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Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Book Blog: Tango: Another open letter to Murray Chass

Open letter from Tange

o.

Murray,

As someone who has had a hand in creating or developing all the metrics you cited in your most recent article, you can feel free to email me your related questions.

To answer the question you sent Sean (Forman, not Foreman):

What WAR gives us is a systematic, consistent framework to value the accomplishments of players.  The good thing about a framework is that each person is free to create his own implementation.  Not all houses are built the same, but they all follow the same principle.  That’s what WAR gives us.  For example, WAR forces us to value a random HR about 1.1 more runs than a random walk.  You can’t say that you will ignore the walks of one player and then really pump up his HR.  WAR quantifies the performance of a SS relative to the performance of a 1B.  WAR establishes alot of what you need to consider.

But WAR also gives you leeway to introduce your own personalized expression.  For example, while Sean Smith’s implementation of the WAR framework I developed does not consider clutch performance, you can create a Murray Chass implementation of WAR that does include clutch performance.

Consider this email as an opportunity for dialogue and education.

Tom

Repoz Posted: January 02, 2011 at 05:06 PM | 174 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media, sabermetrics, site news

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   1. . Posted: January 02, 2011 at 05:41 PM (#3721803)
Got ego?
   2. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: January 02, 2011 at 05:48 PM (#3721805)
Got ego?


Yeah. As much as I respect Tango's work, his writing sometimes comes of as incredibly condenscending (whether meant to or not).
   3. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: January 02, 2011 at 05:55 PM (#3721811)
artcle is really arrogant. He won't win people over that way.....an "opportunity for education"?
   4. Jick Posted: January 02, 2011 at 05:59 PM (#3721814)
"A lot" is two words, as long as we're correcting people's spelling.
   5. Shock Posted: January 02, 2011 at 06:48 PM (#3721834)
I don't see how it's arrogant. Chass asked a question...in fact, emailed a question to Sean Forman. If he's not looking to be educated what is he doing.

You guys really try hard to find the worst in people sometimes.
   6. SoSH U at work Posted: January 02, 2011 at 06:53 PM (#3721837)
You guys really try hard to find the worst in people sometimes.


That's rich.
   7. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 02, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#3721839)
Still, when someone writes "alot," I'm tempted to stop listening. I don't, but I'm tempted. Using language elegantly gives you a lot of power, and using it incorrectly shoots yourself in the foot.
   8. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 06:59 PM (#3721844)
Oh Tom...oh Tom...this is embarrassing. Again.

*sigh*
   9. The District Attorney Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:00 PM (#3721846)
Chass asked a question...in fact, emailed a question to Sean Forman. If he's not looking to be educated what is he doing.
Apparently, what he is doing is trying to make a point about how statheads are doodyheads.

Why do I say that? Two reasons. 1: He has to know the answer to his own question, considering that he both knows what "replacement level" is and what wins are. 2: He coupled his "request" with an insult about how statheads want to drain all the fun out of the game and replace people with numbers.
   10. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:04 PM (#3721849)
Okay, let me actually spell out the two huge gaffes here, instead of just shaking my head ruefully:

1.) Responding so obstreperously to a question addressed to someone else is, like, UNBELIEVABLY bad social form. I don't care if this is the internet and not a cocktail party -- you're still that *sshole who butts in unannounced and uninvited and turns themselves, without any sort of permission, into the center of the exchange. God.

2.) The tone. Always, always, always with the tone. "Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education"?!?!?! I would want to punch a man in the face if they "pulled rank" on me like that in person. I'm not saying I would, I'm just saying that such an approach completely forecloses upon the very "opportunity for dialogue" that Tango CLAIMS he wants.

I find it so hard to comprehend that folks like Tango and MGL (who are otherwise very intelligent) constantly fail, over and over again, at basic human decency. I just don't understand it. I want to, because it weirds me out.
   11. Shock Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:05 PM (#3721850)
Still, when someone writes "alot," I'm tempted to stop listening. I don't, but I'm tempted. Using language elegantly gives you a lot of power, and using it incorrectly shoots yourself in the foot.


Now that's arrogant.

I would want to punch a man in the face if they "pulled rank" on me like that in person


Not that it matters, but as long as we're talking about "in person," consider that someone at your cocktail party is behaving like Murray Chass. What do you expect, exactly?
   12. Shock Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3721854)
Responding so obstreperously to a question addressed to someone else is, like, UNBELIEVABLY bad social form. I don't care if this is the internet and not a cocktail party -- you're still that *sshole who butts in unannounced and uninvited and turns themselves, without any sort of permission, into the center of the exchange. God.


Oh Jesus, give me a break. Murray posted on his blog that he posed a question to Forman and didn't get a response. The implication there is that he is still in the dark about the answer to that question. This "objection" is frankly preposterous. If Chass didn't want someone else to answer the question he shouldn't have posted it on his blog.

If you and I are at a party and I ask you a question, and you turn your back and walk away, I wouldn't have a problem with someone else answering it. It's not "butting in" by any reasonable standard. Nor is it "making yourself the center of the exchange." God.
   13. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3721855)
Not that it matters, but as long as we're talking about "in person," consider that someone at your cocktail party is behaving like Murray Chass. What do you expect, exactly?
Most people, in any place, at any time, anywhere in the world, will behave like Murray Chass, in the sense that most people usually a.) have an opinion; b.) know what they believe; c.) aren't necessarily going to instantly disown their previously-held views when presented with a POV that is 'obviously superior' (in the eye of the beholder, of course). That's called being a normal everyday dude. In those situations, you talk, you debate, you discuss, you agree to disagree, whatever.

What you don't do (unless you want be held in social contempt by all of your peers, regardless of your ability) is start your conversation by saying words to the effect of "your beliefs are invalid and more or less childlike in their outdated simplicity; however, if you would like to genuflect in front of my radiance for a little while, I would be happy to educate you on your errors."

Nobody likes that guy. Nobody. Seriously - making excuses for that sort of behavior signals one of two possible things: 1.) you share in Tango's semi-Aspergerian inability to relate humanly to other people (even those you might consider to be your intellectual or temperamental inferiors! ZOMG!); 2.) you're merely overlooking it (in a way you would never overlook it for others in other circumstances) because you happen to agree with whatever polemical POV he is advancing.

