Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A baseball fan's NYRs

These are my New Year's resolutions concerning baseball; I doubt this is the place to discuss eating right and exercising, unless we're talking about spring training.

In the year of 2007, I, Aaron Whitehead, hereby resolve to:
  • Watch as much baseball as I can. I know, this doesn't exactly jibe with the whole "eating right" thing. But due to financial constraints and time constraints, I haven't been able to watch as much baseball as I should. And though I may be a sabermetrician at heart, nothing can replace watching ballgames in order to get a better, closer look at the player's on the micro level.
    Therefore, I will have to order either the MLB.com season pass, or -- preferably -- the cable network subscription.
  • Become a better "scout." In a perfect world, scouting and statistical analysis would go side by side. The best analysis is that which incorporates the best elements of both. If I want to really expand my baseball knowledge, I'd better start by improving by ability to analyze and examine with my own eyes.
    This isn't to say that my "stats" knowledge is perfect -- certainly not -- but of the two, scouting is the area that finds me in the most ignorance. It would be to my great advantage to improve this. Mainly, I'd like to judge the finer mechanical aspects of the game, from a pitcher's mechanics and his rhythm, a hitter's mechanics and his tendencies, and especially the various skills of the defender.
  • Communicate and discuss my analysis. I've taken the first big step in this regard by putting my writings on the internet. But a website is like a theatrical production; if no one sees it, does it matter? So I need to take active steps to advertise (on a budget) and try to bring people in to read what I'm writing.
    Firstly, I'd like to create a greater dialogue in my writing. The little feedback I have gotten has been very useful, and while feedback can certainly sting and hurt you for a while, it's ultimately necessary. I'd love for my site to be visited by "big-name" bloggers or writers on the internet; obviously, that would be nice. But I'd also love to get some traffic from regular people; either someone dropping by for a bit, or a regular.
    Blogs aren't built in a day, and neither will mine be. But if you're going to spend a lot of time talking, you might as well try and find some people to listen.
  • Balance "wisdom" and humility. As time goes by, I get a greater urge to change the name of the website, to cease calling myself a "whiz kid" and stop referring to my blogs as "wisdom." It's not that I don't have confidence in my writing, it's just that such words tend to imply works of greatness and breadth rather than a work in progress by someone who is learning far more than he's teaching. I worry that now that people are actually reading my work, they may mistake my "title" as boisterous, or as a claim that my work is infallible. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'd like nothing more than to be able to call myself "the guy who writes a lot and has a couple of ideas."
    But that's not exactly catchy, is it? The reason I even decided to title the blog at all was to give it some sense of resonance and, perhaps, a catchy name to stick in the brain. No one gets on TV by saying that they "just d0n't know" the answer to the question; people are attracted to those who have answers, not to those who profess ignorance.
    While this is true, and I recognize that some confidence (perhaps a little over-confidence) is necessary, I cannot fall in the trap of trying to make my every entry perfect. When I realized recently that "I was being watched," that is, that my audience had increased from about 3 or 4 to as much as 10, I became very self-conscious of the fact and thought that I needed to make everything I said sound wise and perfect. As a result, I lost a lot of the ease that makes my writing effective and, by setting myself up to an impossible standard, was hurting myself by removing any equivocation or levity from my writing. I eventually realized that I'm not going to be perfect, my work isn't going to be the best in the world in a week, and I'm fooling myself to think so.
    I never want to be one of those talking heads on TV who has an absolutely ironclad opinion about every issue there is. Nothing is more harmful to serious analysis than someone who can't admit that they just don't know. Hopefully, I can hold on to that without having to write "I just don't know" into my title.
  • Keep reading. I've been devouring baseball books for over 4 years now, but I've especially picked up over the last two years or so. I've been focusing mainly on analysis, but have also made a great effort to seek out books on history. Anything I can do to broaden my historical knowledge of the game will only help my attempts to analyze the present. Books also give me the opportunity to see baseball in a new light; some recent examples would be Andrew Zimbalist's Baseball and Billions, and Jerry Crasnick's License to Deal, both books that look at the business side of baseball. The next thing on my reading list is a twofer: the new Baseball America handbook and, in February, the Baseball Prospectus annual.
  • Travel. This is a new year's resolution of mine in general. I'm a big history buff and have been itching to get in the car and drive to some of the many interesting places within a day's drive of Cincinnati. Why not include a stop at all of the ballparks nearby? It may be a more visceral learning experience, but it's hard to deny that you can learn something about a team, its city, and its fans, by going to see them in their ballpark. The list of parks I've been to is woefully small (to be fair, it's hard for anyone to keep up these days). Time to mark some more off the list this summer, namely: Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Turner Field in Atlanta, Comiskey Park in Chicago, new Busch Stadium in St. Louis, and Yankee Stadium, to start.
  • Keep working. At any one time, I've got a few different projects kicking around. While my employment status and my theatre work can certainly interfere with my ability to feed this habit, I hope that I'll never stop working to keep up this blog and improve myself as an analyst. That's a promise to myself and a promise to you.

For those of you who do read, thank you -- thank you very much. Let's hope that 2007 is a good year for all of us, and most of all -- a lot of fun.

1 comment:

t ball said...

Don't change much, if any. Your style is enjoyable, and I appreciate (and hope others do) the time and thought you obviously put into your posts.

It is the golden age of being a baseball fan because of the internet. Yours is one of about a dozen sites I visit most every day, several of them blogs. I learn as much from the other fans commenting as from the writers themselves.