Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Finn: What Mainstream Baseball Analysis Looked Like in 1984

Chad Finn takes a look back at those Zangerific Scouting Reports books from the 80’s.

Anyway, that explanation before I stumble into another too-early digression: Those snippets are from The Scouting Report: 1984, an annual that had a five-or-so-year run among baseball junkies in the middle of that decade.

...The inside-baseball candor, which felt like eavesdropping on a b.s. session among sharp-witted, Copehagen-stained old scouts, was enhanced by the one-paragraph commentary on each player from one among broadcasters Dave Campbell and Denny Matthews and legends Brooks Robinson and Duke Snider. It was intoxicating: Who knew Jerry Remy and Glenn Hoffman were “The Squeeze Men” on the Red Sox? Actually, based on what Margo Adams revealed a few years later, that designation should have gone to Wade Boggs.  Speaking of outdated attempts at comedy …

If [Graig] Nettles ran the 100-yard dash against Lou Piniella, nobody would win … [The A’s] would like to see him stop smoking and put on a few more pounds, but [Chris] Codiroli rather fancies himself as is ... [Ned] Yost seems to be a follower, not a leader … [Bob Horner] is signed to a big contract and is expected to win the Triple Crown before the contract expires ... Bill Scherrer doesn’t look like an athlete. His teammates call him “Cig” because he smokes a few from time to time but mostly because he is built like one of those long, slender 10mm jobs ... You might say Jose Cruz has been very, very good to baseball ... The Astros have a nice problem. So does [Frank] DiPino, a bachelor who is often told by the ladies he looks like John Travolta … [Frank] LaCorte has changed uniform numbers, shaved off mustaches, even burned his uniform in attempts to fight off evil demons.

...I love these Scouting Report books. Not in the way I treasure an old Abstract or look forward to learning from the Baseball Prospectus annual—I don’t value the Scouting Report for input, but I love them, for all of their flaws, for their attempts at insight, but mostly for how they are a reminder of the knowledge we’ve gained. They’re earnest, a semi-accurate, jargon-laden, win-loving, RBI-fixated baseball time capsule of an era that existed a half-decade before Mike Trout was born. They were what we had, dammit, a charmingly misguided attempt at thorough analysis. Just like my just 14-year-old self who devoured them en route to something better, they had no idea what they didn’t know.

Repoz Posted: November 27, 2012 at 06:58 AM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Benji Posted: November 27, 2012 at 08:31 AM (#4310403)
I remember when Sports Illustrated did a similar thing in the early 80's. My brothers and I were fascinated by the Scouts' comments on guys. The one I remember best is Gene Richards (Padre LF) was the "worst outfielder since Jerry Lynch in the 50's ". Cracked us up.
   2. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4310432)
Hey, I got an idea. Let's write an article telling everybody how smart we are!!
   3. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:41 AM (#4310447)
If [Graig] Nettles ran the 100-yard dash against Lou Piniella, nobody would win


lordy lordy I remember that joke


1984 was the first time I bought a Bill James Abstract.
To say it was an eye opener at the time was an understatement



   4. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 10:45 AM (#4310452)
There's room for both types of books, a fact that continues to elude the smarties. "Analysis" is one way of approaching baseball, but it's merely a niche -- one that's become something of a bore.

   5. Jim Furtado Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4310494)
I loved those old books. I always thought it would be great to have a book which blended traditional scouting reports with a sabermetric-oriented report.
   6. Toolsy McClutch Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:39 PM (#4310581)
I haven't been around much lately, but is "The Id of SugarBear Blanks" the new troll? Seems like it.

I would buy that book now honestly, it sounds neat. I'd love to hear scouty thoughts on current players.
   7. JJ1986 Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM (#4310589)
I haven't been around much lately, but is "The Id of SugarBear Blanks" the new troll? Seems like it.


His new thing is that baseball statisticians only like stats because it makes them feel superior to people who don't understand them.
   8. dr. scott Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM (#4310600)
There's room for both types of books, a fact that continues to elude the smarties. "Analysis" is one way of approaching baseball, but it's merely a niche -- one that's become something of a bore.


