The problem wasn't the hype itself, but how it was justified. There should be pregame excitement anytime the Yankees face a pitcher who is having the kind of season Doc is having. But the game was sold to fans on the basis of Halladay's career numbers against the Yankees. This kind of sloppy journalism is prevalent in the baseball media, and should be criticized.I think not citing Halladay's career numbers would have been a far more egregious error. It's a valid storyline. He'd pitched more than a full season's worth against the Yankees in his career and had great results. How do you not bring that up?
Of course, as Mike goes on to explain, even though Doc had thrown a ton of innings to the Yanks, the numbers he compiled don't really mean anything:
The baseball media frequently cites a player's career performance against a given team to provide insight into how that player should do right now against that same team. This makes no sense. Sticking with the current example, Roy Halladay has been logging time in the AL East since 1998. How, exactly, do his numbers against Scott Brosius or Jason Giambi help understand what he can be expected to do when he faces the Yankees in 2010? The answer, of course, is that they can't, but baseball struggles to grasp this.In addition to the Yankee lineup fluctuating, the defense behind Halladay has constantly shifted, the turf underneath him in Toronto has changed, he's thrown to tons of different catchers and most importantly, he's evolved as a pitcher. Essentially, what you are looking at when you try to analyze Halladay's career stats against the Yankees (or any pitcher's line against a certain team) are a bunch of very small samples, recorded over a very long time, and smushed together to look like one big one. And, by the way, looking at his career numbers against the Yankees tells you the same thing that looking at his overall numbers tell you - Roy Halladay is like, really awesome at pitching.
But there's two parts to this - the validity of the stats and how they are being used. Mike calls it "sloppy journalism", but that strikes me as a sort of hollow, straw man argument. Its' not like it's factually incorrect. Halladay has owned the Yankees and you can bet that the players in the clubhouse are keenly aware of it. Why then shouldn't the media talk about it? It doesn't have predictive value, but no one I care to read was trying to predict what the outcome of the game would be anyway. It was one of things that was ubiquitously noted because, well, it was worth noting.
Did anyone guarantee that Halladay was going to turn in a great game? I'm not aware of such a proclamation. I think most Yankee fans sort of braced for impact (like Mike's co-author at the Yankeeist, Larry did) simply because after seeing it happen so many times, it's a natural reaction.
So why do we fans have the desire read about games before they happen? Why do we bother to write a preview for all 162 of them here? It's rare that something your read beforehand will manifest itself in the game in a meaningful way, isn't it?
In general, we are all probably a little anxious for the game to start and reading about it helps pass the time. We love the team and find that harnessing some of that anticipation and reading up on an impending game helps us look forward to it.
More specifically, when I write a preview or read one that someone else has written, it's because I want to have an understanding of any trends and storylines coming in and try to develop some sort of a framework that will make what's unfolding on the field a little more coherent and interesting to me. Some of those things might be statistical, but the personalities and rivalries and the who-owns-who are compelling in their own way, even if they don't pass the statistical smell test.