Monday, July 28, 2008

Logical Fallacy of the Week; Manny vs. Tito

[Editors Note: 'Logical Fallacy of the Week' is the segment where I'm a real dick about language.]

Manny says stuff, Francona says stuff. And in this most recent episode, it turns out Manny was logical and well-spoken, whereas Francona packed fallacies and mal mots like they were his last chaw.

Let's start with Tito. "We've run into bumps in the road ever since I've been here and there have been some before I've been here." I know this is an expression, but doesn't one run onto bumps in the road? One falls into holes, runs into friends or brick walls, but onto bumps. Moving on.

Tito continues: "The result of two of the times has been a World Series ring."

But just because the Sox won the World Series after Manny's - or anyone's- bumpiness, that of course doesn't mean that they won because of or as a result of those bumps. This is our fallacy, known as 'post hoc ergo propter hoc', or 'after this, therefore because of this.'

It's like with Jeter. Just because Jeter couldn't field a routine grounder to his left after I said he couldn't doesn't mean that the result of my saying that was Jeter's not having any range. My yelling doesn't cause Jeter's shitty fielding, and Manny's bumpiness didn't cause the World Series victories.

But maybe I'm picking on the word 'result', and Francona only meant- but didn't say (despite talking at the time)- that the Sox have weathered the storm, and have won the Series despite Manny's bumpiness.

Maybe so. Nonetheless, there are two strikes against Francona on this one because what we need most in this media maelstrom is some clear thinking about causality, and muddled thinking and talking on the subject only exacerbates the problem.

For instance, there's all this talk about Manny being a distraction. Presumably, this is bad because this distraction will somehow result in more losses for the Sox. But does Manny's behavior actually affect the team? Is there any evidence for his whatsoever? Does Youkilis stand up there, stroking his bat, thinking:

"Look for the fastball up. He's gotta come with the cheese. Relax. Relax. Quick bat. Pop the clubhead. Open the hips. Relax. You're thinking too much. Get outta your fuckin' head, Crash [Youkilis calls himself Crash.]... Throw that shit again, meat. Throw that weak ass shit. Now he's gotta try to slip the cheese by me. One and one. You're on top. Now bring me the gas --This son of a bitch throws hard... Manny, Manny, Manny. Who is this Manny? Jesus, get outta the box you idiot, where's your head? Get the leftfielder outta your head."

I hope not. Manny causes beat writers to write lousy articles. But that's about it.

Secondly, the rest of Francona's quote was jibberish, which disturbs me. Tito then spake: "As a team, sometimes you fight through things, sometimes you work through things. It's not always perfect, but how you get to the end is what counts and that's what we're trying to do."

Huh? How you get to the end is what counts? It's not whether you win or lose, but how? Really? How much do they pay Tito? And what's the 'that' in 'that's what we're tying to do'? Is it ''How you get to the end'? That doesn't make sense. 'Get to the end'? If so, is he not contradicting the noise he made 1 second earlier by suggesting it's the end, not the how, that counts?

Contrast Manny. "If the Red Sox are a better team without Manny Ramirez, they should trade me."

Absolutely. Only Tampa Bay Yankee fans would disagree with this.

Manny continued "Enough is enough." That's definitely true. A necessary, tautological truth, even.

Manny said: "I could choose a team that offers me the best conditions or one in the chase for the postseason." Manny clearly lays out his options in the form of an exclusive disjunction.

He even said: "I don't care where I play, I can even play in Iraq if need be. My job is to play baseball," and "I don't want to be a problem and a distraction to the Red Sox in such a critical moment of the season. I want to help the team, even if that means I have to go."

Here, Manny selflessly offers his services to wherever Duty takes him, and nobly understands that his true Love for the Sox means that even if they're better off without him, then that's something he must accept.

Also, Francona said this in response to questions about Manny's possible bad mood: "I'm not sure that matters. I'd take a guy that's hitting .500 that's miserable as opposed to a guy that hands out bouquets to his teammates and is hitting a buck 45."

Really? I could have sworn Francona didn't pinch hit Casey for Varitek...


