Tuesday, August 3, 2010

By Far Bill's Worst Baseball Article Ever, Part 1

I couldn't get all the dumbassery from last week's article into one post. Just couldn't do it. In any case, I know the title of the post sounds hyperbolic (not that we use that kind of style around here, not at all, ever) but I stand by it. It's terrible in so many ways; covers so many facets of godfuckingawful; contains so much garbage that it's hard to get my mind around it. You'll see what I mean.

Before we begin, I'd just like to remind everyone what Bill taught us last post: that the MLS is less popular than AAA baseball. Sure, MLS is on TV infinity times more often, but if you want the whole story you have to look at the attendance numbers. Oh. Damn, nevermind. (If you don't want to do the division for the AAA numbers, or click on the links, the long and short of it is that MLS teams on average draw more than twice as many fans as AAA teams.)

ANYWAYS

The most prominent (and pretty much the most hilarious) way in which this article is fucking terrible is in Bill's perfect embodiment of the frontrunnerness of RED SOX NATION. The last third of the article, which I hopefully get around to before the weekend, is about how baseball games are too long. There are all kinds of ways to put fire to his analysis there and watch it burn, but it's not really homerish. Well it is and it isn't. You'll see what I mean. But most of the first two thirds of the article, covered here, consists of reasons why Bill thinks the Red Sox are "boring" this year. The real reason NESN and Boston radio ratings are down, of course, is because the Sox are buried in third place and probably won't make the playoffs. But watching Bill spend 5000 words dancing around that and instead blaming a bunch of other shit (some of which actually isn't other shit, just a half admission that he's a frontrunner) is fascinating. OK, I think the intro is sufficiently long.

On Tuesday night in Anaheim, with a teetering Red Sox season threatening to crumble, J.D. Drew saved Boston fans from another episode of "Papelbon, P.U."

/rimshot followed by 1950s style laughtrack

by walloping a timely double. The ball bounced off the right-field wall toward Bobby Abreu, who reacted to the carom like a ghost was clubbing him from behind with a two-by-four. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (Didn't we create the DH position for guys like Abreu? I'm almost positive we did.) Two runs scored, Boston's eighth-inning lead expanded to three and when the TV crew cut to the obligatory shot of Drew pumping his fist at second base ...

Oh, wait ...

I forgot. J.D. Drew never does things like that.

HOW DARE HE? Doesn't he know how to "own" a moment? Doesn't he know what the legendary Beantown faithful deserve? Clutch doubles only mean something if you celebrate afterwards.

He stood there impassively, handsome as always, looking the same way he always does, like the guy whose at-bat music should be Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." If NESN launched a game show called "Guess What J.D. Just Did?" in which contestants guessed based off his expressions -- did Drew just hit a game-saving double, take a called third strike, hit into a double play, win the lottery or find out he was going to jail? -- nobody would ever win. Really, he's the perfect player for the post-2007 Red Sox regime: someone who plays hard, looks good statistically, does everything either "pretty well" or better and leaves you cold. He used to have me screaming obscenities every time he took a called third strike in a big moment. Now I get him. There are no big moments for Drew. He approaches every game, every inning and every at-bat exactly the same. Expecting him to own that Anaheim moment just wasn't realistic.

We're off to a good start. Who the fuck cares how a player "owns" moments? Sign #1 that you're a frontrunner: your team is 15 games over .500 in early August, but you're bored by them because they don't pump fists and shout at the sky enough. You know who owns moments? That fuckstick Papelbon. And Joba Chamberlain! Now there's a guy you can get excited about.

Quite simply, he's a boring player on a boring team during a fairly boring season.

Fffffffffffffffffrontrunner.

It's the first Red Sox team without a truly compelling player since 1993 -- when we went 80-82 -- and even then, we had a young Mo Vaughn (29 homers, .915 OPS) and Roger Clemens launching his loathsome "I just got paid, I'm gonna start puttin' on weight,

I cut this joke short. You didn't miss anything.

