Thursday, July 16, 2015

2 comments Jonny Gomes: Patriotic, Testosterone Filled American Hero; Possibly Not a Very Good Baseball Player Anymore But Why Should That Matter?

I haven't posted an article fawning about a player's grit and hustle on this blog lately. Without David Eckstein around there is a real lack of grit in MLB. It's sad, but no one can replace the grit with which Eckstein played the game. Eckstein was a gateway drug where sportswriters wrote cliche-laden columns about how, sure, Player X isn't actually good at baseball, but he brings intangibles that can't be measured and yet they just found a way to measure them and here's how many intangibles Player X has. Fortunately, David O'Brien is around to talk about Jonny Gomes and the profound impact of leadership and grit he has brought to a Braves team that lacks talent, but apparently needs a shit-ton of non-quantifiable things that can't be measured so don't bother questioning whether the fact he can only hit lefties is worth it. Of course Fredi Gonzalez has played Gomes mostly against right-handed pitchers, but that's a different issue. Here's some fawning over intangibles, which again, can't be measured, but trust David O'Brien, Gomes has a lot of them.

When Braves left fielder Jonny Gomes ran to his position in the middle of the second inning Monday, the Red Sox showed a highlight reel on the center-field video board that featured fist-pumping, muscle-flexing, helmet-flying moments from Gomes’ stint with the Red Sox, whom he helped win the 2013 World Series.

Very inspirational. It makes me want to listen to some Kid Rock and watch all of the "The Marine" films in a row while down Budweiser cans and not giving a fuck if I get some of my tobacco juice on the carpet. 

There was much energy and testosterone evident 

America, FUCK YEAH!

There is just something odd about typing how much testosterone was evident when Gomes takes the field. I can't explain it. It just seems like a sort of weird thing to type out. Gomes is a perfectly serviceable player, don't get me wrong. I'm not sure he merits this type of column.

as Gomes stirred up teammates and fans with one dramatic homer and diving catch after another in that highlight package.

It's a highlight package. Nearly any player can have a highlight package put together and make it look like the player was homering and making diving catches on a nightly basis. I'm not dismissing Gomes' achievements with the Red Sox or anything like that, but his job is to hit the baseball while fielding well for the Braves. He hasn't quite done that. His leadership is important, I'm sure, but not worthy of the hero worship.

So many moments that it was hard to believe he only played for the Red Sox from the start of the 2013 season until last July 31, 2014, when he was shipped to Oakland with Jon Lester in a trade-deadline deal.

Gomes' leadership was so important to the Red Sox they felt the need to share that leadership and patriotism with the A's. Then the A's felt other MLB teams needed the opportunity to share in Gomes' energy and testosterone, so they didn't re-sign him. It's nice these teams all want to share Gomes' great energy with other MLB teams. 

Gomes had that effect on Boston and Red Sox Nation, where his hustle and blue-collar attitude were greatly appreciated, along with his overt patriotism and front-and-center role in helping Boston sports teams and citizens come together –

This is a real sentence that was written. I haven't changed a word. Yes, the phrases:

-"Red Sox Nation" (all caps, of course)
-"hustle and blue-collar attitude"
-"overt patriotism"
-"helping Boston sports teams and citizens come together"

all appeared in one sentence. All this sentence is missing is a reference to "grit" and how intangibles can't be measured, but Gomes' intangibles can be measured and that's how O'Brien knows he has a lot of them.

a team that already had iconic David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, but quickly embraced Gomes’ fiery enthusiasm and indefatigable optimism. Along with his right-handed power and flair for dramatic pinch-hit homers.

This doesn't sound like anecdotal evidence. In 2013, Gomes hit two pinch-home runs. One in a 9-2 Red Sox win and one in a 2-1 Red Sox win. He hit zero pinch-hit home runs in the 2013 playoffs. In 2014, Gomes hit two pinch-hit home runs. One in an 8-5 Red Sox loss and one in a 5-4 Red Sox victory. So I'm seeing one dramatic pinch-hit home run while he was with the Red Sox, as one pinch-hit homer happened before the 7th inning. I'm not sure where the plural of it came from like there are limitless amount of dramatic pinch-hit homers Gomes hit, but it sure is fun to exaggerate a little bit when using anecdotal evidence isn't it?

