Friday, January 31, 2014

5 comments John Tomase Hates the Internet, Hates Opinions, and Thinks It's Okay to Disagree But Just Don't Point Out the Flaws in the Argument You Are Disagreeing With

John Tomase hates the Internet. He says so in a column he posts to the Internet read by readers who use the Internet to read the column. The title of this article is "Hall opinions net worthless." Get it? "Net" like "Internet" and he thinks anyone who gives an opinion on the Internet is worthless. Good for him to think this and many opinions on the Internet are worthless. Not satisfied with his ability to make a bad pun in the title of the column, the article is subtitled "Bloggers must mix critical thinking with stats," which fails to eventually detail what sort of "critical thinking" bloggers must focus on in favor of jokes about food and obesity. Because sportswriters are fat and bloggers love snacking! It's funny! This is comedy. Here's the article Tomase wrote.

What got Tomase so worked up over the meanness of the Internet was the response to this poll of writers and how they voted for the baseball Hall of Fame. The one that sticks out is Ken Gurnick. He voted for Jack Morris and no one else. He has a vote and he is entitled to vote for who he wants to vote for. Just in the same way those who want to criticize Gurnick's vote are entitled to criticize him on the merits of his argument. Criticism of a BBWAA's vote is not a personal attack if it is based on the merits of the argument when pointing out the flaws in the argument. Here is what Ken Gurnick wrote:

Morris has flaws -- a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five.

I've tread this ground many, many times. Moving on to the key statement...

As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them.

The problem, as having been pointed out multiple places on the (gasp) Internet, is that Jack Morris ended his career in 1994. He did play during the period of PED and greenie use in Major League Baseball. So this is the main flaw in Gurnick's argument that got pointed out by many and caused John Tomase to go into a rage against the Internet as a whole. Voters can vote for who they want to vote for, but don't get upset when the logic used to calculate a vote is criticized or shown to be faulty. After all, the baseball Hall of Fame is supposed to be for the fans, and many of these same fans are the ones who don't like the logic in Gurnick's voting process and speak their mind on the Internet.

It is a little infuriating that a Hall of Fame voter uses the logic he won't vote for any player who played during the period of PED use, then votes for one player who played during the period of PED use. If John Tomase can't understand the frustration in seeing a voter use black-and-white voting standards, then completely ignoring his standards in order to vote for a certain player, I'm not sure he can be helped. Set black-and-white standards, that's fine, but don't ignore these standards when it is convenient. So is Ken Gurnick going to not vote for Derek Jeter or Chipper Jones? I seriously doubt it and we will never see because he claims he is giving up his vote. Of course Murray Chass claimed he was giving up his vote last year and it never happened.

So that's the basis for Tomase's screed against the Internet. Let's read Tomase rail against Internet meanness and lack of critical thinking by trying to bully bloggers and do zero critical thinking.

There’s nothing lazier than painting with an overly broad brush, particularly when it comes to an intellectual expanse as vast as the blogosphere, so I want to parse the following words carefully, succinctly, and thoughtfully:

This is going to be good. You will love it. See, John Tomase doesn't like painting with an overly broad brush, but he's going to do that AND his words aren't careful or thoughtful! Hilarious. I'm surprised he didn't get the 12:35am spot over Seth Meyers to replace Jimmy Fallon on "Late Night." Tomase's sketch about fat bloggers eating Pop Tarts while surfing the Internet would have killed.

I hate the Internet, and everyone on it.

You are sort of on the Internet yourself, so you also hate yourself?

Hall of Fame results are announced today, and regardless of what happens, there will be an uproar.

Only crotchety old MLB writers would shy away from a lively debate over which players do and don't deserve induction into the Hall of Fame. When talking about any other sports who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, it's good to have debate that keeps that sport in the limelight during the offseason, but when talking baseball, debate is a bad thing. How dare someone have a differing opinion and attempt to back up that opinion with a fact-based persuasive argument!

Maybe it will be Jack Morris getting in.

He didn't.

Maybe it will be Frank Thomas getting left out.

He wasn't.

Whatever it is, it will be the latest sign that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America officially has melted down

I think there are certain parts of the voting process that could be revamped. Of course many of the same writers in the BBWAA are still against the designated hitter so I can't imagine any revamp of a voting process that has gone perfectly for many years would be well-received. After all, I read 5-10 teeth-gnashing columns from BBWAA Hall of Fame voters every year talking about how they are thinking about giving up the privilege of voting for the baseball Hall of Fame, so the process must be working properly and everyone is pleased.

and must be replaced by a consortium of the game’s greatest minds,

This is all part of Tomase's imagination. It is completely possible someone somewhere has written a certain voter should lose his voting privileges, but there is no movement to just kick out the majority of the current voters...or at least I haven't read about it.

who, by definition, never have set foot in a pressbox.

