MWM, I can only speak for myself here, and I certainly did not include you in my reference to the Casey "lambasters". I know they have regular meetings and a secret handshake and all, and I never suspected that you were a member of that nefarious group.
And most definitely, Casey's performance was fair game, especially given the contract he signed.
My gripe was then and still is now the personal nature of the attacks.
Here's what I wrote in one of the prediction threads in the archives....
Time to rev up the Idiotmobile.
One of the main reasons that scouts are interested in a players "makeup" is the near certainty that a player will be faced with adversity many times in his career.
How you respond to that adversity can differ greatly among players, and for that matter, individuals in all walks of life.
I pick Sean Casey for surprise of the year.
It may well be that his makeup hurt him while he was injured. He struggled to play through not just pain, but injury. I'm betting that he comes back more fit and more determined than ever to prove his detractors wrong.
I believed that his injuries were the reason his performance dropped off, and it always rankled me when personal attacks the likes of "he leads the league in hugs" and many, many others just like that were being heaped on a good man who never failed to leave it all on the field.
I also made the point many times, to much derision, that Casey represented the "brand", to use a marketing term, of the Cincinnati Reds, and as such had additional value to the team in a very real monetary sense.
If sabermetrics has helped us to understand that baseball is a business, then part of that business plan also has to be marketing. And Casey and his relationship to the community is marketing 101 at its finest.
But it didn't matter what you said about Casey while he was down, you could always count on a slew of smart-alec remarks that made you feel like you were being talked down to and ridiculed for being so naive.
I think this is a common perception among the folks on this board who dared to support Casey through the past few years.
When I look back at great atheletes and great performers in all walks of life over the years, the ones who have overcome adversity are the ones who stand out in my mind. Casey exemplifies everything that I love about sports, and the way he carried himself through the numerous down periods of his career just add to the legend.
I refuse to reduce it to simple numbers. I've said it many times over the years here, and always to the amusement of many, I'm sure, but you can't measure heart, you can't measure the metaphysical side of the game that doesn't show up in the numbers. But you can observe it, if you know what you're looking at.
It doesn't bother me one iota that a statement like that will be laughed at by many as naive. I've been around athletes all my life, and you'll never convince me otherwise.
Our connection to sports takes many different forms and can be defined in many different ways. Sean Casey is worth the money he's been paid by the Reds, and then some. No spreadsheet will ever convince me otherwise.