Really, you have to go back to 1981 (pre-Wade Boggs, post-Fred Lynn, post-Carlton Fisk) for a Red Sox team with less pizzazz than the 2010 crew.

Significant losses for the Red Sox from 2009 to 2010: Jason Bay, Nick Green (significant in that he had a lot of ABs, not that he's good), and Takashi Saito. 2009 Red Sox on August 1: a half game back of the Yankees for the division crown, 2.5 games up in the Wild Card. 2010 Red Sox on August 1: 6.5 games back in the division, 5.5 games back in the Wild Card. So you do the math: either Jason Bay is the most magnificently exciting player of all time, or Bill is a complete and total fucking fffffrrrrrrrrrrrrontrunner. Oh, and as he explains later, they've also been missing Jacoby Ellsbury basically all season. But if Ellsbury and Bay are the difference between this article being written and not being written... Bill can go eat a box of taints. JD DREW WHY DON'T YOU DO A DANCE AND SHOOT OFF FIREWORKS WHEN YOU MAKE A GOOD PLAY?

On Wednesday, both Boston papers carried front-page stories about Sports Business Journal's report that NESN's Red Sox ratings had plummeted 36 percent. (The Boston Globe also reported that WEEI's ratings were down 16.5 percent, and that male listeners between the ages of 25 and 54 had dwindled by 28 percent.) One morning earlier, my father and I had been on the phone trying to make sense of SBJ's story. Neither of us was surprised, more curious. What caused it? Was there a single reason? Five reasons? Ten reasons? Was it a fluke or a sign of something more substantial?

There a single primary reason. I've already brought it up a few times. Finish it for me: you're all a bunch of ffffffffffffrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

/Larry B makes direct eye contact with you, encouraging you to say the word out loud

Let's say we assigned a percentage pie of blame for dwindling Red Sox interest in 2010. My pie would look like this:

Needs more pop culture references. Pie charts are boring. Let's get Jersey Shore or The Bachelorette worked in here somehow.

INJURIES: 10 PERCENT

[Newly acquired CF Mike] Cameron also can't hit. And he's one of those guys who looks old -- like, when you're watching him stand on second base, you make jokes like, "I wonder whether he still keeps in touch with old teammate Satchel Paige's family" and "I forget; did Cameron integrate the American League in the early '50s, or was that Larry Doby?"

And here's your obligatory mention of the fact that the Red Sox were the last team to integrate, 12 years after Jackie Robinson debuted for the Dodgers. Twelve fucking years. That's crazy. That's like if integration started the same year the McGwire/Sosa HR chase happened, and some team was just getting around to taking care of that this year.

As for Bill's substantive analysis, Ellsbury has been down all year. Pedrioa and Victor Martinez have been hurt too. On the other (sensible) hand, the Sox still have Kevin Youkilis (I always laugh when Sox fans claim he's underrated, although he isn't as overrated as you'd expect a white Red Sox player to be), David Ortiz (somehow OPSing over .900 after starting the season like 4 for 100), Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Those four guys alone would be enough to excite any rational non-frontrunning fanbase. Add in Pedroia's substantial contribution (342 PA so far) and there's really no leg for Bill to stand on here.

FRONT-OFFICE PARALYSIS/INADEQUACIES: 5 PERCENT

A few days ago, the following rant appeared on the Boston Dirt Dogs site:

" ... can't believe the front office just fiddled this summer while Rome burned and we flushed an entire season and $150M down the toilet by thinking we could tread water with Bill Hall playing second and Kevin Cash catching and David Ortiz batting third against lefties and J.D. Drew playing every day against lefties and Eric Patterson and Daniel Nava and Dusty Brown, et al. It was so [expletive] obvious when the Laser Show and V-Mart got hurt that we had to go get a real bat, Jason Werth level, who would still start when we got healthy, but instead we did [expletive] nothing and buried ourselves. It was like we had no front office, the Jack Hannahan blockbuster notwithstanding." -- An understandably apoplectic Kevin H. on the lost season

