Thursday, September 17, 2015

In Which Fire Jay Mariotti Hops into the DeLorean, in More Ways than One

Since reading this little nugget by Murray Chass, I've had to check my calendar several times.

It's September 17th, 2015.


Moneyball was published exactly 12 years and three months ago.  Fire Joe Morgan has been gone for almost seven years.

Once again, the year is 2015.

Ready for this headline?


This is not a "breaking news" item, Murray. This is a thing that has slowly happened as people gradually realized that thinking about stuff is good.

“Keeping Score” column in The New York Times last week caught my attention with this start to a sentence: “While batting average may no longer hold much sway…”

It is 2015 and you should not be batting an eyelash at that opening to a sentence. 2015. Eyelash-batting expectation = zero.  Your eyelash-batting average is too high.

Written by Benjamin Hoffman, the piece was about Yoenis Cespedes, the New York Mets’ surprising sensation, and his chances of winning the National League most valuable player award.

Curious about that “batting average” phrase, I called Hoffman Tuesday night and asked him about it.

I don’t know Hoffman, never met him, never had spoken with him. However, simply by taking my call, he showed a lot more class than his superiors in the Times sports department.

Them's fightin' words, Murray. It sounds like you may have an #agenda.

“I think there’s been a pretty widespread move to emphasize other statistics, with organizations, even with fans,” Hoffman said.

And with Metrics Monsters. Don’t forget them. 

Metrics Monsters!  Monsters who promote metrics!  This is a mutually exclusive group from "organizations" who completely ignore them and fans who have never ever contributed anything to baseball research.

They concoct new metrics – I don’t like even the sound of that word 

Murray, are you reading this particular Fire Jay Mariotti article?  If so....

Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics Metrics

and in their arrogant way expect everyone to accept them as the Ten Commandments of baseball.

Still 2015.

You know, Thou shalt use WAR to vote for MVP and the Hall of Fame.

First of all, I think that anyone who blindly ranks players by WAR to vote for something like the MVP is a moron.  Second of all, if you do not even consider WAR to vote for MVP, you are an even bigger moron. And third of all, IT'S THE FUCKING YEAR 2015. STOP WITH THIS SHIT.

What has taken the place of batting average? “People have gone all over the place with it,” Hoffman said, “with some emphasizing on-base, slugging, adjusted figures that account for different parks and eras.”

I cannot tell you what magical letters denote those adjusted figures. I don’t want to know what they are. They are meaningless to me.

"Abbreviations confuse me.  I don't want to learn things. I don't understand things I don't already know, so those things must be meaningless." Classic Chass.

Baseball has been played for more than 100 years in parks of many different sizes. My parents were great baseball fans. They never gave a second’s thought to the difference between home run distances at Forbes Field and Wrigley Field. No matter where Ralph Kiner hit a home run; it was a home run, and they didn’t care how he compared with Johnny Mize or Hank Sauer.

"Home runs are home runs!  My parents, who are somehow older than me, didn't care about park factors. Neither should you!"

When Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams played as contemporaries, the Yankees and the Red Sox briefly considered swapping them because Fenway Park and its Green Monster would have benefitted the right-hand hitting DiMaggio while Yankee Stadium with its short right field porch would have been great for Williams.

The players, however, were fan favorites and entrenched where they were, and the teams never made the trade. It didn’t matter. DiMaggio and Williams were two of the greatest players in baseball history, and their playing location didn’t detract from their careers or the fans’ appreciation of them.

For crying out loud, THAT'S what you think of park factors? Listen, DiMaggio and Williams were baseball superhumans.  They were going to be awesome at baseball regardless of which major league park they played in.  Now, if one of the major league parks had a surface made of quicksand with swarms of locusts so thick that you couldn't see the outfield from the batters box, zombies, wet paint, and speedbumps, then MAYBE Ted Williams would've been more like Wily Mo Pena.

Also: The only baseball park with park factors that affect "fans' appreciation" is Tropicana Field.

Meanwhile, if batting average has lost its sway, you can’t tell from the daily statistics, whether they’re in newspapers, on websites or on lists of league leaders in all MLB press boxes.

Well yeah, it's not like they're just going to stop publishing it overnight. It's not like batting average is meaningless. People understand it. It still means something.  This does not mean that it is the best thing to use to evaluate a baseball player.

Batting averages appear in every box score, they are the first category listed in NL and AL leaders, team batting averages are the first column in team statistics and in listings of individual statistics, batting average is listed ahead of on-base and slugging percentages and OPS, which combines on-base and slugging. If and when newspapers run league leaders, batting average leaders are the first listed.

In the NBA, "minutes" appears first in every box score.

Why, then, is batting average so prevalent?

“I may not believe there is much predictive nature in r.b.i.,” Hoffman said, “but I still look at it.”

"r.b.i."? But I thought you were talking about.....huh.

