Oct 12

Re: Will Carroll and stat geeks

I coldheartedly calculated the variables necessary to make this image happen. Because I am a robot.

I knew I wanted to respond to Will Carroll’s grumpy tirade against number-crunching baseball geeks. But first, I had to watch Jeopardy.

Because I’m a nerd, I like to keep a tally of my correct answers and figure out how much money I could’ve won if I had been the one on the Jeopardy set. Today’s winnings would have been a large number – a number that I, a numbersy kind of gal, really liked.

But that figure would be SO much more than a number. There’s a dream with it. If I had really been on the show and won myself those thousands of dollars, my life would change forever. The car I unexpectedly had to buy this summer would be paid off. The loans I’ve taken from the Bank of My Parents could finally be put to rest. Ditto for my regular credit cards and student loans.

But if Will Carroll is to be believed today, I’m not capable of dreaming like that. All I could see are numbers. Stories would be beyond my comprehension. Of course, his column is about baseball, but the same thing applies here. It’s appalling that someone so seemingly modern and “with it” could be slinging out the same tired insults about us “mom’s basement” types of baseball fans.

Yeah, I love baseball stats. The good ones, I mean. FanGraphs is my home page, and Baseball-Reference is the first thing on my bookmarks toolbar. I have a bookshelf just for Bill James and B-Pro annuals, Gold Mines and Royals Authority Annuals. I love geeky debates about player values that never mention RBIs or AVG. I can dispassionately advocate for blowing up a roster if it’s full of guys with tiny WAR values. I’m that kind of baseball fan.

But I’m also the kind of baseball fan who can’t sleep on Opening Day Eve because I’m so giddy. I’m the kind of fan who knocks on wood, who never mentions a no-no in progress, who gobbles up silly fluff stories about players and their dads, who would go crazy for Bart Simpson’s walkoff home run even though Lisa’s stats said he should have taken a walk.

And today, I’m the kind of fan who’s disappointed in someone I’ve long counted as sort of a friend. I’ve always figured Will was among those who was above the name-calling and the black or white, one side or the other “debate” over whether stats or scouts are “right.” I expect that kind of mud-slinging from a lot of other voices, but not someone like him. He’s not the person to whom I thought I’d have to swear that I do enjoy leaving my computer to watch as many ballgames as I can.

There should not be such a thing as stats VS. scouts. As a fan, you will never have to choose numbers OR stories. You can delight in both, and I do. This is 2010 – can we perhaps allow for the fact that not all of us fit into one camp or t’other?

At the very least – can those of us under the age of 65 do that?

Related posts:

  1. Greinke was wrong, and why the ‘W’ is a dumb stat


1 ping

  1. Emma

    That was lovely, thank you.

  2. Charles

    Wonderful, Minda. As a felow geek, I find it so sad when I am told that I don’t watch the games. My wife would beg to differ, of course.

    I love to watch the game. Every spring hope springs that maybe they will be better and more fun. Most years that’s crushed under 40 losses by Memorial Day.

    And yet – I still go. So much for number crunching being how I relate to the game…

  3. Dave

    Absolutely well written.

  1. mindahaas.net » Blog Archive » A Royal Blues year in review

    […] My prediction of what espnW would be like was….almost perfect! Later, I got frustrated with Will Carroll for suggesting that stat geeks can’t appreciate baseball storylines. I had […]

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