Awwwww. Poor guy. His team didn't go pick up an all-star caliber hitter at the trade deadline when the few that were available would have cost way more than their value. THEO YOU BUM YOU LET US DOWN WE WILL NEVER FORGIVE YOU UNLESS WE MAKE THE PLAYOFFS AGAIN THIS YEAR FOR THE 7TH TIME IN THE LAST 8 SEASONS

My friend Daniel recognized the venom immediately: It sounded just like our crazy friend Hench, who had been griping about Theo Epstein in our e-mail circle for the past few weeks. Daniel e-mailed us the rant with the subject heading "Hench, is this you?"

Yup. It was Hench.

Who. Gives. A. Fuck.

I couldn't disagree. Team Theo's lack of urgency as the injuries mounted was appalling -- on July 3, after the Pedroia/Martinez double whammy, we were still a half-game behind New York and 1½ games ahead of Tampa

And we had an exciting team! Now that we're 5+ games back, they're just not exciting anymore. You know what's exciting though- playing with the ESPN NBA trade machine. Hoooo boy. THE NETS SHOULD SWAP THEIR ENTIRE ROSTER WITH THE CLIPPERS. WHO SAYS NO? WHICH GM HANGS UP THE PHONE FIRST?

At the same time, you can blame Epstein (and Boston's owners) for ignoring a simple law of entertainment these past two seasons: Just like you can't open a blockbuster movie without a star, you can't expect a nine-figure baseball team to capture the daily imagination of a big market without a player who passes the Remote Control Test (when you don't flip channels because you know Player X is coming up) or the We Can't Go Get Food Yet Test (when you don't make a food/drink run at a game because Player X is coming up) or even the Every Five Nights, I Know What I'm Doing Test (when you have a transcendent pitcher who keeps you in front of the television every five days).

I like Pedroia. I like Kevin Youkilis. Clay Buchholz has been a revelation this year. I really, really like Lester, my favorite current player (and someone quietly enjoying a monster season) mainly for everything he's been through. But none of them passes the above tests. I went to a Philly-Boston game in June in which we shelled Jamie Moyer for something like 30 runs in the first two innings. Philly pulled Ryan Howard in the third. We were crushed. Dammit! We only got to see Howard hit once! The 2010 Red Sox don't have a pitcher or hitter who generates that reaction. It's true.

So I guess either Bay, Ellsbury, or some combination of them passes all those tests. And geez, I had forgotten that the Red Sox and Phillies played a series against each other in Philadelphia. How much asshole can you cram into one stadium at one time? I'd hate to have been a security guard at Citizens Bank Park for that one. Oof.

THE HANGOVER: 15 PERCENT

It's been the elephant in the room for three years. Do I care as much as I did? I think about this question constantly. The short answer? No. It can't mean as much. It will never mean as much.

I'm fine with this. It's OK to say that your team's first championship in nearly 100 years was super special and meant more than any other one in the future could.

Before 2004, rooting for the Red Sox wasn't about just sports. It was about mortality. It was about a ticking clock that only we could hear. It was about exchanges like this:

"Jimmy's dad died last weekend."
"That's terrible! How old was he?"
"Sixty-five."

... and how you'd immediately add 1918 plus 65 and realize, "Crap."

I'm not fine with this. If you or anyone you know did/does this, you are an asshole. Stop watching sports immediately and go throw yourself off a building.

With that said ... it's not life or death. Which opens the door for fickle TV ratings and everything else.

Fffffffffffffffrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

This reminds me of the time Bill claimed that Celtics fans (pre-2008 championship) were suffering more than Clippers fans, because it's harder to be a fan of a team with a great history of winning that's in a slump than be a fan of a team with no history of winning at all. You hear that, Browns fans? YOUR FANDOM IS LESS TORTURED THAN COWBOYS FANDOM.

(Interesting side note: In just the past decade, five franchises lost life-or-death status.

Interesting fact: Bill makes up categories like this and presents them as universally agreed upon six times per column.

