Father of Sabermetrics and Red Sox senior advisor Bill James believes “players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are”

Bill James — the father of Sabermetrics, a renowned baseball historian and a Red Sox senior advisor — let loose some provocative baseball opinions on Twitter on Wednesday night.

What began as a debate about the value of player salaries escalated when James, in one particular blunt take, said: “If the players all retired tomorrow, we would replace them, the game would go on; in three years it would make no difference whatsoever. The players are NOT the game, any more than the beer vendors are.”

That particular tweet (since deleted) — and James’ overall expressed sentiment that players are overpaid — has since drawn rebukes from MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark as well as from major leaguers such as Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and retired outfielder Torii Hunter.

“The comments Bill James made yesterday were both reckless and insulting considering our game’s history regarding the use of replacement players,” Clark’s statement said. “The Players ARE the game. And our fans have the opportunity to enjoy the most talented baseball players in the world every season. If these sentiments resonate beyond this one individual, then any challenges that lie ahead will be more difficult to overcome than initially anticipated.”

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