25 March 2009

Valuable Football Tools: The Angst-O-Graph

As promised, I give you the wonderful innovation that shows you concisely how to map the depths of your despair. See, when analyzing United, it's helpful to remember that there are two dimensions to the nihilism that threatens to overwhelm any football fan. There's the depths of the abyss to which you've fallen at any given moment. But this game can be a game of moments, so just as important is the duration through which this existential angst must be endured.

Now, if we were to indulge our dorkier sides, we might create a graph upon which to plot the angst we feel. Let's have a semi-logarithmic scale for time, and a normal Cartesian scale for the angst. Time is self explanatory, but let's set the boundaries for angst: No angst is the equivalent of running through a magical meadow where the bees sing songs from Rogers and Hammerstein and the flowers bloom $100 bills. Ultimate angst is having an eagle arrive every day to tear out your liver, which regrows overnight, while Diane Rehm yammers in your ear about the delightful new tea cozy on which she embroidered the greatest blog comments appearing at FireDogLake. Ok, that's settled. So if we were to graph that, this is what it might look like.

Neat enough, but let's throw some examples on there to get the hang of it (the Real Salt Lake game in question is this one):

Now, wouldn't it be useful to actually use this graph for something? Indeed, I think it would be. So let's introduce the concept of the Fire Line. This is the line above which a change must be made, but it varies depending on the nature of what we're talking about. Angst about players is really based on game performance, and they can be benched before they're traded, so the tolerance on a game-by-game basis is lower, with some variation (and leeway) for your established leaders on the field. Coaches don't get fired over an individual game, but within a season if things get bad enough then a change must be made. There's a little leveling off around the season mark (reflecting the desire to give a coach a chance to remake a bad team that was inherited, or to fully implement a season) but after that the decline is steep. Ownership matters have an even longer time scale to consider, and we're all fairly impotent in dealing with them, so it would have to take a lot to have fans rebel on ownership related matters. So, here's my shot at mapping out those lines...

See, this is how I think I tend to view matters when writing about them. Game-by-game decisions rarely discuss coaching matters other than tactics, and when they are discussed it is in the scope of the longer season (reflecting where the Fire Line for coaches exist). Ownership matters are even bigger in scope. But in terms of player performance, the biggest change in their Fire Lines is within a game to a series of games. Which is why talking about effort and ability makes sense here. It doesn't discuss the methodology behind putting a team together, that's not a players responsibility. And during a game, I am not rooting for the ownership, or the coach, but for the players on the field. Over the course of the season I may have a rooting interest in a coach, and over multiple seasons the ownership issues.

So, for me personally, here's how I have plotted my Angst-O-Graph. Please feel free to use the blank provided to create your own, and certainly I do not perceive my opinions as the ultimate arbiter (at least, not in this matter. Angst must be a personal matter, or what else is the point?)

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At 25 March, 2009 10:37, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is kind of like when they tried to graph poems in "Dead Poets Society".

Put away your books gentlemen, stand on your seats, and bang on your drums - United is back in town!!!

At 25 March, 2009 10:39, Blogger jason said...

That's a lot of angst for Moreno :)

Also... Owenership?

At 25 March, 2009 11:16, Anonymous Jeremy said...

Jason: I believe that the depth of angst is actually low for Moreno, but it has existed for several seasons. Unless I completely misunderstand everything...

D: Player Development is colored red, I assume making it a Coaching issue.
You have placed Player Development in an area that appears to be to the left of the Coaching firing line.
So, am I to assume that you believe that the coaches should be fired for not better developing players over the last few seasons?

At 25 March, 2009 11:23, Blogger D said...

Anonymous: I deliver what I promise, in this case fancy graphs that show us what we already know.

Jason/Jeremy: Jeremy has it right. The angst about Moreno is the perpetual "How long can he last? How can we work without him? He's got to be getting old, and why won't he shoot?" angst. It's a low-level background hum that has existed for many seasons now.

On the coaching item, it means that I think we need to get rid of the player development/draft strategies we've been using. It's colored red, but it's kind of a red/black hybrid. I'm not saying "Fire Soehn" over it, but I am saying "It has to change from the way it had been." In point of fact, it may already have changed, and I might not have figured it out.

At 25 March, 2009 11:24, Blogger D said...

Jason: V-mac, Will Chang, et al would probably clock in for me at the low end of the angst scale and about the "multiple season" area of the time scale.

At 25 March, 2009 11:27, Blogger D said...

Jason: OK, I completely missed the point. You're right, there's a typo there.

At 25 March, 2009 13:59, Blogger jason said...

I totally meant it tongue in cheek :)

I screw up spelling all the time (thank goodness for Firefox's inline spell checking!)

But it's always fun to mention it in an obtuse way and see if it gets noticed :)

On Moreno: I understand about the 'how long will he last' but I don't have any angst about it. Both he and Olsen will play till they can't... and then we'll give them the sendoff the deserve... (not the red card variety!)

At 25 March, 2009 15:16, Blogger elopingcamel said...

Despite the graph giving what is already known, it is comforting to see it spread out in pretty colored dots and labels. I like the feature.

At 26 March, 2009 18:52, Anonymous DCUinCT said...

Well it's about Fricking Time. Was about to delete the link off of favorites, but glad you are now back. Missed the thoughtful analysis, mixed with the emotions of a real fan.

At 27 March, 2009 08:14, Blogger jaywag86 said...

I see that you have a bit of angst for Devon McTavish. What other players invoke this unwanted feeling? I'm sure our back line may create some angst for you as well. Perhaps an angst-o-graph of the roster?

At 27 March, 2009 15:00, Anonymous Jeremy said...

My angst about the PG County stadium is only slightly lower than a DC stadium.

Slightly lower on the angst scale is that I won't be able to watch games once the team moves to St. Louis.

Obviously angst about injuries has shot way up in the last week and should be in the several game range.

Individually, I have a lot of angst about Fred's health, now into the season range. Speaking of which, why can't we find a left side winger somewhere? Oh right, we traded Guerrero away...


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