Gomes, 34, hasn’t given the Braves much in the way of offense, batting .209 with three homers in 115 plate appearances, with a .615 OPS that would be a career low.

Ah, but who cares? It's fun to measure Gomes' contributions in terms of his actual hitting contributions until it no longer helps to prove the point of how he helps the team. At that point, just ignore Gomes is only good for hitting lefties at this point in his career and let's talk about intangibles. Those things that can't be measured, but Gomes has a lot of them. David O'Brien knows Gomes has a lot of intangibles that can't be measured because he just knows it. 

But he’s hit .300 (9-for-30) against lefties, had a couple of big pinch-hit homers and made a few diving catches, including a spectacular one in the fourth inning Monday that robbed Pedroia of an extra-base hit and likely prevented a run when Brock Holt followed with a single.

Now I'm confused. David O'Brien states that Gomes had a couple of big pinch-hit homers and as of the day that he wrote this fawning embarrassment of a column Gomes had three home runs on the season. Only one of them came as a pinch-hitter and it took a 5-5 game against the Blue Jays and made it a 6-5 game. Other than that, there are no other pinch-hit homers that he has hit for the Braves. So I'm not arguing semantics, but "a couple" doesn't mean one home run was hit. It means more than one home run was hit. The reason I bring this up is this goes to how O'Brien will exaggerate Gomes' contributions on the field in an effort to make Gomes seem more productive than he really is. If O'Brien will exaggerate what Gomes does on the field, wouldn't it make sense that he would exaggerate Gomes' contribution off the field too? So there is a possibility this entire column about Gomes' "unmeasurable" qualities could just be one big exaggeration? Hence, my issues with fawning columns about a player's grit and leadership skills. It could be true, but when the author plays loosely with numbers it brings into question whether he's playing loosely about the player's grit and leadership skills too.

“What he brings to the team, you can’t quantify that,” Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons said. “You can’t put it in numbers. You can’t explain what it is.”

What O'Brien has put in numbers has been sort of shaky on the "truthiness" front so far. So, it's probably good the platitudes about Gomes are completely non-quantifiable. 

But Simmons tried to anyway.

Because, why not? That's the kind of column O'Brien is looking to write. May as well appease him. 

“He brings hustle, No. 1,” Simmons said. “He’s always playing hard, whenever he’s in the lineup. A lot of energy. Leadership and energy, that’s the two biggest things.

Wow, so if Gomes brought no energy and wasn't a leader, but just happened to produce and hit the ball well...what would that mean? 

Even players who might have been a bit skeptical about Gomes’ ballyhooed leadership became believers after he joined the team.

By the way, who has "ballyhooed" Gomes' leadership? Sportswriters like David O'Brien. So he ballyhoos the leadership and then writes about how Gomes has ballyhooed leadership. It's sort of a story he reports on while helping to create the story. 

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who batted Gomes in the cleanup spot Tuesday, 

This makes me throw up. Not only is Fredi hitting Gomes against mostly right-handed pitchers, but he's also hitting Gomes cleanup. 

was asked by a Boston writer on Monday if Gomes brought to the Braves clubhouse what he brought to Boston.

“Same,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. 

That's not a good enough answer. Fredi will provide his motorcycling buddy Braves beat writer with a little hyperbole and cliches. No column about a gritty player is complete until there is cliches written throughout the column.

“He’s a team guy, comes in every day with a great mind frame. Everybody that’s around  him, he makes them better. Just the way he carries himself. He cares about winning and losing games. He goes about it the right way.

This all means very little. It's just a bunch of cliches thrown into a sentence. "A great mind frame" and "just the way he carries himself." Apparently other players don't care about winning and losing games while going about "it" the wrong way? What the fuck does all of this even mean? It's embarrassing to have these things written from a beat writer. What sort of specific information does it provide to the reader? None. 

