strawmanargument

So last night I wrote about the Jays and their tumble out of sole possession of first place in the AL East… and into a tie with the Orioles for first place in the AL East. The response to it so far probably hasn’t been what you would expect if you only looked at my too-frequent haranguing of shitty negative people and little else on this site or Twitter. Most people around here get it! They don’t need or want any of that type of hand-holding through things that they already know.

But does that mean I’m fighting some phony battle with straw men, like I’m occasionally accused of? I don’t think so. Not only are commenters here just a small fraction of a readership that itself represents just small fraction of the entirety of Jays fandom, but it’s not like we have to go far to find the kind of infuriating sentiments. Not even as far as the TSN.ca comments, or the ones on BlueJays.com, or Twitter.

I don’t say that merely to excuse my beating on this dead horse, but just to point out that straw men aren’t straw men at all. This conversation exists. These people exist. Most of us know a whole lot of them outside of the online realm, frankly — and, as such, are probably a whole lot more polite with them than things tend to get around here — and my stance is that I see value in combating such attitudes, elucidating reasons why what those people are saying is ridiculous, and… y’know… making sure they know that we know that they’re shitheads.

I don’t know. I guess all of this is just a long way of saying, “Here’s some dumb stuff that was actually written in response to the previous post, by people who really do exist, and why it’s dumb.” So… here it is…

bionic bird says:

whats the difference between this year and last. Last year they won 11 in a row and then played .400 ball the rest of the way. This year 9 in a row and now .360 ball so far with a supposedly better team. They tease us every year. The offense has been mia for a month. Its all home runs or nothing. I just dont see anything changing

To wonder what the difference is is to show that one is simply not paying attention. The Jays were 38-36 last year when the eleven game streak ended on June 23rd. Yes, they played .409 baseball the rest of the way, but… the difference? Let’s look at the difference. Between that date and the end of the season the Jays were without the following pieces: three-fifths of their rotation missed significant time (Brandon Morrow’s season was already over, Josh Johnson’s last action came August 9th, J.A. Happ wouldn’t be back for nearly six weeks), Jose Bautista would miss the final six weeks of the season, Sergio Santos was still five weeks away from returning, Colby Rasmus would miss a month, Steve Delabar would miss a month, Brett Cecil would pitch just one inning over the season’s final month, Brett Lawrie would miss three weeks, Edwin Encarnacion would miss the season’s final two weeks. More difference? J.P. Arencibia played regularly through that whole time as one of the worst offensive players in a hundred years. Melky Cabrera played with a tumour on his spine and was a shell of the player he’s been this year (until he was shut down for the last two months of the year). The club didn’t have a Drew Hutchison or a Marcus Stroman to step in when Morrow and Johnson faltered. Esmil Rogers made 20 starts for the 2013 Jays. Todd Redmond made fourteen. Morrow and Johnson (ERAs of 5.63 and 6.20 respectively) started 26 combined. Ramon Ortiz and Chien-Ming Wang combined to start ten. Seven more went to Chad Jenkins, Ricky Romero, Aaron Laffey, and Sean Nolin.

What’s the difference? Are you BLIND??? You’d have to be to imply that the club that played .400 baseball over that span has anything to do with what the Jays are now.

And all home runs or nothing? The Jays have hit 113 home runs. They’ve scored 404 runs. It’s a big part of their offence, yes, but all or nothing? And you don’t see anything changing? What a sack of utter horseshit. Does it even have to? Counting backwards from last night, here are the Jays’ runs scored over the last fifteen games: 1, 7, 4, 0, 3, 4, 7, 3, 7, 8, 3, 1, 14, 4, 3. That’s 4.6 runs per game, which is exactly what the fifth-best run-scoring team in baseball has produced this season. That team? The Toronto Blue Jays. No, they can’t keep running lineups out there like the one they’ll go with tonight, but — newsflash! — they won’t.

phoenix says:

Agree. A team of individually talented players who appear to be repeating a pattern of failure. While Stoeten will scoff, teams do have a certain character or atmosphere surrounding them, something that is impossible to define but goes beyond the sum of their individual stats. This team feels like a scrappy sub .500 team. Much like their manager.

