They're too many darn baseball games. I say this not so much as a fan of a sub-.400 baseball team, but as someone attempting to enjoy the sport properly (why? WHY EDWIN? Why is your dominant pitch incapable of being controlled?), and it's important to discern what baseball games will be fun to watch, and which ones will just make me feel bad for the city of Pittsburgh.
For said purpose, Carson Cistuli of FanGraphs created NERD. Some don't like Carson's work, and find his flowery language pretentious. I say that anything that can be done to stave off those game recap-writing algorithms from taking all our jobs, is a very, very good thing. Get screwed, robots!
NERD is a metric designed to determine what is the most intrinsically
entertaining team to watch for the sabermetrically-inclined fan.
Primary factors include: youth, runs above average, home run hitting,
defense, team speed, baserunning, bullpen strength, and value relative
to cost of the roster.
It's likely occurred to the reader already, without my explanation,
that the White Sox rate out incredibly poorly in this measure for 2011; a
whopping 1 out of 10, which is infinitely better than Minnesota's 0 out
of 10. Or just 1 better. Perspective is everything in these matters.
Of course, Team NERD was developed after Pitcher NERD,
which was the original measure to determine which matchup of starters
would make for the best watching. The White Sox actually rank pretty
great in that regard with the exception of Buehrle, who's punished by a
lack of velocity and strikezones. (Groundouts to 2nd aren't exciting?
Get screwed, robots!)
NERD is in no way a measure for the viability of a team's playoff
chances, as it's not meant to be, but it and the White Sox abysmal
rating struck me as an apt capsule of what fans are growing discontent
with. It's frustrating enough to see an aging, expensively constructed
team with a limited window stumble out of the gate, but this particular
mixture of ripping fans hearts out in the 9th combined with the slow
bloodletting of offensive ineptitude is something to behold...or not
something to behold at all. Add the extremely frustrating outfield
defense and tendency to run into outs and that makes for a brutal watch
whether you're a hopeless diehard having your feelings hurt or a casual
fans who hates spending time looking at things that are terrible.
The starting pitching has to make miracles happen, and even doing that at an above average rate produces meager returns.
This team was constructed to generate early excitement, and by
excitement they meant revenue. Instead I would like to drink some
It's far too soon to condemn the Sox chances to emerge
from this funk and fill the stadium with the excitement that progress
generates, but they certainly haven't done anything in that regard yet,
and late 90's Head & Shoulders' commercials have led me to believe
that there's no second chance to make a first impression. And that is
some adequate shampoo.
16 losses in April is already the most in the month for the Sox since
1997's Terry Bevington-led crew raced to a 8-17 start, but really
only has 2010's 9-14 stagger and 2001's 8-15 opening offering to compare
to in the post-Jorge Fabregas era.
It's been a rough slate of road games, with a lot of good opposing starting
pitching, and there's just too much talent for things to continue this bad
without a lot of guys having career-worst seasons, but if you were
wondering when the Sox were closing in on the outer edges of charted
waters for poor starts, we're about there.