Where Bad Sports Journalism Came To Die

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007



If you've been living under a rock or something and are like totally not hip to important things that are happening in the world, allow me to inform you that former mediocre New York Yankee Mike Pagliarulo has some kind of scouting website.

It appears to be co-run by someone named Adam, but for the purposes of this blog entry, I am going to assume it is designed, written, and executed by Pags and Pags only. Because that is funnier.

Call us crazy, but where else in the world can you find an industry where a small market GM leads the large market companies?

1. You're crazy.
2. I would imagine there are a lot of them. Lots of large companies are influenced by, and steal ideas from, small companies. Apple's design team blows Microsoft's out of the water. JetBlue and Southwest were, for a while, running rings around much larger airlines. Most people refer to the product that allows you to record TV shows as "TiVo" and not "TimeWarner HD Cable DVR" or something. Sometimes Miramax and FineLine and Paramount Vantage and stuff win Oscars while Universal and Warner Bros. make clunkers. Should I keep going? Or do you want to talk about baseball?

Where else does a business with half the budget dictate protocol for the “super powers” except in the business of baseball?

We're in troubs, here, Pags. This sentence is all over the linguistic map. I think what you mean to say is: in what other industry does a "company" (team) with half the budget of other companies (teams) with which is it competing, control the way business is conducted within that industry. Instead, you just wrote the word "business," and then wrote a bunch of phrases with no antecedents or referents ("half the budget," "super powers") and then wrote "business" again. Not make word-goods you wasn't.

(BTW: For the answer to the question, see the answer to the previous question, because this is just a rephrasing of the previous question.)

In the case of the Oakland A’s and GM Billy Beane, quite a phenomenon exists throughout a majority of the monopoly consisting of major league baseball teams.

This is painful. Pags, sweetheart -- have you ever read...anything? If you haven't, you should. If will help you communicate better with your audience. This sentence appears to have been first "written" in sign language by a Russian chimp, and then translated into English by a Chinese businessman who learned English from old soap operas.

It seems that what Pags wants to say -- but tragically cannot, because he writes like a fifth grader trying to fake his way through an oral report on salamanders -- is: "What makes Billy Beane so great, anyway?!" Which is an excellent question. That has been answered many, many, many, many times.

Billy Beane is a great GM because he found a way to keep the A's competitive in MLB, despite a payroll far behind those of several other teams. He did this by using cutting-edge statistical analysis to find players with undervalued skills who had been overlooked by other teams. He drafted these players (or traded for them), paid them rock-bottom prices, and watched as his army of nerd robots won many division- and wild card titles. If this sounds familiar, it's because everyone in the world has been talking about it for like six years (or more), and because it was chronicled in the book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, which is very good, and really has nothing to do with anything that anybody now thinks it has to do with.

I sincerely doubt that anyone reading this blog has not read Moneyball, but if you haven't, you should, because it's quite good. I am also going to go ahead and bet that Pags has never read Moneyball. I might even...yes, yes I believe I am going to go ahead and guess that Pags has not completed an entire book since he polished off Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, when he was seventeen.

There are a few teams (Toronto, Boston, NY, and Texas) who rely on statistical formulas and hire knowledgeable front office personnel at a cost of $50K to $500K, who create and analyze – something!

They analyze baseball players. Did you really not know this?

We aren’t sure what that “something” is and they certainly aren’t talking about it, especially to the media.

That's because it's a crock! They're full of it! They aren't really doing anything, these nerds. They have like mob-style no-show jobs. Hang on...come to think of it...I never heard any generals give interviews explaining how we were going to attack Baghdad. They're crocks too! They should be explaining that to us in the media! Also, where is the explanation of the formula for Coke? That should be available to me, from the media, via some people who work for Coke. If it isn't, I will assume that the people who make Coke are frauds who are just taking money and not making any actual product. And to answer your next question, no, I will not be dissuaded by the purchasing and consuming of Coke.


Quite possibly, the statistical masterminds are creating retirement accounts and special offshore businesses for these highly paid decision makers.

I have said this before, but it's worth reiterating. Jokes definitely work best when they are formed as long, drawn-out sentences with lots and lots of extra words.


Bad Joke: Take my wife -- please!
Good Joke: For one example, why don't you take my wife -- although, my wife is so annoying and vexing and irritating that when I say "take my wife" what I actually should be saying is, "Sir -- if you are going somewhere far away, take my wife...please!"

Let’s take a closer look at the genius whose numerical formula positions his team 14 games behind in the American League West and without the ability to muster a .500 record.

