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The Response of a Stat-Crazed Dunce

March 18, 2011

It won’t be long before we get the first wave of nonsense from stat-crazed dunces claiming there’s nothing to be learned from a batting average, won-loss record or RBI total. Listen, just go back to bed, OK? Strip down to those fourth-day undies, head downstairs (to “your mother’s basement and your mother’s computer,” as Chipper Jones so aptly describes it) and churn out some more crap. For more than a century, .220 meant something. So did .278, .301, .350, an 18-4 record, or 118 RBIs. Now it all means nothing because a bunch of nonathletes are trying to reinvent the game?

~Bruce Jenkins

I first saw this quote on McCovey Chronicles, and in all seriousness, I thought it was a joke. I assumed that Grant was being his usual snarky self and simply exaggerating something Jenkins had written. Boy, was I wrong. I clicked through the link to find the real article, and in between something about explosions in Moneyball and the Warriors, there was that quote, word for word, in all its “fourth-day undie” glory. Well, then. While I disagree with Jenkins frequently, this was far beyond what I’d ever thought I’d see him write, or the paper actually publish.

Where do I even begin?

I myself can be one of the most stubborn, conservative people in the world when it comes to “tradition”. Instant replay in baseball? I have yet to be convinced. And no, I wasn’t living in a cave during the not-quite-perfect perfect game. A computerized pitch tracker calling balls and strikes? Uh, no. Sorry. Rationally or irrationally, I hate the idea. But I’ve never called those who do support these things “technology-crazed dunces claiming there’s nothing to be learned from real humans, I, Robot and umpires.” That would be silly, stupid, offensive, and flat out wrong.

Oh, did I just imply that our friend Bruce was the “s-word”? Oops. But hey, he started it. (Somewhere my 2nd grade teacher just rolled her eyes and snapped “I don’t care who started it, because I’m going to finish it!)

Its fascinating, really. These so-called basement dwelling dunces Jenkins hates are largely made up of his readers and his colleagues. Yet not only does he go out of his way to write something rude enough to earn a smack from my mother, it gets published. I’m sure his fellow writers appreciate the sentiment.

It is one thing to be unwilling to change, or to stick to what you’re familiar with in your own writing. After all, I attempt to write about baseball and I’m not exactly up-to-date on the latest defensive metrics or WAR debates. Its another thing entirely to fling insults at the people who are willing to admit that maybe, just maybe, a stat that was invented 30+ years ago might be useful. If to Jenkins, open-mindedness, analysis, and questioning are synonymous with “nerd living in their mother’s basement”, then he is living in a sad, sad world. It is a world without OBP, the internet, hot water, ERA+ and RC airplanes. That must a spectacularly dull world.

Jenkins is getting attention I suppose, and if that’s what he wants, all the more power to him. I’m not really sure that gaining attention in exchange for any semblance of credibility or likability is worthwhile, but what do I know? I’m just a stat-crazed dunce.

So, here’s a message to you Mr. Jenkins, from all the lifelong baseball fans, parents, college students, and working professionals that live in this hypothetical basement of yours and wear fourth-day undies: Listen, just go back to bed, OK?

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