After Rob Neyer was shot yesterday by an RBI-crazed zealot – or left ESPN to join SB Nation, I can never remember which – the eulogies started to flow. Tweets and blogs and Facebook posts all praised Neyer for being a gateway drug into the world of sabremetrics – a brownie filled with nuggets of OPS instead of pot. People over at Baseball Think Factory lined up to share how Rob Neyer led them away from a dark path of pitcher wins and into logical salvation. It was a lot of fun to read folks reminisce about how they got interested into the statistical side of baseball.
Obviously, this site isn’t the most statistically oriented one around, but we can still have a similar thread, and tell each other how we became maniacal about baseball. If you’re here, you’re maniacal about baseball. Sorry. There’s a spectrum that starts with "Doesn’t turn the channel when sports comes on the local evening news" and ends with "Reading a 1,000-word missive on Eli Whiteside at some nerd’s blog." You’re at the extreme end. To the right of you are people who have jerseys with their own names on the back. Try not to look them in the eye.
So you’re here. The bowels of the baseball-related internet. How did you get here? My story is but one of dozens:
My parents had season tickets, and I was into baseball growing up, but I stopped following the game entirely when I was in high school. For some completely inexplicable reason, I started following the 1996 Giants. I bought one of those Athlon’s season previews before the season and read it cover-to-cover five times on a 12-hour bus ride home from college, and I paid a lot of attention to that season. It was pleasantly unpleasant, that season.
None of my college friends cared too much about baseball, much less the Giants, so I had to resort to the World Wide Web, which was a collection of dancing hamster .gifs and Electronic Mails back in those days. I didn’t have an internet connection in my apartment – what, was this 2070? – so I was always in the computer lab, checking on the Giants. In 1997, I became obsessed. I found the usenet gr…usenet? You know, newsgroups? It was like a discussion forum, only…hell, I don’t even know what it was.
Well, I found the usenet group for the Giants: alt.sports.baseball.sf-giants, and I jumped in with both feet, explaining to the pointy-headed nerds there why Mark Lewis was going to be awesome with RBIs in 1997. They rightfully mocked me without mercy. But I kept coming back. It was an intelligent, funny group, and they taught me to hate RBIs like all good people should. I learned so, so much in the 1997 season. Before blogs, before you could find a chat room that didn’t have a 10-year-old typing profanities on their parents’ AOL account, that newsgroup was my home for baseball on the internet.
Now you. How did you become corrupted? What made you dig through layer after layer to find this place? Normal people stopped looking for baseball information quite a while ago. Why are you sicker than they are?