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Watch Brian Kenny nearly lose it in a debate with Harold Reynolds

Apr 19, 2013, 11:32 AM EDT

It’s gonna be sad. Harold seems like a very nice man. But eventually, and quite unwittingly, he’s going to cause Brian Kenny to totally blow a gasket and bludgeon him with a lapel mic or whatever else he has at hand:

Still, it’s pretty good TV. I love Kenny and I’m glad that MLB Network has given him a platform like this. Normally the pro-stat arguments are given by walk-on, sacrificial geeks who eventually get shouted down by the ex-jocks. On this show Kenny is given a chance to dismantle nonsense and does so, often.

Note: original headline was “Eventually Brian Kenny is going to kill Harold Reynolds.”  Upon reflection, that seems in poor taste, so I changed it.

  1. Kleinz 57 - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Love Brian Kenny.

    Have no idea why that Twitter “vote” at the bottom went where it went, though.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:43 AM

      Because people weren’t listening to the discussion, and were just voting with what they’d learned.

      I can only wonder how differently this whole discussion would have panned out over time if the stat had been called ANYTHING other than “Win”. Alas, that ship sailed a long, long time ago.

    • fanofevilempire - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      Kenny is a douche.

      • beachnbaseball - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        Amen. I can’t stand him. His 90 mph talking is like nails on a chalkboard. He just talks right over people. And he needs to trim those stupid bushy eyebrows. What is he? A raccoon?

        MLB Now could be a good show but not with Kenny.

      • recoveringcubsfan - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:39 PM

        I was thinking you are a Yankees fan, but your commentary suggests that the empire you pledge fealty to is called “Ignorance.”

  2. cur68 - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    In microcosm this whole Kenny/Reynolds conversation is an HBT thread featuring our favourite “Pitch To The Score” whipping boy, Jack Morris. I don’t think Brian Kenny is going to do anything to Harold Reynolds, though. He needs Harold. With Harold right there babbling gibberish Brian can deal with the foolishness point by point.

    On another note, I gotta admit to liking Jack Morris more than I used to. He’s been in the Beaver broadcast booth with Buck Martinez & Pat Tabler instead of on the radio with Dirk Heyhurst for the 4 game CWS series. He’s been great. He is not only funny but his pitching logic and game description is pretty good, too. Along with that he gets along brilliantly with Buck and Pat and tells a good story.

    So far Morris had as yet to advance a “Pitch To The Score” argument. He’s all about what to throw next and never mind the ‘effin score. So he’s got that going for him too. He does not belong in the HOF as a pitcher but my friend Indaburg points out that he might just make it in as a broadcaster. I’d vote for that.

    • JB (the original) - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      He is good on the air. He was doing so for the Twins the last few years, and you’re right, the stories, perspective, and insight he provides are pretty good.

      • paperlions - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:39 PM

        Yep, it is important to remember that just because other people advance nonsensical arguments to promote Morris’ HOF case, that does not mean that Morris himself believes or subscribes to those arguments.

    • indaburg - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:49 PM

      Kenny does not need Reynolds. Kenny has a far superior show, Clubhouse Confidential, that doesn’t need a stupid Twitter vote or argument. And get off my lawn.

      • cur68 - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:06 PM

        /sneaks toe onto lawn then runs like hell in case of shotgun blast

  3. deathmonkey41 - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    How close is MLB studios to ESPN Studios? Any chance that after Kenny kills Harold that he journies to ESPN and kills Chris Berman? And can he do it before the NFL Draft?

  4. gza385 - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Does this show remind anyone else of ESPN’s First Take?

  5. Ben - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    This whole new school vs. old school thing is so stupid. Teams don’t think of it that way. Scouts don’t think of it that way anymore. Plenty of players like Max Scherzer and Glenn Perkins don’t think that way anymore. The only people who still care are the media and whatever fans they can sucker into thinking this is still a thing.

    • El Bravo - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:54 AM


      • Alex K - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        Off topic. Can we see the nozzle list for 2013? And did you add the Padres CEO to it?

      • El Bravo - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        Remind me what the Pads CEO did? I’ll post in the Rex Ryan thread.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:26 PM

        Pretty please on the update.

