Levin: Who actually won the ‘Moneyball’ revolution?

From Josh Levin at Slate on September 23, 2016, with mention of SABR members Bill James, Rob Neyer, Ben Lindbergh, Max Marchi, and Joe Posnanski:

On the second day of the blog Fire Joe Morgan‘s existence, Mike Schur wrote that the ESPN baseball analyst had constructed “the most convoluted, least meaningful, and worst sentences ever typed in an online chat.” A month later, in May 2005, Schur deconstructed Morgan’s thoughts on the New York Yankees, leadership, and championship mettle, concluding that “I am honestly beginning to wonder whether Joe Morgan has ever played in, seen, or heard about a Major League Baseball game.”

Fire Joe Morgan did not exist to get Joe Morgan fired. Schur and his TV writer friends Alan Yang and Dave King set up the blog as a repository for their baseball nerdery, a place where they could entertain each other by insulting the sport’s least intellectually inquisitive pundits. Schur (then a writer and producer for The Office and later the co-creator of Parks and Recreation and many other fine television programs), Yang (the co-creator of Master of None), and King (who writes for Workaholics) didn’t give much thought to the title, because they didn’t think anyone would read anything they wrote. For three years, they made sport of Morgan, Fox announcer Tim McCarver—the FJM glossary described him as “the worst color commentator in the history of the world, in any sport”—and every other lazy baseball traditionalist who saw a sabermetric revolution roiling the sport and denounced it as vile sorcery.

Looking back, it’s clear Fire Joe Morgan was on the right side of history and that it was very, very funny. (Though it has nothing to do with baseball, I recommend Schur’s line-by-line analysis of a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review column on superbike racing.) It’s also clear, as Schur acknowledges, that the first draft of that history was written in a supercilious tone and pockmarked with errors and omissions. Some of those old-timey baseball men—Tim McCarver, for one—knew things smartass sabermetricians didn’t, it turns out. “We were overcorrecting,” he says. “We went too far in the direction of, screw all your traditional thinking. We have all the answers.”

Read the full article here: http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/the_next_20/2016/09/fire_joe_morgan_and_the_moneyball_revolution.html

Originally published: September 26, 2016. Last Updated: September 26, 2016.