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Sunday, June 21, 2009

BDD: Butterflies & Dr. Statlove (or How They Learned to Stop Watching Baseball and Love the Numbers)

or…Two Hours to of DOOM?

Sometimes I think there are baseball fans of the sabermetric sort that would rather watch FanGraphs’ Live Scoreboard than actually watch a game of baseball. This isn’t a knock on how people choose to enjoy the National Pastime, just an observation. Heck, having seen Adam Eaton pitch more times than I care to remember, there have been times I wish I wasn’t actually watching the game.

Those who love the numbers of the game are often refer to sabermetrics and almost treat as a way of life when discussing how they choose to enjoy the game. Wikipedia defines sabermetrics as the analysis of baseball through objective evidence, especially baseball statistics. While this is a simplified definition, I always found the definition ironic. The notion that sabermetrics is truly objective is silly when there are a number of ways to “objectively” look at a situation statistically depending on your subjectiveness toward the game. Take player value, for example. Some prefer VORP, others look at WAR and others consider Win Shares. Each serves a purpose and each way to evaluate players has its following and detractors. So, it is truly not objective.

...I know, I know. I’m hard on those who love sabermetrics. My guess is while I love the numbers of the game, I will never be truly accepted in the sabermetric fraternity. But, at the end of the day, you can’t understand baseball just by looking at the numbers. The statistics of the game are too malleable to make an iron-clad complex argument without someone else manipulating the numbers slightly to fit their hypothesis. And no matter how snarky you are in your commentary or how sure you are in your conclusion, there’s another way to look at it.

It’s chaos theory, at it’s best. Too bad it sometimes brings out the worst.

Repoz Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:42 AM | 131 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: projections, sabermetrics, zips

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   1. Frisco Cali Posted: June 21, 2009 at 06:18 AM (#3226646)
So I missed the final episode. Who won the stats vs scouts debate?
   2. Guts Posted: June 21, 2009 at 07:12 AM (#3226661)
I heard there was a really good roundtable on that with Alan Schwartz, someone should post the link.
   3. Xpgdxbq Posted: June 21, 2009 at 07:26 AM (#3226663)
I love the header that says this is a "Baseball Prospectus company." Lovely, is this the BPro Idol winner?
   4. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: June 21, 2009 at 08:28 AM (#3226668)
The notion that sabermetrics is truly objective is silly when there are a number of ways to “objectively” look at a situation statistically depending on your subjectiveness toward the game.

¿Que?
   5. Lassus Posted: June 21, 2009 at 08:41 AM (#3226669)
Sometimes I think there are baseball fans of the sabermetric sort that would rather watch FanGraphs’ Live Scoreboard than actually watch a game of baseball. This isn’t a knock on how people choose to enjoy the National Pastime, just an observation."

Ty Cobb almighty, what a freaking passive/aggressive jerk. "Just an observation." I'd rather drink paint while watching NASCAR than spend even three seconds in this guy's company watching a game. I'm 100 percent positive Nieporent and DiPerna would be better company for me at the stadium.

Prick.
   6. Orange & Blue Velvet Posted: June 21, 2009 at 09:43 AM (#3226675)
Reading this will impurify all of your precious bodily fluids.
   7. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 10:47 AM (#3226676)
Here's the only response to the article, by an evident diamond scholar named Shig Face:

Just a word of advice: You should attempt to understand something before you bash it.


And here's Joseph's reply:

I’m always looking to understand things better. If I’m wrong about something specifically, I always welcome constructive criticism.

Anything specifically you feel I’m missing the boat on here or is it just the fact that I offered some fundamental criticism of sabermetrics in general?


It'll be interesting to see whether anyone here takes Joseph up on his challenge, or whether it just turns into one more snark-infested heresy trial.
   8. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: June 21, 2009 at 12:53 PM (#3226680)
It'll be interesting to see whether anyone here takes Joseph up on his challenge, or whether it just turns into one more snark-infested heresy trial.


This is going to be a post and run. I would post it to his blog, but don't really have the time for a back and forth with anyone today. If someone else would care to take this line of argument and run with it, go right ahead.

On some level, I sort of see where this guy is coming from. Just using WARP to bash a guy gets pretty tiresome, and there is a bit of that on the web.

But I disagree strongly with what he has written. Here is the gist of the basic flaw from the quoted excerpt.

The notion that sabermetrics is truly objective is silly when there are a number of ways to “objectively” look at a situation statistically depending on your subjectiveness toward the game. Take player value, for example. Some prefer VORP, others look at WAR and others consider Win Shares.


The problem here is the confusion between the desire to effectively measure something, and the imperfect tools that are used to make the measurement. It is kind of like saying astronomy is objectively silly because the optics on your telescope are badly designed, or poorly aligned, or dirty, or something like that.

The author also assumes that the analyst has some sort of ax to grind, and they will bend the presentation of the numbers to fit their "subjectiveness toward the game." While this is certainly the case some of the time, it is sort of the opposite of objective analysis. Anyone trying to objectively analyze anything is going to go to great lengths not to do this. When you do twist the information to give a particular slant on results, it is simply bad analysis (or not analysis at all). Hopefully a careful reader will pick it up.

Being objective with data isn't really that hard, and many things that I read on the web about the objective analysis of baseball do a very good job of this.


..........


In the bit from the author that I quoted, he rightly notes the imperfect nature of some of the tools of baseball analysis. This does not mean that imperfect tools should not be used.

I am a scientist. In the sciences, we will never have perfect tools. Some tools are really good. Some tools are OK. Some are sort of crappy. If we sat around and waited for perfect tools in the sciences, we would hardly ever make any scientific discoveries. Using the tools properly, and understanding their limits is the key.

It is important that baseball analytical tools are carefully used, and that the analyst understands the limitations and is not led to incorrect conclusions. If I have a microscope, I understand the spatial resolution limits of that microscope, and am careful in trying to draw conclusions based upon things where spatial resolution limits could lead me down the wrong path. Again, if I screw this up, a careful reader who knows something about microscopy will figure this out.
   9. Gamingboy Posted: June 21, 2009 at 01:05 PM (#3226681)
Wait, did someone say DOOM?
   10. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: June 21, 2009 at 01:28 PM (#3226685)
From the article:

What you can fault is those who took the projections too literal. Inevitably, Wieters will likely not live up to those projections and some in the hyper-critical sabermetric cult… err… community will bash PECOTA for the miss. Another one of the projections out there on Wieters will be closer and that group will wear that projection as a badge of honor and use it as their calling card as to why their numbers cruncher is better than yours.


