Today I am blaming Bill Dwyre for writing one of the most inexcusably inaccurate, willfully ignorant, petulantly anti-journalistic columns I have ever read about the game of baseball. Though trivial in the scheme of things, the piece is so excrutiating it’s worth talking about in some detail. I want to live in a world where no journalist, let alone “Journalist Bill” from my hometown paper (and former employer), thinks it’s OK to approach and execute such an exercise in self-satisfied know-nothingism.
The witlessness is advertised in the headline—“Angels’ Jerry Dipoto speaks to the SABR rattlers: Analytics can break player performance down to statistical categories, but the general manager still champions the the human aspect of the game.”
Look past the bad pun in the main hed, and imagine a sports-journalism mindset that comes up with the phrase “Analytics can break player performance down to statistical categories.” Wait—you’re telling me that baseball has statistics? In categories? What ever will those wacky pencil-pushers think up next!
...Moneyball (which Dwyre mocks as “a pretty good movie”) appeared on bookshelves a decade ago. The “stats vs. scouts” debate has been beaten into the ground year after year since then, as young analytical general managers have found success in Tampa and Boston (which hired—shudder—Bill James), while faring less well in Los Angeles (where Dwyre’s newspaper chose to mock the overmatched ex-Billy Beane deputy Paul DePodesta as—I’m not making this up—“Google Boy”).
As for evidence of what real fans are into, just look around you. This site and community, which I’ve been a part of since before the SB Nation days, is the largest and most concentrated gathering of serious Angels fans online. It is hardly a SABRtastic outlet—traditional whipping boys have included Rob Neyer and Baseball Prospectus, among others—but over the years it has reflected and participated in the exponential growth of interest in baseball analysis nationwide. And almost none of these grade-A consumers of journalism about Angels baseball gives a flying fig about the Los Angeles Times.