Don’t get lost in the ratings numbers of the Emmy Awards ceremonies or viewership of the Eagles-Falcons game on Sunday night — at least DVR the new MLB Network special, “Behind the Seams: The Stat Story” (7 p.m.), just in time for the release of the movie “Moneyball” this coming week.
Bob Costas narrates the special produced by MLB Productions that looks at the evolution of statistics as a means of measuring success in baseball. Those interviewed include the numbers’ biggest drivers: SABRmetrics guru and Boston Red Sox senior adviser on baseball operationsBill James, Elias Sports Bureau’s Steve Hirdt, MLB’s official historian John Thorn, Baseball-Reference.com’s Sean Forman, Sports Illustrated’s Joe Sheehan, Fangraphs.com contributor Jonah Keri, New York Times writer Alan Schwarz, Rotisserie League Baseball creator Dan Okrent and SB Nation’s Rob Neyer discussing the history of baseball statistics, highlighted by the formation of the Society for American Baseball Research.
An MLB Productions crew spent five days at the 41st annual SABR convention this summer in Long Beach taping interviews with members of the organization for the special.
Current general managers, managers and players, including Sandy Alderson, Billy Beane, Tony La Russa and the Angels’ Jered Weaver explain how in-depth statistical research have influenced their decisions in baseball today and the growth of fantasy baseball, and Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Tony Gwynn, Tommy Lasorda and Earl Weaver describe the advantages and disadvantages to using statistics during games.
Adds Weaver: “When you’re doing good, all the fantasy players say, “Hey, I’m so glad I picked you up.” But if you’re not doing so good they start talking about who they want to trade you for. [Fantasy players say,] “I’m getting ready to trade you if you keep this up.”
Lasorda may be familier with the line: “Numbers are like a French hooker — you can do anything you want with them.”
The former Dodgers manager says in the piece: “Today, they manage with statistics. You can’t do it. Statistics are lies. Believe me, they’re lies.”