Category Archives: Articles

I’m Important; I’m on Wikipedia

Few SABR are notable enough–to the non-SABR–to merit a Wikipedia page. The “Major proponents of sabermetrics” section of the Wikipedia article on sabermetrics lists a lot of the usual suspects: Earnshaw Cook, Bill James, Sean Lahman, Voros McCracken, Rob Neyer, Nate Silver, Tangotiger, Keith Woolner. You get the point.

Though for someone who’s been writing about sabermetrics and baseball in general for less than two years and has contributed nothing of note either in terms of writing or research, isn’t it curious Carson Cistulli is mentioned as a “major proponent of sabermetrics?” He even has his own page.

I wonder what kind of anonymous contributor would go through the trouble of creating such an exhaustively-sourced article for an insignificant poet and wannabe deep thinker on baseball. Who could possibly care that in high school, Cistulli “began to seriously read poetry, including contemporary avant-garde poet Kenneth Koch, and began to explore writing?” And why bother with a bibliography, reviews, 19 external links, and 95 footnotes? John von Neumann only has 37 footnotes and he was like the greatest mathematician ever, or so Wikipedia tells me.

SABR and SABER

Penning an entire post complaining about the spelling of one word makes me as much of a target as the SABR I mock regularly for their silly arguments, but this issue really gets to me. It’s been on my mind for a few weeks now and I couldn’t hold back any longer. At least I’m self-aware about it, right?

In the his introduction to the 1980 Baseball Abstract, Bill James wrote,

A year ago I wrote in this letter that what I do does not have a name and cannot be explained in a sentence or two. Well, now I have given it a name: Sabermetrics, the first part to honor the acronym of the Society for American Baseball Research, the second part to indicate measurement. Sabermetrics is the mathematical and statistical analysis of baseball records.

I don’t need to tell you how sabermetrics has taken hold since then. Basketball analysts dubbed their field APBRmetrics as a tribute, for instance. But over the past few months, I’ve seen a frightening growth in the use of a bastardization of the term. People now use sabremetrics and I have no idea why.

There’s a valid argument to be made that the word should have been sabremetrics from the start–it’s SABR nor SABER, after all–but that ship has sailed. We have thirty years of precedent now. And I’ve yet to see anyone actually argue for the use of sabremetrics on such prescriptivist grounds.

In fact, I haven’t seen anyone make any case whatsoever for why anyone should use sabremetrics over sabermetrics. Which makes its pernicious spread that much more mystifying. The best explanation I’ve come up with for its spread is that Tangotiger started using it. As recently as the beginning of November, he was using sabermetrics. Nowadays? You get the point.

I also hate another Tango-approved coinage threatening to replace a perfectly-good term with history on its side, that being saberist instead of sabermetrician. At least in that case, saberist is shorter and possibly easier to type. It’s still ridiculous to use; don’t get me wrong. And if saberist is a pointless word even with a (feeble) argument in its favor, why would anyone ever use sabremetrics?

By the way, someone tell me how I’m supposed to pronounce sabremetrics. “say-bruh-meh-tricks”? “say-bree-meh-tricks”? It certainly isn’t “say-bur-meh-tricks”, unless we’re all British now. In which case, someone point me to some good cricket SABR blogs for me to mock.

As far as I can tell, the only thing sabremetrics has going for it is the blessing of SABR God-King Tangotiger. And that’s just not enough for me. History, common sense, and the fact that baseball is American and not British all tell me to use sabermetrics. And you should too. There’s no need to replace a term that’s worked just fine for so long.

Another Post About TUCK!

At the risk of making this the first and only blog dedicated to TUCK! sez criticism, how could I pass up his latest gem? It might be his worst finest achievement to date.

My complaints:

  1. TUCK! thinks Josh Hamilton is the Rangers’ first baseman.
  2. TUCK! thinks members of the BBWAA vote for the Gold Gloves (they don’t)
  3. TUCK! thinks Felix Hernandez was undeserving of the AL Cy Young and Joey Votto was undeserving of the NL MVP.

And I think the backwards K lives on Asteroid 331.

It’s Going to His Head

Tangotiger, November 4, 2010:

On the other hand, my method is to use existing stories as a launching point for what I really want to say and do. My objective is to be timeless.

Tangotiger, Novemeber 18, 2010:

Tangotiger
Dean of new-fangled stats

Tangotiger, November 19, 2010:

As for why I bother to highlight [J.C. Bradbury] here, I suppose it’s similar to trying to expose the ridiculousness of what the media does as well. A sort of sabermetric Jon Stewart if you will.

Tangotiger, November 19, 2010:

ChuckO/11: I think you perfectly captured exactly what I am about, better than I could have described myself.

You can put that on my sabermetric tombstone when I retire!

The Hardball Times Commenters Exist!

SABR love arguing and they love the internet. So arguing on the internet comes naturally. You can find stupid arguments all over the comments of The Book, Baseball Prospectus, BBTF, and a bunch of crappy SB Nation blogs. But you couldn’t, until yesterday, on The Hardball Times. Before then, all you’d see were the occasional person calling out Tuck for being an idiot.

It took an astonishingly-bad article, but look for yourself–a genuine SABR fight. Here’s the play-by-play.

