05 April 2010

Opining Day

The line between fact and opinion in baseball is as fuzzy as this metaphor. The numbers describing certain facets of baseball are so comprehensive and deep that statements which might usually be seen as opinion take on the characteristics of fact. In baseball, there is truth, damned truth, and VORP. Players are numbers, governed by known equations, easily ordered by value.

But no, this is too much. Fact has not overtaken opinion that much.

Even hitting, the most numerically mapped athletic discipline in existence, is not easily pinned under a single matrix of numbers. The year to year fluctuations of player stats are proof enough of that. But even if each player was reducible to a single number, the games would still be living things, unpredictable, unknowable, endlessly debatable. An opportunity for fun, a playground for opinion. Even Juan Pierre can hit a home run. Even Chan Ho Park can pitch a scoreless inning.

Except he didn't. Did you see that? That was great. Last night it wasn't just an opinion that Chan Ho Park is a terrible pitcher who will give up home runs and make you weep if he's on your team. It was a stone cold fact. I love that even a team like the Yankees who pay for only the finest players still have to rely on someone like Chan Ho Park in the seventh inning. Middle relief is the great leveler. Even the best and richest teams will sometimes struggle to find quality middle relief. There's just no stability there, in performance and in team personnel, not year to year, often not even from month to month! Still, Chan Ho Park? Really, Yankees? Ha ha ha!

I couldn't believe it when my wife said, "Isn't that Chan Ho Park pitching for the Yankees?" I scoffed. But it was him. That made my night. I don't know, maybe I'm being too hard on him. He was great for the Dodgers in 2008, and not too bad for the Phillies in 2009. But still, does anyone really think Chan Ho Park can handle the AL East this year? The only thing more desperate a team could do would be to employ Russ Ortiz as a relief pitcher.


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