We’ve noted all the back and forth between R.A. Dickey and the Mets. It’s a hard negotiation. The part that tickles me the most is where, yesterday, the Mets made it clear that they were not pleased by Dickey going after the Mets in the press. Because they’d never do that, right?
The Mets, meanwhile, have mounting concerns whether all of Dickey’s off-the-field endeavors could impact his on-field results or his standing in the clubhouse if the perception is that he has become too absorbed with his new celebrity.
Congratulations, Mets: not only are you trashing your own player — the most popular one on the team, mind you — but you’re just friggin’ wrong about it.
Because while, yes, Dickey has been in the news a lot lately, it’s not like he’s out there attention whoring and becoming a diva or anything. Unless you count doing things like raising awareness of child sexual abuse as him becoming “absorbed with his new celebrity.”
Hey Mets: because Dickey is 38 and because he still has a year on his contract at a low rate, you have the advantage in the actual negotiation. But you’re not going to win the P.R. war with Dickey, guys, and you have no reason whatsoever to get involved in one, so cut it out.
If you are old enough and lame enough as I am, you may have lurked around on sabermetic message boards in the 1990s. If you did, you may have heard of Sherri Nichols, who back in the day, was a significant contributor to the advancement of statistical analysis, particularly defensive analysis.
While it’s probably better that not everyone is as old and nerdy as me, the downside of it is that most people haven’t heard of Nichols and know nothing about her contributions. That changes today with Ben Lindbergh’s excellent analysis of Nichols and her work over at The Ringer, which I recommend that you all read.
The short version: Nichols is the one who planted the seed about on-base percentage being valuable in the mind of Baseball Prospectus Founder Gary Huckabay, back in the late 80s. She’s also the one most responsible for the rise of zone-based defensive metrics in the 1990s, such as Defensive Average, which she created and which served as the basis for other such metrics going forward. She also played a critical role in the development of RetroSheet, which collected almost all extant box score and play-by-play information going back to the turn of the 20th century, thereby making so much of the information available at Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs possible. A key contribution there: making the information free and available to everyone, rather than closing the underlying data off as proprietary and either charging for access or keeping it in-house like some recent data collectors have chosen to do. Ahem.
A larger takeaway than all of Nichols’ contributions is just how loathe the baseball community was to listen to a woman back then. I mean, yeah, they’re still loathe to listen to women now, as indicated by the small number of women who hold jobs in baseball operations departments, but back then it was even worse, as evidenced by Lindbergh’s stories and Nichols’ anecdotes.
A great read and a great history lesson.