04 April 2006

Case 11-01-02: Valderrama, et al. v. MLS

Bailiff, what's the next case?

Prosecution: Carlos Valderrama, Steve Ralston, Bill James, and The Union of Associated Numerical Nitpickers
Docket #: 11-01-02
Defendant: MLS Statistics Division
Charge(s): Statistical Fraud, 2 counts
Alternate Columbo Title: The Case of the Artificial Assists.

Very well, the prosecution may begin their case.

The Prosecution

"Your honor, statistics are important to the continued well-being of MLS. As we can see from proceedings in other counts (cf. MLB vs. Bonds, et al.) when statistics come under the gaze of suspicion, the very history of a game is threatened. In MLS, we are seeing the growth of statistical based research into the game, so we must protect the purity of the recordbooks.

"In the case of the two DC United goals on the date of April 2, the prosecution alleges that Mr. Freddy Adu should not have received credit for secondary assists. That he did is proof of misconduct by record-keepers in MLS. They wish to inflate Mr. Adu's statistics in order to protect the investment they have made in promoting Mr. Adu as an attraction to MLS.

"Specifically, in the first goal, Mr. Adu was credited with an assist for playing a through ball to Josh Gros. The pass was simply executed, and required no great skill. The credit for that goal rightly belongs to the subsequent cross from Mr. Gros, and the finish from Alecko Eskandarian. Mr. Adu promoted neither of those actions with his pass.

"On the second goal, while Mr. Adu's ball to Ben Olsen was skillful, it was Mr. Olsen who picked out Facundo Erpen for the long range shot and deflection. Mr. Adu could not possibly have foreseen this turn of events, and therefore should not be credited with a secondary assist. Furthermore, the prosecution contends that the pass should have resulted in an off-side call by the Assistant Referee, and as such was an illegal pass. Assists should not be used to reward actions contrary to the laws of the game. The prosecution rests."

The Defense

"The prosecution would like us to believe that for a secondary assist to be valid a player must have envisioned the entire play for it to be valid. Horsehockey, Your Honor. Since Nostradamus does not play for MLS, it is unlikely that any player can truly envision the full result of their passes. Rather, one must ask whether or not Mr. Adu's passes contributed significantly to the offensive action that resulted in the goals scored.

"From this perspective, the record is clear. Mr. Adu had multiple passing options before sending this through ball to Mr. Gros, but chose to execute the pass he did. In so doing, he made a choice to start an attacking movement down the right flank. While Mr. Adu could not have foreseen the precise conclusion of that attack, it is certain that a cross from the right into the box would in line with his general expectations. The fact that the pass did not require the most skill is irrelevant, what matters is the choice and subsequent execution.

"On the second goal, the prosecution's case is even more laughable. Mr. Adu's ball to Mr. Olsen forces the defense to collapse in disarray. It was Mr. Adu's pass that forced their retreat, allowing the space for Mr. Erpen to step up into the play. Further, it is the Red Bulls' defensive disarray that helped provide the fortuitous deflection that aided the goal. That disarray would not have been present without Mr. Adu's passing."

"Your Honor, the secondary assists have been properly credited to Mr. Adu. This is not a case of a backpass at midfield, or a square ball designed to maintain possession, were improperly termed assists. Rather, the passes executed by Mr. Adu were attacking in nature, and helped develop the conditions for the goals to be created. The defense rests."


It is now the duty of this court to render judgment. The findings of this court can not be appealed. The defendants will rise.

While this court understands, and perhaps sympathizes with the concerns regarding the integrity of statistics, the question before us is simple: Do Mr. Adu's actions merit his secondary assist credits? In so doing, we have examined the nature of the passes that Mr. Adu made, and applied a two part test. For an assist to be merited, it must either:

  1. Be attacking in nature designed to create goal scoring opportunities; or
  2. Be part of exploiting a defensive lapse in the attacking half of the field, allowing for an offensive possession to develop.

The court finds that Mr. Adu's passes meet this first criteria, and are therefore eligible for the secondary assist credit. Further, the court rejects the argument that Mr. Adu's assist to Mr. Olsen should be disallowed due to referee inaction, based on the precendent set in People v. Perkins regarding referee inaction.

Therefore, in the case of Valderrama et al. v. MLS, the court finds the defendants NOT GUILTY, and the case is dismissed. The court is adjourned for today.


At 04 April, 2006 14:37, Anonymous john said...

Nice ruling, you are opening a world of hurt if start trying to judge the intentions of a player when assigning 2ndary assists. I've always been interested to know what percentage of Wayne Gretzky's assists were 2ndary.

I would be interested the court's opinion of this whole 'passive' offsides shenanigans.

At 04 April, 2006 14:50, Blogger D said...

John: Thanks. I really enjoy this format. Plus it allows me to open this blog up to commenters and such if they want to make arguments and present cases.

As for the whole off-sides thing, I'm not sure if I'm really ready to render a verdict yet. Brian Hall seems to have acted in accordance with the guidance he was given. That the guidance was stupid is also true, but I can't expect referees to randomly ignore the directions they are given. It will probably make a hell of a case at some point, once more develops.

At 06 April, 2006 08:23, Blogger scaryice said...

Now I have nightmares of KC using gavel sound effects.


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