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Bill James to Appear on 60 Minutes This Sunday, 3/30


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#1 Tudor Fever

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 11:27 AM

According to an E-mail this morning from ACTA Publications. It's not yet up on the CBS website.

Bill James, author of the new Bill James Gold Mine 2008, will appear on the
CBS TV news show 60 Minutes this Sunday night, March 30. The program will
air at 7:00pm ET/PT.

Morley Safer and the 60 Minutes crew interviewed Bill James over the course
of three days at the World Champion Boston Red Sox spring training camp a
couple of weeks ago. They also filmed segments with Red Sox staff, including
manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein.


Edited by Tudor Fever, 27 March 2008 - 11:28 AM.


#2 JohntheBaptist


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Posted 28 March 2008 - 12:31 AM

I've been looking forward to this for a while. I don't know that I've ever seen a video interview/ profile/ whatever on James- it's all been print media. This should be really interesting.

Thanks for the heads up, TF.

#3 Senorec

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 01:45 AM

I've been looking forward to this for a while. I don't know that I've ever seen a video interview/ profile/ whatever on James- it's all been print media. This should be really interesting.

Thanks for the heads up, TF.

The only time I saw James interviewed was on the PBS show Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg. It was a couple summers ago I believe. It really wasn't that great of an interview and all I could find was the transcript.

http://www.pbs.org/t...script1197.html

#4 Hairps

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 09:31 AM

Posted Image

60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer reports on James, his influence on the Red Sox, and a bitter rivalry heating up early, this Sunday, March 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

"[James']reputation had preceded him," says Larry Lucchino, a partner in the Red Sox. "So we knew we were getting a guy who was unusual and I thought it was a giant step forward," he says. His partner in the Sox, Tom Werner, believes James' brand of analysis is crucial now. "The truth is, Morley, this is a very sophisticated business these days….When Larry and I first came into the business, the general manager relied fairly much on gut instincts…we’ve taken a much more systematic approach, which really comes from Bill," he tells Safer.

But everybody's getting into this act, says Lucchino, especially the New York Yankees, known in Boston as the "Evil Empire." "[The Yankees] are [utilizing an intense scrutiny of statistics] but there are several teams in baseball that are doing it," Lucchino says. "But the Yankees always tend to spend a little more money at whatever it is they’re doing. So, we're concerned about our competition," he tells Safer.

Who would James most want to see on his dream team? "David Wright," he answers without thinking. "Because he does everything I like and he’s very young."


http://www.cbsnews.c...in3974752.shtml

#5 Don Buddin

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 09:47 AM

While I will definitely be watching, I'm not expecting a great interview.

Given that they must relate to their large audience of non-Red Sox fans, casual baseball fans, and non-baseball fans, I suspect there will be little said that most of us here don't know already.

But he still a fascinating guy to listen to. I have my DVR set.

#6 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 28 March 2008 - 11:15 AM

While I will definitely be watching, I'm not expecting a great interview.

Given that they must relate to their large audience of non-Red Sox fans, casual baseball fans, and non-baseball fans, I suspect there will be little said that most of us here don't know already.

But he still a fascinating guy to listen to. I have my DVR set.

Yup. There's the possibility for a fascinating piece. James writes well, speaks well and he can be very glib. There's a great story there about someone who saw ignorance, indifference and tradition ruling a field and created a business where none existed simply by searching for the truth in that field and writing what he found. I hope it isn't another superficial story where they just look to pigeonhole him as that wacky stats guy and get a couple off the wall comments. When he started, there was The Sporting News, SI and baseball digest and if a player had a good batting average then he was a good hitter. If he didn't, he wasn't. Period. And he changed that limited way of looking at things. And he had fun doing it.

#7 El Tiante

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 11:57 AM

Thank you for the heads up. I will look forward to his appearance.

#8 Hairps

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Posted 28 March 2008 - 12:06 PM

Yup. There's the possibility for a fascinating piece. James writes well, speaks well and he can be very glib. There's a great story there about someone who saw ignorance, indifference and tradition ruling a field and created a business where none existed simply by searching for the truth in that field and writing what he found....When he started, there was The Sporting News, SI and baseball digest and if a player had a good batting average then he was a good hitter. If he didn't, he wasn't. Period. And he changed that limited way of looking at things. And he had fun doing it.

Damn, that was very well put.

#9 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 02:38 PM

Just wanted to bump this up to the top to serve as a reminder about this.

