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Ryan Howard’s ability to hit lefties is not a matter of opinion

Feb 15, 2013, 8:55 AM EDT

I was just reading this profile on Ryan Howard over at Philly.com. It’s your standard spring optimism piece. Howard feels way better now than last year and is ready to return to form. Nothing all that notable in the story.

But midway down the story, a poll appears:

source:

Internet polls are all pretty meaningless, especially the actual results. But this one is particularly astounding to me inasmuch as it treats something which is wholly empirical — whether or not Ryan Howard can hit lefties — as though it were a matter of opinion or belief. Which may not seem like a big deal, but when you think about it this is the exact reason why so much sports conversation is stupid.

For better or worse, people have been conditioned to think that their opinions and beliefs, no matter how loony they are, are just as valid as anyone’s else’s. So when one challenges a given opinion or belief, one understandably gets an extreme amount of pushback and intransigence. That’s well and good when we’re talking about a lot of opinions or beliefs. I believe that “Tonight’s the Night” is the best Neil Young album. I don’t care how many of you ninnies think “After the Gold Rush” is better, I’m simply not going to buy it and if you insist on it I’m ultimately gonna think poor things of you and ignore you. For your part, I hope you feel the same way about me in this respect.

But when someone treats something that is purely empirical as thought it were belief, that’s the road to lunacy and ignorance.  No matter how big a Phillies fan you are and no matter how badly you want to see Ryan Howard take Clayton Kershaw downtown the next time they meet, it is inescapable — it is a matter of pure, immutable fact — that Ryan Howard has struggled mightily against lefties for his career and that he has gotten worse, not better, at hitting them as time has gone on. This is true whether he has been healthy or injured. With few, long ago exceptions, he has always been a liability against lefthanders.

Sports fans — and even a lot of sports writers — treat empirical things as though they were matters of belief. They believe Howard can hit lefties. They believe Jack Morris was the best pitcher of the 1980s. They believe that Michael Young‘s leadership and professionalism make him an MVP-caliber player. They believe that Derek Jeter is a good defensive shortstop.  And if someone says “he can’t,” “he wasn’t,” “it doesn’t” and “he isn’t,” you’re not just wrong, you’re assailing one’s belief system, and that makes you an awful person.

Empiricism vs. Belief. It’s the core of a lot of political arguments. It’s also the core of a lot of baseball arguments. If only we could all agree which things are matters of which, imagine how much better everyone would get along.

133 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. lancer255 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    Why do you hate Philly teams?

    • dan1111 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:08 AM

      This is great if you meant it ironically.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        It was. I assumed he did…because I refuse to believe that anyone could possible write only that sentence and not mean it as irony.

      • heyblueyoustink - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:24 AM

        Probably not, but proving, empirically speaking, that Craig enjoys needling Phillies fans, would not be that hard.

  2. phisticuffs - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    Just a conspiracy by Phillies fans to raise Howard’s trade value from non-existent to no-way-in-hell.

    • greymares - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      Evidently the league should be thankful he doesn’t hit lefties if he’s getting 125 RBI against righthanders he would have 250 if he hit lefties well. talk about him not hitting lefties, talk about his striking out but just total the RBI that’s why he’s getting paid.

      • zs123 - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        And that’s why he has one of the 5 worst contracts in baseball.

  3. andyreidisfat - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    I’m sorry but you knock someone for having an opinion yet all you come back with is an opinion. Not one stat to back up said opinion. You sir, are a hack.

    • escapingexile - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:19 AM

      Philly troll? Absolutely. Hack? Nah.

    • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      Here: http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=2154&position=1B&season=0

      You lose.

    • kirkvanhouten - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:37 AM

      “Not one stat to back up said opinion.”

      And you sir, are exactly what is wrong with America.
      Seriously, how the fuck do people get this mentality?

      • cur68 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:52 AM

        Actually I think the problem isn’t the lack or presence of the mentality: its the importance given to the person with it. Jon Stewart did a bit on the Daily Show news (possibly the best news show on the planet) comparing American style political arguing to UK style. What you saw was precisely this: opinion, religion, and hyperbole in America vs. cogent argument, sticking to fact, and reasonable debate in the UK. I saw that and all I could think was “THERE’S your problem”.

        I do believe the American political system is standing on the shoulders of past greatness. Standing there, and rather than reaching upwards, has instead their eyes closed, a bible clutched in one hand, the flag in the other, and lobbyist dollar bills leaking from their pockets. All the while spewing opinion like its fact and appealing to the lowest common denominator.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:22 AM

        Oh, cur, I thought you had a better grasp on US history than that. :( Don’t buy into that rosy-days-of-yester-year crap. You disappoint me, dude.