Oh yes, it's the whole "You have to be at the games to understand how good Player X is" and turned into "You have to be in the pressbox to have a worthy opinion of Player X." Because the eyes that see Jack Morris pitch from the press box are more informed than than the eyes who saw Jack Morris pitch on television.

Once that happens, you lose all ability to think critically or originally. You do get alarmingly fat, however, which sure came in handy yesterday.

Sportswriters are fat. Again, more comedy.

A handful of writers makes questionable decisions — a statistical certainty in a voting body with more than 500 members — and the baseball blogs spool up their righteous indignation drives to make the jump to VORP speed.

Now part of this I will agree with. It's a statistical certainty (look at someone talking about statistics!) that one member is going to vote in a stupid way. I will disagree at the inference the indignation or explanation for why this voter is dead wrong is a bad thing. This righteous indignation isn't to get everyone to fall in line with one certain train of thought, but to point out the fallacies in the thought process of some baseball Hall of Fame voters. I'm not against a line of thought as long as it is a consistent line of thought and makes sense in terms of who else that voter has chosen to vote for. I am against a voter being inconsistent in his voting responsibilities. These are the lives of real people who played baseball for a living and election to the baseball Hall of Fame is a huge honor, so simply saying "I don't vote for guys who played during the PED era" and then voting for a pitcher who pitched during the PED era deserves indignation. 

Gurnick’s logic: He’s ignoring everyone who made their name in the steroids era.

OK, fine. I happen to disagree, as votes for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire attest. But he has his reasons, and he stated them. He considers the entire era tainted, and that’s a consistent viewpoint.

It's not a consistent viewpoint when the only player he voted for played during the Steroid Era. There's no getting around this. It's simply a fact.

“But, but, but . . . ” the Internet sputtered. “Morris pitched in the steroids era, too! And Gurnick voted for Lee Smith once! Where’s the consistency? BRING ME HIS HEAD!

Ah yes, "the Internet" sputtered this. Paint the entire Internet with a broad brush because it's easier and lazier than taking the time to point out where specific criticisms of Gurnick's voting choice are wrong.

No, it's just that his vote for Jack Morris contradicts his black-and-white viewpoint that he espouses when choosing to not vote for several Hall of Fame-worthy candidates.

And a Hot Pocket!”

Now that you mention it, I could go for a Hot Pocket right now. I mean come on though, jokes about bloggers being fat and eating snacks is just pure hypocrisy coming from a sportswriter. Sportswriters aren't exactly the fittest people around.

I think we all can agree that Morris signifies the 1980s, even if he retired in 1994, whereas Maddux clearly is a product of the ’90s and 2000s.

No, I can't exactly agree with that. If the 1991 World Series is going to be used as part of the basis for voting for Jack Morris then I absolutely can not agree that Morris signifies the 1980's. You can't use a signature achievement from 1991 to vote for Morris and then claim he is a pitcher from the 1980's.

Gurnick got hammered by the crowd that spends its day in search of ammo. A few years ago it was the travesty of Bert Blyleven’s absence from Cooperstown. The well-traveled hurler progressed from just 14.1 percent of the vote in 1999 to nearly 80 percent in 2011.

Blyleven played for five teams during his 22 year MLB career, Tom Seaver played for four teams during his 20 year MLB career and Jack Morris played for four teams during his 18 year MLB career. I fail to see how Blyleven is that much more traveled than Morris or Seaver by playing for one more team during a longer career.

That was my second year with a vote, and it’s still the only one I regret. I selected Blyleven not because I thought he was a Hall of Famer — I didn’t and still don’t — 

I don't want to turn into a blogger furious with righteous indignation or be accused of getting rid of those who have actually sat in a press box...but why in the hell would a person vote for a player that he/she/it doesn't think is a Hall of Famer when voting for the baseball Hall of Fame? I realize I am not the veteran sportswriter working from a press box that John Tomase is, but it seems to me that if I were voting for the baseball Hall of Fame I would limit by vote to players who I believed deserved to be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Again, I don't want to make it seem like I am questioning the decision of a person who doesn't eat Hot Pockets and has spent his life in a press box, but it doesn't make sense to vote for Blyleven if Tomase doesn't think he is a Hall of Famer.

but because in that moment, I allowed the avalanche of statistical support to overwhelm what I saw with my own two eyes: Blyleven was a very good pitcher, not an all-time great one.