      • Alex K - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:44 PM

        The asshat called Zack Greinke “rain man”.

    • mkd - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:29 PM

      Agreed. I would guess that every front office in baseball moved past this debate at least five years ago.

      • Ben - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:37 PM

        Except for maybe the Twins. Glen Perkins might be their entire analytics department.

      • Alex K - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:21 PM

        I think it’s actually the Phillies who don’t have an analytics department.

    • scatterbrian - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      Unfortunately I think wins still play a big factor in arbitration hearings. In that case, I would say pre-arb players care, and agents definitely care.

  6. pauleee - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Just how long do these video links stay up before (I assume) MLB takes them down? All I ever see in these posts is a large blank area where the video used to be. Or is it a browser issue?

    • ctony1216 - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:30 PM

      Try closing your browser and re-opening it. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

  7. deathmonkey41 - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    You changed the title of the post? Come on, Craig- don’t give in to PC. PC is just another name for censorship and the slow death of free speech!

    • dsmaxsucks - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:03 PM

      There is a situation involving lots of death going on this week. Craig is pitching to the situation.

      And btw, just because you say something is PC does not mean you are entitled to be a dick. Sadly, sometimes is the quite proper thing to be.

      • deathmonkey41 - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        I think everyone on here is grown up enough to distinquish between a post about Brian Kenny written in jest and a bombing….but, then again, maybe we aren’t….

  8. ctony1216 - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:14 PM

    I was waiting for the woman in the middle to be the voice of reason: Yes, wins ARE an overrated stat, but they’re not completely meaningless. Harold’s argument of “pitching to the score” is absurd — good pitchers want to minimize pitches and save their bullpens, especially a guy like C.C. who would love to pitch 9 innings every game. On the other hand, a pitcher’s ability to hold a lead is some measure of his talent and determination, which can be quantified, partly, with a Win. The stat is probably is as meaningful as a Hold for a reliever, one difference being that a bad closer can cost a starter a Win but won’t cost a reliever a Hold.

    • rvnc - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      Spot on.

    • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:29 PM

      Sure, blame the chick in the sandwich.

    • jonrox - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      No, wins are even more meaningless than a hold, because wins are entirely reliant on run support. You literally can never get a win without help (at least in the AL). Hold is just preserving a lead.

  9. mybrunoblog - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Harold Reynolds just needs a hug. Oh wait, never mind.

  10. vansloot - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    I have a question: Who are the 88% of people voting that think that wins AREN’T an overrated stat for pitchers. Mind boggling.

    It’s not really fair, though, because Reynolds is the worst kind of “old school” guy while Kenny is sort of a modern baseball fan (valuing both stats and scouting). I guess it makes for good TV (for some people) but despise these sorts of shouting-at-each-other shows, even though I really like Brian Kenny (he was great at the SABR Analytics Conference this year).

  11. jerze2387 - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    i think the problem was Harold failed to elaborate to the point of the arguement. In a big lead game, a CC will give up runs while trying to get outs. he’ll go after the hitter, and not nibble trying to avoid giving up a run. Example:

    Up by 5 in the 8th, CC throws it down the middle to let the hitter get himself out by letting his fielders do the work. At times, this will get taken out of the park. Or itll be a pop out or a fly out. Statistically, seeing as batters who get on a third of the time are considered good, that means that 2 out of 3 times being aggressive will have the hitter get himself out. While with a lead, this is more acceptable, as theres more margin for error. Whereas a pitcher who doesnt want to risk the run for the out will be more likely to nibble the corners of the plate, trying to not let even 1 hit hurt him.

    • jjschiller - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:19 PM

      Close. An excellent batter will be retired 2/3of the times he faces pitchers who are trying to retire him. I imagine the league hits slightly better against pitchers who are “throwing it down the middle.”

      You ever wonder why some games end up 16-12? What was in the air that day, huh? Well, maybe a starter got a huge lead and didn’t know the difference between “being free to be more aggressive,” and “slopping it down the middle and letting them hit it.”

      • jerze2387 - Apr 19, 2013 at 5:26 PM

        Welcome to the comments, Brian Kenny.

