Britney Spears! Hot Pics! (Or, Notes on the Live Event)

Note: If you’re curious about the significance of this post’s title, fast forward to the fourth-to-last bullet.

As you might’ve heard, FanGraphs brought its act to New York this past Saturday with a view towards letting smart baseball people say smart baseball things.

“How’d it go?” maybe you’re asking.

Well, actually, kinda even better than this author could’ve imagined.

With the exception of some French Canadians who kept loudly chanting Jonah Keri’s name — that, and the seven or ten bareknuckled fights in which I personally engaged with Patrick Sullivan of Baseball Analysts — the Event (and the congregation afterwards at Amity Hall) were about as frigging convivial as one could imagine.

In what follows, I reduce all of the nuance and personality of the Event to a few shallow observations and badly strained insights.

In other words: Enjoy!

• Discovery: Mitchel Lichtman (creator of UZR, contributor to The Book blog) is not a prick. How do I know? Well, for one, those were the first words out of his mouth on the Stats panel. “Just to clarify,” he said, grabbing the microphone by its stand, “I am not a prick.”

Duly noted, Mr. Lichtman.

Here’s another way you could find out that Mr. Lichtman isn’t a prick: by talking to him and, while talking to him, to avoid statements that demonstrate a lack of clear thinking. So far as I can tell — and he said as much on the Stats panel — baseball very much represents for Lichtman an opportunity to practice thinking, to practice asking questions, to practice being curious.

• This last point was echoed by other panelists, both explicity and implicity: baseball, they might agree, is an excellent medium for practicing critical thinking.

Let’s also be clear, however: that’s not the only thing for which baseball’s good.

• Question: Is sabermetrics — and the wider net that it’s continually casting — producing a generation of young men (and — gasp! — even some women) with more highly developed faculties of reason? with a stronger understanding of randomness? with a better idea of how to separate signal from noise?

• ESPN radio announcer Jon “Boog” Sciambi is our greatest ally*. Before I say why exactly, I’d like just to talk about his voice for a second. Here’s what it (i.e. his voice) sounds like: like it’s covered in an entire barrel of delicious forest honey. Here’s what I wish it (i.e. still his voice) would do: read me stories at night so I could fall asleep more easily.

*By “our,” I mean either (a) those who care about discussing baseball in thoughtful, even tones, or (b) people of Italian descent. You decide which!

With that out of the way, let me tell you another thing: Sciambi is committed to searching for the capital-T truth, and is dedicated to filling his broadcast full of that search. This doesn’t necessarily mean rattling off xFIPs and BABIP, mind you — it has to play to a general audience — but Sciambi made it clear that he makes it a priority to work at his smartest.

• At a post-Event lunch, the question was posed: “What’s harder to predict, the stock market or baseball players’ futures?” The answer? The stock market, hands down.

“The stock market” someone added — maybe it was Tommy Bennett, maybe our Dark Overlord himself — “is more like projecting the future performance of all high school baseball players.” Which, that would be harder.

• During the Media panel, moderator Jonah Keri began one of his questions for the group by positing the existence of purely hypothetical Boston-area sports columnist with the totally made-up name of Shman Shmaughnessy.

It’s still a mystery upon whom exactly this character could be based.

• Also on the Media panel, both New York Magazine’s Will Leitch and the Wall Street Journal’s David Biderman mentioned — offhandedly, if nothing else — mentioned the importance of the headline to generating page views.

“Unfortunately, it’s important,” Biderman said.

I second Biderman’s sentiments on this matter. It’s frustrating to imagine that a well-written post or article would go unread (or less read, at least) merely because it lacked a provocative title. I don’t know, and won’t pretend to know, how greatly the numbers fluctuate given the “quality” of a title. My immediate reaction is this, though: there’s no use wringing one’s hands over the matter. If a good title gets eyes on good writing, so be it. My other reaction is this: good writing gets read.

• Observation: saber-oriented Yankee fans, just like all other kinds of Yankee fans, are disgustingly confident.

• The truth comes out: after long being suspected of such bias, Dave Cameron finally admitted — via a tearful, handwritten confession at the end of the Live Event — to hating all teams except the Mariners and to using FanGraphs as his vehicle for promoting Mariner fandom.

Video available soon. Scout’s honor.

• To echo Cameron’s sentiments from earlier today, but to do it with French words, the esprit de corps of the afterparty was terrifically gratifying, humbling. Essentially, all my interactions were with enthusiastic and curious people. That’s really the most I could ever ask of life.

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Carson Cistulli occasionally publishes spirited ejaculations at The New Enthusiast.

17 Responses to “Britney Spears! Hot Pics! (Or, Notes on the Live Event)”

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  1. ChuckO says:

    These days, I don’t think current pics of Britney Spears would be so hot!

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  2. ABravesFan says:

    Boog was great calling the Braves games on TV last couple of years. In fact, I start to spend more time on Fangraphs only after hearing his references of here on air.

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  3. Joey B says:


    I just wanted to add that I thought you did a great job of really getting things moving and creating a comfortable atmosphere with your moderation of the NY media (or, first) panel. Your questions, and witty comments, loosened everyone up at that early hour on a Saturday.

    Also, I consider Sciambi “our ally” in both capacities!

    I can’t wait for the next Live Event, and I’m gonna try like hell to make it, wherever it ends up being held.

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  4. dutchbrowncoat says:

    agreed. carson, you were excellent as always.

    honestly, i was a bit disappointed that you didn’t make a single colby lewis reference. though i did show up a few minutes late so maybe you did and i missed it.

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  5. Bill Sweet says:

    I actually avoided this article because of the headline, which made me throw up a little bit in my mouth.

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  6. Craig Glaser says:

    Just wanted to pop in and agree that you did a great job moderating and say that I’m glad we had some time to chat.

    The whole event was just fantastic overall basically. Anyone who missed it should try really hard to make the next one.

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  7. Next event in Tucson? Maybe Phoenix?

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  8. DanaT says:


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  9. wfporter says:

    Did Boog’s pedigree as a terrific high school player at Regis come up at all? He’s very modest . ..

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  10. Ken Arneson says:

    Wish I could have been there.

    I’ve tried the Britney Spears title trick, and it doesn’t work with A-list celebrities. There is way too much similar data out there, and you simply get drowned out by higher-ranked sites.

    A better headline would be to take a B- or C- list celebrity and promise hot pics. “Anna Benson hot pics” works 100x better for a medium-traffic site than “Britney Spears hot pics”.

    In fact, simply because I mentioned Anna Benson in the comments, I’ll wager that this post will now generate more Google hits on Anna Benson than Britney Spears.

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    • keegs says:

      carson cistulli’s mom! hot pics!

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    • dnc says:

      I think you’re assuming he was using the title to draw hits from search engines, as opposed to using it a) to compel readers who were already on the site to choose this as opposed to, say, Cameron’s recap b) to illustrate the corresponding point he made inside.

      I seriously doubt Carson was trying to leverage Britney Spears’ celebrity to draw new visitors to the site, who would almost assuredly leave disappointed.

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  11. Brian Cartwright says:

    I didn’t get a chance to meet Carson, but he and Jonah Keri were fantastic moderators. Funny, fed the panel good questions and kept it moving.

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  12. Nevin says:


    Great time on Saturday. And this is funny.

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  13. Sau Menifee says:

    Love that Britney has made such a huge comeback.

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