December 5, 2018

Michael Wilbon: Dumber Than Dirt (And Unashamed)

Here is some dirt.

I'm willing to bet that dirt knows more about baseball than ESPN's Michael Wilbon.

This story is a few weeks old, but is worth mentioning. After Mets pitcher Jacob de Grom won the NL Cy Young Award (with 29 of 30 first-place votes), Wilbon vented about the baseball establishment on "Pardon the Interruption":
I'm not with these people. I don't respect their judgment, actually, because I don't value what they value. I value winning the damn game more than the ERA. And therefore, it is analytical hijacking. They want to hijack baseball, they want to impose their will and tell you what's important. I don't share most of and maybe none of their values, and it's absurd.
Wilbon was not satirizing older, fuddy-duddy sportswriters who cannot be bothered to learn anything new and pine for the days when Wins and RBI and Batting Average were the cat's pajamas. No, he meant what he said. (Attention-seeking "hot takes" are so important that having everyone ridicule you as a clueless moron is better than being ignored.)

One commenter at that link noted: "Wilbon has been ranting for many, many months about this. Unfortunately for him, de Grom kept pitching so extraordinarily well ... Wilbon boxed himself in so much that could not admit the obvious, so now he's doubling down on his criticism of 'those people.' ... [H]e's so stubborn that he comes across as an ignorant blowhard."

According to SNY: "Back in September when it became apparent de Grom was the frontrunner for the award, Wilbon called it 'garbage' that he was even considered due to his then-losing record."

Wilbon was yelling at clouds in August, as well. This exchange is amazing: "I'm big on wins. ... I don't care what the ERA is. ... Win - The - Damn - Game. [He doesn't get any run support] Okay, you gotta hang tough then. [Hang though?] Yeah, don't allow any. [His ERA is 1.81] I don't care about his ERA. ... There are some nights when you gotta do a better job, when you gotta give up nothing or one because your guys aren't hitting."

Of course, giving up "nothing or one" was pretty much what de Grom did all summer long. He allowed two runs or fewer in 26 of 32 starts. In games in which he allowed NO runs, the Mets went 4-4. I guess de Grom should have been even "tougher" and allowed -1 runs.

Sarah Langs, Twitter (I reorganized her info):
Jacob de Grom: 1.70 ERA, best in MLB. He went 10-9 & Mets were 14-18 in his starts
Lucas Giolito: 6.13 ERA, worst in MLB. He went 10-13 & White Sox were 14-18 in his starts
That's the same number of pitcher wins and same team record... for the best and worst pitchers in MLB.
I was wondering what baseball will do when every single fan watching a game is more enlightened than the announcers, but then I read some of the other comments below that Awful Announcing story and realized that ignorance will never come close to going out of style.

Something I Learned Today: Wilbon believes that ERA - which the National League began officially compiling 107 years ago - is part of the tyrannical analytic movement that is ruining baseball.

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