On Brandon McCarthy and Jennifer Engel

It’s very rare that in these corners I’ll take time to write about something other than the Giants. Perhaps it’s just frustration, or the fact that there’s little going on with the Giants right now, but I feel compelled to write about something else for once — some comments made by Jennifer Floyd Engel, a national columnist for Fox Sports, regarding current Oakland Athletics pitcher Brandon McCarthy.

I don’t consider myself to be an A’s fan, though I’ll root for them on occasion. I do, however, consider myself to be a McCarthy fan — mainly thanks to the wonders of Twitter (where McCarthy tweets under the handle @BMcCarthy32). I first became aware of his account back in April, via a NotGraphs post, and have since come to really admire McCarthy. He’s an easy guy to like — he frequently responds to fans on Twitter, he’s got a sense of humor (refers to himself as the “West Coast Joe Blanton“), and he’s a stats guy (something which I can appreciate). He’s an intelligent player, and after battling injuries for years, he posted an ERA/FIP/xFIP of 3.32/2.86/3.30 in 25 starts in 2011.

Basically, he’s someone to root for.

Yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere, she took a completely unfounded shot at McCarthy:

Looking at tall and skinny Fister reminds me of Brandon McCarthy, except well Fister can actually pitch. #jondanksenvy

And she continued

For all y’all tweeting me BMcCarthy’s FIP/xFIP/WAR-Oak stats, yay, he did not suck w/As. For Rangers, epic fail that cost them good young L.

Again

Stunned y’all ignorant on playoffs RT @jamesvenes @cuppingmaster @Sniff009 @engeljen I’d be surprised if she even heard of FIP before now.

And again

Two final things. Yes McCarthy was better which is like being the tallest midget. And injury is coming, almost guarantee it.

And again

All credibility lost, McCarthy good value, good risk, not good P RT @jamesvenes @cuppingmaster @Sniff009 “McCarthy is a very good pitcher.”

You get the point. She dedicated tweet after tweet to arguing that McCarthy is not a “good pitcher.” For more, feel free to peruse her Twitter feed.

The worst one is probably this:

Love this banter, just unfair to call me anti-stat. I am not, firm believer in Moneyball principles. I am anti-McCarthy.

And I think that is a perfect representation of her standpoint: her criticism is based not on any kind of objective evidence, because well, that doesn’t exist (in her case). But rather, it’s based on some kind of hatred she has for McCarthy, for whatever reason.

Now I won’t deny that he had his struggles in a Rangers uniform. But to argue that McCarthy, as of today, is not a “good pitcher,” is simply stupid. Because he is. He’s without doubt a good pitcher, and he’s coming off of a particularly great season.

She’s a completely ignorant columnist, one that thinks Tony LaRussa is a managerial genius, and that Michael Young is a legitimate MVP candidate. But as a fan of McCarthy (a completely, genuinely awesome player), I really took umbrage at her remarks.

How does someone so devoid of intelligence have a job as a national sports columnist?

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8 thoughts on “On Brandon McCarthy and Jennifer Engel

  1. Which is exactly why players protect themselves against the media and don’t open up because whether or not you’re engaging or silent doesn’t matter someone is always out to nail them.

    Enjoyed reading it, and thanks for taking the time to write it.

  2. Wow! That really is pretty inappropriate for somebody who is supposed to be an objective national sports journalist.

    After the first one, she should have responded to the flack by saying something like, “hey guys, I was just trying to make a joke. I guess it didn’t come out right.”

  3. Yesterday was the first I saw or heard of Jennifer Floyd Engel and from what I’ve seen I won’t be making any extra effort to seek her words out any further.

    This is her bio on the Fox Sports site:

    “Jen Floyd Engel covered local sports for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997 and became a columnist in 2003. Sports opinions? She’s never short of them. And love her or hate her, she’ll be just another one of the boys.”

    Digging a little deeper, I came across this profanity-laced rant against the Dallas Stars from a few years ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7X-LXI-nYq0

    Supposedly she claimed that was “all a lark” afterward, but here you can see she has the nickname of “The Little Ball of Hate,” which is pretty silly considering it stems from Ray Ferraro being called “The Big Ball of Hate” during his playing days: http://www.star-telegram.com/qna/forum/hate_chat/index.html

    For all I know, Engel may be a decent writer/columnist/whatever, but my first impression is of someone trying to style herself after a Skip Bayless, Tim Kawakami, or any other person who thrives on making controversial statements to generate reactions.

    As I told her last night on Twitter, it strikes me as odd that with the Rangers close to going back to the World Series for the second straight season, she’s wasting time ripping a pitcher who, while he did have his struggles as a Ranger, isn’t even there any more.

    It wasn’t even just her unprofessional anti-McCarthy crap, either. She seems to think – even with the admission that she’s a Moneyball fan – that pitcher wins are a big deal, making an earlier suggestion that good pitchers = playoffs. Yes, you often need good pitching to have a chance to go to the postseason, but she might want to ask Felix Hernandez what it’s like pitching in the playoffs.

    Oh, wait. Felix Hernandez has never been to the playoffs. Neither have the A’s since 2006, in spite of often having some pretty solid pitching. Guess there’s more to it than just that. Giants fans know what I’m talking about after this season, too.

    • Yeah, I wasn’t very familiar with her, but she seems pretty unprofessional and uninformed…her logic (or lack thereof) made no sense. Glad she apologized, though.

  4. She apologized to B-Mac a couple hours ago, however it took a few too many tweets to get there. Good stuff Julian. Glad you’re still entertaining even in the offseason

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