WWW

Conflict can be good: While We’re Waiting

I have found myself pondering conflict more in 2017 than I have in any other year since God blessed me with life on this Earth. Everywhere conflict has reigned supreme whether it be in general news coverage, politics, or, yes, sports. A vast majority of the clashes have been received as a negative.

However, the optimist inside me cannot help but be reminded that humanity’s greatest achievements have been borne out of conflict as James 1:12 tells us aptly, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” The greatest generation was dubbed as much due to their willingness and ability to sacrifice their own well-being for the good of the world. Many literally putting themselves in harm’s way to ensure moral sanctity had a chance at surviving in Europe and Asia. The Cold War created the Space Race, which helped push the technology of the world further ahead than could have even been imagined on the pages of the fantastical science fiction pages. Present day Silicon Valley is another sector thriving on conflict as the bloodbath to become the next Amazon or Facebook is a brutal game of survival.

Don’t incite, provide insight.

Humans just are not designed to live without some form of conflict. Our instinct is to band together in small (or large) groups who identify with each other and seek to “win” against the opponent. Agent Smith from the movie The Matrix had the most poignant quote that described human’s inability to be satisfied or happy for lengthy amounts of time in a utopia.

Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.

WFNY’s Andrew Schnitkey wondered on Tuesday about finding a place for sports in our life, and how sports are a needed escape from the harsh realities around us. Here’s the money snippet from his excellent article:

I think more than anything, I find myself mostly filled with sadness at the divide between us as humans. Whether those divides are along racial lines, political affiliations, religious beliefs, ideology, philosophy, gender, or social class, we do seem to struggle to find common ground in a way that I’m not sure has always been this bad. We like to believe that we are progressing as a society at large, but in many ways, we are becoming more divided than ever, and it’s disheartening.

My response was that sports have an opportunity to bind people together with a commonality they would not have been bound by otherwise. Sports can offer a starting point of discussion, which can progress outwards to other topics as we see on the WFNY comment pages. The only way these discussions can be productive though is for all of us to respect each other. Without that respect, the defensive instincts kick in as we go into combat mode. Rather than explaining our point of view in the context and nuance it deserves, the discussion becomes an argument to stir things up. Thus, the utmost importance needs to be placed on providing insight to discussions.

The opportunity is passed upon by far too many people with large platforms who prefer to incite a fight. As WFNY detailed recently, Tony Grossi has declared all-out war against football analytics, and he was even willing to throw preposterous allegations about the Cleveland Browns front office somehow out-sourcing decisions to ESPN writer Bill Barnwell as a grenade in his fight. Grossi also has taken to mocking both the NFL Draft, and those individuals who wish he double-checked his work. His mock draft 7.0 would have three duplicates on the initial published revision though it was edited so that only one player was selected by two teams.

Somehow, the answer was three duplicates.

STO’s Jensen Lewis has taken a similar course regarding the new Statcast metrics as curse words in his lexicon to only be used as an object of derision. WFNY has detailed how Exit Velocity and Launch Angle project the likelihood of success at the plate. Professional teams, players, and hitting instructors are utilizing this data to alter their approach to hitting.

Neither exit velocity or launch angle or any of the other data such as route efficiency offer any guarantees. A 20 mile per hour squibbler down the third base line can still be a hit if the batter runs it out well enough. What they do provide is additional insight into the game of baseball for why things are happening on the field. The idea is that someone whose job is to analyze the game of baseball could utilize these new tools.

Instead, here is a sampling of how Lewis treats both advanced metrics and his colleagues who use them.

Spurring conversation apparently

When Lewis says about Starling Marte’s drug suspension, “The whole lack of knowledge argument doesn’t play anymore. He should be embarrassed to the highest degree,” my initial response is to write back a snarky comment about how I agree with his statement and that it applies to advanced statistics. I have a deep human desire to do so, which will provide a sense of relief and satisfaction the moment the send button is hit. The end result though is counter-productive for what I truly wish to happen.

