On Mookie Betts

February 12, 2020
  
On the Boston Red Sox fan site Sons of Sam Horn, the news of Mookie Betts’ trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers was met with a sense of disappointed resignation.
 
This is a group of smart baseball fans. The members at SoSH are sabermetrically knowledgeable and not prone to buy into either the hysterics of sports radio or the stodgy perspectives of the more senior writers at the Globe and Herald. They are extremely knowledgeable about the minutia of the Red Sox organization: they know of payroll concerns and international investments and the strengths and gaps of the Boston farm system. They are, too, a group that is significantly pragmatic: most of the participants on the boards understand that the Yankees are a stronger team going into 2020, and they understand that the Rays might be a smarter team, and they understand that the familiar names peppering the Blue Jays lineup are  going to put Toronto into contention sooner rather than later. With Mookie Betts unwilling to sign an extension prior to free agency, trading him for salary relief, a solid outfielder, and a few upside prospects was, all things considered, a reasonable decision.
 
My brother, also a Red Sox fan with sabermetric inclinations, had the same response. "This is great," he texted me when the news broke. "One year of Betts isn’t worth much, and this opens up a lot of flexibility to contend down the road."
 
I have wondered, in the days since the trade news broke, what I should say about it. There is an urgency to say something – Mookie Betts is one of the very best players in the game today, and I am a fan of the team that just traded him away – but I’ve struggled to figure out just what I wanted to say.
 
What I’ve settled on is this: I understand all of the rationales for the trade, and I understand that there are probably variables none of us know about that have figured into the decision. And none of that seems enough for a team to trade away a player like Mookie Betts.
 
Rationality has its limits.
 
I say this as someone who cares about the numbers, as someone who is more apt to side with an objective argument over a subjective one. There is a coherent, objective case for the Boston Red Sox to trade Mookie Betts. For once, I am not convinced by it in the slightest.
 
I spoke to my grandfather the other day. He is ninety years old, and because of some health challenges, I did not expect him to say anything that would clarify my own thoughts on the Betts trade. But he did. "It’s a stupid thing," he said, "Mookie is the heart and soul of the club. He does everything right on the field, and the fans like him, and the press likes him. You don’t trade a guy like that away."
 
This sentiment boarders on cliché. We are not meant to think about the ‘heart’ of a baseball team. We are not meant to factor in the sentiment of fans or the press, or whether or not someone plays the ‘right’ way. Playing the ‘right way’ is a loaded term, freighted by a history of codified racism. We are meant to understand the broader contexts, the bottom line. Mookie Betts is worth perhaps 8.0 WAR to the Red Sox, at a cost of $27 million. With any luck, the Red Sox will net more WAR from the Alex Verdugo and Jeter Downs and Connor Wong for less cost.
 
So it isn’t stupid to trade Mookie Betts, but it isn’t right, either. It isn’t decent.
 
 
*             *             *
 
 
It is my thesis - belated articulated - that major league baseball has gone too far in the direction of objectivity, and too far astray from being decent. I hate to use definitions of words to make a case, but in this case it is useful. Decency, as I understand it, is the act of considering and abiding by standards of respectable or moral behavior.  
 
Let me dovetails that thesis to some other trends in baseball, to some other news that I haven’t been able to write about.
 
There is, first, the trend towards loser teams tanking their seasons to stockpile draft picks for a few years to build a Super Contender. The benefit of this strategy is a chance at a ring on the backs of a few good, cost-controlled players. The cost is five years where a team’s fan base is forced to endure years of losing, garbage baseball, years when the only good players are, in essence, participating in a regular season tryout to be traded to a contender.
 
Does it work? Certainly.
 
It is decent? Of course not. It’s gross.
 
In fact, the whole of the Astros has been a triumph of what is smart trumping, time and again, what is right and decent. We’re talking about a team that signs someone like Roberto Osuna because they might need a few extra innings in October. We’re talking about a team that has an executive office stacked with unmannered jerks. We’re talking about a team that participated in a coordinated (though admittedly goofy) effort to steal signs by banging trash cans.
 
