Awkward Introductions

Image

It is time.

Many of you have been subjected to my baseball rants on social media – and most of you correctly ignored most of them most of the time. From time to time, I received comments along the lines of, “you really need to start a blog,” each flavored with varying levels of annoyance.

It is time. I have heard you. Much to the chagrin of many, it is time.

As an unrelenting Giants fan, I have subjected you to many a diatribe about playoff pushes, the value of one player relative to another, batted ball luck, projections, and other numbers that probably ought not to see any light other than that of my monitor as I hunch over it in the dank basement of my parents’ house.* Undoubtedly, the vast majority of this blog’s entries will fulfill the duties of my orange and black compulsion, though perhaps not all of them.

It is time.

It is time for full disclosure: my relationship with baseball is not terribly unlike the dude who can’t pick between Kirk or Picard and Star Trek. I didn’t get into baseball until I was a little older, and by then it was a little late for me to start down the path towards becoming the next Barry Bonds (or, at the very least, the next Felipe Crespo). I’ve never had to:

1.) lay off an 0-2 slider down and away

2.) execute a 3-1 pitch with two men in scoring position and nobody out

3.) read a pitcher’s pickoff move having just gotten into a 1-run game in the 8th inning

4.) field a slow chopper near third base and have to decide whether to start a 5-4-3 double play or get one sure out

5.) get a bunt down against a pitcher throwing 96 MPH with cut, tail, or sink.

10,000,006.) decide whether my left-handed three-true-outcome bat on the bench versus their LOOGY is a preferable matchup to my slap-happy right-handed second baseman against their right handed starter in the bottom of the 7th inning.

I think a lot of us baseball fans – nerds and casuals alike – forget that we have never done these things. At the very least, we forget that we have never done this at the 99.9998th percentile. There will be times that this blog flies off the handle and attempts to characterize professional baseball as easy – mundane. Few things could be further from the truth. As my friend said shortly after we had just witnessed this 9-6 putout from the right field corner: “There are things that these guys do that you and I simply cannot do. It’s not that they can do the same things that can we do – just a lot better. These guys do things you and I simply cannot.”

It is time.

Another disclosure: I’m bad at being a nerd. I love advanced stats, but my understanding of them is still in its infancy as compared to TRUE stat-heads. I’m going to use them anyway. To pay homage to Ian Malcolm’s classic Jurassic Park tell-off, I wield advanced stats not terribly unlike a kid who has found his dad’s gun. I constantly learn about new ones (there are seemingly always more metrics coming being developed), but I tend to fall back on a handful of advanced metrics (or, perhaps more accurately, consumer-grade advanced metrics) when making an assessment of a player’s capabilities. Hopefully I can convince one or two of you that some of them have some merit.

My final opening thought: statistics are great tools. I love when statistics tell me things that seem to run counter to what my eyes have told me. However, when it really gets down to it, baseball is, of course, a game played by real breathing people. I feel that giving time to both the experience of the live game (whether you take it in on T.V., at the yard, or even on the radio if you are lucky enough to have good broadcasters to whom you can listen) and the cold, ever-more-exacting numbers helps one appreciate the game even more. One begins to really notice exceptional and unique talents, appreciate special seasons, and savor the unexpected (or seemingly impossible) moments even more. Pay no attention to the asinine “us versus them” argument between the scouts of the old school and the sabermetricians of the new school – there truly is a place at the table for both.

Awkward introductions over. PLAY BA…. no. It is time.

*Has not lived with parents since 2005.

Advertisements