24 September 2009

So What?

When confronted by a reporter about his record setting 205th strikeout, Mark Reynolds cheekily replied "So what?" Before taking sides in the ensuing kerfuffle, perhaps we should decipher what "So what?" really signifies. To me, it connotes two things:

1. The subject in question doesnt matter
2. I dont want to talk about it. No comment.

I've got no problem with 2. Reynolds is more accessible than most. He's been asked about strikeouts his whole career, and just set a highly dubious record. He doesnt want to talk about it right then. Some people think talking on demand is his professional responsibility. I dont.

Problem is, he didnt say "No comment". He said "So what?", which incorporates the combative and easily misunderstood #1. I'm not here to bash Reynolds. It's clear he doesnt even believe #1, and said so the next day, explaining how whiffs can bog down an offense and kill rallies. He's honest, and just had a bad day.

Which is more than one can say for Diamondback broadcasters. For the last two ballgames, Grace and Sutton have been feverishly trying to persuade viewers that Mark Reynolds' strikeouts "dont matter". The campaign started in the fourth inning Tuesday, when the booth made the stunning editorial call to not mention Mark's record-setting whiff. A couple innings later, an uncharacteristically blase Daron divulged the information, as if passing along an uninteresting bit of trivia.

Damage control hit full gear Wednesday. Todd Walsh propped Mark up as a hero - or martyr - for uttering "So what?", as if those courageous words gave rise to some nascent political movement.

-- No justice. No peace.

-- Hell no. We wont go.

...and now -- So what?

Walsh actually chided the offending mikeman with the gall to inquire about the all time strikeout record. As if such a thing mattered, when Walsh had Poco tickets to disburse. Imagine the nerve!

Daron and Mark came armed with a boatload of stats to convince Arizona there's nothing to see here. They spoke of Mark's positive production, which is fine, to a point. Look, I'm firmly in the camp that Reynolds is having an excellent season, and dont think his strikeouts are all that big a deal, given some of this organization's more pressing problems. But Sutton and Grace sounded more the rehearsed, unrebutted sermon (a la FOX/MSNBC, take your pick) than a genuine debate of ideas. It went on, in a very purposeful, one-sided way, for several innings.

We get that many players make more outs than Mark, and his GIDP is relatively low (his 8 is third highest on the team but low to medium around the league). We also understand he limits opportunities to advance runners and reach on batted ball errors. We get that Mickey Mantle struck out a ton, but understand that Mark has more in common with Russell Branyan and Dave Kingman than with Mickey Mantle - despite Grace's dismissal of Kong. There are currently nineteen NL position players with more Win Shares than Mark. That's a very good player, no doubt, yet falls shy of blanket forgiveness of his failings on the false grounds he's one of the game's transcendant greats.

Insisting his strikeouts dont matter is akin to assuming Nolan Ryan's walks didnt matter either. Ryan's uncompromising tradeoff kept his true value from approaching the mythic heights of his reputation. I admire Reynolds, for many reasons, but his incomparable whiffs limit him in similar ways, and to some extent, define him. To deny that, or to say over and over that only Mark's accomplishments "matter", is the latest in a long line of purposeful condescensions to Diamondback fans.

We're thrilled with the homers, the grit and improved defense. But that doesnt make Mark's shortcomings magically disappear. Or this team's failings, for that matter. Any day now, when The Kid crunches #44 for a last place team, flanked by a lineup of losers in another meaningless game, we could just as easily ask, "So what?"


Russell said...

I can understand Mark being pissed off at the question, and I'm guessing that he's pissed off because he knows that really it does matter.

The problem is that the official D-Backs line (that Daron et al propagate) continues with the impression that the organization isn't serious about correcting it's problems.

I can't believe that any casual fans are still watching at this stage of the season so pay us the credit of a genuine discussion about the issues that are affecting the team.

Diamondhacks said...

Another splendid comment. You ought to consider starting a blog.

Russell said...

For legal reasons (although nothing was proven) a blog is not an option at this time.

Caroline said...

We should be celebrating that a D-Back holds a record in anything.

Diamondhacks said...

Ken Kendrick paid the All Time record price for a baseball card . As a Diamondback fan, I'm pretty proud of that.