I'm 99.99% certain that in this case (with Primates) it's option #2, but that's still an insufficient excuse IMO.
   14. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:16 PM (#3721857)
Again, whether Tango meant it or not, what he wrote SOUNDS like condescension to many people. If somebody you didn't know ended an email to you with "Consider this email as an opportunity for dialogue and education," wouldn't you be going "Wow...what a jackass"?

If you want someone to come to your point of view, you need to be genuinely nice to them. Tango isn't that here, or in most of his writings, AFAIK. I suspect he enjoys verbal sparring a lot more than being nice.
   15. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3721862)
Oh, and here's the thing: I LIKE Tom Tango. I've corresponded briefly with him in the past, and he was quite polite. I cheered when I heard the Mariners were hiring him. I think he's brilliant, and even if The Book is a little, erm, thoroughgoing in certain spots it occupies a beloved spot on my shelf. Hell, I've been one of Dave Cameron's bigger defenders around here, for god's sake -- I know from difficult personalities, is all I'm saying.

So it actually UPSETS me when those guys crap the bed like this. It feels like a weird sort of setback for the cause of sabermetrics in general, which I know is a retarded thing to think, but there you have it.
   16. DA Baracus Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3721863)
consider that someone at your cocktail party is behaving like Murray Chass. What do you expect, exactly?


That all the scotch is gone.
   17. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:23 PM (#3721864)
Responding so obstreperously to a question addressed to someone else is, like, UNBELIEVABLY bad social form. I don't care if this is the internet and not a cocktail party -- you're still that *sshole who butts in unannounced and uninvited and turns themselves, without any sort of permission, into the center of the exchange. God.


If Chass didn't want people responding to it in an open fashion, he shouldn't have posted his email to Sean on his blog. Seriously, WTF?

Edit: coke time
   18. jack the seal clubber (on the sidelines of life) Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:27 PM (#3721866)
What you don't do (unless you want be held in social contempt by all of your peers, regardless of your ability) is start your conversation by saying words to the effect of "your beliefs are invalid and more or less childlike in their outdated simplicity; however, if you would like to genuflect in front of my radiance for a little while, I would be happy to educate you on your errors."

Right. If you want to convince someone, don't talk down to him. Don't act like you're Einstein explaining his theory of relativity to a seventh grader.
   19. Frisco Cali Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:33 PM (#3721868)
Still, when someone writes "alot," I'm tempted to stop listening

I lived on a street named "Allot" for a year. Drove me crazy every time I turned onto it.
   20. Kurt Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:45 PM (#3721877)
But "allot" is an actual word, if a strange name for a road.
   21. bookbook Posted: January 02, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#3721885)
1) The entire history of the sabr revolution, from Bill James to early Rob Neyer from the Big Bad Book of Baseball to Baseball Prospectus, from MGL to Dave Cameron has been about the fun of being an outsider who knows better than the pros who run this sport. And it's worked. They've been right, and have proven it time and again.

You don't get those results without some arrogance to push through the resistance. Asking a true baseball stathead to stop being condescending is probably one ask too far. Couch it deeper under layers of politeness, maybe.

2) Which all fits nicely with the grammar insanity. "Alot" ain't so much worse than "A lot" (or even "many"). For me, language is about communication. A few baseball blogs seem to be acting out some form of OCD compulsion about proper grammar, which doesn't get them any closer to featuring good writing.
   22. vivaelpujols Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:04 PM (#3721891)
Wow. 14 is one of the douchier comments I've seen in awhile. I don't see why it's okay for Chass to act like a jackass by spewing his uniformed opinion, when but someone who his informed tries to edify him that's considered poor social form. Tango also did not say this:

"your beliefs are invalid and more or less childlike in their outdated simplicity; however, if you would like to genuflect in front of my radiance for a little while, I would be happy to educate you on your errors."


I'm pretty sure hyperbolic paraphrasing is bad social form. I also have no idea how you can make judgements about Tango's social abilities based on one blog post he made. You've never met the guy.

I think the party analogy is fair. Chass and Foreman are talking. Chass finds out that Foreman own's a used dealership and asks him about a 1965 Mustang that he wants to buy. Foreman is drunk and ignores the question to go hit on some girl. Tango overhears the question, and being the guy who invented the Mustang in the first place, comes over and answers his questions about the car.
   23. Jick Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:07 PM (#3721895)
Maybe the sportswriters can strike back at the saberfolk by starting a FJM-inspired "grammar heckler" blog. That'd be an opportunity for education the whole family could enjoy.
   24. Jittery McFrog Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:09 PM (#3721899)
Not that it matters, but as long as we're talking about "in person," consider that someone at your cocktail party is behaving like Murray Chass. What do you expect, exactly?


I actually thought that the Chass article was pretty "well-behaved". For example,

I come down on the side of evaluation over statistical analysis. Give me Bill Lajoie over Bill James any time.

That said, I checked the statistics on Baseball-Reference.com. I found that the highest ranking position player among Hall of Fame candidates is Jeff Bagwell at 79.9.

I actually found a lot of interesting facts about Bagwell while researching his career, enough to prompt me to put an ‘X’ next to his name on the ballot.


That seems like a pretty positive step, not to be treated with condescension.
   25. . Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:19 PM (#3721907)
The time spent reading TFOL wasn't wholly wasted. What with the resentments, self-doubt, and rigidity, it gives us at least a sliver of what it must have been like to have been in a Bolshevik or Jacobin meeting.
   26. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:25 PM (#3721911)
I don't see why it's okay for Chass to act like a jackass by spewing his uniformed opinion, when but someone who his informed tries to edify him that's considered poor social form.


I don't see why they both can't be seen as douchey in this exchange.
   27. cardsfanboy Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:27 PM (#3721912)
I'm curious, anywhere in that open letter to Chass, does Tango try to answer the question?

