How do you catch the game? These days there are so many different ways to experience baseball: television, radio, online gamecast, mlb.tv, iPhone At Bat, Sirius/XM, fantasy baseball live scoring, text message alerts, and, oh yeah, being there. Today's box score leads off with a few links relating to how fans experience the game.
The stereotype of a stathead's experience of a game is spreadsheet full of data and calculated columns, stripped of excitement, speed, and hustle. Sort of makes you wonder if statheads even like baseball, doesn't it? Well, at least that's what Jake Depue wonders...
He seems worried on our behalf:
Do they see the game only in numbers, every at bat broken down based on a series of different statistics for the situation at hand? Does it become robotic, with even the most unlikely of comebacks seen simply through the lens of the percentage chance it would happen?
No. The alternative, though, doesn't sound terribly appealing:
I hope Stat Heads smile when they see Carlos Gomez sprint full speed around the bases at Wrigley after his first home run of the season
I'll smile when Carlos Gomez gets his OPS on the North side of .600. How about that?
Growing up as a Phillies fan, I believe there has been no better way to experience a baseball game than listening to the velvet-and-scotch voice of Harry Kalas. But if you push me, I'll admit that Vin Scully ain't half bad either. At 81, Scully rarely goes with the Dodgers on road trips anymore, but he certainly still has his moments ("Holy mackerel! He just broke off Public Enemy No. 1.")
This is Scully's 60th year announcing with the Dodgers (he predates the move to L.A.), and Jon Weisman asked Red Barber how Scully got hired. It seems like destiny:
And I said, "Would you be interested?"
Well, his eyes got big as teacups. So I said, "You'll have to go and talk to Mr. [Branch] Rickey." Well, in about an hour, Mr. Rickey called back, and he said, "Walter?" -- he always called me Walter -- he said, "Walter, you've found the right man." And that was the beginning.
Baseball Info Solutions doesn't experience the game any particular way. Rather, they experience it omnisciently. With stringers at nearly every pro ballpark in the country, they attempt to glean hit data from every play of every game. The Virginian-Pilot interviewed some of the semi-professional scorers employed by BIS to get a sense of what it is like. According to one,
We don't claim that we have everything. There is so much we don't see, that we don't know. I think the biggest thing we provide is the objective component that can supplement - not replace, but supplement - scouting.
At the same time, the scorekeepers are fans, too:
"For so long, fans have been just spectators," he said. "By doing this, we are participating. This is a chance to do something for the game we love."
For many trainers, the game is a challenge to keep players healthy. New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt (not to be confused with Michael Jack Schmidt) has embarked on a quest to uncover the mysteries of baseball injuries. In two articles (so far), he has begun to do just that.
In the first article, Schmidt attempts to explain why injuries seemed to be on the rise (NB: free registration required). Today, Schmidt examined the attempts of Dodgers trainer Stan Conte's attempts to predict injuries using actuarial tables. Hmm, that sounds a bit familiar...
In tomorrow's paper, Schmidt gets dirty, looking at the variable impact of dirt hardness on Japanese pitcher Hiroki Kuroda's pitching motion. I just hope he doesn't bury the lede.