Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Is Baseball Necessary?

The actual games, that is. The NYT's Virginia Heffernan examines.

Quick take: she's not totally right -- the games, you know, do matter -- but there is a lot of truth to what she's saying. I mean let's face it -- how much ShysterBall content is actually related to any one game, and how much of it deals with the stuff that surrounds it?


Mr. Thursday said...

Perhaps very little of ShysterBall deals with single games, but Joe Posnanski's columns, during the season, oft deal with only a game or two. Beerleaguer has a post about every individual Phillies game. Every game is important, but with so many games, the degree of importance is relatively low. It's a slow burn.

64cardinals said...

I read a fantastic article a few years ago about this very subject. I wished I would have saved it for reference. But it basically states that due to the idiocy of fantasy leagues, and new ballparks that are designed to attract families (i.e. kids who want to spend Mom and Dad's money), baseball for the real fan doesn't exist anymore.

People like us, who can actually name all 30 teams, and can tell you the line-up of every team. People who know why Cook shouldn't have batted in the 5th inning of game 4, and understand the difference between a hit and run, and a run and hit.

The game isn't geared for people who actually want to watch the game. Its now designed, by choice or necessity, who knows, for the casual fan who thinks adujsted OPS is the only stat that matters, and going to the ballpark early to watch batting practice is silly.

To paraphrase Robert Heinlen, who grew up 40 miles from where I did, real baseball are now "strangers in a strange land".

Knowing who can bunt for a basehit is no longer a required skill. Running 8 fantasy leagues at once is.

Where is Roger Kahn when we really need him?

Osmodious said...

Another point...without the games, wouldn't they run out of statistics to dissect pretty quickly? I mean, most heavy duty baseball fans have played Strat-o-matic, or the electronic derivatives thereof...but even those who play full seasons and start at the beginning would eventually run out of stats.

If there is one thing that is true about the fickle people of this great nation, they need things to be NEW...and if there are no games, there are no new stats for your fantasy crunching.

(By the way, I think that 'fantasy leagues' for team sports, and baseball in particular, are idiotic. In basketball, one guy can make a team considerably better, but in baseball he can only cover so much of the field. If you go by pure stats, then ARod IS the (potentially) greatest player of all time...but he doesn't work so well on actual teams, now does he (as per yesterday's discussions)?)

Diesel said...

@ 64cardinals
You seem like a nice enough dude, but what's stuck up your ass, man? Do you really think the way you enjoy baseball -- which apparently involves lots of scenes that show up in MasterCard commercials and kvetching about how stat geeks are ruining the game -- is the only way it should be done? Because that's what it sounds like. Believe it or not, stat geeks and fantasy baseball players haven't ruined anything, they've only found a way to enjoy the game that's different than your preferred method. I'd laugh at anyone who calls me a "casual" baseball fan, but as someone who once HAD to show up hours early for sporting events, I can tell you that I'd rather clean my toilet than watch batting practice one more time in my life. And my toilet ain't clean, brother.

64cardinals said...

I'm not sure why the insults are necessary. I said "the idiocy of fantasy leagues". I called the leagues idiocy. I never called anyone by name.

But I guess I'm not allowed to have an opinion unless I agree with you.

You've just managed to reinforce my thinking more than you could ever imagine.

And why does Osmodius get a pass? Seems like a little bias to me. Read his comments again.

Diesel said...

As to the why, you've been dropping comments like this for a while, so I was just wondering exactly why it is that you seem so bent about stats and newfangled baseball stuff. Your response was quite illuminating, though probably not for the reasons you imagine. And please don't tell me what to do.

Shyster said...

Now is probably a good time for me to announce my commenting policy (which I am sort of just making up now, but isn't likely to change even if I think about it a while).

No mothers. No race/ethnicity/gender/religious/sexual orientation asshattary. Like boxing, if the guy you're fighting with stops defending himself, lay off and (silently) declare victory.

Other than that, you're all adults, unless you're kids, and if you're kids you should be outside playing. It's a lovely day.

As to the substance of this thread, while I'm not a fantasy guy myself, I include the "non-baseball" stuff referred to in the story I linked to include hot stove, analysis, and general chatter, much of which drives interest in the game even if it has nothing to do with between-the-lines play.

In an earlier post today, I noted that baseball just announced $6B revenues for this year, an all-time record. It's important to note that a lot of that is atributable to non-game stuff like merch sales, fantasy revenue, ad revenue derrived from MLBAM initiatives, etc.

None of that has to do with innings 1-9, but all of it makes what happens on the field possible. Plus it's fun to kvetch about.

Now, Diesel's mother is so fat . . .

Diesel said...

Dood! She's so not! My mom is HOT.

Congrats, Shyster, in reaching the "We have comments policies" stage of blogdom.

Shyster said...

Thanks man. Maybe one day I can get really big like Deadspin and make commenters audition first (ugh).

Pete Toms said...

C, the end of fantasy cash in pro sports could be nigh.

MLBAM & the PA lost their appeal in their lawsuit against CDM over free baseball stats. Maury Brown wrote about it and if I remember correctly he is speculating that the NFL might pick a fight with a fantasy operator in a different district hoping for a different outcome. Can't remember why but I think he believes that MLB's chances of getting this before the Supreme Court are limited.

I'm not a lawyer and am way out of my league particularly in US legal matters but the upshot is that at this point Fantasy operators don't have to shell out a dime to the leagues.

As for the preceding debate amongst a few of your readers - very entertaining BTW - I love it all, the games live and on TV plus the geeky obsessive end of it.

Shyster said...

Pete -- I would guess that the NFL isn't going to have any better luck than the MLB, mostly because now the MLB case is precedent, even if non-binding precedent. Whenever a court dealing with the NFL case goes to make a ruling, they will likely read and rely on the MLB case which, in my view, was properly decided.

As for cash, what's stopping MLB.com from running its own fantasy game? Not sure if they do, but given how quickly they update stats over there, I bet they'd be able to find a way to make it attractive and lucrative if they put their mind to it.

Pete Toms said...

C, yes I guess BAM will run their own fantasy games now out of necessity, whether that makes up for the lost revenue they were getting from the media companies for the rights.....Is the big loser the PA? BAM was buying the rights from them....what do they no now?

Maybe BAM can do a better job than Disney / ESPN did last season running fantasy, do you recall the big screwup last season? Disney isn't the first to fail to meet the techno challenges of baseball fantasy, if memory serves Yahoo botched it one year too.