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Blyleven, Dinosaurs, and My Dad’s Distate for DVRs

December 5, 2008
Someday, maybe.

Someday, maybe.

Why the Baseball Writers’ Association of America should vote Bert Blyleven into the Hall of Fame:
Rich Lederer says this and Rob Neyer is all that, and Dayn Perry goes.   

Why the BBWAA won’t:
Jon Heyman garbles this and Mike Nadel mumbles that

The guys who make the cohesive argument for Blyleven (e.g. Rob Neyer) are not members of the BBWAA, though they did famously turn Cowboy Tracy Ringolsby onto their side two years ago. The guys who don’t (e.g. Jon Heyman, who voted for Francisco Rodriguez as AL MVP this year) still value wins and winning percentage and winstuff and windom as the big metric, and often point to one or two famous games as proof. Though Bill Mazeroski was one of the two best defensive second basemen of all time (Frank White the other), the Veterans’ Committee voted him in probably due in some part to his famous homer (and his popularity), despite the fact that he was a fantastically shitty hitter.

The stats v. scouts (analysis vs. personal experience/legend/instinct) argument has been the big debate in baseball for about a decade now, and there’s tremendous antipathy on both sides. The former generally regard the latter as moronic dinosaurs, and the latter spurn the former as reductivist mathematicians (as evidenced here by MSNBC’s Ted Robinson. The smarter writers of the new wave take the middle ground and acknowledge that there can be something beyond numbers (Bill James’s backing off his disregard for clutchiness made ripples last year), much like the more adaptable of the old guard are able to acknowledge that there’s merit to stats like ERA+ and WARP3.

But I always find it hard not to look at this argument on a larger, social scale; that there’s one group using empirical evidence and the exponentially-increasing amount of knowledge at our fingertips and another relying solely on one’s eyes, selective memory, and tradition. But this may be because we’ve had eight years of an executive administration repeatedly lying to us about our day-to-day reality, and appointing people to jobs they’re grossly unqualified for based on loyalty and reputation.

Here are three pretty good examples of how it’s hard to impress upon an older, stubborn crowd that new technology/ways of thinking are ok:

1. The BBWAA’s website. Christ almighty. This was created by a fourth grader who trained in two-dimensional turtle graphics from Logo.

2. Sportswriter Murray Chass’s website, which he says is “for baseball columns, not for baseball blogs.” Doesn’t even want to know what the definition of a blog is, apparently. It’s a series of tubes, Murray.

3. My dad’s bizarre reluctance to get a DVR. My father worked at IBM for 35 years, taught object technology, and many forerunners of computer programming. He is also a man who devours instruction manuals as if he were a 12 year old girl waiting for the next Harry Potter installment. And yet the very idea of getting a DVR – WHICH IS JUST A DIFFERENT TYPE OF CABLE BOX THAT YOU CAN USE TO RECORD THINGS DIGITALLY – is heretical to him. He’s perfectly happy to go through the time-tested rigmarole of putting a blank tape into the VCR and painstakingly setting the timer to – sweet Jesus Alou, I can’t even finish this sentence.

Anyhoo, the reason Blyleven may not make it into the Hall of Fame again is because Michael Brown was appointed head of FEMA, and my dad loves his collection of VHS tapes.

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One Comment
  1. just saw the BBWAA site for the first time. Yikes. Blinding green.

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