The supposed diminished significance of batting average is reminiscent of something I “learned” a couple of years ago when I was told and then read that wins for pitchers no longer mattered and never really did matter.

The Metrics Monsters and their allies decided that too many variables and factors entered into pitching’ decisions, and it therefore made no sense to credit a pitcher with a win just because he started a game, lasted at least five innings and his team won the game.

That's not even the correct criteria for a pitcher win.

Just think. All those years we talked about 20-game winners, and now we had to discard all of that information and those records. It was bad enough when an MLB committee in 1992 defined or redefined what a no-hitter was. I didn’t agree with the committee’s decisions, and I don’t agree with all of this WAR and VORP business, though as a writer friend pointed out the other day we don’t hear much about VORP these days.

"I have no idea what those magical letters mean, nor do I want to, but I'm damn sure I don't agree with them!"

When the Times created the Keeping Score column, I was a baseball columnist for the paper and I told the sports editor I thought it was a bad idea. It was mostly used to open the paper’s sports pages to statistical nonsense in which most readers had no interest.

Yeah, readers are far more interested in things written by old, out-of-touch people who say stuff like "Heavens to Murgatroyd" and reference current pop-culture icons such as Jimmy Durante, Oliver Hardy, and Stan Laurel.  You wrote that column in 2006 for the New York Times. Two of those people died in the 60's. One died in 1980.  "Heavens to Murgatroyd". But that stuff isn't "nonsense" to readers. Statistics with weird abbreviations are.

The sports editor didn’t heed my warning and look at the Times sports section now. Soccer has become the sport of the Times. Baseball has become a minor league sport.

Incidentally, the "Baseball" section appears above the "soccer" section on their website.  And we're back on #agenda

It has been part of a desperate effort to attract new readers and new advertisers for the paper and its web site. I don’t know if it has succeeded, but it has ruined the sports section for those of us who have been long-time readers.

So, you openly admit that you have no idea whether this new effort was successful. But you are sure that it was desperate, ruined everything, and is generally responsible for world hunger and epidemics. Got it.

The New York Daily News is suffering the same plight. On Wednesday, after the owner had failed in his effort to sell the paper, it dismissed about a third of the sports staff, including the sports editor, Teri Thompson, and the long-time baseball writer, Bill Madden, who is a fellow winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink award from the Baseball Writers Association.

DAMN YOU VORP!!!! VORP took'r jeerrrrbssss!

At the time, the Times’ move reminded me of the Florida Marlins’ slashing their payroll after they won the 1997 World Series. The Times, like the Marlins, was slashing payroll, offering attractive buyouts to induce its highest-paid employees to leave. Just as the Marlins traded away its best players to shed their salaries, the Times willingly let many of its best and most experienced people leave to reduce its payroll.

All of this because Batting Average is joining Pitching Wins in baseball's attic.  I am not sure if you have any clue what the fuck you're talking about anymore, if you ever did.

Contributing to my decision to take the buyout and leave was a series of lies told to me by the then sports editor, Tom Jolly.

He subsequently was moved to the news side as a night editor. Times people said it was a delayed punishment of his direction a few years earlier of the Times’ aggressive coverage of the Duke University lacrosse scandal, in which three players were accused of sexually assaulting a stripper who had performed at a team party.

The case turned into a fiasco, and the players were subsequently cleared when police determined that the woman had lied.

My, that seems like Mr. Jolly may have wound up regretting his actions a little bit!  I wonder why you are pointing this out?

Jolly, incidentally, was the sports editor who started the “Keeping Score” column.

Oh. #agenda.

So new baseball statistics are bad because the guy who wanted to bring them to the New York Times  may have made some mistakes while covering the Duke lacrosse scandal. Got it.

September 17th.  


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Old Sportswriter Notes One Fact, Makes Insane Generalization

I'm sorry, I know Frank Deford is a crotchety old dude. I know the NPR just hires him for some color commentary.  I know that his segment is called "Sweetness and Light", so it's not supposed to be serious, but when he says things this stupid, I can't hold back.  Here's one of his segments from this spring: "As American Sports Skew More Arm-Centric, Throwing Injuries Rise"

Whatever happened to rotator cuffs? It seems like just yesterday that every pitcher who was injured had a problem with his rotator cuff. But baseball player injuries now invariably require something called "Tommy John surgery," which has become epidemic.

Right, this is one fact, Tommy John surgery is up. Let's see where we go here.

The difference is simple: The rotator cuff involves the shoulder while Tommy John relates to the elbow, or more precisely, the ulnar collateral ligament. The corrective surgery, by Dr. Frank Jobe, was first performed 41 years ago on Dodgers pitcher Tommy John, and for years it remained fairly uncommon. Now, it is downright commonplace.

Ok, so this is just an extension here.  So far so good. 

