I don’t mind that Cathal Kelly doesn’t know the first thing about baseball, but it really gets my goat that the clowns over at the National Pest are actually willing to pay him to write utter nonsense about it.
Usually, I’m able to treat his ravings the way I do the drunken mumblings of a homeless person: when I see him coming I simply try to smile, keep my head down and keep going, not putting a lot of stock in the bizarre string of words I catch as we pass. But thanks to Twitter (oh, my nemesis) and to the fact that a lot of people I follow on there felt it necessary to point out that he was up to it again, I fell for it…and I looked.
Oh my sweet maiden aunt.
I tried–I really did–to let it go. Honestly. But if there’s one thing that bugs me more than people who know nothing about baseball pretending to be experts, it’s people who know nothing about baseball who pretend to be experts in a vain attempt to hide their own foolishness.
So, without any further ado, I give you Mr Cathal Kelly holding forth on and holding court on Mark Shapiro’s comments last Friday:
This club does analytics on the quality of its analytics. It is hard to believe the Blue Jays failed to notice that they were constructing a roster designed to dominate baseball’s Senior Tour, if such a thing existed.
The only plausible rationale is that the team was, on some level, designed to fail. Success was always a possibility, but a long way from likely, unless everything broke perfectly. Currently, it’s just breaking, period. The fans wanted more of the same. And you know what they say about getting what you want.
One hardly knows where to begin.
Yes, of course, the Blue Jays front office knew they were signing some aging players and that this was not going to make their team any younger. Of course, this was after they tried to sign Edwin Encarnacion and Dexter Fowler both of whom, while in their 30s, are younger than Bautista, Morales and Pearce, whom Kelly holds up as “evidence” (and one must use that term loosely in relation to Mr Kelly) that the Jays were in some manner trying to make the team older. And, no, they were not trying to join the Senior Tour, because it doesn’t exist and so bringing up that mirage accomplishes what? Oh, right, I get it, Bautista and Morales and Pearce are all old! Ah, good one Cathal…
But now comes the humdinger. Having demonstrated only what everyone already knows (that the Blue Jays signed some older players) and conveniently ignored that they only did this after trying to sign some younger players, he moves immediately to the declaration that:
The only plausible rationale is that the team was, on some level, designed to fail.
“Plausible” is a great word, really. It implies that what follows is somehow the most likely or reasonable explanation without exactly stating that: it gives someone who uses it a certain amount of wiggle room. He’s not saying that he’s necessarily right, only that he could be right; that it’s possible he’s right. Of course, that’s not how Kelly is really presenting his “argument” (and one must use that term loosely in relation to Mr Kelly), he’s instead presenting the bizarre claim that the team was designed to fail as the necessary logical inference–nay! the only possible explanation!–for why the Blue Jays signed Bautista, Morales and Pearce. That’s a conclusion about the entire front office’s off-season strategizing, all the organisation’s long term planning, and this season in its entirety, drawn from one, limited, highly decontenxtualised and widely-known fact.
I gotta hand it to him: the chutzpa of the move is breath-taking. It doesn’t make his claim any less foolish, but you can only marvel at the audacity of the rhetorical gesture.
But even that’s not enough for Mr Kelly. Having produced a conclusion from a single “plausible” like an unconvincing magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, he immediately doubles down on the foolishness:
The planned self-destruction template exists locally. The Toronto Maple Leafs used the disastrous first few months of the 2014-15 season to make the case for a total restart. That’s worked out pretty well.
The “self destruction” that was “plausible” the paragraph before becomes–hey presto!–the premise of the rest of the article, as though the only question left is “How are they going to do it?” instead of “Cathal, how in the name of logic and reason do you get, Hiring Bautista, Morales and Pearce is proof positive and sufficient that there is a secret agenda, undetected by anyone but myself, to purposely tank the entire season?”
But we’re not even at my favourite part yet. It comes immediately after the above when Kelly states:
Baseball is not hockey, but the same principles apply.
“Apples are not oranges, but they still taste like oranges.” No they freaking don’t, Cathal, and saying that they do doesn’t make it any more true. It’s not even plausible that apples taste like oranges, any more than stating that baseball is not hockey but they are so alike in their “principles” that we can ignore the difference and talk about them as though they’re the same is plausible.
The middle section of this offensively foolish article comes to its painful close with a moment of apparent truth as Kelly admits:
Shapiro did not say that’s the plan on Friday…
OK, wahoo, so now we’re actually going to look at what Shapiro said? That’s good, because for going on two years now he’s been talking about building a contender, creating a sustainable model for competing, about the challenge of keeping this older team good while waiting for the young talent to mature… So, yes, by all means, let’s pay attention to what the man actually said…
…Instead, he left it to be read between the lines.
Oh…..Cathal. Cathal, Cathal, Cathal.
Do you know what’s between the lines? Blank, white paper, which is perfect, I guess, if you’re trying to tell the story you want rather than deal with the world as it may actually be.