      • Gamera the Brave - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:32 AM

        cur,
        I refuse to listen to your criticism of the American political system, as your opinion clashes with the arbitrariness of my belief system…

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:56 AM

        Cur, I think the biggest problem is that politicians don’t run for office or vote based on their own opinion. They have whatever opinion that are paid to have, and because their opinions are bought and paid for, it is their job to argue in support of that opinion as best they can. Because the opinions are not fact-based: 1) they have to find another justification for how they are voting on an issue, and 2) they have to avoid facts like the plague because they know that is a losing argument….so the game is to try to drag anyone that is arguing based on fact into the fact-free muck in order to cloud the issue and engender as strong an emotional response as you can (thus leaning on flags and bibles).

      • cur68 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        ‘philliac, your nation is the foremost power in the world. Economically, life span, standard of living, access to resources, militarily: whatever. That was not built and nurtured by the blow hards of today. Its an outcome brought about by some astute administrators and far sighted planning. Not all of this was accomplished by savoury or ethical means, but it worked very well. Denying America’s current place in the world is ignoring history and the processes that produced that place.

        Owning up to that which was unsavoury, unethical and/or wrong-headed is part of a mature thinking process and a way to see that past mistakes are not re-made, but lets not deny that there are certain standard that Americans enjoy due to those very processes.

      • cur68 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        ‘Lions: agree. That’s the problem. The trouble is that while that might be all good when things are going well, its a tremendous waste when things are not. More than half your politicians and administrators are engaging in faith based political posturing at a time when sane assessment of the facts are required. Its mind boggling that this is so.

      • louhudson23 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:14 PM

        When a politician can identify poor brown people(today’s poor black person),the working poor,the poor elderly,the poor sick,the rich and poor gay,college students and everyone else that they can possibly blame for all our nations economic problems(except entrenched corporate polluters,financial market and banking thieves and tax scoff laws),as well as blame our environmental problems and our energy problems on environmentalists,our education problem on educated people,our science problems on scientists and receive votes and support form roughly half of those same people that they just blamed ,then the problem is not the politician,it is the voter…..

      • cur68 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        Lou, pandering to prejudices is a time honoured vote getting mechanism. I bet our history professor friend historiophilliac can confirm that one.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 1:07 PM

        Cur, I think you misunderstood my objection — it’s that you implied that Bible-clutching, flag-waving and vote-procuring is a new thing. Spewing opinion is what got us here/great — although our first foray into empire was prompted by the need for bird shit (true story). Our success was not well-planned nor a product of superior administration. (But feel free to throw out some examples, if’n you wants.)

        Pandering is a time-honored campaign practice. (lou forgot the Chinese!) What’s even better is convincing people that your idea is right so you can then pander to them on that. That’s real talent. That’s how we get the many to pay for benefits for the few.

      • cur68 - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:40 PM

        I agree: its not a t all a new thing. But its rather new that such stupid decisions are being made at the highest levels of your government based on it.
        As for the rest: your country didn’t arrive where it is by accident, either for better or worse. Decisions were made, some good (and yes, some bad), that brought about the place that America now holds. Among them a free press; Separation of church and state; relatively uncorrupted civil police force; The idea and general enforcement that laws apply equally to all; democracy. These were all good sound ideas that were acted upon and improved over time. Some of these ideas were so good that they changed the way other, older countries operated. Just the fact that you and I can even be having this discussion is evidence of that.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 16, 2013 at 12:19 AM

        Cur, I guess I’d like to know who you think planned for us to be where we are today and how that plan worked. And, how do you think we got freedom of the press and democracy?

    • byjiminy - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      That would be a valid critique if the facts were not so frequently cited and ubiquitously available. If he said, “it is a matter of pure, immutable fact — that Ryan Howard has struggled mightily against lefties for his career” and the facts did not back him up, you could indeed criticize him for criticizing an opinion with an opinion. But if you want to challenge a man who says, “it is a pure, immutable fact,” for getting his facts wrong, most people would check what the facts were, to avoid publicly making a fool of themselves.