It is also indisputable that as more pitchers throw faster — mid-90 mph becoming routine — the more Tommy John surgeries we encounter. It doesn't require a crack detective to solve the case: The more pitchers throwing with all their might for just a few pitches, the more ulnar collateral ligaments that are failing. Pitchers' arms are becoming like football players' heads. The happy difference is that you do not need a good arm to keep on living a long normal life the way you do need an undamaged brain.

Wohoo!  Take that, football! You guys all have damaged brains! But even so far Frank is  just ambling along saying nothing interesting.  But here we go:

But let's face it: American athletics are armcentric. Not just the pitcher — everybody on a baseball team has to throw the ball. Football depends more and more on passing. "What's his arm strength?" the scouts first ask of quarterbacks. Basketball shots are propelled by strong arms, especially now with the long 3-point basket in vogue.

What?  There are so many levels of stupid here:
1. First basemen, offensive tackles, and power forwards basically never throw anything with one arm.  Nothing at all about their games is increasingly armcentric.  In fact, this whole paragraph makes the insane point that Tommy John surgeries are up, and that must be tied to the increasingly armcentric wold of sports.   It's like Frank Deford hates modernity so much that he just makes wild generalizations just to show how life is going to hell in a handbasket.

2. Were scouts in previous ages no longer primarily concerned with arm strength?  Do baseball position players throw any more now than they used to?

3.  What about the statement that "the long 3-point basket in vogue"?!  The NBA adopted the 3 in 1979.  That was 36 years ago, Frank!  Where the hell have you been?

Throwing is certainly not unnatural, but pitching a baseball overhanded is too abnormal an action for the human body. In contrast, throwing a softball underhanded is a pretty smooth motion. A cricket bowler delivers the ball to the batsman in something of a high loop, without being allowed to break the elbow.

Are Tommy John surgeries in cricket bowlers up or something?  Who cares?

It would seem that pitchers have survived, barely, these past 150 years or so, but now the added stress — especially for pitchers who started throwing too hard too young — is just enough to break down too many arms.

It would seem that Frank Deford has survived, barely, these past 150 years or so, but now the added stress - especially for bitter bloggers who started blogging too hard too young - is just enough to break down dan-bob's sanity.

Rob Manfred, is, officially, only the commissioner of professional baseball, but just like the bumbling NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, Manfred is really the steward of his game. 

Take that, football! Your sport is becoming inceasingly armcentric and your commissioner is so incompetent that even 150-year old fossils get their digs in!

Manfred should convene some sort of all-baseball conference to examine this serious issue. Until then, it appears that baseball simply feels that pitchers are fungible, that there's always another kid with a temporarily live arm who can fire it by the hitters.

"Fungible"?  Put away your thesaurus, Frank, The whole article sticks in a pretty simple diction, appropriate for a general audience on the radio, and then Frank drops a totally unnecessarily fancy word as he moves towards his close.  It's the same thing he did in my last post with "high-falutin'".

Really, we've got to do better by our best arms.

National Public Radio really has to do better by its ordinary listeners.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

I'm on a mission now

Posting that last piece about Frank Deford felt good.  It felt so good I went to see if he had written any other garbage and boy has he ever.  He has so many hot taeks:

  • "Americans Don't Care about Major League Soccer"
  • "Awards for Athletes Should Honor Unsung Heroes"
  • Some moral grandstanding about Tom Brady being a cheater
  • "Alex Rodriguez is Back, For Better or Worse"
  • "Outside of the Games, Are Sports Corrupt?"
  • An article that declares the truly groundbreaking idea that America's national pastime is no longer good old baseball but FOOTBALL.
  • World Series games start too late!
He's the Platonic version of a crotchety-old-man get-off-my-lawn commentator.  Honestly if I followed more other sports or had enough bile in me I could just do a weekly feature hating on this guy. Maybe I will, if he keeps setting out to ruin my Wednesday mornings with his terrible radio bits.

Anyways, check out another of his amazing insights: "All Star Games Are Worthless if the Players are not All-Stars".  Whooo, boy. Time for Frank Deford to weigh in on this crucial issue of the All Star balloting:

