Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Exhibit 1B

From Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe (hat tip to BBTF):
Memo to 30-year-old stat geeks combing through Jim Rice's numbers: Get out of the house and look at the sky one time. I know personal contact frightens you, but let go of OPS for a moment and try talking to someone who saw Rice play, or better yet, played against him.
It's very hard for me to stay calm when I read something like this, so let me see if I can describe how this comment makes me feel in a rational manner.

Mr. Shaughnessy is a long-time writer for the Boston Globe and a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. It's his belief that Jim Rice, a member of the Boston Red Sox from 1974 through 1989, is worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame.

So far, Mr. Rice has been unable to garner the level of support needed for that honor, though he stands a mere sixteen votes shy with one year remaining in his eligibility. It is highly likely that he will be elected next year, or by the Hall of Fame Veteran's Committee after his eligibility on the BBWAA ballot runs out.

There has been a substantial effort on the part of many in the Internet community to persuade BBWAA voters not to vote for Jim Rice. The effort has not always been conducted with the appropriate level of respect to the BBWAA members or to Mr. Rice himself, but, by and large, those prominent members of the Internet community who have argued against Mr. Rice's inclusion have done so by using objective evidence presented with good intentions and free from personal vitriol if not hyperbole.

There are those in the mainstream media, many members of the BBWAA, who have viewed this effort as offensive, either because it impugns the career of Mr. Rice or because it implies that the BBWAA is not adequately doing its job.

I do not at this time want to address the adequacy of either Mr. Rice's candidacy or the BBWAA. However, a word must be said about the attitude of some members of the BBWAA, such as Mr. Shaughnessy, who have decided that ad hominem attacks represent an appropriate response to the criticism coming from the Internet community.

BBWAA writers are professionals. They are paid to provide a service to their employer: quality baseball writing and reporting. It is shameful that any of them would decide to stoop to the level of an anonymous Internet forum participant when replying to well reasoned criticism about their work or opinions. It is their job to remain above the low level of discourse found in many areas of the Internet.

Furthermore, the knee-jerk reaction to smear every form of analysis that one does not fully understand with grade-school level taunting is behavior not befitting a grown man, let alone one who has access to such a public forum. It is a sad situation, and one increasingly common in all aspects of American life, that allows such blatant anti-intellectualism to be so pervasive. If Mr. Shaughnessy or any member of the BBWAA has an objection to the criticism offered by some of the more visible critics of Mr. Rice's candidacy, he or she would do well to take the time to understand the criticism and refute it with reason rather than stooping to such irrational and immature attacks.

Those who argue against Mr. Rice's candidacy do so with the intention of upholding the standards of the Hall of Fame. Those arguments worthy of response by supporters of Mr. Rice should be countered on the basis of their substance, not who their author was or where they were published.

I hope that this demonstrates to those reading why my respect for mainstream sports media has been almost completely obliterated.

1 comment:

D.Cous. said...

What the hell is with that column? You'll have to excuse me, I don't generally read sports commentary, but can you really get paid for writing a "where are they now?" round-up on anyone who might have at one time or another had something to do with sports in the Boston area? Weird.

As regards the quoted excerpt, Shaunessy seems to be missing the fact (or what I believe to be the fact) that 30-year-old "stat geeks" aren't people who just love numbers for the hell of it, they're people who are OBSESSED with baseball. The stats/mom's basement stereotype that professional sports writers seem to be fond of dragging out seems to me to be simply a way to say "get a life and stop caring about baseball so much," but without pointing out that they themselves spend all of their time writing about it.

Call me crazy.