[Bob Horner] is signed to a big contract and is expected to win the Triple Crown before the contract expires


Just because there is room for both, does not mean one at its worse is no better than tabloid journalism... what insight is gained by saying Horner will win the tripple crown. Yea, he was a good to great player when not injured, but he was never going to come close to winning the tripple crown. He hit HRs in the top 5, but he was on a Braves team that rarely scored, and his avg was only top 10 once.

That being said, i can see how this treatment would put off the fans who thinks its useful information. Oh well.
   9. JJ1986 Posted: November 27, 2012 at 12:56 PM (#4310605)
I think Baseball Prospectus is full of much worse stuff than this. Especially since Silver left, their comp lists for every player are at least full of All Stars if not Hall of Famers.
   10. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:04 PM (#4310616)
Just because there is room for both, does not mean one at its worse is no better than tabloid journalism... what insight is gained by saying Horner will win the tripple crown.

What insight is lost? Where's the harm?
   11. Don Geovany Soto (chris h.) Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:13 PM (#4310623)
What insight is lost? Where's the harm?

That's your standard?

Seems...low.
   12. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:17 PM (#4310625)
Well you have to parse what the author is saying about Horner to extract the real value - he's saying Horner hits for power, doesn't strike out much, stings the ball routinely, that's he's a good all-around hitter. When I read that I saw the triple crown reference as shorthand for the kind of hitter Horner was. YMMV but I like reading these old reports.
   13. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4310633)
That's your standard?

Seems...low.


It's not my standard; it's two questions. The answer to one of them is that there's precisely zero harm in publishing a "scouty" observation that someone, somewhere expects Bob Horner to win a Triple Crown.(*) And a lot of good -- that's an interesting thing to know.

(*) And if that's the case, then why do people publish 1,500 words on how much smarter they are than baseball watchers in 1984?
   14. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4310643)
Man, it was fun to be a 12-year-old Braves fan in the spring of 1984. Murphy was the reigning MVP, Bob Horner was going to win the triple crown, Brad Komminsk was going to be Rookie of the Year, and you just knew that Craig McMurtry was on the verge of breaking out. Maybe he'd keep Pascual Perez from winning the Cy Young!
   15. BrianBrianson Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4310644)
I haven't been around much lately, but is "The Id of SugarBear Blanks" the new troll?


In a word: yes.
   16. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4310650)
"Troll" -- what a fresh and clever word!!! You must be so proud.
   17. Hello Rusty Kuntz, Goodbye Rusty Cars Posted: November 27, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4310678)
Man, it was fun to be a 12-year-old Braves fan in the spring of 1984. Murphy was the reigning MVP, Bob Horner was going to win the triple crown, Brad Komminsk was going to be Rookie of the Year, and you just knew that Craig McMurtry was on the verge of breaking out. Maybe he'd keep Pascual Perez from winning the Cy Young!


And they had two guys named Rick ready to take Phil Niekro's place.
   18. Tippecanoe Posted: November 27, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4310693)
The "Triple Crown", boy, that takes me back! Remember when people used to care about that stuff?
   19. Tom Nawrocki Posted: November 27, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4310719)
In his second year up, at the age of 21/22, Horner finished 5th in BA, 4th in HRs and 6th in RBI, despite playing in only 121 games. That is definitely a player who, if things had broken right, could have won a Triple Crown.

Horner, though, was a fat lazy slob, and never came close after that. But that certainly doesn't make it wrong for people to have expected him to win a Triple Crown. There's certainly value in learning what was expected of players, even if they never fulfilled those expectations.
   20. dr. scott Posted: November 27, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4311080)
What insight is lost? Where's the harm?


The insight that is lost is
1) This is 1-2 years after it was even remotely plausible that Horner could be a tripple crown winner.
2) It ignores his already fairly serious injury risks

but yea, those are minor.

