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Old 11-08-2018, 02:58 PM   #1
cephasjames
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Bill James calls all MLB players replaceable

His tweet stating this has since been deleted, but here's what it said: If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them, the game would go on; in three years it would make no difference whatsoever. The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.

I agree with him. The game is the game. Yes, MLB players are of the highest quality. But it is the game they play that we come to watch. I enjoy baseball on any level because of the game, not the players. The quality of play only adds or takes away from the enjoyment. The players don't make the game, they just make the game better. The game will exist when all of these players retire and move on.

It's discussed more in this article: MLBPA chief Tony Clark fires back after Red Sox consultant Bill James calls all players replaceable

Thoughts?
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:10 PM   #2
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I agree with you & James. People will play a game no matter the talent. The NFL didn't die because Montana retired. The NBA didn't end cause Jordan retired. The NHL didn't end cause Gretzky retired. The PGA didn't end cause Palmer retired. Do I go on?
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:13 PM   #3
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I get his point but isnít he still a consultant and thus employee of the Red Sox?

I canít imagine that sentiment would go over too well with the front office and players.
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:14 PM   #4
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Hes not wrong.
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:18 PM   #5
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He alluded to the same thing in his 1988 Baseball Abstract and laid out his reasons why. A good article if you haven't read it.
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Old 11-08-2018, 03:21 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rudel.dietrich View Post
I get his point but isnít he still a consultant and thus employee of the Red Sox?

I canít imagine that sentiment would go over too well with the front office and players.
I agree 100%. It's, what I believe to be, a truth that has teeth and that can hurt feelings if one is disposed to have feelings hurt by simple logic. And, as a consultant, he probably should've checked the way he said it before saying it.
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Old 11-08-2018, 05:36 PM   #7
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Counter point...I agree the game is bigger than the players, but I believe the players are more than Mr. James is making out. The public does go to see the big names. I know the game, like life, goes on when it loses "celebrity" players, but people did and do flock in abundance to see Ruth, Dimaggio, mantle, Brett, Ryan, Reg-gie, Trout, Harper, etc.

If I'm losing something in Mr. James POV, correct me if I'm wrong. I am open minded to correction in opinion.

Last edited by ForeverRoyalKC; 11-08-2018 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 11-08-2018, 06:37 PM   #8
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If I'm losing something in Mr. James POV, correct me if I'm wrong. I am open minded to correction in opinion.
The point he was making wasn't that the players have zero value. It was that they don't have absolute value. James is a mathematician. The numbers are what he sees. Not the people & personalities behind them. Little sentiment. Cold logic. If the formula tells him something, he believes it.

Pujols was as valuable a player you could find in 2011. After he left St. Louis, the Cards still made the playoffs the next 4 seasons, including a WS. The Cards still were among the leaders in attendance. He was replaceable.
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Old 11-08-2018, 08:00 PM   #9
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Counter point...I agree the game is bigger than the players
I assume we all agree that with "the game" we mean the multi-billion dollar ball of money unstoppably rolling across the country and smashing anything in its path? Because the actual game would not continue for the love of the game. It would continue because there are ballparks seating medium-sized cities otherwise standing empty, TV time otherwise filled by reruns of Home Improvement, and Fortune 500 companies that would otherwise have to give it all to charity if they couldn't plaster anything with advertisement if the games just stopped now.

PS: I agree with Bill James.
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Old 11-08-2018, 10:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForeverRoyalKC View Post
Counter point...I agree the game is bigger than the players, but I believe the players are more than Mr. James is making out. The public does go to see the big names. I know the game, like life, goes on when it loses "celebrity" players, but people did and do flock in abundance to see Ruth, Dimaggio, mantle, Brett, Ryan, Reg-gie, Trout, Harper, etc.

If I'm losing something in Mr. James POV, correct me if I'm wrong. I am open minded to correction in opinion.
This is true, but Ruth, DiMaggio, and Mantle have retired and died. Brett, Ryan, and Reggie have retired, and Trout and Harper will eventually retire...And the game will go on. Perhaps he didn't say it right, but that's what I took from it.

Or you could just quote the entire James Earl Jones monologue from "Field of Dreams". Baseball can and has endured lots of trying times and transitions, and will continue to do so.

The overreaction from the MLBPA, and the Boston Red Sox made me laugh my ass off. Seriously? You're equating what he said to actual replacement players, as in scabs? Really? C'mon guys, give your heads a collective shake.
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Old 11-12-2018, 10:55 PM   #11
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Major League Baseball has already been through a period when many of its players quickly exited the sport and replacements took the field: 1942-1945, It survived.
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Old 11-12-2018, 11:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForeverRoyalKC View Post
Counter point...I agree the game is bigger than the players, but I believe the players are more than Mr. James is making out. The public does go to see the big names. I know the game, like life, goes on when it loses "celebrity" players, but people did and do flock in abundance to see Ruth, Dimaggio, mantle, Brett, Ryan, Reg-gie, Trout, Harper, etc.

