Over at Gelf Magazine, I conducted an interview with Alan Hirsch, co-author of the new book The Beauty of Short Hops. Check it out.
Though Hirsch demonstrates a reasonably firm grasp of sabermetrics throughout the book, he argues that the numbers obscure the beauty of the sport. I don’t see it that way. It has never been clear to me why appreciating the beauty of the game and the tools used to attempt to quantify it need to be mutually exclusive.
I love baseball. I know that, and I spend enough of my waking hours watching, playing and thinking about baseball that I feel no need to defend my appreciation of the sport. And I love the whole thing. I love all the messy things that play out on a baseball field over a 162-game season and the way that 162-game season seems to wrap up so tidily on a baseball-reference page when it’s over. It’s damn-near perfect.
What I don’t love — and forgive me for a heavy-handed segue — is business.
Actually, I’m not sure “don’t love” is the right term. I don’t get it. It doesn’t happen for me. I’m not business-savvy.
I’m generally curious about stuff, so sometimes I’ll ask my friends with business jobs some specifics about what they do, and it’s like the part of my brain dedicated to processing it short-circuits. I’m decent at math and I can usually grasp economic principles, but someone at a party starts talking to me about the futures market and I start giggling like a lunatic or just sort of wander off toward the drinks.
Being a Mets fan the past few days — or at least trying to read anything about the Mets on the Internet — has required plunging through buckets of unsubstantiated and entirely speculative business nonsense to try to winnow out any real, meaningful baseball information. Even putting aside the irritating details that the Wilpons and David Einhorn haven’t even reached a deal yet, that the actual terms of the not-yet reached deal have not been disclosed, and that no one’s ever going to hold anyone accountable for some horribly irresponsible journalism, it’s not really about baseball anymore.
It’s about a complicated multi-million-dollar business deal between billionaires, and that — to me at least — just isn’t really all that compelling.
Bottom line is the Mets are going to be playing National League baseball in New York for the foreseeable future, and most of the time they’re going to spend a hell of a lot of money on payroll no matter who’s at the helm. Many Mets fans are rightfully upset over what Fred Wilpon said to the New Yorker about three of the Mets’ best players, but that’s a different issue, and very different from arguing over six steps of speculation past a haphazardly reported deal that hasn’t been made yet.
I work here at SNY, so you’re going to question my motivations. That’s fine. You can’t see me shrugging, but I’m shrugging.
David Einhorn and the Wilpons are negotiating the partial sale of a perfectly interesting baseball team that seems to be winning a few games in spite of a rash of injuries and some bizarre managerial decisions, and I find that way more interesting. More on that in a bit.