Old metrics were what everybody really cared about…just how drunk were some of those guys?
In a world of perpetual innovation — amidst a relentless pursuit of data and information, baseball has seen its traditional box score become a relic. And I, for one, am not a fan of the evolution.
No longer is it acceptable to know only how far a home-run travelled…NO NO NO! –
How high did the ball go? — Can you tell me the angle at which the batter struck the ball with the bat? — What about the launch angle?
Oh, and I must know the spin rate of the pitch that was clobbered to the neighbouring state…?
The last one, I promise –
What was the ball’s exit velocity? How fast was it going when it torpedoed into that poor dude’s melon? (Stop looking at your phones!)
My point is this: what the fuck are we doing with all this information? Dingers are dingers and strikeouts are strikeouts. Hitting .300 should still be the goal of every positional player and catch anything and everything hit to you when playing the field. Poor Bill Buckner, he had to be hungover!
Are there just nerds employed by every team — crunching numbers trying to decide which players are unequivocally the best, according to the all-truth no-nonsense language of numbers? The answer is obviously YES!
Perhaps, we’re building robot athletes, and need all this data for programming purposes? – If this is the case, I’m very much looking forward to once again embracing the barbaric nature of football…after all, robots can’t get CTE, can they? No, they bloody well cannot, but that won’t prevent a crusade of humans from standing outside Skynet Stadium yelling –
“They have feelings too! They have feelings too!” — is this really the best use of our time and energy?
Just how fucking plastered was Mickey Mantle for each and every game he played?
— Or just how blitzed was Dock Ellis when he threw a no-hitter on LSD!? If only there existed a CT scan of his head during that game. That should be, by all rights, impossible. Most people can’t even make it to Wal-Mart if they’re high…
Both of those triumphant feats take fans way back — to a time long before athletes were obliged to be role models.
To a time before social media, and billion dollar sponsorship deals.
Mickey Mantle, in 1962, collected an annual salary of $90,000 — this was coming off a year that saw him post a .317 batting average, 54 home runs, and 128 RBIs. He’d already won two AL MVP awards in his career as well. He would win his third (and final) AL MVP in 1962. And he was drunk or hungover for the better portion of the 2401 games he played over his 18-year career. A-Rod, at the height of his career, was making roughly two-thirds of Mantle’s 1962 salary…per at-bat.
It wasn’t until 1980 that baseball saw its first million dollar contract — awarded to Nolan Ryan.
Today, with sponsors and the perma-gaze of social media ruining everything, players can no longer be complete and total trainwrecks away from the field, rink, or court. Instead, we have cultivated a sport and societal culture that calls for them to be perfect — both in physical and mental make-up.
How perfect you ask? — if a team notices the spin rate associated with a certain pitcher’s curveball to be lower than the league average…why in the fuck are we going to pay you anything?!
Whatever happened to the old failproof plan of just mixing speeds and simply locating pitches?
Or — maybe a certain power-hitter was expecting to hit a home-run in free agency, but suddenly can’t because of launch angle concerns?! — are we sending satellites into orbit, or just trying to mash sexy, saucy dingers over sponsor-ladened outfield walls?
In addition to the fine-toothed comb that teams use to meticulously analyze player performance, they also expect players to refrain from any off-field dealings that could potentially irk sponsors — the NFL’s recent anthem fiasco serves as a quality example. Baseball is no different, though it has not yet drawn the full gaze of president doofus.
Somebody I admire greatly once described baseball as “the jazz of sports” — great for background noise, and little else.
If baseball wants to become an attraction that resides at the forefront of matters once again, we as fans have got to see more guys grittin’ and grinding through games — running and diving for balls after crushing 100 beers on a cross-country flight. And while you’re at it, let them poke themselves with needles. Baseball’s new motto should be “No means yes, and yes means in the butt…” — players are striking out more than they ever have. Sounds like a good excuse to give batters some help, no? You know, pokes for pokes…
It’s not too late to scrap modern metrics and revert back to baseball’s roots. 162 games spent boozing and partying while doing mostly nothing on the field. Players can even wear glasses for every game if need be.
If only sponsors weren’t so risk-adverse: entirely unwilling to be part of any level of controversy — Budweiser does not condone the actions of [insert athlete name]. He was intoxicated and should not have grabbed her butt…#thisbuttsforyou
Hell, it was only 20 years ago that David Wells, as a member of the New York Yankees, famously threw a perfect game on one hour of sleep.
According to Wells’ autobiography Perfect, I’m Not, he was still half-drunk due to a lack of sleep, and throughout the game would be subjected to “skull-rattling” headaches and hangover symptoms.
Now that’s a spin rate I can bloody well get behind…