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Do they “build you up just so they can bring you down?”

Jul 1, 2013, 9:44 AM EDT

Stephen Strasburg AP AP

This is less news than random deep thought territory, but whatever: Stephen Strasburg gave a quote over the weekend and Andy Martino tackles it. A well-known cliche about hype, made in reference to Zack Wheeler: “They build you up just so they can bring you down.” That idea, at least in baseball, has always bugged me, in much the same way it seems to bug Martino.

Why? Because it suggests an actual desire on the part of whoever “they” are — be it fans, media, talk radio, whoever — to actually tear down ballplayers. I don’t think that desire exists. And even if the tear-down does eventually happen, I do not think it means that the build up was cynical or calculated.

To be fair, there are some who do this. Professional trolls like T.J. Simers and a lot of the sports yakkers on the more obnoxious end of the spectrum seem to enjoy ripping players for the hell of it. But I don’t think they’re anywhere close to the majority or that whatever they do plays a major role in the hype machine to which Strasburg is referring.

I think the hype of guys like Strasburg and Wheeler is borne of perpetual, unstoppable yet irrational optimism. A genuine excitement whenever a young prospect shows unusual promise. Especially pitchers. Fans act like they’re the second coming. A large part of the media abdicates its critical thinking and plays the “on pace” game or compares extremely early results to that of Hall of Famers. The line between fan and analysis is almost erased and those who try to be cautious are scolded as kill-joys.

Against that backdrop there is almost always going to be disappointment, at least comparatively speaking. Strasburg is still great but, amazingly, is not yet Tom Seaver at his height. Wheeler has great stuff but, amazingly, is not a great pitcher with 16 whole innings under his belt. There are lots of guys like each of them every year yet, because of that early hype, they seem like disappointments and, inevitably, the cold water splashing everyone feels like a tear-down when it’s really just reality.

Anyway, no real point to this other than to observe that just as most players are not as good as their early hype, most criticism of those players is less hate and agenda-driven than it is natural disappointment after irrational expectations.

  1. waiverclaim - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    In Zach Wheeler’s third big league start, he went 4.2 IP and gave up 5 ER.

    Noted professional troll, Jon Heyman writes this: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/jon-heyman/22588031/wheeler-gets-ripped-can-we-stop-the-harvey-comparisons-now

    In Matt Harvey’s third big league start, he went 5 IP and gave up 5 ER.

    • cofran2004 - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      wow… that article is awful. Three starts and its time to trade him? Uhm…. no? Calm it down, Heyman…

  2. Old Gator - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xryibg_foundations-build-me-up-buttercup-w-lyrics-1969_music#.UdGJSDuTiSo

    • stex52 - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:59 AM

      I was thinking of “The Cheater” by Bob Kuban. It seems to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

      • spudchukar - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:24 AM

        Never thought I would see an “In-men” reference on this site.

      • stex52 - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:52 AM

        Hey! One-hit wonders have feelings, too!

        Besides, there are plenty of old farts hanging around HBT.

      • Old Gator - Jul 1, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        Huh? Where?

  3. thebadguyswon - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    This has been the case for years. And we all know half of the hyped prospects end up disappointing. In Wheelers case, he’s just not ready. Nor is he Harvey II. Matt Harvey is the exception.

    • Old Gator - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:29 AM

      Yeah. Anybody remember a guy named Clint Hurdle?

    • waiverclaim - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:30 AM

      Harvey isn’t the exception, Stephen Strasburg, Jose Fernandez, Felix Hernandez, Shelby Miller, there’s plenty of young hyped studs who have had an immediate impact.

      Its baseball, everyone is different. Some guys wreck the league at 20 like Machado, and some guys figure it out at 30 like Ibanez. No two players are alike.

      • stex52 - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        I like every one of those young guys, Yeah, and throw in Chris Sale and Matt Harvey, too. But we won’t know what their actual career paths are like for ten years. They will all be different. Just sit back and enjoy. And don’t overreact to every hiccup.

      • waiverclaim - Jul 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        overreacting to every hiccup = 2013 media

  4. historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    Punks.

  5. chill1184 - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Three starts in and the MSM is cheering like school girls that Wheeler is a bust. If this was 10 years ago I would be shocked but Im being older, cynical and openly hate the sports MSM Im not. Heyman and the rest of his braindead flunkies seem to forget Wheeler’s struggles are the norm. Lincecum, Lee and other great pitchers all struggled in their first years in the big leagues but hey facts don’t apply to the MSM here.

