Resisting the feud
People sometimes ask me why I’m such a big Alan Schwarz fan, and I don’t always articulate it very well. I just really enjoy his writing. He’s intelligent, thoughtful, insightful, and has an understanding of the game, but lacks the annoying tone of most of the other analysts who use statistics to explain their place in the game. He comes across as someone trying to educate, not lecture, and his latest piece at Baseball America is further proof of this. It’s a roundtable of two long time scouts and two of the more prominant names in the statistical community with the intention of bringing the two sides together. It’s worth reading.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. I had a nice little blurb written here that started with “no disrespect to the four guys involved”, but I deleted it and am just going to say what I feel.
Voros McCracken comes across as a total jerk. Gary Hughes doesn’t fare much better. Eddie Bane and Gary Huckabay apparently handled themselves well, but the sniping between Hughes and McCracken was downright petty. Both Hughes and McCracken spent almost no time explaining their strength and what they can bring to the table, but instead focused on letting us know why the other side is flawed. The reality is that both sides are flawed, though in different ways, and those who are willing to accept that fact and use the complementary aspects of scouting and statistics are those who are going to move ahead in understanding the game. Eddie Bane is one of those guys. So is Chris Antonetti. There are thoughtful, reasonable, well spoken guys on both sides of the fence. Unfortunately, Voros McCracken and Gary Hughes are not part of that group.
Honestly, the statistical community needs new leadership. Rob Neyer, Joe Sheehan, Voros McCracken, Mitchel Lichtman, all intelligent guys. And all of them need to take a giant step back, eat their pride, stop focusing on the flaws of the scouting community, and take a class on personal relations. As much as I agree with a lot of the theories and insights that performance analysis has brought to the game, I’m too often ashamed to be associated with the current voices of the statistical analysis community.
What started as an article to bring the two sides together reads like a rollcall of the issues that keep the two sides apart. We need to stop trying to change the other side, and look in the mirror. Maybe the scouts don’t think we’re jerks because they’re defending their jobs. Perhaps, just maybe, you really are acting like a jerk. Joe, Rob, Voros, something to think about…