FIRE JOE MORGAN: 1 Reason I Am Willing to be Baited


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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Saturday, May 24, 2008


1 Reason I Am Willing to be Baited

Sorry for the lack of posts, you guys. The insurance industry is not exactly at its zenith right now. On my desk are 3500 pages of subpoenas requesting records that have been long since shredded, and while your humble narrator remains innocent of any wrongdoing, one would guess that several of my compatriots will soon be doing perp walks outside the Partridge, KS town courthouse. Bill Gristleman, Chad Thinson, Emerson Queltz, James Jimson, Hap Gerdle, Avery Klumhauser, Gern Blenston...all my friends. They'll all be gone soon. Oh, Fremulon, we hardly knew ye.

So what's a guy to do? How about: submit to the temptation to be baited by a dumb article entitled "8 Reasons Why Baseball is Lame and Boring" by the pseudonymous "J-Mo." That selfsame pseudonym, as well as the general tone of the article, suggests that the only reason for its existence is to get picked up by angry bloggers like me and drive traffic to the dank, dark, msn/lifestyle/men corner of the worldwideternets.

But screw it. I'm in a fightin' mood.

In just about every U.S. city, if you’re not a fan of baseball, you might as well not be American. Harboring an aversion to the sport is equivalent to burning Old Glory—especially here in Boston, where I live.

This is correct.

What? You don’t know Big Papi’s slugging percentage? That’s an immediate flogging.

It's up to .459, after a very disturbing and PECOTA "Collapse Rate"-style fear-inducing .375 in 96 April AB. .608 in May is more like it. Anyway, yes, I would flog you, if I still lived in Boston.

Tell anyone you’d rather walk along the Charles River than spend an afternoon at Fenway Park? You’re looking at five years in Guantanamo Bay, pal.

That seems extreme. The flogging will suffice.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not some kind of a namby-pamby anti-sports guy. Football is a part of my DNA and most of my shirts growing up were the color of blood. But let's face it: Baseball is lame and boring. At the risk of being cuffed and detained by Homeland Security (which, by the way, is why I’m writing this article under a pseudonym), here are eight reasons why.

Before we get going here, let me just say that "boring" is probably the #1 complaint of non-baseball fans about the game of baseball. The standard counter-argument -- and it's a good one -- is that there is much to enjoy about the non-action periods of a game. The positioning of fielders, the psychological drama of pitcher vs. batter, the strategizing, the fact that the defense puts the ball into play on its own schedule, the fact that somehow the game has evolved perfectly so that a runner with just big enough a lead to not get picked off first who starts running exactly when the pitcher goes into a delivery from the stretch will slide into second at almost exactly the moment that the ball can travel from pitcher's hand to catcher's mitt to catcher's hand to second baseman's glove, and so on. If you don't subscribe to this theory, and long for the exactly-as-long-gametime and exactly-as-many-moments-of-actual-action of the NFL, there's probably no way to change your mind. My point is only this: it's very hacky and boring to say that baseball is boring, because anyone who doesn't like baseball is going to say it's boring.

Can we agree on this? One hundred and sixty two games in a regular season is 142 too many.

You want 20 baseball games a year? Seriously? You want the season to last from April 1 to April 25? You want each team to play each other team once, with like 5 interleague games? You want the May Classic? You want that?

Come on. By the time July rolls around, a game-winning home run or strike out in the bottom of the ninth doesn’t mean squat, except that it’s finally time to go to bed. Knock the schedule down to one game a week and then we might have something to look forward to,

Ah. You want one game a week. Keep the calendar the same, just spread the games out so thin you forget the season's still happening. And knock the revenue down 85%. And make it as hard to see in person as football. Awesome.

Here's the thing, though, J-Mo: the joy of baseball is that the season stretches out over a long period of time, and they play every night. That's what separates the game from other games. Shit's poetic, holmes. Baseball is poetic. It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. (I just came up with that! I am a genius.)

just as long as we don’t have to endure pregame interviews and press conferences all week long. Ugh.

