February 2012

Throwing Away the Question: Who is MLB’s Jeremy Lin?

You’ve probably heard some of the nation talk nonstop about this new kid Jeremy Lin, and being an Asian-American myself it’s been hard to ignore, try as I may to hit that “ignore” button or “hide this story” on Facebook as many times as I can. This dude has no doubt worked his tail off to get where he is in the limelight right now and he, his family, and his supporters should be very proud. The Asian-American (and I imagine the Taiwanese and at least some of the Asian community) is definitely going nuts. I watched him last night and I was impressed, but I still don’t care about the NBA. Another one of those “more fun to play than watch” sports (what a lot of basketball and football fans say about baseball, too), in my opinion, and does not have the same beauty of strategy and history as baseball does for me.

Someone asked Keith Law earlier this morning:

Now the issue for me is not that Tebow and Lin do not seem similar, it’s that I don’t understand the obsession with these guys. You don’t see me obsess over Buster Posey do you? Oh, you do? Oh. Well, let’s get back to the question at hand: Who is the MLB’s Tebow/Lin?

Not anyone right now. Ryan Vogelsong had a story everyone was talking about last year (and should’ve nailed him the Comeback Player of the Year Award, personal bias perhaps), every time Freddy Sanchez plays the Dodgers, Vin Scully tells his story, and there are quite a number of individuals that grow up in poor families and neighborhoods that found a way to live their dream. As familiar as that last story might be, it’s still pretty damned impressive, if you ask me. To say though, that the MLB needs someone like that? Ridiculous. MLB does not need a figure like Lin or Tebow to pop up to make the game more beautiful. Does not need someone like that to sell out more stadiums in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, but if he showed up for Oakland, you never know… they might fill up 10,000 seats in a game with a new guy like that! It is not to say someone like this would not be welcomed, I’m just saying it is not important that the MLB have someone like a Tebow or Lin. Would the MLB love to have someone like that to market around though? Sure. There’s just no one like that in the MLB at the moment.

I have a hard time imagining who could be that type of a figure? Is this a ethnic-driven thing? If it is, I can’t see anyone going crazy for someone with a certain background since MLB’s had that one covered, except for maybe Russia, the Middle East, and parts of Africa. The hysteria would more be on in those areas of the world, and not in America.

Also, you could really say that the NBA, through all its bad publicity throughout the past year really needs someone like Lin, and the NFL, through all of its bad publicity throughout the past year really needs Tebow. Those organizations are stoked they have these two figures within their own league. The MLB may have their own problems, but none to the degree the NFL/NBA has had since steroids.

So, good for the NFL and the NBA. They need something good to go for them. The MLB and its fans will look on and realize that our season with all its Bud Selig competitive balance, upcoming and current stars, lack of a salary cap, huge minor league system, we’re doing alright.

Andres Torres: The #Mets Pretty Good 5th OF

Teams all want OF depth in their system. What’s great about the game is we all have our own opinions on different athletes. Andres Torres is an interesting case. I don’t need to tell you his story, because you know it. But Jon Heyman took a break from talking about the line at Delta to talking Torres, the nicest guy in the history of nice:

To which big man Dave Cameron of Fangraphs quickly responded:

So I thought that I would look around a little bit for some stats from 2009-2011 about Andres Torres and how he compares to the rest of the league, mostly because that’s what Mr. Cameron did in a later tweet. Here’s how Andres ranks in the last 3 years:

wRC+ — tied for 34th at 113

WAR — 19th at 11.1

Fangraphs’ Fld metric — 4th at 39.7

wOBA — tied for 40th at .342

ISO — 36th at .184

SLG% — tied for 45th at .436

OBP — 60th at .332

SB — 33rd at 51 total

I’m not saying Andres Torres is an All-Star, and these stats don’t suggest that either. I’m not saying he has to start for you — we all saw 2011. But 5th OF? Come on, Heyman.

Josh Hamilton Reaction

By now, you know the story. Josh Hamilton was at a bar Monday night and had a relapse. You’ve heard 10,000 different opinions since then, and maybe even saw or read his apology. I didn’t, but since I heard of the happening last night, I became indescribably sad. Not angry. Not disappointed. Certainly not happy nor rejoicing. In the end, as much as we love baseball or the athletes that we have been fortunate enough to watch, we still live a life.

Josh Hamilton’s struggles have been well chronicled. Another history lesson wouldn’t be necessary here. What I’m sad about is that when it happened you knew what would happen: the reaction of the general public would go nuts on him. Some people kept calm and tried to put perspective on it and were successful. Josh Hamilton is a human being, and I have a hard time getting on someone for going back to something they were once addicted to. I’ve never experienced drug/alcohol abuse, so I’m not going to pretend I can 100% empathize nor even close to criticize the man.

Rather, I’m with the crowd that pulls for him, that hopes he is able to reach the goals he wants to in his recovery, and that he is able to play out his baseball career until he says he’s ready to retire. Even news from today stating that contract extension talks are on hold for Hamilton with the Rangers saddens me a little bit, but you can also put me in the bunch that believes in him and that he will recover. The media and others will not let the world forget about the relapse or his history, and that’s fine since they have a right to voice their opinion, but if he says he’s committed to being better, I stand right beside him.