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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Tuesday, August 08, 2006


This Man Is CRUSTY

How old do you think Murray Chass is? It turns out if you look at his Wikipedia page, you can figure out that he's around 68, which is way off from my guess of 5.348 x 10^7. Although you can never rule out the possibility that Murray himself edited his page to say that he graduated from Pitt in 1960 instead of 5.348 x 10^7 B.C.

Anyway, Chass has fired up his bellows-powered typewriter to throw some more not-so-subtle jabs at his least favorite assemblage of baseball players, the Boston Red Sox. The result is not so much a Celizic-style disaster as an overwrought, underthought, giant sneer of a piece. Basically, par for the Chass course.


The Boston Red Sox are a poor excuse for a good baseball team.


A less biased sentence would read: The Boston Red Sox are a good baseball team, tied for third in the AL and fourth in all of baseball. They trail the Yankees, a team with -- and no, we can't harp on this enough -- a payroll more than $74 million greater than theirs, by two games.

Digression: I know, I know. What right do Red Sox fans have to complain about payroll? John Henry is as rich as Croesus. (Sorry, Murray Chass snuck onto my laptop and wrote that last sentence.) But let me insert here a snippet of an email I wrote in reply to a reader who asked me that very same question:

Both the Yankees and the Red Sox spend more money than other teams. However, the difference between the pre-Abreu Yankees' payroll and the Red Sox' payroll is about $74 million. Check it out here.

Basically, the difference between the Yankees and the Red Sox is greater than the difference between the Red Sox and the Royals or the Pirates.

Weird, huh?

End of digression.

Wait, wait. Not the end. As dak points out often, we should embrace the Yankees' ability to pay whatever they want to their players. We're not against that. They should do whatever they can to put the best team on the field. We're fine with that. In fact, let me formally retract that sentence where I justify the Red Sox trailing the Yankees because of payroll differences. Not a valid excuse. Okay, now I'm done.

For the second year in a row, they have squandered an advantage they had over the Yankees, this year even more grievously than last.

Can you believe that? For the second year in a row, the Red Sox didn't lead the AL East wire-to-wire! What a bunch of losing losers!

Like last year, they will very likely pay for their profligacy.

Just like last year, when they finished with an identical record to the Yankees, advanced to the playoffs like the Yankees, and were eliminated in the first round like the Yankees. Oh, they'll pay.

But by now, the Red Sox should have had a commanding lead over the Yankees. But they don’t have that lead, even though the Yankees have played much of the season without a third of their starting lineup.

This is only true if you think the Red Sox and Yankees were equally good at the beginning of the year. Did you think that, Murray Chass? I bet you thought the Yankees were better. Come on, admit it.

Some may say Alex Rodriguez has been missing, too.

At this point, if you're a faithful reader, you'd expect FJM to defend A-Rod, who's been the target of an overwhelming amount of bad sportswriting. But a look at his Baseball Prospectus Player Card shows that his performance has really taken a horrific downturn this year. His EqA is .298, down from last year's .349 and a career average of .318. His WARP3 is a pedestrian 5.5, his lowest in any season ever. (By the way, when he was 20 years old, he posted a WARP3 of 13.7. This is crazy.)

On top of the absences of Matsui, Sheffield and Canó, Rodriguez is having a lackluster season, making three errors in one game and striking out three and four times in others.

I think we can all agree that these are not the right metrics to conclusively demonstrate a lackluster season. Bad Murray.

The youngest player to hit 450 home runs, Rodriguez has hit only one home run in his past 14 games and three in his last 29.

Again, not interested.

Bruised and bloodied, the Yankees have been winning with players named Melky and Bubba.

But as we've been through before, they still have a lineup full of extremely valuable hitters. Repeat after me: it's not that surprising that the Yankees have a good record.

With only a third of the season to go, they have won more than the Red Sox, who until catcher Jason Varitek had knee surgery last week, had not dealt with the extended absence of an everyday player.

Coco Crisp, the Red Sox' starting center fielder, missed 42 of the team's 110 games due to injury. And I know you qualified your statement to only include everyday players, but the Sox did lose two-fifths of their starting rotation in Matt Clement and David Wells, along with their Opening Day closer, Keith Foulke. Also, number three starter Tim Wakefield and starting right fielder Trot Nixon are currently on the DL.

This season’s developments should come as no surprise to the Fenway faithful. They saw it most recently only last season, when the Red Sox were six and a half games ahead of the Yankees barely a month into the season. Less than three weeks later, they had tumbled behind the Yankees.

Yes. There is an overwhelming trend of one year.

Considering that the Yankees played dreadfully in their first 30 games (11-19), it was noted here at that time that “the Red Sox should have taken off and left the Yankees in the dust.”

He's still talking about last season here for some reason. And that is some pompous-ass prose. "It was noted here" indeed.

I repeat the cautionary advice I offered the Red Sox last year: If they want to be assured of a postseason spot, they would be wise to finish ahead of the Yankees in the A.L. East. This year, more than last, the wild card could elude the second-place team.

The New York Times: your home for obvious, obvious, obvious advice to Major League Baseball teams. Our writers look at baseball standings and then give you analysis that only a person with a fourth-grade comprehension of numerical charts could give you.

The Red Sox, though, have to hope that the sight of the Yankees will act as smelling salts and snap them out of their annual stupor.

Annual stupor? Annual stupor?! You said yourself it happened once before. Once!

Murray Chass is the kind of guy who invented Groundhog Day because one time one year a groundhog saw his shadow and it was cold and that one thing happening once means it will always happen. Also, he's old.

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posted by Junior  # 4:32 PM
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