Say it ain’t so, Derek…

If you ever wondered why I started my own blog, the article that is referenced herein and linked below should provide some clues.

Kevin Kernan authored (a term I use loosely) the article.  Frankly, drivel like that from people who are paid to provide us better is unacceptable to me.  So I took it upon myself to do better – and I guess on some level, you agree with me or you wouldn’t be here reading this.

I don’t mean to single out Kevin Kernan.  Intellectually dishonest and lazy garbage like this gets spewed every day by people collecting paychecks to deliver it.

Over time, I’ve come to learn to mostly ignore crap like this – but in this case, so many people love Jeter (me included, incidentally) and more importantly – so many people still believe this nonsense – I thought I’d take the bait and address it.

As I said, the article is linked below, but if you want to save 5 minutes of your life that you’ll never get back, here’s my take – quotes taken directly from the article are in italics:

The headline reads: “Derek Jeter will bring old-school baseball style to the owner’s box

Aaannd, we’re off…For starters, I’ve come to learn that the term “old-school” is a cover for “I have zero idea what the hell I’m talking about.”  It means, “in spite of evidence that says I’m wrong, I’m too a) dumb, b) stubborn, c) both a and b, to realize it and change so I can be better at what I do”.   Rotary phones are old school.  Covered wagons are old school.

It goes downhill from there…

Derek Jeter is going to rock baseball’s world as boss of the Marlins.  Jeter believes in scouting, talent, and heart and soul…

Yup.  Consider my world rocked. I’ve never heard anyone in the front office of an MLB team say they believed in those things before (he wrote sarcastically, as he rolled his eyes…) Statisticians and Sabrmetricians must be against talent, right?  And as a side note, what I said above re: “old school”?  See also; “heart and soul”.

Jeter will “…slow down the rush to analytics…”.  Jeter himself is quoted as saying “Everything is about numbers today, this game is more than numbers…”

Defending against an argument that no one is making is another tell that you have no idea about that which you speak.  I’ve read a LOT of statistical analysis on baseball and never once have I’ve seen someone write that “everything is about numbers”.  Not. Once.

In his heart, Jeter wants to run a baseball team that crushes what he views to be over the top analytic based teams.

I’m wondering to which teams he refers…Boston, who has three times as many championships as Jeter’s Yankees since they hired Bill James?  The reigning champion Cubs?  The best two teams in baseball this season, Houston and Los Angeles?  Who exactly, is over the top?

Perhaps pitch counts will grow.  Perhaps, if a pitcher is throwing a shutout after six innings, maybe the pitcher will go an extra inning.”

Or perhaps, knowing that starting pitchers’ performance decreases the longer they’re out there, Miami will replace them with relief pitchers and increase their chance of winning. Radical, I know…Or perhaps information that helps you win games is too cutting edge…?

Perhaps it won’t be a bullpen by numbers situation.  If a reliever is doing well, maybe he’ll get an extra out, an extra inning.”

Just as a tangential FYI Kevin, THAT’S A SABRMETRIC POSITION.  You’re now arguing for that which you were against just 30 seconds ago!  (Grabs bourbon…)

Perhaps his team will not shift as much.”  In other words, perhaps he likes positioning his fielders where the ball usually isn’t hit. Perhaps he likes more opposing batters reaching base safely.  Seriously – have they been watching batting averages plummet the last few years?  Jeter should ask Mark Teixeira what he thought about teams shifting against him.

Perhaps everything will not be geared to hitting the home run. There will be room for a batter who inside-outs a pitch the way Jeter was known for as a hitter and his 3,465 hits.”

Make room for someone like Derek Jeter?  Duh, gee I don’t know, I never played pro-ball – is 3,465 hits good?  If so, we might be able to make room for someone like that after we run it through a computer. (Sweet Holy cinnamon, this guy…)

Fundamentals will become vital again, cutoffs, too…”  Good, because I’m plum tuckered out with all those statistical mumbo jumbo nerds telling me there’s no place in the game for fundamentals and cutoffs!  Cliff’s edge, meet Kevin Kernan.

Seriously, how does one come up with this shit?

If Jeter is able to do this, the pendulum that has swung in the direction of analytics over this generation will swing a bit back toward scouting, teamwork and finding players who find a way to get the job done.”

Good Lord…analysis IS scouting.  Finding good players IS THE POINT of analytics.

And for those of you like Kevin, who haven’t watched particularly closely for the last 75 years or so:

  • Branch Rickey and the Dodgers kicked the crap out of the National League for a decade, in large part because of Rickey’s affinity for statistical analysis.
  • Over a stretch of two seasons in the early 2000’s, the A’s won 205 games, the Yankees 193 (that’s 12 games better for the old-school folk with disinclinations for math).  The Yankees payroll was $238 million over that stretch, the A’s $73 million.  So if you owned a baseball team, who would you rather have running, it – Brian Cashman or that nerd Billy Beane?  (And that’s comparing the A’s to the Yankees – imagine how the teams who out spent Oakland but still managed to suck, felt?)
  • The Boston Red Sox went 86 seasons without a championship.  Electricity didn’t exist the last time they won.  Re-read that last sentence.  They hired Bill James in ’03 and won three times in 10 years.  That is not a coincidence and as mentioned earlier, that’s three times as many as Jeter’s Yankees in that span.
  • After leaving the Red Sox, Theo Epstein (what did he ever play right? Yale nerd…) went on to win a championship with the Cubs (The. Cubs.), using those pesky data points again.
  • The best two teams in baseball in 2017 are Houston and Los Angeles.  As previously noted here, they’re both run by General Managers who had no previous experience in baseball.  They go by facts, not what they see or by their “heart and soul” (eye roll…).
  • The last time I heard about a former player that was going to set an organization straight was when Dave Stewart took over the Diamondbacks and famously said “real baseball people” were now in charge.  Well those real baseball people ran the D’backs into the ground and their departure is the main reason Arizona is one of the best teams in baseball now.

Again, I can do this all day.  These are only a few examples of dozens that show that teams that ignore data and evidence, lose – period.  Teams that use data, information and evidence to help their teams get better, win.

This isn’t atom splitting.

I’m rooting for Jeter, I really am.  He never struck me as a guy who’s head hurt if he had to think.  I’m hoping the article expressed the writer’s views more than Jeter’s.

But he’s not a writer for a tabloid rag who’s content with being ignorant because his readership is as intellectually lazy as he is.  He’s a business owner who’s going to learn some hard lessons, financial among them, if he puts the nonsense in that article into place.

The war is over.  Old school lost like it always does.

If you still want to read it for yourself, it’s here: here.


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