Wilmoth, taking it to Kovacevic.
Dejan Kovacevic doesn’t like it very much when I pick on him, and I know he thinks it’s unfair, but look—if any other well-known Pittsburgh media personality who I’m supposed to take seriously posted something this provocative and ridiculous, I’d be talking about that, too.
Has the Moneyball crowd yet trademarked the term “Meh?” How about “ad hominem?” Or “straw man?” Look, I love advanced stats ... But the amount of groupthink that occurs within this group flies completely in the face of two other favorite terms, “objective” and “intellectual.” True objectivity—and I’m not claiming purity here—comes from, duh, an open mind. Maybe there’s a REASON closers pitch the ninth.
The last sentence is hilarious. I’m sure there are reasons why closers pitch (only) the ninth. But you’ll notice that Kovacevic isn’t going to tell you what they are. You’ll just have to trust him, and all the managers who continue the practice despite it flying in the face of all common sense and evidence. If you don’t, you’re a sheep. “Duh.”
...My guess is that, within a generation or so, teams will think about their closers differently than they do now. But it’s going to take a long time. There will have to be teams who are willing to experiment, and the current barriers to experimentation are pretty high. The first teams to experiment will probably be teams that don’t have much to lose, and those kinds of teams generally don’t have good bullpens. It will take awhile for things to change. But teams are currently leaving plenty of wins on the table.