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September 22, 2010

Joe's Blog

A Taste

by Joe Sheehan

That thunder you heard in the New York area last week wasn't the weather, no matter what was reported. No, I think the sound was the earth moving as I filed the first segments of the book to Christina Kahrl. I could not be more fortunate. Christina and I have worked together for 15 years, editing each other's work -- and the work of many others -- in BP annuals and on the Web site. She knows my writing as well as any person alive, making her the perfect editor for this project.

Now, I just have to keep the copy flowing. Having started filing, gotten over that hump, I'm sure the rest of the book will come quickly. In retrospect, I probably spent too much time selecting the pieces for inclusion, which put me behind on the writing, but we're here now, and the words are flowing, and there's an editor and we're vetting layouts, so it won't be long now.

Let's cheat a little bit. The following is unedited:

It's possible to be a baseball fan in 2010 and not know about or care about the economics of the game. You may just like watching your favorite team, kicking back at the ballpark with a beer and a dog, loving the game the way millions of fans do. That's fine, but if that's the extent of your fandom, you forfeit the right to comment about the economics of the game. If you want to express opinions, you owe it to yourself and the people you argue with -- you owe it to the argument itself -- to become informed. Whether it's the pieces in this book that discuss the economics of the game, the many more at BP's Web site, books by Helyar and Andrew Zimbalist and Vince Gennaro, and countless other resources, you have to bring more to the discussion than populism and a pop-top. Facts and data are everything, especially in an arena where successful obfuscation can be worth billions of dollars over time.

My writing is definitely coming easier than it has since early summer, which I think is just the time of year. The pennant races provide so much fodder. I can't wait for the last week of the season, with all the head-to-head matchups in the NL, potentially leading to at least one, maybe more, playoff games, and then what could be a great postseason, with such evenly matched teams in the NL and arguably the three best teams in baseball in the AL. I love the rhythm we get into, especially that first week of Division Series games, which are the closest thing MLB has to March Madness, tripleheaders Wednesday and Thursday and the potential for quadrupleheaders Sunday and Monday. I like football, I do, but I love baseball, and I'm really looking forward to another October of cranking out reaction and analysis, of losing 72-hour stretches at a clip to consuming the game through a firehose, watching it with friends, arguing it on Twitter, shivering through it in the Bronx.

There's one bit of business I never got around to announcing. I am incredibly proud that Gary Huckabay has agreed to write the foreword to my book. WIthout Gary there is no Baseball Prospectus, there is no "Joe Sheehan, baseball writer," and I would argue that no one would be seriously arguing Felix Hernandez for the AL Cy Young Award.

Beyond his tangible impact on baseball, this company and my career, I've learned a lot from Gary about how to use your own talents to help others. While he was here, Gary pushed BP to do fundraisers, to turn Pizza Feeds into benefits, and otherwise help others. It was his example that caused me to run a fundraiser, via my newsletter, for the Cancer Research Institute this summer. The 25-year-old version of Joe Sheehan wouldn't have thought about something like that. The 39-year-old does because he had an example like Gary. I am proud that he will be a part of my first solo book.
 

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  Economics

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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ScottyB

Oh, if this- "If you want to express opinions, you owe it to yourself and the people you argue with -- you owe it to the argument itself -- to become informed."- could be madated in political discourse...

Sep 22, 2010 16:01 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

I have never had a problem with people who've injected political opinions into their work here. I rarely have, in no small part because my politics don't map well to the sides we choose in the U.S., and certainly not to any parties that garner matching funds.

I sincerely wish, though, that we had more datacentric, factcentric public discourse, and beyond that, public policy. Until that happens, and it may never happen, an overwhelming pessimism about the future of this country will be my default position, a pessimism rooted almost entirely in math.

I've written, and deleted, public-policy tracts within this book. It's not really my place nor my role, but it's hard sometimes to not try and lead the discussion to a better place.

Sep 22, 2010 17:56 PM
 
SaberTJ

My feelings exactly. Our gov't spends billions and trillions of dollars on projects and policies, yet I doubt anyone making the decisions can match the intelligence of Nate Silver.

Sep 23, 2010 09:23 AM
rating: 1
 
Richie
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

1) Plenty of smart people in government. You just never read about them. In Governance/Politics as in all things, good decisions don't make the news. Only bad ones that blow up do. As Andy Rooney once happily observed, good news simply isn't "news". It's reasonably expected.

2) Letting only the 'smart, informed' people decide things has been the basis of history's most heinous left-wing dictatorships.

3) Soooo, how many of you guys are voluntarily queuing up in the 'stupid, uninformed' line?

Sep 23, 2010 09:40 AM
rating: -4
 
SaberTJ
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I see your point and agree for the most part. I would hardly classify anyone on the hard left in office right now as smart.

Sep 23, 2010 10:38 AM
rating: -6
 
SaberTJ

But I don't want to hijack this thread with politics.

Loved the snippet of the book. Can't wait to buy it.

Sep 23, 2010 10:42 AM
rating: 1
 
vertumnus

2) Letting only the 'smart, informed' people decide things has been the basis of history's most heinous left-wing dictatorships.

What are some of these heinous left-wing dictatorships? In most of the Marxist dicatorships I can think of, most of the intellectuals and educated people were killed, imprisoned, or "re-educated".

Sep 23, 2010 13:15 PM
rating: 0
 
Scott D. Simon

More important than politics: What's Gary Huckabay up to these days, and when will he return with the next 6-4-3 column?

Sep 23, 2010 10:17 AM
rating: 11
 
SaberTJ

+1

Sep 23, 2010 10:41 AM
rating: -3
 
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