April 2, 2006


Bill James and the revolution: Lawrence author who led radical shift says game shouldn’t be lost in numbers (JOE POSNANSKI, 4/02/06, The Kansas City Star)

Bill James is the bell I’ve never been able to unring.” — Teacher Jim Jividen

Bill James has the quality that all good revolutionaries need. He has the beard. He has more than just a regular beard. James has the gray and tangled beard that will make folks eating breakfast at Milton’s in Lawrence look over and say, “Ethel, look at the tall guy with the Che Guevara beard. He must be a revolutionary.”

The beard was the central principle in former manager Sparky Anderson’s now-famous Bill James scouting report: “A little fat guy with a beard … who knows nothing about nothing.” James has always accepted the description, except for the “little” part — he’s a solid 7 inches taller than Anderson. Sparky was never too swift on details.

Then, few people know Bill James. That fits. He doesn’t want to be known. People have called him a stats guru and a pioneer and a jerk and a genius, and every one of those labels drives him nuts — he’d probably rather be called a jerk than a genius. Anyway, he won’t read anything written about him.

Instead, he works in his Lawrence office, where his bookshelves are held up by bricks his assistant Rob Neyer bought at an Osawatomie brickyard. He keeps his head down, ignores the phone, watches college basketball, spends time with his wife and kids, and he does what he has been doing most of his life. He tries to see baseball in a new way.

That’s really all his career has been about. James may have launched a baseball revolution, but for him it has always been about seeing baseball differently.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 2, 2006 12:06 PM

Just ordered the new Prospectus from Amazon last night. Tribe vs. Real Sox tonight. Play ball.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 2, 2006 12:16 PM

Going to have the grill going (it's almost 90 down here today) for pre-game ribs before the ChiSox opener on ESPN, though I wish they wouldn't have made Yanks-A's the insomniacs' season opener on Monday night.

Posted by: John at April 2, 2006 4:40 PM

Speaking of season openers:

How does everyone feel about the fairly recent decision to do away with tradition of having the oldest franchise, the Reds, play the season opener?

I don't know why they ever did away with the tradition. Sad.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 2, 2006 5:28 PM