Bill James Bio?

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does anyone have the inside scoop on this? Any word out there on the SABR list or BP?

gygax! (gygax!), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 20:44 (thirteen years ago) link

First I've heard of it.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 20:50 (thirteen years ago) link

The chapter in Moneyball was enough for me.

polyphonic (polyphonic), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 21:46 (thirteen years ago) link

The reason why I ask:

Scott Gray is a musician and nonfiction writer. He served as consulting editor on a series of nine sports titles for Ballantine and is the author of:

Chicks Rule: The Story of the Dixie Chicks
Heart Song: The Story of Jewel
On Her Way: The Shania Twain Story
Perfect Harmony: The Faith Hill and Tim McGraw Story.
Livin' On Country: The Alan Jackson Story

He was raised in Oklahoma and lives in New York City and Charlottesville, VA.

I think it's Yanc3y's pseudonym.

gygax! (gygax!), Wednesday, 26 October 2005 21:58 (thirteen years ago) link

this book should be RIVETING

j blount (papa la bas), Thursday, 27 October 2005 03:49 (thirteen years ago) link

I hope there's lots more about his stint as the watchman in the pork-and-beans plant.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 27 October 2005 12:18 (thirteen years ago) link

this is hardly a bio nyah? more like a summary or collection of his writing & thoughts on baseball.

John (jdahlem), Thursday, 27 October 2005 13:57 (thirteen years ago) link

five months pass...
Gleeman on the book:

I can attest that Bill is not as svelte as the bobblehead (last I saw him).

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 27 March 2006 16:36 (thirteen years ago) link

"I think that some people have the idea that we understand baseball and there are some gray areas we just have to tidy up. My notion is that baseball is an ocean and what we have figured out is about the size of a swimming pool. That's not just about baseball. It's about the world in general. What we have figured out is really insignificant compared to everything that's out there, but it doesn't diminish our ability to get it done."

--writer Bill James, on using baseball statistics to understand the game (Palm Beach Post)

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Monday, 3 April 2006 16:08 (thirteen years ago) link

four years pass...

he'll be appearing on The Simpsons this season

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 5 August 2010 21:32 (nine years ago) link

a harvard lampoon alum wrote him in no doubt

sanskrit, Friday, 6 August 2010 02:17 (nine years ago) link

Different book, but I bought and read this last year:

Truthfully, it wasn't all that exciting. You had a number of contributors saying the same thing 14 different ways.

clemenza, Friday, 6 August 2010 18:44 (nine years ago) link

pretty sure I overheard Bill telling a Noodles Hahn anecdote this morning

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 8 August 2010 05:03 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

bought the paperback historical baseball abstract for $1 @ a book sale and there was a $2 bill inside

johnny crunch, Saturday, 28 July 2012 17:53 (seven years ago) link

Hard not to read this thread title as akin to Ronny James Dio.

congratulations (n/a), Saturday, 28 July 2012 18:27 (seven years ago) link

Has he (or anyone similar) ever written about team win/loss streaks... in season only, not the plexiglass principle.

queequeg (peter grasswich), Tuesday, 31 July 2012 19:37 (seven years ago) link

Probably the year after the Tigers' 35-5 start (meaning the '85 Abstract), James wrote a long thing on when a fast start starts to become significant; i.e., 5-0 doesn't mean much, 10-0 means a lot, etc. That's the only related thing I remember.

clemenza, Tuesday, 31 July 2012 19:58 (seven years ago) link

three weeks pass...

A couple of you in the past have indicated that James may have lost something over the years, that he's now part of the same baseball establishment he once questioned at every turn. Most of the time I still love reading him, but sometimes he'll write things that do make me wonder. There were back-to-back "Ask Bill"s this morning that were puzzling.

1) One thing I still remember from an old Abstract is where he tried to systematically look at a player's IQ based on factors like strike-zone judgement, number of caught stealings, the ability to improve over time, etc. I remember he identified Alfredo Griffin as the dumbest player in baseball--he may have stopped short of using those exact words--and, I think, Lou Whitaker as the smartest. He got a question today complaining about Alfonso Soriano, and whether he still thinks baseball intelligence can be quantified.