For those of you who haven't got your baseball All-Star ballot in, don't panic, you have until Thursday. It's convenient. You can get a ballot off the Internet, and here's the good news: You can vote 35 times.
Well, all right, that makes sense. It might have been interesting to note that MLB eliminated paper ballots this year, which seems like it would have been the perfect thing for a crotchety old guy to complain about. 
[English teacher usage geekery alert:  Does it make any sense, in this context to get a ballot "off the internet"?  The ballot only exists on the internet, it's not like you could download it and send it in.  I'm imagining Frank spending twenty minutes trying to print a ballot on his inkjet printer and then mailing it c/o Rob Manfred in New York.  But I digress.  That was only one preposition.]
Understand what I'm saying? Each fan can cast 35 votes. Where that magic figure comes from, I don't know. Why not 3,500 apiece? Or 35,000?
Well I mean, 35,000 would be silly, Frank. I guess he's right in pointing out that it seems arbitrary, but it's not like this is anything new.  Actually, paper balloting would have allowed each fan to vote like a zillion times if they really wanted to.
Anyway, it means that more than half a billion votes will be cast. Not only that, but, in order to keep the election on the up-and-up, baseball swears that it tosses out about one out of every five votes. 
Now this is sort of interesting.  I'm intrigued to know that MLB considers 20% of the votes to be fraudulent.  Can you tell me something interesting about that, Frank Deford?
I can only guess that vampires and terrorists are denied the franchise.
ZING!  I submit to you, in the 1,481st post, the worst joke in this blog's history.
So right now –– just to take one example –– Salvador Perez has 11,666,785 votes for catcher. What does that mean? It's like light years or grains of sand on the beach, just number numbers.
Frank, fan balloting with meaningless final vote totals has been going on for 45 years now.  Are you just now understanding it?  And secondly, what's with the insult here: somehow, these are "just number numbers".  Take that, stats geeks!  Either way, Frank, writers like you are idiot idiots.
But having fans vote is the way leagues like to run All-Star balloting nowadays, instead of being old-fashioned and letting the choices be made by people who actually know something, people we dare call experts.
Fan balloting was restored in 1970.  That was during the Nixon presidency. Apollo 13 happened that year. You cannot possibly talk about leagues using fan ballots "nowadays". Nor can you also ignore the obvious fact that fans only select the 17 starters and the two Final Vote guys, while the managers and players collectively select 33, and that doesn't count the replacements. Right now the fans pick about a third of the roster.
You see, when fans vote, it's interactive. It's an interactive world now. Baseball's rationale is that if you voted your 35 times for Salvador Perez, interactively, you'll then be on pins and needles to see if he can win. You're invested in Salvador Perez.
When Frank was growing up the world was not interactive.  It just sat there and you just sat there and nothing happened. You'd wake up the next day and nothing would also happen because the world was not interactive.   Thank god the world turned interactive sometime in like 2002 because otherwise we'd still be sitting there in puddles of our own drool.
Plus, wouldn't voters be equally invested in their candidates with the paper ballot?  Wouldn't the same basic thing be true of elections in sports, politics, online polls, the 8th grade student council president at Otis P. Snodgrass Junior high in Arkadelphia and also the  entire history of human beings?  Didn't ancient Greeks and Romans sit out on pins and needles because they were invested in electing the next group of senators or whatever?
But actually it's the reverse, because the irony is that if you want to get fans just plain actively engaged, the fewer decision-makers the better. Half the fun in the selection of All-Stars — or any award winners — is being able to castigate the people who made the choices you disagree with as dimwitted dummies.
I guess that's true.  It's sort of mean spirited, I guess, but given the nature of this blog I will stay safely in my glass house of castigating dimwitted dummies.
That's why Simon Cowell on American Idol was so good: because he was a loud-mouth, very outer-active judge you could hate. But when it's just millions of interactive ballots filled out robotically you've got nobody to vent to and a lot of emotion goes out of the game before it starts.

Are you kidding? Everybody vented about Royals fans for the last two months. Somehow this took the emotion out of the game?  That makes no sense.  Honestly, the thing that really takes the emotion out of the selection is the fact that there are like eighty players selected which is like more than 10% of the current roster of baseball.  Maybe if they cut back on the dead weight we'd have some more tension here.  

But god forbid then we have a tie and no doubt Frank Deford's Church of Old Timey Baseball would hate any repeats of that one year, you know, the All Star Game Which Shall Not Be Named.

It's even worse this year because the good people of Kansas City have stuffed the ballot box, so instead of an All-Star game, it's going to be more of a royal pain. 
Zing!  Like the time Prince Charles had a charlie horse!
That's the problem when anyone fills out an Internet ballot, times 35: Fans don't make serious judgments. They just vote for all-ordinary players on their favorite team.
What an idiot.  Fans have always done this.  My own Cincinnati Reds did this famously back in the fifties, essentially ending the fan vote for a dozen years. Internet ballots are no worse than paper ballots.  No doubt Frank longs for the glory days of the 1990s when every fan took their vote seriously and the players casually took steroids and Hideki Irabu was a major league pitcher.
Look, All-Star games in every sport are just high-falutin' exhibitions, but they're good fun. Unfortunately, they're worthless if the people playing in the All-Star games aren't, well, aren't all-stars.
Maybe a couple of questionable players are elected of the whole 80-man roster, and Frank declares the whole exercise worthless, even as a high-falutin' exhibitions. Ugh.

Excuse the following usage/English geekery.  If you're not an English teacher nerd like me you may want to stop reading, but honestly, who hyphenates AND adds an apostrophe to "highfalutin"?  The word is not an abbreviation for "highfaluting", and it's not hyphenated. You can't just add random punctuation to try and make your words sound less.... highfalutin.  You actually have to choose a different word.  In fact, arbitrary punctuation disasters aside, it's not even the right word!  What is so highfalutin about a baseball game? It's not played by Dukes (anymore) or Princes (wait..), the preferred foods are hot dogs and sunflower seeds, and it's really just grown men running around and sliding in the mud.  You're not even a good writer, Frank.

