Analyzing that which you are unqualified to analyze.
I sent this tweet out today and more than a few of those who read it, didn’t like it:
I don’t back down from those words, I meant what I typed, but they do deserve further explanation.
First things first, your opinions are valid, but there are times when they are not.
As a former player turned analyst I read and listen to a lot of what people say about sports, specifically baseball. And the thing that gets me irritated every time is when there is a strong comment made or written taking down a player by someone who has zero understanding of the particular situation that the professional athlete is facing.
Don’t assume that I believe you have to have played the game to have an opinion on the game, I don’t. Don’t assume that I believe that you have to have played the game to be able to analyze the game well, I mostly don’t. There are some really great writers and analysts who never played professional baseball. That’s not what I am talking about here.
But when it comes to speaking to how a player should play, react, think, approach a situation on the field, etc., well those are the times when the opinions of those who never played have no validity. As an admitted player apologist, when that does happen it annoys me to no end.
Things like scolding players for arguing on the field, charging the mound, getting worked up about hit by pitches, or being offended by a bat flip all fall under the category of “you have no idea what you’re talking about”.
Things like the idea that players “just have to adjust” to news rules that change the way they have been taught and played the game their entire lives highlights a major failure in understanding the mind of an athlete. When those statements are made or written with conviction it shows a true lack of knowledge and experience in the athletic world. These are areas when those who never suited up fall incredibly short in their analysis.
Fans can do it, but not those in the media, it makes them sound like fans. Lines get blurred and suddenly they start talking as if they have any idea what it is like to be in a uniform in that specific moment.
You can’t tell players how to feel. You can’t tell players that their actions and emotions should be in any specific place during a situation in which you have never been. That’s the thing that gets me worked up every time.
You like baseball, you watch baseball, you might even get paid to cover baseball, none of that qualifies you to assert strong opinions on those who are actually living it on how they should be doing it.
Criticize a bad game, a bad play, a questionable managerial or front office decision. It’s all fair game, but telling players how to feel and act? Not your domain unless you’ve walked in those shoes.
We all should stay in our lane. I spout off about things I am no expert in. When I do I open myself up to the criticisms of those who are and I usually learn something if I take the time to listen.