Saturday, June 30, 2007

Jemele Hill: 1 + 2 Should Equal 3!

In my last Jemele Hill related post, I said this:

“I HATE when writers make arguments for themselves to counter like this. Jemele is the queen of that.”

Jemele’s latest cause: Barry Bonds belongs in the all-star game. Real quick, Barry Bonds is second in all of baseball in OPS. He’s hitting .298 w/ 16 homeruns. He’d have more runs and RBIs but his team sucks and he’s getting walked at an insanely high rate (hurts RBI chances, hurts Runs when teammates can't drive him in). He’s also clearly the best player on the Giants, who would need to have a representative. So who is she trying to convince? I have no idea.

I know this is being fairly heavily debated among writers and the BBTN crowd, but Jemele's story captures the crux of all the wrong sides of the argument.

He is getting on base over 50% of the time. Only Bonds, Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams have done that since 1950. So I'm sorry, yes, another Jemele Hill post. As usual though, her logic is totally backwards. She believes Barry Bonds belongs in the All-Star game, in spite of his non-all star stats, because his chasing the all-time home run record is the biggest story in baseball. She believes that the fans are sending him a message with the voting, because he's 4th.

All-Star Game loses relevance without Bonds

I have about as much love for Barry Bonds as Pacman Jones has for district attorneys.

Ha ha ha, those guys DO hate district attorneys!

Yet even I would be hugely disappointed if Bonds wasn't an All-Star.

Because he’s second on the majors in OPS and he's getting on base over 50% of the time?

This is not about statistics.

Huh? Why not? Shouldn’t it be about his performance in the first half of the year?

This isn't about what the fans want, because in this case, they have no idea what that is. This isn't about steroids, either, because the federal government has been unable to nail Bonds. Certainly baseball's farce of a steroids investigation is unlikely to discover anything that will stop Bonds from piling up home runs.

Then what is it about? Isn’t the selection system set up to be A) What the fans want and B) The best players (theoretically) as picked by the players and coaches?

Just to get this out of the way, I believe Bonds knowingly took steroids. It just doesn't change anything. He's going to be the home run king.

It doesn’t change the number of home runs he hit, but to many it changes the perception that it was Bonds and his hard work/talent that did all the work. So yeah, it changes the perception of the validity of the record. That’s something.

And as the soon-to-be home run king, Bonds has a place in the All-Star Game. Baseball, if anything, is a sport infatuated with tradition. If the player about to break the game's most important record isn't apart of a celebration of the sport's best, something just wouldn't feel right.

He deserves to be in the game because he’s played baseball at an All-Star level this year, not because he’s breaking the record. What if he started the season with 754 and had hit only 1 HR so far, does he deserve to be in then?

The fans are trying to make a point, which is why Bonds is currently fourth in the voting among National League outfielders.

Right, he’s fourth in the voting, that means he’s getting a lot of votes and a lot of fans want him in.

A fine ideal, just not the entire truth. If the fans really wanted to make statement, they wouldn't pay extra to see him play at parks across the country.

Huh? So you’re saying the fans are making a statement AGAINST Bonds by having him fourth, and if they really wanted to make a statement, they wouldn’t go watch games that he’s playing in? What are the fans saying to Matt Holliday, who has been great but has 400,000 less votes than Bonds?

No story in baseball is bigger than Bonds. He's bigger than any superficial comeback Roger Clemens can muster. Bigger than the Yankees' nosedive. Bigger than any Dice-K start. Bigger than any A-Rod infidelity caper.

Right, because he’s breaking the all-time home run record. I agree.

So how would it look if the biggest story in the sport is absent from the league's marquee showcase? A marquee event, by the way, that's held in San Francisco -- the one place in the solar system where Bonds has unwavering support.

How would it look if the guy who is second in the entire major leagues in OPS and is his team’s MVP was not in the all-star game? Pretty crazy! You’re right for all the wrong reasons.

Aren't All-Star games supposed to be entertainment for the fans?

Yes, partially, that’s why the fans vote. They have him 4th so far, pretty good.

Despite Bonds' transgressions -- both real and imagined -- he is a transcendent figure in sports. He's a star. And last time I checked, that's the defining characteristic in an All-Star Game.

What is the defining characteristic in an All-Star Game? Transcendence? Being a star? Huh? Like Mark Redman last year?

You can use Bonds' stats (.293 batting average, 15 homers, 35 RBIs, through Sunday) and dwindling defensive ability as an argument against him earning his 14th All-Star selection, but Bonds wouldn't be the first declining player to get a free pass into the All-Star Game.

What? He’s 2nd in the majors in OPS! He has a .505 on base %! What is wrong with 15 homers (now 16, good for 7th in the NL)? He doesn’t get RBIs/Runs this year because of his teammates and the fact that he’s walked so much hurts his RBI chances. His numbers compare quite favorably to Beltran, Griffey Jr. and Soriano who are all in front of him.

Also, you just implied that his stats may not be all-star worthy, but earlier you said that the fans were making a “statement” by having him 4th in the voting. You implied that the statement was negative. If you don’t think his stats are all-star worthy, then wouldn’t it be surprising that he’s 4th in the voting? Wouldn’t it be a positive statement by the fans?

It happens all the time in other sports. Magic Johnson was voted to the 1992 NBA All-Star team after his HIV announcement because people were inspired and sympathetic. And let's not forget Cal Ripken received his share of gimme All-Star appearances, too.

These examples have nothing to do with Bonds getting into the all-star game this year.

Deleted: Blah blah blah steroids, Selig, McGwire….stuff irrelevant to the all-star game…blah blah blah…

Bonds is part of the ugly, historical incident that baseball should acknowledge, accept and remember. His All-Star selection wouldn't be a reward. It's a reminder of the long-lasting damage that is done when principles are abandoned.

His All-Star selection would be justified based on his performance on the field so far this year, and any other attention brought upon it by columnists like you is just noise.

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