I also think that most of us have pretty realistic ideas about how reliable various projection systems are. Basically, they do a pretty good job on 2/3 players, and miss on 1/3. Some might be somewhat better, some might be somewhat worse, but really that is sort of the nature of the beast.

.........

I think that this article is actually pretty measured in its criticism of baseball analysis methods. I still feel my criticisms are valid, but the article is a lot more thoughtful than the typical "OPS sukks" stuff that often gets linked here. I don't normally bother posting on those threads.
   11. Jeff K. Posted: June 21, 2009 at 01:48 PM (#3226686)
I put a small criticism up. We'll see how it goes.
   12. Dr. I likes his panda steak medium rare Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:13 PM (#3226697)
Jeff,

That reads as a bit harsher than what I would go with. But our styles differ. I will check back tonight to see how it goes.

Enjoy.
   13. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:38 PM (#3226710)
Jeff, I just read your comment, and I think it boils down to this: You're defending sabrmetrics as properly used, and Joseph is annoyed with pidgin sabrmetricians who use statistics out of context to argue a polemical point, without taking other factors into consideration. If you look at the site he's posting on, and note some of the other writers associated with it (such as the late John Brittain), it's pretty obvious that he's not a statistical Luddite. It's much more like an intra-family argument on a particular point than an attack on the value of sabrmetrics as a whole.

Anyone who has a foot in both baseball worlds can often feel a pair of frustrations: That of trying to explain to your bar buddy that BA and RBI and web gems highlights reels aren't the be-all and end-all of understanding a player's value; and that of trying to get a certain subset of the geek squad (smile) to pay more than dismissive attention to the opinions of a player's contemporaries, many of whom might actually have noticed things about the player that don't necessarily show up on the BB-Reference page. IMO both of these archtypes are in need of an expanded horizon, but from reading Joseph's article I wouldn't be all that quick to place him in the Luddite category.

As to your point, I'll only ask you this: Have you never seen people here (let's keep it here on BTF) take any one of those sabrmetric tools and try to use it as an argument-ending club? People like you won't, and to the extent that people like this are made out to represent sabrmetricians as a whole, of course it's a strawman. But reading the article, it's pretty evident to me that he's not addressing people like you; he's arguing with those who use nothing but decontextualized numbers to frame a debate. I guess the question is just how big a group of people fit that category, and I imagine that he probably thinks it's a bigger group than you do.
   14. cardsfanboy Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:38 PM (#3226711)
Sometimes I think there are baseball fans of the sabermetric sort that would rather watch FanGraphs’ Live Scoreboard than actually watch a game of baseball. This isn’t a knock on how people choose to enjoy the National Pastime, just an observation."

you know I've been coming to baseball boards like this for 15 years now, and I only remember one person claiming they prefer the numbers over watching the game. I'm trying to find these people that supposedly never watch the game and spend all this time on numbers.
   15. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:47 PM (#3226719)
you know I've been coming to baseball boards like this for 15 years now, and I only remember one person claiming they prefer the numbers over watching the game. I'm trying to find these people that supposedly never watch the game and spend all this time on numbers.


He's dead and has been for years, but supposedly Ernest Lanigan was one of them. I haven't read the argument yet, but I consider myself a sabermoderate; like our esteemed Primate from the North Pole.
   16. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:49 PM (#3226721)
First, a comment in favour of the article:
Last year, Rogers Centre favored pitchers slightly. Those numbers are based on 81 games in Toronto of which Halladay was the starting pitcher for 15 of them. No other stadium was impacted as much by Halladay being a part of the equation as the Rogers Centre was. While the park effect is often considered to be a great way to measure the impact of a stadium on the game, it is impossible to truly measure such a thing without recognizing that it is inherently flawed by the players and pitchers that impact the numbers put up in said stadium. The park and the player are interdependent, no matter how you slice it.

I was trying to explain something like this on a thread about New Yankee Stadium back in late May. I think park factors are problematic. We need to adjust for park in certain cases, but one can take an enthusiasm for adjusting for park in the majors too far. I suspect it's more important to adjust for league, although I couldn't prove it right now.
The notion that sabermetrics is truly objective is silly when there are a number of ways to “objectively” look at a situation statistically depending on your subjectiveness toward the game.

This statement is, I believe, based on a misunderstanding of what it is to be objective. And all the rest of the article's problems arise from here. I suspect that if 'objective' was replaced with 'scientific', the author would not have misunderstood. 'Scientific' refers to a method, nothing more, so history can be scientific. Sabermetrics sometimes is not purely scientific. (Think of James's 'subjective factor' in the New Historical Abstract.) But that's rare.

Joseph then wanders into various specific examples, which unfortunately don't clarify the matter. One problem is that 'neo-sabermetrics', to borrow a term from Don Malcolm, is concerned with evaluating True Talent Level. Joseph is arguing that on a day-to-day level, True Talent Level doesn't actually explain very much. Well, anyone who thought about the matter probably knew that already. But True Talent Level isn't the only way to use use sabermetric studies.

It's always worth reminding ourselves that Bill James didn't start from wanting to know how good players would be, but rather how good they had been. Malcolm and some other members of the Big Bad Annual (BBBA) crowd, which included Primer's own Jim Furtado, were sort of feeling around the theoretical foundation that the game, not the season, is the cornerstone of performance analysis. Then BPro's great success and certain unprofessional characteristics of BBBA strangled that initiative, not quite at birth, but in late childhood. However, many of those basic concepts are still out there. James himself gave us the Game Score for pitchers, but I don't find that helpful. I don't think want a number in that way, I prefer the categories of the Quality Matrix. The same with the idea of Leverage for bullpens. Leverage, and the related Win Expectancy, can tell us everything we need to know about what succeeded in a victory or what failed in a loss. Start totting that data up in columns and there's a handy explanation of a team's strengths and weaknesses.

Pecota, Zips, Chone and Marcel are great tools, but they are literally only half the picture.
   17. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:50 PM (#3226724)
Sometimes I think there are baseball fans of the sabermetric sort that would rather watch FanGraphs’ Live Scoreboard than actually watch a game of baseball. This isn’t a knock on how people choose to enjoy the National Pastime, just an observation."


you know I've been coming to baseball boards like this for 15 years now, and I only remember one person claiming they prefer the numbers over watching the game. I'm trying to find these people that supposedly never watch the game and spend all this time on numbers.