How is any of it decent? How decent is it to the very good fans in Houston who supported this team through the lean years, in return for a tainted championship and side-eyes every time they put on their ball cap?
 
A further example of this thesis is major league baseball’s current attitudes to the minor leagues. If the major league teams were decent, they’d do their best to support and build up minor league teams and fan bases, understanding that the wealth stockpiled by major league teams is a kind to trust, and one that they should use to support less fortunate leagues. Instead, the major league teams are talking about contracting the minors…it’s too expensive, too much work. There are too many working parts, and it is not efficient. Major league baseball does not need games to take place in Pulaski, or Salem, or Cedar Rapids, and so very soon there will not be games in those places. The ballparks will sit empty. The men and women who have followed such teams will be left in the dark.
 
It’s indecent. It is maximizing benefits by sacrificing any consideration of what is right.
 
And the results are always ugly. Do you think Houston fans are going to keep coming back when the team enters its next rebuild? Are the services of the geniuses behind the Houston breakout going to be hired by other teams? Will these towns and cities dotting the map of America answer the call when baseball realizes that an important part of maintaining a fan base is giving people access to the game locally?
 
No. When you behave indecently, you burn a bridge. Baseball is burning bridges left and right, and they don't realize who is holding the torch.
 
 
*             *             *
 
 
Taking this further: there is, I think, an abandonment of the notion of decency in the narratives we write about the game. We write a lot of stories that do the calculus, a lot of stories that do good objective analysis about the game of baseball. But we struggle to write successfully about the ambiguities of ethics.
 
Look, I’m part of the problem. I’m someone who very much views baseball through a lens of objectivity, who is motivated by understanding what is true about the game. That’s been mostly positive, but it ain’t perfect. I helped bring this about, and while my efforts were well-intentioned, I think we’ve sometimes gone too far. In seeking the objective truth, we’ve discounted, too strongly, many of the qualities that comprise a concept like ‘decency.’
 
And we continue to ignore it. The best sabermetric websites – sites like FanGraphs and The Athletic and the corner at ESPN still dedicated to covering baseball news – have largely abandoned the question of decency. They will post endless articles about new zone measurements and statistics designed around batted ball profiles, but there is precious little space dedicated to a serious engagement with the ethics of the game. I did not read a single article on the Betts trade that said that the trade was a terrible outcome for baseball, no matter who the Red Sox got back.
 
The subject of decency has been largely left to the old guard of sportswriter, to the good and bad who utilize old platforms that old people read. And while I do not want to return to the practices of fixating on notions of ‘grit’ and ‘hustle’, of feeling in the dark for the intelligible intangibles of players in pinstripes, I suggest…strongly….that those of us working in the new modes of media need to learn how to speak to what is decent, in parallel to our efforts to find what it true.
 
There have been many articles on who ‘won’ the trade, but very few articles that have untangled what Mookie Betts has meant to the Red Sox during his career, so let me fill in the gap.
 
Mookie has meant a great deal: he is a wonderful player, certainly the most skilled position player the Red Sox have had in my lifetime. He is just a wonderful defensive player: great routes, quick instincts, and a sense of dimension and space that helps in Fenway’s right field. He’s a brilliant hitter and a terrific baserunner. He’s smart: he has an intelligence for the game that is difficult to draw a parallel to. He has a baseball IQ like Joe Morgan, except his intelligence is more inwardly directed, and more confident. Betts isn’t quite ‘graceful’ like DiMaggio, but he is very much aware of his body, aware of its capacities and limitations and in control of it. When there is action on the field, he reads it with the same alacrity that Jackie Robinson possessed - the same eagerness to take an extra base and the same desire to win - but there isn’t the controlled fury that fueled Jackie. He’s terrific fun to watch: watching Mookie Betts play baseball reveals the game in a bunch of small ways that are immensely satisfying.
 