        Way to take general a statement used to illustrate an exapmle literally.
        Also way to hang on one phrase (despite the fact you put slopping it down the middle and let them hit it in quotes as if i actually said that. Good imagination/manipulation of my point.)

        Maybe to clarify i should have put “get more of the plate”. Didnt realize id have to spell it out.

      • jjschiller - Apr 19, 2013 at 11:12 PM

        Meee-ow, pussycat.

        A good hitter is retired 2 out of 3 times. He is not retired 2 out of 3 times when the pitcher “throws it down the middle,” quote, unquote, verbatim.

        But, lets check your premise, just for fun:

        CC Sabathia career, with 0-2 runs of support: 3.56 ERA, .251 BA against, 1 HR per 43.6 AB
        CC Sabathia career, with 3-5 runs of support: 3.51 ERA, .246 BA against, 1 HR per 47.9 AB
        CC Sabathia career, with 6+ runs of support: 3.44 ERA, .241 BA against, 1 HR per 48.3 AB


        So, what was it you were saying?

      • jerze2387 - Apr 20, 2013 at 2:35 AM

        thats all well and good, but does that show the pitch location and pitch count per batter, mr. stat man? The point is that a pitcher is more open to pitching to contact to have the batter get himself out over nibbling and making a mistake.

        Example again:
        A pitcher pitches away because he wants the hitter to hit the ball the opposite way. or pitches inside for the batter to pull the ball. Pitches low for a ground ball. not pitches at the corners hoping for a swing and miss. So if you want to take a quote from an example so literal, thats on you. So sarcasm and metaphors are probably something youll never get to experience, i take it.

        Your “stats” completely ignored the location of the pitch, which i guess is irrelevant, as all that matters is numbers. So why even have a catcher set up in a location anymore? why not just throw the ball and let the statistics of physics determine where the best place for the pitch to go is?

    • jjschiller - Apr 20, 2013 at 10:15 AM

      Ooh, this is fun. I’ve never been a straw man before! Even better, you built me up as a straw man and then ad hominem-ed me!

      But enough of that. I can see you have no use fer a’books-n-lernin’.

      Did you even notice that we aren’t arguing about statistics? Did you even notice that I’ve done exactly what you’re doing, (albeit with less frantic, confused, frustrated hostility) and that is appeal to conventional wisdom?

      Allow me to try again, I promise to use no facts, just inferences!

      Pitchers who are good usually have good stuff (“Stuff,” scouty word!). If you have good stuff, you are always, in all cases, regardless of the game score, best-suited to be aggressive and throw strikes.

      Pitchers who do not have good stuff can still be good. But those pitchers have to have plus command (“Command,” another scouty word!) to hit spots, set up hitters, change eye level, keep hitters off-balance. These pitchers are not ever suited to changing their game plan, because their stuff plays down (“plays down,” double scouty word!) when they throw it over the plate.

      Pitchers are always best when they do what they do best. Nobody pitches to the score, excepting in the cases when they have fallen to a 3-ball count. In 3-ball counts a pitcher with a lead would be better suited to throw a fastball than a pitcher in a close game. But, as control (“control,” man, I’m hitting all the scouty words!) is a trait of good pitchers, good pitchers will generally face fewer 3-ball counts, this is an effect that will show less in good pitchers than in bad pitchers.

      So, it is my contention that good pitchers win because they are good, and not because they “know-how-to-win,” or cram all their runs allowed in to games their leading big or because they eat hot cereal instead of cold. Bad pitchers win less, because they are bad, and give up more runs. Not because they “dont know how to hold a lead.”

      Satisfied? No evidence! No facts! Just common sense! Do you consider this a fair fight now?

      Oh, and how did I do on sarcasm?

  12. blacksables - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    Wow, the ‘old school’ stated his opinion, said it was important to him, and then tried more than once to let the other guy talk.

    The ‘new school’ guy got belligerent, confrontational, and angry, and demanded that his chosen stat was better than the other guy’s, while belittling what he was saying.

    Who could have seen that happening?