Yes, let us. And to do so, I will quote from one of the comments found below this post on Pags's site. (And I will add, in bold, the payroll of the team.)

2000: 91-70 (division title) (32,121,833)
2001: 102-60 (wild card) (33,810,750)
2002: 103-59 (division title) (40,004,167)
2003: 96-66 (division title) (50,260,834)
2004: 91-71 (59,425,667)
2005: 88-74 (55,425,762)
2006: 93-69 (division title) (62,242,079)
2007: 69-72 (79,366,940)

You know what the Yankees' payroll was in 2006? $194,663,079. You know how many more games they won than the A's? Four. You know what the Yankees' payroll was in 2001? $112,287,143. You know how many more games they won than the A's that year? Negative seven more. That's how many more.

Now, a sentient human with a central nervous system and the ability to process information and engage with his fellow man might look at this data and say, "Billy Beane appears to be a talented GM." Here is what Pags gets from it:

The A’s are bad!

Just to clarify, he's talking about this year. Which: yes, they are, pretty bad. They have also sustained injuries to 41 of the 40 men on their roster. It's kind of a wash, really, 2007. But Pags seems to want to forget all of the years referenced above in order to "prove" his "point," which he evidences with the following fun PowerPoint-style bullets:

I know I say this a lot, but I think this is the shittiest writing I have come across in my 54 years of deconstructing sports journalism. I just described it to Mrs. Tremendous as "a treasure trove," and she rolled her eyes and kept on doing exactly what she was doing. But I could tell she was more into it than usual.

Let's go PagsPoint™ by PagsPoint™.

They cannot “contend” in a four- team division, resulting in a sorry state of affairs.

They are not contending this year. Correct. Is this the only year you have heard of? Do you not know that there have been other years? In four of the last seven, they won the division. What a sorry state of affairs. And who are you to use the phrase "sorry state of affairs" anyway? Fucking T.E. Lawrence?

They fired a manager from 2006 who carried them to the playoffs because their genius (Beane) felt a new manager would help enhance team communication. This piece of information was reported in spring training.

I'll say right now that dealing with managers has never really seemed like Billy's strong point. That weird "Macha out, Macha talking to Pittsburgh, Macha back in" thing from 2005 was painful to watch, and I don't know how anybody thought that was going to work out. So, I guess: Beane: not great with managers. Point Pags.

They use assistant GM David Forst to critique and interrogate manager Bob Geren to second guess the lineups both before and after games.

Man. I just...this isn't English sentence construction, man. Get an editor. Or, just, maybe hire a high school kid to rewrite your stuff or something. You've got back-to-back infinitives, for god's sake.

Look. This is the way Billy Beane runs his team. He wants certain guys playing in certain situations. If you take the A's managing job, you play by his rules. You know what allows him to wield that kind of power? Four division titles in seven years.

Forst uses OPS, OBP, LLBean, FYI, and SOB as a system of analysis. Astoundingly, no one else uses this championship formula.

In the pantheon of smugly ignorant acronym use, this takes the cake. LLBean is a terrible "nerdy acronym" joke for many reasons: like, that it's not an acronym. And that it appears in an article attacking Billy Beane, which gives one the impression the author is too dumb to think of two different things at the same time. FYI is boring. SOB is a term not heard much by people under fifty. And the whole thing -- the collection of five acronyms; two real, three unfunny and fake -- is referred to as a "system of analysis." Pags, seriously bro, if you had any idea how sophisticated their actual systems of analysis were...dude. Bro. Your effing head would explode.

Other general manager disciples such as Epstein, Cashman, Daniels, and Richardi have larger money blankets than Billy Beane, but they don’t use their blankets to warm Billy when he flounders and produces a product void of luster.

This may be the most wonderful sentence I have ever read. This sentence holds the English language by the throat, pushes it against a wall, and slashes it across the face with a broken beer bottle.

"Other general manager disciples"

Disciples of what? Or whom? Epstein came from San Diego. Cash has always been a Yankee. Jon Daniels worked in Colorado and then for Jon Hart in Texas. Ricciardi -- that's how you spell his name, BTW -- is the only one you could actually call a Beane "disciple." But you didn't call them Billy Beane disciples, I guess -- you just called them "disciples." Sort of covering all your bases there. Nice work.

"have larger money blankets than Billy Beane"

It's time to play: "Has Anyone Ever Heard This Phrase?" I have not. Please write in if you have, and let me know where. This is what I imagine. But I'm willing to listen to other explanations.

