If you’re a baseball fan, you almost certainly know and love Baseball-Reference.com. Or FanGraphs. And you just take it for granted that every single baseball statistic you could possibly want — and many you’ll never, ever need — will be available to you with a couple of clicks.
That was not always the case, of course. Heck, even when Baseball-Reference.com was the only game in town there was a time when it only updated once a year, with new stats only becoming available at the conclusion of each season. The ages, they were dark.
But what about before that? If you were obsessively into baseball before 2000 or so and you wanted historical statistics, you either (a) used the backs of baseball cards; or (b) relied on giant baseball encyclopedias like Total Baseball or the original Baseball Encyclopedia. The latter of which was first published in 1969 and went through several editions.
Today at FiveThirtyEight, Rob Neyer has the story of how the original Baseball Encyclopedia came to be. It wasn’t a committee project or something commissioned by a big corporation to fill a commercial niche. At least not at first. Rather, it’s a neat story involving the intersection of one man’s boredom, curiosity and baseball obsession.
Which, if we’re being honest, applies to a lot of us too.
Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.
Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.
The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.
In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.