Reason No. 5,673 Why Bruce Jenkins Should Never Write About Baseball

I still get the San Francisco Chronicle delivered to my door, meaning that when summer arrives and Chron sports columnist Bruce Jenkins turns his attention to baseball, I find myself mourning the loss of all over again.

First, a few nice words about Jenkins. He writes decently about the NBA, very well about tennis, passably about soccer and magnificently about the Mavericks surf contest. That’s quite a bit of subject matter. And considering that the Chron already has John Shea and Henry Schulman covering MLB in the Sporting Green, there’s absolutely no reason Jenkins should ever be called upon to write a single word about a sport he deeply misunderstands.

Jenkins was regularly pilloried by the FJM boys for a few typical Morganesque qualities — he hates baseball statistics that are more useful than batting average, lamely mocking anybody who seeks a better understanding of the game through more rigorous statistical analysis as a basement-dwelling nerd, and he generally just writes stupid stuff all the time.

Case in point, in today’s 3-Dot Lounge column, following a dumb appraisal of Stephen Strasburg’s arm injury (‘Limiting young pitchers’ workloads turns them into pussies because Tom Seaver!’) he writes this:

Now that the Phillies have added Roy Oswalt and fabulous outfield prospect Domonic Brown, they could win the NL East in a runaway — and the Giants need that to happen. You don’t want Philadelphia anywhere near the wild-card race.

I don’t want to go overboard and say that this is the most idiotic thing anybody has ever said about anything ever, but it is. The 59-45 Giants, with a .567 winning percentage as of today, lead the Phillies (56-47, .544) by 2 1/2 games in the wild-card race. Currently sitting above the Phils in the NL East standings is Atlanta (59-43, .578).

So Jenkins is basically saying that it would be GOOD for the Giants if a team they currently lead in the race to the playoffs started winning a lot more games, thus relegating another team that actually has a better record than the Giants from division leadership to the wild-card chase, which would of course decrease the Giants’ chances of making the playoffs.

Seriously, I see no other way to interpret what Jenkins has written here. He offers no explanation for how his preferred scenario for the rest of the season would actually help the Giants other than to simply state ‘the Giants need that to happen’.

Can’t link to the Jenkins column because it’s ‘exclusive to the print edition’ — but if anybody can tell me what the hell he’s getting at here, I’ll be as appreciative as Rich Lowry getting a free replacement graphic for the shitty mess of pixelated blah currently illustrating The Corner.

NOTE: The Phillies do face the Braves six more times this year, so while he doesn’t say it, maybe Jenkins is thinking the improved Phils will beat up on Atlanta in those games, thus helping San Francisco. But the Giants also have to play this new juggernaut Phillies team for a three-game set down the stretch as well, so even crediting Jenkins for this logic seems questionable (and I would bet a jillion dollars he never even considered the remaining schedule before blurting out the above brain fart).

UPDATE: It occurs to me that Bruce Jenkins is very likely to write about baseball again, so it would be helpful to explain to him why he is so stupid. I’ll try to put it as simply as possible:

Baseball is a sport in which two ‘teams’ try to score ‘runs’ at the expense of the other over the course of a ‘game’, at the end of which the team with the greater amount of runs is declared the ‘winner’.

Major League Baseball, the highest level at which this sport is played, pits 30 such teams against each other over a ‘season’, with each team playing 162 total games against some portion of the other 29 teams in MLB. This is called the ‘regular season’ because it is followed by an extra season — called ‘the playoffs’ — in which only the eight teams who had the most wins in the regular season are allowed to play. The winner of the playoffs is crowned the winner of that particular season of baseball, which is why everybody hates the Yankees.

Now each individual team can only control the outcome of the games in which they actually play — and even then, there is a lot of luck involved. Thus a team like the Giants can work positively towards defeating a team like the Phillies in a regular season game, thus improving the Giants’ chances of getting to play in the extra season and decreasing the Phillies’ chances of same — but only when the Giants are actually playing the Phillies. When the Phillies are playing, say the Braves, the Giants can only hope for a particular outcome of that game, but cannot do anything to effect it.

