As a friend of mine put it, “Posts merely announcing something are pretty lame,” so before I announce tomorrow’s event, let me explain why I will NOT be live-blogging any of tomorrow’s baseball games:
It’s a constant source of guilt for me that I don’t like baseball more, but I can’t help it: To me, the games are either not important enough to be interesting (98% of the regular season), or too important to be meaningful (100% of the playoffs). That said, I still dabble in baseball analysis myself, and I certainly understand the statistical appeal: the data-sets are huge, the variables are mostly independent, and—even in a post-Moneyball world—the screw-ups are ample.
I have many baseball-loving friends, and talking to them about this subject almost always goes like this exchange from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (with appropriate substitutions, and minus the sexual undertones):
[Every Baseball Fan Ever]: Yeah.
[Me]: You seriously [watch baseball] for fun?
[Fan]: Well, not [minor leagues] or anything, but yeah. Don’t you?
[Me]: Actually, [no leagues] is more my specialty. I’m an avid [non-baseball watcher].
[Fan]: You’re kidding, right? I mean, you know how to [watch baseball]..
[Me]: Well, I took the class.. [Baseball] and [I] are, like .. un-mixy things.
[Fan]: It’s just because you haven’t had a good experience yet. You can have the best time [watching baseball]. It’s not about getting somewhere. You have to take your time. Forget about everything. Just.. relax. Let it wash over you. The air.. motion.. Just, let it roll.
[Me]: We are talking about [baseball], right?
I also don’t entirely believe the hype about it being such an integral part of our national heritage, and I think that perception today has been influenced heavily by nostalgia from influential people like George Will and Ken Burns, and I posted a graph somewhat supportive of that a while back:
Note also that the NFL’s relative popularity vs. MLB is nothing new. Here is a year-by-year plot showing the World Series ratings vs. Super Bowl ratings:
Since it’s inception, the Super Bowl has beaten even the highest-rated World Series game every single year (recently, it has even been beating the entire series combined for total viewers).
OK, so with that out of the way: Once again, I’ll be live-blogging NFL Sunday from 10am until the final whistle tomorrow—now powered by NFL Sunday Ticket! Here’s the explanation, and here’s last week’s end product.
That google book graph is interesting, but I see one limitation: the term football, especially prior to 1930 or so, is going to refer to three sports: American football (football), Association Football (soccer), and Rugby Football (rugby). Not a damning issue, but not a trivial one, either.
It is limited to American books, so I believe the other references are comparatively “trivial.”