The last few weeks I have had to struggle to stop myself from letting angry and dismissive verbiage come spewing out of my mouth. On a couple occasions I have lost the battle and turned into the baseball fan I swore I never would be. I have said on more than one occasion that baseball is big enough for all types of fans and no one should be excluded even if they think batting average and RBI are the best stats to judge a hitter, and all that matters for pitchers is whether or not they end up with a W next to their name in the box score.
The last few weeks have been a bit draining on me. I get up every morning and check to see the Prince Fielder news. Throughout the day I check it some more and all it is is more endless waiting. Fielder will sign at a date and time unknown. It is like standing on the front porch waiting for a package to arrive that could come anywhere between 5-10 business days.
This Fielder wait has drained me and perhaps it has made me cranky or maybe it is something else. Perhaps it is I have seen these questions and these types of people on more than one occasion. Six years ago I had an argument with someone over who was the better player; Jose Vidro or Andruw Jones. They argued purely on batting average and wouldn’t listen as I pointed out such things as defense, power, and on base skills. To them a .300 hitter was a special and rare thing and it didn’t matter if that .300 average came with a low walk rate, poor defense, and little to no power. Batting average was the gold standard of offense and that was all there was to it.
The pitcher’s win stat argument is almost more annoying. It is very true that in baseball the only thing that matters is the outcome of the game, but the starting pitcher only has so much control over that outcome. I am sure you or someone you know may have had this very argument about how a starting pitcher is the player with the most control over the outcome of the game, but even if he has a great game and pitches eight innings and allows one run he can still lose if his offense provides him with zero runs or end up with a no decision if the closer blows the game.
I have had this arguments on many occasions and many times it has been an argument because the other side wasn’t willing to try and understand my point of view. I don’t like arguments. I much prefer discussions. There are two type of people out there that coddle to antiquated thinking; those that have liked the game of baseball for a very long time and are just too old to change and those that are new to the game and haven’t become familiar yet with the newer ways of analyzing players. It should now be much easier for those second types as there is a movie and a TV show that deal with the newer methods. It is also not uncommon now to see mainstream media types writing about WAR, wOBA, and FIP.
Recently though I haven’t wanted to explain or discuss. I just want to kick people aside that dare to speak of such things as clutch stats, RBI, BA, pitcher’s wins, and even ERA. I have never considered myself much of a stat nerd, but lately I have been thinking like an extremely insular and insecure one. At least inside my own mind.
When I saw my fellow blogger here at Blow Save, Win write a piece about how Madson blows as a closer part of me got a little angry. His stats from two or three seasons ago are irrelevant to what he does next season good or bad. Relievers are volatile and if he fails as the Reds closer it will have more to do with him regressing as a pitcher than with any sort of narrative about ho he can’t handle the pressure. Every player that makes it in the major leagues can handle pressure. If they couldn’t they would have choked on their first cup of coffee.
There I go getting myself all worked up and angry over little minor things. Baseball is an inclusive sport where all are welcomed. There is room enough for all of us, no matter how we wish to analyze the game. Newer fans of baseball just need to be educated and have the discussions about modern metrics and modern ways of understanding the game. They need to understand that the desire to use OPS or wOBA to understand offense over BA and RBI doesn’t mean they have to sit at home with a spreadsheet and no longer go to the park. I look forward to being outside and getting my summer farmer’s tan.
When I am at a game my mind is off and the stats are all left at home. It is when the season is over or the game is won when I look back and try and figure out what happened and what might happen next. We all were in fact new baseball fans at some point, and some of us may have been on the other side of one of the arguments that annoy us so much now. We all have to learn at some point.