Thursday, May 24, 2007

Things some people worry about

I am a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. It includes people with all sorts of interests in the sport: history, statistics, trends, stadiums, trivia, unusual occurrences, extra-inning games, and on and on.

SABR members are a great resource -- they helped me numerous times with my Red Faber biography. They are extremely generous with their time and expertise -- but I must say that I don't understand (or appreciate) some of the minutiae in which some of them delve. Or things they worry about.

For example, here is a recent post on a SABR discussion group:

When announcers wrap up a scoreless top of
the first, they always
acknowledge that
the visiting team has nothing and the home
team is
coming to bat. They do this, of
course, to acknowledge that the home
team has
yet to have a chance to tally anything. And
they are right to
do it.

But it strikes me that what they are
doing, in a game that
preferences statistics
to an
inordinate degree and uses those
statistics
to define the parameters of the
sport’s benefit, is creating a different

definition of “nothingness” — or, perhaps,
they are doing something
fundamentally
non-statistical. The visiting team has
no runs. The home
team also has no
runs. But since they haven’t been given
the opportunity
to create runs, that
version of nothingness is deemed
distinct
by the
announcers. They are assigning
two different values to the number zero.



Different values to zero? It still means nothing to me.

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