I would guess that something like ninety percent of people still consume all of their sportswriting in the form of newspapers. (I mean, factor in old people and casual fans, right?) They wake up in the morning, pour themselves some orange juice, sit down and read drivel like this willfully uninformed screed
from cantakerous, crotchety Murray Chass.
As Season Approaches, Some Topics Should Be Off Limits
Things I don’t want to read or hear about anymore:
Let's cut to the juicy part.Statistics mongers promoting VORP and other new-age baseball statistics.
"New age" is touchy-feely. New age is spiritual. New age is intangible. VORP, Mr. Chass, is not new age. It may be relatively new, but it is not new age. It is the opposite of new age. It is an attempt to quantify, to measure, to analyze. You know, a more scientific approach to knowledge. Science -- that thing that humans do to find out more about the world around them. Not new age -- a fake thing that involves pan flutes and rubbing crystals on your body.I receive a daily e-mail message from Baseball Prospectus, an electronic publication filled with articles and information about statistics, mostly statistics that only stats mongers can love.
You can feel the sneer curling on his face as he writes "electronic publication" with a quill pen in Olde English, then rolls up the parchment and sends it on its three-day horseback journey to his publisher, Lord Sulzberger, Jr.
He's kidding about the e-mail of course. He doesn't have an "e-mail address." E-mail is for new age wack jobs.To me, VORP epitomized the new-age nonsense.
Sir. Sir. You're still using "new age" incorrectly. Excuse me, sir?
(Murray Chass ignores me and continues brushing his teeth with a small rubber fish.)For the longest time, I had no idea what VORP meant and didn’t care enough to go to any great lengths to find out.
That's cool. You're just a baseball writer for the fucking New York fucking Times. Thanks for caring about your fucking job so much you won't type "define:vorp" into Google, hit return, and then read the literally two sentences that result. I just did it ten times in the last three seconds. You're right, though: I guess those are "great lengths" for a 479-year-old member of the tribe of living undead.I asked some colleagues whose work I respect, and they didn’t know what it meant either.
Alexander Joy Cartwright
John KrukFinally, not long ago, I came across VORP spelled out. It stands for value over replacement player. How thrilling. How absurd. Value over replacement player. Don’t ask what it means. I don’t know.
If you read this paragraph again, you'll find that it doesn't really contain an argument in any sense of the word. Since when are baseball statistics supposed to be "thrilling"? How thrilling is ERA, a thing you presmuably think is fine? And you still don't know what VORP means, even after writing about it in a professional column in a professional newspaper, professionally?I suppose that if stats mongers want to sit at their computers and play with these things all day long, that’s their prerogative.
In their parents' basements, not getting a date for prom, wearing nerd glasses and playing the violin. Even at age 9,354, Murray gets a thrill out of nailing these dorks. Good luck getting laid, dorks
! Gotcha!But their attempt to introduce these new-age statistics into the game threatens to undermine most fans’ enjoyment of baseball and the human factor therein.Murray Chass
: New age new age new age new age the end. My column's done!Nurse
: Very good, Murray! We're going out into the garden now for some fresh air. The garden
. Won't that be fun?
Saying that VORP undermines "enjoyment" and the "human factor" is like creationists saying that evolution takes away the "wonder" and "mystery" of the universe. It doesn't. It makes it awesomer.People play baseball. Numbers don’t.
I actually believe that goofy, anthropomorphic numbers with arms and legs and silly oversize white gloves play all of the games we know of in what we call professional baseball. Call me crazy, but that is what I believe.
Murray Chass: proof that there is still a reason we behave like true dickheads on this site.
Labels: mother's basement, murray chass, new age, vorp