Thursday, July 16, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

One thing all Canadian baseball fans do really well is complain about the lack of baseball coverage in mainstream Canadian media. The blanket hockey coverage leaves us bitter and alone, quick to lash out at a moment's notice. Wilner's new daily baseball show (congrats Mike!) and the Sportsnet pre-game thingy (and that ain't not bad!) are steps in the right direction and much-needed methadone for junkies like us. However, this is not a road that should be tread upon lightly. The Roy Halladay shitstorm blew up during the slowest time of the sporting calender. Sports talk shows need talking, thus talk show hosts talk about baseball without being bogged down by that pesky "prior knowledge" thing getting in their way. Unsurprisingly, it's terrible! The fact of the matter is this: people who don't know a lot about baseball really shouldn't talk about baseball.

I'm sure it makes me sound like a huge, self-important dick, but I think it's true. The days of the casual sports fan are pretty much done. Most "casual fans" follow their teams about as casually as one stages a David Mamet play. The internet, home of SERIOUS FUCKING BUSINESS, spawns new experts and knowledgeable fans every single day. We aren't dummies, most of us have one sport we focus on while keeping a watchful eye on at least three others. We know the players, we know the minor league systems, we know the salaries, we know the rumors. I have at least 50 sites, blogs, and columns in my RSS reader. If I wasn't such a lazy swine, I'd have 3 times that.

All that knowledge (and content) makes the job of general sports reporter or generic talk show host nearly impossible. When will Mike Toth find the time to check out Fangraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Joe Poz, Jeff Blair, Big League Stew, Pitch f/x, hit f/x, etc in between his hair and nail appointments? He can't. Establishing a working knowledge of junior hockey, the CFL, lacrosse, tennis, golf, curling and all manner of arcane Canadiana is a big enough task as it is. When you add in his home life and time spent writing jokes that would make Bazooka Joe wince, you're officially out of daylight hours. We need specialization in our media, and we need it now.

That doesn't mean fans with ill-formed plans and arguments for the Jays in the future don't exist. One caller's suggestion during PTS today was for Vernon Wells to restructure his contract to free up more spending money for the team. What? They offered him the deal, all he had to do was sign it. In what other career, in what other avenue of life, would this even be an option? As I've pessimistically pointed out before, that money just disappears. It won't be reinvested, it will be used towards the bottom line.

I should and will apologize ahead of time here for teeing off on the Fan once again, but my new commute gives me plenty of time for inundation. If I hear Gord Stellick and Damian Cox lamenting the current state of the Blue Jays again, I'm liable to swerve off the road to plug my ears with a telephone pole. Cox is a hockey writer that doesn't even really watch hockey, it should therefore be illegal for him to even use the word baseball in a sentence. Thou shall not evoke Chacin's name as anything but a punchline Damian, that is the arrangement we've all agreed to. God bless Stellick, morning zoo radio isn't fit for man nor beast, but claiming the Jays erred by releasing/failing to resign Reed Johnson and Orlando Hudson, two years after the fact, is a waste of all our time.

Thankfully McCowan took time during the call-in segment of his show to issue some straight talk regarding JP and the role of Rogers in ownership. His main point was this: a sports franchise is either toy or business to the owners; Rogers chose business. That doesn't seem to register with the vast majority of callers who, propped up by false knowledge fed to them by various underinformed talking heads, continually demand Rogers piss millions of dollars away to increase the Jays playoff chances by a few percentage points.

So let's all agree to let hockey or football or some other competition begin again so everyone can go back to ignoring baseball. I was raised to implicitly trust anything I heard on TV and radio, and I'd like very much to return to that state of blissful ignorance.

Update: The good men at Infield Fly offer their take on Vernon Wells contract restructuring. I don't agree at all, as I'm in no way inclined to side with management. At least their post is well thought through. Check it out.


  1. I whole heartedly agree, people who know nothing about sports should not comment on sports. Just as people should not wear their brand new $50 KISS t-shirt to the bar 20 minutes after their show ended. All of the above are on the bus crash team.

  2. I agree completely, but can we discuss this pic you've chosen. I love it. Esp since Lorraine Patterson apparently also wrote a book called "If God Loves Me, Why Can't I Get My Locker Open?" Yeah, because inability to retrieve stinky socks and homework is a reason to question your God's love.

    And should we be concerned that the apparently awesome (ie in with Jesus) is some sort of Aryan super man and he is preaching to an Asian person and a black person. And two women.

    Awesome pic.

  3. Cox really brought up Chacin's name? That's why I can't listen to too much sports radio. I'd lose my shit. Ignorance is most certainly bliss.

    As times moves forward, I'm definitely more thankful for guys like Jeff Blair and Jordan Bastian.

    And I'm with Joanna; that picture is fucking unreal.

    Back to serious fucking business on the internetz. Cheers, Lloyd.

  4. Thanks for the link, but I gotta say it wasn't meant as an attempt to side with management. Just a thought on how to make the best of a bad situation.

    Also: Yes. Excellent art for this post. WOW.

  5. Uuuum...

    Drew? The Wells restructuring suggestion was MY idea. Though I was very specific that the money be deferred on the specific condition that it goes to Doc's new deal.

    I won't re-state the whole argument here but if you didn't see it before, please check it out. For some reason I can't paste a link here but it's my June 29 post.

    I'm not saying there that Vernon owes it to the team or anyone else...I'm suggesting that he might see the value in having Roy Halladay remain on the same team with him and in giving the fans a reason to be grateful to him instead of hating him, even if the hate is irrational.

    IMHO, I think I made a good case.

  6. Sorry Will, I didn't mean to discredit your previous work on the subject.

    I still don't believe we should reasonably expect an athlete to renegotiate a contract he was offered and signed in good faith.

  7. I wasn't looking for credit, I was just saying the caller probably lifted the idea from me because I shamelessly begged readers to do just that.

    And I'm not saying that reasonable people should EXPECT Wells to renegotiate. I certainly don't think he is obliged to or is a villain if he doesn't. Not at all.

    Rather, I propose he has an OPPORTUNITY to CHOOSE to do so. And that the choice is one that has some attraction because of the reasons stated which are briefly:
    1. He doesn't want to be the only highly paid player on a budget team with no chance to contend
    2. It's in his best interest (and the best interest of his friends on the team)if he wants a ring to have Doc on his team
    3. He makes MORE money over the long term
    4. He's relieved of some of the mental pressure (of which he is clearly painfully aware) that comes with the burden of being the highest paid player/"face of the franchise"
    5. He gains brownie points with the (irrational) part of the fan base which would blame him if the Jays couldn't afford Doc, or couldn't afford to build a good enough team to keep Doc.

    Would it be FAIR or RATIONAL to blame him? No. But many Jays fans (sports fans) are neither fair nor rational.

    Again, it is perfectly ethical for Vernon to keep the deal he has and fuck everyone else. I'm simply suggesting that he has compelling reasons to consider an alternative.


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