« Tid Bits - February 26 | Main | Men Behaving Badly »

February 27, 2007



I admit that I'm a bit red sox centered, but if you think the SOSH guys hate Shaughnessy, you should see what they say about Chass. Actually, there is a pretty good thread on SOSH today about the various boston sports writers. Worth the read, IMO.

Johnny Hatchett

My brother - a Prospectus junky - tipped me to that Chass article. I agreed with him on his complaints about it, & I agree with you on your critique of it, but I do think we could benefit from some sort of informed response to the Baseball Prospectus crowd that doesn't rely on a notion of the "human" in baseball & certainly doesn't rely solely on "common knowledge." Something informed by qualitative research, perhaps...


Arghh... I always forget to type in the jumbled letters to post...

When I read Chass's account, I'm reminded of the concern sociologists have about reliability and validity. Reliable measures come up with the exact same results when applied to the exact same circumstances. Valid measures capture what you actually want to measure. So, we can reliably measure shoe size, but that doesn't mean shoe size is a valid measure of baseball talent (at least I hope not).

So Chass doesn't believe VORP is a valid measure. No surprise. But, why should we assume that valid measures of the past (say, slugging percentage), will remain valid forever? Doesn't the game evolve (and shouldn't statistics evolve with it?).

And JH, if you are interested in a qualitative analysis of success in sports, check out the article Chambliss wrote in 1989 about "The Mundanity of Excellence."

His thesis: Excellence in sports (in his case, Olympic swimming), is defined by the cumulative effect of doing the "little things" more than your competitors. It's an accessible read to non-sociologists and even won the theory section award that year.

Here's a 13 page excerpt version:



woops, that link only works for the first 4 pages of the Chambliss paper. If anyone is interested, I can send the pdf...


just wondering wut size shoe does Peyton Manning where?

The comments to this entry are closed.