By George Ofman-
(CBS) The will to win.
“TWTW.” Once again, Ken ‘The Hawk’ Harrelson comes to the rescue. Just when baseball is about to become an afterthought in our town before it became forethought, the venerable, colorful, controversial voice of the White Sox has made his presence known… again.
I love Harrelson. Almost every time I cover a game at The Cell I stop in the booth to talk baseball with this encyclopedia of our national pastime. He’s as generous with his time as he is with his opinions. If he isn’t trying to “Put in on the board….YES,” then he’s demeaning an umpire with his tongue so sharp it could slice a brick of cheese.
The man has no off switch.
Then comes TWTW – the will to win. It was at the heart of the discussion Hawk had with Brian Kenny on MLB Network. It was the showdown: Old School vs. New School. Sabermetrics vs. The Will To Win – the statistic you can’t measure against so many others you can that the Hawk wants to ignore. Tuning out knowledge is welcoming ignorance as your next door neighbor. But we have the right to choose and the Hawk has chosen.
Sabermetrics isn’t for everyone. It’s an acquired taste like good champagne. Doesn’t mean you have to pour it on a regular basis. But keeping it hidden in the basement prevents you from the pleasure. Take a sip now and then, you may like it.
I’m just wondering: does every winning team have TWTW? Does every player on every winning team have it? How about the teams that aren’t winning: Do the Cubs and Astros not have the will to win? Or do they have the dreaded “TDTL?” That of course, would be the desire to lose. Stands to reason, right. You win you have it, you lose you don’t. It makes about as much sense as Rush Limbaugh sending President Obama a box of chocolates.
How can you possibly measure the will to win? Doesn’t just about everyone have it? Who doesn’t? Two boxers step into a ring. You don’t think both have TWTW? How about tennis players, hockey teams, coaches, GMs, ADs etc…?
OK, I get it. You can’t measure the size of a man’s heart. But you can check his WAR numbers, BABIP, OBP and more. Bet that gives you a better idea the type of player he is rather than the size of his heart or his will to win. Granted, not every player hustles all the time or plays with emotion or passion. We’ve seen our share of dogs around here. Perhaps they are the ones Hawk is referring to. But shutting out knowledge because you fear it won’t make it go away.
I am not a devotee of sabermetrics, but it’s there at my disposal when I want it. Statistics are great but they become a tad overwhelming. I have a filter. Apparently, Hawk doesn’t.
Our world is dominated by statistics, sports or otherwise. You can’t avoid it. We’re inundated by it. Take politics for example. There’s a poll for this and a poll for that. It’s all about statistics. You can embrace it, ignore it or except what you want and move on. Maybe one day there will be a way to measure TWTW. I won’t be surprised.
Like it or not, sabermetrics are here to stay and likely to be amended, and often. I would like to suggest the Hawk takes some time to understand it. Give it chance. Use it from time to time.
This takes something different – TWTL. The will to learn.
George Ofman is a sports anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM. Look for him on Facebook and find him on Twitter at @georgeofman.