I completely agree that that tired old line is just BS hyperbole and doesn't help Joseph's case a bit. It's a cliche every bit as shopworn as "get off my lawn" and all the variants of Maude Flanders.
   18. Tricky Dick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:51 PM (#3226726)
I offered some fundamental criticism


I wasn't all that put off by the article until I saw that response from the author in the comments. I would think "fundamental criticism" is a meaningful attack on the foundation of sabermetrics. And this article doesn't do that.
First, you have the normal "they would rather watch graphs than a ballgame" criticism, which is an ad hominem argument.
Second, you have what amounts to a semantics argument over the word "objective." It's hard to view this as a fundamental criticism, when all of the practitioners of sabermetrics understand and admit that none of the statistical models are perfect. In fact, it is that knowledge which leads to continual improvements in statistical tools.
Third, he argues that someone can manipulate the numbers. So? Any kind of tool can be misused, but does that mean you throw out the tool? You could make that argument against any scientific method. Misused or not, I would rather have someone use statistics to back up their argument than face an argument like "that's the way it's always been done in baseball." At least with the former argument, the statistical support can be tested by someone else and shown to be invalid if it a misrepresentation.
   19. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:53 PM (#3226727)
From the article:

In case you lived under a rock, the projections on Wieters after what was considered the greatest minor league performance of the last four decades (according to the annual’s write-up on “Orange Jesus”) were off the charts! How off the charts? 31 homers, 102 RBI, 105 runs scored and a batting line of .311/.395/.544! No wonder some were surprised that Wieters didn’t levitate from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box when he made his Orioles debut.

In case you live under a rock? I know many baseball fans who like the game but don't surf the baseball blogosphere. A number of them have read Moneyball and similar stuff. But they don't peruse sites like here and BPro all that often. Was Weiter's PECOTA projection mentioned much in mainstream media or is this guy overestimating how many people reside in the sabersphere?
   20. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:55 PM (#3226729)
I completely agree that that tired old line is just BS hyperbole and doesn't help Joseph's case a bit. It's a cliche every bit as shopworn as "get off my lawn" and all the variants of Maude Flanders.

Maude Flanders? Do you mean "think of the children!"? That was Helen Lovejoy, not Maude Flanders.
   21. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3226730)
In case you live under a rock? I know many baseball fans who like the game but don't surf the baseball blogosphere. A number of them have read Moneyball and similar stuff. But they don't peruse sites like here and BPro all that often. Was Weiter's PECOTA projection mentioned much in mainstream media or is this guy overestimating how many people reside in the sabersphere?

Perhaps in spite of the tone of his article, Joseph may be extrapolating from his own circle of acquaintances. Maybe he needs to get out to a few games himself and mix with the crowd in the bleachers, where PECOTA, PETCO and PETA are likely used interchangeably.
   22. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 02:59 PM (#3226731)
Maude Flanders? Do you mean "think of the children!"? That was Helen Lovejoy, not Maude Flanders.

Yeah, you're right, but crazed cartoon Christian chicks are all pretty much all alike, and anyway, I'm sure that Helen spoke for Maude every bit as much as Casey spoke for Mickey.
   23. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:02 PM (#3226732)
Also from the article:

Last week, Johan Santana had the worst outing of his career. The Mets were pounded by the Yankees and most of the damage was done on Santana’s watch with Johan allowing nine earned runs in just three innings.

The impact? Santana went from a 2.39 ERA to a 3.29 ERA. He also went from 8-3 to 8-4 in the W-L column (even though we’ve already been told by many that W-L records are meaningless, right?).

At this point in the season, Santana would have to throw 31 scoreless innings to return his ERA to that impressive 2.39 number. So, even if Santana threw three consecutive complete game shutouts, his ERA would still not be as good as it was before he allowed nine earned runs in three innings. Does that make sense? Statistically, it does. Hence, if you evaluate Santana based on his ERA alone, even though Santana could go 3-1 with three complete game shutouts in a four game stretch, because of how poorly he performed in that one outing, we’d have to assume that he was a better pitcher ERA-wise four starts ago.


Some would blast him for using ERA because it doesn't separate pitching from defense, but I want to make a different point. Michael Wolverton's Support Neutral stats were tailor made to handle outings like this. But I may be there only champion. I rarely hear anyone else talking about them.
   24. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:07 PM (#3226734)
Perhaps in spite of the tone of his article, Joseph may be extrapolating from his own circle of acquaintances. Maybe he needs to get out to a few games himself and mix with the crowd in the bleachers, where PECOTA, PETCO and PETA are likely used interchangeably.


I'm pretty active in my local SABR chapter and it's pretty much the younger guys who are aware of this type of stuff. Our chapter head knows about sabermetrics, as do another older guy or two who board game, but the last time it came up was when Steve pimped Joe Horlen for a retroactive Cy Young Award in 1967 on the basis of his Relative ERA. I sometimes call it that instead of ERA+ myself.

The discussion took place a year ago, not back in the Summer of Love.
   25. RJ in TO Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:14 PM (#3226736)
(even though we’ve already been told by many that W-L records are meaningless, right)


I didn't think that people said that W-L records were meaningless, but rather that, over a single season, they were often a poor method by which to evaluate a pitcher when compared to the other metrics out there, since they're subject to being influenced by a whole bunch of things outside of a pitcher's control (with Nolan Ryan 1987 and Storm Davis 1989 being held up as two prime examples). Over a suitably long career, however, most of these things will largely (not completely, and not always) even out, allowing for a decent (but by no means perfect) evaluation of a pitcher via W-L record.

Well, at least for starting pitchers. I have no idea if the same applies for relievers, since there's a lot more control for situational usage influencing their records over multi-year and full-career stretches.
   26. cardsfanboy Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:17 PM (#3226739)
Ok, read the article now, and am weirded out. He says there are four things that show stats aren't the be all end all.
1. Messing with the Johan, he complains because Johans era got knocked up by one bad outing. Considering that ERA isn't really a saber stat but more a traditional stat (Sabers would point to other stats that are a tad better but oh well) he complains about how hard it is for his saint Johan to return to his great ERA from prior to the game. Well there is a reason that great ERA's are hard to get, it requires consistent dominance. If Bob Gibson had one game as bad as Johan in 1968 we wouldn't remember that year as much either. I just don't see this complaint having any validity.

2. Wieters and Pecota. I agree with him here, but as he himself mentions in the article is that some projections are dead on, others are off. I've seen arguments for Wieters projections and understand why it was so off, but I'm not even sure that BP really believed he was going to be as good as their projections, but it would be "subjective" for them to modify the stats more inline with what they thought they should be. In this guys first paragraph he complains about the subjectiveness of a stat persons point of view, yet here he is advocating they apply subjectiveness to an objective stat.

