Nationals Baseball: Tom Boswell - Sore Loser

Monday, June 18, 2012

Tom Boswell - Sore Loser

I just couldn't let this pass...

In his Q& A Boz says the following :
*One of the great failures in sports is the Yankees record since '00. More than $2-billion spent in salaries for one world title. Yet their fans act like they've done something. They have. They've consistently underperformed. And frequently choked in October.

Sorry, just the facts.
Just the facts Boz?

A while back I argued that a underlying reason people hated the Yankees was not only because they won a lot and spent a lot to do so (Don't kid yourself, the former matters more than the latter.  My NL friends are already kind of hating on the Nats and they've been good for about 4 months. You'll probably see this fullbore in a year or two) but because they were lucky.  They shouldn't have won THAT many titles.

Why? Because, the playoffs is a crapshoot. Despite the idea that you are trying to buy championships, anything can happen in a short series and the Yankees had had more of these short series go their way than you'd expect. It's even worse nowadays with 3 series, including a 5 gamer, standing in between you and a title.

So between 2001 and 2012 how many titles should the Yankees have won? It depends on how you look at it.  I won't bore you with the math but if you think the Yankees were just as good as any other team in the playoffs then you'd expect them to win 1 to 2 series. If you expect they were better (and I take that to mean about a .550 winning percentage versus these other quality teams) then 2-3.  A disappointing showing to win only one? OK, maybe. One of the "great failures in sports"?  Hardly.

And that brings up another point - Where does this "great failure" line get drawn? I assume the Cardinals - who spent around 900 million for "only" 2 titles - they are ok, right? Doing it the right way. What about the Red Sox, around 1.5 billion for their measly 2 titles, is that a great failure? What about the Dodgers, Mets, Cubs and Braves - they are around a billion for ZERO titles. Hell the Cubs only made the playoffs 3 times. The Mets once!  I guarantee you there isn't a sports fan out there that reasonably thinks the Yankees are bigger failures than any of these teams. Not to hit too close to home but isn't it a greater failure to spend as much as you are able to in a system arguably designed to get everyone into the playoffs every 2-3 years and only make it three times in the last 2 decades?

If it makes Boswell feel better to say what he does, more power to him. But stating "just the facts" doesn't make it true and doesn't mean he's not going to get called out on it.

*Before this he does say something about the Yanks having an unfair competitive advantage - which I don't necessarily disagree with.


Anonymous said...

Is this a Yankees blog?

Harper said...


Positively Half St. said...


It's your blog. You are allowed to leave the reservation from time to time without losing us.


Bryan said...

New York teams are always going to have an advantage over everyone else. It's the biggest city, the most glamour, and its New York.

I'm not sure there is much you can do about it. But so what? East Coast teams almost always have an advantage over West Coast teams. Big cities over little.

Having said that, the biggest failure in sports might be, collectively, the big spenders in baseball. The Sox, Phils and Yanks have 5 titles after spending what probably amounts to the entire rest of the MLB payroll over the last 20 years?

5 titles in 20 years is a pretty nice dynasty ... for one team spending what the Yanks spend.

Lee said...

Boz is a hack. See how conveniently he draws his line of demarcation.
2000-2011: "Crap they won 2."
1999-2011: "Shit, three? Really?" 1998-2011: "Oh come on, 4. This is getting ridiculous?
1996-2011: "F those guys. Five! Five! How about a little parity please! My argument is shot."

Just the facts.

Harper said...

+1/2 st - thanks I just wish Boz had a man crush on Mark DeRosa or something so I could get back to mocking him about Nats related things. Those Guzman years were halcyon days.

Bryan - I have no problem with bitching over the advantage because that's real. Boz here though is taking that anger and going in the wrong direction.

As for the collective spenders you're way off. Last year the Y/S/P spent 550 mill - the rest of the league 2.3 billion. There will be some odd years maybe but the rests payroll will still be multiples of these 3. So 1/3 of titles while accounting for 1/5 of total payroll.

