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:
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.
Apr 18, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT
Ryan Roberts wasn’t hitting; Brock Holt was, so the Red Sox decided to make a change with Will Middlebrooks still recovering from an injury.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT
The Pirates and Mets each address their problems with an Ike Davis trade.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
Hanley Ramirez only spent one day out of the lineup after being hit in the hand with a fastball.
Apr 18, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
Manny Machado could soon take the next step towards returning to third base for the Orioles.
Apr 18, 2014, 4:48 PM EDT
Left-hander Sean Doolittle and the A’s have agreed to a long-term contract that runs through at least 2018, with team options for 2019 and 2020.
Apr 18, 2014, 4:31 PM EDT
Don’t look at me that way. It’s late afternoon on a Friday that a lot of people have off work. There’s a Reds-Cubs game one. Motivation is kinda hard to come by. Besides, this is kinda mesmerizing.
Apr 18, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT
This morning I wrote about how the Rangers had to be considering removing Tanner Scheppers from the rotation given his awful performance through four starts and now they’ve placed him on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.
Apr 18, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT
Dat Dude back pain.
Apr 18, 2014, 3:32 PM EDT
Out since February with a strained tendon in his middle finger, Mariners right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma threw a simulated game today without any problems and has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.
Apr 18, 2014, 2:28 PM EDT
Apr 18, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Bo Porter does not mince words when a TOOTBLAN happens.
Apr 18, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
Aroldis Chapman’s recovery from facial fractures has progressed to the point that the Reds left-hander has been cleared to throw live batting practice, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Apr 18, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT
In which I speculate why Garcia is heading across the ocean. The answer may surprise you! Unless you’ve ever had babies at home before, in which case you’ll go “yep, I woulda too.”
Apr 18, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT
When you’re as tall as he is, it’s far less than 60’6″ to home plate.
Apr 18, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT
Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata left Wednesday’s game after crashing very hard into the wall in Cincinnati while making a tremendous catch and was diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms.
Apr 18, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT
Tanner Scheppers and his 9.82 ERA may not be long for the Rangers’ rotation.
Apr 18, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT
Over two million Americans have peanut allergies. This story is about two of them.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT
After a pair of ugly early season outings Tigers closer Joe Nathan talked last week about going through a “dead arm” phase, but now the 39-year-old is feeling much stronger.
Apr 18, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
On the disabled list with a strained hamstring, Mark Teixeira got three at-bats in a minor-league rehab game Thursday and is expected to rejoin the Yankees’ lineup Sunday.
Apr 18, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT
And one serious mistake with respect to the Tigers.
- Hank Aaron is getting vile racist hate mail in retaliation for pointing out that racism still exists (244)
- “They Don’t Know Henry” (167)
- Doug Glanville’s story about being racially profiled at his own home (125)
- There is still a racial divide in baseball (112)
- And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights (96)