      For example, I would want to look up the facts before publicly criticizing you, in case you are right. Here they are:

      G AB HR AVG OBP SLG OPS
      vs. Left 662 1396 74 .227 .305 .434 .739
      vs. Right 957 2658 226 .295 .393 .612 1.005

      Wow, those are some pretty big splits. On the face of it, though, not as putrid as one might have assumed. You could legitimately argue about whether a .739 OPS makes someone a “liability” or constitutes “struggling mightily.” And the question is reduced to a simple binary choice between whether this means he “can hit” or “can’t hit,” it would be defensible to argue that a .739 OPS indicates he “can hit” lefties. That is a pretty respectable number, at the major league level, for your off-hand. In fact it’s about the average for a non-pitcher. In fact I’m glad you irritated me enough to look this up, I thought it would have been lower.

      Of course many would then counter-argue that for a first baseman, that is not good enough, especially one making $35 million a year until he is sixty* (*not an actual fact, but close). And it would be every hard, ludicrous even, to argue that he is not overpaid, especially for his coming twilight years, which may have already arrived. But there’s no question he suffers from immense righty-lefty splits, and it’s not exactly going out on a limb to say a .738 OPS from your clean-up hitter is a liability; those are center fielder numbers — it would be like batting Denard Span (.738), Michael Saunders (.738), or Michael Bourn (.739) clean-up. Few would argue that is heroic production from a clean-up hitter (though many would argue batting one of them clean-up would be preferable to paying Ryan Howard, whose salary could have benefited the team much more if allocated to other players).

      But there’s no question about the factuality of Craig’s other main assertion: that Howard’s splits (with a few exceptions, as he points out) have been getting worse, not better. Here is his OPS against lefties, by year, starting with his first full season:

      2006 .923
      2007 .826
      2008 .746
      2009 .653
      2010 .826
      2011 .634
      2012 .604

      Some might, and do, argue that injuries are what’s been keeping him back. But projecting that a huge, aging, previously injured player’s health will improve as he ages, rather than continue to decline, is not a winning gamble.

      In conclusion, I would say the fact support Craig. In three of the last four years, Howard’s OPS against lefties were .653, .634, and .604. In those years, their clean up hitter agains lefties was the equivalent of D. Barney (.653 OPS, apparently he’s a second baseman for the Cubs); a combination of light-hitting infielders Yoenis Escobar (.644) and Dustin Ackley (.622); and … well the list I’m looking at doesn’t go that low, the closest I can find is Jemile Weeks, whose .609 OPS got him demoted to AAA.

      But maybe if he feels really, really good, and he tries really, really hard, to prove the doubters wrong. He did hit .826 against lefties in 2010. So it would not be entirely unprecedented for him to do it again. Stranger things have happened; I didn’t see Jeter’s resurgence coming. Good luck!

  4. voteforno6 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Agreed…”Tonight’s the Night” is Neil Young’s best album. I am kind of partial to “Rust Never Sleeps” as well, though.

  5. Liam - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    Everybody Knows This is Nowhere is so clearly the best Neil Young album ever.

    • voteforno6 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:06 AM

      I don’t know about that…it does have the best Neil Young song ever, though.

      • sargespeak - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:26 AM

        Zuma!!

    • nategearhart - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      This.

  6. samu0034 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    At least two of your analogies cannot be empirically disproven. If people think that Jack Morris was the best pitcher of the 80’s, there are statistical, empirical arguments to be made in favor of that. Perhaps not good ones, but arguments just the same. And most especially, if someone believes that Michael Young’s leadership and professionalism make him an MVP candidate, there are absolutely no measures that could prove an argument like that wrong.

    • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      Actually, empiricism requires one to consider all available data. Consideration of all available data could not possibly result in the conclusion that Jack Morris was the best pitcher of the 80s, it couldn’t even result in the conclusion that he was an elite pitcher in the 80s.

      The Young example is fine as well as it is an example of a believe for which no evidence is available. Because you can neither prove it nor disprove it, an empiricist would not reach any conclusion with regard to the value of MYs leadership and professionalism and would just ignore it.

      • dan1111 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        One could easily make an empirical case that Jack Morris was the best pitcher of the 1980’s. There weren’t many dominant pitchers whose careers spanned the 1980’s. There were some dominant guys like Clemens and Saberhagen, but they pitched far fewer innings in the 1980’s than Morris. And there were some other guys who pitched as many innings but were no more dominant than Morris.

        Only Dave Stieb pitched roughly the same number of innings with a significantly better ERA. Still, one could make a case for Morris over Stieb like this:

        -Morris still pitched 100 more innings.

        -Morris had 41 more complete games.

        -Morris had 22 more wins and a better winning percentage.

        -Morris was dominant in four postseason starts, going 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA and 3 complete games. Stieb had a 4.74 ERA and a 1-3 postseason record.

