Nationals Baseball: The hump in hump day is full of terrible opinions

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The hump in hump day is full of terrible opinions

I can't blame the talking heads too much. They are paid to give their opinions, so when someone comes and asks them about something they really don't know anything about, they are put in a bad spot. It's literally their job to have something to say. The best, and the unfortunately rare, answer gracefully, noting their lack of inside information, coming up with example where they do have first hand knowledge for comparison, then noting again it may not apply.  The worst, and most common, charge ahead with a simple "I don't follow the team day to day" then act like they know what's going on, perhaps adding "I talked with a couple guys who used to play the game" as if lack of information about a situation can become wisdom through a game of telephone.

Really though it's not their fault. Gotta get paid! It's more the fault of the person asking the question. The talking head hosting the show, not coming onto it. If your guest starts by saying "well I don't know what's going on there", you should really stop the answer right there. There's nothing to be gained from it but a random guys opinion. Does it have worth because he's a sports talking head? Maybe a tiny bit, but you have access to several people whose responses have much more validity. Go get them on your show and ask this guy about something he knows about.

And don't get me started on newspaper or internet writers weighing in. They could actively avoid trying to give responses to a situation they admittedly are unfamiliar with and they have time to craft their take, if they feel they must have one, in a way to frame it correctly. No excuse for idiocy here.

Anyway this is just a long way of saying, when it comes to the Nats, it's up to us to filter the nonsense out. The media isn't going to do it for us. Read the beat writers, other guys you know are following the team day to day, or had been recently. This doesn't mean they are right, some guys quit thinking critically a long time ago, but it's by far the best place to start. Supplement with national baseball guys who you respect, who may not be following the team day to day but follow the overall sport daily and have a sense of the big picture. These guys may also have some inside information beat guys don't have. And finally read some team bloggers you like. They're the anti-national guys. No inside information, no big picture, but they see the day to day dealing from the outside looking in and sometimes that can give a fresh perspective. Obviously there are cranks here but hopefully you can weed them out. That's it. Take all those perspectives and pieces, read them, take some time to digest them, and you probably have the closest approximation at what the actual situation is.

That's all I've got today.  Too tired from reading terrible points of view on this team, both terrible because they are thought and written by guys who have no idea what they are talking about and terrible because they are written by guys that do and the team is terrible.

21 comments:

SM said...

Good heavens. What (specifically, if possible) brought that on?

Chaz R said...

Yeah, that was some awful stuff yesterday Harper. I got into a Twitter fight with that CJ Nutkowski guy. What a moron. Then that Kansas City newspaper reporter... good grief... Super Moron.

Harper said...

SM - nothing specific just two days of seeing and hearing people opine on the Nats in general and the Papelbon/Bryce situation specifically, who haven't thought about the team more than once or twice all season. That's fine - you can have opinions, but they aren't being couched in the way they should. Not enough "Here's what I think based on my experience and some thought on the matter, it may apply", too much "This is what's wrong"

I guess I probably expect too much is the problem.

Josh Higham said...

I had so much to do yesterday and Monday, and instead of doing anything useful, I read dozens of articles about the Nats, Bryce, and Papelbon. And it made me miserable.

VI said...

Correct and former players have as much perspective as anyone. I believe you only have to listen and watch what actions occur. Rizzo goes before the media and states Pappelbonn is under contract for next year and will be a part of the total team evaluation process. Meanwhile, Nats employees are removing his jersey from the team store. I can speculate on why, but whatever the reason, it's an amateur move that reflects on the current state of the organization.

Rosenthal, who has been defending Harper, for the most part, keeps citing a Nats teammate who says Harper does stuff that rubs the team the wrong way, but in this case isn't to blame. Being anonymous detracts from any credibility, but Rosenthal isn't a sensationalist and he mentioned this at least 3 times on MLB network.

I'm not going back to pick out the numbers, but when I think of notable 24 and 1 players, they cluster around underachieving teams (the straw that stirred the drink being the most notable exception that comes to mind.) The six month season is a grind, and you don't have to have 24 BFFs on a team, but you can't be rolling your eyes at your superstar either.

