Rob Neyer has a post up on SBN-Baseball about the kerfluffle that erupted yesterday in regards to Aaron Gleeman's blog post on Michael Young's 2000th hit, and the ensuing Twitter responses by Brandon McCarthy and C.J. Nitkowski.
McCarthy and Nitkowski were both rather critical of Gleeman on Twitter, for what they felt (and what a lot of Rangers fans here seemed to feel) was an attempt to denigrate Young's accomplishment.
This incident has been rattling around in my head, in large part because of how folks here reacted to it, particularly given that there have been several comments/tweets from folks who post around here that suggested those in the local media were making too big of a deal out of the countdown, the 2000th hit, etc.
That said...I remember reading years ago, in one of Bill James' early editions of the Baseball Abstract, an absolutely scathing paragraph about the incompetence of Enos Cabell. James was talking about teams and managers overvaluing intangibles such as "leadership," and went through, in harsh detail, just how bad a player Cabell was at that time, and that no amount of "clubhouse leadership" could outweigh the on-the-field negatives.
A year or two later, James wrote that he and Cabell had some mutual friends, that Cabell was by all accounts a good guy, and seemed to indicate some regret that he'd been as harsh about Cabell as he was.
But his main point was that he wasn't writing about Enos Cabell -- if he were writing about Enos Cabell, he wouldn't have taken as aggressive a stance as he was. Rather, he was writing about how teams and managers get infatuated with the nebulous "intangible" contributions of players, which leads them to ignore how little those players contribute on the field. Cabell was an illustration for that point.
And I think that that sort of disconnect is what leads to a lot of the rancor and uproar that ensues when, for example, Gleeman writes a post suggesting Michael Young's 2000th hit isn't that big of a deal.
I don't know Gleeman, have never met him, have never talked to him, have never even exchanged emails (or IMs or texts) with him. However, I would guess that he did not write that blog post in order to denigrate Michael Young. I also don't think that he (as some here suggested) was being purposely inflammatory in order to drive hits to the Hardball Talk website.
I suspect that he saw the coverage of Young's 2000th hit, and used the event as a jumping-off point to talk about 2000 hits and it being a milestone that players hit more often than we probably think. Yes, the fact that Young has been, in his career, a very good but not really great player who many in the interwebs/stathead community consider to be somewhat overrated probably was a factor in addressing it with Young getting to 2000, rather than someone like Albert Pujols.
But I don't see the post as being about Michael Young, per se, but being more about the 2000 hit milestone in general, with Young's reaching the mark used as a platform to talk about it more generally. Yes, Gleeman's remarks can be read (and were read) as a criticism/denigration of Young, but I don't think it was particularly intended that way.
(And I didn't ask Gleeman about this before writing this post, so if he tells me I'm wrong, well, I'll sit in the corner wearing a funny hat.)