If you want to read a dumb, reactionary column about how statistics have ruined sports and that people who use statistics should “STFU,” by all means, go read Jason Whitlock’s latest thing over at Fox. Just know ahead of time that it is aggressively stupid, profoundly lazy and provides no insight whatsoever. Even if you hate stats and are looking for ammo in that argument, you’ll find nothing there. It says a lot about Jason Whitlock’s personal aversion to thinking hard about sports, but not much else.
But I mention it anyway because I really find myself wondering what should be done when such drivel is encountered.
The usual response I get when I link this kind of thing is that I shouldn’t have done so because I’m just giving the columnist what he wants. Attention. Page views. Traffic. And I suppose I am. But I find the notion that I should just ignore this kind of thing problematic on a number of levels.
For one thing, there’s no evidence that he is writing this as some massive troll or con in an effort to get page views anyway. Whitlock is a contrarian by nature, but there’s no knowing eye-wink here. He’s not poking the “stat geeks” here. He’s whining about them and raging against the dying of some light that only he and a small handful of other gray hairs still see. I think he believes this stuff.
Moreover, I don’t think Jason Whitlock is in desperate need of page views. He gets a lot of them already and makes a boatload of money doing what he’s doing for reasons other than this blog and others like it linking to him. He’s a big personality. He’s not some guy looking to make a name for himself by baiting me or someone else into a debate.
But it’s exactly for that reason that I have a hard time ignoring him. He shapes the opinion of a lot of people. More people than you probably realize. I understand the concept of ignoring this sort of thing — so many people tell me to leave it alone — but ignorance thrives on apathy. For years big time columnists wrote demonstrably incorrect things about baseball. It was only when people started to question them — in print — that opinion on these matters changed.
Maybe it’s different now that Whitlock’s position is by no means held by the majority of sportswriters — indeed, his own Fox-mate Ken Rosenthal wrote a great piece yesterday that serves as a better rebuke of Whitlock than anyone actually setting out to do so could have written — but I still have a hard time nodding and smiling at this kind of nonsense being passed off by someone who is supposed to be an expert about sports.
I’m not sure what the right balance is, but calling stupid things stupid has value to me. And letting stupid stuff slide doesn’t sit right with me, even if I understand the reasons for doing it.
Mets starter Noah Syndergaard has been on the disabled list for most of the season so it’s not like “sticking to baseball” is an option for him. The man has a lot of time on his hands. And, given that he’s from Texas, he is obviously paying attention to the flooding and destruction brought by Hurricane Harvey and its fellow storms in recent weeks.
Last night the self-described “Texan Republican” voiced concern over something a lot of Republicans don’t tend to talk about much openly: climate change and the Paris Agreement:
The existence of Karma and its alleged effects are above my pay grade, but the other part he’s talking about is the Trump Administration’s decision, announced at the beginning of June, to pull out of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement on climate change mitigation. Withdrawal from it was something Trump campaigned on in 2016 on the basis that “The Paris accord will undermine the economy,” and “put us at a permanent disadvantage.” The effective date for withdrawal is 2020, which Syndergaard presumably knows, thus the reference to Karma.
Trump and Syndergaard are certainly entitled to their views on all of that. It’s worth noting that climate experts and notable think tanks like the Brookings Institution strongly disagree with Trump’s position with respect to tradeoffs and impacts, both economic and environmental. At the same time it’s difficult to find much strong sentiment in favor of pulling out of the Paris Agreement outside of conservative political outlets, who tend to find themselves in the distinct minority when it comes to climate change policy.
I’m not sure what a poll of baseball players would reveal about their collective views on the matter, but we now have at least one datapoint.
There are a lot of things we dislike about instant replay. The delays. The way in which it has turned that little millisecond in which a player bounces off the bag on a slide into a reviewable thing. The silliness of making it a game involving a finite number of manager challenges. It’s not a perfect system, obviously.
But it’s worth it’s doing what it’s designed to do and correcting thing when a play is called wrong on the field. That’s especially true when it’s a great play like the one Luis Perdomo and Wil Myers of the Padres made in last night’s game against the Dbacks.
Perdomo — channeling Mark Buehrle – deflected a grounder off his leg but recovered and flipped it to first baseman Wil Myers, who stretched to get the out. The first base ump called the runner safe. Understandably, I think, as in real time it really did look like Myers came off the bag. If the play happened before replay there may have been a half-assed argument about it, but no one would rave about an injustice being done. On review, however, Myers’ stretch was shown to have been effective and Perdomo’s flip vindicated.
Nice play all around: