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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Bill James Mailbag

BABIP. There I said it. Plus some Dylan, Pete Palmer freak show biz…

with BABIP steadily declining, is this years .259, a drop off of 20+, points just random or do you expect it to climb back up into the .270-.280 range?

1)  The use of the term “BABIP” is lazy and annoying to the readers, and I would prefer that you not use it. 

2)  I wasn’t aware that Batting Averages on Balls in Play HAD dropped.  Have they dropped over a period of years, or just down this year?

3)  While I wasn’t aware that they were down, I had it on my list of things to do to check and see whether they were down, because John Dewan estimated that the Defensive Shifts had saved 75 runs last year.  IF defensive shifts have saved 75 runs that would imply that they have saved something like 150 hits, which would lead to a measurable drop in batting average on balls in play (although not anything like 10 points).

Batting Average on Balls in Play: 2010: .297 2011: .295 2012: .297 2013: .293

A slip from .297 to .293 is not statistically significant, and does not establish a trend.  It could be explained in part by more usage of defensive shifts, or it could be (essentially) random.  If there’s a LARGE slip, that probably is due to early-season cold weather.

Repoz Posted: April 23, 2013 at 05:43 AM | 137 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, sabermetrics

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   1. Bug Selig Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:05 AM (#4423011)
The use of the term “BABIP” is lazy and annoying to the readers, and I would prefer that you not use it.


What else grinds your gears, Bill? ERA? OBP? What a dick.
   2. TomH Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:26 AM (#4423013)
....or we could actually discuss the content of the article instead of focusing on one pretty irrelevant line and end up in 3rd-grade name-calling.

point #3 is exactly the kind of thing James has been doing for 35 years; taking a claim (shifts have saved x runs) and testing it against "if this is true, what should we be seeing?" and coming up with a hypothesis to check it. Which is better than most snarky commenters would hsve done.


   3. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:34 AM (#4423017)
Being smart is no license for being a dick.
   4. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:39 AM (#4423019)
Successful organizations generally don't ask players to do things that tax the limits of their abilities. If there is a pitcher who can post a 3.50 ERA as a reliever or a 4.50 ERA as a starter, a 100-win team will make him a reliever. A 100-loss team will make him a starter. If there is a hitter who would be pretty good in the 6 hole but poor as a cleanup hitter, a 100-loss team will use him as the cleanup hitter.


This doesn't make much sense. The reason the 100-loss team is using a shitty hitter in the cleanup spot is probably because he's one of their top two or three hitters. What separates 100 win and 100 loss teams is the players on the roster, not lineup construction.
   5. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:44 AM (#4423021)
It seems to me Bill is the lazy one as he could easily have expanded the acronym for his readers' benefit if he felt it was needed.
   6. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:54 AM (#4423024)
OBP?

Yeah, you know me!
   7. Paul D(uda) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:57 AM (#4423025)
Doublespin, I thought exactly the same thing. It's frustrating that James is such a dick in these chats.
   8. Morty Causa Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4423047)
People use acronyms far too much. It's egregious hereabouts. If you're going to use an acronym, spell out what it stands far the first time you use it and again in every subsequent discrete revisiting. Every time. That's ninth-grade English, fellas. It's the law.
   9. Morty Causa Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:54 AM (#4423048)
I see people labelled the Bill James of golf and the Bill James of college basketball. I yearn to be called the Bill James of something, but it needs to be simple-like rock/paper/scissors or maybe checkers. Do you have any tips for someone who wants to be recognized for performance analysis albeit in a less complex arena?


Louisiana Probate Law. The subject has lain fallow for generations now.

That's an enticing response. What is it about Louisiana law in this area that drew his notice? Exactly what should be analyzed?
   10. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: April 23, 2013 at 08:58 AM (#4423049)
People use acronyms far too much. It's egregious hereabouts. If you're going to use an acronym, spell out what it stands far the first time you use it and again in every subsequent discrete revisiting. Every time. That's ninth-grade English law, fellas.