Boston in 2004. The White Sox in 2005. St. Louis in 2006.

That's fucking ridiculous. Their last win before 2006 was 24 years earlier.

Philly in 2008.

And 28 years. Let's throw the Marlins in 2003 on here, why not.

And really, the Yankees in 2009 -- since every Yankees fan was secretly having a heart attack about the fact that they were 0-for-the-century, the Red Sox/Yankees dynamic had flipped and A-Rod had become the Reverse Curse of the Bambino, so we have to count them.

You're the stupidest person ever born.

That leaves San Francisco and the Cubs as the last remaining big-market, life-or-death teams with that "Jimmy's dad" factor, although you certainly can count Cleveland, Houston and Milwaukee as well, and maybe even Seattle, San Diego and Texas if you're feeling magnanimous.)

A World Series win by any of those teams would mean 50 times as much to their fans than Philly's 2008 win or Saint Louis's 2006 win did. It would mean 500 times as much to their fans as New York's 2009 win. FIVE OF THE EIGHT TEAMS YOU JUST NAMED HAVE NEVER WON THE WORLD SERIES. ANOTHER IS ON A 102 YEAR DROUGHT.

THE BANDWAGON EFFECT: 5 PERCENT

Look, I don't want to be Grumpy Old Man. I really don't. But I probably attended 100 Fenway games just from 1998 to 2002; the level of baseball sophistication in the stands was unparalleled.

Unparalleled relative to Bill's experiences in other ballparks, which probably adds up to a handful of games in Yankee Stadium and this one time he went to Philly and saw the Sox beat the hell out of Jamie Moyer. Hilarity always ensues when he starts talking about Boston crowds. Always.

We worked with Pedro like Frick and Frack. He did his job (rolling through lineups); we did ours (standing every time he got two strikes on someone, doing the steady clap to get him fired up, cheering him like a Roman gladiator). That's gone now.

WE CLAP FOR OUR PLAYERS! IN RHYTHM WITH ONE ANOTHER! LET'S SEE YOU PULL THAT OFF!

THE STEROID ERA HANGOVER: 5 PERCENT

Gag me.

The best thing about baseball? How 120 years and six generations intersected. Now our little statistical compass has been shattered like a beer bottle. For the past week, every media outlet has tried to talk us into A-Rod's 600th homer -- as if the moment means something, because, after all, just six other people have done it! -- only the nation's collective indifference was telling.

As I've perceived it, people are no less excited for it than they were for Ken Griffey Junior's 600th in 2008. And he's insulated from steroids in the minds of most. So really, what this point amounts to is Bill admitting that he's not really that into baseball this year. Probably because the Red Sox are buried in third and he's a ffffffffffrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

(I tweeted sarcastically Friday, "I'm on pins and steroid needles!")

Congratulations! You turned a phrase!

THE DECLINE OF BASEBALL IN GENERAL: 5 PERCENT

This is where it gets really, really, really, really stupid. And it's also where I go to bed. Join me next time, as Bill comes to the conclusion that the state of the economy overall has no bearing on baseball ticket sales! And that when a team starts sucking ass on the field ten years after opening a new stadium, and then their attendance drops, that's because fans got bored with the stadium!

18 comments:

Elliot said...

I didn't think I could hate Red Sox fans any more, but there you go.

Venezuelan Beaver Cheese said...

Why doesn't this idiot know that Larry Doby integrated the American League in 1947, the same year as Jackie Robinson, not "the early '50s"? I thought Boston's fans were the most knowledgeable in the game?

rich said...

Before 2004, rooting for the Red Sox wasn't about just sports.

Here's my overwhelming problem with his article. If every year after 2004 wasn't the same (and it probably wouldn't), the article is supposed to "explain" why people don't give a shit about the 2010 Red Sox.

This isn't some random event that just happened in the off-season to hurt ratings. So basically Bill writes a thesis and then goes on to talk about shit that has nothing to do with it. Either that or I'm really supposed to believe that magically in the off-season Boston fans got together and said "fuck it, you know what, it's just not the same as it was in 2004, screw it I'm not watching."

