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Thread: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

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    Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    As Season Approaches, Some Topics Should Be Off Limits
    By MURRAY CHASS
    Things I donít want to read or hear about anymore:

    ∂Roger Clemens saying he hasnít decided if he will play this year or retire, and if he decides to play, which team he will play for.

    Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers ever, the greatest of his era. They could put him in the Hall of Fame today and Iíd have no problem with it. But let him walk into the sunset quietly. Let him pitch batting practice to his minor league son all day, every day, if he wants, but let him remain quiet on the subject of his major league future.

    ďClemens revealed very little about his future,Ē a news report from Florida said last week, ďexcept to confirm heíll be spending quite a bit of time at Osceola County Stadium in the next month or so.Ē

    The report quoted Clemens as saying: ďIím not thinking anything. Hopefully until May this will be the last time I have to address it.Ē

    But it wonít be. Every time Clemens appears in public, a reporter will ask him if he has decided what he wants to do, pitch or retire. And if the answer is pitch, will it be for the Astros, the Red Sox or the Yankees?

    Ever since Clemensís agents, the Hendricks brothers, engineered his trade from the Blue Jays to the Yankees in 1999, Clemensís status has consumed more newspaper space and television and radio time than that of any other pitcher. Enough already.

    Last year, Clemens created a bad precedent for baseball, calling his own shots on when he would start pitching and what days he would honor his team with his presence, belying the concept of baseball as a team sport.

    When Alex Rodriguez was a free agent six years ago, the Mets accused him of wanting them to create a 24-and-1 plan, one way for 24 players and another way for the 25th, Rodriguez. It wasnít true then, but it has become so with Clemens. Itís good for Clemens, bad for baseball.

    ∂People saying the Yankees arenít being fair to Bernie Williams.

    No one, not Clemens, not Nolan Ryan, not Julio Franco, plays forever. Williams isnít exempt from that reality. If he were still one of the Yankeesí three best outfielders, or a more productive hitter than Jason Giambi, or a first baseman, he would be in Tampa, Fla., preparing for his 17th season with the Yankees.

    But he is none of those things, so the Yankees donít have a spot for him. They are moving on. Williams should do the same. If he wants to continue playing, he should have his agent, Scott Boras, find him a job with another team.

    If Williams canít face the prospect of playing for another team, he should graciously retire and accept that he has had a great, if not a Hall of Fame, career.

    ∂Players like Curt Schilling, Mariano Rivera and Andruw Jones saying they will be free agents after the 2007 season.

    Could they wait until we get there? Do they know how many players have made similar preseason proclamations and wound up re-enlisting with their teams before they could become free agents?

    If players think their threats are going to panic their teams into giving them the contract extensions they want, they havenít been paying attention.

    ∂Players saying that if theyíre not signed to new contracts by the start of the season, they wonít sign during the season.

    Itís an empty threat. Rare is the player who turns down a lavish offer in May or June. Oh, five years, $75 million, you say? Well, all right. I could do that.

    ∂Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter no longer going to dinner together or having sleepovers.

    The declining relationship between the guys who play the left side of the Yankeesí infield has not prevented the team from winning the division championship in their three seasons together.

    The Yankees havenít won the World Series, but they didnít win it in the three years before Rodriguez arrived either.

    Many precedents exist for teams being successful despite internal turmoil, which the Rodriguez-Jeter relationship doesnít even rise to.

    The Oakland Athletics won three successive World Series (1972-74) with a clubhouse loaded with ill feeling among players. The Yankees won the World Series in 1977 and í78 after Reggie Jackson said it was he, and not Thurman Munson, who was the straw that stirred the drink.

    I fear that some observers of the Yankeesí scene will not let the Rodriguez-Jeter relationship rest. They will find it an occasional easy story to write, the way reporters in another section of their newspapers write about Britney Spears.

    But the social interaction between Rodriguez and Jeter is irrelevant and immaterial.

    ∂Statistics mongers promoting VORP and other new-age baseball statistics.

    I receive a daily e-mail message from Baseball Prospectus, an electronic publication filled with articles and information about statistics, mostly statistics that only stats mongers can love.

    To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didnít care enough to go to any great lengths to find out. I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didnít know what it meant either.

    Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Donít ask what it means. I donít know.

