Tuesday, March 09, 2004

SABR Blows 

Thanks to a diatribe against it by Steve's Mariner Wheelhouse, I have discovered a new blog that I enjoy reading, called SABR Blows.

Steve annihilates SABR Blows author David Brennan with lines like "I'm groping for words here to describe the idiocy of Mr. Brennan's post - I would say it's Reagenesque, but even that would be overly complimentary to Mr. Brennan!!" Steve sums up the site as follows:

Unless I've missed something, Mr. Brennan believes that intelligent thinking also blows ...

As nearly as I can tell after working my way through the site, Mr Brennan has decided that using statistics in baseball is meaningless. He then tries to prove that thesis using statistics.

I highly respect Steve's opinion, so I ventured forth with the lowest of expectations. Brennan's writing is juvenile, sexist, and always has at least one profanity (each column ends with "Anyway, who gives a s**t"). This style may appeal to some, but leaves me longing for better entertainment. However, I think he is trying to point out some of the flaws in ONLY using sabermetrics to analyze baseball, and that is where he scores a few points. In each article he's written, I've found a grain of truth, or an important point to be brought out, and that may be lost in his writing style.

Brennan's first missive, "Michael Lewis' War on Logic," is a tirade against the Moneyball author and mostly picks on quotes in Lewis' recent Sports Illustrated article. But Brennan does raise an interesting point, Didn't you guys find it amazing that somebody managed to write an entire book about the A's without mentioning Hudson, Zito, or Mulder? Lets face it, without the Big Three, no one would give a damn about Billy Beane.

His latest effort, "Ditch the Damn Postseason!!!" has a similar problem to all his columns in that it tends to go all over the place, and has some zings that miss, but its central idea is to slam the SABR notion that postseason success is just luck. Luck may be too strong of a word, but you'll see references to "small sample size" or "anything can happen in a short series," that cause sabermetricians to write off the fact that the A's can't buy a postseason series win, while the Yankees rack them up. The funny thing in reading this is that Brennan attacks sabermetrics as the status quo, which will surely get a snigger from them as they try to break into baseball. But while they are not the status quo in baseball, yet, they surely are in the baseball blogging world, and I think that a middle ground is needed. You should be able to talk about Derek Jeter being a leader and winner, without having to be attacked for his poor fielding statistics.

Many of you who have written me letters about this blog have thanked me, not only for my optimism, but for being willing to go against the grain of current sabermetric thinking that is so prevalent in other M's blogs. Baseball is more than just a series of numbers. Things like clubhouse chemistry do matter, there IS a place for small ball, and its people playing the games, not stat generators. If you have these thoughts, you may enjoy SABR Blows. I think the writing needs more polish ("Kettle, you are black," I cry) and the humor level needs to mature a bit, but its got possibilities, and I'm not ready to dismiss it just for missing a few of the many targets he shoots at. For this blog, I'm adding a new section to my links on the right. Its not a favorite, but like some young ballplayers, I will "Watch and Follow."

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?