And it is not stupid for the Giants to hope for certain outcomes for games involving the Phillies, Braves, etc. even though they can only directly control a handful of them. In fact, it would be logical for the Giants to hope that they, the Giants, win all of their games while the other 29 teams* win half of theirs and lose the other half. This would be the optimal result for the Giants because it offers the maximum assurance that they will make it to the playoffs, which is their overarching goal in any given baseball season.

We can see how hoping for certain results that you cannot control for can be a smart thing to do, with the following example:

1. I value my life and want to continue living it.

2. A giant asteroid crashing into the Earth would almost certainly kill me, everybody I know and the vast majority of all human beings.

3. Humanity would not currently be able to do much of anything about it if a giant asteroid happened to crash into the Earth.

4. Therefore, I hope a giant asteroid DOES NOT crash into the Earth.

5. Therefore, I am a smart person, because I smartly hope for outcomes that will positively reinforce the first premise listed here, my desire to continue living my life.

6. Conversely, I would be a dumb person if I were to hope for outcomes that threatened my life, given my assertion that I want to keep living it.

Similarly, it would be very, very dumb for the Giants to actively want one of the teams that they are competing with for one of the very few spots in the playoffs to actually become better and win more games. Because that would decrease the Giants’ chances of making the playoffs. Which is the whole fucking point of baseball, you dumbass.

Please make a note of it.

*I can say this because of inter-league play, though obviously the Giants will be more concerned about the performance of their National League competition than the teams in the American League.


Comments: 63


You don’t want Philadelphia anywhere near the wild-card race.

Gahh! The opposite is of course true. If you’re a Giants fan, you want Philadelphia exactly where they are in the wild-card race — looking up at the Giants!

I hate this guy.


Is he concerned about the Giants’ competition for the wild card? Or is he assuming the Giants will win their division and is therefore concerned about the wild-card team they would face in the playoffs? I’m confused.


Baseball has been velly, velly good to me!

Do you want to know some not nice things about the Mets?


This article makes perfect sense if you confuse the sport of baseball with the game of checkers. In such a case, any team “jumped over” in the standings is removed from the sport. In this case, he is referring to the Braves, who will be removed when the Phils jump ahead of the Braves in the NL East standings.

Assuming this, his analysis is spot on.


which is why everybody hates the Yankees

Everybody hates the Yankees because it is The Right Thing To Do.


Wrigley doesnt have a JumboTron. Aaron Rodgers is dating the chick in Lady Antebellum. Therefore, the Packers will win the Super Bowl but it wont be televised. I ususally write for the Lifestyles section but the Sports guy is out sick.


Twins are going to take it all this year – I hope.


It is pretty clear that you don’t know shit about baseball.


I’m assuming that he is suggesting that the Giants might have to play the Phillies sooner if they are a wildcard as opposed to a division winner and with the Phillies new roster additions, they are a better team than the Braves.


. Aaron Rodgers is dating the chick in Lady Antebellum

who the what now?


I’m assuming that he is suggesting that the Giants might have to play the Phillies sooner if they are a wildcard as opposed to a division winner and with the Phillies new roster additions, they are a better team than the Braves.

huh. funny he couldn’t have written that, considering his job is as a writer and all.

of course, it’s still stupid, because if the Giants are in the wild card race and win a couple of rounds, and the Phillies are so good, wouldn’t they have to play them anyway?

And if the Phillies are in the wild card race, they have to play more games, right? thus tiring their players, even the new ones, and putting any team they play on a more even footing?

Granted, our local team is the Brewers, so what I am familiar with as ‘baseball’ likely bears little resemblance to what the rest of you know.


My baseball knowledge extends to playing half a season of rotisserie league baseball, but I did OK via a strategy of picking batters with high slugging averages. In short; whut?


Up to The Moment: Considering that neither the Brooklyn Bums Of Los Angeles nor the Frisco Gnats have been able to score against each other over four innings, & August starts tomorrow, we’re about to call the season & start wondering when football starts.

Best scenario: The Padres, Rockies or Snakes don’t get anywhere.

Now 4.5 innings w/o a run scored.


And if the Phillies are in the wild card race, they have to play more games, right?

Uh, no.


Since I don’t know shit about sports and don’t follow any of it, I’ll just note that the juxtaposition of the word “asteroid” in a blog post about sports highlighted for me the first time the possibly coincidental connection between the word “asteroid” and the word “steroid.”