    Harvey is the exception not the rule

    • waiverclaim - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:27 AM

      Gotta wonder if the media railed on Greg Maddux + Tom Glavine after their first full seasons as much as they do on these young guys today. FOX wasn’t around and hadn’t shoved the quality of journalism in the gutter yet, so I’m guessing not.

      • skids003 - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        Actually, in case you haven’t noticed, this is NBC, and heyman works for CBS?

      • waiverclaim - Jul 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM

        Fox lowered the bar for everyone though.

    • thebadguyswon - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:50 AM

      The MSM doesn’t care about baseball players. They’re too busy vigorously tongue-bathing a certain someone in DC.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 12:15 PM

        Boehner?

      • skids003 - Jul 1, 2013 at 12:42 PM

        I don’t think that’s who he had in mind….

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 12:50 PM

        No, but it makes a better “tongue-bathing” joke.

      • cofran2004 - Jul 1, 2013 at 2:47 PM

        tongue-bathing….

        i like that. thanks for the addition to my insult library!

      • thebadguyswon - Jul 2, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        You’re most welcome!

  6. chaseutley - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    So old Capitol Hill wisdom seems appropriate, here.
    “If you want a friend, get a dog.”

  7. Jonny 5 - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    “it suggests an actual desire on the part of whoever “they” are — be it fans, media, talk radio, whoever — to actually tear down ballplayers. I don’t think that desire exists. And even if the tear-down does eventually happen, I do not think it means that the build up was cynical or calculated.

    To be fair, there are some who do this. Professional trolls like T.J. Simers and a lot of the sports yakkers on the more obnoxious end of the spectrum seem to enjoy ripping players for the hell of it.”

    Angelo Cataldi. There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that this poor excuse for a sports broadcaster does this very thing constantly. He makes me sick actually with his constant excrement spewing mouth. Craig “must” go on air and talk with this guy from time to time, poor Craig has to pretend he likes him too, SMH…

  8. skids003 - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    Only the Lame street media does it.

    The Armed Services break you down to build you up. The media enjoys tearing down people.

    • Uncle Charlie - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      What the hell is “lame street media”? Way to double down on stupidity by misquoting Pallin.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:53 AM

        *Palin

      • skids003 - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:55 AM

        Learn how to spell it if you’re gonna use it to rail at someone.

  9. twilson962 - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Everyone has up & down performances, especially rookies. Calm down.

    Shoot, there were two games this year where Verlander went only 5 innings, giving up 5 earned runs. Obviously, this kid is no Verlander but it paints a picture.

    It’s baseball. Sheesh… calm down.

  10. birdman6824 - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    Ya beat me to it, OG -with documentation, yet.

  11. paperlions - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    I agree that those that hype players do not do so only so they can tear them down later, it is usually a completely different segment of the media that enjoy tearing players down…and that segment rarely engages in the hyperventilating hype. BUT, many in the media do seem to really enjoy tearing down or ripping name hyped prospects like Harper or Strasburg because they feel like these guys have it too easy (or something). In contrast, Harvey wasn’t hyped much at all, then all of a sudden he found a devastating slider that he never had before and he’s a beast….the media LOVES guys that come out of no where or over achieve, and they also love saying that guys that have been hyped since before they were drafted are over-rated.

    Mostly, the media is pretty lazy in it’s narrative and they just recycle the same stories while changing the names, dates, and places.

    • Joe - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:20 AM

      ^This.^

      And it’s not just prospects. Dan Shaughnessey’s career is based on tearing down players that others have built up over the years.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:46 PM

      Ok, so do the glucosamine pills upset your stomach? Urgh.

      • paperlions - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:07 PM

        Nope.

        Which kind are you taking and how much?

        At first, I used the Glucosamine and Chondroitin, because they were on sale…even though research suggests that the Chondroitin doesn’t do much, it didn’t cost any more that time. Since then, I use the Glucosamine HCL+ MSM. I take mine on an empty stomach…never had a problem.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:11 PM

        It says to take it when I eat, and I do but my stomach is still upset. :( I don’t remember the brand. Something cheap. They didn’t have a big selection at my store. Clearly, your Will to Absorb is greater than mine.

      • paperlions - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:15 PM

        HAHA….mine is the CVS generic brand. Mine says “preferably with a meal”, which I took as a challenge….I never eat breakfast, and the only time I am guaranteed to remember to take one-a-day things is when I am making coffee in the morning.

