Tuesday, November 30, 2010

10 comments The Interwebs Is Full Of Bullies

Murray Chass has an apology to make today. Unfortunately, he doesn't apologize for being wrong about saying Felix Hernandez does not deserve to win the Cy Young Award in the American League. He apologizes for getting his information wrong on who the next Mets manager will be. So he isn't sorry for being factually wrong, but being wrong in his speculation. Murray does have an idea of how Hernandez won the Cy Young in the AL though. It was through bullying. Bullying isn't just an issue in schools now, but we are apparently to believe sports journalists suffer from bullying from their fellow sports journalists as well.

Those remarks are my reaction to my last column, which turned out to be my fantasy tale of the year. I have spent my entire career believing that the best way to deal with a mistake is acknowledging it and correcting it, both as quickly as possible.

Murray owes us 100,000 words on the greatness of Felix Hernandez then.

Contrary to what the last column said, Ms. Latella, Bob Melvin will not be the Mets’ next manager; Terry Collins will be. Collins, as it turned out, had better connections than Melvin.

In the Melvin column, I reported that my information came from a person close to the Mets. I guess that person wasn’t as close to the team as I would have liked.

I thought Murray's sources were only the finest and most well-informed secretaries. Looks like Miss Pennington in the Assistant GM's office isn't getting a Christmas fruitcake this year from Murray.

In writing about what turned out to be an erroneous decision, I concocted an entire scenario that also wasn’t correct. I wrote that Commissioner Bud Selig had influenced the Mets’ hiring because he liked Melvin from the four years he worked for Selig’s Milwaukee Brewers in the late 1990s.

Murray is sorry for stating that the Mets next manager would be Bob Melvin, but he isn't sorry for suggesting the Commissioner of MLB influences hiring decisions for important positions like on a team like the manager.

The 61-year-old Collins, who never played major league baseball,

Well then, he'll never understand the game of baseball well enough to manage effectively. It takes years to learn the art of watching a baseball player and willfully ignoring any statistics about that player to determine his value to the team. Murray has spent years honing this craft.

Collins, an intense, feisty guy, has been compared in some ways to Bobby Valentine, which doesn’t make for a good recommendation. Valentine was a good field manager but, like Collins, incurred the wrath of his players.

If I remember, Bobby Valentine was fairly successful as the Mets manager. Why would the Mets want to repeat that? Success is overrated. Baseball is about making sure your players really, really like you in Murray Chass' opinion.

Baseball is also about winning. When teams win, the players are happy and generally like the manager.

Now Murray responds to Felix Hernandez winning the AL Cy Young award. Naturally, he doesn't believe the voters made the right decision. Murray can't just disagree with those that voted for Felix, he suspects shenanigans, because no person in their right mind would think differently from Murray would they?

This is the epitome of elitist, ignorant sports journalism. Those who disagree with Murray don't disagree for any real factual based reason that may show Murray is wrong, but because there is something fundamentally wrong with them that causes them to have an incorrect opinion.

So Felix Hernandez, as expected, won the American League Cy Young award, and he won it handily. I don’t have a problem with Hernandez.

Other than his people are taking all of our jobs...right Murray?

I think he is the best pitcher in the league,

There's an award for the best pitcher in the league. It's called the AL Cy Young award and Felix Hernandez won it. So to believe Hernandez is the best pitcher in the AL would mean to also believe he deserved to win the AL Cy Young award. Of that's only if you think logically about it. Murray doesn't like logic. He likes using wins as the sole category that determines if a pitcher should win an individual award or not.

My problem is with Hernandez winning the award with 13 wins. I am not alone in that view. Four writers voted for David Price (19 wins) and three voted for CC Sabathia (21).

Seven other people are as willfully as ignorant as I am! This makes our point of view correct!

Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune voted for Price because, he said, Hernandez’s 13 wins didn’t merit the award and Price was a dominant pitcher in his own right.