Even when he was racking up 18 homers and 86 RBIs for the 2010 Cincinnati Reds, or 18 homers with an .868 OPS for the 2012 Oakland Athletics,  or 13 homers with 52 RBIs as a platoon player and pinch hitter for the 2013 Red Sox, his biggest impact still came in the clubhouse, many of those who played with him have said.

Since Gomes is hitting the ball terribly during the 2015 season then I hope his biggest contributions are still coming in the clubhouse. Otherwise, he isn't helping the Braves team at all. 

First baseman  Freddie Freeman said in the last week of spring training, when a reporter asked him about the team’s chances, that they believed they could win because Gomes had made them believe it.

It's the Cult of Jonny Gomes. He's like Scientology. You aren't a believer until you meet him and then you immediately become a part of the group, isolated from your friends, and unwilling to associate with others who don't think Jonny Gomes is just the absolute greatest leader and patriot in the universe. 

Gomes got a standing ovation as the highlight reel played Monday night, and he appreciated it.

Well yes, anyone appreciates it when their ego gets stroked a little bit. So of course he appreciated the highlight reel and standing ovation. I would too. 

“I’ve been in a couple of organizations, and I always though that was cool, when an opposing player comes back and you get the standing ovation,” he said. “It’s pretty cool, and obviously these are pretty knowledgeable fans and they appreciate the way you play the game.”

This is the type of article many sports fans hate. There are meaningless quotes from a player, cliches thrown about, and there's really no new information to be gathered. Great, Jonny Gomes likes to get a standing ovation and to be appreciated. 

“I guess, maybe unfortunately for them, but I’m not here to give advice, by any means,” Gomes replied. “Lot of good friends in that clubhouse, even on the (coaching) staff. But I wear a different uniform now. I’m here to put two MORE in their loss column.

Well, Gomes went 1-8 with 5 strikeouts against the Red Sox, so he wasn't really there to do much of anything except help try and help the Red Sox put MORE in their win column. I know I'm being hard on Gomes, but fluff pieces draw my ire. 

The tension level in the Red Sox clubhouse has risen as their slump has deepened, and another writer asked Gomes, only half-seriously, if he had any plans to stop by and chat with his old teammates, maybe help with some quick team-bonding like the old days.

Get these Red Sox players acclimated to the Cult of Jonny Gomes. Just one visit to the clubhouse and he can fix any chemistry problems that team may have. It works that quickly.

“I’m with another team now, the Braves,” Gomes said. “I bring my tools over to the Braves.

I'm being mean, so I'll hold off on making a comment about Gomes' "tools." He has 50 more at-bats against right-handers versus left-handers and that's not how he is going to have success with the Braves. Gomes' tools, unlike his energy and patriotism, only last as far as his playing ability will take him. So far, these tools take him in the direction of hitting the ball well against left-handed pitchers. But you can't put a price on his intangibles, which are those unmeasurable items that can't be measured, yet David O'Brien knows Gomes has a lot of them. These intangibles are probably deeply tied to Gomes' patriotism, which is important for a baseball player to long as that baseball player is American of course. 

They’re in a tough spot, but at the end of the day, they’re two series away from first (place). I don’t know how much panic’s going on over there. But I know we’re 3 ½ back over here, and I’m excited to be here.”

Yes, excitement. The exact opposite feeling I got when I read this fluff piece from David O'Brien. If he can't find anything interesting to write, just don't do a fluff piece. That's pretty much all I ask. I get tired of reading about how a player provides value beyond the baseball field, all while that player's contributions on the field are glossed over in favor of cliches and talk about intangibles that NO ONE can measure, yet the author seems to know how to do exactly that. 


Eric C said...

Sounds like Gomez is 0.80 on the Eckstein scale. If he played shortstop and was 5'5" he'd be much closer.

Bengoodfella said...

Eric, I was hoping he would be higher than that. He's just not clutchy and small enough.