Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

I almost feel sorry for the future, more evolved mechan-hominids who will inevitably cancel the working week in favour of everyone having draken many days to complete their work (or meshalek as it will be referred to then). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy arbitrary and puritanical guidelines dictating when and where I have to work, but I do appreciate the feeling of unshackling myself from those restrictions.

In fact, it’s almost worth having them in place, if not for anything else than the way in which they promote your anticipation for the weekend. Oh, future cyborgs, jerry-rigged together with spare computer processors and pig hearts, you’ll have no idea of that feeling of anticipation, because everything you wish for will be handed to you. Sort of like these weekly stray thoughts.

In that sense, this weekly feature is far ahead of its time.

And then, in another sense, not really at all.

On Troll Baiting

Earlier this week, I examined a recent article from Toronto Star writer Damien Cox. It got his attention, and he tweeted some tough guy derogatory comments typical of a journalist unfamiliar with new media that further cemented his meat head brand. I suppose I should be glad that his name calling wasn’t FAXed to my place of business.

Normally, when I write anything that’s the least bit contentious, I hear from both sides of the argument that I’m addressing on Twitter or through email. Over this, I didn’t receive a single piece of negative feedback.

However, there were a few concerns raised in the comments section, asking if attacking poorly thought out articles in a snarky fashion isn’t just a different form of baiting. It’s a very valid question, and one that I struggle with when I begin to write a piece that follows a Fire Joe Morgan template.

My justification is rooted in two major differences between my work and a typical troll’s: 1) I’m attacking the reasoning, or usually the lack thereof, of a writer as a means of expressing an original thought; and 2) I genuinely believe what I’m writing.

I’m sorry if there are some regular readers who don’t really enjoy reading that form of writing. I understand the drawbacks, and the sometimes sulfurish aftertaste that it can leave, but I do think it’s a worthwhile framing device to get a point across, and to be perfectly honest, it can be fun to unleash a little bit of snark now and then.

Flip Vs. Catch

Major League Baseball is seriously asking fans whether or not last night’s incredible defensive performance from Elvis Andrus is as impressive as Willie Mays’ over the shoulder catch in Game One of the 1954 World Series.

Or:

I think I agree with this well thought out response from Grant Brisbee of SB Nation.

Front Office Real Talk

With all the changes to baseball front offices over this past week, it can be easy to fall into the trap of questioning the future performances of certain baseball clubs (ahem, Red Sox, ahem Padres) based on the recent loss of executive talent.

Jonah Keri has been on a Twitter crusade of late reminding readers that both good moves and bad moves are the product of an entire staff of people and not just one figure head at the top. While the general manager certainly gives direction and sets the overarching philosophy of an organization, he or she doesn’t control every aspect of everything.

While it’s a credit to the people who hired you and guide you when you do a good job on a specific project that you’re working on, praise for your success doesn’t go straight to the head of your company.

I feel as though this is often overlooked in baseball, and I’m as guilty as anyone in putting too much emphasis on one person. I like to compare how a baseball team is run to a typical episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Whenever a challenge presents itself, Captain Picard’s first course of action is to ask his crew for options. He then takes their advisement under consideration and then acts according to what he believes to be the best course of action.

This is why I’m surprised Patrick Stewart wasn’t on the shortlist for the Baltimore Orioles’ GM job.

Baseball’s Real World Paralells

I love comparing baseball management to the real world. Sometimes it fits, and sometimes it just doesn’t at all. This Bloomberg Businessweek article breaks down a typical baseball trade through the eyes of Houston Astros GM (for now) Ed Wade.

Imagine telling a lawyer she’s been traded for two promising law students. Or a salesman that he’s moving from a software company in Seattle to a tire company in Cleveland. In sports, it happens all the time.

Surprisingly, it consists of more than just taking a call from the Philadelphia Phillies and sending them whatever they’d like.

The Montreal Separatists

Some guy named Tony posted an idea on Twitter, joking that Jason Heyward and Domonic Brown should secede from their teams and form their own together. I offered that Travis Snider should join as well, based on the idea that the club would be comprised of players who look as though they could have successful Major League Baseball careers, but have been stalled by unfair circumstances.

We took things a step further in the office and included some more players on the imaginary roster: Chris Ianetta, Brandon Allen, Brandon Belt, Matt LaPorta, Mat Gamel, Yonder Alonso, Jason Donald, Paul Janish, Tommy Manzella, Tim Beckham, Logan Morrison, Francisco Liriano, Brad Bergesen, Alfredo Aceves, Burke Badenhop and Travis Wood.