As in, that’s where baseball players usually inject them.

As in, it could describe a complete ass, on steroids. Which you’d pretty much have to be to wipe out the entire fucking planet.

As in, that’s all I got here.


As in, that’s all I got here.

Well, that’s more than most have contributed. Non-sports fans, or just not hanging around the house on a Sat. afternoon. What is wrong w/ them & their “lives?”


There is a giant asteroid coming that’s gonna kill us all?


Oh…. I guess there is! That sucks, I guess.

Zombie rotten mcdonald

I tried, but got promptly pwned by Bouffant, so probably best to run out for some alcohol


who the what now?

Lady Antebellum is a ‘band’ that plays ‘country music’. There are three people in the band, two male and one female.

Aaron Rodgers is the ‘quarterback’ of the ‘Packers’, an ‘American football’ ‘team’ in Green Bay, WI.

FtFY. Also.

Rusty Shackleford



Hey, easy there, rotten. I distinctly typed: “Uh.” Meaning it’s not that big a deal.

And I’m sure that you meant (or now understand, after I PWND YOUR DEAD ASS!! cleared it up for you) in your sad Milwaukee Brewers (Nice monogram, though.) limited-knowledge way, “play-offs” rather than “wild card.”

Home-owners throughout Wisc. hoping that ZRM likes/knows more about architecture than baseball.


Gnats 2, Bums 1. Hope the Marlins beat the Padres tonight.


Go Twins! (they must be playing somewhere I guess.)


I only follow baseball so I can kinda blend in with the locals. It’s easy: Cubs always suck and this year they are on their way to adding another year on their legendary World Series drought. White Sox are doing well but they’ll have to get their division lead up to 20 or so games by the end of August to survive the usual September flameout and make the playoffs.


Everyone hates the Yankees because they always win. They always win because they can afford to buy the best players. They can afford to buy the best players because they gots shit loads of money. They have the most money because the league is set up to be unfair. The league is set up unfairly because the conservative as fuck rich asshole owners want it that way. Rich owners are allowed to do whatever the fuck they want because that’s how democracies work… oh wait. Baseball is exempted from anti-monopolist laws because their rich owners and their lackeys in government would have a fucking cow if anyone touched their sacred game because SOCIALISM so shut up that’s why.


“I still get the San Francisco Chronicle delivered to my door”

Dude, this is the 21st Century and you are still phsycically situated at a geographic location at a door that has actual newspapers delivered to it by actual people on bikes being chased by actual barking dogs. People are going completely virtual these days. Physical reality is so old school and not even in a retro hip way. I would think a blogger at least would know this.


I’m cheering for the Pee-rats tonight, but this isn;t “Balloon Juice” so who cares…


People are going completely virtual these days. Physical reality is so old school and not even in a retro hip way.

The Blue Pill has FIOS. The Red Pill is strictly dialup.


“People are going completely virtual these days.”

The people you and I know are not everyone. Most of the people that I know casually don’t get all their information from the internet. If they’re guys they use it for porn and if gals they use it to play games or chat on Yahoo. They know which judge for American Idol just left (and why) and which one is back and who they’d like to win, do you?

And American Idol is #2. SpongeBob is #1.


Hey folks, over at my joint one of my co-bloggers has issued you a challenge: define “spizzerinctum”.


“I still get the San Francisco Chronicle delivered to my door”


That shit will stop once I overcome my preference for doing the crossword (NOT CROSS ENOUGH, DAMNIT!!) by actually writing in those little boxes, & start buying butts in cartons.

Blinking Emoticon

Jenkins is just displaying his deep grasp of strategery.

At the start of the Stanley Cup the sports dudes were saying whatever happens you don’t want to draw the Red Wings (the mighty, seasoned Red Wings). WTF, I think. I mean if they’re that great you have to meet them at some point.

The Wings barely squeaked past Phoenix, then got stomped by San Jose, who promptly wilted before the Blackhawks (eventual champs – nice final).

In conclusion, sports pundits know shit.


Jenkins will occasionally write something interesting, but overall he is a fucking insufferable tool. Just my two cents.

Oh, and…Pat Motherfucking Burrell, whaaat? Sweeeeet.



The white stuff that dribbles out of the corners of the mouth of a spazz, when he’s ranting.