    • paperlions - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      Because the old school guy just kept repeating the same non-sense without ever explaining what the logic behind allowing runs on purpose (which is the same thing as not pitching as well as you can)….and then Reynolds completely did a 180 and contradicted himself. It is really frustrating to argue with an idiot, sadly, Kenny doesn’t really have the option of not engaging in a conversation with this particular idiot.

      • blacksables - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:12 PM

        Thanks for proving my point , paper . Some days its just too easy .

      • paperlions - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:35 PM

        Yes, when one side has no argument, they generally do respond like you did…because there is no logic or evidence to support the allegation.

        All Kenny did was ask Reynolds to clarify his point, and Reynolds couldn’t or refused to…and just acted like his position had validity despite his inability to elaborate or to use logic to see the errors in the position.

      • spudchukar - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:27 PM

        PL, that is a totally unfair labeling of “pitching to the score”. Nobody who understands the so-called “old school” theory here suggests the pitcher either doesn’t try to prevent runs, nor pitching as well as you can.

        The goal is to get as close to the 27th out as you can, without giving up the lead. The type of strategy a pitcher may choose, can be altered by the score. And a sage hurler should adapt to the situation. No walks, challenging hitters, letting them get themselves out, all become a more possible plan when the score is favorable. Plus, it allows for fewer pitches, , which means a pitcher can go further in the game, which could rest the pen, or save his arm for the next outing.

        It is just maximizing your odds.

      • paperlions - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        Yes, in theory….the problem with that theory is that there is no evidence that pitchers actually do this…..and if pitchers think they do this, there is no manifest difference in the results between when they think they are pitching to the score (i.e. they theoretically don’t mind giving up runs because of a big lead) and when they are pitching “normally”.

        In short, people have looked for any effect whatsoever of claims that pitchers approach situations differently, and they can’t find any effect at all…not even a tiny one. It seems that no matter what pitchers say, they still approach getting hitters out the same and have the same level of effectiveness….they are just more relaxed while doing it when they have a big lead

      • recoveringcubsfan - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        Man, I used to find Paper really annoying, but you, sir, have become one of my favorite posters on this site. Thanks for sticking to reason in the face of inanity.

      • historiophiliac - Apr 19, 2013 at 7:00 PM

        Awww, more fanboys. ^^^^

      • spudchukar - Apr 20, 2013 at 7:53 AM

        And thankfully, there never will be a way to dissect the brain, while it is functioning. And just because there is no way to measure psychological impacts, doesn’t mean they do not exist.

        Plus, there have been studies done, and there is evidence, particularly in solo home runs.

        AND, nobody ever suggests they don’t mind giving up runs. The goal is changed when pitching with a substantial lead. If a couple of runs occur in exchange for the necessary outs then the strategy works. It is a false dichotomy you create. By challenging hitters the net result might very well be more positive, thereby negating any evidence to the contrary.

        Now, one might posit, that it would be wise to always pitch like you have a meaningful lead, but then you re-enter the world of psychology, which is immeasurable, and I for one am comfortable with that notion.

    • brazcubas - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      If I told you that gravity worked because of trillion of tiny fairies flying around obsessively putting everything on the ground, and simply shook my head and smiled condescendingly at every argument you put forth to convince me otherwise, you’d probably get a little frustrated yourself.

      Still, to be fair, this is probably more a reflection of their particular personalities, I’ve met plenty of laid back stat-heads and hot-headed traditionalists. To draw conclusions about either group from a confrontation designed to draw ratings is a little silly.

  13. APBA Guy - Apr 19, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Keep in mind that a) Reynolds and Kenny are reunited from their old days on BBTN, where they drove ratings in a positive direction. They have a lot of respect for each other, as they’ve made clear over time 2) The topics are all vetted beforehand in production meetings where who takes what side in a debate is predetermined 3) Kenny’s off-season show “Clubhouse Confidential” is must-viewing, a stat-oriented show featuring strong spokesmen for the stat perspective, like Dave Cameron, Rob Neyer, etc..

    • jerze2387 - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:06 PM

      agreed. I remember the old BBTN days of harold and brian…thats when it was at its best. now, look at it. Meanwhile, harold and brian make MLB network (along with millar, ripken, amsinger) far and away better than BBTN. When Harold Reynolds was let go, the show took a nose dive

  14. dsmaxsucks - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    I too have joined the saber revolution and largely agree with Kenny. Now that sabermetrics has reached the level of religion on this board I guess we cannot point out when Pope Kenny is being a dick.

