August 17, 2017

Cafardo Believes There's Something Special About Tuesdays That Makes The Red Sox Win. Seriously.

Back on April 25, 2015, I wrote the following:
Pointless: A Pitcher's Career Stats Against A Team

It's a part of every baseball broadcast you have ever heard - and will ever hear.

Before the game begins, or perhaps in the first inning, the announcer will recite each of the starting pitcher's career statistics against the team he is facing. He will tell you these numbers as though they mean something, as though they could shed light on what might occur during the game. ...

However, those statistics are utterly worthless and completely meaningless. They are a waste of breath to say and a waste of energy to listen to. The announcer might as well give the starting pitcher's career numbers on the particular day of the week.
I have made that same comment in several posts since then. I think it points out the ridiculousness of believing how a pitcher fared against one lineup of players has any predictive value about how he will do facing another lineup of players several years later whose only connection to the first lineup is that their shirts have the same design on the front. I didn't actually believe an announcer or sportswriter would devote any time to discussing a pitcher's record on a certain day of the week.

Well ... guess what?

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, August 15, 2017:
Tuesdays And Red Sox? Some Of Their Greatest Hits

What is it about Tuesday?

The Red Sox are 15-2 on Tuesdays, the best record on that day in baseball after a 10-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Fenway Park. ...

When told of the unusual feat, Xander Bogaerts had a funny reaction, "Ah c'mon man! Really?"

Feel any different on Tuesdays?

"Not really, man," Bogaerts said. ...

First of all, let's start with last night. The Red Sox turned a triple play for the first time in six years. ... On this night, the Red Sox also went a season-tying 17 games over .500. ... The Sox scored eight runs in the fifth inning to break this wide open ...

Why did this all happen? Because it was Tuesday.
For the record, Bogaerts did not have a "funny" reaction. He had a "normal" reaction. He had a "common sense" reaction. He had an "intelligent person" reaction.

Bogaerts's reaction should have more than been enough for Cafardo to reconsider his flimsy premise and realize, yeah, that is awfully stupid. But Cafardo, chronically bereft of ideas, latched onto this meaningless bit of nonsense and devoted an entire column to it.

4 comments:

allan said...

Actually, most of the column is nothing more than extremely brief recaps of 10 games the Red Sox played (including one loss(!)) that coincidentally occurred on a Tuesday. Cafardo also includes the All-Star Game, because Sale pitched in it.

Das Funk said...

Allan - your antipathy for Old Saint Nick is well documented, and not entirely undeserved - here, however, you're letting your loathing cloud your interpretation.

The article that has so appalled you is - and was intended as - a throwaway fluff piece, one of many such articles that appears in every news publication in the country - it's a space filler, a lazy tossup, a non-journalistic piece of drivel - and intended as same.

Cafardo somehow came across the curious (but entirely meaningless) factoid that the Sox have a data blip record on a particular day of the week, so he deemed it a 'fun' topic for a column. He drolly, tongue-in-check approached some players for what I'm relatively confident he expected would be droll, tongue-in-cheek reactions to this blip and was rewarded with exactly that. He wasn't seriously asking XB what he attributed this "amazing" outlier to and didn't receive a serious response. He wasn't scientifically assessing the "cause" of this curiousity, either.

No one who has read two pieces of Cafardo's work would confuse him with Tracy Ringolsby or Ring Lardner, and neither do his editors at the Globe. He's an every-baseball-town-has-one columnist who sometimes (often?) resorts to the industry wide practice of column filling, and when you attack him for every non-Pulitzer-worthy brainfart, you're reflecting "excessive expectations" about "how things happen...in the journalism process." (with apologies to a Senator from Kentucky, best left unattributed and unnamed)

allan said...

The article that has so appalled you is - and was intended as - a throwaway fluff piece, one of many such articles that appears in every news publication in the country - it's a space filler, a lazy tossup, a non-journalistic piece of drivel - and intended as same.

I actually was going to address this, but deleted it. I completely understand that sometimes a writer turns in a fluff piece. Of course, even a fluff piece can have something interesting in it that enables a reader to learn something. (Alex Speier could do this. He'd look at other months, other seasons, other teams and make it fun, rather than just making a list and hitting "send" and then going to take a nap.)

The problem with this is that EVERYTHING Cafardo does is drivel, a space filler, and exceedingly lazy. He has a list of sources you can count on one hand and he uses them over and over and over and over. He has certain players he will always write about and boost (has he mentioned that Johnny Damon has been working out lately?) He will begin an article with a point of view, then unknowingly contradict it several times (or have coaches and execs say the opposite of what he is proposing) before finishing up by restating the original thesis. It's like he just bangs the stuff out in a first draft and doesn't read it over. (And apparently neither do his editors.)

He's an every-baseball-town-has-one columnist who sometimes (often?) resorts to the industry wide practice of column filling ...

But he is not that run of the mill guy, actually. He's the National Baseball Writer for one of the biggest newspapers in the country. For one of the most respected sports section in the country (or at least they used to be). It is a position developed and held by Peter Gammons, back when Gammons approached his job like Pedro approached pitching in 1999. Gordon Edes was also fantastic in that spot. While Cafardo is apparently a nice guy who likes baseball (but hates hates hates stats he has not taken the time to understand), he is not smart or curious enough for the job he has. All outward appearances indicate that he doesn't want to put in the time or mental energy required to do a good job. He mails everything in. He doesn't think things through. This TUESDAYS piece would be okay if it was an aberration. But it's not. It's just like everything else he does, but a bit worse.

Coming from him, there is no way to tell if that column was a joke or if he was dead serious. And that's the problem.

Jim Goodale said...

Interesting discussion, but to me, the words click-bait spring to mind. For instance, in today 's Herald Mastrodonato has a story that concludes that Red Sox fans should root for a Yankee sweep this weekend because "these Red Sox" "play their best when their backs are against the wall". He then provides some cherry-picked anecdotes (going back to 2014 fcs) that supposedly prove his point.
Somebody should write a piece on "Will click-bait articles kill professional sports writing".