Sunday, January 15, 2006

Hitting A Raw Nerve

Hitting A Raw Nerve

I posted Willie Runquist’s note of the other day about the poor quality of the 2004 statistics published 2005 Sporting News Baseball Guide on SABR-L, the Society for American Baseball Research’s forum after a number of people complained about the guide.  It drew a sharp response from Steve Gietschier, Senior Managing Editor, Research, The Sporting News.  I posted the following response to Steve Gietscher’s comments.

While I understand Steve Gietschier's touchiness about the subject, I will assure him that I didn't question his or TSN's integrity, but, of course, they did publish the stats, and the question still remains as to whether they knew the stats were that flawed.
Geitschier: I can assure both Carlos Bauer and Willie Runquist that we surely do give a damn. Anyone who doubts this is invited to come to our offices any day between the end of the baseball season and the tenth of January and watch an understaffed group of editors work on our annual baseball books while simultaneously performing all the other tasks we are called upon to do. No tears, please, it's just the truth. We do the best we can in the time we have allowed, and the data we were preparing after the 2004 season were severely flawed. In my note added to the letter sent to me by Professor Runquist, I merely suggested a way to mollify irate buyers of the volume, and a way to correct obvious errors.  I must say that I didn't know the extent of the errors before Professor Runquist brought the matter to my attention.  I came to the matter with an open mind, and Professor Runquist's thoughts are purely his own.  By publishing the note does not mean I necessarily endorse all of his feelings, any more than I believe Steve Gietschier is responsible for compiling the stats so poorly.  I'm sorry, however, that Steve seems to take it so personally.  But I thought readers of my blog should be apprised of the matter, and I still do. There are, however, several questions I think TSN might want to review in the wake of this matter: Did they know the extent of the matter, and if they did, does journalist ethics require a note of explanation when they published the stats?  I remember years ago, the Mexican League stats were published with a note stating that they never got the final averages in time for publication, and that the stats should not be considered final. Does the buyer have no say in a flawed work?
Geitschier: Carlos suggests that TSN post corrected 2004 stats on our website, but as Greg notes, those stats don't exist. Besides, don't the individual leagues have websites? Don't they care about their own stats? The problem with the above is that the leagues don't charge $18.95 for the privilege of looking at the stats. One last point: Greg Spira says that the minor league stats were done by a different company for the 2005 Guide, but the Guide its self states on page two: "Minor League statistics provided by SportTicker."  How would I, or Professor Runquist, know otherwise?  Wouldn't that lead one to conclude that the problem lay with TSN rather than the longtime compiler of minor league stats SportsTicker (formerly Howe News Bureau) And if no better stats are available, that's all one has to say, and leave it at that.  Sorry I touched a raw nerve.  That was not my intent. Carlos Bauer


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