"I don't think you can reliably infer intelligence from a player's baseball statistics, no. I do think we could do a better job of charting on-field mistakes, and perhaps in that way identifying players who just don't play the game very well."

2) Right before that, there was a question on whether or not to shut down Strasburg, which was basically the exact same question he fielded a month ago.

(July 13) "No, I wouldn't shut him down. I never understood the logic by which limiting the growth of innings pitched year to year could protect a pitcher, and I think most serious analysts agree that that was just sloppy research."

(today) "Well...I think (shutting him down) is reasonable, yes...Strasburg is coming back from Tommy John, and he is still very young. You're asking him to do A LOT for a pitcher one year away from Tommy John, and you're exposing a 23, 24-year-old pitcher to a full workload."

Not that I know the right answer myself, but there's quite a disconnect there.

clemenza, Tuesday, 21 August 2012 14:57 (seven years ago) link

The first problem seemed poorly stated to begin with. And what's so strange about him changing his mind 30 years later? I'm sure that plenty of things in the early Abstracts were written on a whim anyway.

There isn't necessarily a contradiction in the Strasburg stuff ... I would agree that it's reasonable to shut him down, but at the same time, I wouldn't do it.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Tuesday, 21 August 2012 16:25 (seven years ago) link

I'm always quoting and defending James, so it's weird for me to take the other side. Changing or modifying your views over time, especially as it relates to the availability of more and better information, is a good thing--actually, James's vigilance against being boxed in by dogma is one of the greatest things about him. The reason the first one caught my eye is that it does seem to line up with the idea that he's more reluctant to pointedly criticize players since he joined the Red Sox. This makes sense--once you've had more direct contact with players on the inside, it stands to reason you're a little more guarded about doing things like trying to quantify their intelligence. (Not to mention that people generally soften with age anyway.) It's just something I noticed.

With Strasburg (I didn't quote either of his answers in full), more than the first issue, I do find the contrast strange. His first response was an emphatic no, there's no reason to shut him down (the rest of his answer: "I think they need to be careful with Strasburg, perhaps limit his pitches, be extra careful about looking for signs of fatigue. But drawing an innings limit and pretending that that's somehow going to protect him is perilously close to magical thinking"). The second could have come from the Nationals' GM himself.

clemenza, Tuesday, 21 August 2012 16:42 (seven years ago) link

nine months pass...

did anyone read his true crime book

turds (Hungry4Ass), Friday, 24 May 2013 17:18 (six years ago) link

Yeah. He's kind of a nut nowadays, but I thought it was a fun read.

Panaïs Pnin (The Yellow Kid), Friday, 24 May 2013 18:50 (six years ago) link

I read the crime book and--no bias here--liked it fine. Don't think I've read any true-crime books other than In Cold Blood, though, so that was a limitation of sorts.

clemenza, Friday, 24 May 2013 19:32 (six years ago) link

i heard it was kinda wackadoo

turds (Hungry4Ass), Friday, 24 May 2013 19:40 (six years ago) link

It is kinda, but that's almost part of its charm. He keeps coming up with formulas to calculate like "how sordid was this crime on a scale of 1-20" or whatever, it's pretty funny.

Panaïs Pnin (The Yellow Kid), Friday, 24 May 2013 19:50 (six years ago) link

Bobby Valentine said he didn't hear from Bill once when he managed Boston, so if he's a nut he may be crazy like a fox.

ballin' from Maine to Mexico (Dr Morbius), Friday, 24 May 2013 22:48 (six years ago) link

three years pass...

