There is every reason in the world for me to love the Boston Red Sox fan. One, I love Boston. Love it. Love walking around Boston, love being around people from Boston, love the accent, love
Right or wrong, I do not love the Red Sox. I cannot just pick a team to love -- it doesn't work that way for me. I believe in sports loyalty. And I was born for sports misery.
This is especially disheartening because I have now found another reason to love the Red Sox:
I'll be honest: I have never been an especially big fan of Drew. I don't dislike him, but he has just never been someone I have spent a lot of time thinking about. In many ways, that makes him the perfect subject. When you are looking at baseball players you like, it's easy (and tempting) to scroll through and find statistics that back up what you want to believe. That's human nature. But when you're utterly unmoved about a player, you won't go through the same effort. Drew is a good but brittle player. I have nothing invested in him emotionally.
And so when Theo -- in a clear effort to steer the conversation toward a point he wanted to make -- said that Drew was second among everyday American League outfielders in OPS (behind only Boston's
As it turned out, it was going to Epstein explaining something that is probably the No. 4 theme on this blog -- why RBIs are no way to evaluate baseball players.
The radio guys here protest a little ... they point out that while Drew's OPS is usually good, they aren't sure that it has led to PRODUCTION -- namely runs scored and RBIs. And this is when Theo really takes over. I bold out a few of my favorite thoughts in this wonderful little lesson:
I have talked many times here about a fan's desperate wish -- desperate wish -- to have the team see the game the way the fan sees it. I don't mean specifics -- fire the coach, bench the QB, go for it on fourth down and so on. I mean see it in the macro, in a larger way. If I'm a basketball fan, I would love a team that believes in pushing the ball up the floor. If I'm a football fan, I would love a team that believes in pressuring the quarterback and working the middle of the field. If I'm a baseball fan, I would just love to know that my GM really and truly believes that one thing -- that it's really, really, really important for a baseball player to not make outs.
That seems so simple to me, so utterly basic, so law of gravity. But I know that there are GMs in the league -- more than you would ever believe -- and lots of other people in and around baseball who do not believe this. It isn't exactly that they are opposed to players who get on base. They certainly want guys to get on base. No, it is that they believe that OBP -- the ability to not make outs -- falls behind other more mystical talents such as the ability drive in runners in clutch situations or be a leader in the clubhouse or play the game the right way or whatever. I'm not saying these more mystical skills do not exist. Maybe they do. But I know that if you give me a baseball team of people who do not make outs, that team will score a lot of runs. A team of guys who play the game the right way will score a lot of runs too -- assuming that "playing the game the right way" includes not making outs.
Anyway, I thought Theo put it perfectly. There's no question that the Red Sox have some huge advantages over most teams in baseball. They have and spend a lot more money than most, which allows them to be better in so many ways. But they're awfully smart too. One argument I have never understood is the one where people say that money doesn't matter because some big money teams lose: "Oh, if money is so important, how come the Mets haven't won more? The Cubs spend a ton of money, and they didn't win. The Astros." And so on. To me that's a false argument -- people have been wasting money since, well, since the invention of money.
But matching money with solid reasoning and serious brainpower, that's an awfully tough combination to beat ... even in a game as volatile and unpredictable as baseball. The Red Sox win every year. And I suspect they will keep winning every year. And I suspect that it would be a whole lot of fun to be a Boston Red Sox fan.