Barry said...
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Barry said...
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Rooster said...

Well done! Francona was clearly off his game, running into all kinds of bumps :)

Sox fans just don't like it when a player wouldn't mind leaving. Freaks them out.

Realistically, Manny will play out the season, he'll put up good numbers, and we'll see what happens this off season - most likely a Boras induced free agency run.

Soxlosophy said...

thanks rooster. and i liked the bump line.

and i completely agree on your analysis of the fans' reaction, and of the manny situation.

an in-season trade seems extremely unlikely; what contending team would trade the top starter or ace reliever that would be part of majorleague ready equal value? and what bad team would want him or his contract?

it sure seems unlikely the sox will pick up his option, though.

Matt said...

Why, however, would the Sox decline the option instead of picking up the option and THEN trading him? Would it not the best value and the ultimate F You to Manny and his antics? I am assuming you can explain why this can't happen.

Soxlosophy said...

a dangerous assumption indeed, matt.

i hadn't thought about this*, but my guess is that there's no guarantee they could trade him, and perhaps even less than that, given that they've tried numerous times to do so, and failed.

here's something else i don't know-whether when a team declines a team option, thereby making the player a free agent, the team gets compensatory draft picks, or whether the team only gets them on a player option or the natural expiration of the contract. if they do, then, as many teams are wont to do, they let the 'type A' free agent walk, and get the 2 -i think it is- first round draft picks as compensation.

but if they don't get compensatory picks, then they'll be letting manny go for nothing, which probably isn't a good idea. then perhaps the picking up the option and either keeping or trading isn't so bad.

* this comment is potentially filled with misinformation and unresearched speculation

Marc said...

I bet you'd like to have those comments back...i believed he'd be dealt that whole week, and the reasoning attacks two of your assumptions:

A. The distraction DOES upset production. A player is not thinking of Manny while in the batter's box, but think of the distraction the same way one's general mood is affected by things. The results of being in a less than ideal mood tend to affect workplace production commensurately, to some degree (varying). If you wake up "on the wrong side of the bed", your productivity is compromised. If you get in a fight with your girlfriend before class, you may leave class not having thought about the girlfriend, but looking back to your performance in class as that much less successful because of outside stress. Baseball clubhouses work the same way as domestic situations, except you have about 30 girlfriends that are all well-payed jocks. When there is a sour mood in the room, the morale is less than ideal, and performance may come down a notch. Players may be stressed a little, and anybody that knows their baseball history knows that if you want to hit .400, you have to be loose.

B. A contending team ceases to contend when its best player gives up. Nevermind the chemistry, you lose the biggest bat in your lineup, and you get nothing to replace him.

B1. At least they got a replacement, a pretty good player.

C. The Red Sox would have received two compensatory draft picks if Manny became a Free Agent, yes.

C1. At least they got a major league ready all-star caliber player, ahead of what will be a thin FA market this off-season. Draft picks are gambles, and take years to matriculate.

Soxlosophy said...

good points marc, thanks. you were ahead of the curve on this one. and i'l agree that the more severe the manny thing got, the more likely it is to have a tangible effect.

but it's still difficult to really gauge this, and i'm not convinced it affects the pitchers as much, if at all, whose daily schedule and conceptions of competitiveness are probably different than everyday players'. i imagine pitchers are more isolated from this sort of stuff, and it's hard to say that beckett gives up 6 runs becasue of manny...

but now seeing bay play well, and the team beat up on weaker opponents, everyone's feeling good again.

also, i never want to take anything back. i stand by everything i said, especially the wrong stuff.

Marc said...

of course, it's hard to say that it had an affect (and how, specifically, it did so), but its harder to say that it didn't.

agreed that pitchers are probably less affected, but who knows- anything going on to disrupt one's routine, mood, or sense of purpose could have a less than ideal effect. I guess what I'm saying is there's every reason to believe that rumors of "bad chemistry" are in fact bad, and do affect Wins&Losses, and that teams are better off when this is not an issue.

Again, in this case, it was all about parlaying the assets affectively too, and being that "no matter what you get for Manny the bottom line is you lose", they did a good job, the right thing.