Wednesday, October 31, 2012

3 comments Watch Out! Progress and New Ideas are Coming!

One of the biggest issues, at least in my opinion, that colors the "Sabermetrics v. Old-School Statistics" argument is the intense dislike those old-school writers have for the people who are using Sabermetrics to evaluate baseball players. The messenger affects the message for some of these old-school writers so much so they don't even bother to understand the message. They can't accept a person with a blog, someone who didn't go to "J-school" or doesn't have access to player can have an educated opinion on statistics or even sports for that matter. It seems Bill Madden is one of these people. Then there are guys who really aren't old-school writers, but are writers in the vein of Jay Mariotti who make a living off their audience absolutely hating what they write. These are writers who are perfectly willing to pick a fight, but don't want anyone else to have a bully pulpit to fight back. Once they get hit back, they start talking about how there is a lack of civility, and of course it is the basement dwelling bloggers' fault, not the fault of a negativity-spewing sportswriter. These bloggers fire off anger anonymously and some sportswriters don't like this. As if a picture beside something you have written makes you any less anonymous to the general public. I can't email many of these sportswriters and expect them to email me back. Often I can't fire off a Tweet in response to a column written by a sportswriter and expect a response from that writer either, so even though there is a picture beside the column these sportswriters are essentially anonymous as well. Ironically, much of what made these sportswriters less anonymous are the very modes of communication many sportswriters dislike (Twitter being the prime example). This new technology gives writers a chance (should they take it) to interact with their readers. There are still sportswriters who hate this type of medium and don't like feedback from the imbeciles who read their columns. Dan Shaughnessy is one of those people.

I'll start off first with Bill Madden who comes out firing at Sabermetricians in his MLB awards column. 

Here are our picks:

I'm confused through this entire column why Madden uses the plural form "we" and "our" in making the picks, but I will just assume he has a squirrel in his pocket helping to make these picks.


Which I am fine with. I somewhat disagree, but it is a person's point of view and Cabrera had a really great year. Bill gets a little hostile about it though.

With apologies to the Sabermetric WAR freaks, we believe winning the Triple Crown is a big deal

There we go. "Sabermetric WAR freaks" are those who like Mike Trout for MVP. This is the typical lack of respect for the other point of view that drives me crazy and really tells me Bill Madden is afraid of any type of progress or change. This fear reflects poorly on him, rather than the "freaks" he so blatantly seems to dislike. This is such a minor and immature attempt at an insult, I can't imagine a reason why it was necessary.

Yes, the Triple Crown is a big deal, but it doesn't mean a player automatically gets moved to the head of the class as the MVP. The Triple Crown proves that Miguel Cabrera was an exceptional hitter this year, but there are other phases to the game of baseball and the fact he won the Triple Crown doesn't automatically make him the most valuable player in the American League. It only means he won the Triple Crown.

and that Miguel Cabrera being the first player to do it in 45 years, leading the league in batting (.330), homers (44) and RBI (139) as well as slugging (.606) with the highest OPS (.999) in the majors, was something to celebrate.

Fine, let's throw Cabrera a party (a non-alcoholic beverage party, just to be safe) in honor of him winning the Triple Crown. I fail to understand how the fact it had been 45 years since a player hit for the Triple Crown is important in this discussion to the point it would help make Cabrera more valuable. So if a player hit for the Triple Crown last in 2005 would this mean Cabrera is less valuable in 2012? If not, then how does the fact it had been 45 years since the last player hit for the Triple Crown help his MVP candidacy? Maybe I am being too narrow in my thinking, but for an award for the most "valuable" player, I don't see how the time between Triple Crowns affects Cabrera's value as a baseball player. Yes, it does speak to what an accomplishment the Triple Crown is, but it may not make Cabrera the AL MVP.

We agree Mike Trout also had a season for the ages, but if you’re going to give him points for (WAR) hypotheticals to reward his defense, we would submit Cabrera volunteering to move to third base so the Tigers could sign Prince Fielder was worth a whole lot more wins.

Oh, my head hurts. WAR isn't really a hypothetical, it is a statistic based on other statistics a player has posted. What hurts my head more is that Cabrera is now individually more valuable because the Tigers signed another valuable player which caused Cabrera to move positions. Other than the fact Bill Madden is using another player's statistics to determine Cabrera's individual value and WAR measures a player's individual contribution to a team's win total, not that player's individual value based on other player's individual value, how does this make sense? So if the Angels signed Michael Bourn in the offseason and Mike Trout moves to left field he is now a more valuable player because he moved positions to allow the Angels to sign a specific player?

The fact Bill Madden even asks this question shows an absolute fundamental misunderstanding of the WAR statistic and explains why Madden shouldn't criticize a statistic he simply doesn't understand. The idea Cabrera is more individually valuable because the players around him are great players also is the line of thinking I absolutely abhor when discussing any MVP race. Cabrera moving to third base was a selfless move, but this doesn't make him a more valuable player any more than Martin Prado's versatility would put him in the NL MVP race. Prado played six positions this year and put up a line of .301/.359/.438. Does this give more claim to Prado being the NL MVP because Ryan Braun and Buster Posey can't play six positions? 

Both had MVP-worthy seasons, but Cabrera sealed his by out-hitting Trout .344, 19 HR, 54 RBI to .287/12/28 since Aug. 1.

Well then Cabrera can be August/September AL MVP. Last time I checked, which was just now, the MVP is a year-long award and not given to a player based on cherry-picked dates specified by Bill Madden.


This one isn’t nearly so close. Giants catcher Buster Posey epitomized everything an MVP is supposed to be, stepping up when Melky Cabrera, the team’s first half-MVP, was suspended,

His primary competition comes from defending MVP Ryan Braun, of the Brewers who had a similar season (.319, 112 RBI, league-leading 41 HR and .987 OPS) to last year’s, which was later tainted by that positive testosterone test. Bottom line, however: Braun’s Brewers aren’t in the playoffs this year.

Oh man. So Braun isn't as valuable to the Brewers as Posey is to the Giants because the players around Braun aren't as good? Whether a player's team makes the playoffs should have little to do with the MVP race. Bill Madden admits the Giants had the first half MVP in Melky Cabrera, so doesn't that have something to do with the Giants getting in the playoffs? I'm sure it contributed in some way. I would vote for Posey, but not because his team is in the playoffs. Acknowledging Posey wasn't even the best player on his own team during the first half only goes to hurt Posey's candidacy in my mind. Of course I am a freak, unlike Bill Madden who is a normal human being who willfully ignores new and relevant information that comes available in his field of work. That's a normal thing to do, right?


You couldn’t go wrong here with either Tampa Bay’s David Price, who tied for the league lead in wins (20) and led the majors in ERA (2.56)...Our pick is Price, who would’ve had 3-4 more wins were it not for the Rays’ pathetic offense — they were shut out in three of his starts.

Again, it is frustrating to read Bill Madden has the mental capacity to grasp wins are dependent on how much run support a pitcher gets and then watch him completely ignore this and use wins as a reason a pitcher should win the Cy Young Award. I'm not arguing the pick, but the way he gets to the pick. If you know wins are dependent on another variable, why use wins as the basis for why a pitcher should or should not win an individual award?


Trout unanimously. Did we mention he’s the only player in history to have 30 homers, 45 stolen bases (49) and 125 runs (129) scored?

But these aren't the appropriate cherry-picked statistics that could earn Mike Trout the AL MVP award. If Trout had gotten the Triple Crown, then he could have been AL MVP. As his lack of luck would have it, he only broke a record that doesn't have a fancy name.


Even though Cincinnati Reds handyman Todd Frazier bested him in RBI, OPS and batting average, we’re giving Nationals’ “super teen” Bryce Harper the nod here on style points.

Fuck it, Bill Madden is going to make up new criteria in order to award NL Rookie of the Year to the player he wants to award it to. Harper also leads Frazier 17 to 4 in "GBpY, (Groupies Banged per Year)," though in Frazier's defense 10 of those groupies banged by Harper thought Harper was the lead singer of a New York emo band.

Harper’s superior speed gave him a huge edge in runs scored (98-55) and he was one of the best defensive outfielders in the NL.

