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Your baseball take is wrong

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint, but we're conditioned to talk about the sprint.

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Skip Bayless will make a lot of money next year. He will make a lot of money the year after that. In fact, Bayless' new four-year contract with Fox Sports will net him more earnings (at $25 million) than George Brett made in his entire MLB career ($23 million), at least before inflation. Considering inflation, Bayless will functionally make half of what Brett did, but in four year's time as opposed to Brett's 15-year career.

Money spent on sports has only gone up, and this has trickled down to those talking about sports. The advent of Facebook, Twitter, and social media has empowered one specific type of sports commentary: the 'take'. Though the Urban Dictionary is often a cesspool of idiocy, it has a decent definition of a take: a take is "an opinion of point of view", but that doesn't quite tell the entire story. Takes traditionally don't really have room for subtlety or nuance, and are not limited to the realm of reason. Takes don't ferment; they explode.

Bayless shot to fame and his Scrooge McDuck cash levels primarily through the extremely popular ESPN show First Take. Bayless and fellow taker Stephen A. Smith, with whom he argued vehemently and repeatedly about every conceivable thing under the sun, discussed the sports news of the day. It was a brilliant pairing, as Smith and Bayless were similar in their delivery of their takes (VERY INTENSE) and the intensity of their takes (BLAZING), but had different points of view. The entertainment value was always there, it and felt genuine in a way that other sports shows don't.

What was not genuine were the facts and the quality of the takes. First Take wasn't about analysis. It was about two men with fiery, loud personalities giving provocative opinions because there was no downside to doing so. Facts were secondary, scouting reports unread, and long-term thinking an unavailable skill. A show marketed as an argument isn't much of an argument if there's a lot of politeness and knowledge going on. If you want an argument for the sake of an argument, you need to suspend reality for a bit:

Just look at a collection of Bayless' Tweets, which are representative of the things that he said on the show. They aren't just wrong--they're hilariously wrong, because of obvious and hilarious reasons:

But again, it's not the quality of the takes; it's the heat that gets the attention. A hot take, according to The New Republic, is "a piece of deliberately provocative commentary that is based almost entirely on shallow moralizing." I would probably add another angle to the hot take; this version of a hot take is a take of significant intensity without proper evidence to support it. "Danny Duffy is going to be great in the rotation this year" is a take. "Omar Infante doesn't care about baseball" is a hot take.

Many takes, and certainly a large variety of hot takes, are driven by emotion. Sports is ultimately entertainment, and an emotional attachment to a team or sport is natural. But emotion does a really terrible job of explaining why and how an event happened, and it does an even worse job of predicting the future.

But emotion is only one component of the real reason that takes are usually wrong in baseball: takes don't care about context, and they certainly don't have a long-term view. Takes are interested in the here and now; takes are about what just happened or what is about to happen in the immediate future.

That is why your take is wrong. Yeah, that one.

Baseball is a marathon. There are 162 games in the regular season and up to an additional 20 in the postseason. One game consists of 0.6% of the season. Ten games consist of 6% of the season. Each game, however, can be an emotional rollercoaster in and of itself. It's easy to spend three hours watching something and come away with a strong emotion and a take that is based off its recency. Lorenzo Cain hit three home runs!!!!! Alcides Escobar made TWO awesome plays at shortstop! What a great team! Alternatively, Yordano Ventura just gave up five runs; he sucks!! NOT JOAKIM SORIA AGAIN, he's lost it!!!!!!

Let's put this into perspective: looking at any sequence of ten games to find conclusions about the entire season is like looking at any 22-day stretch in a year and drawing conclusions about how the rest of your year will go. And that's ten games. One game of data is like 53 hours in your year. It just doesn't make sense to come to conclusions based on that little data, in any facet of life. You don't have two bad days in a row with your long-term boyfriend and be like, 'Welp, here I come.' You don't create one good dish and think, 'It's time to be a professional chef!' We make our best decisions based on experiences and information, and the more of both we have the better decisions we make. #HotSportsTakes are fun because they have no real consequence for us. #HotMarriageTakes aren't a celebrated thing for a reason.

Humans crave meaning, but sometimes things that happen in sports just don't have meaning. Teams go on slumps all the time. Teams go on hot streaks all the time. Last September, the Royals only managed an 11-17 record. That team, as you might know, won the World Series. Applying meaning to things that don't have any is a surefire way to make a bad prediction or evaluation and, amusingly put by Randall Munroe of XKCD, is also the basis of most sports commentary:


Narratives can be built on a long-term though process, but often they aren't. As sports fans, we are conditioned to find meaning and make opinions based on the sprints of the season. In baseball especially, the actual season is a marathon. If your take is based off the sprint, well, it's probably wrong--or, at the very least, it isn't right yet.

Whatever incinerating takes Bayless will attempt to emit from his lipped face hole and his eager, Tweeting digits, they're not going to be better or more accurate or more factual. Bayless has lived by the take, and it only takes a single wrong move to die by the take. Good analysis should be patient, eager, sharp, and inclusive. None of those words describe the take.

So your take is wrong. Don't worry too much, everyone else's is too.