I don’t think that I would ever dare challenge Peter Gammons and his views on things. We’re talking about a guy who has elevated his profession to a point that I can’t even fathom me doing in mine (which, by the way, is far less interesting than baseball journalism and will never get me into Cooperstown).
But now, more and more often, I feel like the man is indirectly criticizing me for liking non-conventional statistics. And I guess I didn’t expect any of this from a guy like him, especially because it wasn’t too long ago that he was considered one of the old school writers who was open to utilizing sabermetrics.
But since late October, here are some things that Gammons has written (seemingly unprovoked, mind you):
Want to know about winners? (Dustin) Pedroia gave up his scholarship at Arizona State to free up money to sign a much-needed pitcher, so when the Sun Devils reached the College World Series, coaches and players had “DP” on their caps in honor of their leader who never got to Omaha. The sabermetrics guys in their garages never understand these things.- October 29, 2007
Raines, Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs were the best of the ’80s and early ’90s, and while some of our sabermetric fellows do not believe players are humans, Raines made every team he was on better – December 29, 2007
I voted for (Jim Rice), but it’s been interesting that there have been people like Rob Neyer who are so obsessed with degrading Rice’s career. - January 3, 2008
What gives, Peter? All three of these comments were written regarding topics that didn’t necessarily have to include sabermetrics. Gammons was the one who brought up the topic.
Look, I get it. I’m not sure if I’m good enough at analyzing numbers to even qualify as a sabermetrics guy, but as a group, we can be incredibly snarky and too stubborn to take intangibles into account – not because we “do not believe players are humans”, but because none of the hard data proves that these things help in any way shape or form. If we can’t prove that Jason Varitek’s leadership helped David Ortiz hit 5 more homeruns than he would have otherwise, then we can’t take it into account when crunching numbers. It’s all it is.
And I don’t want to speak for Rob Neyer (who has probably penned a few too many words against Rice’s candidacy) because he can take care of himself. But I don’t think that he ever even thought to “degrade Rice’s career” to any extent. I think it’s far more accurate to say that Neyer and others (including myself) disagree with the manner in which Rice is perceived. Simply put, it doesn’t appear to me that Jim Rice would have been even close to the Hall if he didn’t play so many games in Fenway Park. And if he really was feared to the extent that’s been written and spoken about him, he’d have been walked far more often than he actually was. Does this stance qualify as “degrading”? Not to me, it doesn’t. If it does, then it stands to reason that I degrade Miguel Olivo’s career by claiming that he can’t hit a lick.
I really doubt that I would have been bothered by any of these comments had they been written by Skip Bayless or Bill Conlin. But Gammons is obviously a guy I have tremendous respect for. And it makes me a little sad to be honest. See, Peter? We have feelings too.