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Efficiency, Community, and Winning and Losing


jbishop15

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I've been thinking a lot about efficiency, specifically as it relates to art. Below are those thoughts, with a little expansion on theme. 

These are all half-baked text conversations I've had with friends lately. 

* * * * *

I watched a clip of director-writer James grey talk about how studios only making comic book/franchise movies essentially got people out of the habit of going to the movies and would lead to the eventual downfall of the industry And it got me thinking about a half- baked idea I've had about the efficiency of a thing being the death of a thing.

For example, YouTube, as a commercial form, has cracked the code in the way they need to structure content and its description (titles, thumbnails, etc) to draw in a type of fan that will engage the most The issue is that it speaks to an increasingly small demographic of people, and is purposefully inaccessible to everyone else. Im further reminded of the way TV has changed -- a focus on engaging with hardcore fans that engage more that a bigger audience who engages less -- and how that leads to fan-service that keeps those and only those fans around.

No longer is there content for everyone, and so we're faced with the same issue as the blander TV of the pre 1990s (generally) and the now-blander movies -- trying to be everything to everyone and everything to a few has lead us to fractured, less interesting art, and even fewer places to view what's left

* * * * *

this has gotten me further thinking about the issue with efficiency in a broader, psychological sense. Humanity didn't survive and thrive because we prioritized efficiency, but because we prioritized community, and community is full of diverse, contradictory, and unknowable things that often lead to unexpected outcomes

efficiency is leaving behind all of those who can't easily make it up the hill, but that means that any "usefulness" they may have later is permanently inaccessible

I think all of this has to die

im not even sure what I mean by that, but that's what my gut tells me

something about the way we look at the world has to die

maybe it really is as simple as "enjoy the journey and care not about the destination"

* * * * *

I've started turning against sports analytics.

I think a lot about "For The Love of the Game", in which Kevin Costner throws a perfect game, and comes home, and there's nobody to celebrate with him.

Winning alone is worse than losing together. 

 

 

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  • Administrator

I'm not sure what throwing a perfect game and coming home to nobody has to do with sports analytics.

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2 hours ago, iacas said:

I'm not sure what throwing a perfect game and coming home to nobody has to do with sports analytics.

What I was trying to convey is that making sports hyper efficient (ie homers over everything, threes and layups, etc) means that only people who enjoy those things gets to fully enjoy sports. If you like to see people steal more bases, or play in the post, or watch running backs run the ball, there really isn't a place for you like there used to be. The design of the sports means those things are things that lead to the most wins, so of course they should do it, it just turns sports from broad entertainment to a more narrow one. 

I should've written that last section better -- it was a small part of a larger conversation where it made sense in-context, and much less so here. What I was trying to say was that winning something alone doesn't bring the same kind of joy as winning with people by your side. Combining those thoughts in the context of the larger conversation I was having made sense, less so in this post. 

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I've started turning against sports analytics.

Why? Analytics are just facts/stats.

 

On 5/24/2022 at 11:33 PM, jbishop15 said:

What I was trying to convey is that making sports hyper efficient (ie homers over everything, threes and layups, etc) means that only people who enjoy those things gets to fully enjoy sports. If you like to see people steal more bases, or play in the post, or watch running backs run the ball, there really isn't a place for you like there used to be. 

Couldn't the same argument be made for people who loved home runs and 3s but were watching the sports like 30 years ago? That people who love seeing tons of home runs or 3s "didnt really have a place" in the old days too?

 

I guess I also don't really understand why you think that everyone has to "fully enjoy sports" ?

It's entertainment, just like I don't fully enjoy every movie I watch, every song I listen to, etc. 

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I think MLB believes that the homers-above-all-else is creating issues with fan interest. They are taking some steps to change this. 

So maybe homers are efficient for winning baseball games, but inefficient for putting fans in the seats or eyeballs on the screen? 

Shouldn't some of these things self-correct, though? In basketball, if you prove through analytics that only 3 point shots and lay ups are the efficient way to score, then you will practice that way, and build your roster around players who can do this, and you build your defensive schemes to combat it. If you become focused on only this strategy, it should mean that there are opportunities to exploit other strategies. 

Defensive shifts in baseball are probably an example of this. Homeruns are by far the most efficient way to score in baseball. To hit homeruns regularly requires a certain approach to hitting, typically trying to pull the ball. The more "efficiently" and consistently you do this, the more predictable your batted ball distribution becomes, allowing these hyper-effective shift strategies. 