That makes Phil Rogers a moron as well. Wins is an individual statistic that is based on the talent and skill level of an entire team. It's an individual statistic based that is based on how the team as a whole did. It's fine that Price was dominant, but Hernandez was more dominant than Price. Simply because Price was dominant and has the only category that seems to count, wins, doesn't make him a better pitcher than Felix Hernandez.

Speaking of the one-sided outcome of the vote, Rogers added, “I wonder how much of it was bullying on the Internet.

This is really the only explanation for Felix Hernandez winning the award. It's not possible that the voters thought through their vote logically to disagree with Phil Rogers. Only the impact of bullying on the Internet between sportswriters can explain this clearly wrong result...because clearly no one could ever disagree with a clear thinking and open minded person like Murray Chass and Phil Rogers.

I wonder how much of Phil Rogers inability to see how wins are a team award results from a fear that his baseball knowledge is being surpassed and he is too old to keep up?

There were a lot of columns written in September saying no one should be stupid enough not to vote for Felix. Maybe that’s what happened, but I hope not.”

So bullying is now defined as, "making a persuasive argument that convinces a person of an argument's merit." I always thought bullying included some sort of physical or emotional threat towards a person. No wonder there is all this bullying in America's schools, school administrators don't understand what bullying is.

Persuasive papers that English teachers make their students write about a topic should now count as papers that are used as a means to bully others in Phil Rogers' world.

Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun noted that the difference between the leaders in wins last year was three (Zack Greene 16, Hernandez 19) and this year was eight (Hernandez 13, Sabathia 21.)

Who said they don't teach math in Canada? Bob Elliott can subtract and he's not afraid to do so in an attempt to prove a not-so-clear point. So is Elliott's point that at some point a pitcher with zero wins will win the Cy Young award? What is his point by showing us the differential in wins between the pitcher that had the most wins in the AL and the pitcher that won the Cy Young in 2009 and 2010? More importantly than his point, what is this supposed to prove will eventually happen?

“I asked a bunch of players on both teams I saw the last weekend of the season and it came out 9-1 or 10-1 for CC,” Elliott said.

11 people agree with Bob Elliott! That's 18 people now who agree with Murray Chass. That's almost .0000000000000000000001% of the people who can form an opinion on this matter. Who said Murray's opinion is part of the minority?

Does Bob Elliott really believe the players for the Blue Jays and the Twins are the best people to ask about which pitcher should win the Cy Young award? These teams are so busy playing actual baseball games I can't help but wonder how many games they got to see Sabathia and Hernandez pitch.

Winning is still the name of the game, Elliott added, uttering a view I agree with wholeheartedly.

If you are a team, that's the name of the game. If you are a pitcher, giving your team a chance to win the game is the name of the game. No pitcher in the American League did that better than Felix Hernandez.

“If a general manager has been out of touch for a weekend and comes home,” Elliott added, “he says did we win. He doesn’t ask did the starter have a quality start or strike out 10.”

He also doesn't ask how many home runs a certain player hit or if the manager of the team ran the team well. Yet, we still have the MVP and Manager of the Year award categories that are voted on. The General Manager also doesn't ask about the fielding percentages of each player on his team. Does this mean no attention should be paid to who wins the Gold Glove at each position after the year is over?

If a GM is out of town for the weekend, he better know how his team is doing. He can't be that out of touch and not know if his team won or not. What GM would be so out of touch that he didn't know how his team did? Also, a GM could very well ask how the pitcher on his team pitched. I think this is a reasonable question to ask.

Tracy Ringolsby, a long-time baseball writer but not a voter in this election, offered a theory about the Hernandez vote,

“It’s the trendy thing to do,” he said, “and everybody wants to be part of the trend.”

So it is the "cool" thing to do to have an open mind and base who should win the Cy Young on every other pitching category and not base it entirely on wins? Or is it the bullying from the blogs and other Interwebs writers?