I'm not claiming Harper has become a "one," but he's not exactly being parented not to.

BornInDC said...

One of the most interesting articles I read yesterday was Steinberg's on the fans trying to crowd fund Papelbons's removal from the team.

I thought this was one of several astute comments by Steinberg about the Nats' fan base:

"Now, other fans will scoff at responses like this, saying athletes are competitors, not choir boys. And it’s nigh impossible to accurately gauge the opinions of an entire fanbase just by talking to a few people who are vaguely friends of friends. I also don’t want to differentiate Nats fans from other D.C. sports fans entirely, because there is so much overlap with all these organizations. Still, my impression is that many Nats fans have enjoyed feeling that they know and appreciate the team’s players as people, not just ballplayers. They do not want to root for men they do not like."

As long as it is clear that management is trying to field a competive team, a large chunk of the fanbase is okay if the team does not win every year. What the fanbase absolutely does not want is for the Nationals to turn into a dysfunctional organization like the Redskins.

I think the Papelbon/Harper situation and the way the Nats mishandled it made the fanbase worry the Nats might begin to look more like the Redskins. For example, on of the local sports radio shows had a debate on Monday on which was currently the most dysfunctional organization, the Nats or the Redskins. Many Nats fans I would bet hated that such a debate could be taken seriously, even for a day.

Jay said...

I would disagree with the Harper is a prima dona thought. Svrluga and Kilgore - both of whom are much better tied into the team and much better at actually critically thinking about the team than the current beat writers argue that Harper is fine. Werth and Zimmerman both were quoted in recent articles stating Harper is fine. He's not perfect by any means, but he's not some young, hot-headed, me first, who cares about the team guy.

I mean stop and think for a minute. Last year - everyone in the national media thought Williams was picking on Harper to bench him for not running out a groundball. Keith Law stated that it was proof there was division in the locker room. He tore up his thumb because he was playing too hard. At the beginning of this year the thought was Harper needs to learn when to play hard. He needs to play the entire year and stay healthy. Now he is lazy going for fly balls in RF and never runs to first and doesn't care about the team??? And we're basing these problems on a guy that was suspended last year for grabbing his crotch at fans in his home stadium. The same guy that was likely pissed that no one on the Nats backed him up for throwing a pitch at Manny Machado's head twice. Harper was dumb enough to call him out on it. Thus Palpebon was itching for a fight. He could have cared less about Harper "playing the right way".

Anyway, Harper and fitting into the team are the least of the Nats worries. MW having Desmond try and bunt again in the 8th inning. The thought of MW being back next year. Trying to fix the bullpen while getting rid of Storen and Papelbon. Signing Strasburg to a long term extension - or any of the other younger players for that manner. Those are real problems. Not Harper.

Anonymous said...

Any recommendations on local beat writers? I know Boze doesn't make the cut unless you want some comedy.

Sammy Kent said...

Not everyone, thank goodness, has such a distorted and grossly unfair view of Bryce Harper. I'm not sure how to make the link, and I hope Harper doesn't mind another man's blog getting a plug here, but copy/paste works well.

http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2015/9/28/9409871/jonathan-papelbon-bryce-harper-fight-fight-fight-fight

blovy8 said...

I liked Dirk Hayhurst's take on the dust up the best, but he's no beat reporter either.

Chaz R said...

Noah Frank from WTOP had a good piece today. Glad he took apart Nitkowski and that ridiculous writer and editor at the KC Star.

David Igono said...

Thank you for always keeping it in context Harper.

Good stuff as always.

JE34 said...

You're preaching to the choir, Harper. This is our first stop for good Nats analysis. You could make this an even more awesome place to go if you aggregated worthwhile links for us. Also, I like my food chewed 20 times for me.

I deliberately avoid national outlets because they are generally clueless and infuriating. Life without SportsCenter is nice. 5 minutes of Mike & Mike is about all I can take. Unless you're talking about defensive line play, Golic has nothing to offer... and Greenberg? Make it stop. Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless - does anyone really want their opinions? They exist because health clubs need something to air while people run on their treadmills.

