Holier Than Thou Sabermetricians Rain On Our Parade

Uh, yeah, you smell like corn chips and poo.
Uh, yeah, you smell like corn chips and poo.

Sabermetricians. Ugh. It’s like Major League meets Revenge of the Nerds, except the nerds aren’t fun and they think they’re better than you. And Bob Uecker isn’t there to keep things interesting with the occasional witty one-liner.

I can’t say that sabermetrics as a statistical form of analysis isn’t effective, because in many cases it is (on-base percentage, for example). I just really don’t like the guys behind the numbers. Poindexters from Ivy League schools who lack the social skill to relate to other people, but can explain the value of a ground ball by drawing a diagram and involving advanced mathematics (and they say baseball is boring).

So what if a guy can run a forty in four seconds flat? Or hit a baseball 600 feet? Or throw a fastball 100 miles per hour?

Sabermetricians would rather wet their pants over a pudgy, slow guy who draws lots of walks. Like stepping into the batter’s box, being fat, and doing absolutely nothing is some big accomplishment.

Plus, it often seems like the good people behind sabermetrics get no joy whatsoever out of baseball. Instead of getting excited about a grand slam home run, these guys would rather lament over Jimmy Rollins’ inability to glove a ground-ball single up the middle, or Vladimir Guerrero’s tendency to swing at, well, everything.

In life, most of us search for quality rather than quantity. Sabermetricians treat quantity like a vampire treats blood. It’s their fuel. They have a desire to quantify everything, from the UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, essentially a detailed fielding percentage of position players) of your typical outfielder, to the number of times they’ve gotten a woody from a Kevin Youkilis at-bat (“Oh my God, he walked, he walked…and I’m done. I need a smoke now.”).

I want to go to the ballpark, see a Felix Hernandez blaze fastballs past opposing hitters, witness an Adrian Beltre crank a 400-foot jack, have a hot dog, and enjoy life.

Sexy time.
Sexy time.

Sabermetricians want to go to the ballpark, see a soft-tossing lefty throw ground-ball outs, witness a Kent Hrbek lookalike get plunked in the gut by a heater, enjoy a Greek salad, and come home with something to criticize:

“Dear Diary, today I went to the baseball arena and watched a muscle-bound barbarian molest the ball with extreme ferocity. It was truly horrendous. He had three hits in four trips to the plate, but on his fourth attempt he swung at a pitch that was very near the outside corner of the strike zone and was ruled out by the official standing behind home plate. He did not draw a walk today, nor is he slow enough on the basepaths to truly garner my respect. Well, that’s all for now. Time to touch myself to footage of Steve Balboni getting on base.”

Yep, it’s pretty much like that. And it kills me.

Look sabermetricians, you can peddle your numbers all you want behind closed doors, in the company of general managers and team executives. Just keep your math away from those of us who actually enjoy baseball. Oh, and curb the attitude, as well. There’s a reason you got picked on in high school, and the fact of the matter is no one likes you any better now than they did back then. So shove it. Peace.

56 thoughts on “Holier Than Thou Sabermetricians Rain On Our Parade”

  1. You are wrong. Deal with it. Use it as a learning experience and better yourself.

  2. Well, at least the Internets are safe from rational thought somewhere. If this is parody, it’s excellent.

  3. My favorite part is how on another site that has linked to this post, an upset reader brings up Steve Balboni’s lifetime .293 OBP. Yes.

    “You can’t triple stamp and double stamp! You can’t triple stamp and double stamp! Lloyd! Lloyd!”

  4. Wow. I love how it’s important that kids learn math, but then it’s ok to paint people who are good at math as dorks. No wonder our kids struggle with posts like this available to them on the internets.

    Here’s hoping the kids of people who write (tired, cliched) articles like these go into something romantic and cool like journalism. That’s doing OK these days, isn’t it?

    Meanwhile, I’ll go back to my mother’s basement — by which I mean my giant house which math bought me — to spend time with my robot — by which I mean my wife and kids — and never leave the house to actually watch a game — by which I mean go to my 4th Seadogs game of the season this thursday.

    But otherwise, you nailed me. Well done!

  5. Who exactly is holier than thou? Care to name names? Would you like to highlight any real examples instead of ridiculous strawman after ridiculous strawman? Or are you simply too busy being holier than thou?

  6. Straw man arguments!

    I like to look at stats, and then when I’m at a game I like to do all the things you just said. For example, I’m an Orioles fan. Every time I went to a game two years ago I would complain about how ridiculous it was that they were running Corey Patterson and his sub-.300 OBP out there every day. One day I was bitching about this, and literally mid-sentence he hits a three-run jack. I cheered like a maniac. Just because I realize a player isn’t very good doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it when he succeeds.

