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Morning Briefing: Ryan Braun must be a big fan of the movie ‘Analyze This’

Opinion: Can anyone still believe that Ryan Braun is innocent?
Ryan Braun
(MIKE MCGINNIS, GETTY IMAGES)

How extreme has the trend toward analytics gotten in baseball? So extreme that former league MVPs are using it to adjust their swing.

Milwaukee star Ryan Braun, who unfairly won the National League MVP award over Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp in 2011, has tinkered with his swing this offseason to produce more power.

“Based on where my swing was at the beginning of the offseason, I’ve made some productive adjustments, at least according to all of those analytics,” Braun said Sunday. “It’ll be interesting to get back out onto the field and see how those things play out.”

Braun hit .254 last season, the lowest of his career. Part of it was because of a low BABIP (batting average on balls in play average) of .274, the lowest of his career as well. BABIP tells you how unlucky you were at batting; in Braun’s case, he hit more balls at a fielder than normal.

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“If you want to take luck out of the equation, you hit more balls over the fence,” he said. “If I’m able to do that, luck becomes less of a factor.

As he noted last year, Braun said, “all the numbers suggested that based on my batted ball profile that I was unlucky. But also that I’m still hitting the ball hard and doing a lot of things well.”

Just imagine how great Babe Ruth would have been if he had worried more about launch angle and less about eating. Of course, Adam Ottavino would still be able to strike him out.

An alternative for Saints fans

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For you New Orleans fans still convinced your team was robbed and that the NFL had almost predetermined the Rams should be in the Super Bowl, here’s some great news. Trade in a sport that doesn’t admit it is fixed for one that does.

At halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl, World Wrestling Entertainment will show “Halftime Heat,” a special match involving six superstars that will take place in Florida and be streamed live on the WWE Network as well as on WWE.com, the WWE app, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

This is the first time in years that WWE has shown a match during halftime of the Super Bowl. This will involve stars of their NXT division.

On one side you will have Aleister Black, Ricochet and Velveteen Dream taking on the team of NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa, NXT North American Champion Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole.

The event coincides with the 20-year anniversary of WWE’s inaugural Halftime Heat, which aired Jan. 31, 1999. That night famously saw Mankind defeat the Rock to win his second WWE title in an Empty Arena Match that aired during halftime of that year’s game between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons.

Now, if WWE were really smart, it’d find the NFL official who blew the call at the end of the Saints-Rams game and hire him as special guest referee for this match. Have him miss something and cost a team a victory, then have the losing team destroy him and leave him lying on the mat. Heck, the increase in new WWE fans from New Orleans would more than make up for whatever you’d have to pay the NFL official.

Just be patient

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has become a star as an NFL analyst with his ability to predict plays and call out what an audible is for moments before the new play is run.

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Which prompted another Cowboys fan on Twitter to respond, “Why couldn’t he read defenses this well when he was playing?”


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