The MVP Debate and Society
The most furious internet trash talking and fist shaking of 2012 has been, without compare, over who should win the AL MVP award. Now that the votes have been shat, and Miguel Cabrera is the mantle guy’s new best customer, we may feel that the storm is over. But this ordeal is still with us. The rift between those of us who are willing to assimilate new information and the militant traditionalists mirrors society in some disturbing ways.
Much like the debate between people of faith (traditionalists in a more extreme sense) and atheists, there is one side bonded by sentimentality and fear, and another, operating on reason. You cannot combat emotion with reason.
The specific arguments have been made by so many over the last few months, I would rather address Mitch Albom and those like him, who resort to a cast of logical fallacies to make their “argument.”
They filled their ballots out with Miguel Cabrera’s name at the top, but make no mistake: They did not vote for Miguel Cabrera. They voted for ignorance, the status quo, themselves. They masquerade as the “Common Man,” against rationalists, who they have painted as the intellectual elitists. Why being an elite intellectual is something people have become so averse to being is absurd, but has it’s roots in mass culture.
The traditionalists have said that Cabrera’s team made the playoffs and that is why he is their MVP. Trout’s team won more games against far better competition.
The traditionalists claim purity because they stick to the old guard stats. But batting average, home runs, and RBI have nothing to do with defense or baserunning. How exactly can you claim purity when you ignore two thirds of a position player’s game? How is paying equal credit and attention to defense and baserunning tantamount to blasphemy?
The traditionalists have said it is ridiculous to vote based on a bunch of stuff “nobody can recalculate, anyway,” to paraphase Albom. This assumes that just because he can’t figure it out, that it has no function, or if it does, it couldn’t possible fulfill it. Do you know how to calculate the force of gravity, Mitch? No? And yet, somehow it has managed to keep you from floating into the sky, where you can get mulched by an jet engine.
Perhaps his most compelling argument is as follows. Ahem… “Nerrrds!”
Yes, traditionalists, increase ignorance in your own image. Let us promote the notion that having the desire and ability to learn something is to be chastised.
These scribblers of nonsense should be embarrassed. Albom says that baseball is being bogged down by “situational stats.” When in fact the mission of advanced statistics is to provide comprehensive measures of value. This demonstrates that he doesn’t even know what he professes to be a nemesis of.
As men who are paid to write about baseball, these men have not only a responsibility, but every opportunity to read up on advanced statistics, to review the new figures until they know them well, until they can measure players using them, until they understand what each stat measures or predicts. They choose ignorance in their profession, and promote it in public. The arrogance that chooses, enforces and promotes ignorance is beyond all other arrogance.
In itself it does not matter that Miguel Cabrera is the MVP and Mike Trout is not. It does not matter that CBS and so many others are promoting ignorance, when it comes to baseball. In fact, there is justice in baseball. MLB franchises are not run by luddite, hack writers. They are run by people who must constantly adapt, and that means that they pay advanced statistics a high degree of attention.
What disturbs me is that it accurately represents a part of our culture. A large sector of our society chooses traditionalism, falling for commercial love, and commercial patriotism. And all because anti-intellectualism is promoted by those who stand to benefit most from ignorance and indifference. An intellectualized general public is a positive force. Do not believe the shit vendors.
To read Mitch Albom’s latest bon mot, click the following: Ass hat.