A College Professor Grades Mitch Albom’s Latest

Mitch, some notes on your recent paper for WR 122:

• Your enthusiasm for your subject is apparent throughout. Successful writing requires, first and foremost, the engagement of the author. If he or she isn’t engaged, then the reader definitely won’t be.

• Be careful about rhetorical fallacies. For example, you imply early in your piece that supporters of Mike Trout’s MVP candidacy — and particularly those supporters who offer quantitative analysis as evidence — never watch games. The danger with absolutes (never, all, always, etc.) is that even a single exception to your characterization can dismantle the rest of your argument.

• Your essay includes a number of ad hominem attacks. Abusing a person or group is, at best, irrelevant; at worst, it undermines the nature of your argument by suggesting that you, as an author, are forced to resort to name-calling owing to a lack of actual, substantive material.

• Not entirely separate from the above, but also worthy of note here, is the question of tone. An effective argument relies upon the author establishing a trustworthy tone or voice, the voice of one who would give credit to the “opposition” (itself even perhaps an extreme characterization) when it’s due. The tone of your piece (see: “I mean, did you do the math? I didn’t. I like to actually see the sun once in a while.”) skews shrill with some frequency, which hurts your credibility.

• Regarding your conclusion: your instinct to “mirror” or “echo” your introduction is a good one. It certainly signals to the reader that the piece is nearing its end, and also gives the impression of a meaningful structure. However, it’s also important to avoid the trite. Merely returning to the paper’s opening line (“The eyes have it”) is facile and perhaps even insulting to the reader.

Grade: C+

Note: if you’re interested, I’d be more than willing to discuss your paper at greater length during my office hours. How are Tuesdays for you?



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Carson Cistulli has just published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.


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Casey
Guest
Casey

Well done.

Person
Guest

C+?

Grade inflation continues unchecked.

The Common Man
Guest

Tuesdays, he’s with Morrie.

Snape Kills Dumbledore
Guest
Snape Kills Dumbledore

MORRIE DIED

Ben
Guest
Ben

That’s the joke

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman

Post of the Year.

Now review his books.

Geoff
Guest
Geoff

Based on his final grade, I can only assume this professor teaches at a 100-level class at a community college

Phil
Guest
Phil

Or an Ivy…

kc
Guest
kc

or chapel hill

Chris Cwik
Member
Member

He has intramural racquetball on Tuesdays, Carson.

Brinson
Guest
Brinson

So GD good. Slow-clap worthy.

Wes Yee
Guest

A+ evaluation.

Mjwuelln
Guest
Mjwuelln

You might also point out that he lauds Miguel Cabrera’s clutch hits while dismissing out of hand WPA, even though it sort of measures that kind of thing.

Nevermind, just fail this asshole for the betterment of society. That way he won’t go on to become a famous journalist who contaminates the minds of society’s plebian class with filth.

Kate Morrison
Guest
Kate Morrison

This is fantastic.

AJ
Guest
AJ

Wow, you can’t review a paper much better than this. Grade is a bit high I think.

metsmarathon
Member
metsmarathon

i like how he focuses in on situational statistics (which, when used properly actually tell you something, and when used improperly, are typically found splattered all over a football broadcast) and uses their existnce to discredit WAR, which is kindof the anti-situational statistic.

this type of column always misses out on one thing. WAR attempts to discern who was the better, more productive player. if the mvp is about who was the better, more productive player, then discuss it as such, and please find a way to discredit WAR within that context. tell me how you don’t need to do any of that fancy math and that looking at, typically, one or three numbers can tell you everything you need to know about player productivity.

but instead the discussion swirls around the notion of what valuable is. and if that’s the case, then feel free to discredit stats nerds for thinking that most valuable should possibly mean best, most productive.

otherwise, you’re arguing apples against oranges.

deadhead
Member
deadhead

I think WAR is better at discerning who the better player is without saying who was more productive. RBI are productive and valuable but seeing as they are team dependent shouldn’t be “paid for” by front offices. Adjusting for park factors has nothing to do with who was more valuable this year. It could help determine who was better, I guess. But until they make parks uniform, park adjustments can’t help determine who produced more. It doesn’t matter if Mr. X would have had more bombs if he didn’t play in Petco. There is no value in what he might have done on a neutral field.

