On Bartolo Colon’s Cy Young
by Ken Arneson
2005-11-09 10:21

I am annoyed.

I’m almost 40 now, and I’ve gone through the whole mid-life crisis thing, and if there’s anything valuable that I got out of that crap, it’s this, my new personal motto:

Like what you like.

I suppose that’s just a variation of Joseph Campbell’s “follow your bliss”, but sometimes you gotta put things in your own words for it to really make sense to you.

Don’t have guilty pleasures. Just have pleasures. You are who you are, and you like what you like, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, don’t apologize.

It’s much, much harder than it sounds. There’s so much crap in our lives, so many pressures coming from here and there, to think this, and want that, and do the other. If liking what you like wasn’t so hard, it wouldn’t be so rare to find someone who actually lives their life that way.

As I read all the stories about Bill King’s passing, the saddest part of all of it was the realization that King probably personified this philosophy better than anybody in the history of the planet.

Bill King deserves his own religion. Seriously.

And so as I begin my attempt at King discipledom, I find myself increasingly annoyed at those who try to stop me from liking what I like, or try to stop other people from liking what they like.

Which leads us to Bartolo Colon.

I am not annoyed that Bartolo Colon won the Cy Young. I am annoyed at the namecalling that has emerged over the choice. Words like “idiots” and “insane” are flying around the blogosphere. That’s exactly the kind of “don’t-like-what-you-like” crap that BillKingism teaches us we need to throw out of our lives.

Listen: Awards are not measurements. Awards are celebrations.

Suppose there’s a $1,000,000 lottery drawing tonight. The tickets are hidden on a baseball field. JS manages to find 4,000 hidden lottery tickets, and BC manages to find only one. JS has 3,999 more chances to win than BC. But somehow, BC wins the lottery, anyway! JS is clearly, and by far, the best lottery player. BC just got lucky.

But at this point, the relevant question to ask is not, “who was the best lottery player?” The question is: “whose party do you want to attend tonight?”

That question has nothing to do with logic, statistics, or probabilities. The time for being rational has passed. The question is now about celebration and fun. Perhaps you choose to celebrate the rational choice, and you think that logic is fun, and that’s fine. But lots of things can be fun, logic being only one of them, and one shouldn’t be belittled for picking one of the others.

I am not saying I agree with the choice of Bartolo Colon for Cy Young. If I had to play the 2005 season over again, and I could pick one pitcher, I’d pick Johan Santana. If I had to celebrate one pitcher for the 2005 season, I would choose Mariano Rivera. This was a truly remarkable season in a truly remarkable career, and I think he deserves a party more than anyone.

But if some people prefer to celebrate the player who had the most wins in the American League, I’m not going to call those people names. If people like wins, they should be free to like wins. More power to them. Like what you like, people. There’s nothing to apologize for.

Comments: 22
1.   Vishal
2005-11-09 13:24

1.  i appreciate the sentiment, but there's a certain resentment over the fact that i can't give the cy young to johan santana (or any award that matters) for being the best pitcher. the wins people have all the power. furthermore, the awards are more than celebrations; they have meaning. and the cy young doesn't strictly represent "most wins", it's supposed to mean "best pitcher", and rationally, the criterion for that should not only (or even primarily) be wins, regardless of what some sportswriters may think. it's like they are having they're cake, which is all right, but they're eating mine too, which is less acceptable.

anyway, if you want to draw your argument out to the extreme, then fine, let them have their award their way, if they like. but then let me call them names, if i like, and let you be annoyed, if you like :)

2.   Vishal
2005-11-09 13:24

2.  oops, their cake.

3.   Ken Arneson
2005-11-09 13:45

3.  Vishal, I will let you have your counterargument, but your typing mistakes annoy me to no end!

4.   Vishal
2005-11-09 14:09

4.  [3] hehe, i hope they annoy you enough to create a post-editing feature in the next version of fairpole.

5.   Ken Arneson
2005-11-09 14:10

5.  touche.

6.   Jen
2005-11-09 14:36

6.  Ken, that was beautiful.

7.   Sam DC
2005-11-09 15:54

7.  Me, I'm just here waiting to see how Ken handles the notion of building the new As ballpark over an abandoned sausage factory.

8.   Ken Arneson
2005-11-09 16:04

8.  Funny you should mention that, Sam. I was actually inside a meat-packing factory in Oakland yesterday afternoon (it's a long story).

The smell of fresh meat was simply overpowering. I like meat, but I don't think I could stand that scent for very long.

If the new ballpark smells anything like that building...I don't know about filling the ballpark with people, but I'll bet every dog in the Bay Area would become a loyal A's customer.

9.   Sam DC
2005-11-09 16:14

9.  What you wonder, of course, is whether they incorporate the abandoned sausage factory as a feature of the site plan -- a la the Warehouse at Camden Yards. Perhaps not so romantic for your casual baseball fan as the trainyards from Houston (if I'm getting that right) or whathaveyou around the league.