I dunno, this doesn’t strike me as wrong. It sounds to me like he’s saying that Philadelphia is underachieving; their talent level is better than their record, so they’re bound to get hot at some point. You don’t want that to happen late, if you’re a team on the bubble; you’d prefer to have that runaway hot streak happen now. So, from San Francisco’s standpoint, you may be better served competing with a cohort of overachieving teams like Atlanta, Cincinnati, and San Diego — who are likely to play worse than they have thus far — than with Philadelphia (and maybe St. Louis) — who are likely to play better than they have thus far.

What am I missing? Am I too immersed in sports-media cliche to see that this is the wrongest wrong thing in the wrongheaded history of wrongness?


I seem to remember telling everyone before spring training that the Padres were going to be worth watching this year. Lo and behold, they’re 97-65 over the last 162 and have the best percentage in the NL. Sure beats the sub-70-win team that the baseball punditry, who seem to know as much about baseball as Michelle Malkin knows about cheerleading, predicted.


Of course, if my version is roughly what he meant, it may have been more to the point to say directly that the Giants would benefit from the Braves, Padres, and Reds sucking like they should be, rather than making any claim about the Phillies. But that might not be, um, sporting, or something.


@ Dr. Squid, I find the Padres’ success inexplicable. But if I knew what I was talking about I probably wouldn’t have built my NL fantasy team around Pablo Sandoval, Jason Bay, and Derrek Lee.


Actually, Jenkins is a complete idiot about basketball.


Sure beats the sub-70-win team that the baseball punditry, who seem to know as much about baseball as Michelle Malkin knows about cheerleading, predicted.

Heard The SD U-T baseball scribbler on the Dodgers pre-game show Thurs., & he said it doesn’t seem to him as if they’ll be able to keep it up, need a better 2B or something.

In a random meaningless universe nothing can be correctly predicted for long.

Or perhaps NOTHING should be predicted as the eventuality.


“I have explained many times that I am, by Profession, a Gambler — not some jock-sniffing nerd or a hired human squawk-box with the brain of a one-celled animal. No. That would be your average career sportswriter — and, more specifically, a full-time Baseball writer. […] I have described them as ‘a rude & brainless subculture of fascist drunks’ and ‘more disgusting by nature than maggots oozing out of the carcass of a dead animal.'” – Hunter S. Thompson


Technically, the playoffs are not for the 8 teams with the best records. It´s possible, for example, to have all 8 teams with the best records in the majors in the same league (only four of which will make the post-season). Or, it´s possible for the third-place team in a division to have the third- or fourth-best record in its league, and yet it wouldn´t make the playoffs.


Mr. Tremendous, alas, is unlikely to comment on Jenkins even via Twitter because Colletti has also done things and Colletti Doing Things trumps Jenkins Writing Things as a target. So it goes.

As a Cubs fan who watched Dusty Baker/Jim Riggleman turn two dazzling young pitching prospects into Philoctetes and the Fisher King, I’d like to reserve commentary on the notion of abusing young pitchers’ arms being good for them in the long run for some night in a dark alley as BJ is leaving Zuni, raving about the 12 dollar glass of Pinot Noir he just guzzled, all plagiarizing one of Bart Giamatti’s kid’s tiresome tirades from Sideways.

There’s really no way to apply the principle of charitable reading to the pig’s breakfast Jenkins routinely makes of writing about baseball. There is literally no reading of his comments about Philadelphia and the wild card that isn’t the dumbest goddamn thing anyone has said about any of the playoff races this year. I’d have bet money no single writer could pull this feat off, but here we are.

Oh, and if I hadn’t read this post, I’d have spent my life blissfully unaware of this Jenkins monstrosity. I want to hurt this column, but I could never hurt it the way it hurt me.


Like most sports, I only enjoy baseball because it gives me an excuse to get drunk and eat overpriced processed cheese. So I got an off-topic topic…

Shorter Robert Stacy McCain: BREAKING! BREAKING! My superior investigative abilities have revealed HOWARD ZINN to be a LEFTIST!


Yeah, dangling modifier blah blah blah…it’s been a long weekend.


a rude & brainless subculture of fascist drunks

Speaking of which, I wonder if GWB will get back into baseball. Aren’t the Rangers up for sale?

