November 25, 2002
Tracing my "Stathead" roots
The other day I was trying to think about the evolution of my becoming a full-fledged baseball geek or "stathead."
It is difficult for me to figure out.
I mean, I know I didn't just wake up one day with a sudden interest in on-base percentages and Defensive Independent ERAs.
But, I am not quite sure how I got where I am as a baseball fan.
I remember my grandmother got me my first baseball cards when I was like 5 or so.
I saw those things (I remember my favorite one of the bunch she gave me was Chet Lemon) and man was I hooked.
I used to go down to the local shop and hang out for hours and hours and I used to go to all the local "card shows" at malls.
After a while my dad and I decided we had enough "inventory" to start having our own booth at the shows, so we started hauling our stuff to malls across Minnesota on weekends.
At that time, I was really more into basketball and football, believe it or not.
My uncle used to try to explain to me that baseball was the sport for me, but I wasn't having it - at least until a little later.
For my 13th birthday the present I got from my aunt and uncle was a greeting card in an evelope.
As most 13 year olds would be, I was thinking, "what a bad present, a birthday card...it better be filled with cash."
Turns out it didn't have any money in it at all.
Written on the card was the following (or something similar):
For your present, take your pick:
A trip with your uncle to Chicago to see Michael Jordan and the Bulls
A trip with your uncle to Arizona to see Spring Training
Now, like I said, I was a pretty devoted basketball guy at this point, or at least as devoted as a 13 year old could be and watching the greatest basketball player of all-time play sounded pretty good.
If I remember correctly, I started talking about choosing the Bulls game and my uncle immediately went into his speech about baseball (it was so good it might have been planned!).
Thinking about it now, I am pretty sure that Bulls game was never really an option.
So, we were off to Arizona for Spring Training.
I was there less than a week and probably saw about 7 or 8 games.
And I was hooked.
No more basketball, no more football.
My uncle and I have gone to Arizona for Spring Training 4 times (I think) and most recently we went there for the Arizona Fall League a couple years ago (which was even better, believe it or not).
Anyway, all that stuff explains how I became such a big baseball fan.
But, that was the easy part to figure out.
The hard part for me was trying to figure out how I became this kind of baseball fan.
You know, the one that actually cares about Mitch Meluskey signing with the A's and has an opinion on the Gene Kingsale/Mike Rivera trade.
How did I become a guy that looks at a player's OBP before his batting average or his SLG before his RBIs?
I am not quite sure.
Many people who are the kind of baseball fans that I am would tell you that their biggest influence was none other than Bill James.
Bill James actually invented the term Sabermetrics and he is basically the Godfather of the type of baseball stuff I am most interested in.
But guess what? I am 19 years old.
When Bill James was in his heyday, putting out those absolutely extraordinary Baseball Abstracts in the mid 80s, I was still peeing my pants.
I think I have narrowed down the source of my baseball obsession.
There are two main causes:
When ESPN.com got really big several years ago, I started reading Neyer's columns everyday.
I really enjoyed them because he was so different from all the guys in my local newspaper.
He wasn't just providing quotes from players and recapping games, he was analyzing.
Instead of telling the audience what Brian Cashman said about trading for Roger Clemens, Rob Neyer was giving his opinions about the trade and backing it up with stats.
That fascinated me and every since then I have wanted to have Rob Neyer's job.
I am not sure how I stumbled upon BaseballProspectus.com.
It may have been because of a mention by Rob Neyer, I am not sure.
Once I was there, I couldn't get enough.
I read every article, every day.
I went back through their archives and devoured everything they had.
I was in love with the game of baseball and I wanted to learn absolutely everything I could about it and Baseball Prospectus (and Rob Neyer) allowed me to learn about things that I had never even thought about before.
So, that's the story.
I am the completely obsessed baseball lunatic that I am today because of Rob Neyer and the guys from Baseball Prospectus.
What is my point?
Amazingly enough, I actually have one this time.
I am pretty sure that everyone that visits this website also visits ESPN.com and even BaseballProspectus.com.
So, I don't really feel the need to give them any "plugs."
However, very recently the main guy at Baseball Prospectus, Joe Sheehan, left BP.
I was really saddened by the sudden news of his departure because I really enjoyed Joe's writing and he was responsible for BP's "Daily Prospectus" columns that I devoured each and every day.
Joe left Prospectus, but he wasn't done writing about baseball.
He started his own email newsletter recently.
About 3 times per week, the newsletter (which currently is being called the "As-Yet-Unnamed Newsletter") is delivered right to your email box.
It contains Joe's magnificent writing about various baseball topics.
Since Joe is just starting out with the whole newsletter thing and since he is one of the biggest causes for me being a baseball nut, I feel it is necessary for me to tell all of my readers about it.
The newsletter subscription costs $19.95 and it runs through February 28th.
Most of you good people probably have $20 bucks lying around that you could afford to spend and I think there is no better way to spend it than on Joe Sheehan's baseball newsletter.
It is convenient, it is well written, informative, substanative, intelligent, funny and it is written by one of my favorite baseball writers and one of the biggest baseball influences on me, Joe Sheehan.
So, if you are interested in subscribing to the newsletter (and trust me, you will not regret it - it is worth every penny and then some) please send Joe an email at:
...and let him know you are interested.
He will give you all the information about how to subscribe and he will even send you a free copy of the most recent newsletter.
Oh, and don't forget to tell him that Aaron Gleeman from Aaron's Baseball Blog sent you!