The only reason I will scoff, phoenix, is because that’s fucking stupid. First off, those apparitions are the product of imagination — and not just “the collective imagination,” as I almost wrote. Though such tropes sometimes can be overtaken by lazy narrative crutches used by the media and fans and become part of the broader discussion, so much of this is totally individual — I bet there are hardly any fans who will agree with you that this feels like a “scrappy sub .500 team” (because that’s seriously, seriously stupid, FYI) — or at the very least so subjective that pretending that it’s something you can know is amazingly laughable. Last year, was John Farrell a returning hero taming a bunch of bearded baseball wildmen and leading them back to their rightful glory, or was he a fuckface traitor falling ass-backwards into an otherworldly closer he was able to ride to a title with a little help from his annoying beardo-dickholes? And what is he this year?

When it comes to this nonsense people see what they want to see, or they see what it’s easiest to pretend is real. So why it is that you want to see things this way is probably a question you should be asking yourself. But might I submit that it’s because you fear getting emotionally invested in this team only to eventually find yourself hurt by them. I think we all can relate to a fear like that, but for fuck sakes, suck it up and enjoy life while something great is right in front of your face. And if you can’t bring yourself to do even that, at least don’t pretend your whatever nonsense you’ve invented is real and worthy of anyone’s attention. It isn’t.

DL says:

See: Maple Leafs, Toronto.

A culture of collapsing seems to stick to teams in this town.

I hope this one isn’t serious, because it’s obviously absurd. And that’s not only for the tinfoil-hatted idea that what one team in any particular city does has anything to do, karmically or whatever, with another (which, of course, is hilarious), but also because anybody even remotely half-serious about the Leafs this year (i.e. anyone who knows enough to laugh at Steve Simmons) knew that that it wasn’t so much a collapse as it was the fact that they simply weren’t ever very good shining through in the end. That’s how it works over a long season, and that’s why the Jays should be right in the thick of it over what should be a tremendously fun summer for those of us who understand the difference between reasonable concern like, “Hey, they could really use some infield help because the roster is thin there,” and someone venting utter nonsense as they bray, “This team feels like a scrappy sub .500 team. Much like their manager.”

Again, though, I must stress that these voices are in the minority. It’s just… seriously?!??!

This is much, much, better:

Interbreeuw Duvel says:

Holy negative suckholes batman! So these are the guys Stoeten is ranting about. Little wonder! Look, the team is flawed, ownership is flawed – whatever. The Jays don’t need a perfect team or perfect ownership – they just need a better team than the O’s, Yankees and Rays. Whether they have that or not is undecided. Which is great because it makes watching the games all the more exciting and interesting. I’m with Mr. Hankey (and not just because he’s good at cleaning vomit stains). I like the team, they’re fun to watch and there’s room for improvement. I’m just delighted we’ve got a hell of a lot of baseball that matters to play for the rest of the season.

Perfectly said. GO JAYS!

Comments (53)

  1. Seriously? A post to give voice to the absurd in an attempt to justify berating the absurd?

    This is just weird.

  2. ya that last comment sums it up pretty good…

    This season has been crazy so far. If you’ve been whining about meaningless games for the last 20 years, why would you want the team to run away with the division with 3 months to go? Do you even enjoy baseball, or do you just demand you live in a city with a winning team?

    You’re going to get meaningful games for the rest of the season. Every one of em. And they’re going to lose a lot of them. Don’t ask for it if you’re too fragile to handle it.

  3. Saw someone on the twitter today talking about how the Jays won’t win, because they haven’t the last 20 years, and therefore don’t know how.

    Man, if only Bautista and Lawrie could have gotten the 1998 Jays over the hump.

  4. None of these people are invited to the parade.

  5. I for one appreciate the reality checks provided here. It’s easy to get lost in the highs and lows of a baseball season even if you know better.

    • Agree, especially since those reality checks aren’t of the “THIS TEAM CANT BUNT NOBODY TAUGHT THEM GET OFF MY LAWN” variety of Zaunie and his ilk.

      Oh god, if I hear that Lind should hit against lefties one more time…

      • Show zaun his wrc+ vs lefties

        • or because he’s old school, show him Lind’s lifetime BA against lefties

          • Or show him that video of Gose’ walk off bunt? I’ve never seen a boxer win a fight solely with uppercuts but I have seen many boxers win with an uppercut. Same goes for bunting.

        • That’s the problem with guys like Zaun, though; he just doesn’t care what the stats say unless they support what he already believes. You could show him the splits (advanced, basic, anything) and he’ll respond with “Lind’s a good hitter so he should be in the lineup everyday!” and then he’ll show you Lind’s overall line as proof that he’s really good, all the while ignoring the fact that that line is only that good because he doesn’t face lefties and discounting all the stats that are actually relevant to the discussion because they don’t back up his opinion.