    And of course there’s something beautiful about a soft-tossing lefty getting guys out despite the odds. This is what’s so great about Jamie Moyer winning a world series at 44.

    Ah, whatever, i just gave you what you want. And I’m not even good at math.

  7. It’s one thing to be ignorant. It’s entirely another thing to hate knowledge. Bravo, Alex, for doing both.

  8. Sabermetricians have no sense of humor.

    I half expect to be walking out to my car one day and have the entire cast of extras from “Saved By The Bell” waiting with bats and chains to kick my ass.

  9. Ah, the last resort of the lousy writer — ‘Don’t you get it? I was KIDDING!!!’ Sure.

    Jokes are funny. You want people to take a joke, maybe you want to write a joke. “Saved by the Bell” references are, frankly, strange — the show went off the air like 15 years ago, didn’t it?

    And I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t need Mark Paul Gosselar’s help if I decided to wait by your car. Bloggers, man — anti-social, basement-dwelling journalism-school-dropout twerps if you ask me. Need to get some sun.

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  11. I found this piece hilarious and don’t know what the big deal is. The author clearly singles out “holier than thou” sabermatricians, so if you don’t fall into that category of “holier than thou” why get your panties in a bunch?

    Everyone just needs to lighten up and appreciate this article for what it is: comedy.

  12. “I want to go to the ballpark, see a Felix Hernandez blaze fastballs past opposing hitters, witness an Adrian Beltre crank a 400-foot jack, have a hot dog, and enjoy life.

    So do it.

  13. This???? This is what gets you up in the morning? Calling sabermetricians nerds… good luck with your blog.

  14. Remember when bill james informed the Red Sox that the closers role was statisticly unimportant? Stats have thier value but the point is it can be overdone. Does any real Baseball fan talk about a players OPS? I can assure you only a fantasy geek would care.

  15. Why would a fantasy geek care about OPS? Neither On Base Percentage or Slugging Percentage count in like 99% of fantasy leagues.

    I would also like to ask the writer to point out a single holier-than-thou sabermetrician. Read some of Sky’s work at BtB (click name in post 23), and tell me that sabermetricians don’t enjoy the game.

  16. Another question…

    If sabermetricians didn’t love the game, then why would we spend so many hours studying it without being paid?

  17. Perhaps if the author had acquired some social skills at some point, he wouldn’t have embarrassed himself with this article. Someone else, however, should have told him that this is not how you behave in public. At least he’s not using his full name, because if he was this was he’d be doing serious damage to his long-term employment prospects.

  18. Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do as a society is accept reality. The truth often stings, and the fact of the matter is a lot of what Alex wrote is true (mixed with the frequent jab, of course).

    If some of you out there can’t handle that, maybe you need to look yourselves in the mirror and try and understand your anger. Maybe it’s because he’s right….god forbid.

  19. Ahh, the typical angsty thoughts of a plebian too poorly education to understand the real intricacies of the game.

    Sabermetrics are what wins baseball games. 600 foot jacks don’t win baseball games when they happen once every 20 at bats and the guy is otherwise hitting 200, just look at Wily Mo Pena. 100MPH heaters don’t win baseball games you can’t find the plate and the rest of your pitches are garbage, just look at Kyle Farnsworth. Four second 40s don’t win baseball games when you can’t get on base more than 30% of the time, much less actually hit that often, just look at Juan Pierre.

    Your gripe with sabermetricians is that we realize these things, while clods like you mope around trying to figure out why Derek Jeter doesn’t have MORE gold gloves. We love and understand the game at a level you can never even hope to reach.

  20. “If some of you out there can’t handle that, maybe you need to look yourselves in the mirror and try and understand your anger.”

    I would, but being one of those sabermetric geeks I have trouble seeing myself through my pathetic tears.

    Seriously, a baseball blogger calling stat-geeks nerdy is like Star Wars fans making fun of Star Trek fans for being geeky. Let he who is without a Boba Fett collector’s edition figurine cast the first stone.

  21. Some observations–

    Henry Quinn is a pathetic douchebag.

    Gregg Andrew–an incoherent f@##@ stick who is concerned that an article post on sabermetrics (whether you agree or not is another matter) is going to affect future employment opportunities? Let’s see this logic developed to the point where it actually makes sense.

    Greek Good of Walks–his inability to spell, and his name give him very little credibility. Plus he misses the point of the post–that baseball can me more than just statistics. In fact it is.