Blyleven’s WAR rating incidentally is 87.6. Does that mean he was twice as good as Morris? I don’t know enough about WAR to answer that question


I don't think Chass was asking about the theoretical construct of war or how it could be tweaked, he was asking about the exact form of War that is used by Baseball-Reference and whether it meant that Blyleven was twice as good as Morris. I'm not sure how this letter even remotely answers this question or the second part of the question

In the e-mail, I asked, “Have we reached the point where statistical rankings and not voters should determine award winners and HOF inductees? Are voters still necessary, or do they just get in the way?”
   28. rr Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:29 PM (#3721913)
IMO, people banging on Eso about his response might consider this: Leaving cocktail parties out of it, if there were a couple of guys here at the old BTF watering hole arguing about Jack Morris or the relative merits of two indie rock bands, and Poster A closed a rejoinder to Poster B by writing, "Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education", I am 99.9% sure that Poster A would get some nannied profanity and entertaining snark in return. Intellectual condescension and attributing negative motivation--two mistakes I have personally made in testy exchanges here--are guaranteed snark-inducers.

Also, this isn't 1982. Tango has a consulting gig with the Mariners, Bill James has been on The Simpsons, Neyer works for ESPN etc. etc etc. Sabermetric analysis has established figurative bases and beach heads at every front in this little WAR. One reason the HOF voting is still such a source of testiness is that that it is a high-prestige area still dominated by old-school thought. But in many ways, Tango has already "beaten" Chass, so to speak, and one thing worse than a sore loser is a smug winner.

Also, I am not sure if "beach heads" is one or two words, and has one h or two, and don't care enough to look it up, so people can jump right in and correct me.
   29. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:30 PM (#3721915)
Now that's arrogant.


Arrogant would be if I did stop listening. I want good ideas to be propagated, and it helps them to be if they are propagated with elegant language. As for Tango's e-mail, it does come off as somewhat arrogant, and while sometimes a certain amount of arrogance is okay, it isn't very becoming to mix arrogance with mistakes, even small ones.
   30. Matt Welch Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:37 PM (#3721921)
Wow. Maybe I'm getting more Tango-tolerant in my old age, but I found that response to be entirely appropriate and helpful.
   31. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:37 PM (#3721922)
"A lot" is two words, as long as we're correcting people's spelling.

This topic has been discussed on Tango's blog. He knows it is "wrong," and he does not care.
   32. asdf1234 Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:39 PM (#3721923)
2) Which all fits nicely with the grammar insanity. "Alot" ain't so much worse than "A lot" (or even "many"). For me, language is about communication. A few baseball blogs seem to be acting out some form of OCD compulsion about proper grammar, which doesn't get them any closer to featuring good writing.


Grammar is not spelling.

Individuals who can't distinguish alot from a lot or its from it's are the linguistic equivalent of those who can't make change from a dollar. You may view insistence on basic literacy as a compulsion (heaven knows many students do), but it's far from unfair to mock Tango for his failure to grasp the fundamentals of the English language while he's galloping his intellectual high horse all over the prostrate frame of the hapless Mr. Chass.
   33. rr Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:45 PM (#3721926)
Wow. Maybe I'm getting more Tango-tolerant in my old age, but I found that response to be entirely appropriate and helpful.


I think he probably meant it that way, and the Chass piece which spurred it, which I read before posting here, is certainly not condescension-free. But "tone-deaf" is the best shake that Tango can get on this one, ISTM.
   34. cardsfanboy Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:46 PM (#3721928)
Wow. Maybe I'm getting more Tango-tolerant in my old age, but I found that response to be entirely appropriate and helpful.


seriously? how, I've read it about 5 times and at no point does it seem to answer the question that was asked. I don't even care about the tone(which I find to be condescending and arrogant and more or less incomprehensible) but the fact that at no point in the letter does he actually bother to answer in plain English the question or questions that were asked in the article. Instead he just says "you can create your own war if you are smart enough, using the framework that I developed". Who the frick wants to do that? Chass just wants an answer, was Blyleven twice as good as Morris because War says so(or is it even saying that, what is it saying basically?)
   35. Jick Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:50 PM (#3721933)
This topic has been discussed on Tango's blog. He knows it is "wrong," and he does not care.


That's bizarre, and seems out of character. He strikes me as the kind of guy who would be happy to be proved wrong in a baseball matter because it would improve his understanding of the sport. Why the Chassian insistence on being wrong with this?
   36. vivaelpujols Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:54 PM (#3721936)
Do you people really care that Tango says alot instead of a lot?
   37. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:55 PM (#3721937)
It's because the word "Forman" comes up more frequently in the English language than the word "lot."
   38. Tom Nawrocki Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:55 PM (#3721938)
There must be a thousand different things that Chass knows about baseball but Tango doesn't. I wonder what kind of spirit Tango would take it in if Chass sent him an email offering "an opportunity for dialogue and education."
   39. cardsfanboy Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:55 PM (#3721939)
Do you people really care that Tango says alot instead of a lot?


of course they do, you can get 200 posts on this site by quoting Alanis Morissette's Ironic song, add in words like impact and you might have another Petco thread.
   40. The District Attorney Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:59 PM (#3721941)
Individuals who can't distinguish alot from a lot or its from it's are the linguistic equivalent of those who can't make change from a dollar.
I would say almost the opposite, actually... not understanding that "alot" means the same thing as "a lot" is like not understanding that one dollar equals two half-dollars.

BTW, although I have no problem with Tango answering a publicly proffered question and I do think he is genuinely trying to be informative, I agree with cfb that his answer, in fact, utterly fails to be helpful. "Hey, guy who hates stats, you could re-calculate WAR using different weights if you wanted to!" Fantastic. I'm sure Murray will get right on that.

Of course, since I don't think Chass is asking the question in good faith to begin with (see #10), I suppose it's karmic that he gets an unhelpful answer.

(Point out that that's not how karma is supposed to work, and I will kill you. Alot. And very uniquely.)
   41. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 02, 2011 at 08:59 PM (#3721942)
IMO, people banging on Eso about his response might consider this: Leaving cocktail parties out of it, if there were a couple of guys here at the old BTF watering hole arguing about Jack Morris or the relative merits of two indie rock bands, and Poster A closed a rejoinder to Poster B by writing, "Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education", I am 99.9% sure that Poster A would get some nannied profanity and entertaining snark in return. Intellectual condescension and attributing negative motivation--two mistakes I have personally made in testy exchanges here--are guaranteed snark-inducers.


Wow. I think from now on, I'm going to end all my posts here with "Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education". I've seldom seen people get their panties in such a twist over so little.

