Friday, April 2, 2010

In response...

Some things are better left unsaid, this isn't one of those things. I'd be remiss if I failed to offer more in-depth support of my previous thesis. So, if you anger easily, are irrational and have been brainwashed to love baseball, keep reading and feel free to respond!

A good friend of mine is what I describe as a "baseball homer". One of those lifetime fans who grew up around baseball and loves it more than anything. I know right? Doesn't make sense to me either. Anyway, his fiancée decided that for April Fools Day she would tell him that one of his heroes used steroids. He bought it. No questions asked. Hook, line, sinker. He was demoralized. I love this because it serves to prove my point. And because I gained a small amount of joy from it.

If the ESPN headline tomorrow read, "Albert Pujols Admits to Steroid Use", you know who would be shocked? NO ONE! When every one of your star player's reputations can be utterly decimated overnight with no one blinking an eye in surprise, you have a problem with your sport. Sure we'd all be upset that the most recent baseball legend had fallen from grace, but would most of the nation be surprised? I know people who believe Ken Griffey Jr- the ballplayer next door, everyone's favorite guy- used steroids. They just assume ballplayer is synonymous with steroid user. The game has lost all credibility, deservedly or not. It's like someone saying that John Wayne is un-American, you just can't believe anything that person says anymore.

Here's the real point, there is a MAJOR difference between steroids and gun possession (or any of the many other off the field embarrassments that plague major league sports). Using steroids is cheating. Bringing guns to the locker room or a strip club does not give an athlete a competitive advantage over the rest of the league. Yes its a disgrace, an abomination and proves that athletes are not necessarily role models, but it isn't cheating. There is no competitive edge gained by shooting a hooker. Not that I know of. Comparing steroids to gun use is an egregious error in judgement. One affects on field performance and the other shows the pathetic character of a man. You want a solution? Make all the violators watch the Padres play the Indians, they won't want to suffer through that torture again.

The length of the season has nothing to do with how close the standings are when you finally decide to end the madness. It has everything to do with the dilution of a product that already isn't all that enticing. Halfway through last season Texas was only a game and a half behind the Angels. It's still a race, why do we have to suffer for 80 more games? Don't think I'm just bashing baseball, I also think the NBA season is way too long. 82 games? There isn't enough incentive to make all these games valuable. It's just painful. Especially when you're a Wizards and Nationals fan. I can't honestly be expected to watch JaVale McGee 70 times a season, right?

Here's another thing, the money companies invest in the NFL provides an important representation of the nation at the time. People cling to football games, they obsess over them, each one can determine the success or failure of the season or their fantasy teams. Ad revenue gained directly correlates to the value the nation places on it. You don't see companies paying $3 million dollars for a 30 second spot for a mid-season Pirates v. Nationals game do you? I'm pretty sure the only ads they play for those games are for LifeAlert and Depends.

As for the 7th Inning Stretch, this is the only break in sports that is for the fans. The athletes in the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLS, need a break at halftime, periods or quarters to rest and recover. It keeps the quality of competition on the field high at all times. Baseball involves so much inactivity that the fans are given the opportunity to stand up, stretch, yawn, and grab a hot dog. Look up any history about the 7th inning stretch it says nothing about the players. HOW DOES THIS SPORT MAKE ANY SENSE?!

You can explain OPS all you want, but it still means nothing to me. Naturally all sports keep stats and data sets on record, but baseball goes overboard. We're talking hundreds, if not thousands, of statistical categories. CATEGORIES! QB passer rating? Sure its a little absurd and doesn't give the most accurate representation of the value of a QB, but what are BABIP, BsR, DIPS, EQA, FBV, LIPS, PECOTA, PERA, PW/BFW, VORP, wOBA, Pythagorean expectation, Range Factor, and Super Linear weights doing for you? You can't justify the level of obsession baseball degenerates go to in order to justify and explain their sport. It's outlandish, preposterous, bonkers, I say!

One more thing, the luxury tax does nothing to solve the wide disparity of financial value of teams. The tax incurred if teams spend over the limit isn't distributed to smaller teams to promote competitive balance, it goes into an "Industry Growth Fund" that is used for player benefits and marketing purposes to promote baseball. The money that is provided to smaller market teams comes from the MLB's revenue sharing program which is an entirely separate entity from the luxury tax. If this bores you, try to figure out this picture while the baseball nerds read and understand the next paragraph.

Rich teams (yanks, sox, etc) already have enough dough to cover the luxury tax, making it largely ineffective. Read this: The Blue Ribbon Panel explained it this way: "It is generally agreed that the luxury tax fell short of its intended goal because the tax threshold (which was calculated as the mid-point between the fifth and six highest payroll clubs) was allowed to adjust upward in response to club behavior. The flaw in the "floating threshold" was obvious: the more the high payroll clubs spent on players, the higher the tax threshold and the less restraint on payroll escalation."

In layman's terms, teams with more money can spend more and push the luxury tax limit higher and higher effectively nullifying its purpose.

Look, baseball is a widely popular sport, people love it, I get it. All I'm doing is pointing out blatantly obvious flaws and proving to you its allure is expired like old milk. Here's an open challenge to make me appreciate baseball- take me to a game with you (your treat) and let me know what it's all about. I'm willing to change, even if baseball isn't.

And hey, at least no one took issue with my barber.


  1. check out my buddy Chad's blog on Opening Day and why he loves it-

  2. I accept your steroid argument, as a fan I stopped caring about steroid use a long time ago. The Fans, the Commisioner wanted people chasing the Babe and Maris, they promoted the hell out of Sammy and Mark even after finding out Mark used a form a performance enhancer during that season. I dont think the steroid issue in baseball is about players using them, because football players use them equally as much. Shawn Merriman was caught a couple seasons ago, missed his 4 games and still won Defensive player of the year, that wouldnt have happened if he played baseball. Fans issues with steroids is the Front Office Denying they knew it was going on, taking too long to stop usage by makeing rules, and promoting players while they knew they were using.

    Otherwise I will take you to a game once I get my tickets from work. man I wish I was at the game today.

    Good article though. Its hard to argue when you use John Wayne as an example.

  3. As for steroids in the NFL, the National Football League began testing in 1987 for banned or illegal substances. MLB started testing in 2006. Yeah, Shawn Merriman was tested and suspended for it where he lost money.

    Not only that, but the minimum suspension for the offense in the NFL is 4 games (1/4 of the season) while the suspension for MLB is 15-25 days (maybe 1/8) of the season. 4 games for some NFL players is MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. 15-25 days and a 10k fine is what A-Rod spends every time he poops.