I’ve learned to tune out the seemingly never-ending parade of writers who resort to ad hominem attacks when they write columns about sabermetrics. More often than not, the columns go something along the lines of “derp derp computer geek mom’s basement spreadsheets watch the game” without really providing any sort of actual criticism or context, just mindless complaining that the game and analysis of the game is evolving and the columnist isn’t evolving with it.
But rarely do we see a column that mixes the same tired talking points with tremendously awful writing. Usually, the angry columnists can actually string a coherent paragraph together, even if they’re not saying much of anything. Enter Scott DeSmit of The Daily News of upstate New York, who loves one sentence paragraphs and writing verbal cues.
Excluding the two quotes from the beginning of the article (one of which is by Lisa Simpson), DeSmit’s column contains 507 words – and 35 paragraphs. Of those 35 paragraphs, only five have multiple sentences – and that includes me giving some leeway to sentence fragments and unnecessary colons. This column doesn’t read like an actual column, it reads like an outline someone was writing on a notepad.
As for the actual content of the article, you know what you’re getting here – complaining about the proliferation of statistics past wins, losses, hits, and anything that your grandfather might have seen on the back of a baseball card in the 1950s, making broad, unrealistic generalizations about “stat geeks”, trying to make sabermetrics more complicated than they actually are, and so on and so forth.
I’m only going to quote one part of this article, solely for the sheer ignorance that DeSmit shows towards what he’s attempting to criticizing.
Give me that kid who dives into second base headfirst stretching a single or smashes into the outfield wall leaping for a fly ball or hits 450-feet home runs or bats .320 and steals 50 bases and give me that pitcher who waves off his manager when he reaches 100 in the pitch count.
All of the offensive stats in this sentence seem to describe Mike Trout pretty well, right? But just a few sentences (or paragraphs, whatever) earlier, DeSmit was railing against Trout because of the debate surrounding him vs. Miguel Cabrera for the 2012 AL MVP award. That’s right, the author is refighting the debate over an award that was given two years ago for seemingly no reason at all.
DeSmit is essentially saying “my perfect baseball player is Mike Trout, who those stat geeks can’t appreciate, but there’s NO WAY he should have won the MVP over Cabrera, because Triple Crown.” It’s circular, backwards logic, and I still can’t wrap my mind around this nonsense.
We’re at the point where articles of this nature aren’t even worth responding to, but every so often, we have one that sticks out because of just how terrible it is. This one takes the cake – it’s not only a paint by numbers, ill-informed attempt at a hit piece, but it comes off like it’s written by a fifth grader. It may be one of the worst sports columns ever written.