URL Weaver: The Outrage Cycle

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Detroit Tigers - Game 4

Yesterday the URL Weaver included a link to a very interesting story for ESPN written by your e-friend and mine, Sam Miller. Sam is a very bright guy with a terrific humanist touch – he writes about things in a way which makes them relatable, not daunting. Which is why the “write about WAR” assignment landed on his desk in the first place.

Miller wrote and wrote and wrote some more and the result is something of which he can be proud. The comment section is, of course, beyond the author’s control. As his piece landed on the front page of ESPN.com, the comments are what you would call “subhuman.” The incoherent ramblings of perpetually outraged at that which they do not understand. Which is to say, just about everything.

From internet commenters on a big net site like ESPN, this is (sadly) the status quo. When another writer chooses to follow up, that is unexpected.

Michael Hurley of CBS Boston pulled out his outrage machine and penned a piece called “Time for Baseball’s WAR Supporters to Tone Down the Arrogance” before launching into a 750 tirade which could charitably be described as “arrogant.”

When I first read it, I was slightly annoyed. I thought I would give it a good, old-fashioned fisking (or FJMing, as it is also known) and reduce the false dilemma-ridden piece what for.

Then I realized…who cares? Why perpetuate this name-calling battle from which no winners emerge? Why give this guy the pleasure of knowing his troll bait worked? Does the world need another sabr-takedown? It might do good web business, with retweets and such if I did a really good job of putting this bro in his place.

But I don’t have it in me. That battle is already fought and won. Instead I’ll pass the link and leave the reader to decide who makes a more convincing case: Miller or Hurley? That’s all the work that remains on this front.

The internet subsists on outrage and pointed fingers. Heavens knows I’m not above it or guilty of it from time to time (and over again.) But in this case, I opt out. Feeding the trolls is no longer a viable option. This big old tent has plenty of room beneath, for all types of baseball fan.

Let’s end the outrage cycle, one single sentence paragraph at time. Then, together, we can focus on the real enemy: lawyers.

And the rest

Nice look at what Drew Storen went through after his Game 5 collapse against the Cardinals [Jayson Stark]

Jose Molina committing wanton acts of kindness. I guess you could say he was…framed. [Rays Cut 4]

John Gibbons reminds Blue Jays fans why the like John Gibbons so much in the first place. [Globe & Mail]

How the Giants Humpty Dumptyed Buster Posey [CSN Bay Area]

Sound the Spring Training injury klaxon! Shelby Miller to sit out a few days with shoulder tightness. NOT A DRILL! [STL PD]

Sick of Bad Spring Training Twitpics getting you down? You should follow Cleveland’s beat beast Jordan Bastian on Instagram, then you can get sweet Trevor Bauer change-uppy goodness like this every day!

All you ever wanted to know about Xander Bogaerts but couldn’t be arsed to ask. [WEEI]

The difference between projections and predictions – a not-insignificant difference indeed. [Fangraphs]

Rob Neyer gets TINSTAAP juice all over my Bundy boner. I press on, undeterred. [Baseball Nation]

Should the Braves extend Andrelton Simmons? Some say yes, others say “what’s the rush?” [Talking Chop]

Mike Schmidt, probably a better player than you remember (because he was next-level amazing), now mustacheless. [700 Level]

Speaking of pitch framing (back there somewhere), the best Spring Training photo dude of them all, John Lott, shows Blue Jays catching coordinator Sal Fasano working with J.P. Arencibia on that darkest of dark arts.

And still speaking of catchers, R.A. Dickey gets a personal one aka not JPA. [National Post]

Comments (8)

  1. I know your point of this is to stop the back-and-forth from troll to trollee but the third and fouth paragraph of the article is pure gold:

    “The blurb on ESPN’s homepage (regarding Miller’s piece) read, “After WAR helped heat up the 2012 AL MVP debate, it’s now a permanent part of looking at player performance.”

    That’s certainly a bold claim, considering it wasn’t more than 65 years ago when the color of a man’s skin was a determinant for selecting an MVP, and also considering Miguel Cabrera won in a landslide over Mike Trout, the man with the significantly better WAR last season. Nevertheless, those folks who want so badly for everyone to view the sport of baseball exactly as they do went absolutely bonkers”
    WTF!!!! Michael Hurley just mindfucked me

  2. Both articles lose me by taking the extremes. My long, rambling view: WAR is a great statistic, but to me it can not be used as the be-all and end-all of baseball — I’ll use it, sure, but more as a complimentary piece, compared even to some other advanced stats. At the same time, it’s also very clear to even a novice or 50-50 metrics guy like myself that pitcher Wins, RBI and batting average don’t tell you a whole hell of a lot, and I’ll look at any other statistics, advanced or traditional, before those relics. That said, it’s important we don’t dismiss either side, and learn to understand and value all statistics in some way. Back in September, on my own blog (which you can probably find on page 35 of a Google search) I made the case for Trout over Cabrera without mentioning WAR once, with a major focus on the history of Triple Crown winners and the MVP award (even with that focus I did look at some other advanced stats for both players, just not WAR). I thought it was important to do that because Trout put up some eye-popping traditional numbers that I think got a bit lost, both behind his role as WAR’s poster child and Cabrera’s role as the torch-bearer of tradition.

    My point is, these black and white arguments are just stupid. It’s not WAR versus RBI, it’s not statheads versus tradition, it’s not the right way or the wrong way. It’s all baseball, and every statistic plays some role, however small or large it may be, in our understanding of baseball. So, these articles: I have to reject both for the same reasons. Miller’s well-written and thought-out piece says “WAR is the future and the only way”, and leaves us with no wiggle room, WAR or nothing; the arguments that Hurley rambles about does the same thing. So both writers completely (conveniently?) miss the middle ground: it IS possible to appreciate how amazing it is to see a Triple Crown won in our lifetime while still relying on advanced metrics and WAR for player evaluation. Alternatively, you can appreciate what Trout has brought to the game, his incredible record-breaking season and incredible talents, and how he’s opened eyes to the value of metrics, while still voting Cabrera for MVP based solely on Runs Batted In and a Triple Crown, if that’s your preference. Neither side is right or wrong.

    We argue about all of this shit, and the truth is it’s all baseball, which is the best damn game in the world, and no matter what statistic you use these guys are fucking amazing baseball players. Watching Miguel Cabrera hit a baseball and collect a Triple Crown in spite of his other on-field deficiencies is as wonderful as watching Mike Trout be super-human on a baseball field with his WAR power and all-around skill set. Arguing to the extreme about statistics and using blanket arrogant statements about who’s right and wrong can make us forget these are all incredible, history-making athletes we get to watch play the best game ever invented, and we’re damn lucky to get to see them play.

  3. Sam’s piece was good if he’d avoid the BS about data winning.

    Some of his claims about “science” are a bit off too, but obviously that’s not really what he does.

    Good writing gets undermined by the person implying that they are “right”.

  4. “Why perpetuate this name-calling battle from which no winners emerge? Why give this guy the pleasure of knowing his troll bait worked? Does the world need another sabr-takedown? It might do good web business, with retweets and such if I did a really good job of putting this bro in his place.”

    If I didn’t know better I would think this was referring to Parkes. I hope this perspective continues here.

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