I spent most of Friday on the set of The View, wired up in Joy Behar’s audio gear and desperately trying (and mostly failing) to correctly answer trivia questions about last season’s game action for a live quiz show being beamed back to Japan. It was a strange experience, one made all the more surreal when one of my overseas hosts made a fat joke about me. After that, I wasn’t much in the mood to think about what happened to Dexter Fowler in the fourth inning of a game last April, and my performance suffered accordingly. My day ended with co-panelist Alan Schwarz observing (good-naturedly, I think) that I sucked, so it was a good day for my ego.
Despite this, it was a wonderful opportunity to interact with panelists John Thorn and my BP colleague Marc Normandin (and even Mr. Schwarz), as well as to talk about American baseball before an enthusiastic audience in Japan, and I hope I get many more chances to do so, perhaps while wearing some kind of loose-fitting kimono which will obviate the need to discuss my weight.
The timing of my momentary job as transoceanic baseball ambassador/buffoon meant that when you were receiving news of Christina Kahrl’s elevation to a place of prominence with the Worldwide Leader, I was unable to offer my own comments on the occasion or replies to the many reader responses to Christina’s column, a lapse that I will correct now with a few remarks on how Christina’s big move affects Baseball Prospectus.
First and foremost, Christina’s move does not deprive us of her services, as she will still be making regular contributions both here on the site and in the pages of our other publications such as the annual. While I am greatly pleased that, like rock and roll before us, BP and the sabermetric approach in general, once considered too hip for the room, are being accepted and embraced by the mainstream, I would have been saddened had we been deprived of our most loyal, dedicated, and enduring founder as well as someone who has long been my friend and mentor. Again, that is not the case, and you will see more trademark Kahrlingian wordplay here soon.
As you can see elsewhere on the site today, Transaction Analysis will continue under the auspices of our own colonel, Ben Lindbergh. Ben is our most brilliant young writer, and in his own way has as large a fund of knowledge about matters related and unrelated to baseball as Christina does (though fewer of his thoughts are inspired by the Battle of Agincourt). Indeed, Christina herself feels he is the best choice for the job. R.J. Anderson will also continue to handle select moves on the blog side of the site.
Inevitably, Ben’s TA will differ in some ways from Christina’s, and that is how it should be. Better he give you his own best efforts than a weak approximation of Christina’s. I hope you will give him the time to perfect his approach and make the space his own, as you gave Christina over 15 years to perfect hers.
Finally, I want to observe as a general principle that, as much as change can be disconcerting, it is also to be embraced. As George Steinbrenner once said, sometimes you have to let the big elephants out of the tent so that the young elephants can get in, and I am looking forward to watching the continued growth of some of the young elephants we’ve added to the site of late, not just Colonel Lindbergh and R.J., but Corey Dawkins, Emma Span, Ben Kabak, Joey Matschulat, Jason Parks, Jeremy Greenhouse, and more. Change can be an engine of creative growth and reinvention, and I think it has been for us. No publication, no matter how successful, can remain a static enterprise and survive. Baseball Prospectus is no exception to this rule, and while partings are always wrenching, each goodbye also brings with it a few hellos—new voices with new ideas. As a publication dedicated to the overthrow of received wisdom and tired old clichés, we have an obligation to keep looking for baseball minds on the bleeding edge. For me, every day on the job is like Christmas morning, and while there will never be another Christina Kahrl, I can’t wait to see what we do next.