Well this has been miserable and I hope you're feeling equally miserable that this guy is employed to say things about sports.  When I am up to it again I will write up another one of his horrible pieces.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I haven't posted in six months but this infuriated me so much that I have to take time out of my day to excoriate it

Now that I am all grown up and no longer the fresh-faced wise-ass I was when I first posted on this blog back eight years ago, my bitterness has abated somewhat. Now I'm a family guy, two baby daughters, etc.  But every so often something comes along that is so infuriating that it has basically ruined my morning and forced me to spend the first half hour of my work day writing a post for the first time in six months.  I know only like six people read this blog but I am convinced that I must write this in order to expose the banality of evil that is Frank Deford, and that if even one of you goes home and thinks, "You know, Frank Deford sucks", then I will have made the world a better place and there will be some brighter future for humanity.

Here's the scene in the dan-bob family van this morning on the way to work. Mrs. dan-bob is in the backseat dealing with a screaming baby-bob.

NPR Host: Upcoming: a story about statistics and our national pasttime!

dan-bob: Awesome!  [turns up radio over screaming child, tells wife to calm that kid down already]

NPR Host: Here's our weekly commentary from Frank Deford

dan-bob: Oh no. 

Frank Deford: Whereas numbers have never been a significant adjunct to the other performing arts, they've been stitched into the very essence of sport. Not just the score, but how fast, how far, how good. And, of course, no sport is so identified with numbers as is our American baseball.

Here's  a little cheat sheet for any of you who want to know if your commentator is a self-righteous chump like Frank Deford: they use "sport" in the singular. [Note: you're exempt from this rule if you're British.].  Besides that, this is some awful diction: "adjunct"?  "stitched"?  "our American baseball"?  What the heck other kind of baseball is there?  I hate Frank Deford. Honestly I think I hate him more than I've hated anyone else on this website.  He's like HatGuy on steroids invating my morning commute and regularly wrecking my Wednesdays.

In fact, baseball statistics have been around almost as long as baseball. But stats — which is a fairly new shortcut word, about as old as the Mets and Astros are — have proliferated recently, not only in other sports, notably basketball, but to deeper and deeper levels of baseball enlightenment.

First, Frank, in the English language there is actually a word for "shortcut words".  We call them "abbreviations".  Second, is there any reason to note that the abbreviation is as old as the Mets and Astros?  Referencing baseball expansion in the early 1960s makes no sense to me, unless he's trying to argue that baseball expansion is bad or lazy or something.  But if there were any group of fans out there pining for pre-expansion sixteen-team all-white baseball, I'd expect Frank Deford to be their spiritual leader, chanting about the evils of modern baseball and demanding a return to the pure Church of Baseball.

Today, traditional statistics like batting or earned run averages — righteous measures that were accepted as the athletic equivalent of the Ten Commandments — are made to seem quaint and primitive. Baseball even has its own specific brand of analytics, which is known as sabermetrics.

Bible references!  Righteous measures! Anyone who would deny righteous measures like BA and ERA are inherently sinful to the essence of sport! These are the Ten Commandments of the Frank Deford Church of Old Timey Baseball!

Baseball statistics were further glorified by Michael Lewis in his book Moneyball and then on film by the heartthrob Brad Pitt. Imagine on-base percentage being a thing of heartthrob. Moneyball posited the fancy that revolutionary statistical magic had sprung forth from the brain of the Oakland General Manager Billy Beane, like Athena emerging full-blown from Zeus' head. In fact, other resourceful innovators had found original uses for stats all through diamond history.

Dear God: "posited the fancy"?  Someone shoot Frank Deford with a pellet gun.  And the reference to Athena: wait, what? I don't see any reason for the allusion other than trying to overdramatize a nonissue. I'm sure this is just the pure holy Frank Deford defending his Church of Old Timey Baseball against the pagan innovations of modern man.

Plus, at the end of this paragraph, you'd think that Frank is going to talk about the actual resourceful innovators, but no, this paragraph is just one of many examples of his disjointed rambling. This essay has no direction, no organizing principles.  It's just the rambling of a bitter old man.

But now there is an absolute sabermetric explosion. Every team has employed nerds, who are presumably tucked away in secret offices, with computers and green eyeshades, emerging only to hand over new numerical strategies. This has resulted not only in the outward and visible sign of infielders being shifted all around the diamond like linebackers in football, but even in covert skulduggery, industrial espionage and power politics.

Oh man.  This is the new Cheetos-and-Mountain-Dew-in-the-parents'-basement! It's the secret-offices-and-green-eyeshades insult!  Good lord, this man's insults are even more dated than his opinions. Someone please put this fossil of a sportswriter in a museum, but not like on display at the museum.  Just put him in one of those back storage sheds that never gets opened where he can mildew and canker all he wants without bothering people.