    I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, thatís their prerogative. But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fansí enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.

    People play baseball. Numbers donít.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/27/sp...gewanted=print
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    So now onto Reds topics that should be off-limits for at least a month or two:

    1) Marty and Dunn - Give it a rest huh?! Maybe the new and improved Adam will change Marty's impression... or not.
    2) Dunn to 1st - Been there, done that. It was bad, real bad.
    3) Dumb trade proposals - Yeah I know someone out there thinks the Astros will trade us Oswalt for Deno, Paul Wilson and Rheal Cormier, just let that thought percolate for a couple of months okay?
    4) Stats Wars - Look, I'm a statistician by training and profession, BUT the pissing match over Dunn versus Casey using stats the average fan doesn't know or care about was ridiculous.
    5) Fire Jerry Now - Ain't gonna happen, let it rest for a couple months.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didnít care enough to go to any great lengths to find out.
    This is written by a man who is obviously committed to doing his job well.

    I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, thatís their prerogative. But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fansí enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.

    People play baseball. Numbers donít.
    Yeah, and numbers don't tell us anything at all about the game. And another thing, we should never learn anything new about the game that could enhance our enjoyment of it. That would just be ridiculous.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    ¶Statistics mongers promoting VORP and other new-age baseball statistics.

    I receive a daily e-mail message from Baseball Prospectus, an electronic publication filled with articles and information about statistics, mostly statistics that only stats mongers can love.

    To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didn’t care enough to go to any great lengths to find out. I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didn’t know what it meant either.

    Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Don’t ask what it means. I don’t know.

    I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, that’s their prerogative. But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans’ enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.

    People play baseball. Numbers don’t.
    Murray has no idea what he just started.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Quote Originally Posted by edabbs44 View Post
    Murray has no idea what he just started.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didnít care enough to go to any great lengths to find out. I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didnít know what it meant either.

    Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Donít ask what it means. I donít know.
    It's much, much easier to make fun of something than to actually learn about it. At least he admitted he has no interest in learning anything new about the game he covers.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Statistics mongers promoting VORP and other new-age baseball statistics.

    I receive a daily e-mail message from Baseball Prospectus, an electronic publication filled with articles and information about statistics, mostly statistics that only stats mongers can love.

    To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense. For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didn’t care enough to go to any great lengths to find out. I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didn’t know what it meant either.

    Finally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Don’t ask what it means. I don’t know.

    I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, that’s their prerogative. But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans’ enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.

    People play baseball. Numbers don’t.
    Well, yes, this is probably a can of worms, but it's the heart of my frustration with what I regularly call "the alphabet soup" of stats. Many of us have said this, but it is a game played by human beings. Too often, some of this data is given a predetermination that overlooks that human element. Peope rising above their past, overcoming adversity and limitations that adds to the beauty of this game.

    Sometimes that's for one season (or even a part of a season), and sometimes it's the precursor of an emerging talent. Sometimes washed up players have one more moment of glory within them. They beat the odds or you find that overlooked jewel.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Chass, whose BBWAA membership dates to 1962 when he was with the Associated Press bureau in Pittsburgh, his home town, is not only among the elite at his craft but also a genuine pioneer in the industry. Over 43 years, from his days with the AP in Pittsburgh and New York through his years with the New York Times, Murray has distinguished himself as a reporter of exceptional depth, ability and legendary accuracy.
    Murray also has "Grumpy Old man Syndrome" and should have it checked at least once a month.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz View Post
    Sometimes that's for one season (or even a part of a season), and sometimes it's the precursor of an emerging talent. Sometimes washed up players have one more moment of glory within them. They beat the odds or you find that overlooked jewel.
    I think most people would agree with you on that. I know I would. The problem is banking on those washed up players having one more moment of glory as a key to your team's success. When it happens, it's a nice bonus and you should roll with it. Just don't bet the house on it happening.

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Quote Originally Posted by BRM View Post
    It's much, much easier to make fun of something than to actually learn about it. At least he admitted he has no interest in learning anything new about the game he covers.
    Good thing he's a sportswriter and not someone who actually needs to know what he's talking about.
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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz View Post
    Well, yes, this is probably a can of worms, but it's the heart of my frustration with what I regularly call "the alphabet soup" of stats. Many of us have said this, but it is a game played by human beings. Too often, some of this data is given a predetermination that overlooks that human element. Peope rising above their past, overcoming adversity and limitations that adds to the beauty of this game.

