Archive for June, 2007
Today I conducted the third interview I’ve done in three days. It’s been going ok so far. The computer setup with Skype and Solicall are working great, so at least I have no logistical problems to worry about as the recordings sound great and are already digitized so I can get to work on transcribing.
For the most part the interviews themselves have been pretty good. Like I said before, I am a little anxious since this is the first time I’ve done interviews for academic research. The interview subjects have been great and from what I can tell, they seem to be talking very openly about their experience with Sabermetrics. The interviews themselves are running a little shorter than I thought they would. I was hoping that each one would last at least an hour to an hour and a half. But so far, the first two were 45 minutes and the one I did this morning was about an hour. I suspect that this has to do a little with me being nervous. I noticed that I am speaking rather quickly and maybe that is prompting the subjects to answer in kind. But I also suspect that I need to adjust my interview guide. However, I do feel that I was much better in my last interview than I was with the first one.
Apologies for not posting more. It has been a busy few weeks as the end of the quarter has come and I have spent some time taking it easy while transitioning to a new schedule. This post is just an update of how things are shaping up for the summer.
The first thing you should know is that I have started a job at UCSB’s Institutional Research department. I will be working part time doing some survey analysis work. In particular, I will be working on a project about the factors involved in the retention of freshman students. There’s a possibility that this could lead to a full time gig in the future, but more importantly it gives me a way to keep my quantitative skills sharp, so that when I go look for a job I can point to my work at institutional research as proof that I can crunch numbers.
Bill James has become an almost mythical figure in the world of Sabermetrics and this article reads like many of the stories that have been written about him before. It chronicles his rise from lone wolf crunching numbers at his job as a security guard for a bean factory to his rise as the singular influence that started the modern Sabermetric movement. To be honest, this particular article will be one of many that I will use as reference when talking about the social history of Sabermetrics as it relates to individuals, so I won’t rehash that kind of stuff here. Instead, I’ll just concentrate on a few new James’ quotes that are instructive for my project. On the ability for Sabermetrics to successfully predict baseball outcomes, he says:
I find this quote interesting because I think the popular notion that Sabermetricians (and by proxy, science) can reduce things to perfect numbers that do a perfect job of predicting and analyzing. James’ quote is self-contradictory if you think about it. On the one hand, he acknowledges that there is a certain random component to winning a division, something that is beyond the control of us mere mortals. He even extends it to people’s everyday lives and reasons that this uncertainty makes us skittish. On the other hand, he is reinforcing the idea that science does indeed hold the answer, that uncertainty can be accounted for, at least to an extent, and that will make, as he says, “the system” do what it is supposed to do.
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.
I decided a few weeks ago that instead of using the online survey as a pre-survey for my interview subjects, that I would use it to try and recruit more interview subjects. The good folks at the Baseball Think Factory were nice enough to post a link to their newsblog and after one and a half days, I’ve gotten 51 responses so far. I’m overwhelmed to be honest. I was hoping to maybe get four or five more people to interview, but so far, it looks like I’ll be able to get another 10-12 interviews out of this. Very exciting stuff. Anyways, if you are reading this, and want to send someone else the link to take the survey, you can send them to this site:
If you reached this site after taking the survey, let me just take a minute to say thanks, and for those who have included email addresses, I’ll be in contact with you soon.