[Every time I read or type the name Bill James on this forum it reminds me of the movie Blazing Saddles when Sheriff Bart says “you wouldn’t do this to Randolph Scott” and the choir sings and trumpets blow, etc., etc.]
For those who didn’t read the original post about the gentleman lawyer Harold Spears, here it is: http://www.redszone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47811
It was an odd set of circumstances that lead me to this post, but that’s for another day. Anyway, last night, I sat down with my 2003 edition of the Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. I ended up reading the section of analysis on the 1990s and Mr. James’ predictions on where the game would go by 2015.
To recap, Mr. James compares the way the rules of basketball have been changed (shot clock, 3 point line, 3 second lane widened) to the way that baseball has not had any major changes in its’ set of rules. Mr. James contends that the basketball rules have been changed to “save the game from itself.”
Mr. James’ primary issue with the game the way it is played now (“sit on your [butt]” baseball, as he quotes Whitey Herzog) is that the games are too long. The biggest piece of Mr. James’ argument is that the emphasis of the game is now on home runs and as a result, there are too many walks and strikeouts.
Mr. James advocates a return to a “speed” game through various rules changes (limiting the number of pickoff attempts, moving the batters box away from the plate, limiting minimum bat weight and handle diameters), in order to speed up the game in more than one sense.
The point of all this is, the thoughts of Mr. James and Mr. Spears are not that much different. Mr. Spears emphasizes the selfishness and greed of the modern player, while Mr. James emphasizes the need for quicker games to draw in more fans. Mr. James does, however point out the difference in salaries for "big, slow home run hitters" vs. "little guys who can get on base and run." Both would advocate a return to “smaller” ball and “playing the game the right way,” as I have seen it mockingly referred to here on this board numerous times.
I wanted to make this post, because I think sometimes, on this board and elsewhere, some of us who are more statistically-minded, mock those who call for a “smaller, faster” game. I don’t think that’s quite fair.
As always: comments, questions, concerns to be added here: