Reading Bill James too early Saturday morning — not sure what it says about me that the analysts who I think best understand American institutions are a former cop turned TV writer and a baseball statistician turned crime writer– and came across this discussion about what makes a quality lead off man in professional baseball:
“If it seems strange that all of baseball could have fallen victim to the delusion that forty of fifty stolen bases could compensate for a comparative inability to reach base, I would ask you to consider that all of the institutions of our society–our educational systems, our criminal justice system, our entertainment industry, our military–get entangled in strange, illogical, self-defeating practices and habits, and for a decade or more not a single state nor district, nor individual will find the courage, wisdom, and perspective to escape; indeed, whole countries go quite made from time to time.”
Is it stranger that american baseball men became convinced that they had to use a type of player that analysis or simple reasoning can quickly show is not productive, or that American architects constructed an ethic that made an outcast of anyone who did not want to design glass boxes?
How about these as replacements:
American politicians and pundits constructed an ethic that made an outcast out of anyone who:
believed that assessment meant more than standardized tests?
believed that curriculum meant more than a checklist?
believed that teaching meant more than preparing kids for exams?
believed that creating community mattered as much as covering material?
Looking for that light at the end of the tunnel…
Bill James, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract (New York: Villiard Books, 1988), 375.