MikeS
Guest
MikeS

…Otherwise you are just coming off as a moron complaining that “math is hard!”

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Nice constructive criticism, good specific points for correction. I must, however, second the comment about grade inflation. Clearly you are that professor everyone tells sophomores to take: “Easiest A you’ll ever get, bro!”

While commenting here, I thought I would use a public forum to attempt to humiliate Mitch Albom in the way he attempts to humiliate those of us who use logic and evidence to formulate opinions.

Mitch, in 2002 I was an incoming freshman at a large university which distributed free copies of your “book,” “Tuesdays With Morrie,” to all new students as recommended reading. (I will be polite and leave the institution anonymous; I don’t want to sully the reputation of my alma mater.) We were incentivized to read this–because, really, why else engage with your writing?–by the offer of free college textbooks to the winner of an essay contest responding to your book. Being just a poor, sun-averse geek I embraced the challenge, pinching my nose through the scores of excrementous pages, the promise of free text books my only guiding light through the darkness.

Sadly, I did not win said text books, but was merely runner-up. The prize for runner-up, you ask? I doubt a well-tanned fellow like yourself, with hardly the time to define a baseball statistic, would remember, but it was a free lunch, with you, in person, as guest. Since I’m sure you don’t have the mental capacity to recall anything so far back, much less about a pale geeks and the like, I’d like to remind you that I declined the lunch invite, because the prospect of spending so much as 5 minutes by your side (particularly while eating) caused in me the queasiest sense of nausea. And since you were probably never informed that a lowly 18-year-old freshman would consider “cyberspace” a better companion than you, I can only hope this news reaches you now, so that you are reminded what a complete fucking tool you are, how flaccid and lazy your third-grade wordsmithing is, and how easily transparent and embarrassing your Everyman schtick really is.

So, in summary, I’m glad you are satisfied with the results of the MVP vote. 1934 Mickey Cochrane says “Hello.”

JRM
Guest
JRM

Jonathan:

Why are you so mean to Mitch Albom? Sure, he may have fabricated a story or two. Sure, his writing makes you dumber as you read it. And, sure, his pieces tend to make you weep for the republic no matter your political beliefs.

What about the good side of Mitch Albom? He’s not at your house or workplace. You’re not reading his work regularly. You still seem smart and involved. And 1934 Mickey Cochrane is one of the people you meet in heaven, I bet. (Not Mitch Albom’s version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwgrwcPaSzA )

Just because Mitch Albom’s work is fundamentally dishonest, pandering, populist propaganda with no regard for truth, justice, or the xkcd way doesn’t mean, uh…. OK. You’re right. Never mind.

–JRM

omar207
Member
omar207

“I declined the lunch invite, because the prospect of spending so much as 5 minutes by your side (particularly while eating) caused in me the queasiest sense of nausea. ..”

LOL does not suffice… There is so much to say…”Enough said” will have to suffice. Thank you is apropo too =)

EW
Guest
EW

While I believe that the voters got it right (Trout: amazing year – Migs: MVP), I totally love this post. Albom is an overrated scab of a Gnome, and a fabulist, to boot.

C+ is way too high for that clown.

RJ
Guest
RJ

I love the arguments about SABRmetric-heads not watching baseball games and just analyzing the numbers after the fact, when it’s more than clear to anyone on the West Coast that not one writer East of the Mississippi saw more than 3-6 Angels games all season — only when they came through their city for their road series.

Tjarks
Guest
Tjarks

Two things that really stand out to me:

But if you are going to go molten deep into intangibles, why stop at things like “which guy hit more homers into the power alleys?” (A real statistic, I am sorry to say.)

— If you’re a fan of baseball, why wouldn’t you want to know that? If I take my 5-year old cousin to a game, the first thing he’s going to want to know is how far a HR went. Albom’s basic premise seems to be why ask questions about the game. Basically, why should his job require any actual work.

How many opposing teams slumped after Cabrera muscled one out?

