Archive for the ‘Knowledge’ Category
I don’t have any real progress work wise to report to you. Like last week, I’ve been busy mostly with fellowship applications and what not. I am also running into the familiar problem of not getting any responses to my interview requests. As usual, I keep sending off missives into cyberspace I’m starting to get a little worried, especially with the writers because I think they’re going to be key in my analysis.
In any case, I’ve been organizing some of my thoughts and looking through the transcripts and reading, and I’ve come up with somewhat of an issue concerning Bill James. For those of you who don’t know, Bill James probably one of the most important people in the history of sabermetrics. He is generally credited with popularizing sabermetrics with the publications of his baseball abstracts. His name comes up more than any other name both in my reading and in my interviews. This, in and of itself, is not surprising. And I’m sure I could write a lot about how Bill james has influenced sabermetrics through the tone of his writing as he did through his actual research matter.
The issue that I’m struggling about is how to write about an individual in the context of a sociological research project. Like I said, clearly, he is an important figure…actually the important figure in sabermetrics, Read the rest of this entry »
OK, obviously, I’m way behind in the blogging department, so apologies for that first off. In any case, a bit of news came out today that really floored me and I think has obvious implications for my work. Roger Clemens released a 45 page report today that supposedly uses statistics to show that his sustained greatness over time is not due to steroids but rather due to him being as good as Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. OK, those aren’t the words he used, but the clear intent of this document is to exonerate himself from the recent steroid charges from the Mitchell Report.
Now I haven’t had time to go through the report in depth, but upon flipping through it, it looks like the writers of the report use some basic sabermetric ideas. It talks about the effect of run support on Clemens’ won-loss record, it talks about the effects of injuries on his number, and from what I can tell it attempts to use statistics to draw comparisons to Ryan and Johnson. Like I said, I haven’t had time to read it in depth and determine how good the statistical conclusions are (not that I’d be able to anyhow), but more than anything, I think this could be seen as an example of the transition of sabermetrics into legitimate knowledge.
There are a couple of interesting things to think about I think in relation to my work. Read the rest of this entry »
I ran across an interesting story from one of my favorite sports blogs, Deadspin, about MLB suing a company for using official statistics in their fantasy leagues. The story appeared in yesterday’s USA Today. You can also access the text of the story here.
Basically, MLB contends that the statistics that players produce belong to MLB and they have a right to charge licensing fees to anyone who wants to use them to make money. The attorney for CBC, the company that MLB is suing, contends that player statistics are common knowledge. From the article:
In a previous post, I about how the Sabermetric movement can be seen as a reappropration of a cultural product in a way that is more useful to the consumer of the cultural product. This would seem to be the case here. However, MLB actually does provide the cultural product of fantasy baseball to fans. The major fantasy outlets, such as Yahoo or ESPN pay lots of money to MLB for the rights to use players’ names and statistics in their leagues.
Two pieces, one in the NYT Magazine in their annual sports issue, and one in the “First Person” Column in the today’s LA Times, center around two Sabermetric related items, Baseball Sims, which I wrote about in a previous post, and Retrosheet. The links are to the articles on the newspapers’ websites, but if over time the links become outdated you can read the NYT article here and the LA Times article here.
The articles present two views of Sabermetrics that are different, yet united by a common thread, that I think are relevant to my work. The NYT piece, written by well known writer, Neal Pollack, revolves around Pollack’s involvement in a Baseball Sim league. Meant to be a humorous piece, the first sentence really sets the tone.
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.