Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Ted or Dead

Straw man: a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent.

This fallacy comes into play today with The CHB's positing that Ted Williams was the greatest Red Sox player of all time and that David Ortiz, well, isn't.

"I can’t believe I’m even posing the question. It’s ridiculous. It feels like a sin against the church of Boston baseball."

Well, given that pretty much everything Shank writes is a sin against logic (not to mention an insult to intelligence), that should come as no surprise. But since our job is to debunk the bunk, let's have at it.

We'll start with the basic argument, which is, who cares?

Answer: No one. Because no one is talking about it, save some moronic "television sports debate show" host. (And Shank complains that fanboy bloggers never leave the house. It makes one wonder whose backyard shed said announcer has been living in.)

Addressing the "greatest" question, there's a slew of data that demonstrate that Williams was not only the greatest Red Sox of all time, but he was a top 10 major leaguer of all-time. Ortiz, meanwhile, might barely scratch the Top 10 Red Sox, behind Williams, Cy Young, Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Yaz, Wade Boggs, Carlton Fisk, Dennis Eckersley, and Joe Cronin, among others, as MLB Hall of Famers who wore the Sox uniform. (That list, of course, does not include Babe Ruth, the greatest of them all.)

Indeed, the Newton Nabob's "logic" has more holes than an encephalopathic brain.

As in, Williams was better than Papi because Beethoven was superior to Prince. (Seriously.)

Even more appalling are the "data" Shank uses to bolster his non-argument. As in, not homers. Not batting average. Not Gold Gloves or any other such measure.

Attendance. (Seriously.)

He cites Richard Johnson (insert your own dick joke here), the Sports Museum in Boston curator (who knew?), who says, "Ted was the reason people went to Fenway from 1939 to 1960."

As if.

The first six years of William's career, the Red Sox averaged between 4,600 and 9,600 fans a game. Granted, that was the run up to the War years. Attendance then peaked in the four-year run after WWII ended, averaging between 18,000 and 20,600 up until 1949. (That run coincided with the Red Sox's best records during the Williams era.) The numbers, while better than the AL average, were still roughly half Fenway's capacity.

As wins became scarcer, so did the crowds. By the time Ted retired, the Fens was down to about 14,000 fans per game, a little over 40% of capacity.

Since Papi joined the Red Sox in 2003, the team has never averaged fewer than 33,000 fans per game or less than 91% of capacity, and Fenway was sold out for entire seasons.

No, fans don't go to see the players. They go to see the team win. And if the team doesn't win, the fans don't go.

Ironically, today The CHB discounts team success when it comes to player rating.

"[I]f championship rings are your only measurement, then Mark Bellhorn (one) is better than Ernie Banks (zero), and Sam Jones (10) is almost twice as good as Michael Jordan (six)."

Again, a sham statement, not to mention hypocritical. After all, who pushes the "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" argument harder than The CHB? And who pushes the "Bill Russell was the greatest NBA player of all time because he won the most" argument harder than The CHB?

(Oddly enough, Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain outscored, outrebounded, and out-assisted Russell in head-to-head matchups, thus underscoring the importance of T.E.A.M.)

Yet that's the sum of this big bowl of stupid soup The CHB musters up. It's almost enough to make poor dead Ted's head spin.

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