        I don’t agree with this case, really. I would prefer Stieb’s better ERA. But it’s not so obvious as you might think. It depends on what stats you think are most important.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        To make the case for Morris, you have to ignore a LOT of information and narrowly define “best” to heavily weight innings pitched rather than the quality of those innings.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:51 AM

        So you’re saying there’s a chance…

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:02 PM

        It is actually very obvious.

        Among pitchers with 1000+ IP in the 80s, Morris ranks 57th out of 99 pitchers in ERA.

        Among pitchers with 2000+ IP in the 80s, Morris ranks 6th out of 10 pitchers in ERA.

        Morris was 7th in WAR among pitchers in the 80s.

        Morris’ only claim would be that he pitched the most innings, but he didn’t pitch the best. Yes, he had the most pitcher wins, but he was also 3rd in pitcher losses. Again, he didn’t pitch particularly well, just a LOT….and there is value in that….but there is a giant chasm between value and being the best.

  7. wonderkt - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Good to see the first couple commentors take the bait, hook, line and sinker. You assailed their “belief system” so, therefore, you are labeled “a hack” and a “hater” of Philadelphia teams. Point made, sir.

    By the way, the rest of the country doesn’t hate Philadelphia sports teams. To be hated, they would have to be relevant.

  8. flosox - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Mortal Kombat on Sega Genesis is the best video game ever…

    • dwrek5 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      I remember getting in trouble for using the “blood code”. Kids these days, “you needed a code for what?!”

      • flosox - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:31 AM

        The secret codes were all the rage…I can still tell you the secret code to get infiniti lives on Contra but I can’t remember what the hell i did yesterday!

      • somekat - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        everybody knows up up down down left right left right b a select start

        I still remember the code to go straight to Kid Dynamite on tyson’s punchout. beat that

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 15, 2013 at 2:23 PM

        I can still tell you the secret code to get infiniti lives on Contra but I can’t remember what the hell i did yesterday!

        You do know that was the Konami code right and worked on most of their games, not just Contra.

    • Matt - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      I disagree. It’s a very good game, but I think Donkey Kong is the best game ever.

  9. mp4philly - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Your articles make you sound like a philly hater. Ass.

    • kirkvanhouten - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      Man, people from Philly are so * sensitive*

      Who hurt you mp4? Can it be cured with a hug-o-thon?

    • derklempner - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:26 PM

      Your comment makes you sound like a Philly ass. Hater.

  10. shukey11 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    When you say you’re not going to buy it, do you mean not buy that it’s the best album? or are you simply not going to purchase the album? if it is the latter that would be very short sighted on your part.

  11. unclemosesgreen - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    I can empirically demonstrate with an etch-a-sketch, an abacus, and a cup of brownian motion tea that the best Neil Young album is Rust Never Sleeps.

    • bsbiz - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      That will get you far with the Infinite Improbability Drive.

      • unclemosesgreen - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:38 AM

        It’ll keep me searchin for a Heart of Gold.

      • voteforno6 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Do you need a Sedan Delivery for that?

  12. raysfan1 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    I hope Neil Young will remember the southern man doesn’t need him around anyhow.

    • flosox - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      Damn! That’s what they say in that line…never could understand it.

      Thanks for making my Friday!

    • louhudson23 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:21 PM

      Actually, it is “don’t need him around,anyhow” .

      • raysfan1 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:56 PM

        Picky picky.

  13. irishphilly87 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    Craig you’re always talking smack about Ryan Howard. The man helped the Phillies win 5 straight NL East titles and a World Series. What have your Braves done since Maddux Glavine and Smoltz? We have a better trio, Halladay, Lee and Hamels and Doc is going to have a bounce back year this year and look more like his old self. Lee cant possibly have a worse year than last year I really think he’ll step it up and shut up critics (myself included) and Cole is Cole, 17 wins last year and no reason to believe he wont be as good this year. Mike Adams is a top 3 set up man in baseball, and we’ll finally have the 8th inning figured out. We blew over 20 games last year. Chase is looking healthy knock on wood. Michael Young could surprise doubters and have a nice year. He did have 200+ hits the year before last year that peopel love to forget. We are really riding our hopes on a 26 real old rookie Darin Ruf and hopin his pop down in the minors can translate to the Bigs and hopefully hit 20-25 homers for us, and sleeper player of the year, look to see Delmon Young batting behind Ryan Howard put up some good offensive stats. Just watch man. I gurantee the Phillies at least finish higher than the Braves. The Nats are my concern… but with that said all the injuries we suffered last year Chase, Howard and Doc out half a season each and the bullpen woes we still managed 81 wins. Good health and a better bullpen this year i’m predicting 92 wins.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      Maybe so. But Howard will still not be able to hit lefties.