Maybe I'm getting more Tango-tolerant in my old age, but I found that response to be entirely appropriate and helpful.


I didn't find it to bad either.

Chass just wants an answer, was Blyleven twice as good as Morris because War says so(or is it even saying that, what is it saying basically?)


To understand the awnser, first you have to understand the question. Also: 42.

In that spirit, consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education. Peace,

FPH
   42. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:06 PM (#3721945)
Individuals who can't distinguish alot from a lot or its from it's are the linguistic equivalent of those who can't make change from a dollar. You may view insistence on basic literacy as a compulsion (heaven knows many students do), but it's far from unfair to mock Tango for his failure to grasp the fundamentals of the English language while he's galloping his intellectual high horse all over the prostrate frame of the hapless Mr. Chass.


As somebody who happens to know two dyslexic people, I find your attitude repulsive. Dyslexics of the world untie!

Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education,

FPH
   43. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:07 PM (#3721946)
I would say the opposite, actually... not understanding that "alot" means the same thing as "a lot" is like not understanding that one dollar equals two half-dollars.


We understand what it means. That isn't the point. I will now be accused of classism, racism, cultural imperialism, and all those lovely things. But it is none of those things. I don't aim to make myself the center of the discussion here; I was only participating in a discussion that was already going on. I will just explain briefly what I think is the point of using proper spellings and grammatical constructions in writing. The point is respect for those who have come before you. The point is respect for the wonderful things that they have given you in their time on Earth. The point is respect for those who know more than you and want, with gentle, giving spirit, to help you learn. The point is respect for those you try to teach, so that you can help them learn what you know and they don't know.
   44. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:07 PM (#3721947)
   45. Shock Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:07 PM (#3721948)

of course they do, you can get 200 posts on this site by quoting Alanis Morissette's Ironic song, add in words like impact and you might have another Petco thread.


200 posts isn't even in the same zip-code as some of those threads.
   46. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:08 PM (#3721950)
Hyperbole and a Half is one of the funniest blogs in the history of blogs, by the way.
   47. Walt Davis Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:09 PM (#3721951)
1.) Responding so obstreperously to a question addressed to someone else is, like, UNBELIEVABLY bad social form. I don't care if this is the internet and not a cocktail party -- you're still that *sshole who butts in unannounced and uninvited and turns themselves, without any sort of permission, into the center of the exchange. God.

As opposed to posting the question you asked someone else publicly and calling them out for not answering it? That would be good social form?

Chass was being a tool and Tango could do 3 things:

1. ignore it
2. insult him
3. respond in a "diplomatic" fashion that makes it clear that (a) if Murray wants to play the idiot, Tango is happy to assist and (b) we all know Murray is being a tool.

Murray's piece is full of strawmen. Of course Murray knows what WAR is. He emailed Forman because one of two things would happen. Sean wouldn't respond and Murray could call him out -- "hey, these statheads say they want a rational conversation but I can't even get a simple question answered" -- or Sean would answer and Murray would be able to make fun of whatever his response was.

And of course Murray's piece openly claims ignorance of these statistics and says that one of the things he likes about the HoF is it's an opportunity for debate. Tango's "education and dialogue" is in response to Murray's clear (and phony) request for education and dialogue.

Seriously, all you people claim expertise in communication and you don't seem to have the first clue about what's being communicated by either Chass or Tango.

Chass is the one being disingenuous here. Tango's just calling him out by taking (or pretending to take) Murray at his word.

Chass:

Headline: "Bagwell rises above WAR"

See, right off, this is about WAR ... and about how Bagwell somehow rises above this silly, made-up stat.

"supposedly sophisticated statistics"

"Do we really need to be poring over career records of the 33 players on the ballot when there are simpler ways of selecting Hall of Fame players?" [this is in reference to the notion that WAR is the one and only stat that matters, not that voters shouldn't pore over the career records ... not that he ever says voters should do so either.]

He argues that the BBWAA shouldn't be the HoF voters -- not because of a lack of objectivity or because some substantial chunk of the voters don't cover baseball anymore. The reason is that the HoF Board changed the eligibility rules over Rose. What do you know, the voters didn't have complete control of the process vis a vis the people who actually run the museum. Shocking. If the HoF weren't going to give the BBWAA complete control over the voting/eligibility process, the BBWAA should just take their ball and go home.

"Although I have serious doubts about this replacement guy – he sounds more mythical than real, and myths don’t play baseball, though Joe Charboneau turned out to be a myth – the definition seems to lend WAR to mvp more than anything else."

This is funny. Murray's career achievement was his coverage of the baseball labor situation. He claims to not understand the concept of replacement-level, "free", "fungible" talent? If this is true, he has no understanding of the baseball labor market.

In the e-mail, I asked, “Have we reached the point where statistical rankings and not voters should determine award winners and HOF inductees? Are voters still necessary, or do they just get in the way?”

With no reply, I move on but not before answering my own question. My answer is based on the same principle that prompts me to question many of the new statistics.

Real people, not replacement players or mythical players, play the game. They should be judged by equally real people who are free to use whatever statistics or other means of decision they choose.


How the hell does the last sentence even follow from the one before it? I'm not questioning the conclusion but the "because real people play the game, they should be evaluated by real people" logic. It's taken as a given.

And, of course, why ask Forman the question if he already knew the answer? At best, he was looking for, dare I say it, dialogue, perhaps even education. But we all know he was just being a tool.

I actually found a lot of interesting facts about Bagwell while researching his career, enough to prompt me to put an ‘X’ next to his name on the ballot.

I hadn’t expected to do that, but his career made a convincing case for him. I’m not talking about his WAR-like career standings:

* 8th in base-out runs added (RE24)
* 10th in base-out wins added (REW)
* 12th in situ. wins added (WPA/LI)
* 15th in win probability added
* 21st OPS
* 21st adjusted batting runs
* 23rd adjusted batting wins
* 33rd power-speed #
* 34th adjusted OPS+
* 37th runs created
* 41st among position players in WAR

You’re on your own in deciphering those hieroglyphics [emphasis added]: I have neither the time nor the space to do it for you.


Any time a player’s name is found among such players as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays, you have to take him seriously, whether or not you know why he’s there.

Gah!!

And what did Murray do here? He trawled through the b-r leader board finding the funny-sounding stats.

