The New York Times vs. FiveThirtyEight: Do you think the obsession with statistics is ruining baseball?
On Opening Day, the New York Times published an op-ed piece titled “Don’t Let Statistics Ruin Baseball.” It argues that obsession of statistics and numbers that surround baseball prevent fans from enjoying the more visceral aspects of what baseball truly is. The following quote summarizes the point Steve Kettman tries to make in the piece:
The importance of being fully present for a game, shorn of distractions, lies not in sentimentality about the nobility of baseball (even Mr. Angell once groused that “The ‘Field of Dreams’ thing gives me a pain!”), but in continuously deepening one’s understanding of the game.
In response to this, FiveThirtyEight wrote “Don’t Let Op-Eds ruin baseball” where they argue that statistics can enhance an appreciation for baseball. An excerpt from the article, which is basically an annotated group chat, summarizes their main point:
But the other way it cuts is that, without statistics, I probably wouldn’t be interested in baseball at all. Like many people, my fandom started out with baseball cards. Fast-forward 30 years, and while I’m not as nutty about the game as some of my colleagues, I still take time to follow the fascinating statistical developments in the league, and can appreciate Mike Trout or Billy Beane’s greatness in a way that has something of an aesthetic aspect for me.
Kettman responds to the FiveThirtyEight article as well, which can also be found on their website. Check them out!