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Bernanke on Baseball

I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised to see this essay by the head of the Fed, but one does forget that the movers and shakers have their hobbies, too.

Anyway, it's a good essay on how Davey Johnson (and perhaps even more importantly, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo) blends sabermetrics with old-school scouting to produce a championship team, and I won't spoil it by going into a point-by-point review; it deserves to be read in its entirety without someone like me picking at it. I will say, though, that he manages to ruin the whole thing at the end by tying it to politics in a particularly stupid way.

While baseball can be used as an analogy to lots of things in life, politics...not so sure it fits that well. Yeah, you can consider the city councils and state legislatures as the minor leagues, but given the nature of the Constitution and the actual behavior of politicians, the correct analogy isn't to today's major leagues, their farm systems, and the handful of independent leagues, but to the chaotic and disorganized state of baseball in the late 19th/early 20th century. There are dozens of players who zoom straight into the House and Senate from private life, with no experience in state or local government, and not all of them flame out in two or even six years. There is no real equivalent to the sabermetricians and their scoresheets, trying to compile a complete and accurate set of numbers with which to evaluate politicians' performance, and the political press is even worse at obscuring the truth than the baseball writers used to be. So we flounder around trying to figure out from incomplete lists of voting records (inevitably skewed by the lobbyists keeping them); half-literate half-truths spewed by any number of professional and amateur political writers in newspapers, magazines, and blogs; and finally the words of the politicians themselves, which may or may not have evolved over time in response to changed conditions. I'd like it to be different, but the plain truth it isn't and won't be, because politicians and their performances can't be as neatly described as the stat lines of pitchers, hitters, and fielders.