  • 10:29 a.m. – Bob Lee starts off by noting how stupid Paul Francis Sullivan is (13 words)
  • 14 minutes later – Brad Johnson comments (144 words)
  • 2 minutes later – Mark comments (39 words)
  • 4 minutes later – Mark comments again (83 words)
  • 2 minutes later – ecp comments (13 words)
  • 8 minutes later – Brad Johnson comments (119 words)
  • 3 minutes later – Mark comments (83)
  • 5 minutes later – Brad Johnson accuses Mark of being schizophrenic (12 words)
  • 3 minutes later – Mark reveals there is another Mark (31 words)
  • 45 minutes later – the second Mark makes himself known and promotes his theory that there are two Pirates organizations; how ironic (82 words)
  • 34 minutes later – Paul E comments (52 words)
  • 6 minutes later – Brad Johnson comments (112 words)
  • 8 minutes later – Mark comments (142 words)
  • 8 minutes later – Brad Johnson comments (143 words)
  • 16 minutes later – Mark finally responds (170 words)
  • 8 minutes later – Brad Johnson comments (152 words)
  • 7 minutes later – Mark breaks out the caps lock, twice (109 words)
  • 9 minutes later – Brad Johnson is cowed by Mark’s caps lock (88 words)
  • 4 minutes later – Mark gloats (122 words)
  • 9 minutes later – Brad Johnson continues writing for some reason (129 words)
  • 5 minutes later – the second Mark chimes in; he’s very sneaky (149 words)
  • 2 minutes later – original Mark breaks out the caps lock again to seal the victory (140 words)
  • 14 minutes later – confused because Brad Johnson hasn’t commented in over 20 minutes, Mark uses more caps lock (77 words)
  • 19 minutes later – Brad Johnson returns to defend his honor (98 words)
  • 9 minutes later – Mark repeats himself (124 words)
  • 10 minutes later – Brad Johnson repeats himself (126 words)
  • 1 minutes later – Mark openly mocks Brad Johnson (15 words)
  • 5 minutes later – Mark comes back for more, including caps lock (90 words)
  • 1 minute later – Paul Francis Sullivan wants something noted for the record, which I suppose would be this blog; so noted (11 words)
  • 3 minutes later – Brad Johnson accuses Mark of being contrary (129 words)
  • 19 minutes later – Mark continues to troll, compare Pedro Alvarez to his dog (51 words)

Since then, Brad Johnson hasn’t shown his face. He must be ashamed. Mark, for his part, has been proudly trumpeting his victory and taking on any new comers, to the tune of 9 posts and 1,741 words in the last 24 hours.

Things J.C. Bradbury Is Wrong About

Tuck, the World’s Laziest Cartoonist

I don’t have the patience to write an introduction for this, since any SABR worth his slide rule knows all about the horrible comic TUCK! sez that appears regularly on Hardball Times and also knows any moment spent thinking about it is a waste of time. Tuck’s artwork is terrible, his stories make no sense, and his jokes are so bad they actually might be anti-comedy.

The worst of it might be Tuck’s sheer laziness. Who else would post the exact same comic six times this year only changing the speech bubbles? If you don’t believe me, here’s the complete listing of what I call  the “Dragon Ball Z Guy Reads the Paper While Watching TV and after the TV Says Something Stupid and Not Funny, He Shoots a Knowing, World-Weary Look to the Reader, also the Headline on the Paper Changes to an Even Worse Joke than the one the TV Made” series.

  1. November 14, 2007: Same as it ever was..!
  2. January 23, 2008: Going, going…still going…
  3. March 19, 2008: Whoulda thunk, indeed?
  4. June 11, 2008: Yeah, right…
  5. August 23, 2008: All part of the game, right, Lefebvre?
  6. August 30, 2008: Glavine-san???
  7. September 10, 2008: They have these new things called “maps”
  8. October 18, 2008: 2008 Playoffs Sketchbook, Part Five
  9. November 8, 2008: TUCK!’s 2008 Playoffs Sketchbook, part (last)
  10. November 19, 2008: File under “Duh”
  11. December 17, 2008: Media blitzed
  12. January 28, 2009: Cha-ching, 2K9
  13. March 5, 2009: Fascinating impersonating
  14. April 2, 2009: no foolin’!
  15. May 14, 2009: One for Calcaterra
  16. August 20, 2009: Play ball. Please!
  17. November 12, 2009: Winner gets the centaur paintings?
  18. January 11, 2010: How much is that per strikeout?
  19. March 25, 2010: Another one for Calcaterra
  20. April 22, 2010: That’s a lot of cabbage
  21. June 14, 2010: Strasburg Week, Pt 1
  22. August 19, 2010: There goes my BBWAA membership
  23. October 14, 2010: Next?

There’s almost no difference from one edition to the next. The biggest change is when Dragon Ball Z Guy’s cigar-smoking dog, Si-Si, first appears on May 14, 2009. Oh and the guy’s hat appears to say “FAN·O,” presumably because he’s a sports fan. Very clever. Anyway, that’s the only change in format between 2007 and now. This is the kind of hard-hitting research you’ll only see at Praiseball Bospectus.

Beyond the stupidity of the jokes or even the stupidity of the whole setup and payoff, is the stupidity of Tuck himself. I don’t think he ever bothered to save a template of the comic, even though he’s reused it nearly two dozen times now. He just scans in a copy of a copy of a copy each time. Comparing the older comics with the more recent, the quality and pixelization definitely has gotten worse over the years. Eventually, we’ll be reading a gray box with two speech bubbles. I don’t know if gray boxes can give withering looks, though.

In the end, this won’t change anyone’s opinion on TUCK! sez. It was total crap to begin with, so what difference does it make if he starts copying himself? Excuse me while I sulk for having spent an hour on this. Next time, though, I’ll give Tuck the Tangotiger treatment, as I investigate the “awards” he’s won.

Update: I don’t why I didn’t do this before. Enjoy this slideshow of the comics. It makes it especially easy to tell that Tuck rescans the comic each time, as the orientation and size never stays the same.

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