Great Moments in Sabermetric Discourse

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I have always had great respect for Mitchel Lichtman, known more widely as MGL, sabermetrician extraordinairre. He’s a really smart guy who is able to cut through a lot of baloney when it comes to baseball stats. Most of my experience with his work has been me looking blankly at what he says or writes, failing to comprehend it and then, some time later, be it ten minutes or two years, saying “wow, that was pretty damn insightful.”

But I have to be honest and also admit that, if any sabermetrician comes close to fitting the stereotype that non-stats people throw at them, it’s Lichtman. He has a fierce dedication and seriousness to his craft which, intended or not, comes off as humorless and lacking in larger perspective. Specifically, the perspective that baseball is, you know, kind of fun and cool sometimes, even if the fun and cool stuff causes us to lose sight of the nuts and bolts of it from time to time.

Maybe his best ever example of this came in a series of tweets last night:

I don’t think anyone reasonably thinks that Tim Lincecum is the same pitcher today that he was three or four years ago. And I don’t think appreciating his no-hitter yesterday — or even his messy no-hitter last year — requires one to make a judgment about his overall quality. Yes, people will go overboard when stuff like that happens, but c’mon.

Put differently: lighten up, Francis. Maybe pick a different battle? That game was as fun as hell to watch and seeing an outstanding performance from someone who has lost the thread in his game in many ways is way, way more uplifting and inspiring than seeing someone at the top of their game remain at the top.

Put differently again: Mitchel, let’s go get a beer sometime and just enjoy a ballgame on a shallow, entertainment-first level. We can really do that once in awhile.

Jean Segura hits a three-run homer to put the AL up 5-2 in the eighth

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As we moved to the top of the eighth inning things started to loosen up. Which was good for the American League but not for the Senior Circuit.

Josh Hader of the Brewers was pitching and, in very un-2018-style, the American League strung together a couple of hits, with Shin-Soo Choo and George Springer singling. At that point Jen Segura of the Mariners came to the plate while Joe Buck spoke to National League outfielder Charlie Blackmon on the mic. Blackmon was entertaining until Joey Votto failed to corral a would-be foul out from Segura, at which point he tensed up a bit. Then Segura launched a massive three-run homer to left. Blackmon called Buck “bad luck,” Mitch Moreland singled and Blackmon said that if the next pitch wasn’t a double play ball, he was bailing on the broadcast.

With the Americans leading 5-2, Dave Roberts made a pitching change, bringing in Brad Hand with one out in the inning. Buck bid adieu to Blackmon, for which Blackmon seemed thankful. These mic’d up players are fun, but there’s a limit to how much distraction they’ll endure, even in a meaningless exhibition game.

Hand struck out Michael Brantley and then