      • greymares - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM

        it’s all about the RBI.

    • bsbiz - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:34 AM

      *Insert Sad Trombone here*

    • joshtown81 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:48 AM

      Do you really think Halladay, Lee and Hamels are better than Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz?

      • bolweevils2 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        Right now? Sure.

      • irishphilly87 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        As it stands Maddux and Glavine are sure HOF’ers…Doc, Lee and Hamels are no slouches. Doc is a HOF’er. 2 CY youngs in both leagues. Lee has a couple 20 win seasons and a CY young. Cole Hamels is 28 years old a World Series MVP and starting the prime of his career. Will he get 300 wins like Glavine? No but the game evolves every year, I don’t think we’ll ever see another 300 win pitcher. Clubs rely on the bullpen too much now and starting pitchers are losing out on wins. Not just Cole Hamels i’m talking all of baseball. There’s 300 pound slobs that come in the 7th inning and give up 2 runs in an inning on every team.

    • ryanrockzzz - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:00 AM

      As a Phillies fan, I want to agree with all of this. Except Ryan Howard is awful against LH and most Phillies fans literally form their opinion of things by the very day they happen, and flip flop Mitt Romney style.

      I think the Philis will be much better then everyone thinks they will be, but much better is still only 90 wins max. Can’t see the Braves being much better unless one of the Upton brothers decides to finally play baseball for 162 games instead of showing up for about half of them.

      Good points with the pitching staff..but I don’t think Delmon Young makes this team, and Darin Ruf hits 15 HR’s, not 20-25.

      • irishphilly87 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:57 PM

        why are you not so sold on Delmon Young? he had 18 homers 78 rbi’s last year and had a monster playoffs for Tigers was the ALCS MVP which the average fan had no idea about. I think hes in a contract year and will have a good year 18-20 homers and 80 rbi’s. People also dont realize the Philliese were 45-31 the 2nd half of the season.

      • IdahoMariner - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        kudos on your balanced, non-hysterical analysis.

      • IdahoMariner - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        and that was sincerely directed at ryanrockzzz, not sarcastically directed at irishphilly.

        although i guess it would work either way.

    • bolweevils2 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      Huh? Craig says Howard can’t hit lefties. How is your diatribe about how the Phillies will be good this year in any way relevant to that question?

    • phillyphreak - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      “We are really riding our hopes on a 26 real old rookie Darin Ruf and hopin his pop down in the minors can translate to the Bigs and hopefully hit 20-25 homers for us, and sleeper player of the year, look to see Delmon Young batting behind Ryan Howard put up some good offensive stats. ”

      If the Phillies are riding their hopes on a 26 year old rookie who didn’t show tons of power until he was a 25 year old in DOUBLE A, then well….Irish eyes really are always smilin….

      Dude it’s totally okay to say that Howard is way in decline and can’t hit lefties, it’s not a personal attack on him…..

      • hisgirlgotburrelled - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        In his age 23-25 seasons Ruff hit 9, 17, 38 HR’s. In his ages 22-24 seasons Howard hit 19, 23, 46 HR’s. Sort of close… So, in conclusion, Ruff will be the ROY this year and MVP next. /sarcasm

        Just sayin’, Ruff’s power could be real… but then fizzle out within 4 years.

    • elpendejo59 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:34 AM

      Wait a minute…Philly fans actually think Cliff Lee had a BAD year last year? Seriously?

    • American of African Descent - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:22 PM

      Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz are three first ballot hall of famers. (Well, they should be first ballot hall of famers if not for the log-jam/cluster-f*ck of a voting process that’s going on right now.) Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz never missed the playoffs when they were together. They won multiple NL pennants (although you could knock them for having only one World Series win). Doc, Lee, and Hamels . . . well . . . just look at 2012. Doc, Lee, and Hamels are not worthy to Maddux, Glavine, or Smoltz’s jock straps.

      That is all.

    • IdahoMariner - Feb 15, 2013 at 3:41 PM

      if one could possibly ignore the typical phillie-fan misguided overreaction to something NOT said in a post (he just said he can’t hit lefties, man)….
      ….you lost any shred of credibility when you demonstrated that you know nothing about valuing a pitcher’s performance by stating, at least implicitly, that Lee performed poorly last year.

