I’m thinking I need to come up with some award to bestow on columnists who play the “when I was a kid things were much better” card. Maybe it should be the Golden Age Award or the Nostalgia Award or something, but whatever we call it, it should be given to those writers who use their perfect 20/20 hindsight to denigrate today’s game for not matching up to the game of their youth.
The latest recipient of it would be Monte Poole of the Oakland Tribune who slams the 2010 All-Star Game this morning because there simply aren’t enough future Hall of Famers in it for his liking:
The games, however, aren’t
what they once were. They have become, rather, a collection of men paid
obscenely well to perform at the highest level. The players in Anaheim
on Tuesday don’t have the abundance of cachet found during the actual
golden age. This might explain the record-low TV ratings . . . They play a fine game of
baseball, yes, but they are playing not in the golden age but the age of
gold, the era of wealth. Many wouldn’t have come close to an All-Star
game 40 years ago.
His summary of this state of affairs came earlier in the column when he said “to reiterate, less than 10 percent of the players on the combined
All-Star game rosters have proved worthy of the game’s greatest
individual honor,” meaning the Hall of Fame.
I haven’t looked at the numbers myself, but I recall Bill James once wrote that, roughly speaking, a little less than 10% of active players at any given time have gone on to be in the Hall of Fame. In light of that I’m struggling to see what Poole’s problem — other than a general frustration with modernity — really is.
Poole aside, there have been people saying that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket since approximately five minutes after we first came down from the trees. Amazing that it never actually gets there.
The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.
So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.
I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.
Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.
All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?
Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.
Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.
Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.