Notice how all of a sudden defense means something in terms of handing out individual awards. Mike Trout gets no credit for his great defense, while Bryce Harper does get credit for his great defense. It's almost like Bill Madden has his choices for each award already picked out and has to create a moving standard in order to give each player the award Madden believes he deserves.


You could justify giving this one to any of the division winners — Davey Johnson of the Nationals, who improved his team from 80 wins in 2011 to an MLB-best 98, the Giants’ Bruce Bochy, who lost his best player, Melky Cabrera to a drug bust in August and still ran away with the NL West or Dusty Baker of the Reds, who won the NL Central by nine games.

Or, you could give the award to a manager who didn't win his division but still may have been the best manager in the National League...if such a person exists.

We’re going with Johnson, however, for instilling a winning culture with the youngest team in the NL and successfully holding off a very good Atlanta Braves team despite losing his catcher, Wilson Ramos, going through four closers and having his best pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, shut down in September.

And of course there is no need to consider the manager of this very good Braves team as a potential candidate for this award. After all, it isn't like the manager of said very good Braves team had to deal with losing his best pitcher halfway through the season (Brandon Beachy) and having his #1 and #2 starters coming into the season (Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens) both struggle and spend time in the minor leagues to the point Jurrjens is going to be DFA'd after this year and Hanson would not have made the postseason roster. That's the problem with comparing a team's battle scars to advocate why a manager should win Manager of the Year, nearly every team has some of these battle scars.


We’re always happy to honor an old-school GM such as Walt Jocketty, who values scouting and instinct over stats.

"Should I trade for the Padres 24 year old ace? My instincts say 'yes.'"

"This Cuban left-handed pitcher who can reportedly throw over 100 miles per this someone we should make a bid to acquire? Screw the stats, let's make a go for it."

" I offer a contract extension to a 20-something year old first baseman who recently won the MVP award? I'm not going to pay attention to the statistics at all because my gut says to go for it."

He traded three prospects and disappointing righty Edinson Volquez to the Padres for an ace in Mat Latos, who went 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA, and dealt three other prospects to the Cubs for lefty set-up man Sean Marshall (74Ks in 61 innings), who provided more depth to the best bullpen in the NL. Lastly, Jocketty signed Ludwick, an old favorite from his St. Louis days, for $2 million.

I can see Jocketty as the Executive of the Year, but I get a bit tired of hearing how he is a win for those who value scouting and instinct over statistics. He makes good decisions just like he makes bad decisions. Ludwick was a deal for $2 million and he dealt for an ace pitcher. These are smart decisions, but not the type of decisions that requires "gut instinct" or any special non-Sabermetric-type talent. Jocketty is the same GM who gave Ryan Madson $8.5 million to close for the Reds and then Madson got injured. It seemed like a deal at the time though and you can't blame him for injuries. I wonder what Jocketty's gut said about Madson needing Tommy John surgery?

Now Dan Shaughnessy continues to reveal his hatred for bloggers and anyone not named "Dan Shaughnessy." 

Eric Winston is my idol.

Eric Winston stood up for pro athletes against the tyranny of unfair expectations and gleeful joy that fans and writers feel upon that athlete's failure. Basically he stood up against much of what Dan Shaughnessy writes on a weekly basis. So not shockingly, I don't see how Winston is Dan's idol.

By now, maybe you’ve seen the video clip. Winston stands in front of his locker after the Kansas Chiefs’ 9-6 loss to the Ravens Sunday and tells us what he thinks about the hometown fans who cheered when Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was knocked unconscious in the fourth quarter.

Amen, brother Eric.

Winston is from Midland, Texas. He went to the University of Miami. He plays offensive line. He is 28 years old, is 6 feet 7 inches, and weighs 300 pounds.

These are all things I already knew about Eric Winston because I follow the NFL on a regular basis. Okay, I didn't know he was from Midland, Texas, but I know a little something about Midland, Texas and you get my overall point. NFL fans know who Eric Winston is and of course so does Dan Sha---

I never heard of him before Sunday, but I love this guy.

