Stat lovers who hate stats

It won't be long before we get the first wave of nonsense from stat-crazed dunces claiming there's nothing to be learned from a batting average, won-loss record or RBI total. Listen, just go back to bed, OK? Strip down to those fourth-day undies, head downstairs (to "your mother's basement and your mother's computer," as Chipper Jones so aptly describes it) and churn out some more crap. For more than a century, .220 meant something. So did .278, .301, .350, an 18-4 record, or 118 RBIs. Now it all means nothing because a bunch of nonathletes are trying to reinvent the game?

Well, that's a fun passage. It's a shame that a week after defending Bruce Jenkins as a good writer, albeit one with whom I frequently disagree, he falls back on the lazy, lazy, lazy "stat nerds in the basement!" rhetoric. I look forward to his next column, in which he absolutely skewers police officers for liking donuts. Don't get him started on airplane peanuts.

But that passage doesn't need to be dissected here. If you're reading this, you probably have a good idea that Matt Cain isn't a below-average pitcher, even if that's what his won-loss record would indicate. You know that Aubrey Huff last year was a much better hitter than Bengie Molina was in 2009, even if their respective RBI totals were similar. You know that even though the 2008 Giants had a batting average that was better than the league average, that team was a completely miserable offensive team that still makes you twitch in your sleep. All of the stats Jenkins mentioned are flawed.

Well, maybe the passage deserves to be dissected a little bit. My favorite part was when the guy who called out "stat-crazed dunces" ended his rant by holding hands with his favorite stats. Oh, oh, or when he thinks that stats created by nonathletes are automatically worthless, as if Henry Chadwick pitched 3000 innings for the Brooklyn Superbas back in the day, which validates all the statistics Jenkins loves. That was awesome.

The best way to mock this, though, would be a good dose of flattery-by-imitation. Here's the template:

For (some extended period of time), (this outdated stuff) meant something. So did (other outdated stuff). Now it all means nothing because a bunch of (pejorative) are trying to reinvent the (subject)?

Such as...

For several centuries, boiling lead meant something. So did trebuchets, mangonels, and battering rams. Now it all means nothing because a bunch of gunpowder fetishists are trying to reinvent the rules of modern combat?

See? Fun. Have at it.

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