Won't be able to read this till later tonight. It's long, free for now, and surely has lots for everyone to hate.

clemenza, Friday, 27 January 2017 23:08 (two years ago) link

mostly just clueless

mookieproof, Saturday, 28 January 2017 02:04 (two years ago) link

"But it rather seems to me that you could and should have won this election by, oh, I don’t know, 538 to nothing or thereabouts" is a good place to start.

clemenza, Saturday, 28 January 2017 02:45 (two years ago) link

This is not directed at you personally, mookie, but I don't really understand the ILX tendency to brush aside people like James, Marcus, and Christgau--older writers who don't necessarily have the visibility or the influence they once had; I suspect if Kael were still writing, especially somewhere other than the New Yorker, she'd get the same treatment--with curt dismissals. Your post reminds me of some of the reaction when I linked to Marcus explaining months ago why Trump might win. I don't agree with everything James writes, but there's a lot there, and I'd say at least half of it is spot-on. It's as good an election postmortem as just about anything I've read from people who write about politics for a living.

clemenza, Saturday, 28 January 2017 14:48 (two years ago) link

haha i actually thought about going deeper last night but figured why bother. 'clueless' was the wrong adjective, tbf.

i haven't read a great deal of james, marcus or christgau. i have nothing at all against marcus. i think christgau is a prick and while i respect his sheer dedication to listening to literally everything, i've generally found his reviews to be useless. it's impressive that he turned being gnomic into a career, but whatever.

i respect james' grasp of statistics and willingness to challenge the received baseball wisdom of 30-40 years ago. he was a pioneer and his ideas have won the day in the game. i don't think any of that makes him a particularly insightful political commentator. among baseball writers alone, i suspect keith law and rany jazayerli and jonah keri have much more useful things to say about politics.

in this particular piece, i find his suggestions risible. these are not ideas on how the democrats can win kansas; they are ideas on how the democrats can win his (idiosyncratic) personal full support.

a package of severe inheritance taxes, intense business regulation, free college education, and massive support for inner cities doesn't really sound like a winner in kansas. nor do these interventionist policies square with his insistence that national health care be jettisoned.

Well, it is every bit as despicable to call someone a racist who is not a racist as it is to actually be a racist; in fact, I would argue that it is more despicable to do this, since it both promotes racism and debases public discourse.

this is straight-up bullshit, as is his insistence that neither trump nor jeff sessions nor anyone involved is a *real* racist.

if bill james wants to talk about baseball i'd be happy to listen. he has no particular expertise elsewhere and his (horribly written) political tracts are no different than any other 67-year-old dude ranting on facebook.

mookieproof, Sunday, 29 January 2017 01:56 (two years ago) link

Explanations help--much prefer that kind of response than the one-line dismissal.

I think he goes a little off the rails when he argues for the Nazi-in-all-of-us. I'm pretty self-critical, I think--have often written about my passive-aggressive vindictiveness--but I don't think I'm secretly harboring a Nazi inside.

I was surprised he went anywhere near race. He regularly ducks baseball questions that are too close to his job with the Red Sox, so why he thought that would be a good subject to take up, I don't know. I think some of what he says is good: "You’re letting David Duke out of his cage. If you call a million people racists, he’s just one of the millions, just another guy," and "you might as well put $20 in an envelope and mail it to Rush Limbaugh." The line you quoted above--the "more despicable" formulation--no.

I don't know if his prescriptions more accurately represent Kansas or him alone. He's been writing about Kansas regularly for almost 40 years, so I'm inclined to trust that he has some understanding of the subject, but I really don't know.

Other than choosing to write it as an open letter, a device I never like, couldn't disagree more with "horribly written." I think his influence as a writer may even outweigh his influence as a baseball analyst.

clemenza, Sunday, 29 January 2017 05:54 (two years ago) link

Knowing almost nothing abt SABR/James apart from a skimread of Moneyball once, I gave his true crime bk a go a little while back and thought it was atrocious - ignorant, reactionary, bombastic and self-regarding. And yes, horribly written. I mean, I don't like Christgau, and have huge problems w/ Kael and Marcus, but all three of them can turn a sentence on occasion, whereas James really can't (I was just about to write that he reads like a typical pompous old git on Facebook until I saw mookieproof's final sentence!)