A World Series win by any of those teams would mean 50 times as much to their fans than Philly's 2008 win

This is debateable. Milwaukee fans are also probably Packers fans. Cubs fans are also probably Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks fans, Houston fans are probably Rockets fans; etc.

I was 22 years old when I watched my first championship (Phillies). Not my first World Series championship, my first championship ever. That's a lot different than say Cubs fans who had to "suffer" through the Bulls six championships in the mid-90s or Astros fans who had the Rockets.

I also don't give a fuck that a team hasn't won in 100 years. Unless you're 100 years old, it doesn't matter, you didn't start suffering until you actually were old enough to follow the sport. So Cubs fans who are 20 years old have not suffered more than me. They've actually suffered less. They also have the benefit of seven (eight if you include the Sox) fucking championships in the city.

THE BANDWAGON EFFECT: 5 PERCENT

First of all, this should be 100%. The Red Sox were what, 12 games over when this article was written? If your fanbase treats you like you're the Royals and you're 12 games over, those are some dumbass fans. 2009: Boston makes playoffs and the team is exciting. 2010: Essentially the same team is over 5 games out of the playoffs: BORING.

Second, in an article where Bill bitches about how boring the Red Sox are he talks about bandwagon fans? No one who reads his shit before it gets published had the idea to punch him in the face and tell him how hypocritical that sounds?

"Ya, you asshole bandwagon fans and your fickle loyalty!"

"Holy crap I think the Red Sox are boring and suck ass because they didn't go out and replace Victor Martinez when he got hurt."

Honestly, the next Yankees - Red Sox game where Joe Buck, Joe Morgan and Simmons are present I'm rooting for a god damn natural disaster.

Larry B said...

Rich- Agree to disagree re: your point about fans from certain teams having other regional success stories to get behind even when the baseball team fails. I respect what it must be like to be an Eagles/Sixers/Flyers fan and all, but as an anecdotal counterexample, I grew up around Denver and root for all Denver teams. The Rockies are my favorite, and I'd kill someone to get them a WS. Sure, the Broncos won those back to back Super Bowls when I was in middle school. And the Avalanche did something cool at some point. But that didn't make me feel any better when the last out of the 2007 World Series was recorded. I wasn't saying to myself "Hey, good run guys! And I'll always have those Broncos Super Bowls to keep me warm at night!" All I could think, and still think to this day, was "We were so close... is that ever going to happen again?" In short I think fans play favorites among their teams from different sports to an extent that even Cubs/Bulls fans would have way more to be excited about if the Cubs won the WS than Phillies fans did in 2008. But what do I know- I'm just a moron without any press credentials who's never played a single game of baseball in his life.

PS: I mean this as respectfully as possible, but fuck the Phillies and fuck Charlie Manuel in particular.

Angelo said...

remember when I said I didn't mind the mailbags? This article shows why Simmons is possibly the most intolerable sportswriter out there. It's not like they're even that far out of the playoffs. They could easily make it and they obviously still have a solid team. Yet Red Sox Nation (read: the best fans in the history of sports) can't get behind them and Bill gets to bitch about it.

Dylan Murphy said...

I'm a Yankee fan, so I'm in no place to talk about suffering or losing. I was lucky to be born here and have such successful sports franchises. That said, I know where Bill is coming from. It's annoying when you're used to a winner and they don't win. But that's all it is. Annoying. It's not like he's suffering. And no baseball season is boring for the Sox, because they're always in contention. He has absolutely nothing to complain about.

rich said...

Dylan,

The problem is that Bill isn't used to a winner. He's seen the team win twice in his life, so his expectation that they should be blazing trails through the AL East is absurd. This years Phillies team hasn't been all that exciting (thanks for trotting out Brad Lidge's corpse Charlie), but the ratings are still up (way up).

Bill waited 30 someodd years for a WS and now three years removed from the second is bored by the team?