Mookie was the heart and soul of the Red Sox, and his loss is a terrible outcome that cannot be justified. He shouldn’t have been traded: not for token parts, and not in such a haphazard way. It would have been far better for the Red Sox try to win with their best player this year. If they failed, they would’ve had the chance to get a few prospects while allowing us – the fans – a chance to say a proper good-bye to him. A last ovation in right field. A last chance to call his name.
 
That would’ve been decent.
 
 
David Fleming is a writer living in western Virginia. He welcomes comments, questions and suggestions here and at dfleming1986@yahoo.com. He is never on Twitter, but you can find him there at @DavidFlemingJ1. 
 
 

COMMENTS (26 Comments, most recent shown first)

Marc Schneider
Gfletch,

Yes, that's a good point. McNamara brought his analytics over from Ford to the Department of Defense. Some of what he did actually made sense with respect to nuclear war, but his fixation on numbers obviously failed him re Vietnam.

I think people, even the analytics people, are starting to get the point that sabermetrics is a tool rather than an absolute. Sometimes, it does make sense to sacrifice bunt even if not as a general rule.
1:05 PM Feb 18th
 
Gfletch
I'm amused that I failed to mention that Marc Schneider's story story about Robert McNamara's whiz kids has a rather significant character in common with the Beacham story - Robert McNamara himself, who was President of Ford at the time.
12:51 AM Feb 15th
 
LesLein
The Betts trade may turn out to be similar in impact to the Indians trading Rocky Colavito. The Indians gave up their heart and soul. It took decades for them to contend again.
7:40 PM Feb 14th
 
Gfletch
Marc Schneider wrote: "And the arrogance of many sabermetricians sort of reminds me of the whiz kids around Robert McNamara whose analytics showed how we would win the Vietnam War. And sabermetrics, just like the analysts in DOD that strategized nuclear war, ignored a lot of human issues that go beyond statistics."

I am reminded of Charlie Beacham, a manager at Ford Motor Company. The company was going through a period in which their accounts were gaining more and more influence and had succeeded in shutting down some plants that they had "proven" to be unprofitable.

There was a meeting in which the accountants recommendations for shutting some more plants down was being discussed. Beacham spoke up, saying, "Why don't we close down all the plants and then we'll really start to save money?"

Everybody laughed and according to the story the accountants went back to working for Ford instead of running it.
1:31 PM Feb 14th
 
Gfletch
I liked your response post, Dave.

I was thinking about Albert Pujols as I read it. The Angels were idiots to sign him - he was clearly on the cusp of serious decline (although I suppose none of realized how serious) and I suppose many people thought St Louis did the smart, analytical thing to let him go.

But in truth they offered him a tremendous contract to stay with the team that can only be justified by subjective criteria, by consideration of his place in the history of the team and with its fans. In my opinion the Cardinals were considerate and reasonable, but Pujols was not.

At this time the astonishing financial numbers are a big part of what is driving decency out of the game. Of course there has been a ton of indecency in the history of baseball, always has been, but that's not relevant to decreasing decency.

Consideration of the human element..is that mostly consideration of the feelings of the fan, or the feelings of the player(s)? Both, I guess.
1:22 PM Feb 14th
 
Marc Schneider
"It’s a slippery slope. Nostalgia for a more decent world of baseball doesn’t just mean “grit” and “hustle,” it means the reserve clause and institutional racism and all the other elements of the genteel plantation culture that defined and enabled baseball throughout its golden age. If you’re going to look at it, you have to look at all of it."

Is anyone here equating decency with the reserve clause and institutional racism? I don't think so. I don't quite get the point here. I don't think anyone is pining for the good old days.