Bongo Herbert (Ward Fowler), Sunday, 29 January 2017 11:11 (two years ago) link

I read very little true crime, but I liked James's book just fine (since then, I've read books about Paul Bernardo, Charles Whitman, Richard Speck, and Manson). We must have very different Facebook feeds--the people over 50 on mine aren't the problem.

Sensing there's not a great future for this discussion. But I do agree Kael can turn a sentence on occasion.

clemenza, Sunday, 29 January 2017 14:36 (two years ago) link

That article was very James-ian, that's for sure. I agreed strongly with some parts, shook my head in frustration in other parts, and wondered why he took so long to get to the point for at least half of it. In other words, I had much the same reaction as I do with his baseball writing.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Monday, 30 January 2017 12:02 (two years ago) link

He just opened it up to reader comments last night--waited two days before doing so; good idea with contentious online material, I think, forces people to think about what they want to say, instead of just venting--and it looks like he'll be putting in some time defending parts of it. (The early focus seems to be the idea that Clinton is as corrupt as Trump.) I like the way one reader puts it:

"I think there's a split in the article, between (1) the basic message -- which I think is just about 100% right on (and yes, as was suggested in a 'Hey Bill' post, I hope it will be widely disseminated); and (2) the specific suggestions, which I think are problematic, no less so than the specific things that the Democratic Party was putting forth."

clemenza, Monday, 30 January 2017 12:36 (two years ago) link

seven months pass...

Blaming Republicans for Trump is like blaming Poland for Adolph. He invaded the party and took over. What were they supposed to do about it?

— Bill James Online (@billjamesonline) August 5, 2017

missed this bit of keen political insight

mookieproof, Friday, 1 September 2017 01:03 (two years ago) link



i'm gonna guess he still doesn't think trump and sessions are racists

Karl Malone, Friday, 1 September 2017 01:27 (two years ago) link

I can read some of his political stuff; sometimes I just stop and head elsewhere. The worst thing is, when people write in to question him on something, he's at his most abrasive. (Aka, rudest.) I think he said he voted for Hillary, reluctantly.

clemenza, Friday, 1 September 2017 01:43 (two years ago) link

was there any other way?

ice cream social justice (Dr Morbius), Friday, 1 September 2017 02:43 (two years ago) link

two weeks pass...

He's got a new book coming out next week. Not about Trump, so it should be safe. (Evidently co-written with his daughter.)

clemenza, Tuesday, 19 September 2017 02:15 (two years ago) link

seven months pass...

If the Orioles traded Manny Machado, I don't know if they would stay in competition this summer.

— Bill James Online (@billjamesonline) May 1, 2018

mookieproof, Tuesday, 1 May 2018 17:52 (one year ago) link

Sometimes I feel like a fatherless child.

clemenza, Tuesday, 1 May 2018 21:41 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

okay, this was funny

Did you know that Mike Trout has never in his career been credited with a Sacrifice Bunt? Complete player, my ass. . .

— Bill James Online (@billjamesonline) May 23, 2018

mookieproof, Wednesday, 23 May 2018 14:49 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

Giving money to political candidates is NOT helpful. What is helpful is NOT giving money to political candidates. If you have a Dumpster Fire on your left and a Dumpster Fire on your right, you don't put firewood in either dumpster.

— Bill James Online (@billjamesonline) June 15, 2018

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 15 June 2018 21:43 (one year ago) link

Is he a libertarian?

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 15 June 2018 21:43 (one year ago) link

Not a Pandora's Box worth opening...

clemenza, Friday, 15 June 2018 21:47 (one year ago) link

you should never put firewood in any dumpster, regardless of whether it's on fire or not

obviously DLC (Karl Malone), Friday, 15 June 2018 21:49 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

His Twitter feed is on the front page of his site now. He's got a poll question up there this morning: "If you could have Bryce Harper or Andrew Benintendi for the rest of his career, who would you want?"

Answer aside, I believe that's what's called sticking-it-to-you on Seinfeld.

clemenza, Monday, 9 July 2018 13:11 (one year ago) link

There's a card of him this year you can also get as a poster.

timellison, Saturday, 21 July 2018 22:10 (one year ago) link

dividing peacefully into three or four separate nations

i'm sure he has a totally common-sense plan for doing this

mookieproof, Friday, 3 August 2018 22:00 (one year ago) link

He's a writer; writers do take artistic license. I'm guessing he didn't feel the need to devise a carefully worked-out plan before posting that.

