Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Please Come Back Geoff Baker

We're pretty lucky in Toronto, and as Jays fans in general. Two big local papers, one big national paper and one joke of a national paper all employ people to think and write about baseball to fill the space around hockey conjecture. As with anything, we get the good and the bad. Not to say that any one writer is "bad" but the variety of tone and agenda helps push the Jays conversation to new levels.

As much as I like the curmudgeonly Blair and his keen, mostly cliche-free baseball sense. Over Twitter it's become clear he and I don't agree on all things (ahem, the Greatest Blue Jay of All Time) but he thinks about the game similarly to the way many of us think about the game. The batshit craziness of Griff owes a lot to the Joe Morgan School of Established Baseball Logic. That and the Richard Griffin School of Thinly Veiled Agendas. I've said before as long as Griff avoids talking specifically about baseball, he's quite an enjoyable read. The guys that write for the Sun that are forced to write like they write for the Sun, Bob Elliott makes me smile because I read everything with his voice in mind. How could I forget the National Post's prolific new writer AP? He (or she!) may only use his initials, but he's all over the map, following every game. Riveting stuff. Grinding yeoman like MacLeod and Zweloakljdasfklj turn in their game stories on time (no small feat I'm sure) and countdown the days until they're free to ignore baseball forever.

So what's missing? How about a statistically forward-thinking blogger/beatwriter that quotes modern advanced statistics? Turns out we had such a creature working here in Toronto, now working in Seattle. Geoff Baker's blog and writing in general are excellent to read even if you don't care much for the Mariners.

You might say "But Drew, isn't he basically doing the same thing you are? What would you do then?" I'm sure I'd figure something out. I haven't attacked J.P. Riccardi's character in a few months, that never goes out of style! The most obvious benefit of Baker or any writer with a large forum writing about baseball in a modern way is the education of the masses. The more people read about UZR or FIP in the daily paper, the more credibility it gains. Which could buy some time from the uninitiated to get their heads around the thought that batting average and errors aren't the be all and end all. Jesus, even the Royals beat guys link and refer to Fangraphs! (Here beat reporter Sam Mellinger aka Not Joe Posnanski breaks down Mike Aviles's struggles at the plate using contract numbers)

There is something bigger going on here, something Dave Burrows from Go Jays Go and I have discussed a few times over email. Are the MSM guys adopting a more bloggy or at least blog friendly approach because its better or because they think the audience wants it that way? If newspapers become just as dependent on ad revenue will they not become guilty of just as much page view baiting as the lowest common denominator blog? More on this at a later date.

At the end of the day, a more educated fanbase is likely to be a more dedicated fanbase. More fans = more money, more money = better team RIGHT BEEST?

Tonight in KC

Brian Burres goes tonight some time this goddamn week, hopefully for the final time as a Toronto Blue Jay. Gaps will be stopped and those that need filling will be filled by next week, I pray. Bryan Bullington hasn't exactly beaten the world in three innings, but his 5 strikeouts against 3 walks and 3 ground balls against 2 flies (and three line drives) come complete with the feeling he will get better, not worse. I'm rooting for you Bully.

Amazing image courtesy of Transguyjay's flickr stream


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. lowest common denominator blogHey!

  3. Looks to me like Richmond's pitching, not Burres.

  4. Right you are, pitching well too! I fixed my egregious error.

  5. i'm not sure where I stand on advanced statistics in newspapers.

    It would be like 30 words of each column, every second day, explaining what they all mean.

    Can you imagine trying to explain BABIP to someone that only casually follows baseball?

    What do you mean the pitcher has no control of where the ball goes after he throws it?

    What? You're telling me that an average of 12% of FB should be HR??! WTF WTF?????!

    Okay, say this one more time -- What is regression, and Doc is a GOD -- you're saying he's going to leave the same amount of guys on base as RICKY ROMERO? You're INSANE!

  6. I actually sort of agree with Kris on this one, the type of people who still read the newspapers are perhaps a bit less devoted to baseball than the blog-reading crowd.

    Is it safe to say that the bloggers are usually quicker to accept and manipulate statistics? I think so. Is it also safe to say that readers of blogs are going to these sites with the expectation of finding something beyond what newspapers have traditionally offered? I think so.

    So it's nice to see that there are newspaper writers who understand that advanced statistics are more indicative of performance and offer a truer measure of value than ever before, but I still think there is a vast discrepancy between the target audiences that makes this kind of talk fly over the usual newspaper readers' heads.

    Now, having said that, I also think it's safe to say that the "casual" fan is definitively more statistically-minded than ever before, so the transition makes sense. But it's a bit too soon for a lot of these newspapers to make the "all or nothing" jump. You see ESPN is just kind of easing their way into it by showing OPS and stuff now on broadcasts. As pitiful as the display is, I wouldn't be shocked if it was their toeing the waters of more advanced stuff showing up in games etc.

    How effective these statistics will be when people like Miller and Morgan are calling the games is obviously a nightmare waiting to happen.

  7. I see where you guys are coming from, but consider this: when it comes to the explaining this, the writer has unlimited space to explain or he can just link to a definition. I see ESPN online writers often preface any high-falutin' stat with "be warned, it's a little esoteric" which makes sense. Anyone intimidated by advanced stats will be overwhelmed by the word "esoteric" and click away anyhow.


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