Archive for the ‘Joe Morgan’ Category
Part of what I am doing right now is going through my interviews in detail to see what general concepts emerge. The idea that the major concepts will each constitute a chapter in my dissertation. I don’t know how many chapters I’m supposed to have, but I’m shooting for 4-5. For at least two of my chapters, I think it might be fun to use a famous baseball player as a way to get into the concept.
Conceptual Chapter #1 – I asked my subjects about what they thought about the steroid controversy and not surprisingly, many of us talked about Barry Bonds and what he means to sabermetricians. In fact, when I would ask about why they would write about particular subjects, a desire to quantify barry bonds came up more than once. for example, one subject wanted to compare how much more valuable bonds was than ichiro in the year that they both won the MVP awards in their respective leagues. now i use the term quantify, but perhaps what they are saying is that they want to be able to “tell the story” of barry bonds. several disagreed with the general portrayal and analysis of barry bonds. When I originally conceived of this question, I wanted to get at questions of embodiment, in terms of athlete’s bodies are central to the thinking of most any sports fan, but it really seems that at least for this crowd, the body is of little consequence. I’m trying to outline an angle of Bonds as the centerpiece of this chapter. And I think I’m going to go with how sabermetricians contribute to writing the history of baseball. The official story of Barry Bonds as told by journalists will be about the steroids. The story told about Barry Bonds by sabermetricians will be a bit different I think.
Conceptual Chapter #2 – Joe Morgan can be a lightning rod for the sabermetric community. In addition to being one of the most vocal public critics of sabermetircs, he’s a hall of famer! The thing that really seems to kill all of the sabermetricians is that Joe Morgan is a prototypical sabermetric star, someone who hit for power and walked a lot. However, many of the people I talked to did not want to criticize him. In fact, some even took up for him saying that as a former player, his knowledge is informative, especially in his role as color commentator for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. They obviously disagreed with him when he criticizes sabermetrics, but they think the experience factor, in put another way, the qualitative part of baseball is important to know too. Many were advocating a wholistic approach to understanding baseball that values both statistics and experience. At the same time, there are some who think Joe Morgan is an idiot for his stance. I’m sure that if you’re reading this blog, you’re familiar with firejoemorgan.com. I am going to try to chase down the author of this blog and talk to him about the extreme vitriol for Joe Morgan and what it says about baseball in the bigger picture.
Anyways, these are thoughts in process, so please go easy on me. But please, please, any feedback would be much appreciated as I try to start to organize my dissertation.
Greetings. I must start this post with an apology. I have very obviously not been able to use this blog as a motivation tool for myself, and I haven’t been able to update you on the progress of my dissertation project as well as tell you about other related developments. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been neglecting my personal blog as well. That doesn’t make you feel any better does it? Didn’t think so. I guess I should just stop dwelling on it and start by updating you on where I am in the data collection process.
By this time, I have completed about 24 interviews. I did about 12 interviews at the SABR conference, and the rest of the interviews have been done over the phone, with my most recent one being last Saturday. They have been all with what I’m calling the “rank and file” of the sabermetrics movement meaning that they are just regular people who aren’t necessarily involved with any professional sports franchises or what I’ve been referring to as the baseball institution. All of them have been very interesting and great conversations to have. They’ve ranged from age 17 to 78. They’re all males, and they’re pretty much all white. I’ll be scouring the world for a female sabermetrician, as well as one of color soon enough, so if anyone can refer one to me, that’d be great.
The next phase of my data collection revolves around doing interviews with “key informants”, those people who are plugged into the baseball institution and can speak directly to the way that the knowledge has made its way through the system. The kinds of people I’m looking for here are statisticians who actually work for baseball franchises, front office baseball people, and sports journalists. I really need to get my ass in gear and start contacting these people because if I don’t have the data collected by Christmas, I think I’m going to shoot myself.
I’ve been pretty bad about transcribing the interviews. This is bad for two reasons. One, I should be listening to the interviews as soon as possible after doing them so that I can recall the most detail about the conversation when transcribing. Second, it’s bad because I haven’t really listened to them so that I can start to really begin to outline the research. I have some ideas of what I’m going to do, but those ideas would be much better fleshed out if I had been transcribing this whole time. In any case, I’ve decided to dedicate all of my time at my second job as a computer lab desk attendant to transcribing. My colleague, the great MG, says that I just need to put the blinders on and get into the habit of doing it before it is too late.
We also discussed the need to spell out specific tasks that need to be done to advance the dissertation, so the first order of business for me (besides transcribing) is to write a blog entry tomorrow about two players around which I want to possibly organize two of my chapters.
So again, my sincerest apologies, and please check back tomorrow for some of the things I’ve learned about Joe Morgan and Barry Bonds.
As I mentioned before, one of the great things about getting in touch with people is that many of them have alerted me to possible resources that I can use in my research. One person that I’ve been in touch with pointed me to the Simnasium website. Learning about this project, got me thinking about a lot of sociological issues, but before I discuss them, I should explain what the Simnasium is.
The Simnasium is a computer based simulation baseball game. In some respects it is similar to traditional fantasy baseball, where you form a league with other managers, draft a roster and compete against each other based on the the performance of the players. However, in addition to using sabermetrics as part of the algorithm that determines to determine the outcomes, the players that populate a manager’s team are not limited to current MLB players. Instead, managers have the opportunity to draft players from all eras. I’m not exactly sure the specifics of the player selection system, but the main attraction of something like this is that you can draft Sandy Koufax and see if he can strike out Josh Gibson (Yes, the even have Negro League players). Click here for the full set of rules which are somewhat complicated, but quite fascinating.