Over the years I’ve converted to the BA/OBP/SLG line, to OPS, WHIP and some of the other core metrical categories of statistical analysis that are clearly valuable, and superior to older, more conventional statistics. I’m not interested here in debating the merits of Sabermetrics but in wondering how objective numbers-crunching might be at odds with affection, how objective evidence might bump up against loving memories of a player who in our imaginations played with grace and excellence (or at least with “grit”) but who when his numbers are crunched settles ignobly into the bottom half of career players. When the numbers tell you that a beloved player from your youth was below-average, what does that tell you about statistics, about your love for a game. About memory?
...How would you respond to someone who might see the accumulation and analysis of sabermetric stats as having a deadening effect on intuitive love of a given player?
...Seriously, this is a tough question, I think, because I don’t know if kids love players the way they did back then. I’m not certain healthy, free-thinking people have such idols any longer in 2012. Going to the game is no longer the absolute 100% delight it was even 30 years ago. Think about this; the ballpark is basically the team’s “store” and what they are saying to you is, “Come to my store and I will make you pay for parking to give me business.” Think about how nuts that sentence reads. You have to pay for the privilege of patronizing their establishment. It’s obnoxious and a leverage of your affection for the ballclub and its history. I think today kids like David Wright, they like Derek Jeter, they like players. They don’t love them.
I think the accumulation and analysis of sabermetric stats in the context of your affection for a player is the same as your buddy trying to tell you that the girl in sophomore year high school you were crazy about was a terrible lab partner. Good to know, I suppose, but it doesn’t really affect your overall perspective on the person. Unless of course, you found yourself in Physics class with her the following year.