    Sometimes that's for one season (or even a part of a season), and sometimes it's the precursor of an emerging talent. Sometimes washed up players have one more moment of glory within them. They beat the odds or you find that overlooked jewel.
    That's the biggest misperception out there. Anyone with a love for the game never forgets there is a huge human element - even those who like to play with numbers.
    What if this wasn't a rhetorical question?

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    "But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans’ enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein."

    Yes, it's the gravest threat to the game since the back of the baseball card was invented.
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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Quote Originally Posted by paintmered View Post
    That's the biggest misperception out there. Anyone with a love for the game never forgets there is a huge human element - even those who like to play with numbers.
    That's disputable. One of the most debated theories on this board is the aspect of being "clutch".

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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Chass, whose BBWAA membership dates to 1962 when he was with the Associated Press bureau in Pittsburgh, his home town, is not only among the elite at his craft but also a genuine pioneer in the industry. Over 43 years, from his days with the AP in Pittsburgh and New York through his years with the New York Times, Murray has distinguished himself as a reporter of exceptional depth, ability and legendary accuracy.
    Thanks for posting that, woy. This disproves my theory that Joe Morgan had begun writing under a pseudonym.
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    Re: Topics that should be off limits (M. Chass-NYT)

    Quote Originally Posted by redsmetz View Post
    Well, yes, this is probably a can of worms, but it's the heart of my frustration with what I regularly call "the alphabet soup" of stats. Many of us have said this, but it is a game played by human beings. Too often, some of this data is given a predetermination that overlooks that human element. Peope rising above their past, overcoming adversity and limitations that adds to the beauty of this game.

    Sometimes that's for one season (or even a part of a season), and sometimes it's the precursor of an emerging talent. Sometimes washed up players have one more moment of glory within them. They beat the odds or you find that overlooked jewel.
    Frankly, I'm not sure you understand what you're talking about, RedsMetz. With all due respect, I don't think that so-called 'stat mongers' ever claimed to be looking past the human element. In my opinion, the 'intangibles' of a baseball situation (a retirement, a miraculous comeback, a particularly gritty dive in the outfield) are indeed part of why all fans watch the game. And yes, I'll admit that sometimes the new stats look and feel absurd to those of us who love to clutch HR, RBI and BA statlines to our chests, remembering them from our Eric Davis baseball cards from 1987.

    However, for people to bash 'stat-mongers' is to misunderstand what they are all about. It's to misunderstand the spirit of sabermetrics and to fundamentally discredit something without taking a second to understand it. It's about choosing ignorance over trying something new.

    Sabermetrics has always been about better measuring the 'human element' and looking for cracks in traditional measuring tools to better recognize talent. Exactly as you say, it's about finding that 'overlooked jewel.' Bill James, Billy Beane, Moneyball, all of this 'statistics stuff' is actually specifically about trying to give players a shot who normally wouldn't get them. It's about giving people like Ken Phelps a chance even though they don't have prototypical 'baseball bodies.' Most of all, it's about people with small market teams who want to see more great 'baseball moments' and are frustrated by the system of haves and have nots holding their franchises down. It's about small market teams finding a way to get a bargain--to make deals that will allow your team to win without having barrels full of money. It's about, well, human progress.

    It's also become tradition. Behind our backs, little by little, sabermetric-favored stats are coming into the mainstream. VORP may not be accepted now, but what about OBP? Despite the fact that there are still 'baseball men' who think Billy Beane wrote Moneyball to promote his own genius (don't get me started), there is no denying that his techniques have fundamentally changed the game. OBP is around a lot more today than it was ten years ago. Heck, I even heard someone discussing OBP during a Little League World Series game (talk about a time traditionally reserved for 'baseball moments') Well, even traditional statistics seems now to be making way for this stat that even ten years ago was poo-pooed by people who just loved 'fundamentals' and the supposed 'people element' a little too much. They loved it so much that they didn't bother to understand what they were criticizing.
    Last edited by RedEye; 02-27-2007 at 11:07 AM.
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