I also like how Frank blames the sabermetric explosion for defensive shifts, which any educated baseball fan knows date to the 1920s, covert skulduggery (which of course was never around before, thank god), industrial espionage (i.e. when you use someone else's password to log into a website), and power politics (good thing baseball was apolitical back in the old days!).

Last week the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim general manager up and quit in midseason — something that statistically just doesn't happen — because, it seems, his manager wouldn't apply enough of the new metrics that his computer minions were churning out.

That's hilarious! It "statistically just doesn't happen" because it is uncommon!  I get it!  It's a joke! Good thing we have statistics around to identify uncommon things! I wish someone would glue Frank Deford's mouth shut!  

But wait! Worse than this front-office insurrection, the federal government itself may well bring charges against one or more members of the St. Louis Cardinals staff, nabbed for hacking into the secret files of the Houston Astros. Hacking! Baseball! Like Russians and Chinese. Oh my.

Oh my god! Like this is somehow worse than all the other terrible things that have happened in baseball over the years! Some Cardinals folks used the old password of an Astros guy!  THE WORLD IS GOING TO THE DOGS AND THE PURITY OF THE FRANK DEFORD CHURCH OF OLD TIMEY BASEBALL IS FOREVER STAINED.  ALL THE RACISM AND STEROIDS AND LABOR DISPUTES AND THE JUICED BALL DIDN'T DO IT, BUT NOW THE CARDINALS ARE HACKERS, AND THAT'S THE LAST STRAW!

"Like the Russians".  It's like we're living in 1960 or something.  Frank Deford is still cheering for the Mazeroski home run and ignoring Mickey Mantle's alcoholism.

It makes deflating a few footballs look like child's play, and it makes baseball the darkest statistical art, even more the place for sexy metrics.

What? Ow. How is this even a concluding sentence?  How is this statistics a "dark art"?  What the hell are "sexy metrics"? THE CHURCH OF OLD TIMEY BASEBALL WILL NOT STAND FOR THIS. FRANK DEFORD WILL EXORCISE THE DEMONS!

This wasn't even an essay.  It was just rambling about nothing, with a heavy dose of moral grandstanding.  And yet NPR has him on every Wednesday morning, ostensibly to say something interesting about sports. I generally enjoy getting my news from NPR in the morning, but if they employ Frank Deford, it casts serious doubt on the quality of the rest of their reporting. Imagine if the equivalent of Frank Deford were informing a large number of Americans about something actually important.

Even Mrs. dan-bob, who only caught snatches of it in between infant screams, knew enough to remark. "Why did you listen to that?  Frank Deford sucks so much".  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

When Mariotti attacks Simmons, everybody loses, part 2 of 2

Honestly, for an article written by this blog's third most frequently cited moron (and the inspiration for the blog's name for crisesakes), about this blog's most frequently cited moron, this really isn't much to work with here once you get past Jay's own-shit-smelling hatred of bloggers. Let's see what else we can have some fun with.

The network has only itself to blame, enabling Simmons and turning him loose to the point he was uncontrollable.

Except that the only thing that finally got him shitcanned was his direct and pointed insults towards the NFL, the biggest revenue producer (and probably the most powerful entity) in American sports. It's not like ESPN is looking back at how they enabled and supported Simmons and saying "My God, we should have seen this coming! This was obviously the way this would end!" He picked what is probably the one and only insult target that would get him canned, and even still, it took multiple incidents for ESPN to decide they'd had enough.

There is a difference between covering sports with fierce independence — my philosophy —

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Go play in traffic, you twatmunch. It's pretty easy to be "independent" when no one will hire you because your own misconduct makes you toxic as fuck.

and being a megalomaniacal jackass like Simmons,

No argument here.

who never took a law class

Jay Mariotti, Esq., here to opine on defamation jurisprudence. Oh wait, never mind, he's just got his head up his own colon as usual.

and, thus, didn’t understand why the company suspended him for referring to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as “a liar.”

I'm sure he understood. Also, it takes about 90 seconds on Wikipedia to learn that under 1st Amendment caselaw, since Goodell is inarguably a "public figure," Simmons’s remark would only create liability if it 1) was incorrect, which, with a generic insult/accusation like “He’s a liar” is very hard to prove, and 2) was made with "actual knowledge" of the fact that the statement wasn’t true (or "reckless disregard" for the truth, which is inapplicable here since Bill doesn't, like, work in the NFL executive offices and have access to Roger's personal files or whatever). But Simmons (and anyone in America with a brain) legitimately felt that Goodell really WAS a liar. Bill’s mistake wasn’t failing to stay within the boundaries of defamation law. It was publicly insulting a gigantic cash cow that helps make ESPN into a gigantic cash cow.

Goodell may have lied about what he knew in the Ray Rice case, but Simmons did not have incontrovertible proof,

This is not how libel works. At all. ESPECIALLY with public figures. You don’t need “incontrovertible proof” to accuse your fucking neighbor of being a liar. If that were the legal standard (especially for public figures) that would lead to no one ever bringing scandals to light due to fear of owing large sums of money if a court deemed the proof of the scandal to fall short of “incontrovertible.”

which means the league could have sued the network for megamillions —

No. Also, I think you should just say “millions;” Megamillions is the popular multistate biweekly lottery, and really, that’s just good clean fun.

and may have done so if ESPN wasn’t a broadcasting bedfellow.

Yes, they may have sued, but they’d know they didn’t have a case. They’d do it just to rattle ESPN’s cage, because if there’s anything that would make ESPN panic, it would be the possibility of lost profits resulting from a deteriorating relationship with THE SHIELD.

Simmons also was unequipped to be editor-in-chief of — his insensitivity was appalling when he approved a piece that unnecessarily outed a transgender person, who, because of the outing, committed suicide.

Well, I’ll take Jay’s side here. I still can’t believe he can’t find (or perhaps correctly read) a Wikipedia page about libel.

Anyone else would have been fired after the Goodell and transgender mistakes.

Probably not, actually. Definitely not the Dr. V putter story, anyways. And he got suspended for the Goodell remarks. A pretty big deal for a guy with his profile.

Simmons kept his job both times only because ESPN president John Skipper doesn’t acknowledge his own errors until he must.

This is true—Jay knows firsthand. He probably waited about five years too long to ban Jay from appearing on Around the Horn.

Friday was that day, hours after Simmons had appeared on the radio show of another ESPN pariah, Dan Patrick, with another over-the-top rip job of Goodell.

There is no such thing as an over-the-top insulting of Goodell. Goodell and his dumb shiteating fat fucking face are immune to hyperbolic vitriol.

Simmons destroyed the commissioner because he didn’t immediately announce a suspension in the Tom Brady deflated-balls scandal, and while it’s fair to wonder why Goodell is waiting, his weekend pause doesn’t warrant a nuclear explosion.

No, it probably doesn’t, but 90% of everything else he does.

Clearly, Simmons is immature.

Time for one of my favorite old gags—post a hilariously moronic comment multiple times because it’s so enjoyable to read.

Clearly, Simmons is immature.

Clearly, Simmons is immature.

Clearly, Simmons is immature.

Clearly, Simmons is immature.

Clearly, Simmons is immature.

An excellent point from Jay, paragon of maturity.

Once a fanboy, always a fanboy.

Once a man who is convinced that Ozzie Guillen is responsible for all the evils of the world, always a man who... that.

I’ve had my squabbles with corporate management.


But my complaints were legitimate —


a Chicago radio station demanded I sign a sheet of paper that I wouldn’t criticize the Bulls or White Sox, which would have painted me into an ethical corner had I agreed.

I’m sure that is about 25% of the story, or possibly less, but I do have to agree that working in sports media probably loses a shitload of its appeal once you get muzzled.

When I refused, I was fired the day after Christmas.

If only you could have been fired while eating dinner with your family ON Christmas, via an in-person visit from your boss, like the end of Christmas Vacation except without the boss changing his mind.

My bosses at the Chicago Sun-Times had business ties with certain sports owners in town, and when they asked me to soften my opinions about those owners, I said no.

Partly because of the whole ethics issue, but mostly because Jay is a petulant baby who hates Jerry Reinsdorf like most people hate Hitler.

Had Simmons used another description for Goodell, he’d probably still be working at ESPN.

No, he would not.

By calling him a liar, and then challenging the network to reprimand him after doing so, Simmons no longer was fighting a free-speech war.

Actually, he was, but it was also a war of “which of these relationships is worth more money to ESPN,” and he lost, badly.

He was leaving himself vulnerable to a mountainous lawsuit.

No, you fucking retard. No. And were that the case, the NFL could just sue Bill directly and bleed him dry, but that’s not happening even though the NFL is endlessly insecure and vindictive, because that’s not how libel law works.

Before he works again, the fanboy needs to take a law class or two.

/still dying

The Internet has enabled recklessness by idiot entrepreneurs — such as the assclown at Gawker Media — who think they can publish lies about anyone because it’s difficult for a public figure to win a libel suit against a web publication.

Wait—what??????? I thought Goodell had an AIRTIGHT case against Simmons! How is Gawker publishing (true) things about Mariotti any different than Simmons saying (true) things about Goodell, then?

So the entrepreneurs hire clueless kid losers for $15 a story and order them to drive traffic, resulting in sleazy techniques and wild inaccuracies.

Hey, much better than paying Jay whatever he made at the Chicago Sun-Times while using sleazy techniques to publish wild inaccuracies. Speaking of wild inaccuracies, Jay needs to take a law class or two.

