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Sunday, September 18, 2011

NYBD: Silva: Why I Applaud Keith Law’s Evolution

Law Abiding Citizen: How do you stop a blogger who is already behind Insider?

I can identify with Law because I see some what he is going through in me. I have grown since I started covering baseball in March of 2007. Before that I was just another fan who watched the game as a fan and listened to talk radio. By no means do I have the front office experience or analytical background of Keith Law, but I think I know baseball pretty well and can hold my own with the big boys, sometimes.That’s not my point. The point is interacting with people from all different backgrounds, experiences, and writing styles has made me well-rounded. It’s made me a better writer, radio host, and analyst of the game. The best part is how the learning process is fluid. I hope to be better at this in 2012 than I am in 2011. I have made mistakes in the past, but does that mean I can’t learn and grow from it? Should I be punished forever due to something I said in 2009? Should Keith Law be punished because of what he thought at age 29 as a new baseball executive?

Law basically did his mea culpa with the scouting community on the ESPN podcast. Assuming it’s a sincere take – and I have no reason not to believe that is isn’t- he should be applauded. I don’t know the guy personally, but by reviewing his evolution it appears he is someone that many in this community- writers, scouts, executives, and coaches- could learn from; both traditional and advanced thinkers alike. I know I just did.

Repoz Posted: September 18, 2011 at 04:14 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, media, sabermetrics, site news, special topics

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   1. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 18, 2011 at 10:29 AM (#3928593)
The comments thread at that site has some people who'd fit right in around here.
   2. shoewizard Posted: September 18, 2011 at 12:45 PM (#3928598)
I'd go check them out, but his site is blocked behind the great firewall of China.
   3. Swedish Chef Posted: September 18, 2011 at 12:52 PM (#3928600)
I'd go check them out, but his site is blocked behind the great firewall of China.

I'm offended that they block that and allow BBTF, what are we doing wrong? Is it the Nanny?
   4. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 18, 2011 at 12:54 PM (#3928602)
Part of being paid to do something professionally is accountability for what you do. It isn't that writers can't grow or evolve, but the thing they're paid to write can indeed come back to bite them years later.

So yes, a professional writer should be "punished" for something he said three years ago. And a baseball executive should be accountable for what he said to a writer when he was 29. That is part of his job; it's part of what he's paid for.
   5. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 18, 2011 at 01:15 PM (#3928604)
By the way, I understand that several Loungers are seeing "Keith Law's Evolution" in concert, but if more than twenty people buy the CD, they're no longer interested.
   6. Swedish Chef Posted: September 18, 2011 at 01:20 PM (#3928606)
Part of being paid to do something professionally is accountability for what you do. It isn't that writers can't grow or evolve, but the thing they're paid to write can indeed come back to bite them years later.

So yes, a professional writer should be "punished" for something he said three years ago. And a baseball executive should be accountable for what he said to a writer when he was 29. That is part of his job; it's part of what he's paid for.


I don't even know what you're saying, but if you're saying that writers and baseball execs are accountable before something else than their publisher or team (or god, if you're of that persuasion), you're wrong.
   7. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: September 18, 2011 at 01:21 PM (#3928607)
I have grown since I started covering baseball in March of 2007. Before that I was just another fan who watched the game as a fan and listened to talk radio.

Don't dislocate your shoulder patting yourself on the back there. And I'm sure everybody around here believes that they have not grown themselves over the past few years.

Oh, and you still haven't figured out that readers generally don't want to hear about how inferior they are to yourself, so perhaps you still have some growing to do there as a writer.

Part of being paid to do something professionally is accountability for what you do. It isn't that writers can't grow or evolve, but the thing they're paid to write can indeed come back to bite them years later.

So yes, a professional writer should be "punished" for something he said three years ago. And a baseball executive should be accountable for what he said to a writer when he was 29. That is part of his job; it's part of what he's paid for.


The main problem people had with Law wasn't that he was wrong about something, or that he changed his mind. It's that he completely failed to acknowledge that he was one of the inspirations for things he was criticising other people for.
   8. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 18, 2011 at 01:32 PM (#3928609)
I'm offended that they block that and allow BBTF, what are we doing wrong? Is it the Nanny?
Something something Tiananmen Square.

That oughta do it.
   9. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 18, 2011 at 01:33 PM (#3928610)
I don't even know what you're saying, but if you're saying that writers and baseball execs are accountable before something else than their publisher or team (or god, if you're of that persuasion), you're wrong.


I'm not. I'm saying that the stuff you say or write (particularly to a person writing a book, as it is here) is part of who you are. You can learn from it (and it appears that KLaw did so), but you can't disavow it. If you can't live with that, "no comment" is your friend.
   10. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 18, 2011 at 03:25 PM (#3928671)
Has Keith evolved or just changed his mind? It seems to me that he remains the guy he always was; convinced he is always right and condescendingly dismissive of those who disagree with him.

Maybe I'm getting hung up on semantics but to me "evolved" speaks to someone who has grown as a person rather than someone who has just changed his mind. From his writings that doesn't seem to be Law.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 18, 2011 at 03:28 PM (#3928672)
Should Keith Law be punished because of what he thought at age 29 as a new baseball executive?

No. But, he should be punished for bashing someone over holding those views w/o admitting that he held them himself.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: September 18, 2011 at 07:44 PM (#3928959)
Should I be punished forever due to something I said in 2009?