"but they don’t use their blankets to warm Billy"

Excellent. Just excellent. You make up a term, and then one second later you use the term in a different metaphorical context -- an extremely tortured metaphorical context, mind you, because: how could these "money blankets" be used to 'warm" Billy Beane by other GMs? Are you saying that they don't like loan him money? Or something? Or are you saying that they don't metaphorically "warm" him with praise? This is fucking gibberish.

"when he flounders and produces a product void of luster."

My favorite part. What a finish. When he flounders and produces a product void of luster. Void of luster. Billy Beane has produced a product void of luster! Is this product...a watch fob? A set of plus-fours or spats? Perhaps an improperly polished saddle for tomorrow's hunt? No -- it's a baseball team! Surprise!

The fact is that the A’s will never win a World Series relying upon their current statistical formulas. The Oakland franchise is not structured to win a World Series.

Pags! Guns blazing! Prove it.

Sadly, Billy Beane doesn’t know this nor do his disciples.

That is sad. Those guys are just toiling away on their sophisticated mathematical modeling projects, working as hard or harder than anyone else in baseball, trying to level the playing field by outsmarting the other teams (many of whom have adopted and co-opted their methods) to compensate for (in some cases) their severely limited resources. And all that time, they don't know that they're doomed to go championshipless...forever. And they're being told this by Pags, who wrote this article from the stern of his 22-foot fishing boat ("The Yank Pags"), off the Gulf Coast, while pounding his eleventh Miller Lite.

Fundamental baseball wins championships and fundamentals aren’t found in the statistical formulas used when signing players for the Oakland franchise. They don’t get it, yet the “disciples” will revel in the notion that Billy B. says, “Joba Chamberlain is going to be a star”…………Now there’s a big time prediction!

I had to read this four or five times to understand it. I believe what PagsBone is saying: Oakland's mathematical modeling doesn't take "fundamentals" into account. Then there is a missing chunk where he would say that Beane is stupid for using these formulas, currently represented by the near non-sequitur "They don't get it." Then he adds that Beane's disciples think he's so great and point to predictions that Beane makes -- like that Joba is going to be good -- as evidence of his genius, when in fact, argues Pags, anyone in the world could have seen that!

Everything about this paragraph is wrong. The ideas behind it: wrong. The execution: virtuosically bad. A new bar has been set.

So, we ask, who will get fired this year? Will it be Bob Geren, Bob Schaefer, or David Forst? We know it won’t be Beane.

Toronto has a formula for drafting college pitchers who are unable to throw above 90 mph. Boston has Bill James-500K, the best fantasy baseball statistician in the game. He consulted in the JD Drew deal, totaling $70 million, but won’t admit it.

This makes it sound like Toronto has a specific desire to draft pitchers who cannot throw hard. I don't think that's true. I think they probably use a different set of criteria for guys who throw below 90 -- a formula involving K/BB rates, and BABIP, and the kinds of things you would want to know about a soft-tosser.

"Bill James-500K" sounds like a robot. Learn the difference between dashes and hyphens, dummy. Also, he is the opposite of a "fantasy" statistician. A "fantasy" statistician cares about things like RBI, runs, wins (for a pitcher) and stuff. Bill James does not. And yes, I am sure he did consult on the JD Drew deal, and I'm sure if you asked him he would admit it. On what basis are you saying he will not admit it? Did you ask him? Has anyone asked him? Is he publicly throwing other people under the bus for that deal? No, Pags, my man, he is not, I don't think. I could be wrong, but I don't think he is. I think that everyone in the Red Sox organization would say the same thing about that deal: disappointing so far, but it's a five-year deal, and you can't judge the success or failure of anything based on 15% of its eventual total.

The Yankees have two confidential statistical guys who are well dressed and very quiet. They both share an office near the PA announcer and are capable of telling the GM how many changeups Edwar Ramirez has thrown at AAA.

What does any of this have to do with anything, positively or negatively?

Daniels isn’t sure which part of the hierarchy is on his side.

What hierarchy? And why is this relevant? And what does it mean? And what point are you making?

Put quite simply, this is MONEY HAUL, the worst-spent dollars in major league baseball. This economic virus tows the leaders of the industry, the envious fans and executives in love with our national pastime.

This is the end of the blog entry. Fantastic. Economic virus? Envious fans? (Of what, one might ask.) And how is anyone's love of our national pasttime affected by this? And why is this money ill-spent? The Yankees, Red Sox, and A's have phenomenal records of success in the past decade. If the Pirates, Royals, and Orioles were using these methods, attack away, friend.

Sometimes -- and I know this is crazy -- I feel like Mike Pagliarulo isn't the smartest guy in the world.

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