What? Dan Shaughnessy covers sports for a living and he has never heard of Eric Winston? Ever? Not even last year when Winston was the starting right tackle for a playoff team? I don't get how Dan Shaughnessy can cover sports and not have ever heard of Eric Winston. Winston is generally considered one of the best right tackles in the NFL. I simply don't understand how Dan had never heard of Eric Winston, though this does tell me a lot about Dan's wealth of knowledge when it comes to discussing the sports he gets paid to write about. If there was a way for me to lose more respect for his writing, this would do it.

Let’s go over a couple of points here:

What Dan really means is, "Let me lazily extend this one small idea into a full column because I have nothing else I care to write about today. The Red Sox season is over, so I can't keep thrashing them, and the Patriots won on Sunday, so I can't say how much they suck. I don't pay attention to the Bruins unless they are in the playoffs and it is too soon to talk about the Celtics."

Dan then begins rambling about this problem in a desperate attempt to fill space in the column. It reads like a Dr. Seuss book.

It’s not a regional issue. It’s not about Kansas City. It’s not about Boston or New York or Philly being a tough town for ballplayers. It’s not about a heated rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State.

"And what popped out of the egg? It wasn't a terrible turtle or a horrible Who. It wasn't a snotflogger or a fleabagger. Not the Grinch or a Sven the Dolphin without a fin."

It’s an issue about civility in America today.

Of course there is no better person to teach America about civility than Dan Shaughnessy, the same guy who wrote columns like this one. In this column he manages to accuse of Nomar Garciaparra of faking an injury, using steroids, and called him a fraud. Not that Red Sox fans have to like Nomar, but it is kind of hard when articles like this appear under Shaughnessy's byline for him to be claiming America lacks civility and not include himself prominently in this discussion. He gets off on being negative and trolling his audience.

It’s about accountability.

Says the sportswriter who repeatedly compared Adrian Gonzalez to Ted Williams, the same sportswriter who then bashes Gonzalez on his way out of town as a player who doesn't make his team better or carry the Red Sox team.

It is about angry fantasy football players who do not know how to look someone in the eye, or hold a face-to-face conversation.

I'm not entirely sure what Dan is talking about, but millions of people play fantasy football and hold down full-time jobs while looking other human beings in the face. So this lack of accountability isn't about fantasy football owners any more than it is about sportswriters who write columns purely to irritate and annoy their audience. I am sure Dan feels accomplished now that he has managed to incorrectly stereotype millions of normal people who in Dan's own opinion are clearly inferior people to himself. Dan is good at being hateful.

It is about fanboy bloggers who kill everyone and everything under the brave cloak of anonymity.

Again, not every blogger does this. Many bloggers are no less anonymous than Dan Shaughnessy is. I realize Dan is talking generalities, but it is a false generality with some irony involved in this criticism. If I want to talk to Dan Shaughnessy by email, I very much doubt he would respond to me and I know he doesn't respond to any comments left on his columns. So I don't understand how Dan can claim to not be under a cloak of anonymity. For intent and purposes he is still anonymous in that he can write columns and no matter what he writes there are no repercussions. He seems to write what he wants to write. I can approach Dan on the street, so he isn't anonymous in that way, but simply knowing what he looks like doesn't mean he has accountability to his readers.

It’s about instant tweets fired from the safety of your basement. 

Oh, "basement!" That's where all bloggers and fantasy football players live. I get it. There is no difference in what Dan Tweets and everyone else Tweets. Other than the fact Dan's Tweets come from Dan Shaughnessy, a person who has a ton of accountability and never would write anything that lacked civility. Take a look at Dan's Twitter account and see how often he engages with fans. The answer? Not often. So he is essentially still anonymous to his readers.

In fact, Tweeting has helped the public know who the real idiots are. A stupid comment can be Retweeted and that person would get barraged with negative comments for being such an insensitive idiot. The Internet makes people tough guys, but the fan reaction to Matt Cassel wasn't because of Twitter. It was a mob mentality which has caused everything from riots in various cities around the world to the death of Jesus. But no, blame technology for the ills of the world.

It is about anonymous bullying with the World Wide Web serving as the new bathroom wall.

Anonymous bullying is so much less worse than non-anonymous bullying. It's fine for Dan to bully "fanboy bloggers" and fantasy football players because his picture is right beside the byline. It's not bullying if you know who is bullying you, even if you have no way of engaging that person in a conversation. Right?

