Like Barry Bonds, Baseball Widow hasn't retired; she's just not playing.
Enjoy the archives. . .

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Anger Management

I don't understand the dialogue surrounding yesterday's ejection and today's suspension of Milton Bradley for his tantrum on the field. Especially in relation to the suspension of Jose Guillen. Both men are sitting out the rest of the season for their respective (if not respectable) outbursts.

But the judgment of how these two incidents relate is baffling to me. Joe Morgan, who I regard highly for his athletic ability and not for his intellect, has just said (on the ESPN coverage of SF v. SD) that what Bradley did is terribly worse than Guillen's gaffe. In fact, he doesn't believe it is fair to punish the other Angel's players by suspending Guillen.

To me it is just the other way around. Guillen publicly called out his manager for an in-game decision, jeopadizing Scioscia's credibility with the team. Bradley on the other hand reacted (albeit poorly) to being assaulted by a fan with a bottle. The difference, it seems to me, is the players' relationship to the antagonist and the setting. Let's compare these situations to a typical workplace (think Office Space). In Guillen's case, you have a guy attacking his boss for telling him to do something he doesn't want to do. Bradley's outburst is the equivalent of someone (not a co-worker or your boss) coming to your place of work and throwing something at you. If it were you at your job, which do you think would be treated more severely?

Am I wrong? Am I the only one that thinks there's a difference between blowing up at being attacked and throwing a chair at a fan?

Bradley's actions aren't commendable, but shouldn't most of the blame be shouldered by the jerk that threw the bottle? We don't patronize baseball teams so that we can say anything to or throw anything at the players on the field. Even though they have what seems to us to be the best job in the world, this is no excuse to be able to treat them like animals at the zoo. In fact, we often treat them worse than that -- would you throw a bottle at a lion and say something nasty about it's mother? No, and I'd think twice about doing it to Milton Bradley if I were you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Weighing in on MVP

Just watched a mini-debate about the MVP voting on a Braves Fox South broadcast. They had singled out Bonds, Pujols and Beltre as the top contenders. The consensus was this: it's hard not to vote for Bonds (he's great ya know), but look at Beltre's numbers!

To this end they put up the primary numbers for each player. The three primary stats they picked were HR, RBI and Avg. And, yes, looking at just these I might vote for Beltre too. Here they are: Beltre HR - 47 RBI - 115 Avg - .341 Bonds HR - 43 RBI - 98 Ave - .369

But of course this doesn't even tell us half of the story. Bonds has way more Runs Created than Beltre (172 to 129) and his OPS is head and shoulders above everyone in the league (1.428 to the next closest 1.109). But, his critics insist, Bonds isn't much of a fielder anymore, and Beltre plays a mean third base. And that's as far as the discussion gets because there's little knowledge of the good defensive stats in the mainstream media, not even Win Shares which is designed to be a simple reference number (if not simple to calculate). Lots of people are doing good work with this great statistical approach to a player's total value.

And what does Win Shares think of the MVP debate? Bonds should win in a landslide, with 49. Rolen is closest with 12 less and Beltre is 8th in the league with 18 fewer Win Shares than Bonds despite his great defense.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Baseball Widow is disgusted about this. . . Braves' Furcal arrested on DUI charge

Suffice it to say that if he weren't innocent until proven guilty, Furky would be getting raked over the fiery hot coals reserved for the specific subset of creeps who drive drunk.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Root, Root, Root Against the Home Team

I ran across a post on Will Carroll's blog at all-baseball that's had me in a philosophical quandary the last few days. The post (by scottlong, not Carroll) is from the 6th, and it starts like this, "Winning the 2004 election might not be the best thing [for the Democrats] in the long run." The gist is this: if Bush wins a second term, he'll screw the country up so much that everyone will realize that Democrats are right and right wingers will be revealed for the villains they actually are.

Now, whether or not this is true, it's had me wondering: is it ever right to hope your team loses? I'm considering this from a strictly moral standpoint because I regard baseball fan-dom in the same moral realm as other important things, like politics. In both, there are things (teams or principles) to which a person must remain true. In short, I believe in the Braves the same way I believe in freedom of speech. Sound extreme? You just aren't a good enough baseball fan, but that's another post.

So, is it morally right to hope my team loses? Off the top of my head I can think of a couple of reasons one might hope for a losing game or even season. First, at this time of year with the postseason matchups hinging on won-loss records I could understand hoping for a loss to get a more favorable first round matchup. For example, I think the braves would rather face the Dodgers than the Cubs in the first round, so when the Braves faced the Giants (the Cubs' competition in the wildcard) a loss would better their postseason options. That's pragmatic, and I can understand the logic, but I'm still not sure I could bring myself to hope for failure for my club, even for a game.

So, what about a season? This is actually something I've considered before, and I'll use my Braves again as an example. People are always talking about how indifferent the fans of the Braves are (I guess they're talking about the other fans). Well, I've often thought that a losing season or two might snap Atlanta fans out of this. Victory is so much sweeter after defeat, as Braves fans who remember the 80s know, and as Cubs and Red Sox fans fantasize about.

And I'm sure there are other reasons, but that's not the point. The question hasn't been answered, is it right to root against your team (in politics, baseball or whatever)? And here's my answer: no. The point of baseball is winning, that's why fans cheer and players hustle. Hoping for failure even in one game or one at bat just isn't right. And I think it's wrong in the world of politics too. People have strong opinions about politics and policy because they think they're right. Have a strong opinion about the war in Iraq? I bet it's because you care about things improving, about doing the right thing whatever you think that is. Hoping (as scottlong does) that your side loses is tantamount to hoping that the wrong thing happens. Here's another quote: "I expect the economy to continue to falter and the war in Iraq will become more of a quagmire. The American people will wake up to what right-wingers have done to it." So are we hoping for people to lose their jobs? Are we hoping for quagmire? This is like saying that Vietnam was great because it motivated political activism, or that another terrorist attack would vindicate the president's war in Iraq.

Hoping for failure just rubs me the wrong way, even though I must admit to it myself. In the last presidential election, faced with Bush, Gore and Nader, I chose to write in for a different candidate. Why? I knew that my write-in wouldn't win, so essentially I was hoping for failure. And thinking back, I know why: I didn't want any responsibility for the winner. I wanted to be able to complain about whoever was elected.

I wanted to lose because I was afraid of winning.