FIRE JOE MORGAN: Thanksgiving? More Like Nothanksgiving (I'm Talking About Bill Conlin)!


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Thursday, November 22, 2007


Thanksgiving? More Like Nothanksgiving (I'm Talking About Bill Conlin)!

Hey, Bill Conlin just wrote an article about Jimmy Rollins winning the MVP. Guess what? Squanto could have written a better article. That's right. I said it. Squanto. (I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, can't I read just one sabermetrically-inclined meta-commentary "comedy" blog without running into a Squanto joke? The answer: no, you cannot. Squanto.)

Bill Conlin | Rollins' winning numbers

I'm guessing Conlin didn't write this headline. Numbers can't win, dummy! Teams win. Players win. Guts win. The only numbers that matter are the numbers that measure the size of your heart (and guess what: these numbers don't exist because heart can't be measured!!!)

TO APPRECIATE the sheer scope of Jimmy Rollins epic run to yesterday's MVP award, you almost have to forget he plays a position where defense has always been the No. 1 priority.

Keep this in mind while you read this article: Jimmy Rollins did not -- emphatically did not deserve to win the MVP award, because he was indisputably not close to being the most valuable of players. He was, humorously, something like 9th or 10th, or hell, if we're being friendly, maybe in the top 5. Maybe.

And while the American League has had two freaks of nature who have put up engine room numbers at shortstop - Cal Ripken and the pre-third base Alex Rodriguez - the National League hasn't seen anything quite like the season the Flying Fireplug regaled us with last season since Ernie Banks. Not from a shortstop.

Yes, perfectly valid, except for the fact that Rollins was offensively outplayed by a shortstop in his own league this very year. 2007. The year we're talking about.

Flying Fireplug
OBP .344
OPS+ 118
EqA .298
BtRuns 15.0
VORP 66.1

Shitty Assplug
OBP .386
OPS+ 145
EqA .323
BtRuns 42.1
VORP 89.5

Shitty Assplug plays for the Florida Marlins. So yeah, instead of saying "the National League hasn't seen a season quite like this one since 1842!" a better thing to say would be "a season like this hasn't been seen since a season happening at this exact same time, only totally better in almost every way!"

No middle infielder has ever stocked a trophy case in one season with a record 716 at-bats, 212 hits, 139 runs scored, 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 home runs, 41 stolen bases, 380 total bases and a big man's slugging percentage of .531.

Shitty Assplug, Redux: 212 hits, 125 runs scored, 48 doubles, 6 triples, 29 home runs, 51 stolen bases, 359 total bases, and a shitty man's slugging percentage of .562. Fewer at bats, and 68 fewer outs.

Jimmy Rollins made more outs than any MVP in the history of the National League.

I defy anyone to show me the trophy you get for having a slugging percentage of .531. In my imagination, it's shaped like the numbers 531, made of osmium, and totally invisible, because it doesn't exist EVEN IN MY IMAGINATION.

Rollins became just the fourth player in big league history to have 20 or more doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases in a single season, joining the 1911 Cubs' Wildfire Schulte, some guy named Willie Mays and 2007 Tigers centerfield dervish Curtis Granderson.

Another guy who played this year. And this quadruple-20 shit is so meaningless it's embarrassing. How many baseball writers do you think allowed that to influence their vote? All of them? I say all of them.

Do you know only one man in history has accrued 16 doubles, 83 runs, 6 walks, 42 hit by pitches, and 134 caught stealings? That man is Alan Alda (2004 Diamondbacks).

Jimmy Rollins is what you get when you cross a ballet dancer with a bulldog.

The other thing you get when you cross these things is a horrifying pornographic film. Then boom, Rollins pops out.

Despite his defensive contribution being backhanded by Red Sox front office stat man Bill James - baseball's most influential cybergeek - the league's managers and coaches awarded him a Gold Glove.

Probably a mistake. Though that's impossible -- the Gold Glove voters are infallible. They've never done anything wrong or silly or downright embarrassing and indefensible.

Apparently, James decided that a Range Factor based on successful chances (putouts plus assists) times nine innings, divided by number of defensive innings played is more important than the result - for example, a friggin' out. Despite his No. 3 fielding percentage of .985 (behind Troy Tulowitzki's .987 and Omar Vizquel's .986) Rollins rated No. 15 in the James Range Factor. Fortunately, the baseball men who vote for the Gold Gloves depend on what they see, not laptop science. Jose Reyes, a nimble windshield wiper, ranked No. 25 in RF.

And "laptop science" goes directly into the Label bin. Thank you, Bill Conlin.

The diminishing criticisms revolved around an on-base percentage that just didn't equate to the demands of a table-setter.

How were we to know that what Rollins had in mind was not only setting the table, but consuming the meal and then clearing it with a dish-scattering flurry of offense?

Food metaphors. Gold mine. Loving it. Hey, Bill, also, great point you're making here that totally undermines your article. Jimmy Rollins was fucking 47th in the NL in OBP. 47th. Shane Victorino out-OBP-ed this flying fireplug. Rollins was 7th in the league out of 14 qualified shortstops. Lower than Jack Wilson.

Now Conlin gets really crazy and starts comparing Jimmy to Ernie Banks.

Banks was superb in 1958-59, leading the league in homers and RBI, but Rollins scored more runs this year, had more hits, more steals, doubles and triples. Banks had 32 errors in '58, just 12 in '59 but his range was starting to erode by then.

Since you're really close-minded to new ideas, I'm going to be super ageist and assume you're very, very old -- that you reek of embalming fluid and Centrum Silver, that you give out buckwheat pennies at Halloween -- so I'll speak up: YOU CAN'T COMPARE COUNTING STATS ACROSS ERAS AND BALLPARKS.

The league OPS in 1958 (adjusted for Banks' home ballpark) was .752. This year it was .794 (adjusted for Rollins' home park). If you insist on getting really dumb, the batting average in 1958 was .267, compared to .279 this year. I feel dirty just writing that, but maybe, just maybe, it will help Bill understand what he's doing wrong. PEOPLE SCORED MORE RUNS THIS YEAR.

Banks OPS+ 156
Rollins OPS+ 118

This is stupid.

I was concerned that Rockies hitting dynamo Matt Holliday, the close runner-up, might steal the election with the hanging chad of his heroic batwork in the Rockies dramatic comeback playoff victory over the Diamondbacks. I could envision BBWAA ball writers ready to e-mail the results of a season extended to 163 games, needing just to fill in lines 1 and 2.

And just when you think Bill Conlin is done -- just when you think he can't top the inanity, uninformeditude, and just plain willful ignorance he's exhibited in the first 95% of the article, he slams you with the hanging chad reference. Well played, Conlin. You may not be knowledgeable about baseball, but you're a hell of a comedy writer. You've just made a believer out of me.

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posted by Junior  # 1:09 AM
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