Whether it is a stubbornness of wanting the old ways to remain or a fear of being labelled inadequate with the wash of the new wave in both football and baseball, I want both Grossi and Lewis to overcome their hurdles to further the discussion rather than create more barriers for others. Conflict can be good. It is imperative to have individuals question the validity of new ideas, while also providing a bridge to those who prefer the ways of the past. Quite quickly, those bridges will demonstrate that there isn’t much new. After all, Exit Velocity and Launch Angle are just an added nuance to what baseball people have always referred to as ground balls, line drives, bloopers, fly balls, and pop flies.

As Schnitkey noted, there are far more important topics in the world to discuss other than sports, but starting to build a community through our professional teams to earn each others’ respect is a strong way to better our ability to debate those issues. Even as conflict rules the world and dichotomies appear to have created gulfs too large to overcome, there are plenty of examples of the good in humanity. The Cleveland community rallied behind the Aviles family when their daughter Adriana was diagnosed with cancer in ways that still can bring tears to the eye. Employees at an Erie Pennsylvania McDonald’s risked their lives to help catch the Facebook Killer.

Let’s attempt to remember conflict can be good and continue to find ways to make positive marks on each other’s lives.

  • tsm

    Agree. A perfect example is those who oppose government providing financial assistance to some who are not well off. Many think that helping others is an individual decision and not a proper function of government. Agree or disagree with this, one has no right to assume that you hate those who are not well off if you oppose the government providing the assistance. For many it is simply a matter of the private sector or individuals being in a better position to provide needed assistance. We can certainly have this debate, but it is a much better debate if we focus on outcomes for those in need instead of name calling. From a personal perspective, I have seen individuals build relationships with those of limited means and not only help them financially, but develop a personal bond that deals with the whole person. We who have much are certainly obligated to help those who don’t, but the way we do this is certainly a proper subject of a reasoned discussion.

  • Garry_Owen

    Fine. Let’s get this internet back to normal: I hate everybody and everything.

  • mgbode

    Hopefully some helpful tips…

    Newest comments w/ links to those articles:
    https://wfny.disqus.com/comments.rss

    Newest articles:
    search: “WHAT’S NEW AT WFNY?”
    otherwise, it should appear on the right side of your screen

    main site: waitingfornextyear.com should also have articles listed in reverse chronological order (newest at top)

    to list out articles in reverse chronological order for a particular month:
    http://waitingfornextyear.com/2017/04/ (for April 2017)

  • Chris

    No, Vladimir Tarasenko. The hockey guy.

  • BenRM

    Excellent. Thanks. I’m not sure what the deal is. I’m recently not finding the WWW’s until a day or two after they were written. Which is a shame.

    I guess I never look at the side bar enough.

  • Garry_Owen

    After 17 years of the same old Browns, and another less-than-stellar Indians April, it does seem that no new content exists …

  • tsm

    but Kyrie told me it was flat!

  • Harv

    When I hear him on shows he sounds more tired than confrontational – tired of taking the brunt of so much misplaced fan anger, tired of having to report on a dreary team, tired of having to leave his comfort zone as a once-per-day-deadline beat writer and needing to vomit constant tweets, and really tired (scared?) of a new thinking that devalues his previous 30 years simply eyeballing players. On Twitter he is confrontational, but on the air it’s weariness.

  • BenRM

    Zing!

  • nj0

    Flat earth theories aren’t exactly new.
    https://archive.org/details/TheoreticalAstronomyExaminedAndExpos

    Easier to come across? Sure. Idk… I just think if you’re the kind of guy who spends his day obsessing over how different/wrong your neighbors are, it doesn’t matter where/when you lived or what kind of technology you have.

  • nj0

    I’ve noticed that the latest articles on the main page appear only as info-graphic style boxes at the top of the page. They used to appear there and listed below in the left hand column as well. Took me a while to realize that.