— Even if Albom is too lazy to do this himself, he could surely have an intern do it for him.

Kris
Guest
Kris

“How many opposing teams slumped after Cabrera muscled one out?
Even if Albom is too lazy to do this himself, he could surely have an intern do it for him.”

That would be absolutely the last thing he wanted to do, as undoubtedly the “data” would prove that this was one of the most worthless considerations for the superiority of one over the other that could even be conceived. If someone were trying to write a parody about the absolute worst arguments that could be introduced to the discussion, the author would be hard pressed to invent a “stat” more laughable than this one, try as he might.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Actual comment from Albom’s article:

Lawrence Ulrich · Top commenter

Easy way to settle who’s “better.” Propose a trade, Miguel Cabrera for MIke Trout, right this second. That sound you hear is every Tiger, from the owner on down, falling on the floor laughing, along with every baseball analyst, including those who rightly see some value in Sabermetrics. The sound you hear in LA is the bus door closing, with Trout on it, ticket to Detroit in hand. NO team in baseball, whether it’s 1920 or 2020, is going to trade Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson or Albert Pujols for a base-running leadoff hitter, and I don’t care how many bases he steals or how many pretty catches he makes at the wall.

MikeS
Guest
MikeS

Well how can you blame them? What team would want a guy who is eight years younger, a better athlete, a better defender at a more important defensive position, faster, just as good an over-all hitter and should cost around $100M less over the next four years? You’d have to be crazy to make that deal!

Well-Beered Englishman
Guest
Well-Beered Englishman

Seriously? They’d send him by bus? Poor kid.

Ben
Guest
Ben

I think Mitch Albom is just using his column to troll people now.

F/X wing pilot
Guest
F/X wing pilot

Just one problem. You guys are ignoring OPSBI. Every stat person is just cherry picking things like WAR, when Cabrera had a 1.138 OPSBI and Trout had only 1.046.

Uncommon
Guest

What Sabermetricians are failing to realize is that none of their statistics either mimic or are as complete as the OE% Stat that has been perfected and also has correctly predicted each MVP candidate in both the American and National League for 7 years straight. Baseball purists, get a clue, sabr nuts, get a clue. You are all wrong. OE% owns every other concrete measurement tool. For more information on OE% please, do yourself a favor and checkout http://www.motowntigers.com and do a search for OE% It takes a little more space than what I am limited to here to explain it. See if what I say is false.

JR
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JR

vBulletin Message
Sorry – no matches. Please try some different terms.

JR
Guest
JR

“The formula will not be released, so please save your inquisition-style remarks pertaining to that issue. This is just my stat that I have created based upon my opinion of how batters should be defined offensively.”

Well now I’m sold.

Hugh Briss
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Hugh Briss

I though this was going to be grading Mitch’s latest haircut.

Buzzkill.

Freedom-Loving Patriot
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Freedom-Loving Patriot

Well done, Cistulli. This is my favorite post of the year, narrowly beating out anything by Dayn Perry.

Ray
Guest
Ray

Great post. Next time please find a way to make fun of Albom’s wig.

Brent
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Brent

This guy is a dinosaur. Unless the AL starts playing modern baseball, they will lose a dozen World Series in row. Winning the MVP in that league has partly become irrelevant. The best pitching, the most complete players and the best teams all play in the NL. This guy might as well be writing about beatniks in a cafe in 1959. That relevant.

Sid
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Sid

I give Mitch Albom an F as a baseball writer. He’s either daft or a troll.

Fred- 90 years old
Guest
Fred- 90 years old

He is the biggest self promoting, “I love myself,” pretentious jerk. I hate Mitch Albom. His radio show is literally the worst radio show in the world. Go to his website sometime too and see how self promoting it is. Here’s the site’s inttro (albom.com) Notice how many compliments he gives himself…

Ed - 60 yr old transplant from New Jersey
Guest
Ed - 60 yr old transplant from New Jersey

Spot-on comments! Albom’s writings have been rated 4th grade reading level and belong in the ‘young readers’ section of bookstores. His rants on air can be amusing, intentionally needling, but reveal a disturbing arrogance.

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