Monday, December 24, 2018

The Ballad of Bill Ballou

A certain Worcester sportswriter who has, inexplicably, been given a vote on what constitutes a a baseball immortal, has decided that he will surrender this undeserved privilege this year, rather than cast a ballot for Mariano Rivera.

His logic here is, well, about equal to that displayed in his reasons why The Great Rivera should not make it to Cooperstown.

If this Knight of the Press Box, as Ted Williams loved to call them, really thinks Rivera should not be in the Hall, then he should have the courage of his convictions and vote against him.

But what could his reasoning be?

For starters (no pun intended), he feels that Rivera is getting in mostly because he holds the all-time major-league record in saves, and he believes that a save really isn't much of a statistic.

To prove this, he points to the fact that Craig Kimbrel picked up several saves in this year's postseason, while not pitching very well.

That's all well and good.  But, in addition to his 652 regular-season saves, Mariano Rivera compiled  42 postseason saves, in a remarkable, 32 postseason series.  His ERA for those postseason games was 0.70—just a third of his already, low low regular-season 2.21—and his record was 8-1.  And he accomplished all this even though the Yankees regularly extended him in the playoffs, making him pitch two innings instead of one, at a time of the year when he was most tired.

Our Worcester scribe gives another example as to why Rivera should not be honored:  Adam Vinateri.

This would seem, on the face of it, to be about the worst of all possible examples for him to cite.  Vinateri, after all, is about the closest parallel to Rivera in another sport, a specialty player who has performed spectacularly well in clutch situations, season after season, for a very long time.

Our Worcester Knight, though, cites a Super Bowl in which Vinateri kicked the game-winning field goal only after having missed an earlier field goal.

But again, this only further proves the greatness of Rivera.  Unlike VInateri, Mariano had ONE chance to succeed, and one chance only.  He did it more consistently, in more high-pressure situations, than anyone else in sports history.

What the Sage of Worcester is also saying in this example, though, is that early counts as much as late.

He's right.  But then, Rivera was never given the chance to decide any game early, ONLY late.  So, he succeeded constantly, in the role he was given.  Our writer's criticism on this score is like saying an outfielder should not go to the Hall because he never turned threw out a runner trying to steal a base.  That wasn't his role.

But beyond that, Rivera was necessary in those late innings, because modern starters—throwing many more pitches than their predecessors—can't get there.

To say that he "only" pitched a vital last inning is like saying that the oil in your car "only" kept all the parts of the engine operating, and didn't fill the gas tank.  You still need the oil to get you there.

But then, our Knight ALSO claims that any decent major-league pitcher could throw a single, scoreless inning.

This is true.  But it reminds me of something that Jerry Seinfeld once said about comedy.  Anybody can be funny.  Not everybody can be funny at nine o'clock tonight.

Any major-league pitcher can throw a scoreless inning.  Not any pitcher can throw a scoreless ninth, day after day, year after year, in some of the biggest situations going.

Mariano Rivera could.

And let's be serious:  late IS harder than early.  You can pretend all you want that there is no such thing as "clutch."  But there is.

Finally, our Worcester skeptic cites the example of hockey goalie who got a very cheap shutout to  circle back and question the whole definition of "shutout," as well as "save."

I would like to know one example of a sports statistic that does not include a few gimmes.  I'm sure that even the home run totals of Yaz, The Splendid Splinter, and David Ortiz include a few crippled ducks hit off the Pesky pole.

So what?

You do it forever, there's a reason for it.

Mariano Rivera has been on the mound for the end of four World Series triumphs.  No one else has ever done that.  Think there's a reason?

Rivera has, I think, the highest ever save percentage for any longtime closer who has finished his career.  Think there's a reason for that?

So what is this all about then?  Could our Worcester bravo be mostly interested in trying to steal some glory from a great, great pitcher just to publicize himself?

In the spirit of Christmas, I would like to think not.  I would like to think he is just dumb.


Rich said...

Don't waste your breath trying to figure out this fool. The ONLY reason he's not voting MO is because he's a bullshit homer, who like Met fans, think more about the Yankees than their own freaking team. He just can't come out and say the real reason - that MO was a Yankee - otherwise he'd get crucified and might stand a chance of losing his vote if he told the truth!

Use your breath to scream at the penny-pinching billionaire who won't spend for great players and great relievers... something we really could use to throw it back at that fool! 😉😉

TheWinWarblist said...

Hoss, why are you bothering to go all FJM on this racist imbecilic Beantown pinhead homer?

ranger_lp said...

If Mo was a RedSox instead, would this a-hole say the same?

JM said...

What a maroon.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Rich, I suspect it's even worse than simple fan loyalty (although you're right, he wouldn't dare write it about a Sock). I suspect he's just doing it for the publicity, and the clicks.

Warbler, I'm not sure what FJM means. But I love breaking down pseudo-logic like this when I get the chance. It's like a chance to sharpen one's brain.

TheWinWarblist said...

Fire Joe Morgam. I short lived blog which should be read by all.

Anonymous said...

This guy is the perfect example why writers should have nothing to do with voting for hall of fame. The mere thought of keeping Mariano Rivera out is MIND NUMBING DUMB. IF I had my way, anybody that felt as this idiot does would not get a chance to even get close to HOF as a civilian.Here's a thought "Stamp out Stupid" Bill Ballou is STUPID!!!

Der Kaiser said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Ballou doing something good for Mariano here? For whatever reason (as I understand it, mainly because he thinks closers are overrated), he doesn't want to vote for him. But instead of leaving him off his ballot or submitting a blank protest ballot as others have done, he chooses to abstain, thereby not voting against Rivera. He may be a fool or an idiot or a Boston homer, but his not voting does no harm. Isn't this exactly the sort of voter we WANT to abstain from voting?

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