With respect to Betts, the point is that players have the right, as they should, to make their own decisions (at a certain point) as to where they want to play and how much they should get paid. That's great. Betts has apparently made it clear that he wants to test the market, in part, to also help set the market for other players. Also fine. But, I don't see how the Red Sox are villians here for recognizing they weren't going to sign him long-term and trying to move forward. It's not as if Betts was saying he really wants to stay with the Red Sox. To me, these are business decisions. Mookie Betts is ultimately going to make an incredible amount of money. I don't see what's indecent about the Red Sox deciding that a year of Mookie isn't worth it. I mean, is not having Mookie going to make the Red Sox unwatchable?

As for tanking, I would rather have a team that is trying to win a championship than one that is satisfied to keep going along in mediocrity trying to sneak into the playoffs. The O's were doing neither. If they had kept going the way they were, they would have continually missed the playoffs and won 75 games a year (or worse). It remains to be seen if the rebuild works but at least it has a better chance than what they were doing.

As for sabermetrics, I do think it often has a pernicious effect on baseball. For sure,it has contributed to making baseball less entertaining. And the arrogance of many sabermetricians sort of reminds me of the whiz kids around Robert McNamara whose analytics showed how we would win the Vietnam War. And sabermetrics, just like the analysts in DOD that strategized nuclear war, ignored a lot of human issues that go beyond statistics. Houston showed what can happen when you ignore human factors.
9:31 AM Feb 14th
 
DaveFleming
I am not calling FanGraphs 'the enemy.' That's hyperbolic, and it doesn't move the conversation forward at all. I very much respect what the site does.

Was I setting up a straw man?

This morning I went back and read most of their coverage on the Betts trade, and the work I read is heavily focused on the analytics of it. That doesn't mean there aren't editorial comments and perspectives...Ben Clemens wrote
a fine piece in November saying that Mookie should stay...but the bulk of the articles I read were very much focused on an analysis of the decision.

Does that mean FanGraphs hasn't tackled other subjects with more subjectivity? Of course not. They've been great at critiquing the structures of baseball. They've built a terrific platform and they use it effectively to argue for concerns beyond the numbers.

But their heart is analytics. That's their focus. That's their default.

And that is a fine, fine thing. That's as it should be. Analysis is what their site is about, it's what they're committed to, and it's what they do very, very well. I have no problem with that. I support their work, and I admire their writers.

What I am trying to get to is this: there is a narrowing of the mind that comes from pure analytics, and when you come from an analytic perspective - as I do - it can be very hard to figure out how to think about the game without using analytics as a crutch and frame for your thinking. It becomes an instinct, a pattern of thinking. You write three paragraphs and then think 'Wait, should I put a table here with some numbers to validate my thinking?'

I say this from experience. I say this as someone who gets frequently lost in excel spreadsheets...I will think of a question and spend hours tinkering through metrics, and emerge having forgotten what got me started. It's a tricky slope, and I am trying to think about how we can free ourselves from a bubble. I am trying to think about how, from a background that is heavily analytical, I can find a new language and a new frame for thinking about baseball.

9:11 AM Feb 14th
 
voxpoptart
FanGraphs makes this argument -- which is true -- ALL THE TIME. You call them out by name as the enemy; do you even read them? ALL of their coverage of the prospective, then actual, Betts trade was anti-Red-Sox for even considering it, same as their treatment of Cleveland considering trading Lindor; all of their writers emphasize that great players who bring joy shouldn't be shuffled around like Strat-o-Matic cards.

FanGraphs came out firmly opposed to contracting the minor leagues; in fact, all their regular writers are on record as strongly in favor of at-least-doubling minor league salaries, and improving the living conditions of minor leaguers generally. Multiple FG writers including editor Meg Rowley have referred to the treatment of minor leaguers as the major-leagues' worst sin.

FanGraphs editorializes against tanking, both in full articles and casually in chats; they oppose the salary cap; they praise teams like the Reds and White Sox who aren't in large markets and aren't particularly good, but decide to spend lots of money and go for it.