3.Lidge and Madson. I have absolutely no idea where he is going with this one, he doesn't point to one stat that says anything. It was a typical debate the closer is struggling, why not go to the setup man. Find me any stat based or non-stat based guy who doesn't get into this type of discussion when the situation is happening, and you will have found a person who doesn't enjoy watching baseball. If this guy can find a situation in the past 20 years where the closer was struggling at some point in the season and nobody made comments about bringing in the better performing reliever, and you would find a city that just doesn't care about baseball (I remember even one year where Mariano was not his usual self to start the season and there was some rumblings)
   27. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:18 PM (#3226742)
James himself gave us the Game Score for pitchers, but I don't find that helpful. I don't think want a number in that way, I prefer the categories of the Quality Matrix.


I remember QMAX! Haven't heard much talk of it in years, but I have a couple BBAs and Malcolm used to write about baseball online for a while. Could you elaborate on the theoretical foundation that the game, not the season, is the cornerstone of performance analysis? I don't think that's a better tool for projecting things, but like James, I'm more interested in what happened than what will happen so that isn't a concern for me.
   28. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:20 PM (#3226744)
Steve pimped Joe Horlen for a retroactive Cy Young Award in 1967

Coincidentally, I was messing around with some 1965-7 statistics a few weeks ago, and I did a DIPS-based projection for Horlen for 1968.

H/9 BB/9 K/9 HR/9
1965 8.8 1.2 5.2 0.7
1966 8.7 1.8 5.4 0.6
1967 9.4 2.0 3.9 0.5
Projected 68 9.0 1.7 4.5 0.6
Actual 9.3 2.6 4.2 0.7

The White Sox' BABIP for RHP was consistenly in the mid .270s, while the AL average for 67 was .268.

EDIT: I can't figure out why the tags that normally work aren't working now.
   29. cardsfanboy Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:22 PM (#3226746)
I was trying to explain something like this on a thread about New Yankee Stadium back in late May. I think park factors are problematic. We need to adjust for park in certain cases, but one can take an enthusiasm for adjusting for park in the majors too far. I suspect it's more important to adjust for league, although I couldn't prove it right now.

Most park effect ratings are after the fact, and they are value measurements, meaning it doesn't matter why this guy hit a homerun, double, or flyout, just the fact that he did. If you are making a trade for a player, how the nuances of a park may have affected his numbers does need to be considered, but for how valuable he was in comparison to other players, park effects are just fine.
   30. Tricky Dick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:22 PM (#3226747)
First, a comment in favour of the article:

Last year, Rogers Centre favored pitchers slightly. Those numbers are based on 81 games in Toronto of which Halladay was the starting pitcher for 15 of them. No other stadium was impacted as much by Halladay being a part of the equation as the Rogers Centre was. While the park effect is often considered to be a great way to measure the impact of a stadium on the game, it is impossible to truly measure such a thing without recognizing that it is inherently flawed by the players and pitchers that impact the numbers put up in said stadium. The park and the player are interdependent, no matter how you slice it.


I don't think the author of the article understands how park adjustments are calculated. (Two points: most analysts would use 3 year park factors over a 1 year version; and Halladay had a significant impact on the Blue Jays' runs allowed on the road, as well as at home, which implicitly adjusts for that issue.) An explanation of Baseball-Reference's calculation of park factors is here:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/parkadjust.shtml
   31. RJ in TO Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:32 PM (#3226753)
An explanation of Baseball-Reference's calculation of park factors is here:


Linkified for the lazy.
   32. Cowboy Popup Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:38 PM (#3226758)
Fangraphs has a live scoreboard? I'm going to have to check that out today.
   33. Lassus Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:45 PM (#3226763)
Ok, read the article now, and am weirded out.

I'm weirded out, too.

He says there are four things that show stats aren't the be all end all.

1. Messing with the Johan...
2. Wieters and Pecota...
3. Lidge and Madson. I have absolutely no idea where he is going with this one...


Are you going to get back to that third one? ;-)


I made one of the initial snarky comments, but he makes a specific point to go after people who like baseball statistics as if they really don't like the game. I cannot believe I'm still hearing this, and it really really isn't even worth responding to him because it isn't provable. "I know this guy, these guys..." and the responses that focus on the rational arguments and, well, numbers, basically prove his point to him by simply EXISTING in the first place. It's a no-win.
   34. BDC Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:47 PM (#3226765)
The only part of TFA that I really understood was the Johan Santana section; the rest was elliptical and vague.

The author seems to be saying that if Johan Santana has a bad game and his single-season ERA shoots up by a run as a result, it doesn't tell you much about whether Santana is a great pitcher or not.

The old-school baseball guy would say, "Everybody has a bad outing now and then, he'll pound some Budweiser and get 'em next time."

The saber guy would say, "Small sample sizes."

For once, everyone agrees.
   35. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:49 PM (#3226767)
Could you elaborate on the theoretical foundation that the game, not the season...I don't think that's a better tool for projecting things

I'm still groping around the idea of the game being more important than the season for performance analysis myself. It stems from work I did trying to applying sabermetric methods to cricket. Cricket four-day and Test matches can rest on the performances of a couple of players, just like individual baseball games or series. Given that a Test series can be as short as two matches and not more than six, the impact of a great performance can be quite profound.

I then noticed, while tracking the effect on Win Expectancy of the Nationals' bullpen that sometimes a loss is not the bullpen's fault, or it's not the pitcher's. Sometimes the starter gave up too many runs to begin with, sometimes the Nationals' lineup couldn't score, sometimes it was a blown play in the field.

Now the objective in baseball is to win the World Series. The competition has its own endpoints. And in between those endpoints the objective isn't to compile a player's statistical line, but to win games. As it happens, good statistical seasons normally win games, but the information is diffused across wins and losses.

What happens in adjacent seasons is only relevant in so far as it can help us figure out whether a player is really good, or just lucky. Thus, I agree that a Game Analysis isn't going to tell us much about projections. However, in determining who contributed the most to winning the World Series, it might be better to divide up the credit among various components - hitting, fielding, starting, relieving. It might also be better not to think in terms of a 'Win Expectancy' average, but more in terms of categories, like QMAX's structure of Hit Hard versus Success Square versus Power Precipiece &c;. Could we import the concept to fielding or hitting? Worth a look, I reckon.

And that's about as far as I've got.
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: June 21, 2009 at 03:53 PM (#3226769)
He says there are four things that show stats aren't the be all end all.

