Greene: Sonoma Stompers give baseball writers a chance to run the team

From David Greene at NPR’s “Morning Edition” on June 1, 2015, with SABR member Ben Lindbergh:


Most sports fans have had that moment when they become absolutely convinced they could do a better job than whoever is running or ruining their favorite team. Well, what if you actually got your chance? Baseball writers Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller just did.

BEN LINDBERGH: We are very happy to report that Sam and I will be serving as the Sonoma Stompers baseball operations department this summer.

GREENE: The Sonoma Stompers, they’re an independent professional baseball team in California’s wine country. Think grape stomping. Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller do a weekly podcast where they said they would love to run a team, and the owners of the Stompers heard this and decided to take them up on it. The two writers are passionate about sabermetrics, the kind of baseball number-crunching made famous in the movie “Moneyball.”


JONAH HILL: (As Peter) Of the 20,000 notable players for us to consider, I believe that there is a championship team of 25 people that we could afford, like an island of misfit toys.

GREENE: That emotional moment from actor Jonah Hill in the movie “Moneyball,” a character Lindbergh says he can really relate to.

LINDBERGH: We’re looking for skills that are underappreciated. Really sabermetrics, it just means the search for objective knowledge about baseball.

GREENE: Knowledge that gets put to the test today in the Stompers’ home opener. When we reached Lindbergh in Sonoma, we asked what in the world drove him to do this.

LINDBERGH: These days, everyone’s an armchair general manager, right, ’cause we all have our fantasy teams and we sit at our keyboards and it’s, you know, easy to do when you’re not actually in that room, making that decision. And there’s the human side of it, you know. There’s interacting with players and what happens when you have to cut a player who’s underperforming. You know, it’s not as easy as pressing the drop button in your fantasy league. You have to sit a guy down and tell him he’s out of a job because he wasn’t good enough. And so, we’re hoping to get a little bit of a culture shock by getting out from behind our computers and getting into the clubhouse and seeing how these things really work.

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Originally published: June 1, 2015. Last Updated: June 1, 2015.