But Eric Byrnes can! (courtesy of eriz from the excellent [and not as derivative as the name would suggest] Fire Jay Mariotti).
Brynes has decided to thrust himself in front of the cameras repeatedly during this year's postseason, and almost every time has managed to infuriate someone with the relentless stream of bullshit that spews forth from his douchbaggy yap. Yes, I realize that he's actively sought out by reporters, since he's the de facto "clubhouse leader" of the Baby Snakes, and because he's always game for some self-promotional banter. But that doesn't mean he has to oblige every time.
The funny thing is that Byrnes' latest comments are distinctly "new school," and defended by the same "computer geeks" he's mocked on multiple occasions w/r/t run differential and Pythagorean records. We know the playoffs are a total crapshoot, and that a few lucky bounces/breaks will often be the determining factor when two relatively evenly matched teams play a seven-game series. It's not the stat geeks who cite the D'Backs' lack of "clutch hitting," or whatever; that's the announcers and beat writers, who are generally Byrnes' best friends.
As suggested by Big C in an earlier comment, Byrnes probably isn't any different in terms of his perspective on baseball than the vast majority of his colleagues. I get it. Baseball players, taken as a whole, aren't going to win many episodes of Jeopardy! Additionally, the World of Baseball is an extremely insular one, and for the most part completely divorced from reality. Can you imagine another industry that could suffer a 100-plus-person company publicly (and proudly) stating that it has a hiring bias toward Christians? About the only thing Rockies' GM Dan O'Dowd should be thanking god for is the sport's anti-trust exemption.
If I'm not allowed to be all that indignant over Byrnes' willingness to continue propagating the false nerd-jock dichotomy, then I should at least be able to get in some yelling about the Reds' hiring of Dusty Baker, the mental giant who has managed to destroy more promising baseball careers than the inability to hit a curve ball. I'm not sure that Cincy was "going places," but whatever potential there was for a better-than-marginal improvement over the next couple of seasons has been shot by this incredibly senseless hiring. If you've got Homer Bailey in a keeper league, try and trade him this offseason. And if you're Adam Dunn, go ahead and pack your bags now; there's no way Mr. Clogging the Basepaths is going to have anything to do with your Three True Outcomes ass come next season. (By the way, you might want to suggest to your agent that you've OPSed .990 in PETCO Park the last three years, albeit in a small sample size. Just sayin')
Coupled with the recent hiring of Ed Wade by the Astros and the retention of Brian Sabean by the Giants, it appears that there's still a good number of teams that have no real desire to compete. If Byrnes' comments represent a kind of general antipathy toward critical baseball though on the part of the players — which is understandable — the hiring of Baker represents how institutionalized this kind of prejudice remains.
It can seem, at times, that the statistical analysis community is just tilting at windmills, especially to those who aren't so inclined toward silly-sounding metrics like VORP. But that's really not the case, and I think this year's League Championship Series are proof of that. All four of the teams still playing (I'm writing this before Game 4 of the Rox-D'Backs series) are blessed with front offices that, to varying degrees, use statistical analysis to inform baseball decisions. It's also worth mentioning that, after the Red Sox, none of the three World Series hopefuls are above the median when it comes to total team payroll, which I believe is further proof that the rending of garments over the lack of a salary cap is much ado about nothing. The message is clear: these numbers do mean something, and smart people who like winning baseball games are at least bringing statistical analysis to the table, if not letting it cut the turkey.
Ultimately, though, the success of the intelligent few will only amplify the pain felt by fans of those teams, like the Reds, who appear addicted to failure and the taunting of the fanbase that goes along with it. I can't imagine how I'd feel about baseball if I grew up in Pittsburgh, Cincy or Kansas City. Maybe, after a lifetime's worth of warbling about revenue inequities, I'd buy into the "salary cap as panacea" line. More likely, I would have simply lost interest in baseball at some point, and by this point in my life would be spending a lot more time blogging about soccer. Needless to say, I'm happy I grew up in the heyday of the Blue Jays, and have found in my adopted team an outlook on the sport that lines up well with mine. It's an easy life when the worst manager you've had to deal with on a fan level is Tim Johnson.
For a slightly more optimistic outlook on the Dusty Baker hiring, check out Shyster's take.
Also, Dinosaur Comics is there to remind me that it's not really possible for anything I say to ever actually be "factual" in any meaningful way. *Sigh*