I was going to go to all four, but I didn't see a fourth one, his last point is chaos theory and it's pretty non-sensical but it doesn't deal with the four debates he was saying was going on.

I guess the him using four is him being subjective with numbers?
   37. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:00 PM (#3226773)
cfb, who doesn't like watching games? Was it a Primate?
   38. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:02 PM (#3226775)
It might also be better not to think in terms of a 'Win Expectancy' average, but more in terms of categories, like QMAX's structure of Hit Hard versus Success Square versus Power Precipiece &c;. Could we import the concept to fielding or hitting? Worth a look, I reckon.


Malcolm sometimes alluded to something called Ashley's Hexagon which was supposed to be a geometrical representation of batting, but I never saw it and have no idea if it was supposed to represent a season or some other unit.
   39. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:18 PM (#3226784)
There's an article about the Ashley Hexagon in the 1997 Big Bad Baseball Annual. I haven't read it yet, but it uses seasons, not games.

I spent about $200 I don't really have six weeks ago on Alibris and ABE Books buying up BBBAs and Baseball Sabermetrics. I used to have a complete run of the latter from 1989 through 1993, but I sold them for peanuts about eleven years ago, just a few months before I discovered baseball was on the Internet. What an ill-timed move!

I now have the Baseball Sabermetric from 1990-3, and the BBBA from 1996-2000. 1994 was the year of the Baseball Insight, and 1995's BBBA wasn't available on Alibris or ABE.
   40. cardsfanboy Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:21 PM (#3226786)
cfb, who doesn't like watching games? Was it a Primate?

it was a primate(and probably not a regular I imagine), but I don't remember who it was, just that it came up in some discussion or other, person said something about loving the numbers, likes looking at the box score etc but just doesn't watch the game.
   41. cardsfanboy Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:25 PM (#3226788)
There's an article about the Ashley Hexagon in the 1997 Big Bad Baseball Annual. I haven't read it yet, but it uses seasons, not games.

I spent about $200 I don't really have six weeks ago on Alibris and ABE Books buying up BBBAs and Baseball Sabermetrics. I used to have a complete run of the latter from 1989 through 1993, but I sold them for peanuts about eleven years ago, just a few months before I discovered baseball was on the Internet. What an ill-timed move!

I now have the Baseball Sabermetric from 1990-3, and the BBBA from 1996-2000. 1994 was the year of the Baseball Insight, and 1995's BBBA wasn't available on Alibris or ABE.


I only got one big bad baseball annual and I loved it (funny thing a friend of mine who is a printer, worked for the printing company that printed the book somehow smuggled me a copy, he hates stats but loves baseball, and he is a guy who hates going to the games, would rather watch the game on tv) I've never seen the BBBA at a book store so I never got another season.
   42. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:36 PM (#3226791)
I've never seen the BBBA at a book store

Probably an important reason why it's no longer around! Marketing and distribution are the hardest fields of the publishing industry to conquer. Any darn fool can write a book.
   43. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:48 PM (#3226796)
Probably an important reason why it's no longer around! Marketing and distribution are the hardest fields of the publishing industry to conquer. Any darn fool can write a book.


Right. Before I was aware that folks were discussing this type of stuff online, I saw BPro in a bookstore. In your case, you found stuff in '98. It wasn't until '01 when I met Jim Furtado at a regional SABR meeting that I found the sabersphere. I might be the one of not many who found this site through word of mouth instead of stumbling upon it thorough a link at another site or a web search.
   44. Steve Treder Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:57 PM (#3226800)
cfb, who doesn't like watching games? Was it a Primate?


it was a primate(and probably not a regular I imagine), but I don't remember who it was, just that it came up in some discussion or other, person said something about loving the numbers, likes looking at the box score etc but just doesn't watch the game.

And, you know, here's the thing about this: so what?

What difference does it make if someone doesn't prefer watching games? How is that a bad thing, in any way? How does their expression of that preference make any of the rest of us morally or intellectually superior?

This is the dumbest non-issue within the larger dumb non-issue of "baseball good, sabermetrics bad."
   45. Ron Johnson Posted: June 21, 2009 at 04:57 PM (#3226801)
#23 SNWL roolz. Happy now?

Seriously I've been a long-time supporter. "Tis true that it doesn't address the impact of defense -- which will really affect somebody like Jim Palmer. Still, it's miles ahead of any runs based system.

Oh yeah, Chris Dial likes to point out when we're going over old usenet ground. Chris wrote a much more nuanced pience more than a decade ago. Can't find it now but it was called something like "I, anti-stathead". May of the responses could be cut and pasted to the current author. Ditto for Larry Roberts' thread in the Blue Jays group.
   46. BDC Posted: June 21, 2009 at 05:08 PM (#3226807)
person said something about loving the numbers, likes looking at the box score etc but just doesn't watch the game

I think this was J. Henry Waugh in Robert Coover's novel.

That, or maybe Jeff Kent :)
   47. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 21, 2009 at 05:12 PM (#3226810)
I've introduced two people to this site by word of mouth who probably read it, but don't post as far as I know.
   48. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 21, 2009 at 05:16 PM (#3226814)
How does their expression of that preference make any of the rest of us morally or intellectually superior?
Treder is no hermeticist!

from Wikipedia:
[Dee] believed that number was the basis of all things and the key to knowledge, that God's creation was an act of numbering. From Hermeticism, he drew the belief that man had the potential for divine power, and he believed this divine power could be exercised through mathematics.
   49. cardsfanboy Posted: June 21, 2009 at 05:18 PM (#3226815)
And, you know, here's the thing about this: so what?

What difference does it make if someone doesn't prefer watching games? How is that a bad thing, in any way? How does their expression of that preference make any of the rest of us morally or intellectually superior?


to me and most of us here it doesn't matter, but somehow the the mainstream has this perception that this is how the majority or a super minority or even a significant number of people who like stas are. I know for a fact that I watch more baseball than anyone of my friends, heck I've probably missed less than 20 innings this year of Cardinal baseball, and I find it just odd that the impression of a stat friendly baseball fan would prefer numbers about the game, while not even enjoying the game.
   50. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 21, 2009 at 05:25 PM (#3226817)
Not the actual game as such — to tell the truth, real baseball bored him — but rather ther records, the statistics...no other activity in the world has so precise and comprehensive a history...so much ultimate mystery.
from Universal Baseball Association, p 45

Good call, Bob Dernier Cri.

