Wednesday, January 6, 2010
The Tyranny of What We Already Know
It goes against everything I stand for to post this now. Giving the indignant gasbags who beat their chest with pride at their own willingness to look beyond stats to find the true Hall of Famers the attention they crave is a mistake on my part. The harder the internet intelligentsia pushes them, the more likely the more antiquated BBWAA members will dig in. The same people that crow over their integrity in keeping Roger Maris out of the Hall because it "takes a full body of work" while heaping votes on a guy that pitched one massive, memorable game once in a very big spot. Was Jack Morris's Game 7 performance exceptional? Of course. Does one game make him more worthy than better performers subjected to different circumstances? Of course not.
When you create or abide so-called mythical standards or numbers such as 300 wins, 300 saves or 500 home runs, guess what? You're a stats guy. Those are stats. Just because wins and saves are easy to count doesn't make them any less staty. Just because you already know how to allocate them doesn't make them any less esoteric.
Stop me if I sound crazy: pull an alien or Australian or veal-calf onto a baseball diamond and teach them the game. How to play it, that is. Then sit them at a desk. You teach them the rules that govern wins, losses, and saves. I'll teach them the value of strikeouts, the qualities of good pitchers. Which one will make sense first?
Votes cast for Jack Morris: 282. Votes cast for Lee Smith: 255. Votes cast for Edgar Martinez: 195. Votes cast for Tim Raines: 164. Votes cast for Bert Blyleven: 5 too few.
Of these guys, who would you pick first to help your team win baseball games? By WATCHING them, as some writers love to discuss, Tim Raines from 82-87 would have to be first. Bert Blyleven would have to be second, Lee Smith a distant eleventeenth. Who spent more time on the field helping his team win: a specialist like Smith or a specialist like Martinez? Whose contributions to the outcome of one game, one season, over one career carry the most weight?
The type of stats doesn't matter, especially if the difference are between "tried-and-true" and "the kind that make sense." As Rob at Walkoff Walk pointed out yesterday, looking at past Cy Young or MVP votes isn't research, it isn't weighting the impact of a player's career, it is repeating the same mistakes over and again. This does no justice to the players you're attempting to honor or the sanctity of the Hall you're so determined to protect.
Labels: idiots on a public stage