#10 templeUsox


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:23 PM

Another bump, because it be on.

#11 mabrowndog


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:28 PM

I'm chuckling at the teaser they just had at the start of the show. Bill James is shown walking around the field in Fort Myers, dressed in navy slacks and a very loose blue golf shirt over his generous torso, as Morley Safer narrates...

"Amidst the atmosphere of beer and hot dogs, and hero worship..."

<<cut to Coco Crisp signing an autograph>>

Kudos to the producers for that little tidbit of unintentional comedy.

Edited by mabrowndog, 30 March 2008 - 07:05 PM.


#12 Foulkey Reese


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:56 PM

It's 7:55 and the Gore segment is still going, did I miss James?

#13 RedOctober3829


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:58 PM

It's 7:55 and the Gore segment is still going, did I miss James?

It is coming on next I believe.

#14 jodyreeddudley78

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:58 PM

It's 7:55 and the Gore segment is still going, did I miss James?


No. It started at 7:30 due to the NCAAs. The James segment appears like it is going to be the final one.

#15 mabrowndog


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:59 PM

It's 7:55 and the Gore segment is still going, did I miss James?

No. I'm pretty sure it'll be the final segment -- right before that corpse Andy Rooney wastes 3 minutes of our calendar with his pathetic observations on everyday life.

Edited by mabrowndog, 30 March 2008 - 06:59 PM.


#16 TheGoldenGreek33

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:59 PM

No. The Davidson-Kansas game ran about 20 minutes into the show.

#17 glennhoffmania


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:02 PM

I'm torn between the beginning of this segment and Bush's reception when he throws out the first pitch. Damn you, NCAA tournament.

Edited by glennhoffmania, 30 March 2008 - 07:03 PM.


#18 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:04 PM

Ugh.
Safer's opening riddled with broad brush characterizations meant to mean something to people who don't know if a baseball's the orange one or the one with pointy ends.

Okay. Improving from there with a few excellent photos.

Edited by Rough Carrigan, 30 March 2008 - 07:06 PM.


#19 Foulkey Reese


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:09 PM

I could do with more James and less Costas

#20 mabrowndog


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:12 PM

So the Sox were "willing to try anything to break an 86-year-old curse"?? Are you kidding me??

That implies a mode of desperation that simply never existed with the new ownership group.

#21 mabrowndog


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:14 PM

And we have a Trupe audio clip!

#22 mabrowndog


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:16 PM

That was a horribly blah and boring segment. Then again, Morley Safer is the official fluff piece reporter of 60 Minutes, and has been for his entire career.

The best insights came from Tito:

* The game is played by people, and we try to never lose sight of that.

* Players need to believe they're indestructbile. We'd never tell one that he's 0-for-20 against this guy, so you can't hit him. We'd NEVER share that with a player.

Edited by mabrowndog, 30 March 2008 - 07:17 PM.


#23 jacklamabe65


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:16 PM

I assume Eric Van wanted the Sox to sign Ortiz. :)

Edited by jacklamabe65, 30 March 2008 - 07:17 PM.


#24 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:17 PM

Ehh.
Not nearly what I would wish it to be but they didn't sterotype him as badly as they might have. I'm ambivalent about this one.

#25 glennhoffmania


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:17 PM

I could do with more James and less Costas


Yup

So the Sox were "willing to try anything to break an 86-year-old curse"?? Are you kidding me??

That implies a mode of desperation that simply never existed with the new ownership group.


Yup

That could've been done a lot better.

#26 InsideTheParker


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:21 PM

Can someone help me out here? I believe it was Costas who attributed to James the notion that you ought to bring in your closer in the sixth inning if the go-ahead run was on third and the opposition's best hitters were due up, "because the game could turn" on those at-bats.

My husband was screaming, "But the Red Sox NEVER do that." Well, I am sure that Papelbon has been brought into the games in the eighth in such a situation, but the sixth?

#27 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 07:24 PM

Yeah. Stupid Costas has to go and say the 6th or 7th instead of saying the 8th. And didn't mention the foolishness of feeling you *have* to use that closer with a 3 run lead in the 9th.

If I'm ever arrested and I get Bob Costas to represent me, that's a sign I have a death wish.

