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we-miss-ya-boog | February | 2010 Articles

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We Miss Ya, Boog!

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Just when I was starting to feel like I knew the guy, Jon "Boog" Sciambi moved from working the play-by-play for the Braves to a cushy job at ESPN. He deserved it -- he's a good broadcaster, a little bland, but well-meaning and adds to the action rather than detracts from it, unlike Chip Caray. Unfortunately, what's good for him is bad for us, because it means that we lost one of our best guys. He just wrote a very good, very thoughtful guest piece over at Baseball Prospectus about trying to introduce more advanced stats into baseball broadcasts.

The goal is not unveiling newfangled stats; it's about getting people to understand basic ideas and concepts. To achieve that, we can't just slap stats up on the screen and explain them. Understanding has to come in the form of analysis. We have to use the stat and explain it. Sometimes it needs to be the PBP guy playing analyst and getting the color guy to react:

If Ryan Howard is up, I can talk about RBI and why dependent stats don't evaluate individual performance well; RBI aren’t what reflects Howard’s greatness, his SLG does. I can mention that Howard's massive RBI totals may be due to the fact that no player has hit with more total men on base than Howard since 1492 (I believe this is a fact but didn't feel like looking it up). Point is, there are dead people who could knock in 80 runs hitting fourth in that Phillies lineup. (OK, I probably wouldn't say that on-air.)

The metrics are getting so advanced that we're in danger of getting further away from the masses instead of closer. We, as broadcasters, have to find better and entertaining ways of explaining the math in bite-sized terms. Simplified, we need to explain that one of the problems with batting average, as opposed to slugging percentage, is that batting average values a single and a home run equally. We can't assume that's understood just because we understand it. And the only way it gets embedded is to keep beating the audience with it so that it becomes ingrained the way ERA eventually did, even though that once passed for advanced math.

Plenty more good stuff over there -- go read it. Let's all pray that Chip Caray does too.

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