What we talk about when we talk about Michael Young

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Barring him hitting the World Series-winning home run or something, this is the last thing I’m writing about Michael Young for a while. And really, I’m not even writing anything about Young himself here.

I’m mostly just quoting Gregg Doyel, because even though I believe that he and I are on different sides of the dividing line he describes when it comes to Michael Young, he’s pretty much right on the money in describing the existence of the dividing line:

Young’s role, for lack of a better word, in the evolution of the game’s coverage. His place in the conversation between the two camps of baseball media: old vs. new, mainstream vs. sabermetrics. Michael Young isn’t just straddling the fault line. He is the fault line … So Young is that guy, an offensive version of the Felix Hernandez vs. CC Sabathia debate for the 2010 Cy Young. And writers on both sides are waging their own war, on Twitter and in blog posts. It’s a little unseemly, to be honest, the way both sides are using Michael Young the way an angry divorcing couple uses their only child to get at each other.

I don’t agree that there’s spite here — I feel what I feel about Michael Young and the world in which he inhabits rather genuinely and — even if you choose to disbelieve me — without malice towards him personally.  And I believe those who rave about Young approach it the same way. They’re not trying to simply make a political point nor are they showing him disingenuous love.

But I do agree that this stuff is way less about Young himself than it is about competing philosophies, both about how to value a player and how to decide what we think of players off the field, their intangibles, etc. Young is a proxy. He’s a Rorschach test. While no one thinks he isn’t a good player, he does things well that a certain sort of person values more highly than another sort of person.  Same goes for some of the sabermetric darlings of the past.  Dwight Evans should be in the Hall of Fame but isn’t and Jim Rice is but shouldn’t be precisely because of that appreciation deficit.

I think there will always be players that live on those battle lines. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Life is boring when everyone agrees on stuff like this.