I told a college journalism class 

shortly before being removed by campus security so the professor could continue their lecture

that you’d be better off cleaning sewage plants than working for something called,

True from an income standpoint, I’m sure, but those sewage-cleaning plant jobs are probably union and difficult to get unless you know someone. You can probably work for Deadspin, at least on a freelance basis, based solely on your own skills and merit.

where you’re being paid less than a janitor to basically pick up garbage and place it on the Internet. Another website, Bleacher Report, has somewhat higher standards yet also pays peanuts to kids who don’t know what they’re doing. Why? Because entrepreneurs think you don’t have to pay for good sportswriting.

And sadly, as Bleacher Report’s content continues to get less shitty (I know, I know) and Deadspin continues to occasionally publish cool shit alongside all its terrible unfunny shit, they’re right! This is a systemic problem in the journalism industry, driven by supply and demand in both the media and journalism labor markets, and has very little to do with DURR HURR BILL SIMMONS WASN’T ONE OF THE COOL KIDS IN THE PRESS BOX.

The Bleacher Report entrepreneurs, too, are sports fans, making them fanboys much like … Bill Simmons.


One of America’s best sportswriters, Bob Kravitz,

Bob Kravitz is a shitty writer with shitty opinions. We should have posted much, much more about him when this blog was still quasi-active.

broke the Deflategate story in his new position at an Indianapolis TV station/website.

Did he? Did he "break" it? Maybe he did (I’m sure he has sources galore in the Colts organization, which, good for him), and guess how many sports fans give a flying cunt about that? This isn’t the 20th century, Jay, when one newspaper might get a scoop and be the place to read about a story while another has no idea about it until the first newspaper publishes. It doesn’t matter how much you hate the internet—it has reduced the value of breaking a story to essentially nothing. Deal with it, or GTFO of the industry and stop bothering people.

After the Ted Wells report was issued, Kravitz wrote of unprofessionalism he encountered in the New England media the last few months:

Well, come on, what do you expect? It’s the Boston media.

“The people who disappointed me most were the folks at The [Boston] Globe’s website, They are renowned pom-pom wearers, so it wasn’t a surrpise.

Typo is [sic], left in because Jay is such a big fan of professionalism.

But I was struck at the enthusiasm they displayed while carrying the Patriots’ water. It shocked me that a great newspaper like the Boston Globe would employ such rank amateurs and cheerleaders. Sad.”

Because it’s not the 20th century, Bob and Jay, and pretty much all newspapers are shit and are desperate for access. They’ll cut their own dicks off to curry favor with popular local teams. I know it’s hard for you fucking dinosaurs to understand that times have changed, but maybe if everyone else seems out of touch, you’re the out of touch ones.

Where did Simmons grow up? Boston.


From who did younger sportswriters learn? Simmons.

And I’m sure it was only the young writers carrying water for the Pats. I’m sure that Dan Shaugnessy, Jackie MacMullan, etc. were NOWHERE near that practice.

Shame on ESPN for empowering Simmons for so many years.

Oh wow, that’s got to sting. “Shame on you.” Go easy, Jay!

ESPN also killed sportswriting when it gave a major platform to a statistics geek, Nate Silver, failing to realize that sport is best covered via the exploration of human emotion, not the joyless crunching of numbers.




Oh wait, yes we do:

In the process, the network chased off Rick Reilly, only the greatest sportswriter of his generation

Rick Reilly couldn’t sportswrite his way through a wet piece of toilet paper. Fuck him and fuck Jay for cheerleading for him. Die, both of you.

and someone who broke news responsibly,


covered games and press conferences on site, interviewed subjects, understood libel law and carried the profession with savvy.


Next, ESPN is trying an African-American site with an editor, Jason Whitlock, who isn’t liked by many African-American writers and is more comfortable in a strip joint than in any mentoring position. The site’s marquee hire so far was a white journalist, Mike Wise.

Come on Jay, don’t half-ass it. Tell us how you really feel. Heat up that taek, it’s a little lukewarm for you.

I appreciated my eight years at ESPN; the TV show was fun,

I’ll bet he signed a settlement agreement with ESPN that prevents him from saying the show's name.

and when I was on, the ratings were much higher and the banter much livelier.

Kill yourself.

But the culture is not conducive to doing one’s best work. It’s a political loony bin where Skipper, like Goodell, can’t maintain consistency in issuing disciplinary punishments. Seems he finally got one right Friday.

Again, as in the case with Jay, it was a mere five-to-ten years late.

And, no, I would not hire Bill Simmons at this news organization if he applied. Our standards are too high.

Aw, you mean the San Francisco Examiner, the country’s 58th most important newspaper, wouldn’t hire Bill? Pity. My guess is he lands at Bleacher Report and continues to grab a whole fucking shitload of eyeballs and pageviews.

Jay Mariotti is sports director and lead sports columnist at the San Francisco Examiner. He can be reached at Read his website at

Never. Never ever ever.