Finally, it's not clear. He votes for Bagwell because he cleared 1500 runs and 1500 RBI. It's the only reason given. He hadn't expected to vote for Bagwell. Did he:

(a) not know that 1500/1500 was rare and never considered them important milestones before (the piece reads this way)

(b) always thought they were important milestones but didn't know that Bagwell (and 8 other contemporary players) have achieved the milestone

Regardless, judging by his own (disingenuous) description of his process, it actually took him about 20 seconds to consider Bagwell's candidacy. Who knows what criteria he was using to not expect to vote for Bagwell but he reportedly decided to apply a brand new set of criteria -- seemingly criteria he had never before considered in his HoF voting. He didn't expect to vote for Bagwell, took one look at his stat line and saw he had some automatic numbers that needed no thinking about and voted for him.

Exactly the process his piece is trying to belittle.

No real person was required to make this decision. He doesn't cite any of Bagwell's on-field qualities much less any special human characteristics not evident in his stat line. Nothing about "playing with grace" or "style" or "toughness" or "fear" or "leadership." He sees 1500/1500 and ticks him off.

And I'll admit ... that's where I'm not sure if Chass is being truthful or dissing us in an exceptionally subtle manner. If the latter, I doff my cap.
   48. SoSH U at work Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:13 PM (#3721952)
I've seldom seen people get their panties in such a twist over so little.


The exact same comment could apply to your Post 10. I, and many others, read Chass' original piece and didn't really see the "statheads are doodyheads" tone or other evil intentions you read into it. Which just demonstrates that panty-twisting is oft in the eye of the beholder.
   49. Shock Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:14 PM (#3721954)
Completely, obstreperously (and obsequiously!) agree with Walt Davis in #49. Great post. MBS.
   50. The District Attorney Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:17 PM (#3721955)
panty-twisting is oft in the eye of the beholder.
Who made which post, however, is not.
   51. rr Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:18 PM (#3721956)
I've seldom seen people get their panties in such a twist over so little.


I've seldom seen people be so proud of their tone-deafness and lack of interpersonal awareness.

Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education.

__

As to the spelling issue: as Vaux said, people picked on it because arrogance and errors don't mix. That said, there is no connection between spelling and intelligence, nor is there any connection between knowing "standard" English rules of grammar and punctuation and the quality of one's ideas.
   52. SoSH U at work Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:23 PM (#3721961)
Who made which post, however, is not.


I don't know what this means, but sure, OK.
   53. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:24 PM (#3721962)
Who made which post, however, is not.


That's cool. I'm happy to fall on my sword for you.

Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education,

FPH

EDIT: P.S; Although in that situation "dialogue" would mean having to resort to necromancy, and "education" might be limited to blood splatter analysis...
   54. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:28 PM (#3721964)
Maybe we're all conditioned to finding arguments everywhere, now. This Is The Internet.
   55. Shock Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:28 PM (#3721965)


I don't know what this means, but sure, OK.


It means that District Attorny made post 10?, not FPH.

All I'm trying to say is that every response needs to be looked at in context. This was not someone posting something and another person correcting him and ending it with "consider..etc."

This was:

a) Murray Chass, perhaps disingenuously, posting that he was seeking the answer to a question.

b) Tango attempting to answer his questions, and contacting him; thus, opening the opportunity for dialogue.

Perhaps he could have chosen his words better, but I read his last sentence the same way that I'd read "Feel free to contact me if you have any questions."
   56. rr Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:31 PM (#3721966)
Of course Murray knows what WAR is. He emailed Forman because one of two things would happen. Sean wouldn't respond and Murray could call him out -- "hey, these statheads say they want a rational conversation but I can't even get a simple question answered" -- or Sean would answer and Murray would be able to make fun of whatever his response was.


How do you know all, or any, of this?

Chass had some condescending moments in his piece; even if your interpretation of Chass' motivation is correct (and I doubt that you actually know) then Tango had a fourth option that you leave out:

Rise above the petty sniping and try to create actual "dialogue and education."

There are roughly one zillion ways Tango could have phrased/approached things and changed his tone to facilitate that. Either he chose not to or does not know how.

Is that a big deal? Of course not; everyone here knows that, and internet courtesy is just another topic that we talk about here. The Megdal/Pearlman stuff from a couple of days ago was part of the same discussion.
   57. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:31 PM (#3721968)
I've seldom seen people be so proud of their tone-deafness and lack of interpersonal awareness.
Exactly.
As to the spelling issue: as Vaux said, people picked on it because arrogance and errors don't mix.
I agree with this as well. I'm not really hung up on the spelling/grammar stuff in the way that some others here are, but the combination of aggressive smugness PLUS poor spelling/grammar is an aesthetically unfortunate one.
   58. Jick Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:31 PM (#3721967)
Completely, obstreperously (and obsequiously!) agree with Walt Davis in #49. Great post.


Walt Davis has been on fire the last couple of weeks. If it's because he's been on holiday, I vote that his return to work should only occur once he's unable to afford an Internet connection.
   59. . Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:34 PM (#3721969)
Chass was being a tool and Tango could do 3 things:

1. ignore it
2. insult him
3. respond in a "diplomatic" fashion that makes it clear that (a) if Murray wants to play the idiot, Tango is happy to assist and (b) we all know Murray is being a tool.


For #### sakes, Chass wasn't even talking to Tango. Tango butted in, while at the same time acting like a egomanical social retard. To the extent he thinks of him at all (**), Chass likely thinks of Tango as an obsessive bordering on stalker. I know I would.

(**) And that's transparently what has Tango's panties in a twist, thus the "For example, while Sean Smith’s implementation of the WAR framework I developed ..." The main emotion animating him is jealousy of Sean Forman, and jealousy that when Murray Chass wanted to learn more about WAR, he asked Sean Forman.
   60. SoSH U at work Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:35 PM (#3721970)
It means that District Attorny made post 10?, not FPH.


Yes, I finally got it with FPH's post. Apologies for the misattribution, fellas.
   61. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:41 PM (#3721974)
For #### sakes, Chass wasn't even talking to Tango. Tango butted in


If Chass doesn't want people butting in on his emails, he shouldn't post his emails on his blog. That's an open invetation to butt in.

Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education,

FPH
   62. Shock Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:48 PM (#3721977)
Incidentally, I'm not sure about how I got a spade in there. That was cool.
   63. SoSH U at work Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:50 PM (#3721978)
Incidentally, I'm not sure about how I got a spade in there.


Dammit, that's an opportunity for dialogue and education I would have embraced.
   64. The District Attorney Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:51 PM (#3721979)
I also did not make post Five No Trump.
   65. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 02, 2011 at 09:55 PM (#3721981)
Dammit, that's an opportunity for dialogue and education I would have embraced.


???? ?

Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education,

FPH
   66. GGC Posted: January 02, 2011 at 10:17 PM (#3721988)
I used to spell a lot alot quite often until, I was corrected in the Lounge. My remaining bit of (intentional) spelling rebelliousness is referring to day's dark partner as nite.
   67. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 10:21 PM (#3721991)
It's been awhile since I've played with my screenname...this one was long overdue.
   68. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: January 02, 2011 at 10:26 PM (#3721997)
Chass likely thinks of Tango as an obsessive bordering on stalker. I know I would.

Random note: "obsessive bordering on stalker" would be a great poster name. The only problem is it describes too many posters too well.
   69. rr Posted: January 02, 2011 at 10:32 PM (#3721999)
Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education

I see this as having the potential for a pretty good run as a BTF meme.
   70. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: January 02, 2011 at 10:46 PM (#3722005)
Tango wrote on his blog:

There was no design of arrogance or being condescending. The intent was strictly of being helpful. I answer plenty of emails directed at me with some variation of “let me know if I can help you further”. I thought I was being kind and inviting.

If you can give me the benefit of the doubt and read it in such a way, that’d be great. If you can’t, then obviously I need to take greater care in writing off-the-cuff.
   71. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 10:48 PM (#3722006)
I see this as having the potential for a pretty good run as a BTF meme.
Yup, good enough for a (temporary, at least) name change.
   72. The District Attorney Posted: January 02, 2011 at 10:49 PM (#3722008)
In terms of tone, the arguably problematic word is pretty clearly "education."
   73. bobm Posted: January 02, 2011 at 10:58 PM (#3722014)
[74] IMO the tone problem is the use of the imperative in "Consider this email as an opportunity for dialogue and education."

Why not just write: "please feel free to email me if you'd like to discuss" instead of writing a sentence that many here read as condescending douchery?
   74. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:04 PM (#3722020)
In terms of tone, the arguably problematic word is pretty clearly "education."
Actually, it's not just that. It's the use of "consider" in the imperative mood that also amps the douchechill factor up tenfold.

It drips with smug high-handedness: nobody except a small child or a disobedient subordinate should ever be TOLD how to consider anything. Quite simply, you do not talk to other people like that unless you've already written them off, at least in the sense of caring about how they'll react to your words. It's a "fire-and-forget" mentality.

On the other hand, people often respond *really well* to being ASKED to consider something (it's as comically easy as inserting the word "please" in front of the sentence), but Tango can't even lower himself to that! Because...why? Because there's no satisfaction in granting your interlocutor even a small measure of social dignity, I guess? Because it's not enough to tell someone that you disagree with them, you also have to infantilize and socially emasculate them as well?

I don't know. As I said above, I'm genuinely perplexed and more than a little freaked out by it.
   75. Avoid Running At All Times- S. Paige Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:05 PM (#3722022)
Why not just write: "please feel free to email me if you'd like to discuss" instead of writing a sentence that many here read as condescending douchery?


Because he was venting? Because he isn't interested in a real dialogue with Murray Chass? Because he was angry at him because Murray Chass, for a while now, has shown himself not to be interested in a real dialogue? Because sometimes being mean is not just entertaining to oneself, but to those around you?
   76. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:10 PM (#3722023)
it isn't very becoming to mix arrogance with mistakes, even small ones.


But it is very amusing to witness.

That said, there is no connection between spelling and intelligence, nor is there any connection between knowing "standard" English rules of grammar and punctuation and the quality of one's ideas.


Maybe not a perfect positive correlation, but "no connection"? Probably it's just me (and I admit to being intellectually plodding), but frequent misspellings tend to hamper my reading comprehension and can make it difficult to understand the content or ideas being communicated clearly. I can appeciate when a writer is being creative with use of language by resisting accepted rules of grammar and punctuation, but I'm lost when I have to spend time figuring out exactly what word they meant to spell. And I can't appreciate such liberties when it comes to technical writing.

In terms of tone, the arguably problematic word is pretty clearly "education."


I think Mark Twain said that "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word was the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." I side with those that didn't feel this was an example of intellectual bullying, but can see how perhaps another word beside "education" would display a bit more humility and further polite discourse. It's also possible that at times the teacher can be educated by the student - granted that the chance is negligible in this specific exchange.

I am deeply grateful for most any opportunity for dialogue and education.
   77. Esoteric Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:17 PM (#3722025)
Apropos of nothing, the edit feature on Primer is a godsend. I've revised each of my posts upwards of four times. I'd be so totally boned without it.
   78. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:28 PM (#3722028)
I am deeply grateful for most any opportunity for dialogue and education.


Ok, then I hope you won't take this the wrong way...

That said, there is no connection between spelling and intelligence, nor is there any connection between knowing "standard" English rules of grammar and punctuation and the quality of one's ideas.

Maybe not a perfect positive correlation, but "no connection"? Probably it's just me (and I admit to being intellectually plodding), but frequent misspellings tend to hamper my reading comprehension and can make it difficult to understand the content or ideas being communicated clearly. I can appeciate when a writer is being creative with use of language by resisting accepted rules of grammar and punctuation, but I'm lost when I have to spend time figuring out exactly what word they meant to spell. And I can't appreciate such liberties when it comes to technical writing.

This is not a reasonable response to the original statement. The point is that the aesthetical quality of the output is not correlated to the substantive quality of the idea, and the intelligence of the author. Your (or anyone else's) ability to comprehend the substantive quality is not relevant.

Consider this an opportunity for dialogue and education,

FPH
   79. Shock Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:38 PM (#3722034)
I don't know if I agree with what Esoteric is shouting from atop his pedestal, but I do know that if anyone deserves a response such as the one you described, it's Murray F. Chass, and I don't see why the audience and their behavior should be ignored. And yes, I did read his latest "thoughtful" blog entry, and I interpret it in much the same way Walt Davis does.

