This week’s post could be titled “Answering the Questions Nobody Asked.” Nevertheless, it appeared first at RandBall, your home for collaborating and listening.
With Opening Day less than two weeks away, I’m making a promise to myself: this year will finally be the year that I do not get caught up in the word-wars about baseball statistics. Somewhere, even now, there is an online skirmish erupting over the mathematics of baseball, and I vow that this year I’m not going to be a part of it.
I vow that I’m not going to get riled up when some old-guard newspaper columnist starts trotting out tired tropes about underpants and basements. In this characterization, because I’ve used numbers in a discussion about a baseball player or team, I’m lower-level-dwelling, unkempt, female-averse cave troll. I’m not going to get insulted about this, because frankly, it isn’t true. You might as well call me a wine-addled Polynesian rickshaw enthusiast. This is true of most of the baseball bloggers I’ve met; they have real jobs and families and live in their own houses. My vow is that I won’t get offended at insults that, while aimed at me, miss by a wide mark.
Nor will I get riled up when I read the latest stats-only missive. I like when numbers illuminate something I didn’t know, or when a narrowly focused statistic provides support for some hypothesis. “Danny Valencia is not disciplined enough at the plate, as he’s swinging at more balls out of the strike zone than any other player in the American League”; now that’s good stuff. But too often you read a post that goes something like, “Danny Valencia is walking less than all but four other third basemen in the league.” So? What does that mean? Maybe nobody’s thrown him anything other than a strike in a month. Maybe he hasn’t walked because he’s swung at the first pitch 82 consecutive times. Stats are not the argument, they’re the support for the argument, but too many people confuse the two. My vow is to not get involved.
Every year, I get sucked down into the maw of this argument. Every year, I spend hours refuting columnists, or criticizing logic of online writers. This year, I’m staying out of it. This year, I’m going to do what any normal person does: criticize Joe Mauer for having the temerity to get hurt, while thinking of new hurtful things to say about any of the rest of the Twins that happen to be 0-for-2 to begin a game.
On with the links:
*Kevin Love had 51 points last night, a franchise record. As Zach Harper writes at Wolf Among Wolves, it’s all part of how the arguments about Love are changing this year.
*Over at Grantland, Brian Phillips writes about the near-tragic on-field heart attack suffered by Fabrice Muamba, and how it made us learn about the man inside the jersey, and how once we did, we needed him to get through it.
*In Twins news, Twinkie Town’s Jesse Lund compares shortstop prospect Brian Dozier to another middle infield prospect who won a job in spring training – Chuck Knoblauch. Meanwhile, it’s probably time to start the panic about Justin Morneau, according to Parker Hageman.
*I like when Pat Jordan writes for Deadspin; it’s like he’s competing to be as grumpy as possible. This week, he profiles Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma.
*And finally: this video of a fourth-grader doing her first ski jump is awesome, if only because I think we can all relate to the sense of terror and the sense of exhilaration she makes plain. And, just for you Joel Pryzbilla fans out there, here’s a quote from the big guy, who was at the University of Minnesota for a year and a half: “I went one semester, I don’t even remember. … I was drunk the whole time.” Ever been so drunk you forgot a year of college?