Now remember, John Tomase is upset that bloggers don't use critical thinking when voting for the baseball Hall of Fame. Here he states he ignores the statistical evidence and focuses on what he saw with his own two eyes. Unfortunately, I don't think I would consider "the eye test" to be a shining example of critical thinking.

It’s the same reason I won’t vote for Mike Mussina any time soon but will check Curt Schilling’s name every year until he’s elected.

I'm certainly missing the critical thinking portion of this exercise. It seems Tomase is simply saying, "Mussina didn't look like a Hall of Famer to me, so I won't vote for him" which leads to memory bias. I don't consider basing a vote on memory as critical thinking either.

I also know that in the ’80s, Morris was the last pitcher I wanted to see opposing the Red Sox,

The last pitcher I want facing the Braves is Livan Hernandez. It seems like he always killed the Braves. That doesn't mean he should be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

and once we eliminate those visceral feelings from this process, we might as well just fill the Hall via blind allegiance to WAR or JAWS or whatever all-encompassing stat comes next.

No, the visceral feelings should be a part of the process, but there has to be a blind allegiance to not allowing personal feelings or personal memories affect the vote. I don't think WAR or another statistic should be the be-all that decides whether a player is inducted into the Hall of Fame, but a player statistics speak for themselves while personal memories or feelings are completely relative and subject to memory bias.

Raines is a player the entire blogosphere seems to agree is being screwed, with favorable comparisons to Tony Gwynn and even Rickey Henderson. (Incidentally, for a bunch of free thinkers, the online denizens sure seem to take a lot of comfort in agreeing with each other.)

It's terrible disagreement and rudeness when bloggers disagree, but it's a sign of conformity when bloggers agree. Got it. Also, I like the broad paintbrush Tomase is using to describe "the online denizens" who he has stated he hates so much. It makes it seem like Tomase is more concerned with bloggers and other online voices having legitimate arguments that could call his baseball Hall of Fame voting expertise into question. It just seems like part of the hate comes from a place of fear.

Raines was a very good player who failed to sustain his greatness, so I won’t be voting for him, and I don’t feel bad about it.

Then don't vote for him on how you perceive his merits. Just don't state you aren't voting for him because you won't vote for any players who played during the PED era and then vote for a player who played during the PED era. That's where the deserved criticism will start to head your way.

Leave a comment below! There’s no chance I’ll read it!

Thanks for having contempt for your readers! That will get you far!

There are bullies on the Internet, but a lot of the indignation against Hall of Fame voting is simply disagreements on the merits of that writer's vote. It's not character assassination, it's not pitchforks and torches being wielded. If you can't handle disagreement over your Hall of Fame vote perhaps you should choose not to make your vote public or relinquish your vote...and then this vote could even go to someone who has been in a press box before.


JBsptfn said...

Ah, John Tomase. Aren't idiot sportswriters fun?

Switching gears, though, it appears that the role model has another mailbag:

The Super Bag

I'm surprised. After looking up some of the names on Facebook (the ones that were full), this one seems to have real people. I'm proud of Bill(lol).

Eric said...

Screw this Jack Morris argument. I almost wish that lazy bastard had been told to try harder to have a lower ERA so he could just be voted in so we don't have to hear him and his supporters bitch and moan about his candidacy every year.

Haris H. said...

I also know that in the ’80s, Morris was the last pitcher I wanted to see opposing the Red Sox,

By this logic, any soft-tossing lefty should get in because they have been crushing the Indians for a decade.

Eric said...

Haris, Jaime Moyer for the HOF!?! Too funny!

Bengoodfella said...

JB, I wrote a post that will be up Monday where I speculate he will do another mailbag for the Super Bowl. Of course, I didn't post it before the Super Bowl, sot hat sort of ruins the prediction. Bill is out of ideas. It's obvious though, right?

Eric, he's totally getting in on the veteran's committee's vote. I don't really care if he gets in, I don't think he deserves it though.

Haris, that would get Livan Hernandez in for sure for how well he played the Braves. Also, any pitcher making his first start would make it as well.

I think there was a post here about Jamie Moyer being on steroids. It's so ridiculous, I think it's true.