Steve Bonner has a wonderful post over at The Midnight Hour about what it is that he really loves about baseball (hint: it’s a line drive). Bonner then hits on a topic that is close to my heart:
There is a disconnect in the way different people (and even sometimes the same people) view, understand or appreciate baseball. Most of the baseball blogs that I read and enjoy, spend great time and care evaluating baseball from a super analytical vantage point. The sabermetricians see through the lie of the casual fan’s vision and memory. Derek Jeter may have made a season saving play by ranging from his position at shortstop, to cut off an errant throw in foul territory up the first base line, but be not deceived gentle reader, Derek Jeter is an atrocious shortstop because he range factor is at the bottom of the list.
I must admit I am fascinated by the new analytics. It gives insight and understanding where before we had to rely on the musings of Tim McCarver and Joe Morgan to tell us how good a player was. But sometimes I wonder what the point of it is. Do I derive less satisfaction from watching Jeter go to the hole and do that jumping throw thing of his? No, it’s still a thing of beauty just like the game itself. So to some extent I don’t want to know what his zone rating is and I don’t want to know that Soriano’s OBP is lousy because I just want enjoy the grin on his face when he makes sweet contact, I want to enjoy the beauty of the game.
Next, Bonner tells a great story about how he taught himself how to play the guitar when he was a teenager, and writes about how he is thankful that music isn’t evaluated in the same fashion that baseball is:
But seriously I’m happy that music isn’t deconstructed with the same dispassionate verve that we apply to baseball.
I feel simpatico with Bonner’s feelings about the humility that comes with learning an instrument—or any of the fine arts for that matter—but I have to disagree with him here. Go ahead and read some Jazz criticism. Unless you are talking about Nat Hentoff, you’ll find it to be significantly more dispassionate and academic than anything you see on Baseball Prospectus. I’m sure some of the more worldly Rock and Roll fans out there would be able to point out some pretty dry Rock criticism as well.