  • mgbode

    Flat Earth isn’t new but if you asked me 10 years ago how many people felt that way, I would have laughed it off. Heck, even just before Kyrie made his comment I probably would have.

  • mgbode

    probably a combination

  • mgbode

    WWW have their own special place on the sidebar – our way of “sticking to sports” on our main scroll 🙂

  • mgbode

    Ah, the common ground where we all can agree upon.

  • mgbode

    What’s hockey?

  • mgbode

    don’t forget LeBron sweeping an underwhelming 1st round opponent

    the more things change…

  • Chris
  • mgbode

    Interesting. But you are going to have to explain shame to me next because I don’t think I have any.

  • Garry_Owen

    Upon which we can all agree.

  • mgbode

    agree all we which can upon

  • Chris

    Ohhh B.S.

    You’ve worn Browns gear outside of Cleveland, haven’t you?

  • mgbode

    Naw, I rather enjoy that odd moment as someone approaches in speculation if I am from NEO or just a crazy person. That moment where they pause, worried about a potential answer they do not wish to hear, causes me to smile.

  • Chris
  • NankirPhelge

    Yes, the new site layout is confusing. The old one wasn’t confusing. So why on earth did WFNY confuselize it? It was fine the way it was.

  • Chris

    Get down from that grammatical high horse upon which you sit your farter.

  • mgbode

    I accept pity.

  • NankirPhelge

    That kind of talk is something up with which I will not put.

  • Garry_Owen

    My father has his own horse. Oh, you didn’t say “father” . . .

  • Garry_Owen

    Once a year or so, the folks that run this operation try to throw us a curve ball to see if we can hang. It’s a “weeding out” process, to see if we can hang.

    The last one was a doozy. We are technically never to speak of it again (so I’m running a risk even mentioning it), or to say its name, which is the main narrative character in Harper Lee’s classic novel, but suffice it to say that this curve ball is absolutely hittable compared to that viciousness. Just sit back, shift your weight to the back foot, and wait on it. You’ll be fine.

  • mgbode

    You are talking about us adding Jim Pete to the writer’s lineup, aren’t you?

  • Garry_Owen

    Sure. Even though Jim was her brother, and not the main narrative character, it’s best that we keep the whole thing on the down low. Ixnay on the outscay.

  • Allen P

    Perhaps my statement came as too broad of an indictment. I certainly don’t blame “fans,” or whatever we are, for being skeptical of these methods/technologies/etc. We aren’t held accountable by our bosses for delivering on these things – we’re here to enjoy a game. Sure, as an engineer I naturally enjoy the data-driven aspects and discussions therein. I’m looking squarely at those in the business (team staff, media, etc) who take that approach as being “afraid” of seeing themselves or their worldviews obsoleted.

  • Garry_Owen

    Totally fair, and I knew what you were saying even as I typed my response. But, internet!! Comments!!

    To the point, though, I guess I understand the position of fear in watching your worldview obsoleted. That’s an understandable human response, even if I think they should just keep it to themselves.

  • RGB
  • We actually haven’t changed our layout in a couple years, other than that brief stint at Scout. But this is the same layout we used before that. Would love some more feedback on what issues you guys are having, because I’m not seeing anything different on my end. Please feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll look into what’s going on.

  • scripty

    Not everybody looks to a belief in that they share it, some people look to a belief/cause because it validates their own inadaquacies. Decisions are made due to belief, or fear (of change), or both.

  • Garry_Owen

    I know. I was just poking some fun at the whole move that was to go unnamed (can’t believe you said it out loud!).

    The main things that I have noticed are the autoplay loud videos (which was fixed) and the location of new content (which is just an adaptation thing – we’ll get used to it). No real complaints. Keep on keeping on.

  • Saggy
  • Garry_Owen
  • Thanks for the follow up. I just wanted to make sure there wasn’t something going on that was causing issues for people.