      • irishphilly87 - Feb 15, 2013 at 5:12 PM

        Lee did perform poorly. He had a good ERA by year’s end but if you actually watched the games you’d ha e seen he got knocked around in a good amount of games. Lee might be the biggest disappointment on the team to me. He gets paid $25 mil a year and we were up 4-0 in game 2 against St Louis 2 years ago and he ga e up a 4 run lead. Doc won game 1 Cole won game 3. Lee cost us that series and St Louis went on to win the world series. Dont tell me i dont know what im talkin about i watch every Phillies game.

  14. uwsptke - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    This reminds of a debate I got into with a coworker a few years back with a Phillies fan. He argued Utley/Howard was the best 3/4 hitting combo in the league, while I argued that it was Braun/Fielder. The stats were on my side, and he had sort of an “aha” moment when I showed him Howard’s career splits against LHP in black and white.

    • phillyphannn83 - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:07 PM

      Of course were learning now that Brauns success is due to his PED use, but that has nothing to to with anything, does it. smh

  15. paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

    — Isaac Asimov

    • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:52 AM

      I’m not even going to argue that with you. I’m just going to say I love that Asimov is your authority.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:56 AM

        Yeah, that cracks me up. I just like the quote….the last phrase is actually 100% true….people act like all opinions are equally valid, which, of course, is complete bull shit. Opinions based on more/better information are more likely to be closer to correct, and opinions based on nothing are worth exactly that.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:57 AM

        I told you I wasn’t going to argue it with you.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:58 AM

        YOU WILL TOO…argue dammit!

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        Put a t-shirt in it, paper bag.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:16 AM

        Um…..Go Tigers! Grrrrrrr.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:18 AM

        You didn’t laugh? :( Go Tigers!

        I’m going to be in meetings off and on most of the day anyway, so it will be hard for me to respond much. It wouldn’t make for a good argument.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:42 AM

        Oh yeah, I laughed.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:43 AM

        Yea!!!!!!

        I’ll fix your statement for you later. lol

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:44 AM

        Tigers suck! Meow.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        Is that your best game? Really? At least Gator calls us the Tiggers and Burgie gives me “kittens.”

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:45 AM

        Just calling them Detroit seems damaging enough.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:48 AM

        Nice.

      • grizz2202 - Feb 15, 2013 at 1:42 PM

        Paper, I think you’re a great guy and all (no shit), but please re-read your statement: “Opinions based on more/better information are more likely to be closer to correct”, and realize that being “closer to correct” is still “wrong”.

        I.e., you say I have a million dollars. I say I have a hundred thousand dollars. I actually have ten dollars. Both statements are wrong, and neither accurately portray the truth. So you being “closer to correct” is irrelevant.

        All of that being said, I think the best phrase in this case is an oldie but goodie:

        Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, and they all stink.

    • dlf9 - Feb 15, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      “Were I to use the wits the good spirits have given me, I would say this woman cannot exist. For what sane man would hold a dream to be reality. And yet, rather would I not be sane and lend belief to these charmed, enchanted eyes.” — Isaac Asimov

      Yeah, it has nothing to do with anything, but my ex liked the line.

    • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:12 PM

      How do you determine that your knowledge is better than my ignorance? How is that assessment democratic? Is this wisdom available in paperback?

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:36 PM

        For example, joe blow’s ignorance with respect tn evolution or global warming is not better than my knowledge and is not sufficient to form a valid opinion. Today’s politics and policy are rife with examples of opinions masquerading as equally valid as facts. Even esteemed (harhar) media outlets insist on “equal time” to “both sides of an argument”….ignoring the fact that all experts on the topic are on one side of that “argument”. You know when scientists stopped arguing about whether or not evolution was fact? In the 1860s. Since then the discussion has been about how it works. You know when the scientific community stopped arguing about whether or not anthropogenic activities were affecting climate? In the 1970s. Since then the discussion has been about how bad it is and will get and what can be done about it….yet both topics are portrayed as active scientific discussions.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:39 PM

        What difference does it make if I’m ignorant about global warming or evolution?

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:45 PM

        Because both opinions are weighted equally when making policy….then you wind up with travesties like the fiasco that is the Texas “educational” system, working hard to teach bullshit to the next generation. I don’t have kids, I suppose I shouldn’t care how badly people choose to fuck the place up….I just have this thing about facts, the truth, and liars.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:49 PM

        That’s how democracy works, no?