Anyone want to stick up for basketball or football press conferences and postgame interviews as being more interesting than those in baseball? (Clinton Portis excepted.)

And while we're talking about this, anyone want to say that the baseball season is more boring than the NBA playoffs, in which 28 of the 30 teams qualify, and then play best-of-seven series against each other from March to the following February?

Physical Fitness
It’s no shocker that you don’t have to be Mr. Universe to play baseball, but some guys look like they’ve been chewing on North Carolina pulled pork in the dugout instead of tobacco.

Brought to you by J-Mo Smokeless Tobacco. J-Mo: It's Less Fattening Than Pork!

Take a look back a few years and it’s even worse.

So...the "problem" you're describing is getting better.

Milwaukee tumors were as commonplace a generation ago as Camaros with T-tops. It’s no wonder steroids are such a problem in the league today. Why work out when all you have to do is shoot up?

Baseball: the only sport where athletes use steroids.

Also, as far as I am concerned, the less-than-chiseled silhouettes of some MLB players is a huge vote in favor of baseball as the People's Game. It has also led to some of the most excellent quotes in sports history, like when Terry Francona, told that Kevin Youkilis's nickname is "The Greek God of Walks," responded, "I've seen him in the shower. He isn't the Greek god of anything."

Fair-Weather Sport
Ask any football, soccer, rugby, or lacrosse player what they think about rain delays in baseball and they’ll likely give you an answer we can’t print here.

"Fuckshit!" they'll say, those foulmouthed lax players.

What they’ll imply is that baseball players are a little less manly than other athletes simply because they won’t play in the rain. What’s the worst that could happen?

The game will be impossible to play, and no one will watch it.

Slower pitching? More runs scored? A few extra scratches and bruises? (Boo-hoo.)

It's not a contact sport, dummy. It's a precision sport. You don't perform knee surgery in the rain either.

Stealing second means sliding into left field? Sounds like we have a way to make baseball less lame and boring.

Yes. Play it in the rain. Excellent idea. You know what else would be cool? Opening a petting zoo at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

If I want a lesson in mathematics, I’ll walk through the halls of MIT, not the turnstiles of Yawkey Way. We’re supposed to be enjoying ourselves, aren’t we?

Oh, we're enjoying ourselves, J-Mo. And here's the thing about statistics, which to me seems self-evident, but to pseudonymous blowhards might not: you don't have to use them, if you don't want to.

On-base percentages, opponent on-base plus slugging percentages, sabermetrics … Alan Greenspan might enjoy crunching the numbers, but for those of us who’d rather leave our brains at work, the cold-beverage-intake-to-bladder-outflow ratio makes a whole lot more sense.

Bra. Seriously, bra. Fuck these nerds. For serious. True story, bra -- I'm at the game yesterday. I'm wasted. Seriously, bra, I've had like eleven brews. I'm there with my boy Donnie -- awesome guy. Solid guy. The papers call him the "Laundry Room Rapist." So Donnie's like, "Bra, you want another one?" And I'm like, "Shitchyea, dude! I ain't driving!" And Donnie's all, "Bra, you are driving, remember?" And I was like, "Ohhhh shit!" And we high-five, right?

So basically everything was awesome. We were crushing it, bra. And then, this little fucking nerd in front of us is like, "Can you be careful? You're spilling beer on my daughter's head," and I'm like, "Whatever dude -- it's a ballgame. Shut up and enjoy the ride!" and he's like, "Just try to be more considerate," and then his little nerd son is like, "Daddy, look, Manny's up!" and his nerd dad is like, "Let's go Manny!" and his nerd son is like, "His batting average is down to .288" and that's when I just lost it, bra. Those fucking nerds and their numbers. So I pull my rod out -- you know, because I have to piss, right? -- and the guy is all, "Hey! You can't do that here!" and I'm like, "Sorry, nerdbra, the only statistic I care about is how many brewskis I've had and how much piss I've pissed" and the next thing you know security is dragging me out and they're all like, "You're banned for life" and I'm like, "Bra, what the hell?" and they're like "You pulled your penis out and urinated at your seat and there's vomit on your forearm, and also you can't smoke in the stadium, and your friend is wearing a shirt and shoes but no pants," and I'm like "He's Donald Ducking it, bra -- it's classic!" and they're like, "Get out of here and never come back."

