Cleveland Sports Insiders

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Diary of a Baseball to the Cleveland Outfield


It’s still kind of surprising to me that I bought one of these things. It’s embarrassing, really, that I’m buying a book just to let out my feelings. I feel really stupid.

Have you ever lost someone close to you? Not, like, they died or anything. Just – have you seen someone you used to be good friends with drift away? It wasn’t as though they were my closest friend in the world – what Andrelton and I had was – we were really close. But I’m not trying to make a friendship-ranking here; I’m not Buzzfeed and friendships aren’t listicles. I just want to let the Cleveland outfield know that I miss them.

God, it’s just so… stupid, to write that in a diary. ‘You’re just a baseball,’ is what my conscience tells me, ‘so go out and actually tell them. Be the bigger man.’ Baseball, I guess is correct. Be the bigger baseball. Not literally bigger, so as to violate MLB regulations, but figuratively. I need to mend bridges between me and the Cleveland outfield. That’s what my conscience tells me. 

But why should I be better than the world? I try to make inroads – I try to meet them halfway, but they make absolutely no effort to reciprocate. I’ve at least tried to swallow my pride. But Brantley, Raburn, Bourn and Murphy – I think I’ve made it easy for them to at least approach me or do something to cushion my fall. But each time I try, it’s just like – it’s like this:

Trying to meet Brantley halfway

Brantley doesn’t catch me on the fly – alright, whatever, if you don’t want to talk to me, then it’s a free country. But not only does he not catch me, he uses me to throw the guy out at second. Okay, so he uses my attempt to approach him to his own advantage, making himself out to be the good guy, and I’m the bad guy in all of this. I’m bursting at the seams in anger.

Yeah, okay, I could have been a little closer. Maybe it was a tough play. Did I screw up? Sure. I could have done better. It was a hard play. But Brantley’s a professional baseball player. He’s paid to make hard plays, and he hasn’t done that once. Did he ever once consider that it was hard for me to even get that close?

Ryan’s no exception, either. I’ve been even more direct with him, but he finds some route to avoid me. Even David and Bournie are avoiding me.

I used to be friends with these guys. Now it’s like I don’t exist. Do I need to go directly at them for them to remember the friendship we used to have? Because it seems not a single one of them is going to go out of their way at all to find me.

It’s so messed up. They’re not going to be viewed as the bad guys unless I go directly at them and they let me down. Brantley knows better than to do that. He’s just not going to go out of his way to help me. Michael knows how to not be perceived as the bad guy, and he does it well: he isn’t perceived as having trouble fielding me.

But perception isn’t reality. I, of all people/inanimate objects, should know.


Author: The Zach Walters Appreciation Guild


4 thoughts on “Diary of a Baseball to the Cleveland Outfield

  1. I did indeed Tweet that. He hasn’t been, and my tweet was hyperbolic. If that hyperbole has been received poorly, then I apologize.

    Perhaps you don’t espouse Assists and Errors, Anonymous. Very well, you deserve credit for that. But the narrative put forth by the Cleveland broadcast team extols Brantley’s excellence in those areas. It is to counter this narrative that I post the occasional polemic to balance out the sunshine and roses.

    As for our disagreement in the matter of advanced statistics, I suspect agreement is impossible. Your first post surprised me with its familiarity with my writing, so I suspect you know where I stand on defensive stats, which would in turn imply that you’ve seen where this argument goes.

    If that’s not the case, then it comes down to disagreement on a handful of premises.

  2. Nowhere did I imply that errors matter, assists matter, or that women not be allowed to vote. But in your May 23 tweet you said, “Brantley’s offense has been truly excellent. But he’s been Nelson Cruz out there on defense. Come on. The defensive metrics aren’t wrong.” Sorry, but I’m not going to rely upon minor league scouting with regard to his defense any more than I am their appraisals of his offensive potential, most of which have clearly underrated him. Interestingly, they all gushed about his plate discipline and base-running (and base stealing) ability, which were all overrated. I am no more enamored with scouting appraisals than I am “advanced” defensive metrics. Fact is, had Brantley not landed with the Tribe in a ballyhooed trade, chances are he’d have never gotten to where he is today, hamstrung as he was by both conventional scouting and the modern statistical analysis that pooh-poohed his ability to ever develop into a corner outfielder with his lack of power.

  3. The character I was writing wasn’t particularly clever. So I appreciate, first off, that you recognize my success in portraying the character.

    Brantley is worlds better than Cruz. I recognize this, and if I imply he is Nelson Cruz, it is equal and opposite hyperbole to the equally absurd proposal that he is a young Michael Bourn out there. Cruz is an awful for the ages; Brantley is merely bad.

    Fact is, it seems as though most positive evaluations use errors and assists more than reputable scouting. Not that there’s anything wrong with Gilded Age statistics like Errors and Assists, but perhaps they should go the way of other terrible 19th century ideas, like the idea that women shouldn’t vote, or that Irish immigrants pose a threat to the republic. We had a lot of bad ideas in the 19th century. The preeminence of the error and assist are low on the list but certainly among them.

    I’m amenable to actual scouts, of course. But the body of scouts is not wholly in Brantley’s corner defensively. For instance:

    We have one saying that Brantley’s defense is ‘very good at all positions;’ another describes it as universally underwhelming. The scouts aren’t so unequivocally supportive of Brantley in the outfield that UZR/DRS’s negative evaluations can be dismissed out of hand.

    Welcome to our house, Anonymous, and make yourself at home. I appreciate that your fandom for the Cleveland baseball club leads to impassioned replies.

  4. Poorly written, not clever in the least, and continuing to perpetuate the nonsense that Michael Brantley is no better in the outfield than Nelson Cruz. That the author actually believes this to be true is all you really need to know about how far short of reality (and how much subjectivity intrudes) into so-called defensive metrics, an analysis that lags so far behind other insights into the game that perpetuating their accuracy only serves to undermine the sophisticated, objective work that this author normally uses.

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