You really do hate him (non-baseball-wise), don't you?

clemenza, Friday, 3 August 2018 22:03 (one year ago) link

haha not really. i suspect (for no good reason, i guess) that he means well? he just seems to have little sense for politics or history that doesn't involve him projecting his own rather idiosyncratic ideas on everyone else

anyway, fess up -- you absolutely post this stuff to goad me

mookieproof, Saturday, 4 August 2018 00:14 (one year ago) link

No, not at all, unless there's something subconscious going on there (have you been polite to me over the years? if you have, make that an unqualified "no"). I tend to post things where his idiosyncrasy leads him to some core idea that I agree with, or at least find interesting. Here, it's that that chasm is unbridgeable; I do believe that. Obviously the country's not splitting up any time soon, and I'm sure he's aware of that.

The biggest problem I've had with James lately--I've mentioned it before, and a reader called him out on it the other day--is this blatant disconnect between how aggressively rude he can be to the occasional "Ask Bill" questioner, and how quick he is to complain when he perceives rudeness towards him. But if you were to point this out to him, and try to explain yourself, he'd edit your comments down to a sentence and call you a jackass.

clemenza, Saturday, 4 August 2018 04:39 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

A recent example of the above--my single biggest issue with James:

Bill, earlier in the year you seemed to have doubt that Shohei Ohtani could be successful both pitching and hitting in the majors. Now that he has almost 300 plate appearances and over 50 innings pitched has your opinion changed on him? Do you think it would be better for him to get Tommy John surgery and both pitch and hit in 2020 or should he just hit in 2019?
Asked by: Steve9753

Answered: 9/9/2018
I thought events had clearly validated my doubts. Are you not following the news?

I'm assuming James means one of two things (because clearly Ohtani has been successful as both a pitcher and a hitter): that instead of having a very good full-time hitter or full-time pitcher, the Angels have settled for half of both; or, more likely, the injury never happens if he's a position player only.

So all he has to do is say that, instead of responding in a way that suggests the questioner is stupid. And, as I said above, he's forever complaining about perceived rudeness towards him.

clemenza, Saturday, 22 September 2018 15:54 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

Bill James getting owned by his daughter is one of the best things I’ve ever seen on this site

— 🎃 Spooky Betts 🎃 (@michaelarria) October 13, 2018

mookieproof, Tuesday, 16 October 2018 21:22 (one year ago) link

Fess up -- you absolutely post this stuff to goad me.

clemenza, Tuesday, 16 October 2018 23:24 (one year ago) link

haha, maybe. i don't think you're too invested in his non-baseball opinions, though (or at least i hope)

mookieproof, Tuesday, 16 October 2018 23:35 (one year ago) link

his current baseball opinions are kinda shit as well

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 17 October 2018 00:59 (one year ago) link

three weeks pass...

The #RedSox Statement Regarding Bill James’ Recent Remarks:

— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) November 8, 2018

mookieproof, Thursday, 8 November 2018 18:22 (eleven months ago) link

Billy Beane: "no comment"

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 8 November 2018 18:25 (eleven months ago) link

Bill musta loved that spring training lockout with the replacements

(maybe he was just garbling his admiration for the Stinson brothers)

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 8 November 2018 18:41 (eleven months ago) link

BJ needs to stfu before his rep sinks to Goose Gossage level

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Thursday, 8 November 2018 18:42 (eleven months ago) link

this guy

I think the idea that vote fraud is negligible is stupid, and the party hurts themselves when they say that. 10-20% of people cheat like crazy in fantasy leagues. It's not credible to suggest that a comparable percentage would not cheat in something that people care so much about

— Bill James Online (@billjamesonline) November 7, 2018

by the light of the burning Citroën, Thursday, 8 November 2018 18:47 (eleven months ago) link

there's at least one important difference between cheating in fantasy leagues and committing voter fraud, gee, what could it be

james is slowly morphing into scott adams

Karl Malone, Thursday, 8 November 2018 18:55 (eleven months ago) link

lol, follow the rest of this thread

Cheating at fantasy football is not a felony and the sad part is many Americans care more about fantasy football than politics.

