Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Not Another Mid-Season Report Card

Tis the season for mid-season report cards and assessments. Fortunately, I’m already sick of reading them, and not because they’re posted on about every blog in existence. It’s for the simple reason that we give out these report cards EVERY DAY!

Why feel the need to post everyone’s batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage when they’ve undoubtedly been posted within the last week, and surely will within the next one?

We grade these players on a daily basis, yet writers still think it’s appropriate to throw them all together in the middle of the season. So I’m going to dedicate this short piece to why this practice is pointless during this Yankees season.

1) This is the most heavily scrutinized Yankees season in recent memory. If you watch the games, you’ve surely heard a thousand times from the Mouth of Kay that the Yanks haven’t had such and such a record this late in the season since such and such a year (’95 has been the benchmark for the most part). And if you read the plethora of Yankees literature on the web, you’ve probably seen everyone on the team’s stats at least once a week, usually more.

2) There are plenty of other timely topics to discuss regarding this team. In years past, it’s been the Yanks on top at this point and throughout the rest of the season, so the report card angle was more excusable because it does get boring touting the team on a daily basis. Come on, was there really a cause for concern in ’98 (or even last year) like the variety we have this year? I think anyone would rather read an analysis on the new pitchers than read a general overview of half the season.

3) With anywhere from 13 (just the hitters) to 25 guys being rated, the descriptions and justifications for the grades seem to be abbreviated. This is acceptable for a general sports columnist like Bill Simmons when he ranks the trade value of 50 NBA players. This isn’t a topic he writes about on a daily basis, so it is a more acceptable practice. Yes, I know he writes about the NBA a lot, especially with the finals having just passed, but that is a far cry from writing general NBA articles on a daily basis. So why put up generalities regarding the first half performance of players you dissect daily?

4) This is more of a site-specific critique, but over at the Replacement Level Yankees Weblog, SG (whom I am not particularly a fan of) decided to use those damn obscure statistics such as Equivalent Average and Value Over Replacement Player. What does this tell us about the team? For one, it makes the average fan feel like a dolt for not knowing what in bloody hell these statistics mean, when in fact these stats matter so little. If you’re going in-depth with stats, why not post the splits rather than these funky stats? I think the average reader will be better off knowing that A-Rod is .329/.427/.622 against lefties with 6 homers and 16 RBI in 82 ABs and .315/.409/.554 against righties with 14 homers and 50 RBI in 222 ABs (or that he’s hitting .325 with 3 dingers and 22 RBI with runners in scoring position with 2 outs).

So this is a plea to all you writers out there: don’t keep feeding the readers more of what we already know. Boycott the report card.

Back with a game diary later today.