“Absolute” Baseball

There has been a trend going around these internets recently and it has got me really disturbed. People far more baseball smart than myself have started talking about baseball as a game of absolutes. These people should no better but yet they continue to use words like always and never and that is forbidden talk in baseball. I must admit though even I feel victim to it yesterday when I said there is no reason to ever root against (or feel indifference to)  a player of your team getting a hit. This was in response to someone who said he didn’t care that Josh Harrison got a hit to break up the no hitter. It is inconceivable to me that someone could have felt indifference there but to each their own. I suppose though that there is a scenario where hoping for no hit makes sense. Maybe last game of the season and a hit would score a run and win a meaningless game that would prevent the Pirates from being able to draft a once in a generation player.

Anyway back on point this phenomenon is not limited to this situation. I have also seen certain Pirate bloggers, I won’t name any, say things such as you should never bunt, you should never play for one run, protection is a myth and I have them quote advanced stats as absolute answers in every situation. On the other hand when posed with real world situations these same people try to shrug off situations that counter their stances by saying or implying they aren’t applicable. The widely held idea that you should never bunt took a back seat when Hurdle earlier this season allowed McDonald to swing and he grounded into a double play. There was no one trumpeting Hurdle for not bunting but instead they were asking why he didn’t bunt. The idea that you should never play for one runs went to the wayside in the bottom of the 12th inning the other day when Josh Harrison hot the game winning single. Harrison hit a single to the outfielder and the OF threw the ball home to try and stop Barmes from scoring but Harrison did not take 2nd base on the throw meaning the Pirates were in fact playing for only one run. Again not one complaint from anyone about playing for one run. As for the protection being a myth, no one who has said this has been able to answer one simple question of mine. The question is if the person batting behind you (protection) has no impact on how a pitcher pitches you why does Rod Barajas have two IBB this season? Not one real response to this answer.

As for using advanced stats to justify every situation the belief widely held by many Pirate bloggers is that Barmes struggles should be ignored and advanced stats and advanced stats only should be the deciding factor in what play (sacrifice bunt, hit and run, etc) is called. These guys are smart enough to know that while these stats are good for 90-95% of situations they are imperfect enough that they can’t be applied to every situation without question.

Even a respected columnist for a local newspaper has gotten into the act by placing full blame for the struggling offense 100% in Huntington. He completely ignores the effect Hurdle, Ritchie and the hitters themselves have to play in the offensive woes. Barajas and Barmes have way underperformed is that on Huntington of course but 100%, no way. The players are accountable for their actions as well are the coaches and manger.

Some where along the line a lot of smart baseball people have forgotten that baseball is a game of luck, chance, maybes, this time but not next and that it is a game of absolutes like math. Anything can happen in the course of a baseball career, heck a baseball season, heck even a baseball game, what am I saying anything can happen in a baseball at bat. Every situation needs to evaluated in the moment there is no cookie cutter approach, yes the general rules I have discussed so far probably apply to at least 95%, maybe even 99.999% of situations but that isn’t an absolute. Look I know my words will have little effect on the baseball community but consider this a plea for sanity please rein it in with absolutes and instead speak in generalities such as in the majority of situations …., in nearly ever …, you probably should hardly ever …, etc but I’m begging you guys please sop it with the use of all, never and always.


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