Professor Bunsen Honeydew

Recently, we’ve secretly switched ibuprofen for Pastor Swank’s thorazine. Let’s see how he’s doing:

Obama parties practically every night. Partying. Partying. Partying.
Actually, on most crucial agendas we are slipping further and further into the obvious black hole.
Obama goes on blithely, keeping his corruption is intact, no matter the truth-tellers’ daily spreading his nasty rule by way of conservative media.

Frankly, I can’t see any noticeable difference.


Sorry guys, my Swanksta-to-English translator is busted. A little help, plz?


Wow, Swank’s really off his meds.

This country is in dire need of honest, able leadership. Obama provides just the opposite. He is dishonest. Those in the know may fill in the blanks on that one. He is not able. Those realizing that his background includes being a community planner and Chicago crook then understand his void.

I knew that eventually the conservative talking points would move from the figurative version of “he’s a poopy-head” to the literal version of it, but Swank seems to have gotten ahead of the pack in a totally wonderful way.


Wonder how Swank’s taking the latest breakup between Bristle Palin and Levi Johnston, after he doubled down on their reunion:

It’s OK: Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston to marry

The couple is back and they are announcing.

They will be husband and wife.

That does not surprise me.

Now, according to HuffPo, the wedding’s off because Bristle has accused Levi of knocking up another girl.

Blinking Emoticon

Bristle has accused Levi of knocking up another girl.

Yee-hah! Soon enough & Levi’s offspring’ll be hatchin’ step-cousins up and down the whole county.

Too bad there ain’t a 90lb. Grammaw Palin who would grab these squabblin’ young’ns by the ear and march them straight to the altar. With the first dude right behind totin’ a blunderbuss.


a) I don’t think Oswalt solves anything for the Phils, save an insurance arm.

b) The Braves have consistently been the best team in the east all summer.

c) The Mets will overtake both of them, at which point I expect Jenkins to offer to kiss my ass.


Obama parties practically every night. Partying. Partying. Partying.

My prez likes to party all the time, party all the time, party all the time.

Not only is Obama a Marxist Muslim, but he is an inept US head.

You got to admit, he’s a pretty ept US penis, though.



a) Looking at Oswalt’s WHIP and Opponents’ Batting Average Against for this season, I think he could make a big impact down the stretch.

b) I agree with this. I do think Philly will overcome them as the season winds down, but Atlanta has been a tremendous story this season. Two to three years down the road, I think Atlanta fans will be shaking their heads about the Escobar deal–I think they’ll question whether it was worth it to let an aging manager go ahead and settle one more weird grudge with one more player before he rode off into the last sunset. But for this season, the Braves have put on a hell of a show.

c) I think the Amazins’ are more concerned at the moment about whether the Wilpons will ever catch up with all the money they’ve squandered with various hucksters (Madoff, SpongeTech, Steve Philips) and maybe consider making good on that multimillion dollar retirement fund that seems to have disappeared. Just kidding, that last part will definitely never happen.


I add another name to your Kerry Wood/Mark Pryor duality: Brett Saberhagen.

Oh, and Gary Nolan. And Bill Pulsipher. And Jason Isringhausen. And the Billy Martin-managed A’s of 1980-81.

There’s actually a pretty fair amount of info out there about the effects of too many innings on young arms. There’s even a tool you can use to access it; it’s called “Google.”


Looking at Oswalt’s WHIP and Opponents’ Batting Average Against for this season, I think he could make a big impact down the stretch.

I think that was for show. Oswalt still hasn’t shown he can be consistent in the post-season or in big games. When he’s good, he can be scary good. When he’s bad, he’s worse than mortal.


I hope he sucks for the Phillies but Roy Oswalt has been pretty good in the postseason. 7 starts, 4-0 record, 3.66 ERA and a WHIP of 1.436. Two bad starts out of 7 is nothing to be ashamed of.


All your baseballs are belong to us.


i too mourn that which was


I hereby vote for more SN! posts making fun of ridiculous fucken idiot sportwriters! Oh, and GO YANKEES!!!


baseball sucks. just like life, the rules are stacked so the richest usually win and the poor are ignored and forgotten. thats why uber dork and asshole george will LOVES it.


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