An aside re 4, and maybe I should put this over in the fairpole comments, but I don't really know what to think about a comment editing feature. Fixing comment typos seamlessly rather than cluttering up the thread with fixer comments is good, but I worry about unintended effects on the discussion if people can go back and change what they said. Probably not too big an issue, because this is a community with a great deal of integrity, and also because no one's really talking about anything that important, but some part of me thinks that the discussion is the discussion and there should be a fixed record for reference.

10.   Ken Arneson
2005-11-09 16:31

10.  The only compromise I can think of is if you could edit your comments, but every version of your edits was available for inspection.

That way, you can correct typos, or whatever, but what you said would still be there, and you couldn't say, "I didn't say that."

I'm not sure if that solves more problem than it creates, though.

11.   Bob Timmermann
2005-11-09 16:46

11.  That seems like a lot of metadata to have hanging around just to point out that we made a typo.

12.   FirstMohican
2005-11-09 17:23

12.  Is it stated somewhere by the MLB what the CY award is for?

If you took away the W/L from the argument, is there any way to justify the selection of Bart?

If there isn't a definition, I'd like to propose this one: "Pitcher with the right mix of supporting offense and defense, pitching ability, and opponent strength as perfectly measured by the pitcher's Wins and Losses."

10 - Imagine a world where you could go concievably change the last sentence of your post to read "I'm not sure if that solves more problem*s* than it creates, though."

13.   Sam DC
2005-11-09 18:22

13.  On 9 - 12 , let it not be thought that I think this is a big deal. More flagging an issue for discussion. Of course, I don't think that fixer comments are a big deal either.

14.   Vishal
2005-11-09 18:51

14.  [10]well, you don't need to keep the original version up for inspection, but you can do what EZboard does, for example. you can edit your comment (or the moderator can edit it), but once it's edited, there will be a tag below that says

edited by Vishal at 9:45:34 on 11/09/2005

so you know that it's been edited.

and if people are dramatically changing their arguments post-hoc or something, people will notice and call them out and they will lose credibility. most of us are pretty responsible and i don't think it would be a big deal.

15.   Vishal
2005-11-09 18:52

15.  hah, i meant that to be asterisked, not bolded.

16.   Ken Arneson
2005-11-09 21:44

16.  Yeah, that's kinda what I meant, except that maybe you'd just have a single word, like edited, or a symbol of some sort, which would be a link to looking at the previous versions of the comment.

17.   Jason Wojciechowski
2005-11-10 03:22

17.  That sounds like an interesting idea in theory, but I wonder if its worth your time - I don't really have a good sense of the effort that'd take in coding.

99% of the time, the mistakes people make are ones that don't affect the content of the post. Like, in that sentence, if I'd accidentally typed "effect" instead of "affect," I really shouldn't be posting a correction-post because everyone knows what I meant.

So it's a cost-benefit thing, where it seems to me that the benefit might be rather small. I'd think that threading, or even trackbacks, might be higher on the list than comment-editing.

(And forgive me if discussions about threading and trackbacks have gone on in the past - I'm a sporadic reader of comments, particularly on those sites that regularly get hundreds of comments.)

18.   Ken Arneson
2005-11-10 09:06

18.  I don't think it would take very long to code that, given the architecture I have. It's just a matter of whether it makes for a better user experience or not.

It's probably time for me to do a Fairpole FAQ, I guess.

19.   lboros
2005-11-10 11:40

19.  "Awards are not measurements. Awards are celebrations."

amen to that. great post, ken.

20.   Shaun P
2005-11-10 18:18

20.  I like the idea of awards being celebrations instead of measurements. A very nice sentiment, Ken, and nicely put.

BUT - then we all (including the voters) better stop using number of awards won, and where players finished in the voting, as markers of whether or not a player had a HoF career. It can't be a celebration when it happens and then a measurement 15 years (or however long) later.

21.   Brent is a Dodger Fan
2005-11-15 16:41

21.  Very late comment, but:

Meta argument: those who complain about who are selected are celebrating the person they would advocate for in their own way. Since they can't control who wins, they say who should win, how voters should vote... of of which is simply a way of saying should = the way I would do it.

So I celebrate a measurement method by saying that whoever wins the measurement method should have won.

Another perspective: there are many who say there is an ongoing battle between the statistically/measurement minded and the BITGOD-folks (Back In The Good Old Days). Those who see a selection that favors the BITGOD method cry foul, since they feel the whole BITGOD method is bunk and that it should be done their way.

No different than politics, really.

22.   Ken Arneson
2005-11-15 22:52

22.  There's a difference between saying your opponent should have chosen differently, and saying your opponent is an idiot.

If the other side of your argument seems "idiotic" or "insane" to you, you should take it as a warning sign that you don't really understand the other side of the argument, and you're probably looking at the issue through a lens that is far too narrow.

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