So statheads are maligned! It's the DMB, APBA and Strat players who need to get their heads out of the game and into the game!
   51. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 05:31 PM (#3226819)
BTW, Maude was pretty. Helen wasn't.

(T)he game, not the season, is the cornerstone

I was thinking about this and maybe the series is the cornerstaone. Games aren't played in isolation, they pretty much play six days a week; unlike football in its various codes. Reminds me of a hangup one of my friends has about the NBA and NHL playoffs. They use a format that differs from how the regular season is played, while MLB and the NFL don't.

#23 SNWL roolz. Happy now?

I'm always happy to see you, Ron. I treasure your institutional memory and that definitely sounds like Dial.
   52. BFFB Posted: June 21, 2009 at 05:49 PM (#3226824)
If you are making a trade for a player, how the nuances of a park may have affected his numbers does need to be considered, but for how valuable he was in comparison to other players, park effects are just fine.


Hit Tracker + an adjustment based on physics would probably be the best way of answering that particular question
   53. Steve Treder Posted: June 21, 2009 at 05:50 PM (#3226825)
somehow the the mainstream has this perception that this is how the majority or a super minority or even a significant number of people who like stas are

Well, I'm not sure that the mainstream has that perception, but clearly folks who write this sort of trite diatribe do. And my point is that not only is their perception incorrect (at least in your experience, as well as mine), in any case their notion of superiority over those who would prefer to wallow in stats over watching a game is wholly unjustified.

It's baseball, folks. It's a game, a pastime, a hobby. It's just for fun, it isn't real life (in fact that's kind of the whole point). There is no right way or wrong way to enjoy it, just as there's nothing wrong with people who don't care a whit about it at all. There's a petty pointlessness to the "mine is the one right way to appreciate baseball" attitude.
   54. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 21, 2009 at 06:03 PM (#3226830)
I'm pretty sure it was Gef who said he didn't watch many games.
   55. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 21, 2009 at 06:23 PM (#3226835)
Do they show games on TV where gef lives? It seems it would be easier to find a HS football game on the dial there.
   56. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: June 21, 2009 at 06:24 PM (#3226839)
cfb, who doesn't like watching games? Was it a Primate?

it was a primate(and probably not a regular I imagine), but I don't remember who it was, just that it came up in some discussion or other, person said something about loving the numbers, likes looking at the box score etc but just doesn't watch the game.

It's a little too extreme to be me, then. That said, I watch less than anyone else posting in this thread.
   57. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 21, 2009 at 06:53 PM (#3226886)
It came up in the context of gef not having cable TV. If he had cable, he could watch tons of games, but without it, in the middle of the South, I'm sure it's slim pickin's.
   58. Misirlou gave her his Vincent to ride Posted: June 21, 2009 at 07:47 PM (#3227027)
Have you never seen people here (let's keep it here on BTF) take any one of those sabrmetric tools and try to use it as an argument-ending club?


All the time. "A 117 OPS+ from a corner outfielder is not good enough for the HOF."
   59. Dan Turkenkopf Posted: June 21, 2009 at 08:25 PM (#3227098)
I was thinking about this and maybe the series is the cornerstaone.


I don't know about this Jon. Winning a series doesn't get you anything more than winning the individual games does.

Maybe looking at series can tell you something about the structure of a team that would help figure out how they'd do in the playoffs. Then again a regular season series is shorter than a playoff series, so I don't know how helpful it would be.

cfb, who doesn't like watching games? Was it a Primate?

it was a primate(and probably not a regular I imagine), but I don't remember who it was, just that it came up in some discussion or other, person said something about loving the numbers, likes looking at the box score etc but just doesn't watch the game.

It's a little too extreme to be me, then. That said, I watch less than anyone else posting in this thread.


I'm probably in the same boat as Chris. I generally get in a full game every week or two on TV - and maybe a game or two a season in person across the majors and minors.

It's not that I don't enjoy watching baseball, it's that I don't have a lot of free time, and my wife doesn't like to watch.
   60. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 21, 2009 at 08:41 PM (#3227120)
No one has any reason to care, but I usually only watch a few innings a week on television. On the other hand, I listen to at least one full game every day.
   61. Tricky Dick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 08:44 PM (#3227123)
Well, I'm not sure that the mainstream has that perception, but clearly folks who write this sort of trite diatribe do. And my point is that not only is their perception incorrect (at least in your experience, as well as mine), in any case their notion of superiority over those who would prefer to wallow in stats over watching a game is wholly unjustified.

It's baseball, folks. It's a game, a pastime, a hobby. It's just for fun, it isn't real life (in fact that's kind of the whole point). There is no right way or wrong way to enjoy it, just as there's nothing wrong with people who don't care a whit about it at all. There's a petty pointlessness to the "mine is the one right way to appreciate baseball" attitude.


That's a great point. After I read this comment, I started thinking about the period when I was growing up and televised games were much less frequent, meaning that, if you didn't live close enough to go to your team's ballparks, radio and newspapers were the primary means of following your team. And it's possible that you might not follow radio broadcasts games very much, either because you didn't like the media or you didn't have a station broadcasting your team nearby. In that situation, I could very easily see a young baseball fan growing up with boxscores and stats as the way to follow their team. If that person grew up more interested in analyzing stats than watching games, would that be so unexpected?
   62. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 21, 2009 at 08:47 PM (#3227125)
Back then, though, it would usually be that whatever team was available on radio would be "your team."
   63. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 21, 2009 at 09:31 PM (#3227158)
You've also got the huge number of fans who in the regular season follow but one or two teams on TV (with me it's the Yanks, or the Red Sox if the Yanks aren't playing), and care relatively little about teams in the other league until the the stretch runs and the postseason come around.*** I suppose that in many ways people like me aren't "baseball fans" in the same sense as as those of you who follow both leagues, the minors, the college WS, and even the WBC. My only excuse is that 30 teams are simply too much to keep up with on a day-to-day basis, especially if you're trying to have some semblance of a real life beyond baseball. But it's the same way with the other sports: Follow a few teams and wait till the playoffs to pay much attention to the rest, and hell, even being a "casual fan" can seem to take more hours than there are in the day.

***or that wonderful interlude known as interleague play, which is a great opportunity not to be completely clueless about at least one NL division per year
   64. Jeff K. Posted: June 22, 2009 at 12:24 AM (#3227243)
I'd point out, on those Wieters projections, that anyone who even passed through the Lounge for about an 18 month stretch saw Colin's total freak-out obsession with those. Which prompted him to dig into them, which prompted him to question PECOTA as a whole, which prompted an article on THT. All the while, while also making fun of his obsession, there was debate in the Lounge nonstop as to the basis for the projections and Wieters' in particular. Dial, Harold, DCW, Szym, Werr, myself (not that I belong in that company), and others I'm forgetting, all chimed in more than once.

