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.