You are walking down the red carpet of life right now, America.
A Note on the “Notes”
I can’t say for sure how it’s happened — I’m guessing my heroic jawline has played no small part in it — but I, Carson Cistulli, am currently the sort of person who gets paid to write about sports. All in all, it’s not that unique a thing. Walk over any hill and down into any dale and you’ll find a community paper with a local sportswriter. Indeed, some papers employ two or five or more of them. (The Boston Globe, ever the picture of journalistic innovation, goes so far as to give a bit of space everyday to a spoilt, curly haired child.) Furthermore, that glistening series of tubes known as the internet has its fair share of content in re sport.
However ubiquitous sportwriters are, I spend almost all of my time actively excited to be one of them. But there’s a thing I’ve observed about many of them — these sportswriters, that is — and which, as Shakespeare would say, “totally bums me out.” Namely, they don’t seem to enjoy themselves too much. This idea — i.e. the general unhappiness of the sporting journalist — is one of the central themes of Will Leitch’s God Save the Fan. Nor is it difficult to find evidence of. Like, look at this article to which Tom Tango recently linked about golf’s computer rankings. Its author, David Lariviere — who I’m sure is a fine person — is quite upset about them. And look at all the attention Kevin Garnett’s comments about Charlie Villanueva have received from the press. How is that designed to celebrate the magic of human potential?
Even when they’re not angry per se, many sportswriters are unnaturally beholden to “current events” and “facts,” are in a rush to construct “strong opinions” or “takes.” In short, they (i.e. the sportswriters) appear bent on making their jobs appear as difficult and unpleasant as everyone else’s.
It’s a worldview — this tendency towards “duty,” I mean — constructed originally by people wearing buckle hats and exemplified by Yeats in his poem “Adam’s Curse.” For it’s in said poem that we find these lines:
We sat together at one summer’s end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, “A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world.”
I remember discussing those lines as an undergraduate, and remember, too, the instructor saying, “Yeats is right: if you want to be a great poet, you have to work real hard.” I remember, at the time, feeling rather dismayed by that notion, and am resolute in my opinion now that such an idea is ridiculous — is, in fact, dangerous.
Writing is not as hard as scrubbing a kitchen or breaking stones, regardless of the weather. I, personally, have tried manual labor, have had summer jobs that involved cleaning up all manner of organic waste, and have thoroughly detested them.
Of course, that’s not the case for everyone. I’ve certainly met people — people who I’m almost positive have not experienced any sort of serious brain trauma — who say they like physical labor. That’s fine. The point is that, in order not to die, most people must work. In most cases, these same people would prefer not to work — or, at least, to work less.
But for the sportswriter, it’s different. He is, essentially, a correspondent, reporting back to everyone from the front lines of joy. Or he should be. And anything less than that should be considered failure.
When I think of the Platonic Sportswriter I like to imagine him in a cherry- or mahogany-paneled room, drinking expensive ports, and surrounded by busts of Great Men. I want him to be a master of leisure, this Sportswriter, totally at the whim of his curiosity. And I want all of this to be evident in his prose.
In any case, that’s what these Notes are intended to be: a (mostly) daily report on all the ways we might enjoy the offseason. As you read them, imagine that I have a glass of port in my hand.
And also that I’m wearing an eye patch, too. Just for fun.
SCOUT Batting Leaderboard
Yesterday, I introduced a method by which we might use winter-league samples in a responsible way. As I said then — and am willing to repeat ad infinitum — the resulting metric, SCOUT, is not intended to replace the valuable contributions of scouting. Rather, it’s designed to look at metrics which become reliable more quickly than slash stats.
Here are the current batting leaders in the Arizona Fall Leagues, per SCOUT:
SCOUT Pitching Leaderboard
Using the same method as for batters, I’ve also devised a SCOUT for pitchers. One thing about that: while strikeouts becomes reliable pretty quickly (150 batters faced), walks don’t so much (550 BFs). I’ve included the latter for now, however.
Here are the current pitching leaders in the Arizona Fall Leagues, per SCOUT:
Bryce Harper Watch
Bryce Harper was dormant yesterday.
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