Those of us who write stories and do talk shows are not blameless.

(Faints in shock)

I’ve certainly done my share of tweaking and exposing professional athletes or organizations who don’t give an honest effort to live up to their contracts or fulfill the team-fan accord. In print, on TV and radio, we contribute to a climate of anger in the stands. But at least you know who we are.

If I say something stupid, at least you know how to tell me and I will respond. What does it matter if we know who Dan is? Do we really know him because we see him on television or read his work? Of course not. Being on television doesn't give Dan more accountability.

Notice how Dan still doesn't take responsibility (where's the fucking accountability, Dan????) for contributing to this problem. He says he contributes "to a climate of anger in the stands." He doesn't contribute in what he writes, but in how others react to what he writes. So it isn't Dan's writing that is the problem, it is the idiot blogger and fan boy's reaction to his writing. It's more of a passive responsibility that Dan has. At least Dan knows something about accountability though.

Sunday he was a person with a head injury, lying on the ground of Arrowhead Stadium. And a number of fans cheered. They cheered because they were frustrated, angry, and certain to remain anonymous.

This is what the Internet guarantees.

Dan does realize these fans are in the stadium booing, not on the Internet, doesn't he? I don't see how fans booing and cheering at a player being injured is "what the Internet guarantees" since these people are clearly in the stands of a football game in full view for anyone to see them.

Be as vicious as you want. Let it all out. Cheer the plight of the struggling quarterback while he lies motionless on the field. No one will ever know it’s you.


How on Earth does Dan think he isn't anonymous when he is on television but fans at a Chiefs fan cheering a quarterback who got hurt are completely anonymous? Why am I taking my time asking questions to absolutely no one in particular?

No. Supporting the team doesn’t give you the right to be a sub-human coward.

So says Dan as he sits behind the comfort of a keyboard while sitting at home. I won't excuse the behavior of the fans, but see the issue here? Dan is accusing fans of ripping athletes anonymously, yet that's exactly what he does in part to athletes. It's fine for Dan to do it, because he "isn't anonymous" despite the fact he sort of is anonymous, or at least difficult to get in touch with from the perspective of his readers.

Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at

I emailed him at his Globe address after he wrote this column and have yet to hear back.


HH said...

Here's my favorite part about people using the Triple Crown argument: they're basically saying that if Josh Hamilton, a player everyone concedes is NOT the MVP, had hit two more home runs, then Cabrera's season would have been less valuable. That's obviously crap: Cabrera's offensive statistics are amazing regardless of Hamilton's. But if they're giving him the award because of he led in three arbitrary statistics, they'd have to concede that his case would be weaker if someone else led one of those statistics. It's that sort of crap that boggles the mind. Keep fighting the good fight.

rich said...

I was about to say something about Miggy and Trout, but HH kind of made any and all extraneous comments useless.

So I'll just move along to this gem Cabrera volunteering to move to third base so the Tigers could sign Prince Fielder.

I mean I get that Cabrera volunteered and that other players ::cough:: Jeter ::cough:: aren't as accommodating, but Cabrera had absolutely no baring on the Tigers signing Fielder, they'd just have moved Cabrera to third (or DH) against his will.

Cincinnati Reds handyman Todd Frazier bested him in RBI, OPS and batting average

So Cabrera gets the MVP because he has a higher average, more RBI and more HRs, but... fuck Todd Frazier. If he wanted to win the NL ROY, he should have hit three more home runs.

he was one of the best defensive outfielders in the NL.

No... no he wasn't.

It’s an issue about civility in America today.

As a Philly sports fan, this is hilarious to me. The reason being that every time someone does something stupid now, I have to hear about how awful Philly fans are. Why? Because in 1960, someone hit santa with a snowball.

History is littered with fans doing stupid shit - beating up a base coach, cheering Irvin's injury, Disco Demolition night, penny beer night, etc.

The fact is that fans are no less uncivilized now than they were 30 years ago, they're just uncivilized in a different way.

To put this into perspective, when that man/woman moron threw up on a girl at a Phillies game, what'd we hear about ad nausem?

