Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bill James' job

Here, from the Wall Street Journal, is another one of those profiles of Bill James, and how he now works for the Red Sox after a quarter-century of writing books. The article's first line:

"After 25 years on the outside, Bill James was invited to take a seat at the center of the baseball universe."

When I read that line, it struck me as somehow wrong. Bill James, it seems to me, was at the "center of the baseball universe" when he was discovering important things about baseball, writing about them brilliantly, and sharing them with hundreds of thousands of rabid fans. Now, he discovers smaller, less-important things, doesn't write about them, and shares them only with the Red Sox front office. He's obviously less influential now than he was then.

Everyone's personality and taste is different, but, speaking for myself, I'd rather have Bill James' old job than his new one. What fun is discovering new things if you can't tell anyone?

To me, the best job in sports analysis is something like Dave Berri's. They pay you to do sabermetric research, you get to teach it, you get to write books, and you know that front offices are reading what you have to say. Can't get much better than that.

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At Monday, June 25, 2007 9:19:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good point. To be honest when I heard of James' agreement to work for the Red Sox, the first words I thought of were "sell out". Now I've changed that tune. What James does now may not seem influential to us, but his work finally caught the attention of a big league front office. So that is certainly showing some influence.

Although all it would take is a change in the Red Sox front office and then all that is lost (pardon my pessimistic side). No "center of the baseball universe" there.


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