Thursday, May 11, 2006

Baseball bigots

If you played the game, then you know that you go through ...- Jim Tracy defending keeping Jeromy Burnitz in the lineup.

I talked about Tracy's rant once already today, but earlier I was so taken with his indefensible defense of Burnitz I let my biggest pet peeve of them all slip through the cracks. I've now allowed myself sufficent time to get good and pissed off about it (and I can see from the comments that I'm not alone) and I can't let it go. The worst thing any baseball manager, announcer, player, etc. can do in my eyes is accuse someone of not understanding what's happening because they didn't play major league ball. Today when asked about Burnitz, that was how Tracy closed his rant, if you played the game, clearly implying that those he was talking to had not "played the game" and that he had no time for their opinions. How can you make a more close-minded argument than that? It's the same as Joe Morgan saying he won't read Moneyball because the guy that wrote it didn't play baseball. Just because Dejan or Rob Rossi or Perrotto or whoever (though I'll bet it wasn't Paul Meyer...) asked Jim Tracy the question about Burnitz never suited up in a major league locker room for whatever reason doesn't make their question invalid. You don't have to have played baseball to see Burnitz's tank is empty and to imply so is to more or less to say "I've PLAYED Major League Baseball and I know everything there is to know, so for you to ask me that question is just pointless" is an insult to every person in the stands at that game. I played baseball through high school, I had some bad coaches along the way and I simply wasn't born with an excess of baseball talent, thus by the end of 12th grade my baseball career was over. I would've loved to keep playing when high school ended and maybe some DIII school would've given me a shot, but I wasn't going to choose a college based on my ability to play baseball there. That doesn't mean that I've stopped following baseball, stopped learning about it, or stopped understanding it, and for Jim Tracy to imply that is a slap in the face. I don't know everything about baseball, but I don't pretend to know it all like Jim Tracy does. No one can know everything about baseball, not me, not Jim Tracy, not Billy Beane, not John Schuerholz, not Tony La Russa, not even Branch Rickey or Connie Mack knew everything about baseball. The sport is over 150 years old and no one has managed to invent a stat to exactly quantify how good a player is in the field. True, there's only so much you can learn from OPS and WPA and VORP and WARP, but there's also only so much you can learn from playing the game. To close your mind to either door as a baseball person is stop learning and stop improving. In fact, sometimes the BEST way to learn about something is to get a fresh perspective on it from someone who's not familiar with it. To imply that that isn't the case is close-minded and in many other situations it would be described as bigotry. And thus, Jim Tracy and anyone else who implies or says that you wouldn't know, you didn't play the game is a baseball bigot (my dad's term, not mine). Tracy's grace period is over. Anyone that's been a reader here since last summer knows how I felt about Lloyd McClendon, but the truth is that after less than six weeks of baseball I'm more sick of Tracy than I ever was during 5 years of McClendon.