I am sure Murray isn't worried. In a few years, this trend will pass, and the voters for the Cy Young will not base the award on which pitcher was the best pitcher, but on which pitcher was on the best team. That's how the award is supposed to be decided. It's not like the whole part about choosing the best pitcher in each league is true. That's just a guideline to be used.

What good in Murray's mind is a pitcher that is the best pitcher in his league but doesn't have a good offense to win him games? Who cares Felix Hernandez would have had more wins on any other team in the majors? It's his fault his offense sucks.

Soon this whole trend of not basing the entire Cy Young voting process on win totals will end. That'll be the day.

Then a few days later, Murray wrote again about this controversy (in his head of course) with Felix getting the Cy Young award:

I expected to hear from a lot of readers who disagreed with me, and I did. In a record response to a column in the nearly two and a half years I have been writing on this Web site, 82.7 percent disagreed with me, saying the writers selected the right winner. Only 12 percent agreed with me while the remaining 5.3 percent took no position on the Hernandez question but offered comment on other aspects of the column.

Naturally, Murray still feels he was right. I mean, I can see why...he's an idiot.

What was slightly surprising in the email responses was, with some exceptions, their civility. I have found that, in the Internet age, when readers disagree with an opinion expressed in a column, some of them react indecently, as if they are letting out their pent-up rage at the writer.

When a writer like Murray has been writing uninformed opinions for so long, the readers are naturally going to have some pent-up anger. It's like if a writer started spewing racial slurs in a column. Murray's reasoning is the sports equivalent to slurs used against an individual (obviously they are not comparable in real life). It's going to get a strong reaction.

For the most part, however, the responses were not only civil but also intelligent. The point that seemed to be made by most readers was that, as Randy put it succinctly, “Pitchers don’t win games, teams do.”

Great, and true, point.

As much as I might understand the thinking behind that view, I am not prepared to write off wins for starting pitchers. Developments in baseball have made it more difficult for starters to gain victories; they come out of games earlier, for example, leaving more time for bad relievers to relinquish leads. But starters have long had to deal with bad relievers; weak run-producing teams, like Hernandez this year;

People used to have to travel across town by horse and buggy, but that doesn't mean I can't make fun of a Dodge Neon for having a shitty top speed. Progress brings higher expectations and there has been progress in the realm of statistical analysis, so we as readers and fans expect for the sportswriters to progress with us.

porous defenses and small ball parks, and some of them have managed to win games. They were not accidentally good.

In the past, this has happened. But simply because it happened in the past doesn't mean it has to happen in the future. Hernandez was the best pitcher in the American League on the worst offensive team in MLB. It doesn't happen by accident either that he only has 13 wins.

“I also am not a huge fan of the newer stats,” one reader wrote. “However, you don’t need new stats to vote Hernandez to a Cy Young Award. All you need to do is look at the statistics you yourself cited in the piece. OPBA, ERA, IP and K’s. These are not new statistics and they are significant enough to give him the award.”

I acknowledge that maybe I over did the impact of new statistics. I anticipated – incorrectly, as it turned out – that they would be used.

Which means pure stubbornness is what keeps Hernandez from winning the Cy Young award in Murray's mind. I chastise him for this stubbornness.

But some good pitchers pitch to the score, giving up runs if they have a big lead but giving up nothing if their team has not scored.

Or some pitchers actually pitch better when their team scores more runs, like Felix Hernandez did. What the fuck does "pitching to the score" mean other than being some stupid nonsensical saying? So a pitcher is a good pitcher if he gives up 5 runs but his team scores 6 runs, while a pitcher that gives up 1 run when his team doesn't score isn't "pitching to the score" enough? You must quit writing about sports if this really makes sense to you.

Jack Morris was that kind of pitcher, and he was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame, in my opinion (yes, that opinion has also invited critics to write). But his pitching style has cost him because those who don’t think he belongs in the Hall cite his 3.90 earned run average.

