Monday, January 14, 2008

A Sports Fan Retires

This week I decided to quit watching sports. Or rather, I’ve decided to quit doing everything that goes along with being a sports fan: reading articles, listening to broadcasts, wearing giant foam fingers, etc.

What brought this on you may ask? Why should I, one of the most devoted of Astros fans, renounce not only watching broadcasts, but never listening to Milo Hamilton call a game again? The answer is because I am tired. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I can’t listen to another moronic comment by a so-called expert color man or another story that would be better off in a tabloid. And aside from baseball, I just don’t care about any other sports all that much.

From years and years of listening to radio broadcasts, I became more and more convinced that the announcers had little idea of what they were talking about. As Michael Lewis detailed so
eloquently in Moneyball, baseball isn’t but pitchers’ wins, ERA, batting average, or RBIs. It’s about On Base Percentage, pitchers’ strikeouts, walks, homeruns allowed, and groundballs. Baseball Prospectus has column after column of evidence on why these old stats are misleading and poor criteria to determine a player’s worth, but try telling that to Joe Morgan or Tim McCarver or, dare I say it, Milo Hamilton. Joe Morgan, the worst color person in the history of sports, won an Emmy for his baseball coverage. This is the sort of thing that intelligent sports fans are battling all the time.

And this doesn't even begin to broach the managers and general managers who make decisions based on this faulty reasoning. Not to be a homer, but why would Astros GM Ed Wade sign Michael Bourn, an unproven but speedy outfielder who should be able to steal a lot of bases, only to later sign Miguel Tejada to join Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee, and rookie sensation Hunter Pence in the middle of the lineup? You don't want someone standing on first to get thrown out so he can steal a meaningless base when you have four guys coming up who can slug the hell out of the ball. It doesn't make any sense.

I believe the problem is that once you realize that a good portion of the baseball lore and knowledge is ridiculous hokum, you move away from the sport. Baseball’s explanations for things begin to look childish, and many respond by pushing the sport into childhood and moving on. And as much as I love baseball, I think I am at this point.

I still love the game, and I wouldn’t want to give back any knowledge that I have acquired, even if it would mean I could enjoy baseball like a sixteen-year-old again, head full of baseball knowledge not plagued with cynicism and doubt. But I just have to separate myself from the idiots who parrot imbecilic lore. So I’m done. Maybe I’ll watch a baseball game on mute, and I’ll still read box scores, but I just can’t do it anymore.

As for the tabloid issue: Tony Romo’s superstar singer girlfriend is something for Access Hollywood to cover, not You want to print tabloid trash, I’ll treat you like someone who prints tabloid trash.

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