Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Article of the Week for the Week of May 18 - 24

Colleague John Brattain regularly writes some of my favorite baseball articles. In a recent article at the Hardball Times, Brattain furthers the discussion regarding regarding possible collusion between baseball and Barry Bonds. This has been a running theme for Brattain as he has written about this topic at length on several occasions which I will link later on in this article.

What I want to point out is how great the logic Brattain uses and the discussion he is proposing within the baseball community. This discussion is similar to the one that occurs within academia where authors and researchers dig and gouge at one another's work. In doing so, Brattain is attempting to push the conversation within the baseball community. Brattain is attempting to open up a dialogue where answers can be found and individuals can draw direct and logical answers.

Furthermore, this dialogue, in essence, is attempting to better the baseball community. Why should those who spend so much time analyzing the sport, not have an open ended discussion? I attempted to add something to the discussion in response to an earlier Brattain column which first brought light to a possible collusion case. Brattain furthered this with an outstanding entry at Baseball Digest Daily where he officially went out and called the Bonds situation a case of collusion.


But back to the article...

Brattain discusses how the media has had an influence on other occasions of collusion, asserting that there is little difference between what is going on with baseball, the media and Bonds at this moment. Bonds, as everyone knows, has never been on the best terms with the baseball media. Several documents discuss how irritated Bonds was over the home run chase between McGwire and Sosa in 1998. To be fair, Bonds was justified in this, as at this time, he was far and away the best baseball player in the game, one who was not all about home runs.

However, the media fell in love with McGwire and Sosa and the ever cold Bonds grew colder. Brattain responds to an article where the author tried to claim that the theory of collusion against Bonds was ridiculous, citing that teams did not want old players with a history of being a clubhouse cancer and injury issues. I thought that the Frank Thomas signing would have been the perfect case for collusion against Bonds, however it went largely ignored that a superior hitter was available.

Brattain reminds readers that much of the negativity towards Bonds has been media fueled. For example, Brattain debates whether Bonds has truly been pampered compared to other major league veterans? He also questions why, if it is such an issue, a team does not simply say no to Bonds? Teams give out no-trade clauses to players, I would think they could also create a no-clubhouse privileges as well.

I love this part...
Baggage? You mean how the media defines it? I get the feeling baggage is a generic term for “he’s nasty to us.” After all, spousal abuse, drunk driving, assault and performance-enhancing/recreational drug use doesn’t give a player baggage (lots of those in the game but they lack the “baggage" of Bonds) but Bonds has enough of this commodity to suck the life out of any clubhouse. I am just curious who are these hangers-on causing radiation poisoning? Bonds’ entourage of who the club can bar from the premises as a condition of employment or is it a reference to segments of the press with axes to grind? It’s a pity the evil Roger Maris has shuffled off his mortal coil—he could inform us about the fair and balanced reporting we can expect from those covering the game.

Oddly enough both surpassed the home run feats of a beloved icon and both records are/were slagged by writers like the author of the column in question—one because of a longer schedule, the other due to PED use.
I have always loved how journalists will get on an athlete for being cold or withdrawn. I recall when Randy Johnson stiff armed a camera man his first day in New York and the media went crazy. Today, that is all but forgotten.

Brattain concludes by questioning the authors assertion that Bonds has a negative impact on the clubhouse, asserting,
Not as excited as they were in 1997, 2000 and 2002-03 I'll wager. Of course when you win fewer than four times over every 10 games, a win may be cause for celebration. It should be noted that the Giants had such a stacked team from 1997 to 2004 that they could still reach the postseason four times, averaging 92 wins per year while Bonds was “sucking the life force and youthful exuberance from their clubhouse.”

Using this writer’s logic, Bonds’ presence on the team cost the team eight straight World Series championships and an equal amount of 120-win seasons due to being such an anchor in the clubhouse. I'm surprised that he didn't claim that Bonds sucked so much life out of the atmosphere at Fulton County Stadium that it slowed the ball just enough that it couldn't reach home plate fast enough to nail Sid Bream.

Once Bonds left Pittsburgh, the new refreshing atmosphere in the Pirates clubhouse catapulted the Bucs from a club that three-peated in the NL East from 1990-92 to a juggernaut working on its 16th-straight losing season that just celebrated its 1058th Bonds-free victory. (We'll just ignore those meaningless 1,319 losses since they were all moral victories.)

Using the slobbermetric formula of wins + moral victories (losses that are achieved absent Barry Bonds) x life-force/attendance + media members rolled in the Colonel's secret blend of herbs and spices divided by investigative reporting grade of the baseball press between 1998-2003 adjusted for home park, hyperbole, exuberance while subtracting placement in divisional standings and games played after October 3, we see that after jettisoning Bonds the Pirates have an Inconsequentialian win-loss record of 2,377-0 and are undefeated in postseason play!

There really isn't much to add to the discussion, however I wish that baseball would go in that direction. The issue is that there are too many people who take the issues personally and do not evaluate them with an open mind. I am not a 'Barry Bonds' fan, I am a baseball fan. Sure I have certain situations where I assert favoritism, but nothing to the extent where I will ignore logic (at least I hope).

I recognize that certain authors have to appease a certain audience. A writer cannot find a job writing for a newspaper in Dallas and incessantly cheer for the Astros in his columns. However, if the Rangers are brutal and the management is running the organization to the ground, why beat around the bush?

Brattain is an author who does not beat around the bush. He is an author who admittedly 'goes the opposite way of popular opinion'. This is presumably how he got into baseball being from Ontario, a hockey crazed region. Most importantly, Brattain is attempting to open a dialogue among baseball writers, which seems perfectly rationale to me.

BallHype: hype it up!

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