In general I don't think there is any harm. I used to think that comments without much thought that appealed to uninformed romanticism were harmful as they reinforced non critical thinking... but I now think that some people will always be non-critical thinkers, and they need an outlet that they can appreciate. Its not for me from an analysis POV, but the colorful language can be beautiful .
   21. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: November 27, 2012 at 11:25 PM (#4311115)
In general I don't think there is any harm. I used to think that comments without much thought that appealed to uninformed romanticism were harmful as they reinforced non critical thinking... but I now think that some people will always be non-critical thinkers, and they need an outlet that they can appreciate. Its not for me from an analysis POV, but the colorful language can be beautiful .


Yeah, I think there's a kind of Bill Simmons-ish sports writing that is just uncritically talking about sports. Not all conversations about sports need to be highly serious and informed. It's sports. They're kind of ridiculous to begin with. Some people get really into the theory behind player value quantification and whatnot (ie, this website), and that's great, but every conversation doesn't need to be about that.

However it's frustrating in any subject area when someone not only doesn't seem to get basic concepts that you have spent tons of time thinking about, but they aren't interested in really learning them. At least in baseball the stakes are a lot lower than what I deal with in biomedical research, where there are lots of half-assed opinions about things that really are dangerous.
   22. Poster Nutbag Posted: November 28, 2012 at 12:13 AM (#4311135)
Awesomeness! I wish I would've had the foresight to keep all of my old baseball magazines from when I was a child. Man, it would be a blast to see them all now for the same reasons as this. Not the "analysis" so much, as the "fun". Good times.

As to the other BS in the thread....just wow....attempts to start conversation are always good. Blatant, unsolicited attempts to use specific words that one knows will incite particular responses and behavior is often the behavior of a sociopath. Just sayin'.
   23. puck Posted: November 28, 2012 at 02:23 AM (#4311170)
The Scouting Report books were fun. Reports on pitches the pitchers threw, and you got spray charts for hitters. I like them alongside the Abstracts.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Darren
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogChase Utley is the hottest hitter in baseball and has a shot at .400
(23 - 4:00pm, Apr 19)
Last: gehrig97

NewsblogOMNICHATTER FOR APRIL 19, 2014
(53 - 3:57pm, Apr 19)
Last: Poster Nutbag

NewsblogSCD: Bobby Cox Rookie Card Goes from Common Box to Hall of Fame
(6 - 3:56pm, Apr 19)
Last: Rickey! In a van on 95 south...

NewsblogOTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments
(1698 - 3:47pm, Apr 19)
Last: GregD

NewsblogDoug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
(344 - 3:39pm, Apr 19)
Last: The Id of SugarBear Blanks

NewsblogRosenthal: MLB likely to adjust two rules: plays at home & transfer catches
(11 - 3:35pm, Apr 19)
Last: bobm

NewsblogSeidman: Velocity talk angers Papelbon, who cites Halladay
(5 - 3:34pm, Apr 19)
Last: base ball chick

NewsblogOT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(913 - 3:32pm, Apr 19)
Last: nick swisher hygiene

NewsblogNYT: Sandomir: When Swastikas, on Caps, Meant Luck
(4 - 3:23pm, Apr 19)
Last: JE (Jason Epstein)

NewsblogCesar Cabral tossed from game, from team
(19 - 3:21pm, Apr 19)
Last: bobm

NewsblogOT: NBA Monthly Thread - April 2014
(339 - 2:57pm, Apr 19)
Last: Rob_Wood

Newsblogmets.com: Through hitting system, Mets aim to build winner
(6 - 2:36pm, Apr 19)
Last: The District Attorney

NewsblogPirates Acquire Ike Davis From Mets
(33 - 2:12pm, Apr 19)
Last: formerly dp

NewsblogMinuteman News Center: Giandurco: This means WAR
(91 - 2:10pm, Apr 19)
Last: zenbitz

NewsblogOMNICHATTER FOR APRIL 18, 2014
(156 - 1:33pm, Apr 19)
Last: cardsfanboy

Demarini, Easton and TPX Baseball Bats

 

 

 

 

Page rendered in 0.3413 seconds
52 querie(s) executed