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Future of Analytics, Media, Highlight Pitch Talks Boston

Jonah Keri and Dave Cameron at the Wilbur Theatre (photo by Michelle Jay).

Last night, a collection of the Boston area’s most notable analysts and writers — plus a few guests from elsewhere, too — made their way to the Wilbur Theatre as a part of the Pitch Talks series. The night involved stories from former major-league pitcher Bill Lee, insight from Boston Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen, and riveting analysis about the state of the sport itself. One of the topics discussed by several of the local beat writers was the direction of the coverage of the game.

“It’s a way to connect with fans personally that you don’t get very often,” said Evan Drellich, the Red Sox beat writer for the Boston Herald. “It’s nice to hear what’s on people’s minds, and try to give an answer. The feeling you always have walking away is we could have gone on talking more, or you wish you could have gone down this road. These discussions are just the tip of the iceberg in all subjects.”

While the panel of Red Sox writers (Alex Speier, Peter Abraham, Dan Shaughnessy, Jen McCaffrey, and Evan Drellich) spoke about the state of the Red Sox — from the lack of dominance of David Price to the recent trade of Aaron Hill — they also touched on the way social media’s presence has affected the way games are covered.

One topic in particular was the lack of diversity in the field of sports writing. Shaughnessy pointed out there are no full-time female sportswriters currently at the Boston Globe, and McCaffrey was the only woman analyst who spoke during the four segments at the event.

McCaffrey, who writes for, also discussed the way social media has changed the way news is reported. The trade for Hill by Boston just a half hour before the event began was an example of how news breaks faster, with Drellich mentioning during the panel that he had missed the trade and within minutes of it happening, found out Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was already conducting a conference call.

The panel also took questions from fans, which ranged from further discussion about diversity in the media, to why the credentialing process in Boston is more difficult than elsewhere, to what the Red Sox can do at the trade deadline. With the flood of mentions and questions on social media, being able to hear analysts discuss questions with audience members was a refreshing and different experience.

“This is one of the more fun parts of the job,” said FanGraphs managing editor Dave Cameron. “I think sometimes the commentary on Twitter or online can be a little bit negative, people like to give you more negative than positive feedback, so it’s nice to have these events where you can say ‘Oh, people actually do enjoy our work and what we do’ and get together as a community.”

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