Happy to be finished with baseball ... maybe forever
Dear Boston Red Sox: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, a thousand thank yous for eliminating the Yankees from the playoffs.
Now I’ve been absolved of watching baseball again until April. If I ever watch it again at all. And I may not. Because I don’t recognize the game I grew up loving anymore.
I watched less baseball this year than ever. There were days I actually forgot the Yankees were playing. That had never happened in my lifetime. But the way the game is presented to us now — through the exclusive prism of metrics — has soured me, perhaps irreparably.
I can’t stand the Yankees right now. Not because they lost to Boston. It happens. The Red Sox try, too. And history says the Yanks have had the better of it. Nah. I can’t stand them because they’ve become prisoners to analytics, amassing a team of exit velos and launch-anglers, forever trying to hit the ball over the moon instead of through the vacated side of the infield.
Not that moonshots don’t sell tickets. But with two on and two out in a tie game — and the left side of the infield more open than Wyoming — I’d settle for an RBI single. I know. That makes me antiquated for using such a pedestrian, old-man term such as “situational hitting.” Somehow, the Yankees won 27 championships using it instead of fretting over “hit probability.”
This is not baseball.
This is math class on Viagra.
Yet it’s being browbeaten into me by announcers, writers, bloggers and other pseudo-intellectual goobers who are panic stricken at the thought of independent thinking. And so they worship at the altar of spin rate because, let’s face it, they just sound professorial doing so.
It’s just that nobody ever explains it. There is no context. Why is it relevant? Why does launch angle supersede situational hitting? We’re just supposed to accept it and move on because the intelligentsia says so?
You know what metric-worshipping front offices produced this year in baseball? Alarming ineptitude (eight teams with at least 95 losses) and at least one 100-win team, the one eliminated Tuesday night, with more holes than Bethpage Black.
I guess we’re just supposed to offer an absorbing, “thank you sir, may we have another?”
Most of my old college guys are in the corporate/business world. They make way (way) more money than I do. They love this stuff. They torture me with it.
Wednesday, for instance, my forever friend John Fox sent me the following e-mail:
“I wasn’t worried about Mookie anymore after I saw this from Red Sox Stats on Twitter,” he wrote. “`Betts has been the most unlucky hitter in the playoffs thus far. He has been crushing for a .611 expected wOBA on contact with .301 wOBA results. The -.310 difference is the unluckiest by 50 points among 70 players.’”
He also sent this: “On hard hit balls in the ALDS, Yankees had a -33% change in launch angle from their regular season average. Red Sox had a +10% change.”
My feeling after reading that: Somebody stab me in the eye with a sharp pencil. I have no idea what that means, how it relates to baseball, why the Yankees can’t hit the immortal Nathan Eovaldi and why Aaron Boone was comatose for games three and four.
My friend Tim Callahan, noting my abject hatred of all this, wrote, “do you look at your phone to see what time it is or do you prefer a sundial?”
Callahan, noting that I can’t make this weekend’s reunion at BC for the football game against Louisville, then writes, “to make you feel like he was there, I’ll take some Polaroids and send them to him via the U.S. postal service.”
Hardy har har.
See? If you don’t subscribe to that which you do not understand, you are stuck in a time warp.
Sorry. I’ve been watching baseball for 44 years. I know that “Norm Cash” isn’t a method of payment. I hate bunting. I hate the National League, the pitcher hitting and a breaking ball on 0-2 after throwing two fastballs by the hitter. I hate swinging 3-0. I like opposite field singles, listening to the game on the radio, boxscores and for the third baseman to play … third base.
And I did just fine with the game I love until recently, when the Ivy League hijacked my favorite summer thing.
So once again: Thanks to the Sox. You saved me. No more baseball for me in 2018. And maybe 2019. I bet there are many others like me out there. Our game is gone.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro