Some 27 years ago, Chicago sportswriter Bernie Lincicome had this calm and concise assertion about the decision to put lights up at Wrigley Field.
I will take a pass on the lighting of Wrigley Field. It is an easy choice. Whenever possible I avoid the soiling of virgins.
Immediately disregarding what he'd just typed, he jumped right into indignant soiling.
The loss of innocence is too precious to end up on a T-shirt. You do not strike commemorative coins for an execution. Maybe you do. This is my first.
This is not about night baseball, not about the Cubs, not about which way the wind blows after dark. Not about electricity.
This is not about property values or cable wars or corporate greed or common sense.
This is about dread and regret and the death of illusions. This is about fearing the world will be less tomorrow than it is today.
While it's moderately surprising that Lincicome is still writing about baseball 27 years later, it shouldn't surprise you much that he's still espousing his same holier-than-thou tone.
Over the weekend, he once again feared that the world will be less tomorrow than it is today, was yesterday, or has been since the advent of the modern game of baseball. This time, though, it wasn't because baseball's second oldest stadium was prepping for night baseball some fifty years after the game had already adopted the concept; rather, it was because Bernie feels that stats have mangled baseball to the the point where "an out is no longer just an out."
Really? It's really too complicated to simply watch the game the way you always have? It's easier to Creepy Ratios and Percentages all over the way others choose to watch it?
Lincicome, by the way, is a card-carrying member of the BBWAA, which means he not only gets to help foul up the Hall of Fame process, he also gets to vote on each and every award that the BBWAA is in charge of saluting. And, in case you weren't aware, that's quite a lot of different categories that make distinct definitions about what and how things were successful in the game of baseball:
- National League Most Valuable Player
- American League Most Valuable Player
- National League Cy Young Award
- American League Cy Young Award
- National League Rookie of the Year
- American League Rookie of the Year
- National League Manager of the Year
- American League Manager of the Year
The BBWAA also votes on the Edgar Martinez Award, which is given solely to the best designated hitter in the American League. For a time in the roll and tumble of the McCarthy-era 1950's, the BBWAA even doted a Sophomore of the Year Award for both the AL and NL, since it seems at one point in time they wanted to break down who was playing well into as many different categories as possible.
That sounds like the BBWAA spends a lot of time and effort attempting to determine which baseball entities are the best at what they do every year given very specific parameters, restrictions, and qualifiers.
(Oops. I did not mean to make what the BBWAA does and what modern statisticians do sound so essential to the modern appreciation of the grand old game.)
It's one thing for a baseball writer with decades of experience watching the game to tell you not to try to quantify anything and to simply enjoy the game on the field. It's something different when one tells you that quantifying feats on the field is important, but only important if you do it the very same way he does it.
Don't waste your time trying to figure out why Joe Morgan won the 1975 NL MVP for the Cincinnati Reds - as voted on by the BBWAA - despite having fewer RBIs than both Johnny Bench and Tony Perez. Certainly don't waste your time trying to figure out why a veteran BBWAA writer thinks RBIs and ERAs suffice when his own association hasn't agreed on that since, well, at least 1975. In fact, don't waste your time on trying to figure out the numerical relations between WAR, VORP, or PECOTA when the theories behind them make more sense than a baseball writer with a beard writing about how beards in baseball are "the most distressing trend in sports."
Why bother? I mean, baseball's just a game, right?
Right. Just some crap someone made up for no good reason over 150 years ago.