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Thoughts From New York

This isn’t an official recap of Saturday’s Live Discussion in NYC – that will come later, with photos and audio for those who weren’t able to attend. This is, however, a collection of thoughts on my experiences in the Big Apple this weekend.

1. My Trip To The Bronx

I only went to Old Yankee Stadium once. It wasn’t shiny or new, but I had a good time in bad seats because of the “I’m in Yankee Stadium” feeling, which was impossible to escape. On Friday night, I took in my first game at New Yankee Stadium, and my feelings were completely different. I still had a great time (in large part because of the terrific people around me), and while the park is now both shiny and new, there’s a feeling of history that didn’t move into the new building.

The stadium is remarkably impressive and downright beautiful in places, but I knew that the best player to ever take the field on that ground was probably Joe Mauer. It’s a great place to watch a baseball game, but I’m happy I got a chance to walk around the old park. There is nothing the Yankees could have done to have saved that “Babe Ruth played here” feeling, so this isn’t a criticism of the new park, but I missed that emotion, honestly.

2. The Conversation

As much fun as I had on Friday night, I was in town for Saturday’s event, and it was even better than I had hoped. The discussion panels were so good that it was painful to cut them off. The media panel, especially, was as engrossing a discussion as I’ve heard in a long time. Just a fantastic group, each with their own perspective, and a lot of intelligent disagreement going on. The group could have talked for eight hours and I wouldn’t have moved an inch.

While the discussions were the main event, the after party was also a tremendous time. When a guy who doesn’t drink spends 10 hours in a bar and has a good time, you know there’s some good people around, and that was certainly the case on Saturday afternoon. It was a lot of fun getting to meet many of you and talk baseball with a terrifically diverse group of people.

Perhaps my favorite conversation came with a 20-year-old named Evan (I think – if I’m getting that mixed up, sorry!). We covered nearly every topic you could think of, and his curiosity and intelligence were both impressive, but one comment in particular he made stuck with me – he started getting into our brand of analysis through Fire Joe Morgan, a site that was often tremendously hilarious and brutally vicious at the same time. After a while of reading hostile take-downs of various scribes, he began to realize that the end goal of all of this shouldn’t be angry rants, but humble attempts at education.

This wasn’t a new idea, but for whatever reason, it made more of an impact than before. As I discussed with several friends later, I have written enough things that I regret publishing, even if they were correct, true, or deserved. I don’t regret having an opinion, but I want my opinions to contain a healthy portion of respect. They haven’t always. They hopefully will more often in the future.

3. Appreciating What We Have

We are all incredibly lucky to have such a tremendous community that has formed around our shared love of the same game. I couldn’t imagine a better group of people to hang out with then the crew I spent the last 72 hours with. I have had conversations about so many different aspects of life with people who have seen tremendously different things, and seen them in different ways.

Anyone who thinks that the sabermetric community engages in groupthink should be required to attend a weekend like this. I don’t know of too many other places where people this different can gather and enjoy each other’s companies, even while we disagreed about things. I had a terrific lunch with MGL, Sky Kalkman, and Mark Simon, and you would be hard pressed to find four different people than our quartet. We argued more than we agreed. It was great. I left with more respect for each of them than I had previously. That we get along doesn’t mean we all think the same, and our ability to see things from a different angle gives the community as a whole a better balance.

It is a fantastic group to which we all belong. Don’t take that for granted.