        • Thank goodness I don’t have a twitter and left bluejays.com so I don’t have to be as exposed to the uneducated masses. Also, I can cuss here in peace. Fuck yeah!

          Seriously, if the team collapses all the time, or you just know something is up with this team and they won’t win anything, why are you watching and commenting?

          It’s because you’re a Jays fan, a baseball fan, a sports fan. No one has a fucking clue what will happen, that is why they play, and that is why we watch.

          Maybe people need to temper their expectations during both the highs and the lows, and realize anything can happen.

      • One wonders if the fans that see this team as fatally flawed watch or even follow baseball aside from the jays .

        If they did, and actually paid attention, they’d realize that every team , even contending teams , have their tollesons, Francisco’s , happs

        We just think our guys are worse because we know them so well .

        In fact Andrew , it might be interesting to post an article that highlights exactly that. .. Team by team breakdown of other contenders black holes .

        It might actually have an effect on the suck holes

        • This is a good point. There are definitely weaknesses elsewhere. The Orioles have one pitcher on their roster with an ERA under four, and Wieters is done. Sabathia now done for the year for the Yankees and their decrepit roster. It’s all still right there for the taking for us.

          • O’s also have no 2nd baseman I believe. And their first baseman is approach the mendoza line. Don’t think they have a left fielder either? Might be wrong on that one.

            • Yankees early season hero solarte is back in the minors

              Do the orioles really think Steve pierce is this good ?

              Rays offense sucks

              Boston has Jackie Rogers junior and actually play Ross at catcher

              Goes on and on

              Detroit is weak up the middle

              Oakland plays sogaard

  6. slow clap

  7. I had this industrial arts teacher in Grade 9 who would stand in front of the class and rant incessantly about the behaviour of a handful of the students, leaving the rest of us to wonder why the hell we had to sit and endure these diatribes when we hadn’t done anything wrong. God, he was an asshole.

    • That would indeed suck if someone was forcing you to listen.

    • That analogy doesn’t work. As a grade 9 student, you were required to be there.

      This is more like that time you were walking down the street and stopped to talk to a guy who was handing out free beer, then when he complained about the group of people across the street yelling at him, you broke down in tears and ran away yelling “It’s not my fault!”

  8. Unfortunately the Internet has taught me that the world is chalk full of morons and dicks. I understand the need to respond to all the idiots – but I get tired of it as well. Mostly I tune out these posts. Easy for me to say I guess because I’m not on the front lines having my twitter feed bombarded with the trash. I’m no fan of Wilner, but I my mind would melt if I had to deal with the questions/comments he gamely fields every damn day.

  9. Love seeing this stuff. I feel myself replying on TSN and Sportsnet trying to prove some of the insane proclamations wrong but its just so tiring. Nice to watch someone else to do it and hilariously.

  10. I wish I could find it now, but I read a study in Poli Sci last year that when people are entrenched in their opinions (in that case it was gun control or evolution/creationism), that they become further entrenched and more defensive the more statistics and true evidence is presented to contradict them.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/

    Not the exact study, but a Boston globe article talking about it. Cheers to the never ending cycle of negative shitholes. And Go Jays, I’ve never seen a Jays team even tied for 1st this deep until now, this is awesome however it turns out.

    • Why rely on evidence when you can just “trust your gut”

      Has that ever gone wrong ?

    • That’s pretty interesting. It makes me want to give up on every baseball argument I’ve ever had. I mean… I’m not going to… but it’s tempting.

  11. To repeat a reply to bionic bird… if those folks can’t see the difference, feel free to become a fan of another team as we’ve got enough nattering nabobs of negativism.

    Kudos on this thread – there really is a significant difference between the winning streaks of last year’s and this year’s. I still have faith in this year’s team — and I’m going to remain a fan of this team, regardless of how they do the rest of the year; that’s what real fans do.

  12. I like baseball. it is fun.

  13. Please do something like this for the comments that were blocked on the season opener game threat shit show vs the Rays. Please tell me those comments are not lost forever? Open up the flood gates! Let us read the insanity!

  14. I’m a financial advisor and in my field “negative suckholes” are generally called “Bear Brains”. People who’s brains are wired to think negatively about the market and economy despite hundreds of years of spectacular growth as evidence to the contrary .

    On the other hand we have “Bull Brains” too. People who are constantly optimistic about the economic situation despite overwhelmingly negative economic data.

    Key is to recognize which one you are (everybody leans to one side or the other) and bias your opinions against your natural tendencies. I’m a bull brain with the economy and the Jays, so I try to pay more attention to the bad news than the good. Bias my decisions and opinions towards negative outcomes a bit because I psychologically lean too far to the positive.