Lee - to be fair to Boz I think that's his point - it's a great failure from 2001 on. Before - I don't know what he thinks. He should be singing to the highest mountain about the success but his viewpoint may be - "they should win they spent the most" which is a ludicrous way of looking at things and shows a lack of knowledge of baseball economics.

Harlan said...

Bashing Bos, especially when he's drunk on Kool-Aid, is always worth it, even if you end up saying something nice about the Yankees.

There are a lot of (fairly) difficult statistical concepts that one needs to understand to be a good baseball fan. I don't think this is one of them. I think if you told Boz to slow down and think, he could figure out his mistake.

The Bozcratic Dialogue:
Me: Boz, why did the Cardinals win the WS last year? Were they the best team?
Boz: No, they just got hot late in the season.
Me: But surely that doesn't help that much in October?
Boz: Oh, yes it does. All you have to do in October is win three series.
Me: Can a team control WHEN it gets hot?
Boz: Not that much.
Me: So the playoffs are a crapshoot?
Boz: Can I go cover golf now?

Ben said...

Agreed, Boz's argument is dumb. What he should have been ranting about is that Jeter has FIVE gold gloves.

As a knowledgeable Yankees fan, can you rate your embarrassment any time someone gushes about Jeter's defense on a scale of 1 to Robin Ventura getting beat up after charging Nolan Ryan?

And yes, I am just bitter over the sweep.

Kevin Rusch said...

Well, the Yankees have only won 1 world series since 2001, and for that I'm thankful. However, with their payroll, they can easily drop $15 million on a 5th starter, etc. And the thing is that they have won an average of 97.5 games per year since 2001. Now, sure, a lot of that is having Jeter/Posada/Pettitte/Rivera. But a lot of that is A-Rod, Tiexiera, RJohnson, Clemens, and more importantly being able to sign what other teams would call "spare parts" for many millions of dollars.

So that means they're always in the playoffs, and it's a crapshoot, sure. But that team has missed the playoffs once in 17 years. And that is a result of having unlimited budgets.

Oh, and their fans are boorish jerks.

Anonymous said...

C'mon. Boswell's a great writer, period. He's a Senators fan, like me. A guy who, when they ripped his team away took a couple of years and then latched on to the great team-building that happened in Baltimore in 77 and 78. It took until 83 to get a flag, but it was a blast. This is what's going on at home now. 91 year old fans (today's Post) who've waited a long time. 7 year old's who this is all they've known.

Face it, we were beaten like a drum this weekend by a better team. Great teams make the plays, make the pitch, @#$@ get the call. At least we're on the same field now.

Chaos....future's so bright, I gotta wear shades

Nattydread said...

I read Boswell for 3 reasons: 1) He writes well. Anyone else of the dailies pales in comparison. 2) He is knowledgeable. His chats are great because he throws out great kernels of information on the fly. 3) He's a homeboy. He's suffered through the same indignities all DC baseball fans have -- and he holds his head high.

When the Nats make the series his commentary will rock. DC will never be NYC --- but there is nobility in being the underdog.

Harper said...

Harlan - yeah I don't think Boz is dumb or anything, just caught up. That'll happen from time to time but as opposed to most columnists, that do it for attention, he really believes it when he says it, so it's fun to straighten him out. You're not feeding the beast.

Ben - On that scale? Less than Jose Canseco having the ball bounce off his head for a HR, higher than the common "thought it was a 3rd out" toss the ball to a fan mistake.

Honestly I think the Jeter thing highlights an issue I have with sabermetric guys. We have had the idea of what is a "bad fielder" ingrained in us since little league. It means a guy who can't throw, can't catch, or just can't move. I feel that's why you get backlash from those that aren't stats inclined. They know what a bad fielder is, and that's not what they see with Jeter. It's the same sort of issue if you call a .285 hitter a "bad hitter" - he doesn't get on base or can't hit for power (or both) but he's not a "bad hitter". That's already been defined for us.

