May 20, 2013, 11:03 AM EDT
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.
Jul 12, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Jake Odorizzi will move up in the rotation to start this afternoon. The hope is that Price will feel well enough to pitch tomorrow.
Jul 12, 2014, 10:22 AM EDT
The previous record was held by Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, who went 39 consecutive appearances with a strikeout in 1977.
Jul 12, 2014, 9:38 AM EDT
At the very least, Jordan Zimmermann will not be able to pitch in the All-Star Game next week. His availability beyond that is up in the air.
Jul 12, 2014, 8:56 AM EDT
A quick recap of a busy Friday around MLB, including another loss for the Brewers.
Jul 11, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT
The AL Roster swaps one injured Tiger for a healthy one. Ian Kinsler will replace Victor Martinez.
Jul 11, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle doesn’t expect Gerrit Cole to return to the club shortly after the All-Star break.
Jul 11, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy will start for the NL All-Stars after all. Miguel Montero makes the roster, taking the place of the injured Yadier Molina.
Jul 11, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Marco Scutaro could make his 2014 debut on Friday night off of the bench. He will be inserted into the starting lineup on Saturday.
Jul 11, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
Mark Trumbo has returned to the Diamondbacks a little sooner than anticipated.
Jul 11, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT
Michael Saunders is out with a strained oblique, and Justin Smoak is back in the major leagues after a stint at Triple-A.
Jul 11, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
More than a month after going on the disabled list with a left finger injury, Carlos Gonzalez returns to the Rockies lineup for Friday’s game against the Twins.
Jul 11, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
The Mets’ Single-A affiliate, located in St. Lucie, Florida, knows just what to do with the LeBron James jerseys Heat fans no longer want.
Jul 11, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT
Jerry Sands was in line for expanded playing time for the Rays when he went down with a wrist injury three weeks ago and today the team announced that he’ll require season-ending surgery.
Jul 11, 2014, 5:04 PM EDT
Dirt may be turning soon at Wrigley Field
Jul 11, 2014, 4:52 PM EDT
Released earlier this week by the Astros, right-hander Jerome Williams has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Rangers.
Jul 11, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
“He stepped in a hole in the parking lot” is a new one, as far as weird injuries go.
Jul 11, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Not something you see players do every day.
Jul 11, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
Joe Kelly is back off the disabled list and ready to rejoin the Cardinals’ rotation tonight against the Brewers after missing the past two-plus months with a hamstring injury that was supposed to involve a much speedier recovery.
Jul 11, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT
Philadelphia’s usual center fielder and leadoff man, Ben Revere, is out of the starting lineup for the second straight game because of an ankle injury.
Jul 11, 2014, 3:26 PM EDT
Too bad he didn’t sign with Seattle or Colorado.
- Settling the Score: Friday’s results 19
- Rangers catcher Geovany Soto arrested for marijuana possession 61
- Babe Ruth made his major league debut 100 years ago today 48
- Rockies owner: “maybe Denver doesn’t deserve a franchise . . . maybe time for it to find a new home” 79
- And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights 33
- Masahiro Tanaka diagnosed with partially-torn UCL in elbow 113
- Yadier Molina to miss 8-12 weeks with a torn thumb ligament 31
- Carlos Beltran placed on concussion disabled list after batting practice mishap 16
- Shocker: the Red Sox publicly criticize A.J. Pierzynski after cutting him (191)
- John Lackey on Nelson Cruz: “Not even going to comment … I’ve got nothing to say about him” (143)
- Masahiro Tanaka diagnosed with partially-torn UCL in elbow (113)
- The 2014 All-Star rosters have been announced (103)
- Giants broadcaster says Angel Hernandez “does not belong in the big leagues” (102)