— Scott Harris (@rockthechalk) November 7, 2018

stfu bill james

Karl Malone, Thursday, 8 November 2018 18:58 (eleven months ago) link

important poll

Is there any such thing as a major league baseball player who is underpaid?

— Bill James Online (@billjamesonline) November 8, 2018

Karl Malone, Thursday, 8 November 2018 19:00 (eleven months ago) link

brian kenny out here being all 'bill james is a genius who is thinking on a level you don't understand' about a guy who casually interpolates cheating at fantasy football into voter fraud with no evidence

mookieproof, Thursday, 8 November 2018 19:05 (eleven months ago) link

he's about 5 or 6 public fartstorms away from getting fired for being a dumbass, at which point he'll portray himself as a victim of the dum-dums and complete his transformation pro blowhard

Karl Malone, Thursday, 8 November 2018 19:12 (eleven months ago) link

I think I've removed bookmark from this thread at least a dozen times... why do I keep coming back?

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 8 November 2018 19:17 (eleven months ago) link

ILB’s favourite baseball writer has had a busy day. (Check that--my favorite, ILB’s least favourite.)

I have to read up on the fantasy league/election part of this. I expect the worst.

The idea that all MLB players are replaceable is obviously crazy. Max Scherzer and Jose Altuve and all the way down to the bottom 10 or whatever % of players are not replaceable. Back in the Abstract days, he used to say that MLB treated talent like it was a precious, finite resource, and that some of the time they had players at the Triple-A level who were just as good or better than the Joe Biaginis of the league; I think that was basically the beginning of the replacement-level concept, and that seems defensible. If he’s saying all players are replaceable, then again, crazy.

You can look at the question of players being overpaid in three ways. One, in relation to how much revenue a player generates--the idea of putting a value on every WAR and comparing that to what those wins mean in terms of attendance, merchandising, etc. In that sense, there are overpaid players and underpaid players and players who get just about the right amount.

Or you can start with how hard it is to make it to the majors, the idea that you’re one of the best 1200-1500 baseball players in the country. There are exponentially more doctors and lawyers than baseball players; if you win the lottery, you ought to cash in.

In a general sense, though--how a workaday person views professional athletes--sure, they’re all overpaid, with the exception of journeyman who shuttle back and forth to the minors. I don’t see that as an especially provocative statement. Troy Tulowitzki makes more money in one month than I’ll make in my lifetime. So I don’t have a big problem with that idea.

The biggest problem with James right now is how arrogant he’s become. He was ornery and stubborn when he wrote the Abstracts, but 1) that’s not as annoying when you’re a voice in the wilderness rather than (more or less) a well-paid, establishment guy, and 2) his arrogance has grown a hundred fold since then. And he always excuses this the same way: I was right about how important walks were, and I was right about how overrated stealing and bunting were, and I was right about Bobby Grich and Darrell Evans and the Pythagorean Theorem and just about everything else I proposed 40 years ago, so I’m also right about everything I say now. Very few people realized that then, and very few people realize that now--eventually, everybody will. On top of that, the team that employs him has won four World Series since he signed on--I don’t think that puts much of a rein on this tendency.

I’m actually a little surprised the Red Sox kept him on past his first flirtations with Trump (which mostly amounts with him treating Trump as a legitimate office holder--he insists he didn’t vote for him, and regularly calls him ridiculous; when he says more than that, and readers question him, he gets his back up and sometimes starts digging himself a deeper hole).

clemenza, Friday, 9 November 2018 00:16 (eleven months ago) link

He's tweeting a lot today; people get in trouble, they tweet. There's a trace of humility too. I don't want him to start censoring himself (and I don't think he will), but if he reins in some of the rudeness he's sometimes prone to on "Hey Bill," I won't mind at all.