It's like, I agree with your article, Dave. Decency is hugely important. But you seem to imagine you're saying something new. Admittedly, the *only* sports coverage I read these days is FanGraphs; it's possible that in the broader scheme things, you're taking a minority view. But you specifically attack, by name, a site that makes your point unanimously, in depth, on a daily basis.
1:10 PM Feb 13th
 
smbakeresq
The most important thing to me is the comments about the minors. A well run minor league system that produces major league assets is far cheaper then $27m a year. I saw a figure from Stanford economist Roger Noll that cutting 42 minor league teams would only save about $22.5m. If he is off by 0 and the real figure is $45M that's nothing to a $10 billion dollar industry.

While the minors might be inefficient, cutting teams wont improve that, it just means less teams. Some organizations just cant run anything, that's the problem.
9:41 AM Feb 13th
 
mjhnyc
It’s a slippery slope. Nostalgia for a more decent world of baseball doesn’t just mean “grit” and “hustle,” it means the reserve clause and institutional racism and all the other elements of the genteel plantation culture that defined and enabled baseball throughout its golden age. If you’re going to look at it, you have to look at all of it.
7:48 AM Feb 13th
 
evanecurb
Dave:

This is a good piece. I need to say that first and foremost. You nailed not only what's wrong with the Betts trade, but what's wrong with major league baseball today. I especially agree with you about tanking. As an O's fan, I can tell you that, in 2017, when the team won only 70 games but was still making an effort to win, I continued to watch the games. Midway through 2018, when they were on pace to win 45 and dumped all of their players, I stopped watching, and I haven't started to watch again. 70 is more than 45. Trying is better than not trying.

Now I'm going to veer to a related topic. The Red Sox screwed up. Their analysis of many of the players they've signed in the past several years (can't remember all of their names, but there's a Cuban guy, there's Sandoval, and there were Price, Porcello, and Sale, of course) resulted in overspending for what they received in return. The luxury tax kicked in. They now are in the unenviable position of having to either dump salary now or handcuff their future ability to compete while remaining profitable. The luxury tax accelerates each year, and they are in year five or some such thing. They have to get under it. The Sons of Sam Horn all realize this. You realize it.

But here's the thing: What the Red Sox are experiencing now in terms of salary constraints is what half of all major league teams experience every single time they have a great player. They can't afford to keep him. The Red Sox have temporarily, indirectly, become a small market team. Once they get under the luxury tax threshold this year, they can go back to being the big market Red Sox.

Some conclusions (about the Sox payroll, not about your article):

1. Boston is now experiencing what Oakland has been experiencing for decades: a great player they can't afford to sign is going to leave. As an Orioles fan who hated to see Machado go, there's a certain amount of justice to that.
2. The luxury tax is working, at least at the margins. It's a system that was designed to prevent the richest teams from hoarding all of the best talent, and that's happening. The Red Sox this year. In 2016 it was the Yankees. Except Betts is probably going to sign with one of the big market teams in 2021, so the tax isn't a real fix for competitive balance. But it's a start.
3. I know I said this earlier, but the Red Sox really screwed up their payroll. I mean, they really, really screwed it up. If they came to this place through an objective, analytical process, they need to check their data bases for viruses. It's possible the Astros hacked them (that last part was a joke, but as long as we're all trashing the Astros, why not go there?)




8:48 PM Feb 12th
 
Manushfan
Sabermetrics became the new Social Darwinism--an excuse for the Robber Barons back in the gilded Age to do whatever they wanted, because REASONS. I see this happening in MLB too--Sabermetrics is an Excuse to do bottom line, cold blooded BIZNEZZ Stuff, because REASONS. It's a crutch for a rather disgusting mentality that would make even me not wanna watch it now.

