Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I miss Fire Joe Morgan

For those that don't know, Fire Joe Morgan was a baseball themed website that would find things that were said by the talking heads of the Universe, or written by sports writers, and would take them down if it was deserved because of their ignorance. It was written by actual TV writers in disguise (like Mose Schrute) and was funny, whether or not you agreed with their angle.
As you can guess, their favorite target was Joe Morgan, renowned for his belief that statistics are some kind of meaningless voodoo magic. He was at it again Sunday night during Sunday Night Baseball. The topic was the Tampa Bay Rays, and how well they are playing. Orel Hershiser and Jon Miller discussed the Rays averaging 2 more runs a game than their opponents, which is amazing. Well, not to Joe, who said the most amazing thing I have ever heard, "You know me, I don't really believe in run differential".
I shared this immediately with my friend, and he said "I... don't even know how to come at that." Nor I. First there is the philosophical, spiritual aspect, but if there truly is a God, I am comfortable saying that He is not run differential. I'm with Joe there.
I think, though, that Morgan  was talking about believing in run differential being a telling stat, to which I say what the hell, dude? Let's strip down baseball to its core. In order to win, you need to score more runs than the other team. It's that simple. Runs scored, those are the runs you put across the plate. Runs against are the ones your opponent scores. Run differential is the difference between those two numbers. With that boiled down definition of baseball, scoring more runs than the other team, we have Joe Morgan saying that the valuation of that, run differential, is something he doesn't believe in. How does he determine who how think a wins, if it's not by the run differential? Dirt on the uniform? Smiles (Carlos Gomez, at last check, is still leading the league in smiles)? In Joe's world, The difference in runs scored versus runs against does not tell you anything about your ability to score runs versus the ability to prevent runs. No siree!
The Phillies won the game in question. Or the Brewers. It's hard to tell since it's so subjective.

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