Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Hornet's Nest

The Hornet’s Nest

The Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) is sort of like a church, and if one happens to made even the most fact-filled criticism of anything remotely related to another SABR member, the walls come down on you. Like the Church in the Middle Ages, SABR would prefer to pretend that the world is still flat, and if it isn’t one should keep their mouth closed.  Lyle Spatz posted the following: “As chairman of SABR's Baseball Records Committee, I can attest to the fact that Steve Gietschier does indeed give a damn. Since taking over the compilation and editing of the TSN Record Book a few years ago, Steve has worked very hard to streamline the Record Book categories and improve their accuracy. He is extremely cooperative, open to suggestions, and willing to make necessary changes.”

The only problem with this is that Steve Gietschier is not listed as editor of the 2005 Guide, and that it doesn’t get to the problem of the 2004 minor league statistics. What I find confusing is that on one had they, those at TSN, state that they didn’t have anything to do with the stats that were supplied to them.  That, in short, they published what they got.  Then they claimed that they are overworked, and that they really do care.  I don’t know that that adds anything to the dialogue.

Did they really think that nobody would notice? Or that they would keep their mouth shut?

The following I sent to SABR-L in my defense:

To set the record straight: Steve Gietschier is not listed as one of the editors of the 2005 Sporting News Baseball Guide, so I would be the last to hurl charges against someone who is not even listed as an editor.  (I assumed that is also the reason that Willie Runquist didn't write him, either.) The only charge that I see tossed out there was that the book was badly flawed. I assume Willie Runquist wrote to the editors listed on three occasions, and didn't get a response, and that made him feel that the editors of that TSN publication didn't give a damn.  The only time I even thought of Steve in context of the 2005 Guide was after Steve wrote a defense of the Guide on SABR-L.  The post by Lyle Spatz seems to suggest that I launched some sort of personal campaign against Steve Gietschier.  I concur with everything that Lyle says about Steve Gietschier, but that only changes the subject.  The problem remains the 2004 minor league statistics, and how, if possible, to find a way to correct them.  The problem with the Record Book analogy is that it doesn't work. In a record book, if one year has a lot of errors, it can be corrected in a following edition.  (The same for an encyclopedia.)  The 2004 statistics will never be published again.  That's the sad fact.Apparently the play-by-plays exist,  Then the question is: how do we get the play-by-plays and be able to legally correct the record without getting into some sort of legal mess?  Would Minor League Baseball be interested in having the 2004 record being corrected by a non-profit organization dedicated to baseball research?  To turn this into some sort of blasphemy (for bringing up the flawed nature of the guide) doesn't solve the problem.  I want to solve the problem.  That is all I ever wanted to to.  SABR is an organization dedicated to providing a "true and correct record," and that might even include the 2004 minor league season.  There are a number of SABR members who do compile stats for leagues that never had been compiled.  If we could get the primary sources, I know we have the people to correct the record. It will be a lot harder for SABR members 50 years down the line to correct the record.  Carlos Bauer


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