        Check the ingredients and see if you are allergic to any of the binding agents/filler (e.g. shellfish).

        Maybe try it on an empty stomach with a coffee chaser and a side of vitamins E and C….works for me.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:20 PM

        It says to take twice a day, but I’m only doing once b/c it’s extra strength. They didn’t have the kind for wussies like me. I can’t take vitamins on an empty stomach either. I’ve been taking them at lunch, after I eat — which is making for some sour afternoons.

      • paperlions - Jul 1, 2013 at 6:26 PM

        Well…that sucks. Maybe try taking 1/2 as much and see if that helps? I don’t think the “strength” matters. I think a daily dose is supposed to be 1200-1500 mg, so double or triple strength just means you take fewer pills per day. If you could find a gel cap version, would that help? Not sure they make those. Having an iron stomach definitely has its advantages.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:08 PM

        Sigh. I am a delicate flower.

        Seriously, other than vitamins & supplements, I usually do have a cast iron stomach. I won’t say more.

      • paperlions - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:09 PM

        Have you been eating enough fried foods to keep that cast iron nice and seasoned and rust free?

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:12 PM

        I think not. It’s summer and I don’t want to cook in a hot kitchen, so I’ve made the seasonal switch to salads. I had gazpacho for lunch (and just to gross OG out, sugar-free pudding).

        BTW, once the gas man came out to light my pilots and bitched at me for not keeping my skillet oiled. Men.

      • paperlions - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:19 PM

        What was he thinking? You never give women unsolicited advice, EVER!….Heck, even if they directly ask for it, providing it is a risky proposition.

        I’m sure that non-oiled cast iron skillet was in fine cooking shape, screw that guy. I hope you told him to “Have a Nice Day!”

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        I like taking advice. I just don’t like being told what to do, thank you. Anyway, I just felt sorry for his wife. He’s bossy.

  12. yahmule - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:11 AM

    I would say thin skinned kill-joy is more apt at this point.

    • yahmule - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      Stick those down thumbs up your respective asses. If Craig wants to take what he considers to be controversial stands (they aren’t) he should at least do us the courtesy of not whining about it afterwards.

  13. yahmule - Jul 1, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    As usual, the media is being blamed for the sins of the public. Nothing is happening here that can’t be attributable to basic human nature. We are fascinated by new things. Our minds and imaginations can’t get enough of novelty. This is part of what makes players who burst upon the scene like Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig so alluring.

    The backlash that occurs from overexposure is understandable. The part of our brain that is so intrigued by new things grows bored with them just as rapidly. This is fundamental to understanding why many people say you cannot buy happiness. Scientifically, this is true, although we would all love to test the hypothesis personally. That only starts the momentum, though. Our current culture loves a trainwreck, so piling on has become not just acceptable, but expected.

    • waiverclaim - Jul 1, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      But then you write hate posts towards people you disagree with and call people “pussy”, so anytime you write something somewhat worthwhile, like this, its negated because you’ve been established as a massive douchebag.

      My advice: change the screen name, only write posts like this one, be less hated by everyone.

      • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 2:59 PM

        I don’t hate him.

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:00 PM

        I don’t hate him either. Wait…who are we talking about? It matters not. Hate is a very strong word. One that I never use. That in mind…I find it hard to believe people toss it around like popcorn. Yeah…people.

  14. stlouis1baseball - Jul 1, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    Yep…that’s it. They build up professional baseball players to tear them down.
    Bob Knight/Boot Camp Drill Sargent style.

    • historiophiliac - Jul 1, 2013 at 12:36 PM

      Ugh.

      Have a good weekend?

      • stlouis1baseball - Jul 1, 2013 at 4:51 PM

        It wasn’t bad…thanks. Rained all weekend. Only got a portion of the front yard mowed as a result. You?

  15. sleepyirv - Jul 1, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    This is just four or five posts away from calling teams stupid if they sign Jeff Francoeur. I wouldn’t be surprise if Jeff took that personally even if Craig didn’t mean it personally.

    How from a player’s perspective is it better that the criticism is not agenda-driven but comes from irrational expectations not being met? That’s still grossly unfair to the player.

  16. missingdiz - Jul 1, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Basically, the media are parasitical. Other people do the stuff that’s being reported; reporting depends on people doing something that can be made to seem meaningful by reporters. At best, you get good parasites like what daily consumption of yogurt leaves in your system. Otherwise, it’s the shits.

  17. stlouis1baseball - Jul 1, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Diz nailed that bitch. Great post Diz!

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