Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 

... or, in other words, Barry Bonds, Al Pedrique, and Bud Selig.

I was going to write an extended piece on the tempest in a teapot regarding Bonds' 700 homeruns, but lack the time. So here's the briefer version. (Rereading it, it's still not so brief.)

To begin with, the debate over the debate over whether or not Bonds will be the MVP amuses me because it reflects the argument over how you should value ballplayers. The BCS attempts to take all sorts of different criteria for selecting the 2 top teams, and, in the end, if the computers don't agree with what the fans think, to hell with 'em. So while you can argue about Win Shares and VORP and whatever, it doesn't matter, because there are still going to be fans who think that to be MVP you need to be on a playoff-winning team, or hit home runs, or be a nice guy. And there's no reason to say they're wrong or right.

Still, my theory is this:

2004 San Francisco Giants = 2004 Arizona Diamondbacks + Barry Bonds

How do I get this? Simple. Barry Bonds makes up (as of 9/9) about 20.5% of the Giants' Win Shares. Believing as I do that Win Shares shouldn't always use actual records but instead Pythagenport records, the San Francisco Giants not named Barry Bonds have 180 Win Shares. The D-Backs' Pythagenport-ized Win Share total? 169. Pretty close, eh? You know who's got my vote. (But can you imagine the endorsement deals Bonds would have if he had a friendly public persona? Seriously, he could be making Jordan-like money.)

In any case, I wanted to talk about homeruns, so let me say this.

Al Pedrique should only be criticized for not pitching to Bonds until the game was out of reach. In my mind, that makes only the last at-bat on Saturday night questionable. As for the rest of the intentional walks, you can argue that those aren't the best strategy (others have) or that the young pitching staff should develop confidence by pitching to him, but those are debatable points with merit on both sides.

Pedrique's comment that he didn't want the team and the fans demoralized by giving up the 700th homerun might not have been the wisest thing to say (and how can it be OK to boost morale by wanting to pitch to Bonds but not OK to be afraid of the possible loss of morale by giving up the homerun?), but to equate the comment with possible tampering as Selig did seems just stupid.

Finally, 700 is just a fairly meaningless way-station on the way to meeting and exceeding 714 and 755. (Do you know how many NFL running backs have 15,000 yards or NBA players have 25,000 points?) It's unlikely either number will be challenged in the heat of a pennant race, and thank goodness for that, because if you think the scrutiny is bad now, just wait 'til then.

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