Thursday, October 18, 2007

A guy who ought to know

ESPN the Magazine leads off an article in its issue of October 22 thusly:

Recent history says the team popping the bubbly this season won't be the best record. So is it all luck? The Mag's Buster Olney asks a guy who ought to know: Braves pitcher John Smoltz.

What amazes me about this and many similar formulations is that writers seem to go out of their way to say, in essence, "This is a question that fall squarely in the province of statistical analysis rather than observation"--in this case, to frame the question as one of the relationship between probability and uncertainty--and then tumble directly into personal anecdote.

In next month's magazine, I hope to see the same logic in the other direction:

What does it feel like to take the mound with your team's season on the line and tens of thousands of hostile fans burying you in boos? The Mag asks a guy who ought to know: Louisiana Tech Professor James J. Cochran.


JP said...

Nicely put. The Golden Rule of sports commentary seems to be that sentence two does not have to relate to sentence one. I think they're assuming we're only half listening/reading anyways. There's an analogy somewhere to the randomly-esoteric (bordering on absurdist) style of many modern novelists, I'd venture.

KJS said...