And of course, what better place for this theoretical team to play than La Belle Province?

If you have any more ideas to fill out the roster, you’re more than welcome to contribute them in the comments section.

Great Hacks Think Alike

I don’t know what to think of the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Sometimes, he’s dead on. Other times he’s way off. I think it was more a case of the latter than the former when he made “Perfect Storm” a verb in a recent article. As if he had his watch perfectly in sync (or ‘N Sync if you prefer), Rogers Sportsnet’s Scott Carson titled his most recent embarrassment, what else, A Perfect Storm, with the added bonus of an unsure question mark.

More On The Albert Pujols Media Snub

I spent a lot of thought earlier today writing about Jeff Passan’s beef with Albert Pujols, who, like most of his team, didn’t stick around to speak with the media following his team’s Game Two loss last night to the Texas Rangers. One of the criticisms that I didn’t really address was Passan’s insistence that Pujols somehow threw the “young kids” on the team who did stick around under the bus by leaving.

These are the players who stayed in the clubhouse to answer questions:

  • Jason Motte, age 29;
  • David Freese, age 28;
  • Allen Craig, age 27; and
  • Jon Jay, age 26.

Maybe not grizzled veterans, but certainly not baby faced youths either.

Weekend Reading

I think that a catcher’s contribution to the game of baseball is, metrically speaking at least, vastly underrated. We started gathering an appreciation for a catcher’s ability to framing the strike zone with Mike Fast’s awesome insight into strikes called that are close to the generally accepted strike zone, but there’s still a great many other things that simply aren’t calculated.

Bojan Koprivica, writing for The Hardball Times, gives us another example of the unappreciated value that a catcher brings to the game, separating wild pitches into two categories: those that actually land in front of the catcher, and those that don’t. It’s in depth. And will probably take a couple readings. But it’s completely worth it.

Shameless Self Promotion

As always, you can check out our facebook page by clicking here, and if you’re into it, try “liking” us to get updates on new videos and funny pictures in your facebook news feed, as well as the occasional link back to the blog. Staying on the social media train, you can also follow me on Twitter so that we can make snarky comments together during the World Series games. Also feel free to subscribe to our iTunes feed which will bring all the audio goodness of our podcasts and live streams and other things featuring our ugly mugs to your computer free of charge.

Tony La Russa’s Hair

It’s really something, ain’t it?

Comments (7)

  1. What did damien cox tweet to you??

  2. Wily-Mo Pena should be the player-manager. He might be the all-time AAAA player.

  3. In regards to Troll-Gate, it’s your blog, do with it what you will. I just feel like you should combat thee articles with well thought out pieces, as apposed to y’know, drawing and quartering them.

    And I feel like ‘I’m surprise Patrick Stewart’ should be a meme.

  4. Amen. I love you, Parkes.

  5. Damien Cox is a bad sportswriter, and an example of the horrible “good ol, boys” types that populate the hockey media. He should really never be allowed to comment on any other sport other than hockey and maybe tennis.

    For me his worst moment wasn’t this thing or the Bautista stuff, but when he was on Prime Time Sports earlier this year, during the Women World’s Cup when Brunt was reporting in. His comments and general attitude of “girls playing sports? how silly” made the bombastic, soccer-hating McCown come across as a reasonable and considerate voice on the subject. Mocking women’s sports in 2011? Is Cox 80 years old or something?

    Regarding the front office stuff, that’s the reason I am always worried about rumors regarding Tony LaCava. So far the Blue Jays front office has done well, and I would rather not lose anyone from it for the time being.

  6. I think Matt Stairs would be perfect to manage that team. Who better than the guy Bill James said could have been a hall of famer under different playing circumstances?

  7. Perhaps this is not “what passes for journalism” today, but merely a ‘market correction’, if you will. As we delve further in to the age of information, factual bases is supplanting the way sports journalism is conducted. Old school journalism is revealed to be nothing more than opinion pieces, subject to any retort a traditional commentary would be exposed to.

    The ol’ boys club is a dying institution, dismantled piece by piece by the reintroduction of common sense. No longer will hack writers make a living with their so-called expertise, for they will be exposed as nothing more than dime-a-dozen misers spewing nonsense. It’s understandable that writers such as Cox and Murray Chass condemn blogs and sabermetrics; it’s survivalism in action.

    Tearing apart a baseball writer’s work today is a necessary part of the evolution of sports writing. It is not to belittle the poor writers of today; it is to pave the way for the next generation of sports writing, complete with factual analysis, objection, and debate.

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