(When Scott Woods started the "Ask Greil" section of his Marcus website, I thought Marcus would be a cinch to be ten times ruder and more impatient than James. Much to my surprise, he's been the complete opposite--even with the occasional rude questioner, he's been gracious.)

clemenza, Friday, 9 November 2018 01:21 (eleven months ago) link

would you say that bill james could be easily replaced?

Karl Malone, Friday, 9 November 2018 01:27 (eleven months ago) link

major league baseball players are obviously overpaid on a societal scale . . . but it's a $10B/year business. paying the players less means the owners keep more, and for doing what, exactly? now there's a group that's replaceable.

this whole thing arose (i think) from scott boras' comments yesterday about teams tanking/not spending. boras is biased, of course, but i don't think he's wrong.

i don't have the evidence to back this up, but it seems that a team's profit is ever more divorced from its on-field success. there's tv money, profit sharing, parking, free ballparks, whatever. half the teams in any given year aren't even really trying to compete but rather hoping the rewards of shittiness can propel them into an astros situation.

analytics is making this worse! before long, fangraphs is going to tell us that the yankees and red sox are gonna win 95+ games next year, and that the blue jays will win 80 even *with* vlad jr. and everyone will be all like well, might as well keep him in the minors for an extra season of control!

that is a financial incentive to *not* put your best, most entertaining team on the field. imo that, more than infield shifts or long games or pitching changes, is Bad for Baseball. there is no outside force with the authority to make the (anti-trust immune!) teams adhere to a common good; before long we'll have 20 marlins each season and they'll have to expand the playoff field even more just to keep people interested.

anyway, bill james is weird and maybe twitter is . . . an even poorer medium for him than it is for everyone else

mookieproof, Friday, 9 November 2018 01:29 (eleven months ago) link

Not at all. Not in the good sense (all the brilliant things he wrote in the Abstracts that shape the way I think), and not in the bad sense, either (his more recent misadventures...he is different).

Another thing I've said before: just my opinion, but I think some of his current orneriness stems from never coming to terms with the acceptance of WAR over Win Shares as the common starting point of sabermetrics today. The old thing about the student parting ways with the teacher.

clemenza, Friday, 9 November 2018 01:33 (eleven months ago) link

("Not at all" was in response to your previous post, not the one above.)

clemenza, Friday, 9 November 2018 01:36 (eleven months ago) link

Two different posters...I should slow down and read more carefully.

clemenza, Friday, 9 November 2018 01:37 (eleven months ago) link

I can definitely believe that he still holds grudges over the failure of Win Shares -- he was convinced that it would revolutionize statistical research and it didn't.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Friday, 9 November 2018 06:18 (eleven months ago) link

I bought the big Win Shares book online a few years after it came out. Didn't get very far into it. The explanation of the methodology was pretty heavy going, but the bigger problem was that my copy, which was supposed to be "very good," had pages ready to fall out.

clemenza, Friday, 9 November 2018 12:33 (eleven months ago) link

Jay Jaffe:

I think one also has to remember that James has been in baseball management for a decade and a half. He’s certainly starting to sound like somebody ready to go to war with the MLBPA, and I think Tony Clark (whose overall job performance is still pretty lousy) was right to issue his rebuke.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Friday, 9 November 2018 12:40 (eleven months ago) link

He was stepping lightly for a day, anyway. He has a Twitter poll up today:

Most Worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Babe Ruth
Elvis Presley
Orin Hatch
Antonin Scalia

"Maybe twitter even poorer medium for him than it is for everyone else."

clemenza, Sunday, 11 November 2018 02:31 (eleven months ago) link

Bill James is still probably my fave baseball writer by peak value. Like my fave rapper, KRS-One, he passed his prime at least 25 years ago, now says dumb stuff, and i have no reason to believe i'd find the current work of either compelling.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 11 November 2018 03:55 (eleven months ago) link

bill james is a HOF lock by JAWS but needs to retire so he can gain eligibility

Karl Malone, Sunday, 11 November 2018 03:57 (eleven months ago) link

bill james is pete rose if he kept going until 1989

Karl Malone, Sunday, 11 November 2018 03:58 (eleven months ago) link

bill james productions, statistical minded

mookieproof, Sunday, 11 November 2018 04:02 (eleven months ago) link

one month passes...

