Sunday, March 15, 2009

...upon the rock

We owe a substantial debt to FreeDarko, the (to our mind) definitive sports analysis site on the computernets. We want to put that upfront, because the impetus behind this endeavor is largely inspired from their work, and while we'll take our own journey and compose our own manifesto and do our own thing, FD is the Letterman to our Conan. Or we're Letterman to FD's Carson. In either case, theirs is a lofty standard, and if we can achieve a tenth of what they've done, in relevance or productivity, we'll consider this a wild success.

So what to say here at the start?

Joy In Mudville is borne from a desire to talk about baseball in a way we haven't seen done before. We're dissatisfied with the way sports reporting has evolved, how numerology and Moneyball have become the full extent of baseball analysis. We hate how websites we once relied on for trenchant information have become sports gossip sites; Gawker for athletes; the British soccer-player-tabloidification of American players. We abhor the K zone, the centerfield camera angle, the pore revealingly close shots, the inane announcers, relentless crowd cutaways and the general state of baseball on television. We submit that there is nothing so beautiful as a baseball game on a sunny day, nothing so tense as a two out, two-strike pitch in the bottom of the 9th knotted at 3, nothing in sport so unencumbered by modernity and so perfect in its imperfections as baseball is.

And so, this is our attempt to do better for baseball.

Joy in Mudville will be a website devoted in part to the indefinable essence of our beloved sport. We believe players are more than .313/36/132/.465 or fielding percentages, that baseball is poorly served by a simple box score or scorecard; we find our baseball in the poetry of a double play, in pre-swing rituals and the post-swing follow through. In the interminably long summer days, the season that lasts half a year, the brush-back, the leg kick, the first-to-third movement on an outfield single, those are the bits that get lost and ignored and we come here to reclaim them, to put them back in the discussion, and maybe - just maybe - to reframe the way baseball is talked about.

Baseball is an easily defined game that isn't meant to be, a team sport rendered wholly individual that remains cohesive by necessity.

We aim to celebrate the athletes who make the game worth watching, we include among them, but don't limit it to - Manny, Dontrelle, Lincecum, Pujols, Vlad, Ichiro, Wright, Upton, and Pedroia. We wish to find angles of debate undiscussed previously, to talk about CC's straight brim and Vlad's tarred helmet at indications of personal style that gets left out of more general discussions about their age or salary. We posit that Willie Mays is the best player to ever put on a uniform. Josh Gibson is our home run king. Barry Bonds was already a top 15 all-time player before he got jealous of McGwire and Sosa, and that steroids really aren't that big of a deal.

In many ways we're unsure as to what this site might be. We ask you, the reader, to give us a shot, to cut us a little slack at the onset, and to pass us along as you see fit. We do this in and with all sincerity: JnM is a serious celebration of a sport we love, and though like many of our age we've been sheltered under the tent poles of sarcasm and satire and pithy comments, this we do without irony. We're not blogging in the standard sense, and further essays and posts will be sporadic and without a set schedule; at the least we plan on weekly updates. At cause, of course, this number will increase significantly. There are still a number of days before the 2009 season begins, and to fill that space we'll soon roll out a few essays that we hope will sum our ethos and our style up in a pleasing way. They'll include a treatise on Alex Rodriguez, a celebration of Mays, a defense of Jeff Kent, and
very possibly a discussion involving Mark Fidrych.

Come help us reclaim baseball.

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