When you were in school, did you ever flunk both English and math in the same year? If you did, did you do it publicly, not just for your teacher and your parents to see?
I have come upon a whole organization that gets a failing grade in English and math. And I am not picking on it because it is an organization of bloggers. But if I didn’t already dislike blogs, this would do it.
I recently received a news release from the Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA), a recently formed organization that unabashedly acknowledges that it is copying the Baseball Writers Association (BBWAA). Except it’s for bloggers, not newspaper reporters. Before the Hall of Fame announcement last week, the BBA surveyed its members in an “election” that copied the BBWAA election. It was meaningless, of course, but the group was just looking to get some publicity. It wasn’t the kind of publicity, however, that I would want for my organization.
On the English side of the ledger, the release mixed singular subjects with plural predicates and singular subjects with subsequent plural pronouns. We writers care about that sort of thing. The release said Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven, the leading votegetters, “both received 35 of the 47 votes.” But they each got 35 votes; if they both received 35 votes, they would not have been the leading votegetters because their combined total would have been 35.
But the BBA saved its worst for its math exploits. Noting that the percentages for Alomar and Blyleven were 74.468, the release said the two players would make the Hall of Fame because their percentages would be rounded to 75.
Wrong. If the BBA is trying to imitate the BBWAA, it should get the rules right. The BBWAA does not round up to 75. A player has to get a pure 75 percent or more to be elected. In this year’s election, 539 votes were cast, and 75 percent of that total is 404.25. But 404 votes would not have put a candidate in the Hall. He needed 405.
But the BBA also fails simple math, something that two of my grandchildren, Jake and Josh, said they learned in first grade. The fraction .468 is not rounded to the next number. A fraction has to be half (.5) or more to round to the next whole number. If 74.468 is rounded, it becomes 74, not 75. So in the BBA survey, no one received enough votes to be elected. But that’s not what the release said.
The error-infested release only reinforces my feeling about blogs and bloggers. It becomes Exhibit A. If a person can’t write basic English correctly and doesn’t know basic math in a sport filled with numbers, what business does he have writing anything for public consumption?