Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

FJM has gone dark for the foreseeable future. Sorry folks. We may post once in a while, but it's pretty much over. You can still e-mail dak, Ken Tremendous, Junior, Matthew Murbles, or Coach.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006


A HatGuy Two-Fer!

First of all, thank you all for your concerned e-mails as to our whereabouts. No, we were not assassinated by a Joe Morgan-led attack squad, nor were we beaten to death by a 1980 New York Yankee Bat Day Commemorative Bobby Murcer Model Bat wielded by HatGuy Celizic. Dak is in San Francisco, and Junior, Murbles and I were simply working at our real jobs, which, though they dramatically cut down on the time we spend trawling for idiocy on the World Wide InterWeb of Data, are what allow us to feed and shelter ourselves while we trawl for idiocy on the World Wide InterWeb of Data. But thanks for the concern.

More importantly, good news! Our beloved self-same HatGuy, the President and CEO of Let's Yankee It Up! Inc., L.L.C., has, and this is going to come as a shock to many of you, I think, written an article about the Yankees.

But here's the kicker: it's not just an article. It's a stupid article! Double bonus! In fact, it is so stupid, it is called "A-Rod is great — but not in the clutch." Excited? Me too!

Disappointingly, Celizic makes some good points. Undisappointingly, he also lays down some huge boners.

[After the recent Red Sox series] A-Rod went home with his reputation intact as a hitter who doesn’t produce in the clutch and doesn’t win games. We’re hearing more about that reputation in New York these days as the depleted Yankees struggle to score runs.

The Yankees have scored 259 runs this year. That is third in all of MLB.

After a while, you start to wonder what people thought he was when the Yankees traded for him before the 2004 season. He had that huge salary, true, but you can’t judge a player by his paycheck — at least you shouldn’t. You go by what he does on the field. A-Rod was sold as the premier player in the game, and he’s been that, winning a second MVP trophy last season. He hits for power and for average. Once the game’s best shortstop, he moved to third to accommodate Yankees captain and hero for life Derek Jeter and became one of the game’s best third basemen.

The Yankees got what they paid for and what everyone should have expected. What they didn’t get was what A-Rod never was — a great clutch hitter. You heard it when he was with the Mariners and then the Rangers. Both teams failed to win when he was there and got better when he left. Therefore, he’s not a good player.

Now, at this point, if you're like me, and I think you are, you are thinking: "I hate Mike Celizic." Because: "clutch" hitting either doesn't exist or exists in some intangible way that is nearly impossible to measure, and also (as plenty of previous posts on this blog and plenty of Baseball Prospectus articles and the like have shown scientifically) ARod is really really really good at baseball, in every inning, and has plenty of "clutch" postseason hits and HR and everything else. Thus: the previous boldfaced paragraph is one of the dumbest things ever written.

But here's the kicker: HatGuy, out of nowhere, suddenly reveals that he was writing it ironically. Which is an even bigger "what the hell?" moment. Check it out:

That’s nonsense, too. You don’t average 40 home runs, 120 RBIs and 120 runs a season without helping to win games. And three-run home runs that get your team off to what becomes a 12-4 victory aren’t meaningless. If the Mariners and Rangers got better when he left, it was because they got better pitching and more balanced lineups.

So now HatGuy has journalistically like reversed course without warning. I frankly don't think it's very artful, either. I think he just doesn't know whether he believes that ARod is clutch or not-clutch, and is trying to cover all of his bases. Because he flip-flops back again:

Anyway, Seattle is bad again, and whose fault is that? Probably still A-Rod’s. He is, as a recent Star-Ledger piece by Dan Graziano was headlined, “A Lightning Rod.” The $25 million salary draws the attention. And his numbers in clutch situations galvanizes opinion.

Now I'm really confused. Is ARod clutch? Not clutch? Overpaid? Are his teams better when he leaves? What does this guy believe?

There is evidence to back up the claims that he’s not the greatest clutch player in the game. A-Rod has relatively modest numbers batting with runners in scoring position late in close games, numbers that look humble next to those of the Red Sox’ David Ortiz. People remember his failure to produce last year in the playoffs against the Angels and in the final four games of the seven-game loss to the Red Sox the year before in the ALCS. When he hit into an inning-ending double play late in a recent game against the Mets, it was mentioned high in every game story.

I can't believe I have to do this again.

ARod, postseason:

118 AB, .305/.393/.534. 6HR, 9 2B, 19 R.

That's pretty good.

And yes, he has had some high-profile postseason failures, but anyone who saw the Mariners-Yankees series in 2000 when he hit .409/.480/.737 in 22 AB and hit a HR off the top of the left-field foul pole at the Stadium and was basically the only Mariner hitter who showed up...any of those people laugh at junk like this.

On a side-note, has anyone ever looked at Emmy Award-Winning Sportscaster Joe Morgan's lifetime postseason numbers?

