Allow me to steal a page from Moshe’s book and start a discussion.
Last night, during the top of the first inning, Al Lieter was saying what everyone always says about the Twins: They play good defense. Their pitchers throw strikes. And, of course, they have players that play the game the right way. In all my years of playing, watching, and following baseball, I still have no idea what this means.
This term is always used to describe players or teams who are okay-or-good-but-not-quite-great. Maybe they do one or two “little” things properly, but they’re not all around great players. So, I ask you, what’s playing the game the right way? The commentators will say that the team does a lot of bunting, or running, or employs a lot of hit-and-runs. One of those things–bunting–generally has a negative effect on a team (unless playing for exactly one run) so why is that right? Stealing can be good, but if it’s overused, it hurts the team as well. Hit and runs are rarely used as it is, and I don’t think there’s much value it in. Why is that right?
How come a guy like Alex Rodriguez–a complete player in every sense of the term–is never described as a guy who plays the game the right way? He hits for a good average, he works the count and takes walks, he obviously hits for power, he’s a fair defender with a strong arm, he’s a good base runner…so how come the commentators during games never say A-Rod’s a guy who plays the game the right way?
The Yankees, as a team, are also quite complete. They have good starters who generally strike guys out, they have a patient and powerful lineup (patience and power are most heavily correlated with run scoring), and they play decent defense. Yet, because they have a lot of stars who make a lot of money, they’ll never be praised for playing the game the “right way”. I can’t think of any other way a team should play.
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