March 2, 2004

Bad Writing and Good Riddance

Those of you who have been daily readers of this blog since the end of last season may remember an Atlanta Journal-Constitution writer by the name of Terence Moore.

Last August, Moore penned an article in which he began by saying:

Andruw Jones already is the greatest center fielder of all-time, and I don't give a Willie Mays what anybody else thinks.

He went on talk about his reasoning for that statement, which started and essentially ended with the amount of putouts Andruw Jones has recorded. It included some of the sloppiest and most illogical manipulating of statistics I have ever seen, and also included Moore proclaiming that Greg Maddux was the "owner of four Cy Young Awards, and most of them have Jones' fingerprints all over them."

The fun part about that statement being, of course, that Greg Maddux does have four Cy Young Awards...none of which were won while Andruw Jones was even in the major leagues.

I spent about 2,000 words tearing Moore's article apart, piece by piece. I won't repeat it all here, but if you missed it, you'd probably enjoy checking it out (when you're done reading the rest of this entry, of course).

Here's how I concluded my take on Moore's piece:

Terence Moore may be right, maybe Andruw Jones is the greatest center fielder of all-time. I personally don't think so, but he is an excellent center fielder and the idea is certainly within the realm of possibility. If he is the greatest center fielder of all-time however, it certainly isn't going to be because he made 400 putouts in a season. And it definitely isn't going to be because some "journalist" in Atlanta who butchers the use of statistics while intentionally misleading his audience says so.

Guess what? Another Terence Moore column caught my eye yesterday. Yay!

This new column is entitled "Braves can beat Yanks to Griffey."

I'm not going to spend another 2,000 words on this piece, but I do have a few hundred I think I can spare.

Here is how it starts:

The Braves are better than you think, but they aren't special. That's the problem. Still, if they follow my humble advice, they'll rise to a higher level of competitiveness and attractiveness by the end of spring training.

All they need is for their Designated Geniuses to get a little George Steinbrenner in their bellies, and they can do so with a few enlightened moves.

Consider this: They should switch Chipper Jones from left field back to third base, where he wasn't bad. In fact, he was good at that position, give or take a botched grounder or three. They should put newcomer J.D. Drew in left, and they should move the wonderful glove, arm and instincts of Andruw Jones from center to right.

And in center?

Ken Griffey Jr.

Let's all soak that in for a moment.

Terence Moore has just suggested that the Braves move Andruw Jones to right field so that Ken Griffey Jr. can play center field. Seriously. I mean, you read it too right? I'm not making it up.

Andruw Jones is 26-year-old center fielder who has won six consecutive NL Gold Glove Awards. He is almost universally praised by both scout-types and statistical fielding metrics as one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball. Terence Moore himself, in that article I ripped apart just six months ago, proclaimed Andruw Jones "the greatest center fielder of all-time."

Now he wants to move him. And why, exactly? So that Ken Griffey Jr., 34-year-old who has missed 51, 92 and 109 games over the last three seasons, can play center field. Add on to this insanity the fact that Griffey has missed most of that time because of leg injuries and it becomes an even stranger proposition.

You take a guy who Moore says is the best center fielder ever and you move him so you can replace him with a 34-year-old who isn't considered by anyone to be as good defensively and who has missed 252 games over the last three years with leg injuries? Brilliant.

I must give Moore some credit. It is one thing to make the statement that Andruw Jones is the greatest defensive centerfielder of all-time and then "back it up" with a horrible article full of statistics manipulated to fit your argument. It is even more impressive to then suggest, just six months later, that "the greatest centerfielder of all-time" should be moved to right field, so that Ken Griffey Jr. can limp out to center field and rip his hamstring chasing down a fly ball 30 games into the season.

A little later in the piece, Moore makes another brilliant statement:

Steinbrenner knows that Griffey's injury situation is a fluke.

That's one hell of a fluke.

Let's see...a player enters his 30s and suddenly starts to have some leg problems. One year he misses 17 games. Then he misses 51 games the next year. Then he misses 92 games. Then 109 games. It's not only a fluke, it's a fluke that lasts for multiple years and actually has a numerical pattern!

Ken Griffey Jr.'s injury is a "fluke" in the same way Neifi Perez's lack of offense is a fluke. Now, if you show me a good column with Terence Moore's byline on it, then I'll show you a fluke.

Former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott, perhaps most famous for her racist remarks and praise of Adolph Hitler, died yesterday at the age of 75.

As is the case when almost any well-known person dies, the stories about Schott include positive quotes from people who knew her.

For instance, Rob Dibble, a Reds pitcher from 1988-1993 who now works for ESPN, said the following about her:

Beneath a tough exterior, Marge Schott had a heart of gold. Mind you, I wouldn't want to get on her bad side, but if she loved and cared about you, she did so for life.

Dibble goes on to say that she "was a shrewd businesswoman" who "dedicated countless hours to numerous charities" and "didn't care about perception." He also adds that "you had to look beyond her frankness and edgy delivery, because there was a lot of goodness at the root of her intentions."

Current Reds owner Carl Lindner issued a statement yesterday that read:

She will be remembered for her love of baseball and for her passion for the Cincinnati Reds.

An story about Schott's death said she will be remembered as:

A woman who loved Cincinnati, children and animals and as a devoted baseball fan who would do whatever she could to help her beloved Reds.

Barry Larkin, a black player who has been with the Reds since 1986, said the following about Schott:

I think people are remembered for the good things they do when they're gone. Now that she's gone they will remember the parties she had to raise money for kids, her involvement with the zoo, her giving to minority programs. She gave to minority programs before her racist comments came out.

Perhaps I'm in the minority here, but I'm not so quick to say nice things about someone just because they died.

It makes little difference to me whether a person is dead or alive when it comes to the things they have done in life. If Marge Schott were still alive today, would the things she said and did in the past have been any different? Of course not.

A person should be remembered in death for the way they were in life, not just for the good parts. While you're reading the various stories about Schott and seeing all the nice things people she knew have to say about her, don't forget what she did in life.

When you see Rob Dibble say that the things Schott said were simply examples of "frankness" and an "edgy delivery," don't just take his word for it. When you read about the money she gave to charity, think about if you really believe that somehow "cancels out" the other things she did.

Marge Schott used various racial slurs on multiple occasions, the most famous incident likely being when she allegedly referred to two of her players, Eric Davis and Dave Parker, as her "million-dollar niggers."

She later said that her use of that word was "in jest" and "not meant to offend," and that she couldn't understand why the word "Jap," which she also used, was offensive.

Schott owned a Nazi swastika arm band and praised Adolph Hitler, saying he was "good at the beginning'' but then "went too far."

After serving a 9-month suspension from baseball for her remarks, Schott returned to the Reds. A year later, she said she didn't want her players wearing earrings, because "only fruits wear earrings."

Years after her initial Hitler statements, Schott was asked about it again and repeated essentially the same words. Two years later, Schott was again stripped of her control of the team as a result of offensive remarks.

I'm sure there are probably several other incidents I am missing and countless others that weren't made public.

As for my comments on the woman, my mother always said that if I didn't have anything nice to say about someone, I shouldn't say anything at all. So...




See ya tomorrow.

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