Don't you mean: PUAFTMIEHIYGTUAASPOWISFRFTYUIAAIESDRETTNGELF
   11. Ron J2 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4423050)
He's consistent though. I believe it was Tom Nawrocki (a professional writer) who pointed out that James has always used very little jargon and that this is one of the reasons that he's been successful in reaching a large audience. He might use ERA or rbi but even then I think you'll find him writing the terms out in full fairly frequently. (And yes, he's been pretty dickish in these chats. This particular comment isn't particularly high on the chart by that standard)
   12. Morty Causa Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:00 AM (#4423051)
Don't you mean: PUAFTMIEHIYGTUAASPOWISFRFTYUIAAIESDRETTNGELF

Irregardless, between you and I, I could care less.
   13. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:16 AM (#4423056)
PUAFTMIEHIYGTUAASPOWISFRFTYUIAAIESDRETTNGELF


What part of ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn do you not understand?
   14. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:20 AM (#4423063)
If you're going to use an acronym, spell out what it stands far the first time you use it and again in every subsequent discrete revisiting. Every time. That's ninth-grade English, fellas. It's the law

Yeah, if you're writing a paper or something. This is a chat. With Bill James. To be read by people who read Bill James. BABIP has entered the lexicon.
   15. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:21 AM (#4423065)
James for years has asked his readers not to use unexplained acronyms. He even wrote something like a 2000 word article about why he thinks they shut down conversation. If I recall correctly, "BABIP" was a specific example he used of a problematic acronym. You can take issue with that if you like, but it's pretty much a constant on his site. It's not like he's nitpicking something at random here.
   16. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:24 AM (#4423066)
I will say that I did not know that he had asked that. He's still a jerk, but as you said, at least consistent.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:32 AM (#4423071)
James for years has asked his readers not to use unexplained acronyms. He even wrote something like a 2000 word article about why he thinks they shut down conversation. If I recall correctly, "BABIP" was a specific example he used of a problematic acronym.

I think this is a pretty silly position in the age of Google. If you were writing a letter to the newspaper or magazine 30 years ago, yeah, acronyms were bad form.

But, every single person reading this chat is on a device that allows them to search. If you don't know what BABIP is, you can look it up in 3 seconds.
   18. Morty Causa Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4423072)
Yeah, he fit right in here on these boards.
   19. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:52 AM (#4423092)
Hey, kids, GOML!
   20. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:53 AM (#4423093)
If I recall correctly, "BABIP" was a specific example he used of a problematic acronym. You can take issue with that if you like, but it's pretty much a constant on his site. It's not like he's nitpicking something at random here.


Then he should explain it.
   21. Eric Ferguson Posted: April 23, 2013 at 09:57 AM (#4423097)
How does he feel about STFU?
   22. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:00 AM (#4423101)
Then he should explain it


What on earth do you mean? He does in the excerpted question above. He advocates doing so every time he needs to reference it in an article and there's no reason to think he doesn't. I really have no idea what you're getting at here.

Certainly one can empathize with his perspective given how often we read articles on this site wherein we see sportswriters mentally shut down and dismiss advanced stats because they don't understand or don't like acronyms. You don't have to agree with his perspective, but let's not act like he's inventing demons out of wholecloth and ether
   23. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:00 AM (#4423102)

Then he should explain it.


He did. He spelled it out in the very next sentence.
   24. Spectral Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:01 AM (#4423103)
I have a hard time believing that people who read Bill James chats don't know what BABIP means at this point. I think James is just cantankerous in his old age.
   25. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4423105)
I think this is a pretty silly position in the age of Google. If you were writing a letter to the newspaper or magazine 30 years ago, yeah, acronyms were bad form.

But, every single person reading this chat is on a device that allows them to search. If you don't know what BABIP is, you can look it up in 3 seconds.


As I have said above*, it's less out of concern for what the specific readers of his site are capable of understanding and more about changing the nature of discourse in the advanced stats community. I can emphasize with him to some extent as I am interested in advanced stats and analysis but find myself often struggling to make it through BP, FG, and Tango articles because of alphabet soup. Yes, I could look them all up and read the glosses, and yes I understand why the guys do it--why it is necessary when dealing with a number of advanced concepts aimed at people who understand those concepts, but at the end of the day, I prefer a guy like Posnanski's articles which deal with (relatively) advanced stats in a way that doesn't assume you know what they mean.

That said, he's being an ####### here, as he often is, and who knows why but Bill James.

*I'm trying to find the piece on James's website but am coming up short and so am going off memory
   26. tshipman Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4423111)
On the actual question:

Can anyone figure out what the hell the question writer was getting on about?

