11. Football - Relying on the run too much
If I told you: choose play A and you'll average 6.65 yards per play. Or choose play B and you'll get 4.17 yards per play. Which would you choose? Probably A. Well, NFL teams don't seem to get this. Play A is a passing play (2013), Play B is a running play. Yet teams ran 43% of the time. I understand the need to establish the run, but it's the numbers. More teams should just throw the damn ball!
|If you have Peyton Manning, why do this?|
10. Baseball - Rolling out a pitcher on short rest in the playoffs
Pitchers are creatures of habit. They have each of their off days mapped out. Including their throwing day about half way, and day before their start in which they begin their mental preparation. Let alone the physical rest needed. Then all of the sudden, in a critical Game 6 or 7 of a playoff series, the manager thinks his best chance to win is to roll someone out there on short rest out of rhythm. He's not as mentally sharp, he doesn't hit his pitchers as well (arm fatigue) and he ends up blowing through 90 pitches in about 4 innings and you're into the underbelly of your bullpen. Stick with full rest, and let the chips fall where they may!
|Veteran pitchers like Chris Carpenter are willing to go on short rest, but is it a good idea?|
9. Football - Special teams players blocking in the back
You can see it coming a mile away. Your return guy has broken initial contain. He's in the open field, he's at full speed, he's going to turn the corner, then some 5th linebacker special teams moron comes out of nowhere and obliterates a defender in the back way away from the play, followed by 4 yellow hankies pelting him in the back and legs. Why!?!? You know that's the players back. Just pull up. Or don't do anything!
|Think how great this would be if there wasn't an illegal block 30 yards away|
8. Basketball - Playing for the last shot of a quarter/half/game
I understand the overall logic here. You get one chance, the other team gets none. The overall point differential is wider if you don't give them a shot. But riddle me this. Why would you have your point guard stand at the top of the key dribbling pointlessly until there's about 4 seconds left. Then spinning and penetrating wildly settling for a hairbrained prayer that barely hits the rim? Why not set up an offense, start running it with 15 seconds left, and if you get a clean look before 5 seconds, go ahead and take it? If not, do the one last pass and shoot. But move the ball.
|Unless this guy's name is Jordan or Durant or James, he should move the ball|
7. Hockey - Over passing during power plays
The excitement when your team gets a key power play in a close hockey game. Oh the possiblities. The deflation when at the end of 2 minutes, they got one shot on goal, a textbook goalie kick in the last 10 seconds. You can't score if you don't shoot. Yet you see teams flip the puck along the blue line, then try to get a guy in the corner, who passes it back out, looking for the perfect shot. Pepper the goalie! He'll get flustered and it will create chances.
|Great set up. Now SHOOT!!!!|
6. Baseball - Removing a pitcher doing well for a matchup
Managers like Tony LaRussa have made pitching matchups a science more than art. Lefty-lefty, ground ball pitcher for a slugger, etc. But how many times do you see a right hand reliever blow through two big hitters by hitting corners and lighting up the radar gun. Then a left hand hitter comes in, and you bring in that wacky, screwball lefty from your bullpen. Who promptly throws a wild pitch, another ball at the eyes, then gets lit up for a double the other way? If you have a known quantity who is in a rhythm, stick with him! My momma always told me "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"
|This would be a great matchup if the lefty could throw strikes|
5. Football - Punting on fourth and fewer than two yards
This is a more complicated analysis not fit for this brief format, but trust me. You should just about always go for it on 4th and less than two. This study shows that anything less than 3 yards is over 50%. Possession of the ball is important in football. Turnovers are a big stat. If you punt, you lost the ball 100% of the time. If you go for it under 2 yards, it's more than 60% success. So that's less than 40% chance of a turnover. Chances are if you punt, you won't get the ball back in the same position (or worse, the other team scores). Keep the ball. My grandmother used to say "Why are thy kicking, that's just giving them the ball." Wise lady.
|Not much bad can happen if you go for it in enemy territory|
4. Hockey - Not pulling the goalie until the very end of the last period
Hockey sees an average of 5.3 goals per game. That's 2.6 per team per 60 minutes. On a power play (man advantage) it's about 4.5 goals per game (15% success rate per 2 minutes more or less averaged between majors/minors/2-man advantage). If you're losing, you need to force scoring. The sooner you pull the goalie, the better. No harm if you give up a goal, all the harm in the world if you don't get one. I'm saying 5 minutes or so, you should force the action. And let the chips fall where they may!
|Get this guy to the bench ASAP|
Exception: Only if you can't control the puck or execute the pull, otherwise, start doing it sooner!
3. Football - Calling timeout to save a 5-yard penalty
You can see it coming a mile away. Your team is 3rd and 12 from your own 23 yard line. The huddle breaks late because there aren't that many good plays for this. You ran on extra receivers, took out your TE. The offense seems confused. The play clock reaches 10 and offensive players are standing around not lined up. The QB instictively calls for the timeout to get organized. WHY?? The success rate for 3rd and 12 and 3rd and 17 is just about the same. Timeouts are gold for either team in major game situations. And you're going to use one now??? Situation applies for breaking the huddle wrong, illegal formation, anything five yards.
|Discretion is better than reaction. Don't call it!|
Exception: Third down and 1 or 2, and anywhere near the goal line in which you are trying to score.
2. Baseball - Walking the lineup's 8th hitter to face the pitcher with two outs
We'll call this on the "Bob Brenly protocol". You've got a runner on 2nd (or 3rd or 2nd and 3rd). The eight hitter in the lineup is coming to the plate. He's not a big threat. Yet, if in the National League, you walk him, you get to face the pitcher. Easy decision, right? Wrong. The 8th hitter probably bats around .250. The pitcher probably hits about .150. So for a 1 out of 10 advantage (i.e. nine times out of ten the outcome is the same for either). But, note, that you have to get 27 outs per game. You want to get those weaker hitters to the plate to get them out. And now you're passing on that weak hitter for one of those outs for probably a stronger bat later in the game. He's the eighth hitter for a reason. Take your chances!
|The mighty Pete Kozma is walked. Pete. Kozma.|
Exception: Not many, I'd say late game except that a pinch hitter would be queued up. Go for the eighth hitter just about every time.
1. Football - Using the Prevent Defense
This is the all time champion of stupidity. Your defense has performed at a level of (mostly) stopping the other team to a point you have a lead late in the game. Then your decision is to change the alignment and approach late to "bend but don't break" to leverage a draining clock to your advantage. And the offense licks it up. Their only chance to win is to score. And you let them. If your defense is that good, just line up and stop them. It's worked all game!? If you're afraid of the long pass, then shame on the other team for not throwing longer earlier (if that is going to be so successful). Crazy things happen, "Dance with who brung you" (Darrell Royal).
|Nineteen seconds and a timeout for a FG, why not just play regular defense?|
So there you have it, look for these in each game and call a spade a spade. Wrong decision. Every time (exceptions excluded).