And that's when I realized: nerds have ruined baseball.

Going the Distance
If a quarterback can get nearly knocked unconscious multiple times by 300-pound defensive ends for four full quarters, then why shouldn’t a pitcher have to throw a ball 60 feet for a full nine innings—especially if that pitcher is making millions of dollars a year?

...Sorry, do you really want an answer? Okay. Because there aren't 7 other quarterbacks who specialize in 4th quarter passing on an NFL roster. Because baseball isn't really about enduring physical pain, because it, again, is not a contact sport. Because a pitcher has to hurl a ball 90+ mph over and over again into an imaginary box that measures about 500 square inches, and if he spots the ball in about 450 of those square inches it will be launched into outer space by a roided-up monster holding a tree branch and wearing enough protective armor to render moot even his most child-like fear of getting hit with the ball, and the ability to hit those last 50 square inches with the ball he's throwing from 60.5 feet away tends to deteriorate after he's done it 110 times (plus warm-ups), and his ability to do it at all will pretty much fly right out the metaphorical window if someone makes him do it so much that his fucking arm falls off.

Instead he gets pulled before things can go from bad to worse, and fans go nutty when the song they voted for plays over the loudspeakers and their star closer comes out of the bullpen like Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn in Major League.

Topical. Also: how is this a bad thing if it gets fans riled up in a good way? Also: fans tend to love CGs more than even closer entrances. Also: fans don't vote for those songs. They are chosen by the closers. Also: if you ever went to a Padres game in the late 1990s when Trevor Hoffman came in, or to the Stadium when Mariano comes in, or to Houston when Wagner came in, or to Anaheim when Percival came in, or to Boston when Papelbon comes in, and you didn't enjoy yourself, you are a soulless thug.

Don’t even get me started on “The Papelbon.”

Are you talking about this:?

Because that was awesome.

Evoke God in public schools, at any bar, or even on national television and you’re likely to be shown the door.

Public schools, maybe, sure, because of that whole thing about not forcing religions on people in America. But bars and TV? It's all God all the time out there, man. In fact, I would go as far as to say, if you're an atheist you're much more likely to be "shown the door" than if you say you love God.

Yet baseball fans collectively acknowledge a higher power that influences their favorite teams and players.

Oh. This is what you were talking about. I thought you were going to say that you're sick of athletes attributing their play to Jesus. I am sick of that, too -- in all sports. But you're talking about stupid superstitions. Ugh. You don't even know where your argument actually lives, here.

A seemingly innocuous trade of a pudgy pitcher in 1920 by the Red Sox to the Yankees? Yup, that was a curse.

The only person who really believes that is this dude, and he doesn't really believe it as much as he used it to sell books. Sentient human beings understand that decades of racism and mismanagement were actually more responsible for the failure of the franchise than ghost stories and nonsense.

Winning two World Series titles in three years? Fate.

Two titles in four years, genius, not three. And not fate: just good teams. Even the most Leigh Montvilled-out poets among us don't attribute the second title to fate. How would that even make sense?

A Red Sox shirt buried in concrete at the new Yankees Stadium? Bad vibes, dig it up!

More like bad press, if you're a new loudmouthed Yankee owner trying to make his mark by screaming as loud as daddy did.

A hawk that recently attacked a teenage girl named Alexandra Rodriguez (A-Rod, as in Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez) at Fenway Park? You guessed it, an omen. And we wonder why the Pope won’t visit our city.

