The Hot Stove League, it begins after the World Series and lasts until Pitchers and Catchers report. Baseball fans everywhere are enamored with free agent signings, trades, awards, and the always interesting Hall of Fame conversation. Despite all of the conversation and intrigue involved I have some specific pet peeves when it comes to the Hot Stove League, here are just a few:
5. Mystery Team
One of the more annoying aspects of social media is how easy it is to foment false rumors and create disarray amongst baseball fans and even some baseball writers. The Mystery Team is the unofficial 31st Major League Baseball team and as long as Free Agency has existed it has as well, fomenting false rumors and creating disarray. The Mystery Team’s purpose is to increase guaranteed money, spur trades, and generally just create mayhem. Really, the Mystery Team is an amalgamation of rival GMs, agents, clueless members of the media, and dummy twitter accounts. As far as I know, the Mystery Team has never signed anyone, nor have they ever played a single game. Put plainly, Mystery Team generally does this: Team A is interested in Player 1, Team B has also showed interest in Player 1, but not as much as Team A. Team M (Mystery Team), announces it’s intention to sign Player 1 to a ridiculous sum of cash through some writer on twitter who cites a “source”. Team A overpays for Player 1.
4. Fan Expectations
My good friend, Andy Burdick, created the above image while discussing the recent signing of Clint Barmes by the Pirates. We’re all guilty of it, we expect our favorite team’s GM to pick up the phone and sign the top free agent in whatever position we deem necessary. Usually our hero GM signs a much less sexy player to fill the need, and angers we the fans immensely. The GM does this for money reasons such as payroll. I can’t really think of another team more responsible for this other than the Pirates from 1996-to present day.
3. Endless Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera MVP discussion
Mike Trout is good at baseball. Miguel Cabrera is good at baseball. They are both the best players on the planet at this moment in time. I am a fan of advanced statistics as well as traditional ones, I don’t think there is a demarcation line between the two. Unfortunately, a lot of the baseball world seems to think that it is important to point out that the past two seasons Trout has been more valuable as a player than Cabrera, using WAR as the prime benchmark in the discussion. Despite Trout being the more “valuable” player from the standpoint of advanced metrics, Cabrera has been voted as the MVP two years in a row. sophomoric oafs such as Heyman, Morosi, and Rosenthal add fuel to the flame by dismissing the sabermetric arguments and just basing their support for Cabrera on some polemic notion that he helps his team be a winning team therefore he is the most valuable player. Snarky, new-age talking head such as Cameron, Law, and Kenny rely on cold hard numbers rather than acknowledging Cabrera’s historic accomplishments, like the Triple Crown and being the first player since Rogers Hornsby to lead the league in batting average three years in a row, not to mention his huge numbers. I don’t care how antiquated of a notion, they are still great accomplishments.
Whatever the camp you may defer to in this argument, it is important to point out that they are both the best players in the world. Trout will more than likely be around for awhile, and will dominate the sport for years to come, whereas Cabrera is nearly ready to start traveling down the wrong side of the bell curve.
2. Hall of Fame Debates
This discussion is always more annoying than the Trout v. Cabrera one. Countless essays are written arguing about who should and shouldn’t be elected to the HOF. Even yours truly authored a short piece about Tim Raines last month. This is yet another situation where old school and new school clash over inane subjects like Jack Morris’ career ERA relative to his HOF chances. Better yet, there are old school voters that refuse to vote for a guy like Barry Bonds who was still very good before gaining all of that muscle mass (look it up, people). Even more puzzling are the voters that actually leave people off their ballots for perceived steroid use, prime examples being Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza. The BS is so thick with this year’s crop of candidates that it caused Deadspin to try and buy a vote from a BBWAA voter. They succeeded in that endeavor, causing the pundits to vomit more BS. While the voting process needs to be changed, it doesn’t look like it will be changed in the near future, which means writers for GolfersWest.com will still have a say in who gets elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1. We’re forced to watch the NFL, NBA, and worst of all, College Football
If you’re reading this post, then you’re more than likely a baseball fan, and if you’re any bit as much of an avid fanatic as me you generally don’t pay attention to the above mentioned sports. Sure, the NFL is fun to watch, the Superbowl is more of an exercise in media sensationalism, advertising, and shameless promoting than it is a championship at this point, but we all have our favorite NFL team I suppose. It’s the lesser of three evils. The NBA? Yawn. College football is the same schools, that have the most money, competing for corporate sponsored championships generated by a computer. Wake me up when pitchers and catchers report!