I checked MLB, AL only, NL Only, etc. I can't find any BABIP as low as .259
   27. SoSH U at work Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:07 AM (#4423113)
The thing is, he's not just participating in the mailbag, he's editing them also. Had he been so inclined, he could have changed BABIP to Batting Average on Balls in Play in the guy's question and skipped Point 1 entirely.
   28. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4423115)
I can emphasize with him to some extent as I am interested in advanced stats and analysis but find myself often struggling to make it through BP, FG,


Make it through what now?
   29. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:09 AM (#4423116)
Which is what gives me further reason to believe he's trying to make a larger point about how people talk about advanced stats rather than trying to make sure everyone on billjamesonline knows what BABIP is
   30. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4423118)
Make it through what now?

Touche!

I also should have spelled "empathize" correctly
   31. Group Captain Mandrake Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:10 AM (#4423119)
Can anyone figure out what the hell the question writer was getting on about?

I checked MLB, AL only, NL Only, etc. I can't find any BABIP as low as .259


He probably calculated it wrong. Hell, batting average is ~.250.
   32. Morty Causa Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:11 AM (#4423121)
People are born and die every day. Some are only just becoming aware of sabermetrics and Bill James and us. It's not like breathing and drinking water. Formalities like this are simple entry-level communications courtesy.
   33. GregD Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:11 AM (#4423122)
This doesn't make much sense. The reason the 100-loss team is using a shitty hitter in the cleanup spot is probably because he's one of their top two or three hitters. What separates 100 win and 100 loss teams is the players on the roster, not lineup construction.
I agree. The batting order piece seems wrongheaded. Does a "true talent" #6 hitter bat worse because of the pressure of batting #4? Or does he just bat like a true talent #6 hitter in a spot where you'd rather have someone better?

The other issue in that answer though is separate and more interesting. What is the cost of having players play out of position defensively? Not just in terms of the runs lost in the field but in terms of the player's psyche? Are you better off playing people where they are comfortable--third instead of short, left instead of center--because of the impact the defense will have on their hitting? His critique of board games that always reward you for playing guys out of position could be true.
   34. AROM Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:11 AM (#4423123)
I checked MLB, AL only, NL Only, etc. I can't find any BABIP as low as .259


I wonder if the person asking meant batting average on balls in play for a specific hitter or pitcher.
   35. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4423132)
I think this is a pretty silly position in the age of Google. If you were writing a letter to the newspaper or magazine 30 years ago, yeah, acronyms were bad form.

But, every single person reading this chat is on a device that allows them to search. If you don't know what BABIP is, you can look it up in 3 seconds.


Of course most people reading that question would know what BABIP refers to, but it wouldn't surprise me if at least 10%-20% didn't. But I would think that the better thing for James to have done would've been simply to ignore the question or respond to the guy privately and tell him to try again with the acronym spelled out. Having to keep googling acronyms is a bit like having to keep looking up footnotes that are listed by a book's chapter name rather than by page number, a practice I can't believe still exists when the alternative is just as easy to do.

And like Long Time Listener says, it's more about the nature of discourse in the advanced stats community than it is about James's particular mailbox. And even there, I'm sure that James is hoping to bring new people into the conversation, and to be told "just go google it if you don't understand it" wouldn't be a smart way to go about increasing that audience.
   36. bunyon Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4423133)
I think James is just cantankerous in his old age.

He was in his young age. It is what made, makes, him Bill James. You can't celebrate a guy for being a pain in the ass to other people and expect him to not be a pain in the ass to you.

He doesn't like acronyms. He's completely within his rights to feel that way (I agree with him and Morty on this, though I don't feel like going to war (not WAR) over it. But if you want to chat with him - and it appears that a lot of people do - don't expect him to pat you on your little head and bend to your ideas of how discourse should be conducted. That clearly isn't who he is.

Think him a jerk if you like, but he's been that guy for a long time. If you think he is a jerk, he's easy to avoid.


As for the actual issue, isn't it super early to be talking about BABIP 2013? Even if it was .259, which it isn't, would that be such a big deal given how much season there is remaining?
   37. Ron J2 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:27 AM (#4423146)
he's been that guy for a long time.


At minimum since the beginning of his professional writing career. He was known as a difficult writer from the time of the publication of the first Abstract. There's an exchange between him and his new copy editor (basically James saying "don't" and spelling out why) reprinted in The Mind of Bill James.
   38. zonk Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:38 AM (#4423152)
Bill would be loads of fun in our OTP threads, I'm sure...
   39. Dale Sams Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4423158)
I yearn to be called the Bill James of something,


I'm the Bill James of super-hero media for sure. If you like the Man of Steel trailer, then I hate the costume. If you disliked Superman Returns, I thought the hatred it received was undeserved. If you think Alan Moore is the Tesla of writers..I think he's more like Edison.

