On Bucs Dugout, Charlie Wilmoth has posted a criticism of something that sportswriter Dejan Kovacevic wrote. It has to do with closer usage, but that is tangential to my purpose here.
Kovacevic takes the “Moneyball crowd” to task for often using the following rhetorical tactics: “meh?” (the unexamined dismissal of an opposing argument), “ad hominem” (attacking the person making the argument, not the argument itself), and “straw man” (arguing against an ostensibly similar, but weaker, argument than what one is actually arguing against). He then says that he thinks that the “Moneyball crowd” uses “groupthink” that prevents them from being “objective” and “intellectual,” follows it up with an insinuation that sabermetricians don’t keep an open mind, and finishes by saying that “maybe there’s a REASON (sic) closers pitch the ninth.”
Kovacevic uses the very same bad rhetorical tactics that he accuses the “Moneyball crowd” of in one
paragraph tweet short post. He starts with a group ad hominem argument when he accuses them of using such techniques and not being able to keep an open mind and finishes with “maybe there’s a REASON (sic) closers pitch the ninth,” a “meh?” if there ever was one.
The hypocrisy here makes me angry. I don’t even necessarily disagree with Kovacevic. I have said before that I think that the sabermetric community has, for good reasons, become unnecessarily entrenched in some of its positions and that it is time for it to evolve. However, arguments like this are the very reason that the sabermetric community circles the wagons and vociferously argues these positions. If Kovacevic wants sabermetricians to be more open-minded, then he should engage them in frank and honest discussions, not attack their character and intellectual integrity. Otherwise, he is contributing to the problem that he is ostensibly trying to change.