"Philly fans suck, they threw snowballs at santa" and "they cheered Irvin's injury."

So first point, cheering an injury is nothing new and second, people have been doing stupid shit at games long enough that the team has played in two new stadiums since then.

They cheered because they were frustrated, angry, and certain to remain anonymous.

And this has been exactly the same reason dipshit morons have cheered injuries since the formation of professional sports.

I mean for crying out loud, people booed Jackie Robinson for the same reason.

This is what the Internet guarantees.

This is bullshit. The internet strips away you anonymity just as fast as it grants it.

The guy who threw up on a little girl? Ya, everyone knew that guys name within hours.

Ditto the guy who ducked out of the way of a foul ball so it hits your gf.

The internet gives you a sense of anonymity, but at the same time, the minute you cross the line, there are more people calling you out for being an ass than cheering you on.

The fact of the matter is this: what people do at stadiums now is more easily portrayed now than it was 15-20 years ago.

Do you honestly think any newspaper in the country would have written an article about KC fans cheering an injury a shitty QB back in the early 1990s? The fact is that while their names may never be known, the entire fanbase now looks stupid.

Is there a reason why more people remember a 1960ish incident with santa and snow, but can't remember the 1989 incident where Eagles fans pelted the Cowboys? Or better yet, how about the incident from a few years ago with the Jets fans and the Patriots?

The fact is that all of this "uncivilized" stuff has been going on since sports began, there's simply more airtime to fill and a much easier way to disseminate information. Something that used to get maybe a sentence in a game recap now gets five articles from "experts" on the matter.

I also find it funny when the older generation looks at my (our) generation and goes "you guys are all a bunch of fuckups and losers," but conveniently forget that in the 1970s, they were fuckups and losers and they were the ones that raised us.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, that's a very good point. If Hamilton plays in a couple games when he sat out with his vision issue and hits three home runs in that time, is Cabrera's season less memorable now? I don't think so at all. So while I could vote for Miggy and not lose sleep, I also see how the Triple Crown is subjective based on what others do and doesn't take away from Miggy's great season.

Rich, we talked about this a few weeks ago with A.J. in the comments as well. I know A.J. made the argument about moving positions, and while I get the point trying to be made, it doesn't necessarily mean I consider him to be a more valuable player. I don't think a team move like signing Fielder can make Cabrera more valuable as an individual player. He may be more valuable to the team, but Mike Trout could also play all three OF positions and I don't know if he becomes more valuable because he moves to RF when the Angels sign Michael Bourn.

As far as fan behavior is concerned, let's not forget we aren't too far removed from racial slurs being thrown in the direction of certain players and things like that happening. The simple fact is any incident can be played and replayed constantly, so it becomes a bigger deal. The Cardinals fans threw things on the field a decade or so ago and no remembered that because it was no longer notable. Maybe fan behavior is getting worse, but there has always been a lack of civility in America...or everywhere for that matter.

Here's the stupidity about Shaughnessy's remarks. Those fans weren't anonymous. They are anonymous to us, but to those people at the game, they knew exactly who was cheering Cassel's injury. They could take pictures of these people and post them on social media. I took a picture of some annoying fans a few weeks ago at a football game and posted it. These people are anonymous, but not as anonymous as they used to be before Twitter/Internet/camera phones. So the assholes who cheered Cassel's injury are not anonymous to those around them at the Chiefs game. Sure, we as a public can't pass judgment on specific people, which I think is really what pisses Dan off. He loves passing judgment.

The Internet strips away anonymity as much as it gives it. I completely agree with you. That guy who ducked away from a foul ball was on national news shows two days later. Now someone can post a screen shot of some jerk behind home plate and say, "Who is this guy?" and there is a chance (maybe not a good one), but a chance he/she could be identified. Of course there is a sense of anonymity, but I would argue because I know the name "Michael Wilbon" doesn't mean I know him personally. He is still anonymous to me because I don't really know him. Is Dan not anonymous? If I emailed him about a column, would he email me back? Even if he did, does that mean he is less anonymous than I am by writing under a combination of my first name and my favorite movie?

It's a 24 hour news cycle now and as much anonymity as the Internet offers, it also gives it away by disseminating information to a wider net of people.