Now get off my spacelawn!
   40. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4423162)
Worst thread ever?
   41. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4423163)
The PT Barnum digression is a bit odd.
   42. SOLockwood Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:53 AM (#4423167)
Successful organizations generally don't ask players to do things that tax the limits of their abilities. If there is a pitcher who can post a 3.50 ERA as a reliever or a 4.50 ERA as a starter, a 100-win team will make him a reliever. A 100-loss team will make him a starter. If there is a hitter who would be pretty good in the 6 hole but poor as a cleanup hitter, a 100-loss team will use him as the cleanup hitter.


This doesn't make much sense. The reason the 100-loss team is using a shitty hitter in the cleanup spot is probably because he's one of their top two or three hitters. What separates 100 win and 100 loss teams is the players on the roster, not lineup construction.


Rants is correct that it's a question of talent availability rather than lineup construction. But it is also a case of the bad team forcing a player into a role beyond his abilities. Had Mariano Rivera come up with a bad team, it's quite possible he'd have spent a few years as a ~5.00 ERA starter simply because he would have been one of the five best starting candidates on the squad. Likewise, I remember saying when Austin Kearns was on the Nationals batting cleanup that it was an indicator that the Nats were going to be bad -- Austin Kearns bats 6th for a good team, 4th for a bad one.
   43. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 10:59 AM (#4423172)
There's an exchange between him and his new copy editor (basically James saying "don't" and spelling out why) reprinted in The Mind of Bill James.


As someone who edits for a living, I feel compelled to note that we're wading into "History's Greatest Monster" territory here.
   44. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4423184)

He did. He spelled it out in the very next sentence.


Spelling it out in the quote would work better, but in any case, the snark then becomes superfluous.
   45. Ron J2 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4423187)
#43 Particularly as avoidable errors have been published because of James' insistence on not being edited.

   46. McCoy Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:08 AM (#4423188)
There have been plenty of bad teams that cut bait pretty quickly on mediocre starting pitchers and try to convert them to relief pitchers.

For instance Kyle Farnsworth came up as a starting pitcher and after his rookie year in 1999 the Cubs converted him to reliever 5 games into the 2000 season.
   47. Nineto Lezcano needs to get his shit together (CW) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:29 AM (#4423210)
The Dewan claim about shifts is an utter load of nonsense.
   48. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4423215)
Particularly as avoidable errors have been published because of James' insistence on not being edited.


The sports editor at my newspaper in Little Rock insisted that his column not be edited, which is how such gems as "not a chinchilla of evidence" & "seated vicariously on a barstool" made it into print, not to mention a reference to "Ted Williams, the Sultan of Swat." (He had no interest in baseball whatsoever but thought that softball was the bee's ####### knees. *sigh*)
   49. bjhanke Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4423218)
I'm kinda with Bill on this one, although I'm even older (about 2 years) than he is. I admit that BABIP is pretty well known in sabermetric circles now, but Bill's audience is a bit wider than most. Also, I object in general to unexplained acronyms, which is why I avoid some people's comments. They are addicted to their own proprietary acronyms, and I don't know them. This extends beyond baseball. There's an acronym called "MILF" that keeps cropping up, but I don't recognize it. Actually, it crops up enough that I think I'll try wikipedia and see if it's there. Anyway, just one person who actually thinks that Bill has this right, although he could have been a bit more polite. - Brock Hanke
   50. Dale Sams Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4423226)
There's an acronym called "MILF" that keeps cropping up, but I don't recognize it. Actually, it crops up enough that I think I'll try wikipedia and see if it's there


{Goes to get popcorn}.
   51. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4423227)
There's an acronym called "MILF" that keeps cropping up, but I don't recognize it. Actually, it crops up enough that I think I'll try wikipedia and see if it's there.


If you get an Albright photo, you're definitely doing something wrong.
   52. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4423230)
Worst thread ever?


Not nearly enough talk about rape for that.
   53. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4423235)
There's a good reason people don't spell out MILF.
   54. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:49 AM (#4423239)
The sports editor at my newspaper in Little Rock insisted that his column not be edited, which is how such gems as "not a chinchilla of evidence" & "seated vicariously on a barstool" made it into print, not to mention a reference to "Ted Williams, the Sultan of Swat."

What paper (The Gazette?), and what was his name? That sounds like it'd be worth checking out.
   55. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4423243)
is a bit like having to keep looking up footnotes that are listed by a book's chapter name rather than by page number, a practice I can't believe still exists when the alternative is just as easy to do.

