Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Respecting the facts

The International Racquetball Tour (IRT) begins its Tier 1 season this week with the Ghost of Georgetown tournament in Kansas City. A big question is whether Kane Waselenchuk will extend his streak of 113 match wins. But has he really won that many in row?

No. He hasn't.

To be clear, the last time Waselenchuk lost a match on court was in January 2009, when Alvaro Beltran beat him at the California Open. But he hasn't won all his matches since then. If Waselenchuk had, then he'd have won all the tournaments he'd entered since then. And he didn't.

Waselenchuk lost to Jack Huczek in the semi-finals of the New York City Pro/Am tournament in January, as he forfeited the match due to illness. Since then Waselenchuk has won 33 consecutive matches, so those claiming he's won 113 in a row are not counting the loss to Huczek.

But a loss is a loss, and a winning streak stops with any loss.

In tennis, the men's US Open winner Novak Djokovic's win-loss record this year is 64 and 2. But one of those losses happened by default. Is anyone claiming Djokovic is really 64 and 1? No, of course not.

One of the principles we have here at The Racquetball Blog is to be as accurate as possible. Thus, we want to have the most accurate racquetball records possible. People have often been neglectful of racquetball records over the years, which is something we are trying to fight against. Stating that Waselenchuk has won 113 matches in a row implies that he won all the tournaments he entered last season, which is false. Waselenchuk entered the New York event and didn't win it.

We don't think being accurate in this matter detracts from Waselenchuk's excellence. He is clearly the best men's racquetball player right now, and we'd be more than willing to argue that he's the best men's racquetball player ever, with all due respect to Cliff Swain, Sudsy Monchik, and Marty Hogan.

Claiming Waselenchuk's the best player ever is an opinion, of course, not a fact. Wins and losses are facts, and we should respect them as such. If we're going to overlook some facts (some losses in the present case), then why not overlook others?

Not respecting the facts diminishes racquetball and everyone associated with it, including Waselenchuk.

Follow the bouncing ball....


Todd Boss said...

I've thought about this same item in terms of the queries i've built against the data in bossconsulting. And i've come to the same conclusion. If you look at the Tennis world; if you retire or forfeit a match its still a loss.

What i've done though is to make a concession to skipped tournaments when considering win streaks.

Per this logic i've got his winning streak at 81 games, with another 29 tacked on since (how did you get 33? I wonder if i've got a bug in my code).

Reverend Joe said...


"Stating that Waselenchuk has won 113 matches in a row ... ", in MY opinion (and most others, i might add, according to most of the polls i've seen) does NOT, in any way, imply " ... that he won all the tournaments he entered last season."

Rather, saying he's won 113 matches in a row means just what it says, that he's WON the last 113 matches he's PLAYED, which is TRUE.

If you want to state that someone has won all the tournaments they've entered, you say it like this: "person x won all of the last y tournaments (s)he entered." Simpler, shorter, to say nothing of being MUCH more accurate.

if you want to split hairs, it should be over whether his record should be phrased as "113-0" since january 2009, or "113-1".

I'd still argue (in the interest of accuracy) that the best way to phrase what his record is would be: "113-0, with one default" ... and I'd argue that Djokovic's record should be stated the same way.

In fact, I'd say it's MORE deceptive, and therefore LESS accurate, to say "113-1", b/c that really DOES imply to the reader that K.W. actually LOST a match to another player ON THE COURT, which, as we all know, is simply NOT the case ...

The Racquetball Blog said...

Hmm, seems our math is off, Todd. Since the NYC event, Waselenchuk's been in 7 events - Lawler Pro Am, San Diego Open, Florida Spring Break, Salt Lake City, St Louis, Tijuana, and Fullerton. He played 4 matches in the first 6 of those and 5 in the Fullerton event, which was a grand slam, so he was in the 32s initially. (6 x 4) + 5 = 29. Oops.

Reverend Joe, so Waselenchuk is 113-0 since January 2009 in his matches, but is 26-1 in tournaments entered and won. Doesn't that seem weird? Perhaps we can agree that it's just awkward how to describe Waselenchuk's achievements.


Reverend Joe said...

We CAN agree on that.

Just to be a PITA, though, I'd say the way to describe his tournament record is still better said as: "26-0, with one default", which i do admit is awkward-er than just two numbers ...