Saturday, October 22, 2005

Of Choirboys and Ballplayers

"Mr. Madison, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul." - from Billy Madison

The quote from the school principal in Billy Madison distills much of the on air commentary from sports radio. If Trot Nixon forgets how many outs there are and tosses it into the grandstand, then it's a lapse. When Manny Ramirez fails to run out a groundball, it's a felony.

Bertrand Russell reminds us that "the most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion." Although baseball is a game where thirty percent batting success represents unusual success, team success depends more on achievement than perceived effort.

Pete Rose may end being known best for being a 'hustler' not for being 'Charlie Hustle'. He will be best remembered for his 4256 hits and 3 World Series titles, not for running out walks. 'Total effort guys' like B.J. Surhoff will win you games, but not championships. If you had twenty-five Manny Ramirez' ability players, you'd go broke, but you'd have a terrific lineup. A 'Surhoff lineup' would give you a career OPS of .745, parenthetically a point higher than Carlos Beltran's 2005 output for the Mets.

It takes two players hitting twenty homers and seventy RBI to replace Ramirez. Sure you might be able to do that for less money, but another spot in the lineup disappears.

Arguing whether Ramirez' gargantuan contract was 'worthwhile' begs another question, as in, "who is worth 20 million a year for personal services?" Warren Buffett can't turn your or my money into 20 million in a year (unless you're starting with 100 extra large) and I'm not sure that an army of personal servants could provide 20 million dollars worth of entertainment annually.

What remains certain is that if the Sox had 25 choirboys, total effort players of mediocre effort, they'd be pretty boring, not very quotable (bad for the scribes), and win a lot fewer games than 2004's self-proclaimed 'Idiots'. So do you really want choirboys or ballplayers?

1 comment:

Roberto Iza said...
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