It's absurd that actual footnotes are almost never used anymore, as opposed to the endnotes you're describing. Footnoting was common for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, when it was extremely difficult to do given page layouts for presses. Now, when it's unbelievably easy to set true footnotes at the bottom of each page, no one does it.
   56. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4423244)
What paper (The Gazette?), and what was his name? That sounds like it'd be worth checking out.


The Democrat; the Gazette's standards were too high to accommodate hiring someone like me. I'm pretty sure those howlers were from the '80s, before Gannett came in & ruined the Gazette to the point that the Demo's publisher was able to buy it; it has, of course, been the Democrat-Gazette since something like 10/18/91.

Oh, yeah -- the editor in question is (I'm pretty sure he's still there) Wally Hall. Not for nothing did the local alternative weekly used to have a media criticism column called "The Good, the Bad & the Wally."
   57. SOLockwood Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:55 AM (#4423248)
There's an acronym called "MILF" that keeps cropping up, but I don't recognize it. Actually, it crops up enough that I think I'll try wikipedia and see if it's there.


It depends if you get the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, or, err, the other possibility ...
   58. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 11:56 AM (#4423249)
There's a good reason people don't spell out MILF.


Yeah -- laziness. "Milwaukee fans" doesn't have that many keystrokes.
   59. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4423258)
James is just cantankerous in his old age.


The use of the term “cantankerous” in describing Bill James is lazy and annoying to the readers, and I would prefer that you not use it.
   60. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:11 PM (#4423261)
is a bit like having to keep looking up footnotes that are listed by a book's chapter name rather than by page number, a practice I can't believe still exists when the alternative is just as easy to do.

It's absurd that actual footnotes are almost never used anymore, as opposed to the endnotes you're describing. Footnoting was common for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, when it was extremely difficult to do given page layouts for presses. Now, when it's unbelievably easy to set true footnotes at the bottom of each page, no one does it.


I kind of agree, though there were probably too many cases BITD where those footnotes overran the page like so much kudzu, especially when those footnotes were long elaborations of an author's point rather than simple citations of sources. But flipping from page 185 to a page that says "Notes for pp. 178-191" is one thing; having to first remember and then find the chapter name or number buried in the footnotes is quite another.
   61. Long Time Listener, First Time Caller Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:14 PM (#4423267)
#60 cf. David Foster Wallace's essays
   62. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4423268)
It's absurd that actual footnotes are almost never used anymore, as opposed to the endnotes you're describing. Footnoting was common for much of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, when it was extremely difficult to do given page layouts for presses. Now, when it's unbelievably easy to set true footnotes at the bottom of each page, no one does it.
Hear hear! One of the (many, many) joys of reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the definitive Wolmersley edition is that his copious -- and often hilarious -- footnotes are placed at the bottom of each page, rather than at the back of the book. The thought of reading Gibbon with endnotes as opposed to footnotes is unbearable, given how often you find yourself looking to them.

I hate endnotes with a passion, though one of the nice things about e-books from Amazon is that the footnotes are hyperlinked back and forth, so you only have to perform a simple click to get to them.
   63. Morty Causa Posted: April 23, 2013 at 12:54 PM (#4423307)
   64. catomi01 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:03 PM (#4423327)
I kind of agree, though there were probably too many cases BITD where those footnotes overran the page like so much kudzu, especially when those footnotes were long elaborations of an author's point rather than simple citations of sources.


This has always bothered me...if he footnote turns into an additional argument or evidence to support your point or just an explanation of that point - just include it in the paper (or book, publication, etc).
   65. Guapo Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:10 PM (#4423341)
Successful organizations generally don't ask players to do things that tax the limits of their abilities. If there is a pitcher who can post a 3.50 ERA as a reliever or a 4.50 ERA as a starter, a 100-win team will make him a reliever. A 100-loss team will make him a starter.


What's Daniel Bard up to these days, anyways?
   66. Rants Mulliniks Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4423358)
There's an acronym called "MILF" that keeps cropping up, but I don't recognize it. Actually, it crops up enough that I think I'll try wikipedia and see if it's there


Sorry Brock, but I don't think I've ever gotten a bigger laugh out of anything I've ever posted on BBTF. I'm not going to keep you in the dark though. This originated from the teen comedy "American Pie" and stands for Mom I'd Like to F***. GILF to awhile longer to enter the lexicon, but if you ever see that you'll know what it means too.
   67. bigglou115 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:19 PM (#4423359)
Oh, yeah -- the editor in question is (I'm pretty sure he's still there) Wally Hall. Not for nothing did the local alternative weekly used to have a media criticism column called "The Good, the Bad & the Wally."