First of all, that was amazing. If you didn't hear about this, here's the story. It's pretty amazing that her name was Alexa Rodriguez, don't you think? I mean, come on -- how can you not love that? (Except that a girl was attacked by a wild animal, and thank goodness she's okay, and all of that.)

Off-Season Shenanigans

Baseball is a year-round sport and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Between charity events, trades, management shake-ups, and stadium upgrades, teams and the media make it painfully clear: You will think about baseball 360 days a year—OR ELSE!

First of all, did you intend to give us 5 days off, or are you maybe thinking of a circle? Second of all: for a guy who prefers the NFL to MLB, this is straight-up bonkers. The NFL is the sport with year-round coverage, and their regular season is only four months long. The draft, the minicamps, the free agent signings, the pre-season...the NFL gets 24/7/365 coverage by the media. (And it should, by the way, because people are interested in it.) The baseball season starts on April 1 or so, goes to October 1 or so, then another month for the post-season. Then nobody cares about it until like March, because the NFL is in full swing. (Some people like the Hot Stove season -- myself included -- but the whole world stops when the NFL releases its new schedule.)

But the league occasionally throws us a bone with some quality off-season entertainment like a six-hour Senate hearing. Now that’s excitement!

Fair enough. The congressional stuff is boring. 9/10 of the way through the article, you have managed to make a good point about why baseball isn't that interesting right now, by citing something that has very little to do with the actual game. Good work.

Then there's something about fantasy baseball being boring, which is, itself, boring. And there you have it. 8 reasons why baseball is lame and boring, brought to you by a person who chose to write under a pseudonym that parodies an 8-year-old cultural reference on a website that contains a chunk of url reading:

Bra. Seriously. That was lame.

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posted by Anonymous  # 1:41 PM
Stephanie makes some good points:

You forgot to further destroy his argument by mentioning that no quarterback actually spends "four full quarters" being attacked by defenders. Even the Superbowl Champion New York Giants had a regular season average time of possession of 31:22. As a stats nerd, I used complicated mathematics to determine that that equals an average of 2.091 quarters, and I'm quite sure that 2.091 < 4.

Also, maybe I am weird, but I would rather watch a 6-hour Senate hearing than a 6-hour Mel Kiper Jr marathon.

And so does Jake:

"Why work out when all you have to do is shoot up?"

Steroids allow you to work out longer, harder. They don't make muscle just magically appear. They allow you to build more muscle faster, but you still have to work out like a maniac. This is why Barry Bonds hurt his ligaments, etc. after he went on steroids. The drugs masked the pain even as they built up his muscles so that they were too much for his connective tissue. Taking steroids is not the lazy way out, its the unnatural way.

Also, wouldn't steroids make you more fit? I don't understand his argument here.

I always referred to the shirt/no pants look as "Porky Pigging it." Maybe it's a Maryland thing.
Matt points out that I totally pooched it, bra:

Since the writer is from Boston, the whole "fans voting for the closer's song" section is right. Last year, one of the radio stations - either WAAF or BCN - let fans vote for Papelbon's song and that's how he wound up with "Shipping Up to Boston."
But all of a sudden here comes Cyndi with a left hook to the face of Matt:

Since the writer is from Boston , the whole "fans voting for the closer's song" section is right. Last year, one of the radio stations - either WAAF or BCN - let fans vote for Papelbon's song and that's how he wound up with "Shipping Up to Boston."

Sorry, but “Matt” is wrong. Dr Charles Steinberg chose “Shipping up to Boston ” back when he was still running all things commercial/promotional for the Sox. They covered it on one of those “hated” post-game shows in NESN.

Plenty of radio stations and newspapers made a big deal out of what Papelbon’s song should be and had fan votes, but none of them actually chose what the song was. The Red Sox chose it themselves.

So it was The Dentist. Interesting. I am going to defend Steinberg on this one -- I'm glad it is region-specific, and not just "Hell's Bells" or something.
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