Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Apathy Litmus Test

Bottom line: Kevin Youkilis got screwed. This guy is hitting .299 with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs. When 35 home runs is a lot again. He plays tremendous defense and gets on base at a good clip. He's adjusted his game to his team's needs, and has invited the team to climb onto his back (until tonight, when he may have also gotten injured). As they were saying on the radio over the weekend, Youkilis is on the shortlist of MVP candidates thus far in the season. (Yes, we talked about this a bit a month and a half ago, but he's still there. Probably third now.) Guy should be an all-star, and there is a systematic failure from top to bottom if by Thursday afternoon someone else--sorry Swisher--gets that last spot.

Not that I think the system is bad. I don't think it's great, but I do think it's the best it can ever be. I certainly think fans don't know any better and will vote in undeserving players the first time around. Let's call it the Cal Ripken Effect. But they largely do a good job. I think the second tier with the managers and players is also effective, as they can counteract the fans' overall ignorance. Leaving the third control, or check and balance if you will, as the fans' final vote, is more insightful than gimmicky, as I have learned by now. It's a test of the fans, of their loyalty, of their knowledge, and their understanding of the game. I believe strongly that there will be players in New York and cities other than Boston voting for Youkilis this week because they know it's the right thing to do. And that's why I'm confident #20 will be there next Tuesday.

But this is a big test for Red Sox fans. They have voted in their guys in the Final Vote three times (speaking of which, a big YIKES for the fact that 2007 selection Hideki Okajima sucks so much!) in the last nine years. They also voted in a lot of the starters in those past years, and the talk on the radio pretty much all year has strayed from baseball. I mean, look at the quantity of comments on HYD. Way down. Red Sox fans, perhaps, have lost interest to a certain extent. The team, like many teams in other sports, will win 90-95 games and will have a shot to get hot and make it to the next level. Many people are yawning at this. While the social goals of being seen at a Red Sox game will help the sellout streak, people have cited late attendance, people leaving early, and people not voting for guys like Adrian Beltre for the all-star game. All fair.

If Youkilis doesn't get in by a sizeable margin, even over Swisher, whose popularity in a big city with actually passionate fans and whose appearance on NPH and Band Camp Girl's show are all factors, it will confirm that Red Sox fans are a bunch of fat, happy, lethargic, apathetic, spoiled brats. I know he's not the most popular player on the team and that he turns a lot of people off (the player voting would indicate that he turns a lot of his peers off). But this is not about voting in your guy for the sake of doing it. It's about voting for the guy who deserves it, ESPECIALLY if it's your guy. If Sox fans don't get this done, they deserve all the crap they get from me and from the rest of the country. So cast your vote. Show the world that JD's Deepwater Horizon effect just affected the center fielder and not the entire fan base. And show the world you actually are somewhat smart.


jason said...

I was waiting for this to go up so i could read comment then sleep.. so glad to see it up! I dont exactly like the voting for the all star game, i think that it really caters to fans that have a lot of time on their hands as i have not once gone and voted the maximum amount of times until today for youk, i dont really like the fact that i have to re enter numbers and unselect newsletter crap i still do not want before every vote... i do understand why they have this in place but i still think 10 votes a day or whatever it is now, is a little excessive and allows the people that dont even pay to see the games to have more of a say then those that just go online since they dont count the ballots you turn in 20 times since it should be your one vote for the day didnt mean to make this a rant i will stop

Anonymous said...


Agreed about your analysis of Youkilis. When one of the five best players in the league is not on the All-Star team there's certainly an issue.

However, I'm more concerned about your other point--that commenting on this space is down. And you're right, it is. Though I think there are a few legitimate reasons for it, not the least of which is the fact that it's summer. Featherston, Ross and Tim all were in school this year and probably had a lot more flexibility to post between or during class. Now, they're either working or studying for the bar exam and a lot of that flexibility is gone. Those three guys are a big part of what goes on here, so without them stirring the pot as much, everything else falls off a bit.

Also, Bandi only posts when something very incendiary happens or when he gets the temptation to cause problems. Either way, this space has been fairly tame in light of the fact that the steroids story has played itself out and that Coco Crisp no longer plays for the Sox.

Here's another thought: the Sox aren't exactly an interesting group. Manny was a huge part of that and his departure seems to have sapped some of Ortiz's energy (and production) and Ortiz was clearly another important personality. Papelbon was also a big part of the persona of the 2006-2009 teams, but this year he's been so mediocre that even he (despite his shamelessness when it comes to attracting attention) has shied away from the spotlight. When all you have to talk about is winning and losing and not all the crazy extracurricular stuff that the Sox used to do, it's going to create less interest.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we don't have From The Bronx stirring it up on here anymore, which is a shame. Perhaps he got tired of Featherston constantly chiding him for either A: his hardline stance on steroids, or B: potentially being an alter-ego of either yourself or Bandi. My thought on this is that he was either Brett Gardner's agent all along and now that he's a big time producer for the Yankees, Bronx has no more time for us, or that he was just so prescient in his evaluation of Gardner that the Yankees hired him as an advance scout, or that he was Brett's boy and is now officially part of his entourage because (presumably) Gardner can now afford an entourage. Regardless of the reasoning behind his departure, FTB is big loss for this site.

--the Gunn

TimC said...

Quantity up, quality down, I say. Plus, it is a World Cup year, which is what I think the Gunn meant when he said that I was studying for the bar (or working, I suppose).

For me, the biggest reason why the Youk situation sucks is because the All-Star game now "counts". Does this lead to a situation where National League fans are voting in mediocre American League players to lessen their chances? Probably not, but the system allows for it. And at this stage of the voting, why wouldn't a Phillies fan vote hard for someone else to take the last spot? Even if it is impractical, the incentive do line up for someone to do so.

PF said...

Youkilis should be in this game, but I think you make a good point about his peers. He's the epitome of the guy you love on your team but can't stand if he's not, both as fans (which we knew) and it appears players as well. He seems like a very good guy overall but he spends so much time whining and crying about stuff that it's tough to really warm up to the guy. He's like a basketball player who has never committed a foul in his his own opinion. Strikes on him aren't really strikes, when he's out at first base he's not really out, etc. While you love that passion if you're in his dugout or rooting for the team he plays for, it's just annoying for everybody else. He comes across as a crybaby. So him not getting the love his play on the field dictates he should is not at all surprising, and the same would be true of pedroia who has many of the same qualities but just isn't as good. Still, youkilis should be in this game and my guess is he will be. I don't think any region takes this stuff as seriously as new england does, as evidenced by the amount of times they've gotten their guy in through this very process. 3 out of 9, and possibly 4 out of 10, is pretty indicative of this, especially considering they probably haven't had a player eligible in all of those years.