Archive for March, 2008
But these are legitimate ones, I swear. I just realized that I forgot to mention that last week was Spring Break for UCSB, which is why I didn’t write a post. I’m still caught up in fellowship application hell, but after tomorrow I should be in the clear. I’d write some more now, but today is my birthday, so I’m going to go ahead and postpone my commentary on Bill James’ appearance on 60 minutes last night. I’ve got some presents to open, and I think that’s going to involve me not working on my dissertation. But if you haven’t seen the interview yet, go ahead and watch it, so that we can discuss is later this week.
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 »
This week, I have not conducted any interviews. I have been in contact with two possible subjects for interviewing. One is a pretty prominent figure in the world of sabermetrics and another is a blogger for a popular blog that uses and writes a lot about sabermetrics. Both are what I would consider to be pretty nice finds. But of course, there’s always some kind of rub. Both would much rather do an interview over email, and obviously, this presents issues. One of the subjects is in Florida, so basically, I don’t think I really have a choice. If he doesn’t want to be interviewed over the phone, then it’s not like i can offer to meet him somewhere. The other is closer by, where I could possibly drive to talk to him. His problem is that he just had a baby and obviously, new born babies aren’t conducive to making schedules.
I’m not totally against email interviews, but I do think that there is a tradeoff and that the information has to be handled differently. The first problem is that I am going to have to write a lengthy spiel about informed consent and confidentiality. I guess, ultimately, I don’t mind. But I am worried about presenting my subjects with three pages worth of reading before I even ask a question.
Secondly, the email interviews might be less efficient. The way I would envision it, I would send a questionnaire to the subject, they would take some time to fill it out. I would guess that this would take about a week, and then they would send it back to me. If I need more clarification, then I would send another email back and then again, the person would respond Read the rest of this entry »
I’m not really sure if this is indicative of anything really. More than anything, I just wanted to post it because it is kinda funny. However, “stats geeks” are mentioned specifically as a group to be derided. I guess I could maybe say that the deployment of the stats geek as a trope does show that there is some kind of critical mass where a writer thought that it could be included in a skit for a comedy sketch show for an nationally televised show. I could also say that the use of “stats geeks” does fall in line with the dichotomy set up by the media that pits what Howard Cosell called the “jockocracy” against “eggheads”. Furthermore, I could say that this shows how the general public has misapprehended what sabermetrics is all about. The vast majority of sabermetricians that I talked to, just don’t give a flying crap about steroids. For whatever reason, this skit decided to paint “stats geeks” as the people who are to blame in making an issue out of steroids. I doubt that the writer actually thinks this, but the point is, he or she relied on the jocks vs. nerds trope and felt that it was ok to substitute the nerds with sabermetricians, even though it actually doesn’t make any sense to here.However, it is just a Saturday Night Live skit, so I doubt I’ll be using this in the dissertation. Still though, it’s funny.
So I’ve moved on to phase two and began interviewing Key Informants over the last three weeks or so. This includes one statistician who works for a MLB franchise, two journalists for national media outlets, and one major figure in the history of sabermetrics. In some ways, I wish that there wasn’t any confidentiality issues that I had to deal with because the two journalists are very well known and I’m tickled that I got to talk to them. The confidentiality and ethics, although necessary can suck though. I think my analysis would be much sharper if I could provide the context of exactly who these people are. Obviously, it’s a tradeoff, as I don’t think many people would agree to be interviewed since they have high profile positions, but I think things would make more sense if I could provide identities.
On the other hand, Voros McCracken agreed to waive the confidentiality of the interview. And I’m happy to say that it was a most entertaining and enlightening talk. His personal story is fascinating to me. For those of you who don’t know, Voros Read the rest of this entry »