Edited by Big Lex
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10 minutes ago, Big Lex said:

So maybe homers are efficient for winning baseball games, but inefficient for putting fans in the seats or eyeballs on the screen? 

This has more to do with how pitching staffs are micromanaged. Now starting pitchers go hard for 5-6 innings, instead of trying to last 7+ innings. Then they throw in really good relief pitchers. 

Basically, it is really hard to hit line drives, which have the highest impact value for getting extra base hits and batting average. See the graphs below. OBP down, Average Down, Strike Outs Up, Doubles Down, HR Up over the past 15 years. 

In terms of winning a game, stringing together hits is much harder to do now than ever, so its better to try to hit home runs. 

OBP
image.png

Batting Average
image.png

Strike Outs
image.png

Doubles
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Home Runs
image.png

What they do not realize, changing the ball so it gets less speed off the bat will just decrease hits in general. Hard hit balls get more hits, not soft hit ones. 

If they want to improve the game, maybe it is time to shrink the plate size so you limit strikeouts or move the pitchers mound back a bit to give more time to hit the ball. I just do not think HR's are the issue. It's MLB has solved hitters with pitch selection, pitch management, and defensive set ups (shift). 

 

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Baseball is a battle between hitters and pitchers, and at various times there have been massive imbalances favoring one side or the other. Right now pitchers are clearly winning. 

Moving the mound back is a great idea...I read about this in an article about 6 months ago. Apparently there was interest in trying it in developmental leagues. 

And yes it's definitely an issue with pitch velocity...you don't even need analytics to appreciate this. It used to be if you had a pitcher who could throw 98, you had a real weapon. Now every team has 5 of these guys in their bullpen. Per an article that quoted Theo Epstein, the pitch clock in the minors may actually help some. Although I guess they instituted it to speed up games, one of the consequences of it is that pitchers don't have unlimited time to recover between pitches, so they can't quite go max-effort on EVERY pitch, like they sorta can now. 

It used to be that you _wanted_ to get into a team's bullpen, because that's where the soft-throwing guys were. Now the bullpen pitcher is better than the starter probably half the time or more, and even bad teams have several good arms in their bullpen. 

Another by-product of defensive analytics has been to drastically cut XBH. Outfielders play deeper now than ever. There is talk (same Theo Epstein article) of experimenting with putting a line in the outfield limiting how deep they can position fielders. 

Starting next season, it's pitch clock and no more (extreme) shifts, so hopefully we see an improvement. 

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  • Administrator

Instead of moving the mound back couldn’t they just say you have to stay in contact with the rubber until the ball is out of your hand?

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6 hours ago, klineka said:

Why? Analytics are just facts/stats.

 

Couldn't the same argument be made for people who loved home runs and 3s but were watching the sports like 30 years ago? That people who love seeing tons of home runs or 3s "didnt really have a place" in the old days too?

 

I guess I also don't really understand why you think that everyone has to "fully enjoy sports" ?

It's entertainment, just like I don't fully enjoy every movie I watch, every song I listen to, etc. 

Why? Analytics are just facts/stats.

I was using analytics colloquially, referring to the movement towards efficiency. I'm not mad at the movement, because I'm a big advanced stats guy and I think it'd be foolish to not take advantage of the math to try and win. I think that the rule should be adjusted to make other styles of play viable. 

 

Couldn't the same argument be made for people who loved home runs and 3s but were watching the sports like 30 years ago? That people who love seeing tons of home runs or 3s "didnt really have a place" in the old days too?

You certainly could say that! I could also say that the game has a smaller audience than ever before, and that home runs and threes, which used to be more exciting, are now so commonplace and regular that they don't have the same impact as before. I relate it back to golf -- hitting long drives and getting as close to the hole on every shot is the optimal way to play. It's also very boring to watch, and I think it damages the sport. 

 

I guess I also don't really understand why you think that everyone has to "fully enjoy sports" ?

It's entertainment, just like I don't fully enjoy every movie I watch, every song I listen to, etc. 

James Gray, a writer/director, made the point a few weeks ago that because there's only really one type of movie that gets made (superhero comic book movies) then only people who go to the movies for those things are properly serviced. Which leaves out people like, say, my parents, who are not anti-comic book movie but are in the mid-late sixties and don't have any relationship with those things. Gray says moviegoers like that have "gotten out of the habit" of going to the movies, because they believe there is nothing there for them. 