I read your first comment and thought, "That sounds like Wally Hall." He's still there, doing his editorials and alternating between making 0 sense, and making sense to the lowest common denominator of Arkansas sports fans. Its funny, I always assumed that he must have been good at what he did at some point, but you don't give me that impression.

This has always bothered me...if he footnote turns into an additional argument or evidence to support your point or just an explanation of that point - just include it in the paper (or book, publication, etc).


Maybe my brain has been ruined by law school, but I'm all for the idea of hitting your main points in the paper and then elaborating in the footnotes. That way you can read the paper itself more quickly, and then return for the in-depth arguments and notes at a later time.
   68. GregD Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:30 PM (#4423377)
The sports editor at my newspaper in Little Rock insisted that his column not be edited, which is how such gems as "not a chinchilla of evidence" & "seated vicariously on a barstool" made it into print, not to mention a reference to "Ted Williams, the Sultan of Swat." (He had no interest in baseball whatsoever but thought that softball was the bee's ####### knees. *sigh*)
chinchilla of evidence is awesome!
   69. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:42 PM (#4423393)
I read your first comment and thought, "That sounds like Wally Hall." He's still there, doing his editorials and alternating between making 0 sense, and making sense to the lowest common denominator of Arkansas sports fans. Its funny, I always assumed that he must have been good at what he did at some point, but you don't give me that impression.


My understanding, which may well be wrong, is that his qualification for the job consisted of his friendship with the publisher. When I started at the paper 28 years ago this month, he'd been in the position for probably less than 5 years, & he was terrible then.

But hey, I guess people read him. That's most of the battle; it could be argued, I guess, that that's all of the battle.
   70. dlf Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4423404)
I have this funny and disturbing image of Brock suddenly exposed to parts of the internet he never before imagined existed. Now I'm waiting for Brock to chime in following his research project.
   71. Eric Ferguson Posted: April 23, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4423413)
My guess is we won't be hearing from Brock for a while ...
   72. bigglou115 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4423432)
But hey, I guess people read him. That's most of the battle; it could be argued, I guess, that that's all of the battle.


He's really the only editorial voice left. When Petrino had his thing, the only place to get the opinion of a "professional sports writer" was Hall's column. It doesn't hurt that he says exactly what most want to hear. For example, Petrino conducted himself in a way that would get him fired from almost any job in the world, but dang it Razorback fans want to win. So he spearheaded the idea that Petrino shouldn't be fired. Similarly he was for the firing of Nolan Richardson.

The only time I've seen him at odds with the public opinion was Houston Nutt. They were friends, and he continually advocated giving Nutt more time despite calling for Ford's head after only 4 years and Nutt only ever succeeding with the players Ford left him (and one of the best running back teams in collegiate history).
   73. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4423458)
I haven't read Wally since I moved away some 11 1/2 years ago, but it sounds like nothing has changed. From what I gather (I was going to grad school in Arizona at the time, & before that of course I only read the Gazette, not the Democrat), his schtick in the early '80s was daring to disagree with the Powers That Be (read: Frank Broyles) mainly because Orville Henry at the Gazette pretty much took dictation from the athletic department & printed it verbatim. When Orville ceased doing so, Wally was happy to take over that role lock, stock & barrel.

   74. Ron J2 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 02:41 PM (#4423497)
But hey, I guess people read him. That's most of the battle; it could be argued, I guess, that that's all of the battle.


Some of the early Tank McNamara strips argue that point. (They replace Tank with somebody who can actually read the script and rating dive. People liked tuning in to hear the "Norts Spews" and the like)
   75. BDC Posted: April 23, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4423520)
I hate endnotes with a passion

If they're explanatory and tangential and interesting in themselves, they should be footnotes, I agree (Gibbon being the gold standard). Many NF books, though (it's OK to use NF? Non-Fiction. [It's OK to use OK? what the hell does OK stand for, anyway?]) - many non-fiction books have pure source notes rather than discursive notes, and those should certainly be in endnote form.

