if I keep writing pretty much the same thing about this again and again: I'm trying to revise and explain my own idea on this, and repetitious revision might finally get me there).

Note on the sidebar
The team fantasy previews have been meant as off-season entertainment. When the season starts, however, they're not very useful anymore, and they take up a lot of space. In early September, just before the season starts, I'll be removing the links to each team preview from the sidebar.


You can read Viking previews at The Nosebleeds and Fanhouse.

Cold, Hard Football Facts translates a 30-3 baseball score into football numbers.

Kevin Seifert
writes about the potential Viking kick returners.

Sean Jensen writes about Brad Childress.

Viking Update says our hero, Tarvaris Jackson could play a lot in the next preseason game.

Footballguys write about Sammy Morris potentially stealing TDs from Laurence Maroney (and potentially driving PV into fits of uncontrollable rage--Maroney is the feature back of the Revolution--and the Revolution is the new name of the Experience--and the Experience has been the name of my fantasy team in years past).


  1. Stats are good if the future mirrors the present and past. If not, they're worthless. The problem is, you never know if the future will mirror the past and present or not. Just look at September 10th, 2001 (US), or say August 5th, 1945 (Japan), for example.

  2. I still root for Moss and Pep regardless of who they play for.Moss has given us some great highlights while in the purple.Pep has given us some but also a few bad ones.But I wish both to have productive careers just not against the Vikes.
    Stats are great if used as a tool and only a tool.To use stats only to depict a picture leaves one color blind.Though true in one aspect does no justice to shades and highlights.Too many variables left out in just Statistics.