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The OAL Manifesto

So, I (along with Xiane, who will be writing his own manifesto soon, I'm sure) am one of your new writers here at the Dream Shake. And Lee, Dave, and Tom asked me to write a little about myself -- let y'all know something about me and my journey to Rockets and Basketball fandom:

I was born in Houston (well, Galveston), and I've lived in the area virtually my whole life (stints in Baltimore and Corpus Christi as a kid; New Orleans briefly, and now Austin). I'm a product of that strange time in Houston sports largely devoid of a pro football team (I'll be damned if I'm ever going to root for a team from freaking Dallas), and so the Rockets and Astros were what I grew up on, but I was more of a casual sports fan until high school. I started reading Bill James and some other "SABR" baseball writers then, and the "new" thoughts on statistical analysis in sports piqued my interest. Fortunately for me, the statistical revolution's vanguard occupied the Toyota Center.

Basketball has always been my favorite sport. Sure, I couldn't swing a bat or field at all well in baseball, but I could occasionally make a layup in pick-up games (very occasionally). But what I love most about it is its emphasis on what douchebag business majors call "synergy."

Baseball, it's frequently said, is an individual sport: the batter and pitcher do their own things, and everyone else sometimes helps out. If you pursue your own goals, then you help your team. There's no room for self-sacrifice except in the broadest of senses. Football is the opposite: it's a game of machines. Every cog of the offense and defense has to work in harmony or else the whole thing falls apart (One of my history professors, describing the "text" of Southern college football, said it's a "game for the industrial age." Seems pretty accurate to me). There's really very little room for self-interest. It's a pure team game.

But basketball is something in between. It flows between those two extremes, sometimes emphasizing the individual aspects (all those no-fun-to-watch Iverson Sixer teams), sometimes emphasizing the team aspects (stereotypical "Pistons" or "Spurs" basketball). Chemistry matters in basketball because the players really do have to get along. Unlike baseball or football, a single selfish player can completely screw up the team. If Paul Pierce thinks he's not getting the ball enough, his actions are going to come at the expense of Rondo, Garnett, and Allen, and so the rest of the team has to learn to strike a balance between their own needs and desires and those of everyone else. To put it in stupid-sportswriter terms, it's a lot like life. It's complex, and it's beautiful, and it's very difficult to understand why things happen.

So, anyways, that's what I hope to write about in some general way. More specifically, I want to write about Rockets basketball and why I think they win or lose. Hopefully, I'll be able to incorporate my rudimentary knowledge of basketball statistics into that, as well.

Oh, and I guess I don't hate T-Mac like everyone else here, so there's that. Go Rockets!