Edit: Jeff Pearlman.
   80. Justin T has a centaur for a mentor Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:49 PM (#3722040)
Esoteric is a nutjob of the first order. There's your damn screen name.
   81. Zac Schmitt Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:51 PM (#3722041)
That said, there is no connection between spelling and intelligence, nor is there any connection between knowing "standard" English rules of grammar and punctuation and the quality of one's ideas.


The second part, maybe, but I've never understood the first part. Being able to remember the rules of spelling and grammar display an ability to learn, recall, and apply information, even if said information is admittedly just a set arbitrary rules. I think that speaks to intelligence. The fact that I'm sure there are plenty of perfectly intelligent people who have trouble remembering those rules doesn't mean people who can aren't displaying intelligence by doing so. As a personal aside, I have a hard time remembering the rules of algebra, so I have sympathy for people who just don't quite get a particular subject.
   82. Walt Davis Posted: January 02, 2011 at 11:52 PM (#3722042)
How do you know all, or any, of this?

Because I understand how insults work? Because I have used the same style of trash-talking Murray is using tons of times in my life? Because I have used Tango's style of response tons of times in my life?* and ** Because I have read a fair amount of Murray's work and assume that he is not an idiot? Because Murray Chass has been writing professionally for, what, 40-50 years and must have picked up one or two things in his day? He's been covering baseball, and in a genuinely serious manner, all that time but never noticed that 1500/1500 was kinda rare?

C'mon, the whole Bagwell section is belittling the notion that we should use automatic statistical cutoffs to decide who's worthy. Then, a few paragraphs later, he uses (or creates if this is indeed new to him) an automatic statistical cutoff to justify voting for Bagwell. (See also my comment on Blyleven in the Chass thread.) He's either arguing in complete bad faith or he's yanking your chain. I give him the benefit of the doubt that he's yanking your chain but if you prefer complete bad faith, so be it.

Not knowing when you're being insulted and not even trying to one-up your insulter in the same style is no way to go through life son.***

*In fact, pardon my ego, but I consider myself something like the Larry Walker of insults -- excellent all-around skills but, admittedly, not inner-circle. Hopefully I'll have a longer career with little/no decline phase.

**Admittedly, Tango seems a fairly naive boy himself in this regard and, if anything, I fear I have mis-characterized his motivations.

*** Something Tom doesn't do a good job of.

Now, as a test, how many insults do you see above? Are they spinning to the left or the right?
   83. . Posted: January 03, 2011 at 12:04 AM (#3722046)
The point is that the aesthetical quality of the output is not correlated to the substantive quality of the idea, and the intelligence of the author.

Probably. But the idea's ability to persuade and move people is very often dependent on the aesthetic quality of its expression.

CTAOFDAE.
   84. bobm Posted: January 03, 2011 at 12:06 AM (#3722048)
[84] *In fact, pardon my ego, but I consider myself something like the Larry Walker of insults -- excellent all-around skills but, admittedly, not inner-circle.

How much of your apparent insult performance actually depends on home field advantage? :)
   85. SoSH U at work Posted: January 03, 2011 at 12:30 AM (#3722058)
and, if anything, I fear I have mis-characterized his motivations.


I've got to hand it to you Walt. An ordinary person, once he realized he might have "mischaracterized the motivations" of one of the particulars in this situation might consider revisiting the entire motivation characterization he just belched about the other half. But you plow right ahead, certain that your mindreading skills are without flaw. Bravo.
   86. Avoid Running At All Times- S. Paige Posted: January 03, 2011 at 12:40 AM (#3722062)
Bravo.


That feels like sarcasm. How snarky and mean-spirited.
   87. SoSH U at work Posted: January 03, 2011 at 12:45 AM (#3722063)
That feels like sarcasm. How snarky and mean-spirited.


If my hurtful remarks result in a DL trip for the Larry Walker of insults, I will be most sorrowful.
   88. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: January 03, 2011 at 12:51 AM (#3722066)
If somebody you didn't know ended an email to you with "Consider this email as an opportunity for dialogue and education," wouldn't you be going "Wow...what a jackass"?


Clearly. I find Tango's manner to be incredibly condescending and arrogant. This disappoints me because I've always pictured him as a talking, tuxedo-wearing tiger than knows how to tango. You know, sort of like if Tony the Tiger went on Dancing with the Stars. He's ruining it for me, however, as I now have to envision an egomaniacal asshat of a talking tiger in a tuxedo.
   89. Lassus Posted: January 03, 2011 at 12:57 AM (#3722067)
The Book Blog: Tango: Another open letter to Murray Chass

This reminds me of Corey writing 65 songs about Joe in Say Anything..., and Joe is a complete idiot who doesn't care.

It's somewhat unhealthy.
   90. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: January 03, 2011 at 01:02 AM (#3722068)
This reminds me of Corey writing 65 songs about Joe in Say Anything..., and Joe is a complete idiot who doesn't care.

It's somewhat unhealthy.



That'll never be me, that'll never be me. That'll never be, never be me ...
   91. rr Posted: January 03, 2011 at 01:11 AM (#3722071)
Maybe not a perfect positive correlation, but "no connection"? Probably it's just me (and I admit to being intellectually plodding), but frequent misspellings tend to hamper my reading comprehension and can make it difficult to understand the content or ideas being communicated clearly. I can appeciate when a writer is being creative with use of language by resisting accepted rules of grammar and punctuation, but I'm lost when I have to spend time figuring out exactly what word they meant to spell. And I can't appreciate such liberties when it comes to technical writing.


There's a difference between "knowing the rules" and "critical thinking ability." I tell my students all the time that it's important to "know the rules" for a variety of reasons. Not knowing them--doing things like not knowing how to use semi-colons or messing up it's and its--doesn't mean someone is subpar intellectually. Punctuation does, or can, in some ways connect to meaning, and usually once you show people that (in a funny way, like I do with my classes) their punctuation improves.