I saw adherents to it using Teh Numbers as an excuse to drag out and shoot guys they didn't wanna see in the Hall--Jack Morris, Jim Rice, etc--to the Nth degree, so that the attacks on these guys got Personal and they were more or less labelled as glorified AAA players. How DARE they be in the Hall or even be Considered?? Yeah how indeed. Jihads like that are what make following the game just plain Lousy. You can believe I lost all respect for certain writers and bloggers for their parts in this--they earned That.

Good article.
3:21 PM Feb 12th
 
mwlook
As a Red Sox fan of a sabermetric bent, I completely understand what Dave is trying to express. The Red Sox have used sabermetrics and analytics for years to great success for the team and the fans. But Mookie transcends sabermetrics and budgets and tax penalties and everything else. It isn't just because he was drafted and developed by the Red Sox......it isn't just because he he is model citizen off the field......it isn't just because he one of the three best players in baseball....it isn't just because he is on a direct path to the HOF. The sum is greater than the parts when it comes to a player like Mookie. In today's environment, few teams have the chance to lock-up a player like Mookie, and the Red Sox blew it. The only comp for this situation in baseball right now is Trout, and the Angels got it done. The closest parallel is Jeter, and the Yankees did not let him get away at age 27. Being angry at your team for failing to take advantage of this rare of an opportunity goes beyond simple fandom.
2:40 PM Feb 12th
 
Gfletch
stevemillburg - wow, that's pretty cynical. What kind of socialist am I? The good (democratic) kind. What kind of Pollyanna am I? The hopeful kind. Let's not give up hope, though I admit to you that it is tempting.

Shthar - I'm surprised at the snark. That is all. ?
2:32 PM Feb 12th
 
shthar
Do I think the Cardinals would have traded one of the best players in the league, whose baseball career they owned like a slave, because they decided they were paying him too much money?

Gee, no I don't think they would have.

THey would have just paid him less. And he didn't like it, he could go sell shoes.

2:19 PM Feb 12th
 
shthar
"begin to introduce subjective variables into structures and stories that are increasingly reliant on objective analysis."

This may not be the site for you. Have you tried Bleacher Report?​
2:15 PM Feb 12th
 
stevemillburg
"Houston's championship is not truly tainted unless you want it to be tainted"? "For MLB to streamline its minor leagues is a business decision"?

Of course. Just like the Cincinnati Reds' 1919 World Series championship isn't tainted unless you want it to be tainted. The Reds did everything right. And the eight so-called Black Sox made a business decision. Maybe that hurt their teammates, but the teammates could have made the same business decision. That they didn't is their own fault. If you think making a good business decision leaves you tainted, then you must be some kind of socialist.

Major League Baseball is lying about its reasons for contracting the minor leagues. ("We're deeply concerned about the fans who have to experience baseball games in substandard ballparks. Therefore, no more games; no more problem. You're welcome.") But that's just PR. You don't expect large corporations to tell the truth, do you? What are you, some kind of Pollyanna?

You want decency, go to church. Like that Roman Catholic church in Rhode Island where the priest justified banning legislators who voted for an abortion rights bill from receiving communion by saying that pedophilia doesn't kill anyone but abortion does. Now that's decency.
2:06 PM Feb 12th
 
rwarn17588
I think Dave has a compelling argument. I grew up in St. Louis Cardinals country. Do you think the Cardinals would have as loyal a fan base if the front office traded the beloved and undeniably productive Stan Musial after his titanic 1948 season? I don't.
1:51 PM Feb 12th
 
DaveFleming
I'm not trying to disparage the Red Sox organization in total: Marc Schneider is correct that Boston has been very good at being decent to its legacy players, and by extension their fans (Pedroia and Papi are two cases examples of this).

Instead, I'm trying to use the Betts trade as a jumping off point for a broader conversation about how we can begin to introduce subjective variables into structures and stories that are increasingly reliant on objective analysis.