    It’s exhausting to try and change someones wiring from Bear to Bull or vice versa and rarely does it do any good.

  15. Doesn’t all this seem like too many us want the certainty of the team either collapsing into garbage or running away with the division? We’re a competetitive team; we’ll win a bunch and we’ll lose a bunch. Isn’t this what we’ve wanted for oh-so-long? Have we all forgotten how to simply root for the team without any guarantees?

    Cheer for the team. Be sad or angry when they lose. But come back and hope they win the next one!

  16. Not gonna lie – ownership makes it hard for me to just sit back and enjoy the ride…obviously I’ll do my best anyways and go to a million games and spend millions on beer like a good little bitch…eventually I will get tired of it and leave tho
    /coolstorybro

  17. I can’t wait until the post where you rant against Bigfoot sympathizers (they exist); holocaust deniers (yep, they are out there); Obama birth certificate complainers (uh-huh) and then tell us that, yes Virginia, there really is a Santa…er Straw Man

  18. Straw men have no substance either – it isn’t just about creating a false argument.

  19. huh did I miss something. all you showed was that last years mash unit was able to play .400 ball but this team mostly healthy and with more talent is unable to play even .500 ball the last month despite playing in a weak division. You havent provided any explanation why. This team could go out and win 10 in a row or they could just as easily lose 10 in a row. This team doesnt play consistent ball, which is why they keep losing close games. You cant keep hitting 3 home runs a night.

  20. While you do go overboard at times with the insults and belittling people in the comments sections, most of the time I agree with you and get a kick out of it. But are you so insecure that you need to highlight the comments and do a whole posting about it? Cmon now, this is a wee bit childish.

  21. No feelings either way about the post. It’s Stoeten’s blog. He gets to post what he wants. And I’m sure the boo-birds were out in force last night. But just one thing I want to see about a post way upthread. Which basically made a difference between loving baseball and wanting a winning team. Guess what? I love baseball. And I want to watch a winning team (finally). There’s no shame in declaring that after all these long years I’m fed up watching a losing one. Doesn’t make me a worse fan than the holier-than-thou purists who apparently watch for the joy of watching. That having been said, I do get a little fed up with the guys who write Sky Is Falling posts during and after every loss.

  22. It must be nice to have a place in the world where your opinions are sacrosanct and dissenters are heretics.
    But, this is a fan blog so I’m not bothered that most of the longtime commenters here are squarely on board with hope and positivity. I’m a fan too.
    I’m also a contrarian by nature so I have to say that the negative ‘suckholes’ do have a point. This team isn’t nearly good enough defensively or offensively for any reasonable person to feel comfortable that they will make the postseason. This isn’t pessimism, but realism. The one thing the Jays do have in their favour is that the East is weak this year so they do have a chance.
    I guess after 20 years of wandering in the wilderness, a chance is more than enough for some people.

  23. Fortunately I choose to read blogs such as this and am better at laughing off some of the TSN-style thoughts I see and hear these days.

    It used to bug me a little reading the Richard Griffins of the world (originally what led me to this blog).

    As is, the Jays are good enough to make the playoffs.

    An infield upgrade would be welcome but it’s not necessary.

    The issue, though, is that they are not the Oakland A’s and aren’t going to lap the field unless the field stumbles.

    The race for the division and/or a wildcard spot may very well be tight enough to come down to some version of “luck”.

    How much would it suck if the Jays miss a playoff spot despite being good enough by run differential, WAR or some other fancy metric?

    The course of the next few years may very well be based on how much “luck” the Jays have relative to their opponents in the next 3-15 months.

    Would the organization sell off pieces, fire the GM and rebuild for the 3rd time under Rogers?

    Who knows.

    While it will be a little uneasy to follow this team for the next few months, it’s nice to read a realistic view that isn’t steeped in negativity. Even though there are many reasons to feel uneasy.

    Great piece Stoeten.

  24. Actually I have found the comment section so annoyingly idiotic lately, I am considerably less interested in reading or posting anything. Idiots, jerks and narcissists suck the energy right out of me.

  25. Setting roughly early May to early June aside the Jays for two thirds of their season so far are 21 – 32. And with all of the injuries Stoeten lists to distinguish how little this team resembles 2013, having played 3 games more, they are just 6 games better in the win column from last year in a division significantly weaker. In the past month they are 9 – 17. Perhaps the real ‘apparition’ was May.

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