FIRE JOE MORGAN: MSNBC Pays Two Writers to Overreact to the WBC: Baseball Criticism-Criticism in Two Parts


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Monday, January 30, 2006


MSNBC Pays Two Writers to Overreact to the WBC: Baseball Criticism-Criticism in Two Parts

Part I.

I never like to defend Alex Rodriguez. Mainly because he is kind of a dink. Kind-of-dink he may be, his skills on a baseball diamond are not really up for debate. He is wicked good at baseball. So when I read this, the big red "Bullshit Flag" I carry around with me at all times raised itself in the direction of MSNBC's Bob Cook.

I should note that the flag no longer exists, having burst into flames when Bob Cook wrote the following introductory paragraph:

Alex Rodriguez’s tortuous vascillating [sic] over whether he would play for the United States, the Dominican Republic or not play at all in the World Baseball Classic was the most drawn-out public display of indecision since Meat Loaf repeatedly begged Ellen Foley to “let me sleep on it” as she demanded “I gotta know right now” in “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.”


His basic premise for this article, that the Dominican Republic should feel lucky that they won't have A-Rod to ruin their WBC chances by choking his AL MVP guts out all over their games against Italy or whatever, is flawed in two main ways.

1) It presupposes that A-Rod chokes in "important" situations. An easy argument to make if you are like Bob Cook and you fail to cite a single statistic in your entire article.
Before everyone jumps down my throat to remind me of his unmistakably chokey ALDS performance against Anaheim last year, and his not-really-all-that-chokey-when-you-look-at-the-numbers performance against Boston in 2004, I urge you to examine the slightly larger (yet still relatively small) sample size of A-Rod's career postseason numbers. Wait don't, because I'm about to do it for you.

G: 31
AVG: .305
OBP: .393
SLG: .534
HR: 6

Not so bad, right? On to the second way in which Bob Cook's premise is flawed.

2) It presupposes that the WBC is itself an important enough event that a poor performance would qualify as "choking." I'm sorry, but national pride nonwithstanding, isn't this an event where all pitchers will be on a strict pitch-count? Even if A-Rod does "choke" in these glorified exhibition games, is he really going to be villified in the press for it? I think no.

Part II.

It's been a while since everyone's least favorite fedora'd dunderhead, Mike Celizic sat down at his 1930s Underwood typewriter, lit up his whale-oil lamp, turned on the NBC Orchestra's Radio Hour and ranted about something nobody really cares about.

I'll give you the short version. Celizic thinks Barry Bonds has committed the ultimate act of selfishness by refusing to participate in the WBC. If this sounds familiar, it's because Celizic wrote almost the exact same article a few months ago, attacking Bonds for sitting out the rest of the Giants' more or less lost season.

Why does Mike Celizic say things like "He wants the record. The best way to do that is to concentrate on the regular season and to avoid anything that might cause injury" like it's something so unbelievably awful? Barry Bonds is on the cusp of breaking what might be the most iconic record in sports. Why do sportswriters with funny hats have such a hard time understanding why a 40+ year old guy who missed almost an entire season with very serious knee injuries would want to, I don't know, protect his knee? Especially when he has a very realistic chance at achieving baseball immortality?

Moreover, where are all the shots at all the other players who are skipping the WBC? Oh wait. That's right. Barry Bonds is the only player sitting this thing out.

Look, Mike, I agree with you. Barry Bonds is a jerk. Everyone knows that. He probably did steroids. So did a lot of other dudes. But also he might, barring injury, break Hank Aaron's career home run record. Isn't that more important than playing some inconsequential exhibition games aginst the Netherlands?

posted by Murbles  # 4:11 PM
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