Persecution complex much?

Anyway, that depends a lot on what you said and whether you have repudiated what you said and explained why you were wrong and promised on a stack of Jeter biographies never to make that mistake again.

Reputations are hard things to overcome. My opinion of Silva based on his past writings is that he's a poor writer who doesn't know much about his topic. It's true that I might well always hold that opinion even if it's no longer true because I decided some time ago that he's not worth reading ... so why would I read him now to see if that's changed? It's not like there aren't good writers out there I can read instead.
   13. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 19, 2011 at 12:59 AM (#3929154)
The best part about MoneyBall was when Beane fired the entire scouting staff that had been costing Oakland millions of dollars a year because he realized he never listened to a single word they said anyways. How has functioning without scouts worked for them since? Pretty well.

I'm glad Keith Law finally had the "realization" that Beane was never able to have.
   14.   Posted: September 19, 2011 at 01:20 AM (#3929165)


No. But, he should be punished for bashing someone over holding those views w/o admitting that he held them himself.


Ding ding ding.

"Oh, I was 'only' 29! I barely knew what a baseball was!" Give me a break.
   15. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 19, 2011 at 01:37 AM (#3929173)
Law's been pretty candid about bashing himself and his approach at the time — the word he used in last week's podcast was "failed."
   16. Darren Posted: September 19, 2011 at 01:47 AM (#3929177)
That was after the review and the back and forth with Lewis, right? It seems like that would never have come out unless Lewis had called him on it. At the very least it seemed a tad late.
   17. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: September 19, 2011 at 02:01 AM (#3929188)
I agree with those who say that Law has not "grown" or "evolved" rather he merely seems to have changed his opinions. Im not too fond of the author of.moneyball, I think he tended to spin stuff a bit too much to fit his narrative, but he seems to have nailed Laws's personality.
   18. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 19, 2011 at 02:10 AM (#3929196)
I don't think that's particularly fair, since the initial question Law was answering was, "Is Moneyball a good movie?" and not "Was Billy Beane right or wrong?" or "What is the value of scouting?"

He was pretty expansive on the latter question during the podcast and made it very clear that he believed Beane did NOT fail, and that the efforts by smaller-market teams to exploit market inefficiencies were/are extremely important. His own experiences in Toronto were, as he said, a failure because they simply weren't receptive to scouts and scouting. Law named many people who tried to get him to be more open to it, and said that at the time he was too close-minded to accept that information. "Failed" and "close-minded" aren't phrases one might use if one were trying to cover one's behind.

I think it's fair to say that Law writes and speaks about baseball with a certain style that can smack of condescension. Give the guy some credit though; he does a ton of scouting nowadays, and in his writing/podcasting he tries to bring both his stathead self and his scouting together to create more holistic player evaluations. That may not make him more right than before, but it's most definitely an evolution from where he was before.
   19. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: September 19, 2011 at 03:03 AM (#3929222)
Reputations are hard things to overcome. My opinion of Silva based on his past writings is that he's a poor writer who doesn't know much about his topic. It's true that I might well always hold that opinion even if it's no longer true because I decided some time ago that he's not worth reading ... so why would I read him now to see if that's changed? It's not like there aren't good writers out there I can read instead.


Repoz should conduct an experiment: He quotes a large passage from a Joe Posnanski article about the sheer joy of rooting for Rickey Henderson but attributes it to Murray Chass with some type of Chassian headline MURRAY CHASS: KEITH LAW CALLS MONEYBALL ABJECT FAILURE, MR. PRESIDENT. A thousand snark-laden comments would follow.
   20. Joe Kehoskie Posted: September 19, 2011 at 05:57 PM (#3929661)
That was after the review and the back and forth with Lewis, right? It seems like that would never have come out unless Lewis had called him on it. At the very least it seemed a tad late.

Right. Except for the apparent hard feelings between Lewis and Law, and the five (?) threads' worth of BBTF entertainment value, this isn't a huge deal, but it's odd that so many people don't seem to understand the basic timeline here. Law's non-mea culpa mea culpa only occurred after Lewis called him out, and if not for some Toronto blogger going to the trouble of transcribing Law's podcast comments, the details of Law's "evolution" still wouldn't exist in writing anywhere (despite Law having two different blogs).
   21. LionoftheSenate (Brewers v A's World Series) Posted: September 20, 2011 at 11:23 AM (#3930628)
I enjoy reading Law's work today. I can certainly imagine Law being a know it all during his Toronto days. There is some truth to having to play office politics, but I do get the sense Law did drink the kool-aid that scouting was at best overrated, at worst useless. The "stats community" for lack of a better term, has done a lot to shape debate and advance baseball into more of a hard science, but in the end, the stats community was overpopulated with self-assured know-it-alls like Law that never seemed to realize our ability to quantify things in baseball is the exception.....the far larger data set currently remains unquantifiable, thus guys like scouts remain incredibly valuable.

A business analogy could be made where "stats" people are the bean counters/accoutants and scouts are the product development people/marketers. Take a company like Apple and it is obvious they are currently the worlds largest company (by market cap) not because of the bean counters, but because of being able to make new products and create demand for new products that are often not technically any more advanced than their competition. You can rarely lead the new product innovation process by spreadsheet or equation, at least if you are interested in creating successful new products.

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