I try to avoid talking politics with others. The reason is most people tend to lose all sense of reason when they get into such discussions. Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, Limbaugh or Olbermann…it’s all either black or white with a great deal of folks. I subscribe to the “common sense” or “shades of gray” point of view. I agree with many liberal views and I also believe in several ideas normally associated with the conservative way of thinking. But I refuse to back a viewpoint just because it’s my so-called “party line”.
And I’m the same way with baseball. I enjoy using what I watch at the park or on my TV to evaluate a player. And I often get a kick out of digging into numbers on baseball-reference to enhance or even modify those views. But I get annoyed with those that insist on only doing so one way or the other.
That brings me to seemingly everyone’s topic of choice lately, a Mister Quintin Berry, 27 year old rookie outfielder on your Detroit Tigers. Kurt at Bless You Boys touched on this earlier, as has nearly every other Tiger blog. But I want to go a bit further and get into our silly fanbase for a second. I must warn you, though, it's not going to be pretty.
How has a career minor leaguer brought up to replace an injured Austin Jackson caused in Inge-like divide in a fanbase so quickly? I mean he’s a nice kid. He’s performed well. He’s not going to set the world on fire, but he has provided a team with so many disappointing players with some actual offense.
Berry has had a whopping 89 total plate appearances, or little more than a third of Prince Fielder’s. But in that time, he’s hit .333, got on base at a .409 clip, has scored as many runs as Delmon Young, and already leads the team in steals.
He also strikes out a lot, takes awkward routes to balls, has an unsustainable BABIP, and has zero power.
Somehow, all of this has caused people to go off the deep end.
Party One can’t wait for Boo Berry to fail. They yell down and mock anyone that’s excited by Berry’s surprising start to his career. They laugh when he succeeds. They gloat when he fails. They point out any sabermetric stat they can find that says the guy can’t keep it up. Then they mock Quintin’s supporters some more.
Party Two is acting like Franken Berry is the next Rickey Henderson. Quintin Berry starting every day will save the Tigers! He’s a sparkplug! He’s just what this team needs. Leyland, who obviously wants to lose every game, is crazy if he doesn’t play Berry every day until the end of time. Sabermetrics is for NERDS. Watch the game for a change! Rabble, rabble, rabble.
What the fuck is wrong with so many of you? Why are Tiger fans incapable of acting like we’re all on the same side? Or at least talk to each other like adults when they disagree? I see it online and every day at the bar I work at. Has it always been like this and I’ve been happily ignorant to it all? When did rooting for the Tigers become some Twilight Team Jacob and Team Edward nonsense?
My gawd, we’ve got people viciously attacking an 18 year old girl on Twitter because she has different baseball views. We’ve got Fake Ty Cobbs fighting with other fans. I’ve heard from people that don’t post on Bless You Boys anymore because they’re sick of being attacked by other readers or even the authors there for having a different view.
And it’s not just fans and bloggers. I watched Pat Caputo and Tony Paul, two respected Tiger newspaper writers, going at it like children today on Twitter over Berry. Meanwhile, the Tigers are 7-3 in their last ten games, they’re finally getting healthy, and are only three games out of first. You might not know that they way everyone is acting like such pricks.
Back to shades of gray. I like Quintin Berry, mainly because he’s fast on a team that has exactly one other fast guy (Jackson). I liken him to Dave Roberts on the 2004 Red Sox. And unlike Delmon Young, Ryan Raburn, and Brennan Boesch, the guy is actually playing well. Do I think he can keep it up and hit .333 over the entire season? Of course not. But why not ride the guy while he’s hot? When he cools down, use him as a pinch runner and defensive sub. Is that really so crazy to people?
For now, play Berry against right-handed pitching while he’s still producing. He might actually keep it up seeing good pitches in front of Cabrera and Fielder. I’m pretty sure he didn’t bat in front of guys like that in the minors when his numbers weren’t as good.
Let Raburn face the lefties, as he’s (hopefully) finally coming out of the dismal funk he’s been in all year (4/11, 2 2B in his 3 starts since returning). If/when Andy Dirks comes back, divide the time based on who is hitting. It’s not like Tumor Neck Dirks has this glorious track record to speak of.
Between Berry, Dirks, Raburn, Young, and Boesch, you’ve got five players for three starting spots on the team. More if Raburn plays second on occasion. Whoever is performing best, play them. Starting Quintin Berry when he’s hot does not mean you have to keep him there for the entire season.
Better yet, somehow get Carlos Quentin or Hunter Pence and forget any of this ever happened.
My point is, BE HAPPY SOMEONE ON YOUR TEAM IS PLAYING WELL. Jack shit has seemed to go right for the Detroit Tigers in 2012. And the first time we have a nice surprise, people want to go to war over it. Fuck and you, people. So many folks like to make jokes about the commenters at mLive. Yet without realizing it, they’ve become one of them.
This may sound odd coming from a guy that thinks cursing is hysterical, spends 1,000+ words a week making fun of Bill Simonson, and may have a professional hit out on Don Kelly (allegedly). But cursing is funny, Simonson can’t possibly be an actual human, and Don Kelly won’t be missed. Something is wrong when a moron like myself and Phil Coke’s Fucking Brain are the voices of reason. (No offense, PCB. You complete me.)
If you're one of the seven fans that have actually acted normal during all this, than thanks. None of this has anything to do with you. Carry on. And never do The Wave.
So hooray for a woman’s right to choose. Let’s fry more child killers with the death penalty. And for the love of the real Ty Cobb…leave Quintin Berry alone. He’s not the savior. And he’s not the antichrist. He’s just a baseball player. Enjoy it when someone on your baseball team does well.