|Tim Marchman: in sepia we trust...|
Try not to grimace when Tim is pushed into the "formal" mode by the editorial simians who seem to leap from the Journal to the Times in the most deadening of locksteps:
Anyone who learned about the game by reading Bill James and later consuming books like the annual Baseball Prospectus preview (to which Mr. Keri was a longtime contributor) has surely rued one odd effect of the triumph of their work within the sport: It seems that every time a sabermetrician does something really original, he is hired on by a team, with his work soon receiving a big stamp reading "proprietary" on it. Mr. Keri delivers a winning account of how the Rays came to hire Josh Kalk, a physics professor and former writer for Hardballtimes.com with a knack for wringing insight out of the Pitch f/x camera systems that MLB has installed in stadiums during recent years. These record the location and speed of pitches from the time they leave the pitcher's hand to the time they cross the plate, and are used on MLB's website to provide virtual broadcasts of games. When you glimpse how Mr. Kalk uses it to study arcane aspects of throwing a ball 60 feet at high velocity, you will mourn the amount of talent sequestered in front offices, doing interesting work out of public view.
More to the point, we mourn the fact that baseball, just like the United States government in the hysterical years after WW II, did not see fit to re-invent its "mutual aid" deployment of technical advisors into a cluster of true "think tanks." By not doing so, a whole segment of industrial innovation became irredeemably wedded to free-market forces, and have brought us to the parlous state of affairs where innovation and co-optation are joined at the hip.
Now, of course, baseball is a whole hell of a lot smaller than the shards of the military-industrial complex, and it has a crucial advantage with respect to the government: it really is a monopoly, though it likes to pretend that it isn't. But since it is, it (ironically enough) has more latitude to impose rules and regulations over its minions. Instead of practicing their inverse omerta and waving their hands in imitation of haves vs. have nots, baseball owners should simply pony up a wad of cash to fund a centralized information technology development function, complete with a public on-line presence and a publishing program.
|"Field f/x, schmield f/x--all you bright boys are going to wind up|
in a slowly growing pool of blood in your mother's basement..."
|Siegfried--tanned, rested and|
ready to become the next commissioner...
It's time to keep the revolution from not being televised. Ironically, that means making a deal with the Godfather. And since the one we have is little more than a glorified used car salesman, it's going to be a bit longer before such a "socialist" concept can gain any traction.
Until then, chaos (or is that KAOS??) will continue to reign...