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A Plea to the Statheads

There are two primary thoughts of baseball analysis: sabermetric and observational.  Sabermetric encompasses a wide array of statistics to try to put a number to actual play.  It is cold and it is methodical and it is an accurate portrayal of what has occurred (and tries to predict what will happen).  Observational removes much of the statistical analysis and focuses on perception, intangibles and basics statistics that are used to identify intangibles.  Now more than ever have these two sides butted heads in Philadelphia with the trade of Bob Kelly Abreu.  The aftermath has left a tidal wave of observational analysis that has put itself into a very comfortable position: it can't lose.

There were 3 possible outcomes for the Phillies after the Abreu trade: Get worse, stay the same, get better.  All three scenarios give observationalists ammunition to alter reality to what they want it to be.  Sabermetricians look at the data and come to conclusions.  More often than not, those who analyze based on observation look at conclusions and try to make the data conform to what they want.

Right now, the Phillies are in the middle of a Wild Card chase.  Whether it is because they are good or the NL is bad makes no difference.  They are there and there is a good chance they will be for the rest of the year.  Fortunately for them, they have been riding the hot bats of Rollins (yeah, that guy) and Howard, and the starting pitchers have forgotten what it's like to let in more than 3 runs a game (too bad the bullpen can't forget that same lesson).  However, it appers that the Phils good play over the last month has little to do with their actual play and more to do with "addition by subtraction".  Or, that is what the observationalists want you to believe.  "Clubhouse is better", "Players are playing harder", "Players doing the little things now"...yadda, yadda, yadda.

However, what happens if the Phils tank.  Lose 20 of their remaining games and end up in 4th place in the NL East.  What happens to those clichés that are being thrown around so much now?  Oh, they are still there, but just altered to accommodate the bad play.  "The clubhouse is still tainted."  "Too little too late."  "More needs to be purged."  All of this is reactionary analysis.  People who observe want to think that the game is based on that other plane of existence and if you win, it is due to good karma there and if you lose, it is due to bad karma there.

This is why they now have a Win - Win situation.  There is a built-in excuse for the results of this season regardless of how it turns out.  It is all very predictable and all very tired and incorrect.  And that Win - win scenario is a Lose - Lose proposition for those of us who actually analyze the game without he biased eye.  We are now relegated to defensive work and have little in the way to convince the "others" that they are wrong.  Phils win, it is because Abreu is gone.  Phils lose, it is because Pat is still there and Abreu didn't leave early enough.

So, this is a plea to those out there who read this blog.  Please acknowledge that this will be the case at the end of the season and do NOT get discouraged.  Please stick to your guns, know that you are on the side of right and eventually the Axis of Evil will be destroyed.  Rational thought will prevail and it will just be a matter of time.  Sadly, the only real way for the sabermetric crowd to actually be vindicated is if the hated Yankees make it to the World Series and Abreu plays like a stud.  While that is certainly plausible, it is tough to stomach it despite wanting him to play well.  Anyhow, don't give up.  It will be all that much sweeter when you are proven right.