We have been able to watch Bryce grow these past few years. He's been in the limelight since high school... it's been a treat to watch him learn the big league game every day, both on the field and off it. He's said some dumb things along the way, sure. I've done that once or twice, with no microphone present (praise the Lord). His ascent has been rapid; he has grown up steadily, and will be a leader for years to come, no matter where he plays.

How sharp the contrast is with Papelbon. 11 years in the majors, and still as big a tool as the day he arrived.

(BTW - I hope Trea Turner takes over the post-homerun helmet removal duties.)

Anonymous said...

Harpy Bear Harpy Bear! Hop off Bryce Harper's dick for one day.

Anonymous said...

Volume III of the Barry S. trilogy has some interesting tidbits on players' frustration with MW, including a great anecdote of Werth confronting him over the lineup card: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/trade-for-jonathan-papelbon-had-disastrous-results-for-the-nationals/2015/09/30/0aef1564-66ee-11e5-8325-a42b5a459b1e_story.html?tid=pm_pop_b

ProphetNAT said...

@Anon 12:32pm

"Harpy Bear?"...sounds like you're the only one riding. Hope it was turbulent enough for you. However you get your kicks...

JE34 said...

The Svrluga article... good gravy. How does MW *not* get fired at season's end?

Chaz R said...

The Svrluga trilogy was timely and hard for me to read. Wow, what a long hard fall. Wasn't it only a year ago the Nats were considered one of the finest run MLB franchises, with good young talent, smart and productive veterans, and the best record in the MLB over the past 3 years?

Anonymous said...

Harper, your take on the 538 post-mortem?

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/washington-nationals-bryce-harper-jonathan-papelbon/

Max David said...

On Twitter it still sucks. And the other night I got into it with a Mets fan, like they really know what's going on with this team?? Same with the national media. I wouldn't be surprised if CJ Nitkowski have blocked most of us because we've been roasting him on Twitter.

Sammy Kent said...

I hardly know what to say after reading the Svurgla piece. From the gitgo I thought Matt totally botched the return of Werth, Zim, and Rendon and that Danny Espinosa was really screwed over. But letting Jayson Werth essentially bully and coerce his way back into the lineup, and the leadoff spot at that, after what was probably the most unproductive two weeks of his career when he was killing the team was worse than neglecting to tell him he was sitting for a day. IMHO, to answer Werth's question to Matt, you REALLY lose the team when you start letting either the GM or the players dictate lineups and strategy to you.

But Svrluga's point on one thing is very well taken: you can't brag about building a championship caliber roster on homegrown players, then visibly and publicly reward the high dollar newbies with all the goodies and expect unyielding loyalty. My dad always said to never do business with family or church members. The relationships are too different. The Lerners and Rizzo better figure out if the Nationals are going to be a family or be just a business.

I'm still flabbergasted by Rizzo's take on everything. My gosh, this tool has an ego. I give him kudos for facing the media, but for him to sit there and essentially say "I take full responsibility blah blah blah" then in the next breath say, in effect, "I did my job right and put together a championship roster," is mind-boggling. The fact that, in his words, 17 of 18 sportswriters picked them to win the WS just shows how much sportswriters herd together in their own brand of confirmation bias. If he honestly thinks that the moves he made in the off season and the ones he didn't make combined to create a championship roster, the franchise is in trouble for a long time.

I must be #18, because I posted on another site on March 31, 2015: Rizzo gets paid a lot of money to know what he's doing, but it sure looks like he's figuring a starter, a set-up, and a closer is all the pitching he's going to need this year. That "historic" starting rotation BETTER be that good, 'cause they're going to have to win a lot of 2-1 or 1-0 games. Rizzo still needs to bring in a big bat. Now friends, I don't claim to be some kind of baseball savant. I haven't played competitive baseball since teenage league. But if the shortcomings of this lineup were so obvious to me back in March, how did all the people that ARE supposed to be baseball savants miss it?

Look at the last two series. Shoot, just look at the last two nights. A total of one run in eighteen innings against the frickin' Atlanta Braves. Y'all can say all you want about just playing out the string, disappinting season, Harper and Papelbon, yada yada yada, but this team's offense looks right now exactly like it did in April and August when it had everything to play for and supposedly the players to do it with.