I think the same is true for sports. There is one dominate type of play in the NFL, one dominant type of play in the NBA, one dominant type of play in MLB. In that regard, every game becomes the same thing, which makes it more boring. 

 

Thanks for replying!!!

 

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1 hour ago, jbishop15 said:

James Gray, a writer/director, made the point a few weeks ago that because there's only really one type of movie that gets made (superhero comic book movies) then only people who go to the movies for those things are properly serviced. Which leaves out people like, say, my parents, who are not anti-comic book movie but are in the mid-late sixties and don't have any relationship with those things. Gray says moviegoers like that have "gotten out of the habit" of going to the movies, because they believe there is nothing there for them. 

I might disagree with that. 

It might be that the only movies that get a lot of publicity these days are superhero movies. 

Like, in July... Like maybe one movie would fall into that category, and it's the toy story spin off Lightyear. The rest look to be action movies, dramas, comedies, etc... 

You only really get like what 5 marvel movies a year? Maybe a couple of DC movies ever few years? 

There are like 10-15 movies that come out each month? 

I might say that the number of comic book or superhero movies are like 10% of movies released yearly. It is very much higher than it use to be. Like the 90's, you had nearly no comic book movies made. It was probably under 1%. 

 

 

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49 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

I might disagree with that. 

It might be that the only movies that get a lot of publicity these days are superhero movies. 

Like, in July... Like maybe one movie would fall into that category, and it's the toy story spin off Lightyear. The rest look to be action movies, dramas, comedies, etc... 

You only really get like what 5 marvel movies a year? Maybe a couple of DC movies ever few years? 

There are like 10-15 movies that come out each month? 

I might say that the number of comic book or superhero movies are like 10% of movies released yearly. It is very much higher than it use to be. Like the 90's, you had nearly no comic book movies made. It was probably under 1%. 

 

 

It’s a lot harder to get movies made that don’t have some sort of comic book/superhero angle or some other existing franchise IP

plus, in moviemaking, publicity is as important as getting the movie made at all, if not more so. All the air gets sucked out of the room for other movies, and executives are prey animals who can only see an inch in front of their face

but I do understand what you’re saying!

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14 hours ago, jbishop15 said:

James Gray, a writer/director, made the point a few weeks ago that because there's only really one type of movie that gets made (superhero comic book movies) then only people who go to the movies for those things are properly serviced. Which leaves out people like, say, my parents, who are not anti-comic book movie but are in the mid-late sixties and don't have any relationship with those things.

I'm not meaning this towards your parents specifically, but so what? 

Why would a company create an entertainment product that they know would result in them making less revenue just to keep a smaller demographic happy?

There could be an argument made that publicly traded companies have to produce the entertainment product they know will generate the most revenue because it's their job to perform in the best interests of the shareholders.

 

I'm still pretty confused as to what your overall point is and why you think various forms of entertainment should appeal equally to all demographics of people.

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There's a lot to unpack here. 

I'm not even sure what the OP is trying to say. But I'll tell you this. It's really very simple... follow the money. 

If you put the words "Batman" or "Dark Knight" in the title you are guaranteed to make a ton of money. Even if the movie isn't very good. So, of course they are going to make those movies? Dark Knight Rises made over a billion dollars and that movie sucked out loud. It was only marginally better than the truly dreadful Batman and Robin, which still brought in almost twice the money at the box office that it took to make it. 

The same is true of Marvel movies. They make money. (Sorry Eternals.) Making Marvel movies is like printing your own money. So, the studios will keep on doing it. 

If you want story telling (non-comic book story telling) you don't go to the movies any more. You watch a streaming series. There have been dozens of great stories told on streaming series of late. They could be in the form of a series or a one-off movie. That's where the story tellers who used to pitch their ideas to big screen movie executives go now to tell their stories. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just different. 

Overall its a great time for story-tellers/writers. There are tons of streaming services to pitch their ideas to and the people can consume their product at their own pace on their own schedule. The movies, as us old folks know them, aren't dying because people don't want to see anything other than comic book stories. They are dying because people want to consume the stories on their own schedule. Today they can do that more comfortably, with better food, with how ever many bathroom breaks they want and without idiots around ruining it for them. Plus there is content for everyone from young kids to ancient old folks.

The same way that movies and TV put radio serials out of business, streaming services are getting rid of traditional television programing and traditional movie theaters. 

Somebody found a better way to tell stories and so that's what they are doing. Once again, follow the money. 

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