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:30 PM

        That is how democracy doesn’t work.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 8:33 PM

        You just prefer a system set up w/ one particular set of standards over others. That doesn’t make it better. It just makes it the one you prefer. If you changed your standards, you’d change your assessment. You and I just have different views on that and make our assessments accordingly.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:48 PM

        I really wish baseball would start….all of these PED posts and other BS almost make me long for the days of daily bicepts waxing poetic about the phillies winning the WS every day.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 15, 2013 at 7:51 PM

        Sorry about annoying you with BS…but I will definitely up my waxing poetic about the Tigers, if you’d like.

  16. philsgamer - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:30 AM

    The Phillies are only the third best team in the division. And now you want to take away our optimism? You are a sick sick man Craig. Talk about kicking someone when they’re down…

    • ptfu - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:38 AM

      “Thank Dog for the Feesh and the Mutts!”

  17. aclassyguyfromaclassytown - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    The second option in the poll refers to Howard’s percentage against lefties LAST YEAR, not over the span of his career, and seeing as he was returning from a major injury last year those numbers should reflect a drop off. But really it’s a stupid question in the first place if you really want to be as literal as you are, cause the question is “Can he hit lefties”, to which all he would have to do is get one hit off a lefty to verify that he can. That in turn leads to the truth being the opposite of what you are saying because it would be stupid to say he can’t when he already has. Looks more like people translating the question in different ways than it does people showing a hometown bias. Good job bating though. Looks like you caught a few.

  18. patrick10311211 - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Awful post. I’m a Philly sports fan and I love this app but this nonsense is getting real old. Every time I see a post having anything to do with the Phillies I assume it’s something negative. Chill out with it. I’m on here to stay up to date on sports news and some occasional fun opines. I never seem to get this impression from the football, hockey or basketball talks which is pretty surprising considering the success the Phils have had in recent years compared to those Philly teams. I’m all for having a little fun with a rival fanbase but it shouldn’t come at the expense of losing all credibility in your blog. Hope you’ll start putting a better effort into staying impartial and putting out less propaganda. if not ill simply stop viewing hardballtalk and get my baseball news elsewhere.

    • bsbiz - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:26 AM

      Take you ball and go home. I’m sure someone with more perspective will have a spare one.

    • nategearhart - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:41 AM

      You lost me at “losing all credibility”. How’d he do that?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 15, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      if not ill simply stop viewing hardballtalk and get my baseball news elsewhere.

      Goodbye, enjoy the window lickers at PFT if the discourse of ad hominem attacks is more to your liking…

    • wonderkt - Feb 19, 2013 at 10:36 PM

      Thanks for taking the time to inform all of us that you will be going elsewhere, I’ll sleep better knowing what happened to you.

    • phillyphannn83 - Feb 20, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      Welcome to the party and no it wont stop. Craig gets his jollies from the meaningless support of the irrelevant people that post here to support him. He is a Braves fan with a blog, what do you expect. Were the only team thats been able to unseat his team and did it 5 years in a row. Now the Nats have done it and look like they can do it for 5 years also but trolling their fans is pointless because last time I checked, there are high school teams that draw more fans than the Nats. Plus theyre not passionate enough to even show up here to defend their team.

      But dont stop coming here because every now and then, Gleeman puts up a REAL Phillies post. Plus, youd miss out on the enjoyment we get from seeing Craig continuously make posts like this and then whine and cry about other REAL writers who have a hall-of-fame vote and wonder why he doesnt and never will. Its sad bt maybe he’ll actually grow up and act like an adukt since he’s turning 40, hes only 20 years late.

  19. darthsat - Feb 15, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    I agree. These posts are just tripe. Many fans have a lot invested personally and financially in their home team. That is just a fact in this country and others. So obviously all fans want to be optimistic about their team heading into a season. What? Do you expect us to cry ourselves to sleep in pessimism? Every fanbase has positive articles heading into a season that talk about their team. Supporting your team is meant to be fun, hopeful, and something great for kids to follow. Craig, the real astounding thing here is that don’t see any of this. Obviously Ryan Howard cannot hit lefties, but this doesn’t mean fans shouldn’t place optimism in their team’s hopes. Howard cannot hit lefties, but as a fan we have learned he doesn’t have to. He is an RBI machine and that is what we care about. Even just coming off a major injury last year, he was on pace for a projected 30HRs 125 RBIs with a full slate of plate appearances. All fan bases should feel positive about their team because what’s the point of this great game otherwise?

    • nategearhart - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      Fans can absolutely have faith in their team, and they should still love Ryan Howard. But that wasn’t what the poll asked. The poll asked “can he hit lefties”. As you said, it’s obvious he can’t. So you’re saying that ~50% of people know he can’t hit lefties, but say he can anyway because they want the Phillies to win a lot of games? Like they can will him to hit lefties better?