#28 wade boggs chicken dinner


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:21 PM

I wonder what the average fan thought of that? I thought it was mostly fluff (since I already knew everything in there) but now that I've thought about it, it's really a very interesting argument to authority - "Red Sox hired Bill James; Red Sox won two WS; here's what Bill James has to say." Not that they had time to go in depth about things, but couldn't have they removed a little bit of Costas face time and explain WHY James thinks sacrifices are a waste or why wins and losses don't matter or even what the pythag theorem is?

Wonder why they kept harping on clutch hitting - was it to make him look eccentric?

But at the very least, according to this blog (was this posted somewhere else before - I've not seen it?), James liked Safer a lot. Or at least he did. Guess he doesn't mind being a star for a few minutes.

#29 Rough Carrigan


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:25 PM

Wonder why they kept harping on clutch hitting - was it to make him look eccentric?

But at the very least, according to this blog (was this posted somewhere else before - I've not seen it?), James liked Safer a lot. Or at least he did. Guess he doesn't mind being a star for a few minutes.

They could have taken about 10 seconds and represented the position (right or wrong) as something along the lines of the best hitters at other times are typically the best hitters in clutch situations. Instead they gave the viewer no idea why the hell James was saying that. Ugh. Just so . . . cursory.

#30 Tudor Fever

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:26 PM

That was an embarrassingly disappointing effort by 60 Minutes.

The opening segment could not have been more lame. The intro was awful, what with the graphic of the picture of James with the label “Stat Man” underneath, and the senescent yet condescending Morley Safer intoning“statistical wonks who believe that enlightenment lies in the correct reading of the numbers…which brings us to Bill James, Wonk of Wonkdom.”

“Baseball, with its unshaking reliance on superstition, believes that the Red Sox have found themselves one lucky charm” is idiotic on more levels than I would have imagined were possible.

Other cringeworthy moments and quotes:

James never said that catchers, not pitchers,prevent stolen bases.

“James became the voice of God to baseball geeks everywhere.”

“Even he admits the numbers can never say it all.”

#31 Vermonter At Large


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 08:54 PM

I dunno. I kind of liked the piece.

I think it played into the mysticism of the numbers a little bit - there was sort of a "cat that swallowed the canary" overtone that perhaps there is some merit to all the wonkdom.

I think it also put a perspective on things that we, as a community full of wonks, perhaps lose the proverbial forest for the trees. Mathematics is merely a tool to help us understand the universe, but the mathematics don't really exist.

Now to get back to my quest to separate the active and passive components of run-scoring events, and get my OOTP team roster exports in for tonight's sim ... :)

#32 There is no Rev


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 09:42 PM

I dunno. I kind of liked the piece.

I think it played into the mysticism of the numbers a little bit - there was sort of a "cat that swallowed the canary" overtone that perhaps there is some merit to all the wonkdom.

I think it also put a perspective on things that we, as a community full of wonks, perhaps lose the proverbial forest for the trees. Mathematics is merely a tool to help us understand the universe, but the mathematics don't really exist.

Now to get back to my quest to separate the active and passive components of run-scoring events, and get my OOTP team roster exports in for tonight's sim ... :)

Conversely, I think this is what they wanted to do, but to me, utterly failed through cheap tricks in bad writing.

The culmination was the exchange where they said something to the effect of because of the human element in baseball, on any given day, a player can defy the numbers.

I understand what they were getting at, but that is a completely disingenuous way of characterizing the numbers end of the game. Everyone who understands the strengths and weaknesses of numbers understands that they are aggregate averages. Neither great success not great failure on any given day defies the numbers because the numbers are not dispositive predictions of fact but rather probabilistic tendencies.

And yes, again, I understand the point, but I thought the they wee really feeding into the straw man argument of, "See? Numbers don't tell you everything!" whenever someone does something that was predictred as unlikely; just because someone does a thing doesn't mean it wasn't unlikely. To think an event disproves a probability is just to nut understand use of statistics in the first place. During the exchanges, it seemed pretty clear to me that James knew this, but hey, that's the segment and so he went with it. Funny look on his face though...

No. I'm pretty sure it'll be the final segment -- right before that corpse Andy Rooney wastes 3 minutes of our calendar with his pathetic observations on everyday life.

After that well articulated argument that in a truly free market there would be no profanity on the airwaves, I'm sure you must be revising your letter of apology to Sir Rooney as we speak.

#33 Philip Jeff Frye


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 10:09 PM

I'm always amazed that whenever I actually know a little bit about something that makes it into the media, the story is almost always wrong or beside the point or presented with some preconceived agenda that totally biases the piece. This sounds like a great example. To the average 60 Minutes viewer, this is probably an interesting piece, but to somebody that actually knows about the Red Sox and about James' work, its superficial and lame. It makes you wonder why we actually read the newspapers or watch the news.

