Sunday 30 September 2012

An Angry Rant, Brought to You by the Baltimore Orioles

I don't think it's a secret that I'm entirely fed up with the whole Baltimore thing.  They're so clearly not a playoff quality team, and yet, here we are.  They toil in embarrassment for the last 17 years or whatever, and proceed to field their 18th consecutive mediocre-at-best team with no starting pitching to speak of, and an opening day lineup that boasts like 5 replacement level players.  Despite all of this, they got hot over the course of 4 months and happenstance themselves in to a division lead going in to the last week of the season.

This team is living, breathing proof that you can't, indeed, predict baseball.  Everything that we, as an internet baseball community of know-it-all stat-dorks ever point to as a means of actually using our fucking brains for a change and backing up our thought processes via scientific reason has been essentially disproved by Baltimore this year.  Run differential?  We don't need no stinkin' run differential, we'll just be in the negatives all year until we play all the teams who chose to fire-sale everything at the trade deadline.  Sustainable record in 1-run games?  Nah, we'll just win them all.  Wins Above Replacement?  Well, our plan was to have fewer than 30 WAR as a team, which suggests that we shouldn't win 80 games, let alone 90+ in the AL East.  A DH?  We'll get Lew Ford.

I was doing okay.  I really was.  At some point last month, I was pretty well fine with it.  As a rational, thinking human being, I realize sometimes that it wouldn't be called probability if the unexpected didn't happen once in a while, and that there is no better or more entertaining arena than sports for those little statistical anomalies to occur.  It's just that... why Baltimore?  Fuck them.

Of course, mouthy O's fans who started off the season by saying stuff like "This is our year!  I can feel it!" and "Boy this team is good; Jones, Weiters, Reynolds, Jason Hammel! ROBERT ANDINO! Brian Roberts might even come back!" are now being all smug and in your face, talking nonsense about how Mark Reynolds is actually good at defense at 1B, or how Matt Weiters is the best catcher in baseball, or how this team actually has a good rotation, complete with staff ace Joe Saunders, and reliable #2's, Steve Johnson and Wei-Yin Chen (all of those statements are absurdly false, in case you're an O's fan).  And really, it's comments like those that I'm really here to address.  Cue Dave Schoenfield of ESPN, calling the Manny Machado call-up "The best move of the year".

Let's think about that for a second.  Manny Machado playing 46 games at age 20 is better than Mike Trout or Bryce Harper's call-ups.  Better than the Giants acquiring Angel Pagan for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez.  Better than the Hiroki Kuroda and Edwin Jackson signings.  Better than the Josh Reddick trade.  Better than the Jed Lowrie trade.  Better than the Pirates locking up Andrew McCutchen until his age 30 season, or the Jays locking up Edwin Encarnacion for 3 years during a breakout season where he would have been the most sought-after 1B in a relatively weak market.

Give me a fucking break.

Machado has been pretty good, especially for a 20-year old, there's no denying that.  But best move of the year?  This wasn't even the best move involving a 20-year old.  The fact of the matter is that Machado has an on-base percentage of .296.  He makes an out in 70% of his AB's.  Most of his value is tied up in his defensive capabilities, which, in a small sample size, can't even be taken all that seriously.  I mean, he's a natural shortstop, and a pretty good one over the course of his minor league career, so we can definitely put some credence in those numbers, but still... Best move of the year!

This is really the nonsense that gets me all riled up.  I understand that people hop on bandwagons all the time, and I'll probably hop on one at some point as well.  I can even forgive someone for pretending that they've been cheering for the O's all year, since this has been one magical, unpredictable run that they've gone on.  But let's not sit here and pretend that this is actually a good team, huh folks?  We can sit here and point to certain aspects of the O's season and call it the lynchpin for the success of the team, but at the end of the day, let's not lose our fucking minds calling a spade anything other than a spade.  This team is, at best, average, and have been incredibly fortunate to get to where they are at this point.  There is no need to go ahead and out yourself as a complete bumbling idiot, making ludicrous claims like this one, David Schoenfield.

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