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.


Alex said...

Two in a row. Break out the Aperol.

"Fans don't make serious judgments."

Because we know journalists always do.

Jesus me all that sentence is missing is to be wrapped in bacon to give the misplaced smugness more (Lazy Maple) flavor.

Biggus Rickus said...

The maddening thing about sports journalists, at least the old school kind, is that they actually view themselves as experts in some field. I'm not even sure they can be considered authoritative in the field of journalism, let alone on a sport or a group of sports.

Alex said...

They have to act that way to distinguish and disassociate themselves from...BLOGGERS! Ask Michael Wilbon.

Just because you're a sports journalist (and I use the term loosely as well because let's be honest, investigative sports journalism is a waning, if not lost, art - see MLB Steroids Scandal. They're more worried about protecting their access (and I can appreciate this up to a point) than anything) doesn't mean you can write better and have stronger analysis and critical skills than a blogger or freelance writer. Yet that's exactly how they act. The line between the two, in my view and I could be wrong but probably not, is paper thin. For every writer in the press there are literally thousands of shmos who love sports that can step in and do their jobs.

For what it's worth, I've seen many outstanding sports commentary on blogs over the years.

dan-bob said...

I wonder how much that's affecting the sportswriters' market. I suspect that bloggers have increased the market and audience for good sportswriting, but have also taken quite a bit of market share from the old pros.

I get almost all the sports news I care about from a couple of good blogs, and I think the quality of blogs that deliver regular high quality content is much much higher now than it was when this blog began back in 2007. Which is probably one reason why I don't post here as often as I used to. I have to go farther out of my way to find terrible stuff.

Alex said...

In general, I hear more terrible stuff on the radio than I read on website.