The White WhalePosted: May 10, 2015
Call me Grant Desme.
Some years ago-never mind how long precisely-having little to no analytical or writing experience, but nothing particular to do in my downtime, I thought I would start a baseball blog and see the nerdy part of the world.
However my ship has sailed, life has changed and I will no longer be providing baseball analysis on the internet. I am now a licensed Pentecostal minister and the youth pastor at my church. That, combined with a new job with increased responsibilities have taken away much of the downtime I previously used to analyze statistics.
The next few paragraphs are the reminiscences of an amateur baseball blogger, so please indulge me. Toward the end of this post, I provide a challenge to the sports analytical community at large.
I started on Blogspot in September 2010 with a poem about Stephen Strasburg’s injury that not even my mom read. Four years later, I was blessed to get an article in the 2015 Hardball Times and well…I don’t think my mom read that either, but she is a proud owner of the book!
Over the years, many people were instrumental in getting me greater exposure to the baseball world. In 2011, R.J. Anderson and Tommy Rancel at The Process Report took the first gamble on me. Unfortunately this also led to a lifetime of Rays fandom and disappointment.
A month later, Justin Bopp brought me on at Beyond the Boxscore after reading a community post, Full on Double Wildcard–still one of my favorite titles–and getting to know me through the now-defunct baseball MMORPG 2 Out Rally. Bopp also brought me on at MLB Daily Dish, allowing me to expand my writing horizons into a more journalistic style.
One month after that, David Pease approached me about working at Baseball Prospectus, an offer a baseball writer can’t refuse. My time there was short-lived, mostly because my life was changing at that point just as it has been for the past few months. I started dating my future wife and spending time with her won out over running SQL queries on baseball statistics. I made the right choice ;). However, in that short period and only nine months after my first attempt at baseball writing, I was able to get published on ESPN.com, definitely a highlight in my “career.”
A month after that, I achieved international fame (where’s the sarcasm font when you need it?) by calling out the White Sox as the accusatory team in the “Man in White” incident.
I spent most of that year writing odds and ends here on my personal blog, reappearing in February 2012 at the Platoon Advantage, thanks to the invitation of “Saberboy” Bill Parker and Michael “The Common Man” Bates.
Finally, Bryan Grosnick asked me back to Beyond the Boxscore in 2013 and that’s where I stayed until finally hanging them up this year.
Many people helped me throughout the four-and-a-half years of on-again, off-again writing in addition to those already mentioned. I’m going to list a bunch of names and if I leave anyone off, I apologize as it was an honor writing and working with everyone. I’m also grateful to anyone who ever spent some of their precious time reading one of my articles.
So thanks go to…Chris Adragna, Cee Angi, Andrew Ball, John Choiniere, Carson Cistulli, Bryan Cole, JJ Cooper, Mike Fast, Adam Foster, Steven Goldman, Jordan Gorosh, Joe Hamrahi, Sky Kalkman, Sean Lahman, Keith Law, Mitchel Lichtman, Ben Lindbergh, Scott Lindholm, Stephen Loftus, Christopher Long, John Manuel, Rob McQuown, Jonathan Mitchell, Alan Nathan, Marc Normandin, Harry Pavlidis, Bill Petti, Jon Roegele, Eno Sarris, Ronit Shah, Mark Simon, Paul Swydan, Tom Tango, Lee Trocinski, Dan Turkenkopf, Stuart Wallace, Neil Weinberg, Daren Willman, Jason Wojciechowski, Colin Wyers, Jeff Zimmerman…and of course no list would be complete without a massive thank you to Sean Forman, Bill James, Pete Palmer and many of the legends upon which all future work is built.
And future work is where the challenge lies.
The online baseball community as a whole could grow in understanding by leaps and bounds if it was more well-read and stopped redoing the work that others have already completed. There can be a good side to repeat work as it helps the individual writer understand the underlying parts of various concepts but there must be links and attribution to previous work.
I believe part of this inundation of repetition comes from the monetization of websites and the focus on page views. This allows for higher quality work where writers can go full-time and focus on baseball, but also waters down the pool of information. It is exceedingly difficult to take analysis seriously when the reader must scroll through clickbait about Chloe Moretz’s dress or how switching to Geico is as easy as pie before getting to the comments section. It also means the writer has to pump out articles in order to get paid, regardless of if the work is novel or necessary. This has led to the availability of data and information like never before, but it has also led to a lot of reproduction of work. Again, this is not always bad, but if work is to be repeated, previous or similar work should at least be cited.
This is actually a fairly easy problem to make an impact on, though. Of course if you are a baseball writer, you should be reading work from everywhere as it helps you make connections in your mind and come up with more writing ideas. Furthermore, if you have an idea for an article but can’t remember reading anything about it, visit your favorite search engine first. It could be Google or Bing or even DuckDuckGo, but at least do a cursory search on the topic before you even start to pull the data or write the article. If you find someone who did this work already, great! You have a starting point! Reach out to that writer, see if he or she has any ideas on furthering the research or anything he thought to add later. If you don’t find anything, at least you’ve covered your bases. Finally, the Saber Archive is an amazing opportunity to build a public wealth of knowledge of baseball. But please, if you know of previous research that has been done on a subject that you write about, link to it! It’s the proper and kind thing to do, particularly if you are writing for a top site and similar work has appeared on other top sites. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to shine light on great work that not many people have read. If you are unaware of the other work–read more. It’s your job.
But it’s not mine anymore! You will still be able to reach me on Twitter if you have any questions on research I have done or just want to chat. I realize that I am but a pawn in the grand scheme of the baseball community at large and that time will pass, new writers will arrive, and my name will be (and is already) but a fading memory. But hopefully, whether through home run damage or JAVIER or some other work, I made some kind of an impact–no matter how small–on our understanding of the game we all love so much.
Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.