Without Data – A Guest Posting by Dr. Martin Cobern

Martin Cobern is VP, R&D of APS Technology Inc., in Wallingford, CT. He has known Stan for over 30 years and was one of many who read and commented on his book. Sandlot Stats. He grew up as a Dodger fan in the Bronx, until the great Western betrayal left him without a team. When the Mets arrived, featuring neighborhood hero Ed Kranepool, he found a new one. He maintained his loyalty despite moves around the world. Then, both his daughters went to school in Boston and introduced him to the despair and joy of the Red Sox Nation. His two teams, the Mets and the Red Sox, have one thing in common – a passionate dislike of Stan’s beloved Yankees.



… you’re just another person with opinions.” The entire concept and premise of this site is that data analysis can give us a deeper insight into the game of baseball, and that the study of baseball statistics can be a useful introduction to the basic concepts of data analysis. Both are true … provided we have the data to analyze.

For a century or so, these data have been provided by thousands of baseball writers and fans using a 3 ½” stub of a pencil.   Using a variety of arcane marks, these devoted scribes have recorded every play for posterity. This is the ore that baseball statisticians mine. I, for one, can’t watch a game without scoring. Baseball is a game filled with pregnant pauses. What better way to fill them than by putting the events in the context of the overall progress of the game?

This cherished tradition is now, like most activities involving pencils, being challenged by the advance of technology.   As noted in the New York Times:

Hand-held electronic devices allow users not only to follow a game, but also to download several scorekeeping applications. The apps can do what paper scorecards and the eraserless pencil cannot: update statistics and correct mistakes, among other features.

I realize that it took enormous effort for the Elias Sports Bureau and others to locate and transcribe thousands of sometimes illegible, totally inconsistent scorecards, and correct the inevitable errors (if they could.) Their work is now much simpler, with real-time updates following every pitch. This is also a godsend for baseball statisticians like Stan.

But baseball is, above all, a traditional game, with its roots in the games played by Civil War soldiers (and prisoners of war) 150 years ago. I have been forced to accept artificial turf, the designated hitter, nighttime World Series games and pitchers specializing in single innings. I’ll be damned if I am going to give up my pencil!

Martin E. Cobern

Original Comments:

Martin Cobern said…

Hey Jeff. How are you doing? Yes I was a Dodger fan and so was Dorie, even though she lived three blocks from the Stadium. (She heard Maris hit his 61st through her open window. It was more of a class question. The Yankees were the establishment. “Rooting for the Yankees was like rooting for General Motors.: But the Dodgers had Carl Furillo the working man’s hero, who did steel work in the off season to make ends meet. And Pee Wee and Duke and Gil. And, above all else, they had JACKIE ROBINSON! No contest!

July 15, 2013 03:39:36


Jeffrey Dann said…

Marty, I was a Dodger, and then Met fan living in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. I thought everyone living in the Bronx was Yankee fan. I guess I was wrong. If I remember right, Kranepool wore #7 and was a lefty like me. Now I umpire Little League games in Athens PA, and do the scorebook in the “press” box when not umpiring. Now there are more stats being recorded, such as RLISP, GIDP, and IR-S. Jeff.

July 15, 2013 10:12:47

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