My pet peeve is books where the notes, of whatever variety, aren't keyed to the page numbers. Another thing that's super-easy with 21st-century printing ("Notes to Pages ##-##," as a running title. Instead so many books only list what chapter the notes refer to. Honey, I can't remember whether I'm on Chapter 22 or Chapter 23. Or not even that, and then you could be anywhere. You have to use two bookmarks to follow text and endnotes separately.
   76. Hank G. Posted: April 23, 2013 at 03:05 PM (#4423546)
I think acronyms longer than three letters get problematical. Unless you are intimately familiar with the subject, the time to mentally expand the acronym multiplied by the number of readers is orders of magnitude greater than the time saved by the author using the acronym.

Sure, one can easily Google the acronym, but that breaks up the flow of reading. By the same reasoning, the author could easily use the acronym during the first draft and then expand it before publication. Should the writing of an article convenience the writer or the reader?

I think Bill is correct on this, but he has a way of stating things anymore that make me want to do the opposite, even when he is right.
   77. bigglou115 Posted: April 23, 2013 at 03:09 PM (#4423552)
I think Bill is correct on this, but he has a way of stating things anymore that make me want to do the opposite, even when he is right


This. If James wants to point out that the website policy is to spell out Batting Average on Balls In Play, that's fine. Dedicating an entire point to it in a 3 point response does nothing but call out a loyal fan for what's essentially a harmless error.
   78. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 23, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4423576)
I kind of agree, though there were probably too many cases BITD where those footnotes overran the page like so much kudzu, especially when those footnotes were long elaborations of an author's point rather than simple citations of sources.

This has always bothered me...if he footnote turns into an additional argument or evidence to support your point or just an explanation of that point - just include it in the paper (or book, publication, etc).


Some authors distinguish between explanatory notes and source citations by using an * or # or some similar mark for the former, and placing it at the bottom of the page; while using numbers for source citations and placing them as endnotes at the back of the book---preferably by reference to the page number rather than the chapter number.
   79. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:01 PM (#4423626)
Count me in among those who love footnotes and abhor endnotes. Even if it's just a notation of sources, why are you making me flip away from the body of the text to find where you sourced something?
   80. Eddo Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4423630)
It's OK to use OK? what the hell does OK stand for, anyway?

Ooh! I know this one!

It stands for "Old Kinderhook", aka (also known as) Martin Van Buren, who hailed from Kinderhook, NY (New York). "OK" was used prominently in his Presidential campaign.

EDIT: To be fair, this is one of the theorized origins of "OK", though it's the one I am most familiar with.
   81. kthejoker Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:05 PM (#4423632)
Wikipedia on okay - that's a lot of conjecture!
   82. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:06 PM (#4423633)
Ooh! I know this one!

It stands for "Old Kinderhook", aka (also known as) Martin Van Buren, who hailed from Kinderhook, NY (New York). "OK" was used prominently in his Presidential campaign.


I thought the "humorous" misspelling "oll korrect" was the more commonly accepted derivation.
   83. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4423639)
I read "orl korrect" as a kid.
   84. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:13 PM (#4423641)
chinchilla of evidence is awesome

agreed--I once had someone tell me that a friend of his had been "foisted by his own petard"
   85. Steve Treder Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:20 PM (#4423657)
I once had someone tell me that a friend of his had been "foisted by his own petard"

That's a tough road to hoe.
   86. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4423662)
For all intensive purposes, yeah -- can't beat that one.
   87. Bug Selig Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:31 PM (#4423673)
or we could actually discuss the content of the article instead of focusing on one pretty irrelevant line and end up in 3rd-grade name-calling.


The very first point he made isn't the "content of the article"? Irrelevant? It's the thing he apparently felt the strongest about. It's not like a throwaway verbal answer to a question you don't take very seriously and then once you make a smart aleck comment, it's just out there and you can't do anything about it. He picks the questions. He writes and publishes the responses. If the point of your post was to try and sound like the grownup, you failed.

   88. bunyon Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4423675)
There's an acronym called "MILF" that keeps cropping up, but I don't recognize it. Actually, it crops up enough that I think I'll try wikipedia and see if it's there.

If you want real fun, make it an image search.

   89. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:46 PM (#4423689)
If James wants to point out that the website policy is to spell out Batting Average on Balls In Play, that's fine. Dedicating an entire point to it in a 3 point response does nothing but call out a loyal fan for what's essentially a harmless error.


I'm having a hard time figuring out what the difference between the two is. His first point was to point out that website policy was to ask people to spell such things out. I don't know why it's so bad that he dedicated an "entire point" of one sentence to it.
   90. Steve Treder Posted: April 23, 2013 at 04:55 PM (#4423697)
If you want real fun, make it an image search.

