SABR

Boston Chapter meeting recap - 1/20/2014

What a week in Boston! Baseball beginning to end! The Boston Chapter held its annual Hot Stove/MLK Day meeting on January 20, 2014, at The Baseball Tavern.

If we have a a bigger, wilder more memorable meeting than this one, well, we've forgotten about it. We were very fortunate this year to have all the stars and moon aligned and the roster of speakers on January 20 exceeded our wildest expectations. We learned a lot, heard a lot, saw a lot and are now in revved up mood for the start of the 2014 season.

I confess that sometimes the sabermetrics discussions are over my head and I get lost after paragraph two. But Dan Brooks and his presentation on pitch tracking was eminently understandable. Even mention of neural circuitry of visual attention did not discourage me. Thank you, Dan, for not losing me deep in the statistics - nor were any others lost.

For quite a while over the years, we had talked about getting Tommy Harper to a meeting, having heard rumors that he is a particularly dynamic speaker who can steal the hearts of fans like he used to steal bases. OK, kind of sappy, but true. I think anyone who was there would back me up. I had the great fortune of talking one on one with him after his presentation and he is truly a baseball treasure (OK, sappy again.) If you ever get the chance, talk to him!

Then along came Adam Darowski, creator of HallofStats.com, and here we go, more stat stuff. And he was just as approachable and understandable as Dan. He used a lot of math - but was not intimidating. I learned a lot. Here he made WAR totally understandable to the sabermetrically challenged. What could be bad? Nothing! See his website! Great stuff, no regrets. (Editor's note: Listen to Adam's presentation and read his recap here.)

The Boston Chapter is admittedly surrounded by great baseball resources. Any time of the year, you can hear baseball discussed in the bars, on the T, and the hats with B's on them are ubiquitous - yes, that -  no matter if the Patriots, Celtics or Bruins are in high gear. The Boston Globe has a great full-page baseball column every Sunday and most days has at least some baseball news. We also are lucky to have many great baseball writers. Peter Gammons luckily hangs around Boston, and he was able to stop by and regale us with stories for over an hour. No one left their seats for that one.

And as if that was not enough, we had a last-minute addition to the agenda. Just days before the meeting, Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed he was free for an hour and walked over from Fenway Park and spent nearly an hour answering questions from the crowd, giving us his take on the upcoming season.

By the end of the meeting, we were all elated at the turnout - about 75 attended - exhausted - good thing The Tavern has Green Monstah Ale on tap - and wondering what we could do for an encore. We are simply thankful that Boston is such a big baseball town, all day, every day of the year.

The next big holiday in Boston is Saturday, February 8 - TRUCK DAY! Each year, a crowd gathers at Fenway Park to cheer as the truck pulls away from the curb with all the stuff for Spring Training at Ft. Myers. Yes, people do show up for this every year - it is better than Groundhog Day. Be there, if you can, it'll mark the turning point away from the polar vortex - I hope.

— Joanne Hulbert
Boston Chapter

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