#34 JohntheBaptist


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 10:40 PM

OK, so, is Morley Safer really short, or is Bill James very tall?

#35 Nomar

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 10:54 PM

Because TV is constantly produced to cater to as wide an audience as possible. That's a nice way of saying lowest common denominator I guess. Anybody looking for more than a 101 on any given topic is constantly going to be disappointed. Did you really think they were going to delve into Pythagorean theories, VORP or what have you? No... it's a magazine show that covers anything and everything, and so any topic is always going to be broad strokes. I'm sure everyone who isn't a huge baseball fan, SoSHer or a sabermetrician would find it interesting, and their curiosity piqued to learn more about it. You simply can't produce a segment on Bill James for network TV that caters to his disciples and people who have been reading him since the 70s or early 80s. Nobody would watch. TV is always produced so that if you just landed from Mars you could get it. If you excavated a specific site in Egypt for 15-20 years, I can guarantee you are going to be disappointed and probably irate by the hour show the History Channel or the Discovery Channel devotes to it. That said, if you knew nothing about it, you'd find it quite informative and almost nuanced.

Honestly, the thing I find the most annoying on 60 Minutes is the correspondents responding to an answer by recapping it. It's always, precap, cap and recap... (Just using the following as an example, not trying to paraphrase or quote -- although it's very possible this is how it played out in the show tonight.)

Reporter VO -- Bill James doesn't think there is anything such as a clutch hitter...
Bill James -- There is no such thing as a clutch hitter...
Reporter On Camera -- So wait, you're telling ME... there is no such thing as a clutch hitter...

OK, I F-ing get it already!!!!!!!!!!

That's just how the profession likes to do things, and despite many trying not to take the audience for absolute dolts, it's still the preferred method for doing things. Sad but this is the truth and it ain't changing any time soon. I know, I've produced my fair share of slop...

#36 syoo8

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 11:10 PM

OK, so, is Morley Safer really short, or is Bill James very tall?


I met Safer a couple of years ago and he's about 5'7 (i.e. a couple of inches taller than me.)

I was very disappointed in the piece. The only points of interest for me were seeing the covers for the Baseball Abstracts.

Sure, 60 Minutes has to play to the lowest common denominator, but I remember a Q&A with Time Magazine that was layman-friendly, yet very interesting to me as a fan. Here's the link.

I also wondered why Billy Beane wasn't interviewed.

#37 Tizzolator

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 11:14 PM

Nomar is right on this - 60 Minutes has to cater to every denominator, including those who know very little about baseball.

I don't think it's fair to expect 60 Minutes' work to cater to our crowd - this is supposed to be "America's news magazine" and they have to keep things general.

#38 BU1995Hockey


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Posted 30 March 2008 - 11:36 PM

“James became the voice of God to baseball geeks everywhere.”


I liked it all aside from stuff like this. We've come a long way in baseball when 60 Minutes runs a profile on a guy like James, I'd like to see more of the same.

#39 DieHardSoxFan1


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Posted 31 March 2008 - 12:09 AM

Ehh.
Not nearly what I would wish it to be but they didn't sterotype him as badly as they might have. I'm ambivalent about this one.


I'm not sure what you expected of this segment. 60 Minutes is catering to a national audience, casual baseball fans and people who might not follow the game at all, and the story was edited and presented with this clearly in mind. This was meant to introduce these aforementioned crowds to a relatively contemporary way of thinking that's being widely implemented inside one of the most --if not the most -- traditionally run businesses in American history.

I get the feeling that you would have been happy only if old Morley had decided to give an impromptu tutorial on EQA and WPA.

Edited by DieHardSoxFan1, 31 March 2008 - 12:20 AM.


#40 Eric Van


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Posted 31 March 2008 - 12:52 AM

There were certainly a few things that made me cringe, but the piece did well what it had to do most importantly -- give us a sense of what the man is like. That's what these pieces are about. They are human interest stories about characters who have impacted their profession. They are not primarily about the content of the work (unless that work is itself of newsworthy interest to everybody, e.g., a doctor who had a radical idea for curing cancer) and they will only present just enough about the work to give you a sense of what the subject does.

