Evolution of a baseball fan

There was a time, many years ago, when I would enjoy sitting down with a big mug o’ coffee on a Sunday and read through the Sunday sports sections of various New York area papers. During my early college years, this would provide a week’s worth of discussion fodder. By reading what Mike Lupica and Bill Madden had to say about baseball, I could regurgitate their points and sound like I knew what I was talking about.

After a while, though, I started to sour on many newspaper columnists. It seemed like I was reading the same thing week after week. I still wanted to read about sports on Sunday mornings, but I didn’t want to read Lupica predicting doomsday for the Yankees after they lost three games in a week.

My father recommended the literature: Moneyball by Michael Lewis. So, at about 11:00 a.m. that Sunday (yes, 11:00 was early morning for me at the time–I was in college, after all), I began. At about 3:00 p.m., I was over halfway through. My eyes hurt, so I put it down for a bit, but that couldn’t last. By 5:00, I had it back in my hands, schlepping it with me to the dining hall (the library wasn’t too happy with the mac and cheese stain on page 192).

After completing Moneyball, I couldn’t bear to read sports columnists anymore; if I did, it was to amuse myself with their ignorance. What amused me more was the ignorance of the book in general. From the misconception that Billy Beane wrote the book to the complete misunderstanding of the messages contained therein, people could not come to grips with Moneyball. Most famously, Joe Morgan quipped: “I don’t need a computer to tell me how to play baseball,” (paraphased).

At about this time, I discovered blogs. While interning one summer, I discovered Aaron Gleeman and The Hardball Times. Much to my delight, they provided much more insightful and intellectual baseball analysis than their newspaper counterparts. My Sunday mornings were saved.

Since then, I have spent countless hours researching and writing about baseball. There are endless questions to be answered, and thousands of different ways to approach each one. The development of more advanced and accurate statistics have allowed us to better understand what makes a good player, and how that good player fits on a team. But that doesn’t mean that Baseball Prospectus can tell us everything–why would they play the games? Traditional scouting and observational evidence is still necessary, and a marriage of the statistical and observational provides the deepest understanding of the game.

6 Responses to “Evolution of a baseball fan”

  1. 1 Ando January 22, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    I’m guilty of throwing more than a few derisive comments at the Moneyball philosophy. But I think you’re right. THe marriage of advance statistical analysis and “old school” scouting is the best route.

  2. 2 Del Brennan January 22, 2007 at 10:25 pm


    I hope I didn’t come off like the Moneyball philosophy was the be-all, end-all of baseball. There are obvious flaws in the philosophy. But I think it’s a good starting point for a fan who wants to get away from anitquated knowledge.

  3. 3 Sunil January 23, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    nice, michael lewis spoke at my graduation. great speaker.

  4. 4 Del Brennan January 23, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    What college?

    So you had Michael Lewis. My roommate had Jon Stewart. Who did I get?

    I don’t even f’n remember.

  5. 5 Sunil January 24, 2007 at 12:24 am

    tulane university. the class after me had bush sr./clinton.

  6. 6 raincoaster January 25, 2007 at 4:54 am

    Moneyball is a fabulous book, whatever you think of the math in it. Michael Lewis is an incredible writer when he manages to pull his head out of his own ass (about once every three years).

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January 2007

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