This article by Bryan Curtis of Grantland jumps off from Charles Barkley ripping analytics as useless and its adherents as nerds, but it expands to a broader point that applies to all sports, especially and maybe even primarily to baseball.
The idea: the battle to convince the media and people who run teams that advanced metrics and analytics are useful is over. Has been for a while, actually. Yes there are some dinosaurs, but they stick out like sore thumbs and are clearly not a part of the mainstream.
What’s not over, though is the friction between athletes and the media over who has standing to pass judgment on their sports. Who has the authority to decide who is good, who is bad and why. Sportswriters never played the game, the athlete may think, and thus he or she can’t judge me. Athletes don’t know the stats, the sportswriter may think, so he’s deluded. This friction has played out in one way or another pretty often lately. Curtis explains its roots and the parameters of it all.
For what it’s worth, I think that maybe it’s less of a war than it is a language barrier. There is an anecdote in the middle of the story about a reporter talking to Dwayne Wade and how, putting a question to him in one way was very productive and illuminating whereas putting the question to him a different way would not have been. That’s not a philosophical difference. That’s just about communication and not, you know, being a rude asshole. But there are so many layers of habits, egos and bits of information floating around, it’s not always clear to the people involved when they’re being rude or obstinate or what have you.
Speaking of all of those things, I am quoted a few times in the story. But don’t let that dissuade you from what is a really excellent read.