Skip to content

Jeff Francoeur and ANT (Announcer Nonsense Talk)

May 20, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT

Kansas City Royals Photo Day Getty Images

Posnanski hits the nail on the head:

What player in baseball do you think has the most ANT — Announcer Nonsense Talk — spoken about them?

By ANT, I’m not just referring to stuff announcers say. I’m referring to a sort of universal praise that does not tie to logic or anything tangible but instead to a sort of whimsical hope and powerful narratives … You know ANT when you hear or read it — it is when people start speaking in broad generalities about a player (“This guy just wants it more”) or when they start over-crediting a player for dubious achievements (pitcher wins and RBIs tend to be the sweet nectar of Announcer Nonsense Talk) or when they start to turn sports achievement into life achievement (“That was just a courageous pitch!”). And like I say, it’s not only announcers who do this — far from it. You see it everywhere.

We’ve talked about this with Michael Young quite a bit, and anyone else who gets labeled a “professional hitter,” or a “competitor” while little or note is taken of the fact that there are serious flaws in his game which undermine the “he’s a superstar!” narrative. Heck, Jim Rice made the Hall of Fame based on a form of ANT which had him being the most “feared” hitter of his era. Despite there being nothing whatsoever to suggest he was particularly feared by the pitchers of his day.

Posnanski applies ANT to Jeff Francoeur and he’s dead-on. I’m more curious as to how players become big ANT guys in the first place. I think it has something to do with early promise leading to a lot of speculative praise that, once unfulfilled, needs to be bolstered by ANT so that all of that early praise doesn’t seem so misguided. Jeff Francoeur splashed big and then appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the words “The Natural” on him with a partial season under his belt. Do you think the narrative industrial complex is simply gonna say “Oops! we were wrong!”? No, they’re gonna spend the rest of his career acting as if the early awesome stuff was the norm and the rest of the data — which creates the bulk of the overall data set — is explained away or ignored.

And it doesn’t just happen in sports. Orson Welles got this treatment. If you don’t think so, listen to some cinephile trying to convince you how good some of his later stuff was.

Where sports differs, however, is that I think there’s also an element of media-friendliness too. Orson Welles was a pain in the butt, but reporters and announcers like Jeff Francoeur and Michael Young for very good reasons: they’re friendly guys who help make the media’s job easier. It’s understandable that, in turn, the media will look to say nice things about them. That’s not some cynical point. I don’t believe it to be some unholy and disingenuous quid pro quo. Humanity is such that we like to be nice to those who are nice. If anything, there’s something good underlying the perpetuation of ANT. Something which speaks to the better side of our nature.

But however nice it is, there’s no escaping that it’s nonsense.

Latest Posts
  1. The Chicago Sun-Times wants Ozzie Guillen to manage the White Sox again

    Jun 30, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT

    ozzie_guillen_090817

    Let us use this column to talk a bit about how rumors got started back in the day and how they get started now.

  2. Sonny Gray scratched due to illness

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:46 PM EDT

    Sonny Gray Sonny Gray

    Chris Bassitt will start in his place.

  3. Daniel Murphy returns from disabled list, Mets send Dilson Herrera back to minors

    Jun 30, 2015, 2:31 PM EDT

    Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda AP

    No one is quite sure when All-Star third baseman David Wright will be back.

  4. The lineup card for A-Rod’s 3,000th hit game is up to $810 at MLB Auctions

    Jun 30, 2015, 1:48 PM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

    Not that anyone really wants you to know it’s up for bid.

  5. Eugene, Oregon’s Historic Civic Stadium burns to the ground

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    Eugene Emeralds

    The old park housed the Eugene Emeralds until 2009

  6. Huston Street says he’d retire if he was used like a 1970s-style fireman

    Jun 30, 2015, 11:26 AM EDT

    huston street

    I’d like to tell you a story about bullpen history and a young man named Tony La Russa.

  7. Brian Dozier is the best second baseman in baseball

    Jun 30, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT

    Brian Dozier Twins Getty Images

    The majority of the baseball-watching world hasn’t seemed to notice yet.

  8. Mike Trout was unreal last night

    Jun 30, 2015, 9:25 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 8.35.42 AM

    And Chris Young was not too pleased about it.

  9. Video: The shocking truth behind the Royals All-Star voting success

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:51 AM EDT

    royals logo Getty Images

    It goes far, far deeper than you ever could’ve imagined.

  10. CC Sabathia looks like a reliever

    Jun 30, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    sabathia getty Getty Images

    One he gets past 45 pitches he turns every opposing hitter into Lou Gehrig.

  11. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    Jun 30, 2015, 7:32 AM EDT

    Mike Trout Getty Images

    Mike Trout put on a clinic against the Yankees last night.

  12. Video: Run scores after Ronald Belisario throws a wild pitch on an intentional walk

    Jun 30, 2015, 12:23 AM EDT

    belisario

    We often take intentional walks for granted. Four tosses to the catcher. How hard can it be? Pretty hard, at least sometimes.

  13. Billy Hamilton steals four bases against the Twins, now up to 40 stolen bases on the year

    Jun 29, 2015, 11:45 PM EDT

    CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 29: Billy Hamilton #6 of the Cincinnati Reds steals second base in the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Great American Ball Park on June 29, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Hamilton now has 40 stolen bases on the year, which is more than 15 MLB teams. You are reading that correctly.

  14. Pablo Sandoval swung at a pitch tonight that was five feet off the ground

    Jun 29, 2015, 9:58 PM EDT

    sandoval 1

    You’ve probably heard this advice for hitting knuckleballers before: If it’s low, let it go. If it’s high, let it fly. Well, Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval took that to the extreme tonight against R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays…

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. S. Matz (4090)
  2. B. Harper (3994)
  3. H. Ramirez (3724)
  4. J. Hamilton (3707)
  5. G. Stanton (3440)
  1. M. Moore (3116)
  2. Y. Puig (3049)
  3. A. Jones (2617)
  4. F. Freeman (2578)
  5. M. Holliday (2569)