In the \"#### around" area of a baseball forum. Anybody claiming Wieters' projections as some sort of victory for the notion that saber people just swallow whatever the numbers tell them isn't paying attention to much.
   65. Jeff K. Posted: June 22, 2009 at 12:27 AM (#3227246)
Not that the Lounge is required reading, just that THT would seem to be pretty close, especially given the mini-storm Colin's article created, and that someone who was babbling about Wieters' projections would have at least given it a perusal.
   66. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 22, 2009 at 12:32 AM (#3227252)
No one has any reason to care, but I usually only watch a few innings a week on television. On the other hand, I listen to at least one full game every day.


I'm more of a radio guy myself as well. But a local bar has the Extra Innings package and I've been catching some muted out of market games lately. About once a nite, I have my mental picture of a player shattered because he looks totally different than I expected.
   67. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: June 22, 2009 at 12:51 AM (#3227261)
I'm also a fan of the support-neutral stuff.
   68. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:12 AM (#3227274)
I was brainstorming about the SNWL stuff and think that it tries to be too precise. I've been thinking of maybe assigning letter grades to starts. (Not unlike how Szymborski gives them to fielders in his projections.) It wouldn't have the faux precision of SNWL or Game Scores, but it wouldn't be as binary as a quality start.
   69. Athletic Supporter is USDA certified lean Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:31 AM (#3227286)
My game-watching experience is vastly improved by looking at Fangraphs' live WPA. A great use of modern technology.
   70. fret Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:48 AM (#3227295)
I like SNWL too. Certainly not the be-all and end-all, but very good for what it does. Also it taught me that most 20-game winners are 16-10 pitchers who got good run support.
   71. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: June 22, 2009 at 03:31 AM (#3227358)
I'm probably in the same boat as Chris. I generally get in a full game every week or two on TV - and maybe a game or two a season in person across the majors and minors.

That's still quite a bit more than I do, trust me.

I used to go to a few/couple games every year in person. I've always loved doing that. But I'm getting worn out by the prices going up every time. (I'm aware they have the right to price them as they see fit, just as I have the right to get sick of it).

At home, for whatever reason, sports mainly works as background stuff for me. And when I watch TV, it ain't background, but the central thing. So I rarely watch baseball (or any other sport). Usually I'll catch some games, or at least parts of games, as the year goes on. This year, I haven't seen dick. I've probably paid less attention to the season than at any point since I was in a college dorm without a TV.
   72. Jeff K. Posted: June 22, 2009 at 03:48 AM (#3227365)
This year, I haven't seen dick.

Obviously not catching the Skinemax baseball wrapup every evening.
   73. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 22, 2009 at 04:26 AM (#3227377)
You guys are certainly entitled to do as you wish, and enjoy your baseball fandom any way you like.

But watching is baseball is fun. Really fun. Superfun. You should try it.
   74. cardsfanboy Posted: June 22, 2009 at 05:26 AM (#3227404)
But watching is baseball is fun. Really fun. Superfun. You should try it.

who on this thread said differently?
   75. Frisco Cali Posted: June 22, 2009 at 06:16 AM (#3227417)
who on this thread said differently?

All the stat nerds.
Pay attention.
   76. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: June 22, 2009 at 07:29 AM (#3227422)
A couple of people who visit this site have now attended baseball games with me, and as the prototypical stat-geek, they all now know what a lousy time I have there. I barely speak, I show no enjoyment and hardly pay any attention. I'm just miserable and would rather be <strike>at home</strike> in the basement with my beloved spreadsheets. Just ask them.
   77. Iwakuma Chameleon (jonathan) Posted: June 22, 2009 at 08:12 AM (#3227424)
Well, I'm not sure that the mainstream has that perception, but clearly folks who write this sort of trite diatribe do. And my point is that not only is their perception incorrect (at least in your experience, as well as mine), in any case their notion of superiority over those who would prefer to wallow in stats over watching a game is wholly unjustified.

It's baseball, folks. It's a game, a pastime, a hobby. It's just for fun, it isn't real life (in fact that's kind of the whole point). There is no right way or wrong way to enjoy it, just as there's nothing wrong with people who don't care a whit about it at all. There's a petty pointlessness to the "mine is the one right way to appreciate baseball" attitude.



While I agree with this entirely, I think the (I'd call it an over)reaction by the "I watch the games" types stems from when they perceive that they're being told their understanding of baseball is fundamentally flawed, or, I guess, less correct, by a guy who doesn't even bother to watch the game. In a way, that's kind of understandable. I mean, it's easier for me to believe someone telling me Derek Jeter is a crappy fielder because his numbers suck and he can't field anything up the middle than it is to just take a -10 UZR or whatever at face value. What I mean is, it's helpful for a "stat guy" to watch and know the game if they want to explain what the numbers actually mean to the layman. But, that said, I can't remember many times when the "watch the game" types have been measured and reasonable in their kind of response as opposed to petty and childish. And if someone wants to just enjoy the numbers and the history and that's how they get their kicks from baseball, there's obviously nothing wrong with that.


Personally, I don't think my desire to watch baseball even remains consistent from season to season. I really love watching baseball, but sometimes, you know, I'd rather just check out the box score than see the A's eek out two hits in a 4-1 loss to San Diego to drop to 30-38. But if it were September and they were even remotely near first, I'd probably watch the same game pretty intently. Though I think for most, that's kind of a given.
   78. Repoz Posted: June 22, 2009 at 09:57 AM (#3227430)
they all now know what a lousy time I have there. I barely speak, I show no enjoyment

Sounds like some scouts I know...
   79. Jeff K. Posted: June 22, 2009 at 10:43 AM (#3227436)
Sounds like some scouts I know...

Are they the ones from the roundtable? Maybe they can answer #1's question...
   80. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 22, 2009 at 12:52 PM (#3227475)
I've been thinking of maybe assigning letter grades to starts.

Why reinvent QMAX, Jon? This is basically what QMAX does, except instead of an 'A', it gives us an 'Elite Square', and instead of an 'F', it gives us 'Hit Hard'.

I did wonder, however, if QMAX is missing a Third Dimension, of the Home Run.
   81. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 22, 2009 at 12:54 PM (#3227478)
At home, for whatever reason, sports mainly works as background stuff for me.


