Perspectives: Baseball Talk and Winning
By Paul Semendinger
May 25, 2023
Sometimes, as we debate and discuss a plethora of baseball topics, we talk right past each other. You make your point. I make mine. The next person makes hers. On and on it goes. We all think we're right. And, with the logic we use, we are. But we're also wrong. Most of what we argue (or said nicer, most of what we debate) has no definitive answer. We're simply sharing our perspectives on a host of topics related to baseball and the Yankees.
Is Brian Cashman a great general manager? The answer depends on one's definition of great.
The same hold true for evaluating Aaron Boone or the franchise as a whole:
"They win a lot of games. They never tanked. They're always in the playoffs."
"Yeah, but they never reach the World Series."
"They did in 2009."
"That was a lifetime ago."
"It's more difficult to win in today's game."
"Other teams have figured it out."
"The playoffs are nothing more than a random sample. The best teams don't win."
"But the Yankees haven't even been the best team. They've lost to better teams."
"They would have won if they were healthy."
"Why is it that the roster they use is never healthy?"
"It's the trainers."
"It's the GM"
"It's bad luck."
"It's bad design..."
On and on it goes.
Both arguments have merit. Both arguments contain truth. This is what we do as sports fans. We discuss and debate and believe that we're making compelling arguments. But, often times, we talk right past each other. And with this, I don't just mean here at SSTN. I mean this is what we do as fans. Everywhere. Just put on sports radio or watch a talking head on TV or on a podcast. Read the discussions in a forum. We know ho sports talk goes...
The other day I had a discussion with a heralded baseball expert and statistician about the merits and value of WAR. We shared e-mails and had a respectful discussion. I understand the point he was making. I think (I hope) he understood mine.
He didn't convince me.
I'm pretty certain I didn't convince him.
I can't refute much of what he said. And he can't refute what I countered with. We both shared facts - hard facts. His facts supported his argument. My facts supported mine.
And life goes on.
Was Babe Ruth the greatest player of all-time?
I can give a host of facts to show that he was. Someone else can give a long list of facts and stats to show he wasn't.
Was Willie Mays better than Mickey Mantle?
I can give some stats that show that Mantle had many better seasons than Mays. Absolutely. Look at the stats, they're there. But do those stats tell the whole story? Was the National League a tougher league when they played?
What other factors were behind those numbers?
Part of the fun in discussing baseball is that we often have to work hard to make our points. We research. We read. We calculate. We reason.
We find out about players. We learn about history.
Good honest debate is about learning and listening and weighing other people's points of view.
Sometimes we have to say to the other person, "You know what? You're right."
I enjoy fair, honest, and respectful discussions. I don't enjoy when there is name-calling or condensation. I have often found that people resort to negative tactics when they know their argument is weak.
"Player X isn't good,"
"You're funny looking."
You get the idea.
Let's continue here to always be respectful in our debates and discussions. There is room for disagreement. There isn't room for the other stuff.
However one wants to define the last 13 seasons in the Yankees' world, they've all ended without a World Series trophy. I think this has left the majority of Yankees fans dissatisfied at the end of most of those seasons. There might have been a season or two in there that ended with hope ("They over-performed! Wait until next year!) but for the most part, fans want their team to win, and for whatever reason(s), the Yankees haven't ended the season with a win (and a trophy) since 2009.
We saw a supposedly great team last year crumble and stumble through an uninspired second half. Then 2023 didn't get off to the best of starts. April wasn't great. The Yankees tasted last place.
And then... things have seemed to fall into place. The Yankees are 15-7 in May and have won against the best teams in the division. Aaron Judge has been on fire. Anthony Volpe looks to be for real. Harrison Bader has been amazing. Aaron Hicks has left the building. The injured players are coming back. The bullpen has performed miraculously.
Winning cures a lot of ills.
We asked our writers earlier this week if this team is for real. They just might be. This might be the year. It's difficult to get down on the team when they win in big bunches.
Can they sustain this?
We all hope so.
If they do, at least for a while, Aaron Boone will be a genius. Brian Cashman too.
If they don't? Well, I'm sure everyone (myself included) will have a lot to say.
Just keep it respectful, my friends.
Let's Go Yankees!