Most definitely NSFW.
   91. Esmailyn Gonzalez Sr. Posted: April 23, 2013 at 05:07 PM (#4423716)
TINSTAAGA
   92. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: April 23, 2013 at 05:13 PM (#4423724)
Meeting the Chinchilla of Evidence in law school changed Tony LaRussa's life.
   93. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 23, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4423731)
Middle Inning Lefthanded Flamethrower!
   94. cardsfanboy Posted: April 23, 2013 at 05:50 PM (#4423765)
Spelling it out in the quote would work better, but in any case, the snark then becomes superfluous.


That was my problem with it. His comment was dickish but if he spelled why he thought it was lazy, in the same point, then it would have served it's purpose. Which was to forcefully remind readers he doesn't like acronyms. Instead I was trying to think of a reason why citing babip was lazy. I mean I was thinking "Is there a better item that Bill James thinks I should be using. Is it opsbip or isobip or what?"

I agree with those who are saying that it should be written out the first time unless it's a widely known acronym. There is no reason at all that a reader of an article should feel the need to go looking up a particular acronym. Heck someone in another thread on Colby Rasmus quoted wRC+.... I have no idea off the top of my head whether that is a rate stat or a cumulative stat, as the guy was comparing it to Joe Morgan etc. (and of course fangraphs load time is garbage compared to bb-ref so clicking on glossary and going to it, takes way to long)


The Dewan claim about shifts is an utter load of nonsense.


Why is that? I can see some reasons for it, and would need to see some data to completely dismiss a claim. 75 runs seems like a lot for a tactic that seems to be employed way to infrequently, and for a tactic that doesn't actually figure into a play 90% of the time it's employed(percentage is made up from observation and not a real percentage)

I hate endnotes with a passion, though one of the nice things about e-books from Amazon is that the footnotes are hyperlinked back and forth, so you only have to perform a simple click to get to them.


Al Franken has an entire chapter in one of his books titled "How to lie with end notes".


chinchilla of evidence is awesome!

Glad I'm not the only one who thought that.

This. If James wants to point out that the website policy is to spell out Batting Average on Balls In Play, that's fine. Dedicating an entire point to it in a 3 point response does nothing but call out a loyal fan for what's essentially a harmless error.


If it's a point Bill has made previously, and on multiple times, how loyal of a reader could this guy be?
   95. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: April 23, 2013 at 05:53 PM (#4423771)
many non-fiction books have pure source notes rather than discursive notes, and those should certainly be in endnote form.


Count me in among those who love footnotes and abhor endnotes. Even if it's just a notation of sources, why are you making me flip away from the body of the text to find where you sourced something?


Agreed with the latter sentiment. I just don't see what the harm is in putting them at the bottom of the page. Why any self-respecting writer, editor, or publisher of NF would want their readers to do more work to know what the sources are is beyond me. Doesn't matter what it is, if it's a note, put it at the bottom.*

*The exception being Wallace's discursive endnotes, which were put in the back because they were just simply too long to fit into the general story. His non-fiction work in magazines always include foot-, not end-, notes.
   96. Morty Causa Posted: April 23, 2013 at 05:54 PM (#4423773)
I'm having a hard time figuring out what the difference between the two is. His first point was to point out that website policy was to ask people to spell such things out. I don't know why it's so bad that he dedicated an "entire point" of one sentence to it.


Yes, it was the perfect opportunity his objection to be made. What is it called--a teachable moment? Someone did what he objects to--that's the perfect time to bring the subject up. It's not a harmless error. It has to do exactly with the lines he will conduct a back and forth on his time and website if you want to do that with him. If you don't, fine.

My defense of his stricture is limited, however.
   97. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:00 PM (#4423820)
Sorry Brock, but I don't think I've ever gotten a bigger laugh out of anything I've ever posted on BBTF. I'm not going to keep you in the dark though. This originated from the teen comedy "American Pie" and stands for Mom I'd Like to F***.


I'm still in the dark.
   98. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:23 PM (#4423829)
People use acronyms far too much. It's egregious hereabouts. If you're going to use an acronym, spell out what it stands far the first time you use it and again in every subsequent discrete revisiting. Every time. That's ninth-grade English, fellas. It's the law.


Quoted for truth.
   99. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:32 PM (#4423834)
Quoted for truth.

How you managed not to reply "QFT" is beyond me.
   100. AndrewJ Posted: April 23, 2013 at 07:33 PM (#4423836)
John Barrymore (Drew's grandfather) said that footnotes are "like a knock on the door downstairs while you are on your honeymoon."
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