HE DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH WINS EITHER! Why aren't those people who LOVE using wins for everything pointing this out. Probably because Morris' hyperbole rating, which is used by those to support his Hall of Fame case, is 6,792.56...the highest among current candidates. His candidacy over candidates is supported by hyperbole mostly.

Hernandez’s supporters cite his low run support (3.06 runs a game, lowest in the majors) to explain his having only 13 wins. But he pitched some games that he could have won had he allowed fewer runs.

Two examples:

There are 2 times Felix could have won a game this year and he didn't. He could have had 15 wins, but blew it. Of course if he had won 15 games, Murray Chass would still bitch about his low win total.

That’s not to say that Hernandez should have been perfect, but he cost himself some games that would have improved his won-lost record. And don’t forget his eight-start stretch from May 1 through June 8 in which he allowed 27 earned runs in 49 2/3 innings for a 4.89 e.r.a.

He also had wins taken from him by poor run support. Many, many more games were taken from him than he could have earned and blew. So Felix had a bad month and still ended up with the best ERA in the American League...and this is proof he is a bad pitcher? Imagine his ERA before and after the arbitrarily picked eight-start streak!

But nobody’s perfect.

So in conclusion, if Felix Hernandez had not had that bad streak, then Murray Chass would have voted for him. A pitcher has to have an ERA of within, what 0.50, of his ending ERA to be considered for the Cy Young award? When will the arbitrary and meaningless ways to determine that Felix Hernandez was not the best pitcher in the American League end?


Fred Trigger said...

Whoa! The new design looks good.

Matt said...

a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

murray just took his first (baby) step towards joining the modern world. too bad he'll probably keel over before step 2.

good job w/ the site makeover, btw.

Bengoodfella said...

Thanks Fred and Matt. It was all Dylan. I had been thinking about doing it but didn't have the balls to make the change. Now the blog looks happier and more exciting.

Murray may not make it to #2. At least he can admit that you didn't need to use new-fangled statistics to say Felix deserved to win the AL CYA.

Dylan said...

This new site design is just the beginning of my creative genius. And by beginning, I mean I have no other ideas as to how to make it more pretty. And it wasn't too hard. Just a little research on google did the trick.

Pitching to the score is a phenomenon created to explain pitchers with lesser ability. A pitcher doesn't think: "My team is up 5 runs, so I should give up 4 runs because it won't matter. An actual pitcher may realize that he has some room to work with, but that doesn't mean he's going to just throw the ball over the plate for the sake of strikes. He's still going to place his pitches and not try to give up a run. Any pitcher who has the attitude that it's okay if he's giving up runs is doomed from the start.

Bengoodfella said...

Dylan, I think it looks great. If this web site was equivalent to The Cure for the dark, gothic look it had, now the site is the equivalent of Miley Cyrus (or is that Hannah Montana?) for the bubbly optimism it projects.

Right...any pitcher that thinks, "I can give up X runs today" is in for a losing day. I like the idea of a pitcher pitching to win the game.

It's like the pitcher is saying, "fuck it. I could work harder, but I know my team will score runs for me so I can zone out when I feel like it." Murray Chass appreciates a pitcher who does this.

Pitching to the score is probably the dumbest thing I have heard as a compliment to a starting pitcher.

Anonymous said...

Coming up with ideas like Pitching To The Score is ok if you are willing to do the necessary research to provide evidence that it really exists and had a tangible impact.

But what's not ok is coming up with ideas like that and then just assuming they are true without bothering to seek out any proof. Then you just sound like a stubborn idiot who willingly chooses to ignore reality.

Scientists don't just create theories and declare them to be true without doing any kind of extensive research or testing. You can't just make shit up and state that it must be true unless you have overwhelming evidence.

And as far as I've seen, any time a Pitching To The Score case has been studied in detail (by going through every single gamelog of a pitcher's season or career) there has never been any kind of evidence to suggest that this effect actually exists.