People who misspell a lot, or alot, or lots, of words tend to do so because they have some form of dyslexia and/or dysgraphia, and, of course, intelligence is multifaceted and not linear in any case.
   92. rr Posted: January 03, 2011 at 01:27 AM (#3722073)
Because I understand how insults work? Because I have used the same style of trash-talking Murray is using tons of times in my life? Because I have used Tango's style of response tons of times in my life?* and ** Because I have read a fair amount of Murray's work and assume that he is not an idiot? Because Murray Chass has been writing professionally for, what, 40-50 years and must have picked up one or two things in his day? He's been covering baseball, and in a genuinely serious manner, all that time but never noticed that 1500/1500 was kinda rare?


Impressive set of rhetoricals, but like I said, you don't know that the whole point was to to be a dyck. My read of it was there was some dickishness and some attempt at actual interaction.

So as noted, it seems Chass's piece was not condescension-free, but the issue here, or so I thought, is Tango, about whom, apparently, your motivation-speculation was wrong, as SOSH notes.
   93. The Most Interesting Man In The World Posted: January 03, 2011 at 01:32 AM (#3722076)
As has been reiterated various times about Tom Tango, I think:

1) He is a very intelligent man.
2) He doesn't necessarily intend to insult his audience.
3) Could sure use a course in writing so that he doesn't turn people away.

Really, if his writing improved a notch, he'd be the next Bill James.

Slightly off topic, but I remember 1993, when Bill James stopped writing his annuals. I saw an Elias book on the shelves and thought: "Gee, that's loaded with stats, Bill James we won't miss you". Fail.
   94. rr Posted: January 03, 2011 at 01:40 AM (#3722080)
3) Could sure use a course in writing so that he doesn't turn people away

IOW, he needs dialogue and education. ;-
   95. Mr. J. Penny Smoltzuzaka Posted: January 03, 2011 at 01:42 AM (#3722082)
Ok, then I hope you won't take this the wrong way...


Then I shall be glad to take it the ... ummm... right way.

May I add that the fact that you properly used and correctly spelled "aesthetical" in a sentence has irrationally left me impressed with your intellectual prowess - not that I should be able judge such based upon such flimsy evidence.

Thank you for the dialogue and education. Edit: I'm not trying to be snarky, but am being serious even though it's hard taking anyone with the word "Fancy" in their name serious.

...intelligence is multifaceted and not linear in any case.


The world would be a predictable, drabber place were it not so.
   96. Darren Posted: January 03, 2011 at 01:56 AM (#3722089)
If we're going with the cocktail party theme, here's how it happened.

Sean was having another one of his great bashes, serving up free mojitos to everyone in the place. Sean handed one to Murray and hurried away to serve other guests. But Murray is used to going to parties where they bud lights. He wants a bud light right now because that's what he's used to and he's not about to change his ways at this late stage.

But that darn host has walked away. So Murray has to think of something to say to show he's not pleased. "What'd you say this is? A mo-heat-o? I don't even know what that is! What's in it?" Of course he knows full well, as they are a very popular drink now. And of course, Sean can't hear him because he's in the kitchen working on a new batch of drinks.

So Murray carries on, getting attention from anyone who will listen. "Well, I'm waiting. What is this drink? Smells like rum, is there rum in it? I've had a a rum and coke before, is it a double rum and coke? Hey, does everyone see this? That jerk won't answer my questions. All I want to know is what's in this drink! But he's too good for that, I guess...."

And on he goes. Tango, who's been having a great time and really appreciates the free drinks, is getting irritated. He went to bar-tending school with Sean and he can't stand another minute of it. So he sidles up to Murray and says, "It's a Mojito. It's made with rum and lime and some other stuff. You can make it another way if you like sometime. Now STFU and drink it or just go away."

It's amazing how much respect and restraint people expect to receive when they are obnoxious and belittling. And how others will jump the defense of the belittler so readily, fearing that his feelings might get hurt.
   97. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 03, 2011 at 02:02 AM (#3722093)
Who was it that had that masterful long-winded rant on pedantry, where basically he said that if the person correctly communicated what he was trying to say to the other person, his spelling and grammar was irrelevant?
   98. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: January 03, 2011 at 02:12 AM (#3722099)
...stipulating that Murray Chass is a jerk...

...stipulating that Tom Tango and MGL have more value in one toenail than Chass has in his whole wrinkly body...

I've thought for a good long while now that Tango and MGL really oughta hire someone to write for them.


Tango, who's been having a great time and really appreciates the free drinks, is getting irritated. He went to bar-tending school with Sean and he can't stand another minute of it. So he sidles up to Murray and says, "It's a Mojito. It's made with rum and lime and some other stuff. You can make it another way if you like sometime. Now STFU and drink it or just go away."


I can easily buy that this was what Tom intended, but it almost could not have been more poorly expressed.
   99. Dale Sams Posted: January 03, 2011 at 02:12 AM (#3722100)
This reminds me of Corey writing 65 songs about Joe in Say Anything..., and Joe is a complete idiot who doesn't care.

It's somewhat unhealthy.


"Murray lies. Murray liiiiies. When he cries...when he...IM NEVER GONNA BE THAT IM NEVER GONNA BE THAT AND DONT YOU EVER FORGET IT!!"
   100. CFiJ Posted: January 03, 2011 at 02:16 AM (#3722101)
Here's the thing. You can have elegant, clear, good writing even with "alot", or "it's" for "its". In the big scheme of things, these things are irrelevant compared to the skilled use of clauses, suiting vocabulary to the audience, and choosing clarity over showing off one's education. In the case of "alot" and "its", there isn't even the argument of possible misunderstanding, like in the celebrated "uninterested/disinterested" debate. Whether one writes "alot" or "a lot", "its" or "it's", the meaning is clear and when read both make perfect sense.

All of us cheerfully use the word "umpire". This is much more grievous error than "alot". We cheerfully use "already", which is essentially the same kind of construction.

"Alot" and "it's" don't tell us much about the intelligence of the writer, nor of the quality of their writing (yes, I just used "their" as a gender neutral singular pronoun; deal with it). All they really tell us is the level of formality the author is writing in. They fall under small stuff that one doesn't really worry about when writing an email to a friend, a blog post, or blog comment. There isn't a poster on this site who doesn't make small, forgivable spelling and/or grammar mistakes from time to time. Particularly the folks who type near the speed of thought.
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