Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
November 7, 2005
BASEBALL: Firing Back at Plaschke

Matt Welch takes another swing at know-nothing LA Times baseball columnist Bill Plaschke - this time in the LAT itself (H/T). A sample:

Plaschke apparently never bothered to learn the well-documented basics of the philosophies discussed in "Moneyball," so he could write howlers such as this one on Oct. 4: "It's a vision that has yet to result in a playoff series victory in the three places where it is prominently pushed - Oakland, Los Angeles and Toronto." Every baseball beat writer in the country (including the Times' own capable Bill Shaikin) could tell you that "Moneyball" tenets played a big role in the 2004 World Champion Red Sox, who employed the movement's godfather, Bill James.

In his first column after DePodesta's hiring, Plaschke made the absurdly inaccurate claim that "[Kirk] Gibson's unconventional numbers probably wouldn't have fit the A's system," when in fact Gibson's high on-base percentage would have fit in particularly well in Oakland's (or anybody else's) system.

Reading Plaschke, you'd be convinced that DePodesta's only baseball knowledge came from playing computer games in his underwear. "[J.D. Drew] was the double sixes in Paul DePodesta's giant game of Strat-O-Matic, the scroll wheel on his baseball iPod," Plaschke mused on June 24 (yes, he actually writes like this). "He was the ideal player for those who study the sport at a keyboard and play it in a basement."

Actually, DePodesta played baseball in college. Plaschke? He wrote for his campus newspaper.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:20 PM | Baseball 2005 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I hate to harp on my "cult of ignorance" comment, but it applies here as well. There are too mnay people like Plaschke, who pretends to have knowledge about something, in this case baseball, when he has none. He masks his ignorance by wrapping it in the abilty to write aobut something he sees a lot, but has no clue what he is actually seeing.

Commenting on "failing management" when you make the playoffs in Oakland, Boston and LA, while slowly improving in Toronto sounds pretty good to me. I mean, claiming Oakland didn't win a series because Jeremy Giambi did not slide (he was safe by the way, but Jeter's play was still sensational) is silly.

The number crunching is hardly new; what ever is really new? When Stallings platooned in 1914, it was because he was mentally number crunching. Branch Rickey number crunched, but because his mind could calcualte everything in his head, we forget he knew the numbers. Earl Weaver? Plaschke wopuld probably miss him now, thinking him "old school." The real shame is Plaschke is probably eligible to vote on the Hall of Fame.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at November 7, 2005 10:13 PM

Is it just me or have the comments by "old school" writers gotten more and more rediculous.

Are we supposed to believe that Kenny Williams doesn't use a spreadsheet? That Brian Cashman calculates payroll with an abacus? That Jim Hendry doesn't know how to turn on a computer?

These articles sound more and more like the type of people who thought TV's were fads. They come this close to saying, "And these young whippersnappers with their rock & roll music...."

Posted by: Paytonrules at November 7, 2005 10:46 PM

It's really amazing to see this kind of crap, but it's all over. The old guard in any field will always defend the castle walls against perceived invaders. Sports writing, like scouting and such, has often been dominated by the shmoozers, the guys who hung around, and "learned by watching," etc. Whatever.

What these clowns like Plaschke can't stand is that baseball, and sports writing, now joins all the other areas of "journalism" they once avoided, in that it requires something more than shmoozing. Real intelligence? Won't hurt, but hardly a necessity. But to intelligently follow the game, write about it, or manage it, means one needs to know & understand more than a player's "five tools." Guys like Plaschke can't stand it. Their monopoly is being broken up.

Funny part is the language these neanderthals always use. One, the expectable "You can't understand the game without watching" crap, which while true to a degree in football and hockey just ain't true in regards to baseball.

And two, the always hilarious trundling out of "All you want to do is talk about stats; baseball's played by men, not stats, blah, blah, blah." Followed immediately thereafter by . . . the citation of an endless string of stats. Of course those stats that THEY cite are Wins, RBI, Batting Average , and others that are not terribly helpful yet easily understood by those too lazy to read and learn something beyond what Fran Healy or Mike Francessa says.

But it's their last gasp. They'll lose. Belief in magic and superstition and tradition can carry the day when votes or social harmony are in play. But in business? Not a chance.

Posted by: Mike at November 8, 2005 8:57 AM

OK, different sport, same argument. Oscar Robertson was interviewed on WFAN (New York's sports talk station) last week. The reporter was Joe Benigno, who spent the time kissing The Big O's feet. Had Chris Russo doen the interview, we would have had some great follow up questions. figured since Mike mentioned Francesa, I would bring up his crazier, but better prepared partner.

Oscar said he wasn't bitter over the money, when you could tell he was. Can't say I blame him. Then he did go on quite a bit over how the game has changed, I had more REAL assists, it was harder to get an assist in the old days, blah blah blah. He did say Jordan was a good player, but not as good as the guys who played when Oscar did--which means of course that basketball has beeen downhill after about 1972 or so.

I was never an Oscar fan, I thought he, like Jim Brown, could do it all, but chose not to always do so; Jerry West played great defense all the time because he could and DID. So these dopey reporters, along with some "old time" baseball executives, always prefer the old ways of doing things.

Branch Rickey was laughed at while he set up the farm system, but I bet Connie Mack and his other old school guys, who had no player development programs stopped laughing when they stopped winning. Bill James was recognized as on an interesting path, and, as we know, the correct one, years ago. However, the baseball establishment disparaged him for years. Remember when the Red Sox hired him? Lots of snickers, 'Now he'll learn how real baseball is played."

If Earl Weaver were younger today and managing, he would probably have a laptop in the dugout. Can you imagine the number of roster moves he would make today?

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at November 8, 2005 2:34 PM
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