There was just one major, egregious, failing. Bill James was not the pioneer of most of these ideas. In fact, they are pretty old ideas. "All" Bill James did was become the person who finally got the world to start paying attention to them. And he did that by absolutely terrific writing. Clear, compelling explanations and arguments, shot through with devastating wit. He would had a career as one of our leading baseball writers even if he had never multiplied a pair of numbers. The piece completely overlooked that, and it is a very important part of the story.

#41 Eric Van


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Posted 31 March 2008 - 01:13 AM

I assume Eric Van wanted the Sox to sign Ortiz. :)

Hey, I wanted to trade Scott Cooper (plus another prospect if necessary) for Bernie Williams after the '92 season, when the former was blocked by Boggs and the latter was blocked by Roberto Kelly and both teams had a gaping hole at the other position. I had as much say about that one. :)

(Instead, of course, we let Boggs go as a FA and kept Cooper, and the Yankees signed Boggs and traded Kelly for Paul O'Neill. Ouch.)

NB: I also wanted to release Luis Tiant in mid-'72 and loved the Jack and Tony Clark signings. Among many others! But the good ideas we all had are the ones that we recall with great mixed feelings . . .

#42 V.I. Tessie

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Posted 31 March 2008 - 06:23 AM

I was pretty aggrevated with the fact that the piece was introduced as an interview with the man "without whom the Red Sox would not have won two World Series Championships".

Also, is it at all possible for any media to talk about the Red Sox past without showing Bill Buckner? Talk about your dead horse.

#43 knucklecup


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Posted 31 March 2008 - 07:45 AM

The piece was blah to me as well.

Nothing real insightful, nothing new..

#44 Fratboy


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Posted 31 March 2008 - 08:53 AM

OK, so, is Morley Safer really short, or is Bill James very tall?

Bill James is a BIG guy. I met Rob Neyer and him at a book signing in Braintree in September 2005 during the Yankees series. I'm 6'1", and James made me feel tiny. He's gotta be 6'4", with decent girth as well.

#45 Worst Trade Evah


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Posted 31 March 2008 - 09:30 AM

EV is right that they completely over-looked James-the-Writer. He's a better writer than almost anyone who's ever written about baseball.

I got tired of the way they flogged the clutch problem, which didn't seem fair to James, and the whole 'revenge of the nerds' vibe was a little much. But I guess there's some level of truth there, so whatever. James isn't really the guy who's denied clutch, but he's challenged people's conceptions about who is clutch, why we think that, and how we can know it.

Did anyone see what James had on his spreadsheet when they showed that of his computer?

#46 Eric Van


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Posted 31 March 2008 - 04:00 PM

I was pretty aggrevated with the fact that the piece was introduced as an interview with the man "without whom the Red Sox would not have won two World Series Championships".

I took that to refer to the adoption of sabermetric principles by the team rather than BJ's direct contribution to the 2004 and 2007 teams, which is essentially impossible to isolate.

There's a riff you hear frequently in DVD film commentaries that goes like this: "I told my casting director I wanted a Laura Linney type and we auditioned scores of actresses until someone finally said, why don't we just ask Laura Linney? And to our surprise and great pleasure she said yes." (That's an actual example from Love, Actually.) In this case, I think it's fair to say that the Sox knew they needed a "Bill James type" in the F.O. and the obvious thing to do was to go after the man himself.

#47 Redkluzu


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Posted 01 April 2008 - 06:50 AM

The piece was blah to me as well. Nothing real insightful, nothing new..


Posnanski's take on what he calls Not So Deep Sixty Minutes:

I will say first that I liked the piece because I thought Bill came across well, and I'm guessing it was probably well received by people who know nothing at all about baseball. But, it was certainly...shallow and silly and borderline inaccurate. The problem with this piece — and I'm guessing it's the problem with any of these 60 Minutes profiles of people you don't know — is that it tends to take something that has SOME truth in it and make it the WHOLE truth. It is true that Bill was an early and loud advocate of looking way beyond batting average. But it might not be entirely true that he "embraced a new statistic, on-base percentage." Nothing "new" about on-base percentage.

It's true that the Red Sox had not won a World Series in 86 years. It might not be entirely true that they were "congenital losers for 86 years."

It's true that Bill has suggested and continues to suggest that clutch hitters — as presented by the newspapers and baseball men — were largely (and perhaps entirely) a figment of their imagination. But it might not be true that he ever said (and he certainly does not say it now) that "there's no such thing as a clutch hitter."


There's more including the whole 60 Minutes interview here