Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Peter Gammons Changes the Questions

A lot of Peter Gammons's writing the last few years revolves around a common theme (no, not the enormity of Theo Epstein's testicles...a different common theme): Gammons explains the prevailing wisdom about a certain team, player, manager or GM — and then he TEARS THAT PREVAILING WISDOM APART!

These "Oh yeah? You think you know baseball? Wrong, fucko!" columns all share certain key characteristics:

-A haughty, condescending tone — not unlike that of a Harvard professor deigning to explain something to a class of freshmen
-A hastily described strawman argument, outlining the way certain fans or ignorant media types have been too quick to criticize Player A or Manager B or General Manager C
-An impassioned defense of said player, coach or GM, complete with cherry-picked stats, often occurring at the crest of a winning or hot streak
-An inexplicable obsession with and loathing for sports talk radio, the medium that bears the brunt of the blame for the massive stupidity spreading throughout the game, according to Gammons

In his latest piece, the oracle actually builds his entire column around the theory that people misjudged and are misjudging teams based on cold streaks and slow starts. And those people are stupid, stupid, stupid.

Gammons complains often and at length about the "sports radio culture" permeating our society, which causes fans to demand instant results and places undue pressure on struggling teams. But by attacking the most idiotic facet of sports media, Gammons is able to ignore intelligent critcism and analysis that impugns the people and franchises he so indignantly defends.

In this one article alone, Gammons defends the Seattle tandem of Mike Hargrove and Bill Bavasi on the basis of their slightly-better-than-average 2007 record, conveniently ignoring the rest of the recent past. Amazingly, at the same time, he hypocritically rails against small-sample arguments like Theo Epstein being attacked for acquiring Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo just because the team is struggling. Umm...two things, Pete. 1) Theo Epstein should be attacked for acquiring Crisp and Lugo, no matter the team's record, and 2) Have you ever written a column in which you didn't defend Epstein against a real or imagined attack?

Check this out:

In these days of IGR (Immediate Gratification Radio), these cycles are not allowed to be placed in perspective. We have already heard calls for the firing of Bill Bavasi and Mike Hargrove in Seattle, and the Mariners have one of the five best records in the American League. Daniels and Ron Washington in Texas, in a process known as a massive overhaul. Williams, Ozzie Guillen and Jim Hendry in Chicago, where one of the game's most respected pitching coaches, Don Cooper, got yelled at by a talk-show jock. Dayton Moore in Kansas City, for taking Luke Hochaver, not Tim Lincecum, in last year's draft. And Brian Sabean even got into it on a talk-radio program.

Not to mention Sam Perlozzo in Baltimore,which is legitimate heat. John Gibbons in Toronto. Jerry Narron in Cincinnati. Jim Tracy and Dave Littlefield in Pittsburgh. Dan O'Dowd and Clint Hurdle in Colorado, long before the Rockies went into Boston and blew out Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett. And Phil Garner in Houston.

So...I guess you can't ever criticize a losing team, under any circumstances? Gammons seems to be arguing that these are baseball people, damn it, and therefore shouldn't have to suffer questioning from the likes of you and me. He seems to be promoting some weird Utopian view of the game, wherein all teams, managers and executives deserve praise. Teams that are winning are doing so because a well-thought plan is paying off. Teams that are losing are doing so because their plans haven't had a chance to come to fruition yet.

It's OK to get mad at people, Pete. We're not in kindergarten anymore. They can take it. Some people just suck at their jobs.