Monday, November 10, 2008

Gawker on Silver

The fine folks at Gawker have career advice for Baseball Prospectus cum political demigod Nate Silver, and it basically boils down to creating a consulting firm and selling his magic to corporate America:

Statistics show (never gets old) that corporate America has all the money.
Baseball fans and political junkies are fine people, but they're not the ones
holding an extravagant portion of the world's wealth in their dessicated, greedy
hands. In order to have a long-term career you're going to have to do something
that appeals to the corporate types. Luckily, they love numbers too!

I've found this whole Nate Silver fame to be quite illuminating. On the one hand, the political media has proven to be far more rational than the sports media in that they openly embraced Silver's approach to polling analysis without any of the teeth gnashing and accusations of blasphemy and voodoo that the traditional sports media has for him and his fellow sabermetic travellers when it comes to baseball analysis.

On the other hand, I think that Gawker's suggestion that Silver sell himself as a consultant will actually work and that Nate will make himself a lot of money over the next few years. Baseball, however, would never do this. Sure, Bill James got what appears to be a cushy job with the Sox, but as a rule, the clubs' hiring of stats dudes has been ruthlessly rational: they've hired well, but paid little, likely because they realize that many people are able and willing to do the job. If the model Gawker outlines for Nate in the business world held up for baseball, our friend Voros McCraken would be sipping cocktails on the fantail of a large yacht right now. Unless he's really playing possum on this point, however, he isn't.

So, if this all plays out as Gawker predicts, we will be left to conclude that the political media is quite smarter than the sports media, but the sports establishment (as embodied by the teams) is quite smarter than the business world.*

I'm guessing a lot of folks wouldn't have thought of it that way.

*for the record, none of this is to take away from either Nate or Voros. I want them both to be fantastically wealthy if for no other reason than (a) I have found them both to be really nice guys; and (b) because if they get really rich, they may, in a fit of ridiculous irrationality, give me a job someday.


Jason @ IIATMS said...

That's some fancy sycophancy. Once you're hired, um, you know, can you drop me a line, or something?

Mr. Thursday said...

So the Shyster business model is, basically: wealth by proxy, except proxy means something like "I've heard of these fellows using the interwebs"? Yes?

I like this plan. It's a funny plan.

Craig Calcaterra said...

The suggestion, TC, that I even have a business plan is something of an insult to the intentionally half-assed way in which I have pursued my pseudo-career.

Anonymous said...

The media widely accepted Silver's analysis because it suggested an Obama win - something the media wanted. If Silver's analysis had been "controversial" and turned a lot of conventional wisdom upside down (a la BP), it probably wouldn't have been as well received.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Actually, the media accepted Silver's analysis in the runup to the general election because he was dead-on-perfect with his analysis during the primaries.

But regardless of the reason his analysis was accepted, it had one convenient quality: it was correct.