Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sofia Vergara's VORP

The word “overrated” has far too negative of a connotation. By designating something as overrated, you aren’t saying that it is terrible or awful or completely worthless – and yet this often seems to be the stigma attached to it. For example, if I were to say that I thought the band Radiohead was a little overrated, I’m not at all saying they suck. I don’t think they suck. I think they are good – even really good. I just feel that the overall, general sentiment of the band’s greatness is a tad higher than it should be.

In order to be overrated, the matter at hand must retain some amount of skill or accomplishment to begin with. And while it isn’t a good label to have, it certainly isn’t as dreadful or concluding as people make it out to be. (I’d be honored, for instance, if someone thought this blog was overrated). It is with this accurate definition that I have come to define the phenomenon of sabermetrics… and Modern Family.

It’s hard to say when exactly sabermetrics was invented (sometime in the early 1970s) or who exactly started the trend (although Bill James is generally credited), but the uptick in popularity within the past 10 years is obvious. Sure, everyone knows about Moneyball or has heard the term “inside baseball.” But the sabermetric explosion is a relatively recent and modern fascination; its mainstream status is a 21st Century occurrence. Thanks to undertakings such as Baseball Prospectus, Baseball Reference, and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), sabermetric stats are readily and easily available to any fan of baseball (and even other sports) in print or digital form, 24/7. Things like OPS (on-base plus slugging), VORP (value over replacement player) and WAR (wins above replacement) have completely reformed how baseball and athletes are evaluated. In fact, without at least a peripheral knowledge of how these stats work, one probably can’t be much more than a casual fan. Saberemetrics have become ingratiated into the game of baseball…a little too much, in my opinion.

For the sake of a good rivalry, pundits perpetuate the idea that there are two camps: those that embrace sabermetrics (the contemporary, smart, nerdy, new-age crowd) and those that dismiss it (the old-school, gritty, archaic, no-blood-no-foul crowd). And while both of these subsets certainly have plenty in each corner, there are some that find usefulness in both. Nevertheless, the current “hipster” persona out there is that sabermetrics is the future, and everything (and everyone) else will just be left in the past. If you don’t embrace the statistics, you’re as good as the dinosaurs. If you honestly believe that desire, mentality, experience, toughness and brawn can override experimental and practical data, then you probably enjoy eating pre-packaged bologna and listening to Nickelback…or something like that.

Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t the two sides mesh together? Why can’t stats and feel for the game each fit into the same make-up of sports and athletes? I agree that flippantly ignoring sabermetrics is dumb. But swearing by them and nothing else is stupid, too. Sports are far too arbitrary and unpredictable, which is why sabermetrics are just bit overrated.

Somehow, I feel exactly the same way about the television show Modern Family. The program just started its third season on the air, impressively winning the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series in each of its first two years. The show is abounding with great comedic actors and characters, and the unique structure of the family (if you haven’t seen it, it’d take too long to explain) always makes for interesting plot lines. With that said, the show isn’t as great as public opinion makes it out to be, by my judgment.  It relies far too often on ridiculous misunderstandings or obvious sitcom ploys in order to get laughs, and the majority of the characters are a little too one dimensional…but I still find the show funny.

I watch every week, and usually laugh out loud at least twice an episode. I love everything Ty Burrell does as Phil Dunphy (despite the fact that he is a member of those largely one dimensional characters I mentioned previously), and I don’t think Julie Bowen gets enough credit for her role (or at least I didn’t, up until she just won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy, which I agree is deserved). Bowen as Claire Dunphy is easily the most well-rounded, challenging character to play on the show. Other than that, you can pretty much guess what each character will be like in each show, and can recognize pretty quick what shenanigans will cause the storyline to spin out of control (in a generally funny and enjoyable manner). So no, I don’t necessarily think Modern Family deserved to win an Emmy two years in a row. And no, I don’t think the show quite lives up to the hype. The innovative and creative family setup and notable actors give the program a big boost of excitement and potential, which I feel isn’t always substantiated or fully realized. But it gets close, and the show is good. Overrated, yes, but still good.

It’s interesting how popular society frames different things. Deeming something overrated is kind of a backhanded compliment, downplaying an entity that has reached a certain level of popularity. Instead, overrated has come to define incompetence or failure. I don’t think VORP is worthless. I just feel that too much importance or trust is placed in statistics. And I don’t think Sofia Vergara is a terrible actress or completely and utterly unfunny. I just feel her character relies too often on her foreign accent and ignorance of American life. There’s a sizeable chasm between these two characterizations.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal opinion. I allege that sabermetrics and Modern Family are overrated, but there clearly has to be an opposition in order for my claims to even make sense. Whether or not they have merit is the part that’s up for discussion.

If only there were some in-depth, empirical way in which we could figure all this out…

Thanks for reading

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sofia vergara is regarded as overrated rightfully so, however in the case I meant that she is no different than many other women or for that matter colombian women,

Obviously it takes skill to get mentioned in media, press,styling, hollywood celebs do a lot of touch ups and media , is overrated a compliment, in this case probably so, is it negative, well a bit, because folks hype, I agree the term is abused, and is often used to denote something that is just hyped, for instance a person may call an ivy league school or prominent school overrated, true but they do have redeeming qualities and public ivies have suffered due to lack of resources, and folks just say that because they can't get it in,or are wondering about the ridiculous hype of admissions, however a desmayed school like NYU is more overrated since lack of endowment and status and a choice of majors can amork, make folks give that a more "overrated" choice.

Being overrated can be used to promote something that is "underrated", yes the term is abused, should we use the term unfairly rated?