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Twitter: Destroying Objectivity in Baseball Daily

February 25, 2011

There are plenty of places to go on the internet if you’re looking to evaluate players: official MLB player profiles, Baseball Reference, FanGraphs, Baseball Almanac…even Wikipedia. You can find batting averages, ERAs, OBPs, FIPs, and a whole host of other acronyms. You can get fancy too: splits by batting order, comparative WAR graphs, or player BABIP vs. league average BABIP. There are the scouting reports, beat writer columns, and ESPN articles.

When your team makes a trade, it doesn’t take long whether or not to decide to bring out the voodoo dolls of your GM or laugh hysterically at the opposing one. Tim Lincecum for Russell Martin? Voodoo dolls. Aaron Rowand for Felix Hernandez? Ahahaha, Jack I-can-never-remember-how-to-spell-your-last-name, you’ve been done over!

But then there’s Twitter, and Twitter happily goes out of its way to turn all of that on its head.

That minor league outfielder with the .291/.359/.440 line in AA? Solid enough, but depending on who you talk to, his ceiling is either as a non-star regular or as a 4th outfielder. So, if Tony La Russa flew off his rocker tomorrow morning and offered Albert Pujols for Thomas Neal we would be ecstatic. Beyond ecstatic. We’d bounce off the walls all day and fall asleep with visions of World Series trophies dancing in our heads’. Right? Right…? Except…

Thomas Neal asks “Questions of the Night” and re-tweets everyone’s answers. He signs off every night with “voy de salida como un niño no-atlético en Dodge Ball I’m out like a non athletic kid in dodgeball”. He uses tags like #SFGiantsFansAreBest, and initiated #OperationGetGiants to recruit Darren Ford to the Twitterverse. He watched the Grammy’s, and he got stuck at a train crossing without a train on his way to Arizona for Spring Training. He sometimes goes overboard on the motivational/inspirational quotes.

He’ll talk to you too. As will Justin Fitzgerald, Zack Wheeler, Eric Surkamp, Sergio Romo, and a dozen others. There’s no arrogance from these guys; no question that’s too stupid.

You don’t quantify any of this. You can’t. Besides, it has nothing whatsoever to do with baseball. Its hardly ever even anything important to real life. Its little stuff.  Stuff like who can cook, who likes sushi, and opinions on animated Disney films. Meaningless. Trivial. And yet…its so very, very human.

In the past, and with less social network friendly players, you could pick up some of this through interviews or anecdotes. Its never been all that difficult to get attached to players. But Twitter magnifies it. Expands it. And it connects you to the players who aren’t constantly surrounded by microphones. What reporter would bother to ask a high A prospect what they were making their parents for dinner?

So, that trade? That utterly absurd, ridiculously unbalanced trade of Thomas Neal, a non-star prospect, for Albert Pujols, the player widely recognized as the best in the game today…I would hate to make it. I really, really would. I could never be mad at Sabean for pulling the trigger of course, who could? But I would hate it. Just like I’d hate Justin Fitzgerald or Eric Surkamp for Felix Hernandez.

Its crazy. Stupid. Bad baseball.

I know.

But somehow, 40+ home runs a year and a .330ish batting average doesn’t seem to quite make up for playful attempts at trying to speak Spanish.

Silly me. Silly us.

Memo to Britt and Maiya:

The San Francisco Giants Front Office regrets to inform you that your applications for the GM position have been rejected.

~The Intern

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