There's also radio. I often find myself on the road in the evening and putting the game on while I drive. Or, I'll have it on while writing in the kitchen.
   82. Rally Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:08 PM (#3227486)
Inevitably, Wieters will likely not live up to those projections and some in the hyper-critical sabermetric cult… err… community will bash PECOTA for the miss.


I take issue with this statement. Plenty of people bashed PECOTA for that miss well before Wieters played his first major league game. We didn't need to wait for him to come up and get off to a slow start, in fact, the ammunition on this issue was spent well before his callup. A good projection is one where you don't know whether to bet the over or under. When PECOTA says Wieters is going to hit like a prime Mike Piazza as a rookie, it's pretty easy to bet the under. Maybe a few hard core defenders will say "well, he's a super-being, so he might hit that". But NOBODY was saying Wieters would exceed his PECOTA projection. Quite simply, that's a crappy projection if you can't find anybody who wants to bet the over.
   83. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:21 PM (#3227495)
fra, I'm enjoying this exchange. It brings back some memories. My BBBAs are finally accessible after my recent move. They're just at the bottom of a stack. I'll have to pick one of them up and read about QMAX.
   84. BFFB Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:32 PM (#3227506)
i don't watch many games on tv and an average of 0 per year at a ballpark.

at this point it should be noted i live in europe, so kinda got an excuse.
   85. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:37 PM (#3227513)
So I missed the final episode. Who won the stats vs scouts debate?

Bob was dreaming.
   86. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:38 PM (#3227515)
I love watching baseball games. Unless it involves crowds of commoners. For example, I will avoid Turner field like the plague for the next week or two.
   87. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:39 PM (#3227516)
Don't worry, Sam, Jim Leyritz is safely locked up in jail.
   88. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:40 PM (#3227518)
Yes, I'm enjoying it too, Jon.

The BBBA 2000 has the best short summary of QMAX, but the 1997 one has the original article about it. I think there was at least one more article subsequently.

The BBBA 1999 has a really good article by Tom Ruane about Organizational Talent during the expansion era. It seems to have been part of a larger study that as far as I know was never published. Someone should get a hold of the rest of that and get it into print somehow.

There are just so many ideas lying around the pages of the BBBA, relatively unexploited. I could never say that about Prospectus. The Hardball Times is a much better annual in that regard.

EDIT: It's not that Prospectus exploits the ideas where BBBA didn't, but rather that Prospectus isn't really historically minded in the way the BBBA was. Thinking historically is thinking innovatively, for me. Nothing is worse than a bright idea that ignores context.
   89. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:57 PM (#3227535)
Yeah, Malcolm had a different take on baseball than the BPro guys. I have trouble putting it into words, but there was a difference. He'd do splits like Good vs Bad and talk about wafering pitchers.
   90. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 22, 2009 at 01:59 PM (#3227538)
at this point it should be noted i live in europe, so kinda got an excuse.

No excuses - after food and housing and telephone and computer, the mlb.tv subscription is next. It's all archived!

Having been in the same boat as BFFB, and possibly returning to it sooner than I had wanted, I have to say that it is problematic to follow baseball from Europe because of the time difference, rather than the distance. (The Internet annhilates distance.) And that's not because of the clocks. mlb.tv used to allow access to only five minutes of the games of the day before until something like 6 am EDT. But that's not until 11 am in Britain, and 12 noon on the Continent. So you couldn't even get up a bit early to watch a few innings before going off to work.

That's why, like Vaux, I'm more likely to listen to games on the radio. Used with GameDay as well, it's almost as good as TV.
   91. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 22, 2009 at 02:12 PM (#3227562)
   92. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 22, 2009 at 02:13 PM (#3227564)
Don't worry, Sam, Jim Leyritz is safely locked up in jail.

It won't help.
   93. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 22, 2009 at 02:16 PM (#3227570)
I have trouble putting it into words, but there was a difference.

Gore Vidal once wrote about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, saying that, like Norman Mailer, he was too much of an engineer to be a literary genius. (Although not in so many words!) I could go on about the injustice of this statement, but instead I'll use it to lead into my take on the Malcolm/BPro stylistic divide.

Engineering simply delivers a solution to a problem. It doesn't have to be pretty, and if it is prettified, it's often done in such a way as to decorate the structural elements on view. Baroque architecture has bits added in corners or at certain points of view 'because we can', and in order to achieve a particular impression. Prospectus is kind of Engineering to Malcolm's Baroque. Everything works, and is sort of clear. (You can't see some of the stuff that's going on, but the results are there in plain view.) Malcolm is more like a Baroque architect. There's stuff that's not really there for any structural reason, but the overall effect is to impress, for good or ill. So he treasures literary turns like the whole Wafering metaphor, where Prospectus would just apply amusing snark.
   94. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 22, 2009 at 02:20 PM (#3227579)
I'll repeat, because it's been 10 years and there are new kids and all that: when the revolution comes, I'm behind the barricades with Don. BPro can do whatever it is they like, but when the shooting starts, you want Malcom on your side.
   95. 185/456(GGC) Posted: June 22, 2009 at 02:22 PM (#3227586)
I'm not sure what pitching and the eucharist have to do with one another, but that term stuck out in my head. He had a whole glossary of stuff like that, IIRC.
   96. Mr Dashwood Posted: June 22, 2009 at 02:44 PM (#3227612)
I'm not sure what pitching and the eucharist have to do with one another

Nor do I, but it presents a striking mental image, with the manager all dressed up as he informs the pitcher about the change to his role!
   97. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 22, 2009 at 02:56 PM (#3227632)
Baseball would benefit from one of those smoke-bombs on a stick the church uses to...hell, I don't know what they use it for, I was raised Christian, not Catholic. Still, you know, the little swingy thing that looks like they're trying to put bees to sleep before gathering the honey?
   98. BFFB Posted: June 22, 2009 at 03:05 PM (#3227650)
It's even worse because I support the diamondbacks so the only time i get to catch a game is when they are on the east coast! never got into watching games that have already happened, well that recent. unless something really unusual has happened already knowing the result kind of ruins it.

the world series kills me every year. i end up spending a week in work looking like a zombie.
   99. BDC Posted: June 22, 2009 at 03:12 PM (#3227656)
It's called a thurible, Sam.

Actually I think he used to play third base for Cleveland: Chris Thurible.
   100. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: June 22, 2009 at 03:16 PM (#3227668)
Seriously? It's caled a thurible? I know people that pronounce "terrible" the way I assume that word sounds. I'm still going with "the little bee-keeper smoke bomb."
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