Distinguished Senators, the Washington Nationals Blog That Is Great

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Apres Endy, Le Deluge

Who would have thought the demotion of one lousy baseball player would spark such a tidal wave of reaction in the tiny world of D.C. baseball? Chris of Capitol Punishment is ecstatic. Basil is waxing philosophic at the Inquirer. Both are contemplating the very nature of their fandom. Barry Svrluga is in top form.
The demotion of center fielder and leadoff man Endy Chavez to Class AAA New Orleans didn't exactly send ripples through baseball. Doesn't really run neck-and-neck with trading for, say, Randy Johnson now, does it?

But Washington became a baseball town because the demotion of the presumed starting center fielder six days before the season opener was BIG NEWS. Forget that almost no one in the Washington area has ever seen this guy play in person. Forget that people sipping lattes in Seattle have no idea who we're talking about. Forget that Chavez is a sub-mediocre player who probably belongs in the minors. Washington is a baseball town because a baseball story -- not one about city council squabbles or television rights -- carried the day.

Verily, Barry is good, and we deserve him not. Anyway, as long as the other bloggers are rationalizing the betrayal of their former teams, here's mine: I started this blog in June and instantaneously my interest in the Cards dropped from "obsession" to "strong partisan interest." I still rooted for them, still maintained my crush on Jim Edmonds (completely Platonic, or so I told my therapist), and still felt a visceral thrill as the Cards beat the shit out of those whiny, good for nothing Cubs. But they had been replaced in my affections by a team that existed only theoretically, which was a good thing when the Cards ate it in front of everyone in the Series. The heart wants what it wants, and mine wanted the Nats. So there.

Thomas Boswell also got in on the act, penning a column that irritated the hell out of me. Inning-Endy is being treated like an assassinated emperor: now that he's gone, people are lining up to sing the praises of his successor and assure everyone that they always hated that last guy. That's fine, and Boswell's main point is that Endy refused to listen to advice and that his own stubborness is what's derailing his career. Fair enough, but it rubs me the wrong way when a writer says something like this:

They just wanted him to get on base 4 percent more often than he did last year. That's all -- 4 percent.

And it would have been so easy. Everybody showed him how. But, for some reason, Chavez couldn't or wouldn't listen.
Boswell thinks Chavez should have been able to take his on-base percentage from his customary .300-ish monstrosity to something in the .360 range and that it would have been easy. Well, it's not easy, Boswell. If it were, everyone would add 60 points to his OBP, and Cristian Guzman would be a good player. No, a .360 OBP isn't easy - certainly not as easy as figuring out which players are still on the damn team you're alledgedly covering.

The Boz also conducted a chat today, which actually wasn't bad. But he's annoyed me a couple times, so I nitpick.
L.A. via D.C.: Did you ever read "Moneyball"? Your thoughts on using a more statistical based analysis for players and drafting over (but not in place of) scouting?

Tom Boswell: Yes, loved it. (Hey, I'm in it...once.)
That rang a bell with me, so I dug up my copy of Moneyball. Boswell is mentioned at the end of page 81:
By 1981, in response to a pile of letters asking him what he thought about a new baseball offense model created by the sports journalist Thomas Boswell, [Bill] James was able and willing to write that"the world needs another offensive rating system like Custer needed more Indians (or, for that matter, like the Indians needed another Custer). . . . What we really need is for the amateurs to clear the floor."
Ouch! So Boswell either gets points for mentioning this literary bitch-slap in an endearing episode of self-effacement, or he just forgot about it. Boswell's "new baseball offense model," by the way, is called Total Average, and is used today by Thomas Boswell and no one else. More Boz:
Sledge is caught in a numbers game. Three good players for two positions -- LF and 1st. But he'll get at least 400 ABs. Frank loves him. (So do I.) People get hurt every year. So other folks get to play. Terrmel will get his chance. He's a very smart hitter, could be a surprise. Had a better OPS as a rookie last year than Barry Bonds as a rookie. (No, I'm not comparing them AT ALL.)
For a professional writer, Boswell sure doesn't seem to know what words mean. Comparing them is exactly what you're doing, and it's just as idiotic now as it was the first time you said it. Just 4 percent less bullshit, Tom. That's all -- 4 percent. Those bits aside, it was a good chat. Seriously.

In other news, Distinguished Senators has pulled an exclusive interview with Nationals center fielder "Soul Patch" Ryan Church.

Q: "Ryan, what was your reaction when you found out that you'd get a shot at starting in center field?"

A: "That's Patch-tastic!"

Hah hah! Indeed it is, and thanks for your time, Ryan. Tune in tomorrow for the rambling, self-indulgent, and foul-mouthed Distinguished Senators 2005 Season Preview.

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