The Modern Game committee voted Harold Baines and Lee Smith into the HOF this weekend. Is it possible the Russians hacked THIS election, too?
Asked by: ajmilner

Answered: 12/11/2018
The Russians were exhausted from getting Vladimir elected last year.

Not bad...

clemenza, Wednesday, 12 December 2018 00:47 (ten months ago) link

Referring to statements earlier today suggesting Football analysis is limited. . .Cris Collinsworth just said that "Hurries" in football predict sacks better than sacks do. Somebody's doing some pretty good analysis.

— Bill James Online (@billjamesonline) December 17, 2018

bill james being a cris collinsworth fan says a lot

k3vin k., Monday, 17 December 2018 04:25 (ten months ago) link

one month passes...

"Somehow we have developed this large contingent of know-it-all baseball fans who bay like wounded coyotes at any mention of wins, losses, RBI or batting average. I never know whether I should blame myself for this or not."

clemenza, Sunday, 27 January 2019 00:44 (eight months ago) link

i only bay like a wounded coyote with wins and losses. i zone out at a mention of RBI, and batting average is fine

Karl Malone, Sunday, 27 January 2019 00:47 (eight months ago) link

but yes he should actually blame himself for that, at least partly

Karl Malone, Sunday, 27 January 2019 00:47 (eight months ago) link

I waddle like a penguin whenever Ron Cey is mentioned.

clemenza, Sunday, 27 January 2019 00:48 (eight months ago) link

or Burgess Meredith

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 27 January 2019 05:31 (eight months ago) link

one month passes...

This made me laugh.

James has been going over all the Cy Young winners and comparing the results to the B-Ref winner (by WAR), the Fangraphs winner, and his own winner by something called D-WAR (I think that's his winner--I can't locate the original explanation). Anyway, looking at the 2013 AL winner, he wrote this the other day: "Hisashi Iwakuma, really? Where is that one coming from? Can you find anyone who agrees with you about this?" ("You" meaning one of the other systems that arrived at Iwakuma.)

In the comments, a reader responded: "Well, win shares:

Iwakuma, 20.5
Scherzer, 19.9

Sort of the advanced metric of record on this site."

clemenza, Saturday, 2 March 2019 20:19 (seven months ago) link

two months pass...

Haven't listened, but an hour-long interview with James from a year-and-a-half ago.

clemenza, Saturday, 1 June 2019 21:06 (four months ago) link

two months pass...

Does anyone besides me pay the $3/month for his site? It's his, so he gets to do what he wants, but he's spent the last three or four or thirty-nine months doing these political polls, and he's now ending them because he's decided people are flooding the results for certain candidates. They seemed like a waste of time right from the start. Meanwhile, his HOF polls continue, and some of those are interesting--the groupings are competitive maybe, I don't know, a quarter of the time--but way too many are like this one: Steve Garvey, Orel Hershiser, Clayton Kershaw, Maury Wills. Do you really need to poll that?

I wish he'd just go back to answering reader questions and posting the occasional baseball piece.

clemenza, Saturday, 24 August 2019 04:27 (one month ago) link

maury wills 100%, he's up there with harold baines

Karl Malone, Saturday, 24 August 2019 05:13 (one month ago) link

i do, however, really appreciate maury wills as an example of what billy hamilton would be if he could hit a little bit

Karl Malone, Saturday, 24 August 2019 05:14 (one month ago) link

Wills could get by with his OBP in an offense-depressed era

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Saturday, 24 August 2019 11:52 (one month ago) link

one month passes...

He had a dryly sarcastic tweet up last night aimed at the Red Sox starters. Gone today.

clemenza, Sunday, 20 October 2019 19:02 (three days ago) link

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