  22. Best part:

    “Greek Good of Walks–his inability to spell…”

    from a guy who misspelled ‘articule’ 3 lines earlier. neat!

    I know, I know — he’s kidding! He’s a jokester! I guess I just keep getting confused because i like my jokes, you know, funny?

  23. Meet the Adolf Hitler of baseball analysis. Nice job, butthole. Enjoy hanging out in your bunker.

  24. Yes, you’ll be insulted by all the people who don’t know what parody is, but it’s hella funny. (Hint: the giveaway is the Steve Balboni thing.)

  25. I think it’s funny how many of you guys are getting all butt-hurt because Alex wrote a humor article. You seem truly offended that he made a generalization, then go ahead and make your own broad generalizations about bloggers. Your hypocritical attacks aren’t helping your argument.

    Plus, I’m assuming all of you have passed your 10th birthday. You should have learned to not get offended by every little thing. If I acted like you, as a slighly chubby person, I’d get offended everytime someone makes a joke about fat people. Instead, I laugh because, you know, I’m an adult.

  26. I’m not convinced this was parody, actually. Usually the writer of well-conceived parody can spell words correctly, and almost always there’s content which can be interpreted only as a blatantly obvious joke. The Balboni thing doesn’t qualify for me, as Balboni is often mentioned in SABR circles as a ‘three true outcomes’ player. Looks to me like the writer simply missed the point, which seems to hold true for this entire piece. If it was really satire, I’d expect some kind of acknowldegment to that effect. Til then, viewing it as satire is only possible by assuming that no one can be so stupid as to actually be serious about content like this. Sadly, I know many, many people more than stupid enough to refute this :)

  27. Let’s be honest. If this parody was so badly written, than why have all these people taken the time to respond to it? If it sucked, no one would care.


  28. >Let’s be honest. If this parody was so badly written, than why have all
    >these people taken the time to respond to it? If it sucked, no one would care.

    So by this logic, people only talk about that which is well done. A massive chunk of human history, most of reality TV and the whole of Ally McBeal proves this wrong ;-)

  29. WOW! Two things I’ve noted while reading these comments, #1 sabermetricians have NO sense of humor, #2 sabermetricians may know numbers but they sure can’t spell.

  30. this is so on target…people who are good at math generally only assume that math is the only thing that makes a person intellectually capable, as proven clearly by the insipid, frightened replies to your article. When I was a kid if you excelled at math, english, or any other subject you were considered intelligent. Specialization in English made you no less intelligent than specialization in math. Now, since the popularization of the internet, every person with a middling ability at math, and a decent grasp of technology thinks they are a mechanical engineer. These are mostly lost souls, not Ivy league graduates who attempt to calculate spreadsheets for DPS and project David Wright’s value over the course of five years.
    Now if they were actually enjoying themselves that would be one thing, instead they snarkily regurgitate cliche after cliche in a mean spirited critical way to anyone who disagrees with them, diminishing their ability to learn from individuals unlike them. Think the people in the courtroom in “Encounter at Farpoint”. They assume intelligence, but those willing to be humble, admit mistakes, and eschew emotionalism will inevitably be the people who will lead us into the future, as always.
    They are grammatists,sophists, fascists. Insecure and afraid of creative thinkers. They have always been, but are many more, sadly, who would rather criticize than teach now. This generation will rapidly find out the bubble of protection and feeling of being special given to them as children will not be there long, are already finding that out, and are taking it out on everyone like the spoiled brats they are.

  31. “These are mostly lost souls, not Ivy league graduates who attempt to calculate spreadsheets for DPS and project David Wright’s value over the course of five years.”

    Actually, I graduated Cornell with a degree in Math in 1996 — and I’m far from the most math-saavy of people who like to think about baseball through that lens. The individuals doing this work are very qualified and anyway, who cares? The upside of the ‘polarization of the internet’, whatever that means, is that everything’s constantly being peer-reviewed.

    But, if it makes you feel better, by all means — chalk the general wrong-ness of math haters up to their being happy and under-appreciated.

    Also, seriously? You want me to think about ‘Encounter at Farpoint’? Was that snark — like, people who are good at math watch a lot of ST:TNG, or am I actually supposed to be thinking about ‘Encounter at Farpoint’?

    I’m confused.

  32. This is hilarious writing, nice work dude. I can even picture the responders angrily banging out their comments with a smiling poster of Rob Neyer on the wall behind them. Guys, instead of getting defensive when somebody is being dismissive of Sabermetrics, just close your eyes, take a deep breath, and say 15 “Mickey Tettletons”…

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