No, it’s not a problem that Derek Jeter is baseball’s most popular player


I expect a lot of hamfisted and questionable analysis about baseball from people who don’t know a bunch about baseball. But it’s rather shocking to see some come from Nate Silver. He’s the former managing partner of Baseball Prospectus for crying out loud, so he should know better, but nope, we get this:

“If Mike Trout walked into your neighborhood bar, would you recognize him?” The New Yorker’s Ben McGrath raised that question in a provocative essay last month.

I’m reasonably certain that I would recognize the MLB outfielder if he walked into One Star. But McGrath’s point is well-taken. Despite being (as McGrath aptly calls him) a “once-in-a-generation talent,” Trout is relatively anonymous . . . I looked up the search traffic for Jeter, along with that for every other baseball player to post at least 30 wins above replacement (WAR) from 2004 through 2014 . . . The chart below lists everyone else’s search traffic relative to Jeter’s.Trout’s also much less famous than Derek Jeter, a shortstop who hit .256, with four home runs, this year . . . It’s not healthy for a sport when its most popular player is 40 years old.

I’m reasonably certain that no one was searching for Mike Trout in 2004 for the simple reason that he turned 13-years-old in 2004. If you were Googling him then your searches were probably more likely to turn up on some list at the local police department than on Google Trends.

That aside, on what planet does the popularity of Google searches for young stars — especially for a time period which is skewed very heavily in favor of old baseball players — have any bearing on the health of a game overall? I’m reasonably certain that Michael Jordan would still be among the most popular basketball players in those terms despite the fact that he hasn’t played for over a decade. Go look at Tim Tebow’s numbers and tell me that bodes ill for the NFL.

But I’ll not deny that Jeter is popular. And I’ll wisely leave specific points of data to Silver, as that’s the thing he knows about a billion times better than me. Instead, I’ll ask about methodology. Specifically, how big a hole would Silver tear in someone who cited Google search popularity in a political context? I figure he’d let fire with both barrels and then borrow someone else’s barrels to finish the job.

I also think he would never allow that conclusory statement — “It’s not healthy for a sport when its most popular player is 40 years old” — go without asking why that is. Which Silver never says. He just asserts. Based on data of extremely dubious utility. In other words, he does exactly what the biggest targets of his considerable critical skills haven’t been able to get away with for years.

Giants beat Mariners again in road game playing at home

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports Images
Leave a comment

SAN FRANCISCO — The nomadic Mariners are taking their bats from the Bay Area to Southern California for three more “home games” on the road.

Wilmer Flores hit a go-ahead, two-run triple in the seventh inning of the Giants’ 6-4 win Thursday that sent Seattle to a second home defeat played in San Francisco’s ballpark because of dangerous air quality in Western Washington.

The series was moved because of smoke from all the West Coast wildfires. Now, the Mariners are altering their air travel reservations once more and headed to San Diego for a weekend series at Petco Park.

“It’s disappointing, but its the world we’re living in in 2020,” Mariners starter Nick Margevicius said. “There’s a lot of things we can’t control, a lot of things in the season, a lot of things in the world right now.”

Darin Ruf homered in the second inning to back Giants starter Tyler Anderson, who hurt his own cause when he was ejected in the bottom of the third by plate umpire Edwin Moscoso for emphatically expressing his displeasure with a walk to Kyle Lewis.

“Tyler knows that that just can’t happen,” mangaer Gabe Kapler said. “It puts us in a really tough spot.”

Wandy Peralta followed Anderson and threw 49 pitches over a career-high three innings, and Rico Garcia (1-1) worked one inning for his first major league win. Sam Selman finished for his first career save, stranding two runners when Lewis lined out and Kyle Seager flied out.

“Peralta came up huge for us,” Kapler said. “As tough as that was it was equally rewarding and in some ways inspiring to see him come out and give us the length that he did and battle. It gave us a chance to climb back into the game. I thought our guys continued to be resilient.”

JP Crawford hit a two-run single in the second following RBI singles by Tim Lopes and Phillip Ervin, but Seattle’s bullpen couldn’t hold a three-run lead.

Margevicius was staked to an early lead but Kendall Graveman (0-3) couldn’t hold it. The Mariners capitalized in the second after Anderson hit Seager in the backside.

Seattle has fared better against San Diego this season after losing all four to San Francisco. Manager Scott Servais had prepared himself for the possibility his club might have to stay on the road a little longer.

“I think with our players and everybody else it was going to be a two-day trip. That’s what we were led to believe that everything was going to clear up in Seattle,” Servais said. “We can’t control the weather it’s bigger than all of us and with what’s going on there with the smoke. Certainly understand why we have to go but I don’t think anybody was really prepared for it.”

Brandon Crawford contributed a sacrifice fly and Evan Longoria and Alex Dickerson RBI singles for the Giants.

Austin Slater returned at designated hitter for San Francisco and went 0 for 2 with a walk as he works back from a painful right elbow. Luis Basabe singled in the sixth for his first career hit and also stole his first base.

“I didn’t think about it,” said Basabe, who will gift the special souvenir ball to his mother. “I was just happy to get the opportunity.”

Justin Smoak made his Giants home debut as a pinch hitter in the sixth facing his former club after he signed a minor league deal earlier this month following his release by the Brewers.

Anderson, who was trying to win consecutive starts for the first time this season, received his second career ejection. The other was Aug. 13, 2016, while with Colorado.