Tuesday, March 12, 2013

With Age Comes Charity, or why Baseball Prospectus Needs To Bring In the Claws

Yeah, that will happen
Here are the final two lines of the 2013 Baseball Prospectus bio for Jonathan Herrera, a middle infielder and back-up for Colorado, who went on the DL in August 2012 after suffering an infection caused by his wristwatch.

"Investing money for his family now would be advisable. So would investing in a new watch."

Rim shot, hearty fake laugh from Ed McMahon, and we're off to the next profile. The Colorado hitters are rife with punchline targets.

Twenty years ago -- and yes, I still wear the T-shirts, mostly at the gym to catch my old man sweat -- I had a job for the Philadelphia Music Conference where I did a little of everything. What I did a lot of, though, was listen to demo tapes. New rock bands are prone to the same delusional qualities as any other new artists, namely that they overrate their own work and have to, otherwise they could not get out of bed in the morning. And the opinions of this work were all over the board. Either the reviewer would be way too kind and do us no good in terms of finding the top 5% of submissions for showcase consideration, or they'd savage the earth in an attempt to show us how much better the writer was at his job, than the bands were at theirs.

Realizing that neither extreme was going to get us where we wanted to go, I tried to take some of the blame out of it. It's not that your band is horrible, the songs stink, the guitarist can't stay in tune, the bassist has no soul and the drummer is spastic... it's that the music is too unconventional for this mainstream showcase, so the band is going to have to change the way the market perceives their work, and try back in a year. Since, well, you get to the same place with both roads, but you don't make a lifelong enemy for no good reason with the first approach.

Now, it may be that the first blast of advice was far more actionable, and just what the band needed to hear to get better, since they would then realize that they had to raze and rebuild, rather than put a new coat of paint on the work. But it wasn't the job of a music conference to offer that advice, and create the image that the conference was run by mean and bitchy people who look down on the customers. Since, well, the conference was going to happen again next year, and hopefully get the business then, if not now.

Which brings us back to poor Jonathan Herrera. Wikipedia tells me he's 28, married, a father of three, from Venezuela. Baseball-Reference.com has his lifetime earnings at just over $900K, which sounds pretty great until you realize that in, well, now to the next 2-4 years, he's going to go to annual earnings that are probably going to be in the $40K a year range, tops. If he hasn't saved a lot of that cash, and how many 20-somethings who make it to the Show do that, he's going to have to sweat for the rest of his days, even after living the absurd lottery that is getting to the Show.

And all of that is obvious to anyone who thinks for a minute about any of this, up to and probably including Herrera. (And if it isn't, that's on Herrera. Who's probably too obsessed with swinging a bat to try to get better than to think about such things, but so be it.)

The only thing that you get for pointing all of that out is a clear understanding from your readers that you like to crap on the dreams of relatively ordinary people.

Which means, well, you've just told me a lot more about you, than you ever did about Herrera...

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