Thursday, December 8, 2011

Post 1: The First Post

Welcome to Baseballot!

Whew, that felt good to get off my chest. See, I'm kind of new (read: lime green) to this blogging thing. Now that I've actually taken the step of creating one, I feel like I need to set forth the reasoning behind this blog—a mission statement, if you will.

This blog is written for the sorriest species that roams this lonely internet, the nerdiest of the nerds: political junkies who happen also to be rabid baseball fans. I was inspired to start a blog on this subject because (a) I'm a writer who hasn't written in a while and that tends to cause people to explode and (b) I seem to have company as a member of this politics/baseball crossbreed. As one Washingtonian put it, "Baseball's the perfect sport for nerds. It doesn't require a huge amount of athletic ability to play, and it's got this cerebral component that appeals to people." The overlap is amazing when you think about it: Presidential first pitches. Congressional baseball games. Baseball is America's pastime, and America's politicians have to get with the program. As early as 1889, a New York newspaper wrote, "all statesmen of any aspirations for the future to consider that if they have not yet recorded themselves as lovers of our national game or some other sporting interest, they should do so immediately." The second commissioner of baseball, Happy Chandler, was first a senator from Kentucky. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning, after his retirement from the game, moved on to a second career—as, um, a senator from Kentucky. Justice Sam Alito went to Phillies fantasy camp. President Bush used to own the Rangers. White House press secretary Jay Carney and CNN anchor John King are rabid Red Sox fans. The list goes on.

The overlap isn't lost on fellow bloggers, either. In fact, if this is going to be Baseballot's mission statement, it only seems fair that I reveal my inspirations and influences as well. For baseball blogging, my first stop is HardballTalk, whose chief blogger Craig Calcaterra also seems to enjoy indulging in political commentary from time to time. The political blog I most admire is FiveThirtyEight, whose Nate Silver was famously first a writer and accomplished statistician for Baseball Prospectus. You can expect to see a little bit of both Craig and Nate in here, as well as a whole lot of myself and, hopefully, a more even balance between the ballgame and the ballot game.

Now, there are blogs about politics. There are blogs about baseball. How is this one going to be different? Well, first off, it's going to be about BOTH politics AND baseball; haven't you been listening? Seriously, though, I do want to add something that the internet doesn't already have. To that end, this blog will focus on a few specifics:
  • Delivering data-driven and scientific-method-inspired analysis of both politics and baseball, and applying "sabermetrics" (the philosophy thereof, not necessarily xFIP itself) to the myth-filled world of politics and campaigns.
  • Considering the role of language in both politics and baseball.
  • Giving special attention to local political and baseball-ian news stories that the national media tend to pass over.
Of course, having said this, I'm now sure that I'll veer off course and write about whatever tickles my fancy. But I've got a couple ideas already that fit pretty nicely into these categories, so for now, away we go! Thanks for coming along for the ride!

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