Sunday, June 04, 2006

Character

A common theme among our announcers and various other apologists for the team is that the current hot streak somehow demonstrates the "character" of team members, whatever that might mean.

So, if we say that the fact that we are now winning some games demonstrates some quality that we call "character," that means that the team is demonstrating a quality that other aggregations of 25 men would not demonstrate in identical circumstances. Really? Aren't teams always trying their best to win every game they play? Are we saying that the Pirates are trying harder than other teams who have horrible starts do? And if this turnaround continues and we do manage to salvage some respectability this season, how rare is that really? I know that earlier versions of the Pirates did it all the time, notably in 1974 and 1978.

I don't have any data to back up my impression, but to me, it seems that the opposite--the team that starts poorly and then completely falls apart and stops caring and trying--is more rare, simply because management doesn't tolerate teams like that, and their managers nearly always get fired. The only example I can think of is the team in Lamont's last season. McClendon't team last year did poorly and he got fired, but it never seemed to me as if they weren't trying.

So if this quality of continuing to try and sometimes succeeding is really not so rare, what value is there in citing it as an illustration of character?

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