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(Ch)end of an Era

Cy Chen and Brayan Bench
Brayan Pena expresses the gratitude of millions.

I don’t know what the coverage of baseball was like last night for those of you in the U.S. of A., but up here in the Great White North sports coverage needs a bit of help with priorities. They were talking about games in Florida, Maryland, and other sordid little burgs, but hardly mentioned the story they should have led with: Bruce Chen‘s eight innings of shutout ball (somehow matched by Carl Pavano‘s nine) in Minnesota on an emotional night that might have been Chen’s last game in a Royals uniform.

We are all reeling from the emotional night at Target Field, but those who may have happened upon one of my FanGraphs chats know that this is particularly difficult for me. While I celebrate the greatness that is Chen, it is time to bid the meme him farewell.

Statistics do not lie: 3.77 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 4.68 xFIP, 1.7 Wins Above Replacement. Wait, yes they do, statistics do lie, Tommy LaSorda said so. I mean, the 3.77 ERA is only about a run high, but after following Bruce Chen all season, well, my belief is DIPS theory, if not completely gone, is shaken to the core. Just win, baby, and that is all Chen has done for the Royals since he came aboard: win. Who led them in wins this season? Bruce Chen with 12. Who led all Royals starters in wins in 2010? Not that complainer Zack Greinke! Nope, Bruce Chen with… 12. A model of consistency, is he not? I have not been able to get an expert opinion on this yet, but I am pretty sure there is no pitcher in the game with better game awareness than Bruce Chen. You think maybe the Red Sox wish they had waited until this week to try and trade for Chen? They obviously wish they would have pulled the trigger on Chen-for-Dustin Pedroia in July.

Hey, if you are reading a highbrow site like NotGraphs, you know all this. While I have enjoyed singing Chen’s praises in my chats this season, it is time to bid adieu. However, I must confess that it is not because the Gospel of Chen has been disseminated as widely as I would like. Part of me is just tired. It is one thing for blatant anti-Sino-Panamanian bias to pervade the mainstream writers who will almost certainly deny Chen the Cy Young he so clearly deserves. It is another thing entirely when that bias creeps into the allegedly progressive world of blogging, when he somehow garners only one vote, and that is discounted. I would have resigned in anger had I not signed a Ryan Braun/Troy Tulowitzki-esque long-term extension/suicide pact just weeks before.

It is not that I do not believe in fighting for the Truth. I do. I just do not have the energy for this particular fight anymore. So farewell, Great Warrior. Shine on, wherever your golden arm takes you next.