      • darthsat - Feb 15, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        @nategearhart
        You realize that most fans are not the ones that log onto hardballtalk or vote on online polls. Assuming a sample size of online voters for a poorly worded poll as evidence of fan bases oblivious to the facts is crazy.

      • nategearhart - Feb 15, 2013 at 2:25 PM

        THIS IS NOT ABOUT PARTICULAR FANBASES. This issue of applying “opinion” to objective things is a populace-wide phenomenon. Read Craig’s post again.

    • kirkvanhouten - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:45 AM

      “He is an RBI machine and that is what we care about. Even just coming off a major injury last year, he was on pace for a projected 30HRs 125 RBIs with a full slate of plate appearances. ”

      So, Phillies fans are fine with a $25 million dollar first baseman who hits .219/.295/.423 with poor baserunning and fielding skills…if it comes with 30 home runs and 125 RBIs?

      I think it’s terribly cute, because that’s how I thought baseball worked when I was 8 years old too!

      • darthsat - Feb 15, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        @kirkvanhouten
        There are a ton of bad contracts in baseball. At a certain point it becomes not whether you are happy with the contract, but is he productive still. The Phillies organization paid for Howard’s past production rather than his future production (same for all teams that sign big FA’s). If he hits .219 with 30HR’s and 125 RBI’s, you are correct that Phillies fans would be ok with it. It is better than not having him in the lineup at all.

      • kirkvanhouten - Feb 15, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        “If he hits .219 with 30HR’s and 125 RBI’s, you are correct that Phillies fans would be ok with it. It is better than not having him in the lineup at all”

        Going by his -1.2 WAR, even this statement, hilariously enough, is not true.

      • dprat - Feb 15, 2013 at 11:39 PM

        darthsat = biceps
        This argument that “[t]he Phillies organization paid for Howard’s past production” was a favorite of biceps, and was iconic of his style, i.e., using batshit crazy arguments to bolster batshit crazy notions.

  20. raysfan1 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:02 AM

    @Patrick,
    Do you realize that this post actually is not anti-Ryan Howard nor even anti-Phillies? It starts with a fact–Ryan Howard is not nearly as good a hitter against lefties as righties. Sure, his headline and use of a nonsense poll (nearly all Internet polls are nonsense) from Philly.com were trolling Phils fans, but the point of this was that sports writers and fans frequently act as though fact is opinion, which is silly. He also used examples from other teams (yes, I know Michael Young is a Phillie now, but the “great leader” narrative came from Texas).

  21. DelawarePhilliesFan - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    “Internet polls are pretty meaningless”. The post should have ended right there, rather then continue for 433 words.

  22. hisgirlgotburrelled - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Poorly worded poll, which is absolutely the norm with Philly.com polls. But this is a whole lot of writing you put into this. The poll doesn’t suggest he was ever a good hitter vs lefties. I think a rationally thinking sports fan reads it like ‘will he hit .173 vs lefties, as he did last year, or will he hit closer to his .228 average from 07-11?’

    And that is a matter of opinion if you think the drastic drop in his stats (vs lefties and righties) was due to the achilles injury and missed time.

    Perhaps it will please you to hear the no’s have taken the lead in the poll since you wrote this.

  23. prophet215 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Howard will get a clutch hit against a leftie before Calcaterra can grow a full head of hair.

    • bsbiz - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:28 AM

      Howard was getting hits against lefties twenty years ago? Now that is impressive.

      • prophet215 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:40 AM

        He sure was. I don’t think it’s impressive for a 13 year old future MLB star to hit lefties in middle school, but it’s funny you think Craig was bald before he was 20. And the point is Howard will continue to get hits against lefties here and there but Calcaterra will never grow a full head of hair again.

      • bsbiz - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:45 AM

        I fail to see how Craig having or not having hair has anything to do with Howard’s inability to effectively hit a left handed pitcher.

      • prophet215 - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:54 AM

        This isn’t a blog post about Howard’s abilities. It’s a blog post about matters of fact vs matters of belief. I’m pointing out facts too. Howard will hit a leftie this season. Calcaterra will be a sad bald guy forever.

        You must be bald too. You look funny.

  24. phillyphreak - Feb 15, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    As a Phillies fan, it really pains me to see how sensitive Phillies fans are…….omg amirite?

  25. threeskis - Feb 15, 2013 at 1:49 PM

    Craig clearly likes to needle Phils fans…maybe because his team hasn’t won anything in a long time and will not again this year with that starting staff.

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