Sabermetric Fatigue :- )

=== Get Off My Lawn ===

John Sickels (about age 47) courageously bares his soul in this "No Mas" article.  In it, he says that the current sabermetric enviroment is fatiguing him, that it isn't any fun any more.

Groping about to understand why, Sickels wonders whether it is for the same reason that he got tired of grad school when earning his Ph.D.  At that time -- almost 20 years ago -- he and friends decided that they burned out on academia when the studies became too "granular."  He loved history, but disliked getting wrapped around the axle on 19th-century Belgian weaving.

I suspect that Sickels misunderstood the reason for his own burnout, both then and now.  Don't get me wrong.  I sympathize with him 100%.  But if he did misunderstand the cause of his own ennui, he's not going to be able to solve it.


=== Overwhelmed, Dept. ===

In this delightful article, LL's Jeff Sullivan (about age 27, I'm guessing) takes us through a day in which Sullivan faces almost the opposite problem -- a kid-in-a-candy-store syndrome.  Day after day, Sully says, he's capable of "link chasing" for 10 hours at a time. 

He didn't say whether Lookout Landing is his only job :- ) but at least one poster dared to ask him.


=== The Road Less Travelled, Dept. ===

And Tom Tango (age 41, did he say?) weighs in, saying that the "granularity" of sabermetrics is precisely where he finds his education and, we presume, his satisfaction and enjoyment.

Tango, usually excruciatingly professional and polite, is evidently annoyed by Sickels' op-ed and closes his post with a rebuff of Sickels.

Which is understandable, since IMHO it probably wasn't the granularity of sabermetrics, as such, that ever bothered Sickels in the first place.


=== Dr's Diagnosis:  the Real Reason for Ennui ===

Most MC and SSI readers, I gather, have little inclination to dive into the most rigorous studies at THT or Baseball Prospectus or  And there's a reason for that.

John Sickels, casting about for an explanation of his own ennui, stated that sabermetrics were beginning to remind him of academia.  That's the key.

No offense meant.  But postgrad work is not about enjoying your subject.  It is about proving yourself to be smarter than other smart guys. 

That's not an insult.  It's a description of reality.  You are granted your Ph.D. when a couple of other academics are satisfied that you're better at research than the average 140-IQ college grad.


Some sabermetrics have the same feel, which IMHO is why Sickels identified the two.

Many published sabermetricians are here straight out of grad school -- or, even more often, here while in grad school.  Such individuals -- no offense meant -- are conditioned to show how scary-smart they are.  That's not a pejorative.  That's the academic game.  And it's natural to bring this attitude to baseball research.

John Sickels, at 47 or whatever, hits the midlife point where it doesn't look likely that he's going to be an assistant GM.  Now he's reviewing sabermetrics as a rearguard action -- I have to keep up, or I won't be a member of the Smart Baseball Guys Club.

That is a reason for studying that is guaranteed to burn you out.


part 2



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