In the leadup to Hawk Harrelson's appearance against Brian Kenny on "MLB Now," it was pretty clear that whatever the result of the debate was, it stood no chance of being productive, and it was going to be a piñata for the general baseball community. The only mystery lay in the sound bites.
Given the odds of a train wreck, I thought it was odd that the White Sox openly touted the broadcast, which made me wonder if the organization had ulterior motives:
Since Kenny is a professional, MLB Network is owned by MLB, and the White Sox are touting it, I think the broadcast will probably try as best as it can to make Harrelson sound reasonable. But then again, maybe the Sox want Harrelson wearing the tin foil hat nationally. Rick Hahn doesn't mind people underestimating their involvement in analytics from any anti-saber reputation, so perhaps this meeting of the minds is merely a Trojan Hawk.
This isn't entirely spot on. It took mere seconds for the segment to fly off the rails. Harrelson came in firing with no intent to hear out Kenny's side, and Kenny was too busy trying to be the polite host to keep up with the torrent. They both talked past each other. The crossfire shredded reason to a bloody pulp instantly.
But the part about the Trojan Hawk seems much closer to correct, because Harrelson's signature moment -- creating the statistic TWTW, for The Will To Win -- caught on quickly. Too quickly.
Immediately after the segment:
#TWTW-Hawk Harrelson— Alex Rios (@arios51) April 25, 2013
During batting practice:
Before the game:
Hawk Harrelson "TWTW " T shirts already available in White Sox gift shops courtesy of VP of marketing Brooks Boyer .— Bruce Levine (@ESPNBruceLevine) April 25, 2013
After the game:
Great team win!We definitely had The Will To Win tonight.Let's get em again tomorrow!#TWTW— Donnie Veal (@RealDVeal) April 26, 2013
We're in a world where Phil Jackson's botched first tweet gets widely circulated for mockery, only to find out that it was a setup for a pretty smart commercial. It wouldn't surprise me if Harrelson happily entered the fray because he came up with a concept the Sox found appealing. Harrelson has nothing to lose. He made up his mind about Moneyball well before Michael Lewis had the idea to write about it. That "MLB Now" segment is just a way to pass the time for 15 minutes. If what he thinks he's saying is true, he'll throw it out there as fact, and the Sox can circle the wagons around him and hope it turns into a rallying cry.
So while I cringed at the sonic assault, now I can only shrug and wait to see where it goes. If the Sox somehow get stirring, I'm curious whether #TWTW will usurp #MakeAnImpact. If the Sox can't get over the .500 hump, it'll be interesting to see how quickly it's abandoned. Having a losing record seems to fly in the face of being Winners, you know.
But given that the segment fell to my level of expectations, it only makes sense to be resigned, and perhaps a little intrigued. I expect that sabermetrically inclined White Sox fans won't be openly courted, but I can't say I'm used to being marketed against, even if indirectly. If the emergence of TWTW coincides with the Sox's ascension to the top of the Central, I guess we'll have to take one for the team. Which would mean we have #TWTW, so, hey, there's that.