So the lesson is that anytime the numbers don't favor your argument, just make up a phony theory with no basis in reality and be a lazy ass that leaves it up to others to do the work to prove you right or wrong. And if they do take the time to prove that you are wrong, stubbornly ignore them and direct nerdy cliches towards them.

rich said...

I have to say the new site kind of threw me for a loop, I double checked the site address. Looks very nice, it was a pleasant surprise I have to say.

I think he is the best pitcher in the league,
My problem is with Hernandez winning the award with 13 wins.

What?!?!? He's the best pitcher in the league, but doesn't deserve the award for best pitcher because Seattle batters couldn't hit the broadside of a barn?

Winning is still the name of the game, Elliott added

It's a good thing then that we're talking about the Cy Young award and not the game itself.

But some good pitchers pitch to the score

This is a terrible strategy because of the 150000000000 reasons Murray wrote. If you're getting pulled after 7 or 8 good innings, you might make it what? 6 innings if you're allowing runs in? So instead of going 7-8 innings and leaving your bullpen with a nice lead, you go 6 and leave them precariously close to blowing the game...

Is it me or does that just seem really stupid? Then again, I suspect Murray is just writing that to say that CC pitched to the score and therefore had worse stats. Even when he's wrong he's right!

But he pitched some games that he could have won had he allowed fewer runs.

So could every pitcher in baseball, including CC. So if your team sucks, you can't simply be the best pitcher in the league, you have to be head and shoulders above everyone else.

It's almost like baseball awards are awarded like BCS bowls. If you have the shiny name people want to give you the awards, but if you're an "outsider" you have to be historically awesome.

he cost himself some games that would have improved his won-lost record.

Well CC could have easily had over 20 wins, so he can't win the award either. Oh right, sorry he was pitching to the score...

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that you have nailed it. That's exactly what happened. What's interesting also is that if you look at Hernandez's splits for 2010 when his team scored 0-2 runs, 3-5 runs, and 6+ runs...then you would see he actually pitched better the more run support he got.

I fail to see how Murray's theory of pitching to the score is even impressive. Even if it is true, how is that impressive? Sure, there are times during a game when a pitcher decides to give up one run rather than potentially give the batter a chance to score multiple runs (when the batter is looking to bunt a player over to third base or in cases like this), but I don't see how a CYA winner should see his team got three runs in the 1st inning and knows he has a margin for error.

Certainly Hernandez's statistics reveal he didn't pitch that way. He actually was better when he got more run support.

Rich, it does sound really, really stupid...because it is. Pitching to the score is a great theory, but it also doesn't leave much room for the bullpen like you said.

I think the whole "pitching to the score" idea is simply a way to show why CC Sabathia deserves the CYA and it really doesn't make sense to me. Now Murray has admitted Felix didn't need new fangled stats to be the best pitcher in the AL, yet he still shouldn't win the award.

The problem with saying Felix left some wins on the board is that this is true for every single pitcher. They always could have won another game or two if they had pitched well.

He's just thinking of excuses to not give Felix the CYA now.

Martin said...

If pitchers could pitch to the score, then they'd all be great pitchers with the game 0-0 and we'd almost never see any runs scored.

Good to see he gave credit to someone who wrote the same thing I did to him, about not using advanced stats, just using the ones Murray championed, to prove Felix was the best pitcher.

The only pitching to score a pitcher ever does is with a big lead, the manager will tell him to throw strikes and challenge the hitters more with nobody on base. Other then that, it sounds too much like a grown up letting a little kid come close to winning a game of something.

Bengoodfella said...

Martin, Murray is assuming pitchers can decide when they will give up runs and when they won't. I don't think that's true.

I was proud Murray gave the idea of using "old school" statistics to show Felix deserved the CYA. I didn't expect him to acknowledge that.

Pitching to the score probably only exists when a pitcher has a big lead and in the example you just gave. I'm not sure it is even real other than in those situations. It sounds made up.