If I'm losing something in Mr. James POV, correct me if I'm wrong. I am open minded to correction in opinion.
In three years, new stars would take the place of the old stars. Nearest parallel would be in 1946...most teams had a completely different roster than before the war.
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Old 11-13-2018, 11:00 AM   #13
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In three years, new stars would take the place of the old stars. Nearest parallel would be in 1946...most teams had a completely different roster than before the war.
Stole my thunder. That is absolutely correct. I don't know about the 3 year comment, but your point is still true. Same goes for football. You can remove every player tomorrow, within 3-5 years we'll have all new star players. Inside of a decade you won't notice a difference.
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Old 11-13-2018, 03:59 PM   #14
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Next time one argues that the players are not the attraction and the game is, I would be curious to know how much money one would pay to attend a game between Herb's Body Shop and Bill's Savings and Loan? MLB is a game of names and history. I do not pay to go to a game to see "someone" play I go to a game to see the best in the business play. I certainly don't want to wait three years to see the cream rise to the top again. Watching baseball without star players is like playing fetch with a dead puppy. You can do it but it won't be a lot of fun.
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:27 PM   #15
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He's absolutely right, and he's never given a damn whether players or organizations like what he says or not. Some players over the years have been really angry at him, because he's buried them in their books. But he says what he thinks is the truth.

Other writers and organizational people will of course attack him, because they want to be seen as defending the players. Journalists want access to those same players. GM's and managers have to interact with those players. And the guys replying in the article either are MLB players or were MLB players, so they're not going to side with James either.

James was one of the first proponents of the idea of a replacement player, too. He hit on this sort of thing all the time in the 80's. That there's nothing intrinsically special about any major leaguer and there was no reason why an organization should stick with a below average Major League player when it could find a AAA player who was likely just as good. Before he showed up, many people thought that losing a single player to FA would cause as much as a 10-15 game swing in the standings.

If ALL of the players disappeared, people would still remain fans of baseball and eventually we would watch whatever product is out there. If one team lost all if its players, it would be back in the hunt in a couple of years.

Look at the Marlins in the late 90's, when they got rid of all of their WS winning players and built a new team from scratch. Replaceable. There's a few teams like that in MLB history.

I've been a fan of James for nearly 30 years - he's a good writer as well as an insightful baseball guy IMO. I'd love for him to become the commissioner (of course that will never happen).
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:32 PM   #16
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Next time one argues that the players are not the attraction and the game is, I would be curious to know how much money one would pay to attend a game between Herb's Body Shop and Bill's Savings and Loan?
If Herb's Body Shop and Bill's Savings and Loan somehow had all of the best players in the world, people still wouldn't watch them because they don't have the advertising power and infrastructure of MLB and no-one has heard of their players.

Baseball players become stars because they're on TV and playing in front of fans. Give those two teams the same exposure as an MLB team. along with some backstory about why their game is meaningful and I guarantee you someone would watch. Millions of people just watched those two Youtube lunkheads (forget their names) have a boxing match after all. Drawing fans is more about marketing than talent.
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:03 PM   #17
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Drawing fans is more about marketing than talent.
Drawing fans is about winning.
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Old 11-14-2018, 08:27 PM   #18
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Next time one argues that the players are not the attraction and the game is, I would be curious to know how much money one would pay to attend a game between Herb's Body Shop and Bill's Savings and Loan? MLB is a game of names and history.
Again, real-world MLB from 1942-45. Plenty of names weren't a part of the game in those years, and plenty of replacements. It did hurt attendance (the nadir being 1943 when it was 23% down from the 1941 level) but it did start recovering.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:03 PM   #19
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Again, real-world MLB from 1942-45. Plenty of names weren't a part of the game in those years, and plenty of replacements. It did hurt attendance (the nadir being 1943 when it was 23% down from the 1941 level) but it did start recovering.
You are suggesting a complete reset of every major league player to non major league players would be forgotten in three years? This would mean that we are not interested in who plays it. I find that to be an incredible stretch of logic. I do not go to a major league game to see a home run. I go to a game hoping to see a 500 foot job from Stanton. I want to see 100mph from Chapman. Hell, everything I love about baseball revolves around the stars, stories, and stats that comprise the totality of Professional Baseball.
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Old 11-14-2018, 11:09 PM   #20
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James clarifying his comments.


This conclusion of this column from the Miami Herald I think sums it up well.

Quote:
James’ larger point and mine isn’t that star athletes are not important to a particular team in a given year. It is that in the broad view even the greatest, most beloved athletes leave us eventually, and when they do we are right back in our seats the next season, cheering for the uniform and the game, cheering for our city and ourselves.
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