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Sunday, September 26, 2004

Kruk picks Chone Figgins as his MVP 

I've generally avoided reading John Kruk lately.

Reading John Kruk generally gets me irritated, much in the same way that listening to Rob Dibble does. And I freely admit, part of what irritates me about reading him is the realization that he gets paid for his stream-of-consciousness nonsense, and my belief that it is vastly inferior to the work done by many folks who publish online in formats such as this, and who write just because of their passion for the game.

But in any case, I'd been reading his columns for a while out of hathos. Hathos is a word coined by my angry brother, which refers to a desire to plunge oneself into something that you despise, to revel in your hatred of it. Hathos is the reason why he has read Ender's Game so many times, and the reason, I believe, that he stayed in certain relationships as long as he did.

But anyway, I read Kruk's stuff out of hathos for a while, until I got so annoyed that it surpassed even hathos tolerance, and I went back to ignoring his columns.

However, while reading a good piece by Jeff Sullivan on the nature of Ichiro's hitting and the link between his groundball/flyball ratio and offensive success, I noticed a link he had to a column by Kruk where Kruk had picked Chone Figgins as the MVP of baseball this year. Kruk explains:

[em]I know about Bonds and Pujols and all those guys. But they show up to the ballpark every day knowing they're going to play and where they're going to hit in the order. Not Chone. He has to take a few grounders all over the field, and then find some time to hit. If you think that doesn't sound like a big deal, imagine going to work every day and not knowing what your boss will have you do that day -- but you have to be prepared for all of it.

If there's a more valuable player in the league, then I'd like to meet him.[/em]

See, it is this sort of stuff that both draws me to Kruk's columns, and ultimately drives me away.

Because I could make nice little charts, like I did last week about Mark Teixeira and the MVP, to show how absurd this is, to show that Figgins is just another average player on a good team, to show that Figgins isn't even one of the five most valuable players on his own team. But the thing is, it doesn't really matter, because those who believe that Figgins is the Most Valuable Player aren't going to be swayed by things like facts and evidence, and those who would already know how absurd such a statement is. Trying to rebut what John Kruk says is like trying to swat a fly with a cannon.

And really, I doubt that anyone in America other than John Kruk really believes that Figgins is the M.V.P., including Figgins and his mother. And for that matter, Kruk probably doesn't even believe it, either. Earlier this season, Kruk claimed that if he were starting a team and could have any player he wanted to build around, he'd pick Mike Young. A couple of months later, he said the same thing about Derek Jeter. Kruk is just one of those people who doesn't put any thought into whatever it is that he's saying -- he just throws out whatever bubbles up to the top of his mind, and moves on. They were showing Mike Young highlights when he was asked who he'd want to build a team around the first time, so he picked Young. Derek Jeter was on a hot streak the second time, so he took Jeter.

When Kruk was putting together his column, Figgins had probably gotten a couple of hits the night before, and Kruk had probably talked to Mike Scioscia about how great it was that Figgins was so versatile, and could help fill so many holes this season. So Kruk throws out, Figgins is the MVP of baseball this year -- not Bonds, not Pujols, but Chone Figgins. And ten minutes later, if you asked him, he'd probably tell you something else.

In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if Kruk is just putting everyone on. I'm starting to wonder if the big dumb slob thing is just an act, and Kruk is testing the boundaries, to see how many outrageous things he can say and do while still getting everyone to believe he's serious.

Maybe in another year or two, he'll be standing in front of his mirror, practicing saying, "The Molina brothers are the two best catchers in baseball right now," or "The most important player on a team is the long reliever, because it is hard to find a guy who can come in and keep you in a game when he hasn't pitched in 12 days," while working on keeping a straight face, waiting for the right moment to unveil this pearl on Baseball Tonight. Maybe John Kruk is just putting the rest of the world on...


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