LarryB,

I completely agree with everything you wrote. The Flyers are by far my favorite team and I would've personally killed every Chicago Cubs fan with a USB flash drive to take away Kane's limp wristed, ass nugget of a shot.

That said, while I was pretty inconsolable for about a week, the fact that I had seen the Phillies championship helped me out. Having had the opportunity to watch the Sixers, Phillies and Flyers get absolutely embarrassed in the finals (Eagles weren't embarrassed), the Phillies making the WS actually depressed me. It's okay when the team chokes and no one watches it. It's another when everyone watches the team blow it on the biggest stage.

I was beyond disappointed when they lost, but having the Phillies' WS to go back to and say "Oh ya, it's possible for Philly teams to not completely suck ass in the big games" was reassuring to me.

Then again my last three comments on here are probably enough to get me committed into an institution, so take my ramblings with a grain of salt.

Chris W said...

Here's the bottom line:

There's nothing wrong with being a frontrunner. Sports aren't intended to make you feel shitty, and it's natural that when your team is shitty that you don't want to watch them be shitty. However:

1.) The Red Sox aren't shitty this year

2.) Bill Simmons is petrified about being a frontrunner so he makes this horseshit argument about how him being less interested in his "shitty" team proves something about baseball, not about him and his team

What a cockgobbler. Is there a bigger pile of fooferah in the world than this column? I think...not.

Anonymous said...

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Anonymous said...

Everything being equal (meaning Jemele Hill can't really count as a sportswriter for the crap she ALWAYS produces)......This might be the worst sports article I have ever read in my entire life. I read this article before Larry B talked about covering it...thank you for doing so....calling it garbage is still waayyy too much of a compliment.

Anonymous said...

As a life long Boston sports fan and Mass resident. I loathe Simmons with a passion. I HATE the fact people associate him with us. He embodies every negative stereotype about Boston fans. Hell he doesn't just embody it he embraces it. Not dealing a good prospect for a washed up reliever and not paying through the nose for Werth was the right move. This town has been spoiled latley. Oh well I guess the good news is the bandwagoners will leave and I can enjoy my teams again

Anonymous said...

u r all just jelous of bill becuz he is so funny and smart and living the lyfe u wish u had. Larry B is a hack. This is so obvsly a ripoff of that othar site which was so much better and funnier and they loved Simmons so it just shows

Anonymous said...

Apparently Bill's son is learning how to type now. Another thing I love about Simmon's apologists is their ridiculous come-back of the fact that we don't have to read his material.....do they not realize the stuff that is incredibly terrible is almost as mesmerizing as the stuff the is very well done? Like Dan Uggla's All-Star game performance a while back....you can't look away as much as you'd like too.

rich said...

Ur rite I is jelous becuz bill is so funny and smart and living the lyfe I wish I has.

It is two bad dat eyes have to wark on my disserection (Ima be a doctar!) instide of riting about movies and da CEO, he so demandin! Is also two bad dat I knot seen Victry yet. Bill says it is very goods movie, I belives him. Bill all-nowing.

He is soo goods at riting dat noes mater watz I never be az goodz as him. My frind H sayz that Bill iz best sportzwriter on internetz and he is from boston.

Venezuelan Beaver Cheese said...

This comment section is starting to remind me of an lolcat caption.

Adam said...

I would like Bill to tell me who the "transcendent" player is for the Yankees, Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers that is capturing the imagination of those big market teams?

Winning is the only thing needed to capture the imagination of fans. You are exactly right. The Red Sox are not going to the playoffs this year so Bill is not interested.

He should just end the facade that he knows or cares anything about baseball. The whole thing about the decline of baseball is totally ignorant of the rest of the league. Bill is one of those guys during the 2007 NLCS who was saying "They have baseball teams in Colorado and Arizona????".

Cs said...

"I had forgotten that the Red Sox and Phillies played a series against each other in Philadelphia. How much asshole can you cram into one stadium at one time?"

Ha very good

Cs said...

The Red Sox are back baby!!