FanPost

Covering MLB in a Small Local Paper: An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

A couple of weeks ago, I blasted Larry Hicks of the York Dispatch for one of the worst sorts of local baseball writing I had come across in a long time. Hicks, for what it is worth, is not just a newspaper guy, but he is a true fan of baseball. He was also a player for many years in the Central League, which is a really neat local adult baseball league in York County. He has probably played in more baseball games than any one of us has watched. Most of my frustration with his Pence column resulted from the characterization of "hustle trumps all" (practically to the point of parody) while ignoring actual metrics that could tell someone whether Pence was, you know, actually good and why.

The "Sabr Nerd Debate" is over now where it matters, and it has been won by the nerds. It still lingers out in the hinterlands and among casual fans, though. Still, it is encouraging to see that someone so obviously capable of the worst sort of baseball writing about Grit! and Hustle! is also capable of looking at the game in a more sophisticated way.

I can't tell you how surprised I was to read a column by Hicks this week that discussed run differential, and I think he deserves credit for it. In a small town paper with as traditional a baseball readership as you'll find, he worked in "run differential." Say what you will about the column, his thoughts and conclusions, but that's a leap forward. I whacked the guy over the head pretty hard for a column I thought was pretty appalling, so I feel it's only fair to give him an Internet High Five for going in the right direction.

To be fair, it has to be hard to write for a largely innumerate, broad audience (read: "lowest common denominator") and not instantly alienate them with a paragraph full of numbers. Still, I think it goes to show that nobody can be a credible baseball writer, even in a small town, without acknowledging that we're all Sabr Nerds now. It is just a question of how far down the rabbit hole each of us has gone.

Way to go, Larry. Now we just need you to work in SIERA, and I'll come wash your car.

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