I'll leave it there, and chime in further after letting more comments come in. DF
1:12 PM Feb 12th
 
jfenimore
The Mets traded Tom Seaver to the Reds in 1977 because Seaver wanted a contract extension with a raise to something like $225,000.
Indecent. Immoral. And stupid.
12:13 PM Feb 12th
 
Gfletch
I'm all for decency, Dave, and I agree with you and I enjoyed the article.

Bill James once wrote something to the effect that in sabermetrics, winning is the great sun. However, I submit that one thing that sabermetrics cannot do is assess what we want.

What we want is where decency comes in. Sabermetrics is just a tool kit. I don't ask my hammer or my screwdriver or my saw about what I want to use it for. I believe that what we have done wrong here in the world of sabermetrics is just that. We have allowed the research to direct our morality.

Decency and morality are highly subjective things, of course. But that's just further reason not to let the tools assume the role of a priest or of our own conscience.
12:08 PM Feb 12th
 
Marc Schneider
While I too have problems with sabermetrics, I think I largely disagree with the gist of the article. This is not an organization that has been screwing fans over; they have four championships this century. They were and are not going to win this year. I don't think that running the team as a rational organization is "indecent." The Red Sox will still be better than a lot of teams and will likely be a contender in the near future. Betts made the decision not to sign an extension and, apparently, to test the market. That's fine; that's his right. But I don't think "decency" requires that the team ignore the future.

11:34 AM Feb 12th
 
ventboys
In business it's called "good will," the value of your reputation, your word. I cringe at the word decent at times, because it's often weaponized to stamp out independent thought, but you nailed it on the head here, Dave. The Sox violated one of the tenents of good will be treating an untouchable talisman like a commodity.

I haven't said much of anything about the trade, but I think the best comps for the trade might be the old Tom Seaver trade to the Reds in 1977 or the Rickey Henderson to the Yankees trade in the mid-1980s. The Sox felt like they had to do it, so instead of finding value, they found 'whatever they could get.'

I don't have any science to back it up, but I suspect that 'whatever you can get' trades rarely work out to 'more than we gave up.'

11:31 AM Feb 12th
 
raincheck
The purely rational approach to building a baseball roster ignores the actual goal of a baseball team - to build a large, loyal and rabid fan base.

One of the ways to do that is by having a competitive team, winning regularly, and winning a Series now and then. That involves a lot of purely rational thinking.

But it also involves fans having an emotional connection to the team. A perfect SABRmetric organization may get you part of the way there, but it may also turn off fans along the way. Connecting to huge numbers of fans means having players like, oh, say, Mookie Betts. Players like Mookie Betts also increase your chance of winning.

An organization should do all it can to KEEP a guy like Mookie who helps them win and engages fans. And if they lose him, they should be seen to have done all they could to keep him.
10:59 AM Feb 12th
 
Robinsong
I think that setting more or less arbitrary standards for decency is the wrong direction. Was it decent to move franchises? Not to the fans of the Boston (or Milwaukee) Braves or Brooklyn Dodgers or Philadelphia (or KC) Athletics. But what about the people in the great cities they went to? Mookie is a loss for the Red Sox fans but a wonderful addition for Dodgers fans. Houston's championship is not truly tainted unless you want it to be tainted; if I were in Houston, I would cherish the memory of an exciting team and wonderful season. There were hundreds of minor league teams that folded when television came in; was that indecent? General Motors closed plants in order to survive; many people think that was indecent, but for MLB to streamline its minor leagues in a business decision. Is it decent for a player to switch teams in free agency to make more money? I think a lot of the emotional reaction is just understandable resistance to change that causes a loss. Is cutting a player who has gotten too old or no longer fits your team's needs indecent? I think of Albert Pujols. If St Louis had matched the Angels' offer or even if Pujols had taken their offer, they would have been far worse off, as great as Pujols had been for them.
10:52 AM Feb 12th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Sox fan here, Dave, who agrees with you 100%. Not sure if this what you're describing here, but I've often felt (and written) that sabermetrics has an unacknowledged evil side to it.
10:21 AM Feb 12th
 
 
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