181 AB. .182/.323/.348. Now that's bad. But back to HatGuy:

"It'll never stop until I win five or six world championships, and hit a Joe Carter home run to win one of them," Rodriguez said, the New York Daily News reported. "I don't take anything personally. I think it's comical. Anyone who drives in 130 runs has to hit in the clutch. I've done a lot of special things in this game. For none of that to be considered clutch is an injustice."

Any psychoanalysts in the house? I'm guessing this is some hard-core inadequacy coming out in the form of overblown self-confidence. But what do I know?

When he was in Seattle, Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey Jr. were the guys who carried the team. A-Rod was the complimentary weapon who made Martinez and Griffey that much more fearsome.

.316/.420/.606. 41 HR, 134 R, 132 RBI, 100 BB. Those are Alex Rodriguez's 2000 numbers.
.324/.423/.579. 37 HR, 100 R, 145 RBI, 96 BB. Those are Edgar Martinez's 2000 numbers.
.285/.384/.576. 48 HR, 123 R, 134 RBI, 91 BB. Those are Griffey's 1999 numbers (his last season in Seattle).

Someone tell me how ARod, playing SS, was less a guy who "carried the team" than he was a "complimentary weapon" who "made Martinez and Griffey more fearsome." What kind of retarded claim is that? Don't make me do a WARP analysis to prove that those numbers from a SS are more valuable than those from a DH. Please.

But he never has been a guy to put a team on his back and drag it out of a slump or through the late months of a season. He wasn’t with Seattle, wasn’t with Texas. There was never any reason to expect he would be in New York.

So, we are back to arguing that ARod is not a clutch hitter?

And also, what exactly could this guy have done in Seattle or Texas that he did not do? He played every day and put up MVP numbers every year. You can't just say "he never put a team on his back" without explaining what you mean. What do you mean? You are a bad journalist. Speaking of which, it's been five seconds, so you should stop saying that ARod isn't clutch and go back to saying that the claims that ARod isn't clutch are short-sighted.

Yet, he’s the person everyone points at when things go wrong. In that game against the Mets, the Yankees left 17 runners stranded, but A-Rod got the blame for his late-game double play. In the Monday loss to Boston, A-Rod did more than any of his teammates, but the home run he hit gets devalued because of the game situation.

Nicely done. Now, quickly go back to saying that ARod isn't clutch.

It could be that his deep desire to prove himself worthy is what holds him back in those clutch situations. Derek Jeter can walk to the plate with the pressure ratcheted up to crushing levels, say to himself he has to get on base, and do it. A-Rod can walk up in the same situation, say the same thing, and end the inning, 6-4-3.

Great. Thank you. Now quote a meaningless statistic to prove...nothing, and then explain it with unscientific babble:

And it could also be that his tendency to try too hard may prove to be his undoing in New York. This year, under pressure from the owner and the fans and the media, his average is mired in the .270s, nearly 30 points below his lifetime average. If he were somewhere that didn’t demand as much, he might be giving more.

Batting average? Even for you, HatGuy, that's stupid. So far this year ARod is 47-172. If just six -- six -- bleeders through the infield, or line shots at infielders, or flairs behind second, had fallen in, he'd be at .308, above his lifetime average. So...shut up about BA. And shut up about how NY is such a pressure cooker. ARod played there last year, I think, and won the goddamn league MVP. And by the way, shouldn't you be flip-flopping on whether ARod is clutch by now?

But none of that should say he’s been a failure or even a disappointment. The numbers are there. The MVP plaque is on the wall. The team continues to win the AL East and get into the playoffs, and, if it hasn’t gone to the World Series, it’s hardly his fault alone. Before he got to New York, the Yankees had already gone three years without a World Series win. Since then, all they’ve done is go two more years without a title. But it’s been a total team effort.

What point are you making about ARod right now? Do you even know?

The Yankees could win without him, but that doesn’t mean they should move him.

Who said anything about moving him? He's one of the three best players in baseball, even playing out of position to satisfy Jeter's ego. He makes $25m a year. Who would take him? Why would they trade him? What are you talking about?

He’s still a great player, one who will help a team win a lot of games over the course of the season.

Uh huh...steady now...that's good, Mike...keep it together...

He never was the player who will carry a team to a championship, and probably never will be. But that’s what he’s always been and what the Yankees accepted when they traded for him. If they want a great clutch hitter, it’s not fair to carp about A-Rod. They’ve got the money. Let them buy one.

All together now:


Labels: , , , ,

posted by Unknown  # 1:04 PM
FJM Mailbag!

Reader Anthony writes:

"When Mike Celizic says Rodriguez never carried a team late in a season, he has a very short memory. September 9, 2005: the Yankees trailed Boston by four games and were just starting a series at the Stadium against those same Sox. Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with a home run, double, 2 runs and 2 RBI to lead the Yankees to victory. Over the final 23 games, the Yankees would go 17-6 to steal the division from the Red Sox. In that stretch, Rodriguez hit .322/.417/.667 with 8 HR, 22 RBI & 21 runs. Oh, and he was a perfect 8-for-8 on the basepaths."
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