That being said Jeter has far less range than a major league SS, and his Gold Gloves are a joke. What really is bothersome is that when it became a big issue he spent a lot more time on fielding and positioning and was ok for a couple years (the 2009 gold glove was the only one that wasn't CRAZY) before age caught up with him. I think he could have been average all those years if he hadn't had everyone tell him he was already great.

Kevin Rusch - if I can add an "in part" in front of "result" and a "some of" in front of "their fans" I'd agree with everything you said.

The Yankees succeed because 1) they all that NY money 2) They have an ownership that spends it, understanding success brings more money and creates a nice self-sustaining cycle and 3) they've made decent GM moves

Most Yankee fans downplay #1, most non Yankee fans downplay #2 and #3, but all are integral parts of the sustained success. I'm among those that believe a 3rd team in NY is the way to go.

Chaos - I think Boz can be a great writer but he can fall in love with an idea that's just asinine at times. (like Guzman's mere presence helping the 2005 Nats) and I enjoy bursting that bubble.

Nattydread - I think most of DC agrees with you. It's ok if he's a fool sometimes, if he's a fool for the same things you are a fool for.

natsphan1 said...

Harper-this is a great blog, and most of us know you're a born and bred Yankees fan. I think most of us only hold this against you a little bit (American way, as it were), but this is your blog and this is an interesting post. Carry on.

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with the nationals, i thought this was a nats blog

Harper said...

natsphan - thanks

Anon - 99% Nats, 1% benzoyl peroxide.

Simply - It's a long season, And every long once in a while I'll right about something non-Nats that interests me, be it the Hall of Fame voting, or playoff construction, or headline writing.

blovy8 said...

Against any other club but the Nats, the Yankees would be my team. I even went to playoff game up in the new, new NYS last October. That was mostly geographical and anti-Met for me growing up in the 70s, but after living in DC for over 25 years and never succumbing to the Orioles way, biding my time and gritting my teeth waiting for a new (hopefully NL) DC franchise while the MLB expansion committees, the Giants, and every other foundering franchise used this area as a means for a new ballpark - it would really have felt traitorous to root for NY the past weekend now that seven and third years of season tickets have brought a contender to my doorstep.

I don't see much reason for the Yankees to crow though. Ten game winning streaks make your team look a lot better than it really is, right? All it takes is the Yankees losing a few series against their division foes and they are fourth again. There's nothing inherently imposing about their pitching beyond the bulk of CC, and Mo is not going to be lurking around to force teams into one-run gambits in the middle innings. There are still plenty of guys they are depending on who are on the wrong side of 35. The Rangers are still a LOT better too. Of course they've got to deal with the crapshoot too.

Harper said...

There is no margain for error in that division. I still think the Yanks are good for this year but like everyone says it is an aging team. My guess is that they go hard after Hamels and if two of Hughes/Nova/Banuelos are good well then that'll be enough pitching to compensate for a fading offense until they make their next big signing. (Hunter Pence?)

blovy8 said...

Banuelos is damaged goods now, and his control took a step backwards. Unless the K spike Nova is having is real, I think he's just an average starter. Hughes is impossible to depend on, yet they will still have significant salary issues that will hold them back in attempting to upgrade it all through free agency. They're going to have to pay Cano through the nose because of their backward notion that you can't sign guys to extensions during the year. The key is Pineda coming back with his fastball and command of it.

Harper said...

bdrube - I've given up on Pinieda - recovery for those types of injuries is not good.

As for the other 3 you take the negative view on each which is fine, pitchers do flame out more, but just saying.

Hughes is unreliable but has the stuff.

Nova, even if this spike isn't real (who knows - he's young enough for it to be) his minor league numbers suggest better control than he showed previously with suggest a passable back of the rotation guy is there even without more Ks

I think you may be right about Banuelos, but he is 21. So there's gonna be 3-4 years left for him to get it.

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