With just two days to go before the 2013 Major League Baseball season kicks off, there’s not much left to say about the Boston Red Sox.
The Jackie Bradley Jr. call-up controversy has been beaten to death. The rotation, lineup, bullpen and bench have all been reviewed. Shane Victorino has been examined every which way.
Consequently, for my final column of the spring, I’m going to take this time to remind us all what this game is about. Brace yourselves.
I first became a baseball fan when I was seven years old. My first memory of attending a game also happens to be one of my favorites: then-Phillies ace Curt Schilling struck out 16 Yankees on a blistering July day at Veterans Stadium in 1997, the first year of interleague play.
I soon consumed everything I could about the game I began to love. I still have shelves of books and a baseball card collection in the thousands (I could write a separate essay on my favorite cards from the late 90s and early 2000s).
The point is that for the past 16 years, I’ve actively tried to learn as much about baseball as I can, because I love the game. To me, that is what sabermetrics are all about; a constant search for new knowledge about the game of baseball.
So, my request to all fans this season is quite simple: remember that we are all in this together. We all love the game, regardless of the statistics or metrics we use to quantify it.
Baseball – not sabermetrics – is the reason I visit FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus every single day. Baseball is the reason why I can’t wait to read the next column by Jonah Keri or Grant Brisbee. It’s why I interact with beat writers on Twitter (mostly Phillies writers, for full disclosure) and it’s why I write for this blog.
Sabermetrics – or advanced statistics – are just a tool I and many others use to better understand this amazing game. In fact, I don’t even like the term “sabermetrics” all that much, precisely because it creates what seems to be a mental roadblock within the community.
I love the game. I watch the game, I devour the game, and I stay up nights thinking about the game. When I’m bored in a doctor’s waiting room or on the train – and without my iPhone – I think about my all-time fantasy batting lineups and pitching rotations, broken down by era and league. It’s sickening, but I love it.
And that is why I want all baseball fans to embrace the statistics that I embrace. Not because I want to change the game and forget the past; but because I want the game, and the understanding of the sport, to continue to evolve.
So here’s to another great season. Let’s hope the battle of traditionalists vs. “sabermetricians” takes a big step towards peace.