Saturday, March 1, 2008

Murray Chass vs. Moneyball...wonder who I'm going to choose?

Oh Murray Chass, you're so fucking old. And crotchety, too. But I'm a reasonable man; how about if you stop complaining about things you don't understand, I promise to not complain about things that are scary and different to me when I'm 135. Sounds fair? No, huh? Guess that means I'll be raising a ruckus about those damn kids scientists dragging those frozen planets out of the Oort Cloud for us to colonize then. Russia never needed no fucking interplanetary tugboats back in my day. They just had less kids!

Not that they want to see any prospect fail, but old-line major league scouts everywhere stood up and cheered last week. Jeremy Brown, the Oakland Athletics announced, had retired.

As I always suspected...old-line major league scouts are dicks. Total, crotchety old dicks. So dickish even Albert "I'm dickish enough to make a shitty comedy about Islam" Brooks couldn't pull it off.

Jeremy who? The Athletics have been the home of Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Sal Bando, Joe Rudi, Gene Tenace, Rollie Fingers, Jason Giambi, Eric Chavez, Miguel Tejada, Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. But Jeremy Brown?

Hmm, I wonder where this could possibly be going...

The best that can be said about Brown in his six years in the Oakland organization is that he made the team’s 40-man roster and played five games in the majors.

So he ranks five Moonlights on the Costner scale? His truly was a field of dreams. What a fleeting thing it is to know your dream for but so short a time, to merrily dance with the specters of players long past as one knows but an instant in what they have termed the Show. Man, the poetry is just dripping with a story as romantic as this one. Guys like Chass love minor leaguers who never quite made it, the what-ifs and never-wases who you can write anything about and not be wrong. They're pure human interest, in that they're human, interesting, and, unless tainted by steroid allegations, reasonably pure. That's what Murray is about to write about, right? He's going to eulogize the non-career of Jeremy Brown? Because that doesn't sound all that interesting, but I guess there's nothing wrong with it.

But Brown will be remembered most as a portly college catcher who was a central figure in “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis, the book on the revolutionary way Oakland identified players to be drafted for a system that had little money to spend because of the team’s low-revenue status.

Probably. He did play only five games and all, so being mentioned in a best-selling book is quite likely the most notable thing about his baseball career. Also, I don't know who you think this "Michael Lewis" character is, but I think you'll find that Billy Beane wrote Moneyball.

Brown was one of seven players the Athletics picked among the first 39 players taken in the 2002 draft, a focal point of the book. Billy Beane, the Athletics’ general manager, found Brown attractive, despite his size, because he was a college player with a high on-base percentage.

If I may ruthlessly and immaturely take that quote out of context:

"Billy Beane...found Brown attractive, despite his size."

Murray Chass feels Billy Beane is not a chubby chaser. I just want everyone to be clear about that.

To be honest, Murray is being incredibly even-handed about this so far. I think I detected mild disdain in the "high on-base percentage" line, but I wonder...has Murray Chass become so old and senile that he's forgotten he needs to sound old and senile? Has he just progressed to being so ancient that all he is capable of is twittering inoffensive nothings? Because I'm not sure how I feel about ruthlessly making fun of somebody like that.

I'm kidding of course - I feel fucking great about ruthlessly making fun of somebody like that.

Veteran scouts for the A’s scoffed at the pick.

Which I guess they were right about. I can just smell the implied conclusion here, namely that since they scoffed at that particular pick, which turned out to be a bust, then it follows that scouts are right to scoff at all these "new age" decisions.

I could offer my own counter to this, but I'd prefer to turn the floor over to the computer that runs Wikipedia, who has done some truly outstanding work on a rebuttal:

Hasty generalization is a logical fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence. It commonly involves basing a broad conclusion upon the statistics of a survey of a small group that fails to sufficiently represent the whole population.


Person A travels through Town X for the first time. He sees 10 people, all of them children. Person A returns to his town and reports that there are no adult residents in Town X.

Person A and Person B walk past a pawn shop. Person A remarks that a watch in a window display looks like the one his grandfather used to wear.

Person B concludes that Person A's grandfather pawned his watch
Person B concludes that Person A's grandfather had expensive tastes in jewelry
Person B concludes that Person A's grandfather was ostentatious
Person B concludes that Person A's grandfather can not tell the time any more

Hey, wouldn't it be great if the Wikipedia computer and the computer that wrote Moneyball could get together? I bet their kids would have just outstanding MLVr, and who wouldn't want that?

There's plenty more of this article, but I'm going to curtail things because there really isn't much I can easily make fun of. In all honesty, Murray never quite comes out and says that Billy Beane is wrong. Instead, he dances around it the whole time while making it implicitly clear to anyone who has read his previous work that he thinks stats are ridiculous. Which is deplorable and all, but really hard to make fun of. He just comes across as strangely neutered, as though he was stifling himself or...

Holy fuck. I think somebody is editing him. I think...I mean, I'm not sure or anything, but I think that somebody might be editing this article. The New York Times might be employing some form of editor for its sports section and that person is, you know, editing all the crazy shit out of Murray Chass's articles.

It's really frightening how much that idea shocked me. Honestly, it took hours for the idea to even occur to me.

1 comment:

Djmmm46 said...

Congrats, dude. You beat KT to the punch on this one...