    Of course pitchers pitch to situations “why doesn’t he just pitch to not allow runs?” These words came out of Kenny’s mouth and it is just a moronic thing to say.

    Do teams take double plays and let runs score? Duh.
    Do teams let runs score to take safer outs in blowouts (all the time). Do teams bunt runners over to second when down by 12. (Why don’t they just try to score runs).

    Why do teams pull infields in, increasing the likelihood they will give up a run, in order to have a better chance at cutting down a run should some specific play occur (ie grounder to short).

    The fact that the sabermetricians have not developed an acceptable way to calculate the myriad situational risks does not mean they do not exist. Pitchers and teams do exchange runs for outs, and bases for outs, and all sorts of other things, depending on the situation. Situations matter, and Kenny is nearly as dumb as Harold for suggesting otherwise.

    “Why doesn’t he just pitch to not allow runs?” Because sometimes. not frequently, that can cost you games.

    • atlrod - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:40 PM

      When teams do that, though, they’re still just pitching to not allow runs. They’re choosing to allow SOME runs instead of LOTS of runs. It’s still making the choice to just get outs. It just means that prior to the event you’re describing, they screwed up at making outs and are now limiting the damage and choosing to guarantee fewer runs. That’s not a divergence from the “just don’t allow runs” strategy. It’s not like a pitcher goes up there and says, “Hey guys, we’re up 4 here. I’m going to get some guys on base and then let one of them score so that we can turn a double play. That’s called pitching to the situation. It means I’m awesome.”

  15. tcostant - Apr 19, 2013 at 1:30 PM

    I miss Kristina Akra, this could be the Nationals issues that she is not there to dump gatorade on, winning games are just a little less fun. Good to see Kristina here,,,

    • recoveringcubsfan - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:47 PM

      I was wondering what happened to KA. I miss her terror when she saw the cooler coming at her – baseball players never will grasp that fluid moving out of a container at high speed is likely to skim the target and mainly drench the poor sap standing in front of the intended victim. And she was always wearing skin-tight, flesh-colored pants, which my GF found to be hilarious. Maybe she can make a cameo appearance if the Nats get to the playoffs….

  16. missingdiz - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    The question was “are wins overrated?” Present tense. Clearly, no, not today. If anything, the pendulum has swung too far, as some people say wins are completely meaningless. It is true wins used to be overrated; e.g., Bob Welch won the Cy Young in 1990 although he wasn’t the best starter on his own team, never mind the whole league.

  17. atlrod - Apr 19, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    I used to pick fights about RBIs and Wins, but I’m just tired of shouting about something that the people who run baseball stopped caring about a long time ago. I’d rather just laugh at the nonsense and have fun knowing I’m right.

  18. pkswally024 - Apr 19, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    I’m sure it’s an awesome video. Unfortunately, my archaic phone(iphone4) doesn’t seem to handle videos. Damn. Maybe they’ll fix that…..

  19. singingfriar - Apr 19, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    That this is even a topic up for debate shows just how much of a misstep MLB Network has been. Instead of educating fans it is all about the ex-jock perspective and promoting bullshit like “pitch to the score.” It’s quite a disappointment.

  20. yahmule - Apr 19, 2013 at 7:47 PM

    The promos painstakingly demonstrate that the ubiquitous “sparring hosts” format was the direction the producers were going with this show, so why is anybody surprised?

  21. scoocha - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    I loved watching Brian Kenny in the MLB, he was a great 1B, I mean 3B, oh wait, nevermind.
    The guy obviously doesn’t watch the games and just lets his underlings complete his Excel spreadsheets so he can “analyze” performance.
    If pitchers want wins they need to pitch further into the game. Plain and simple. Most guys are in the bullpen for a reason – they couldn’t start or they weren’t a dominate closer. Avoiding leaving the game to these players and you’ll get wins.
    I know these comments don’t apply to the video above but most times pitchers when pitchers go 5 innings and then don’t get a win, Kenny will stand up and say they pitched great.

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