As The Game Evolves, So Do The Fans

An article by posted on October 25, 2011

I was 4 years old when the 1986 Mets won the World Series. My memories of that team are re-created by old school videos of myself with my siblings and cousins cheering “Lets Go Mets… YEAH!” at the dinner table for my sister’s 1st birthday party.

The earliest Halloween memory I have is of my mother sewing myself and my 2 older brothers Mets uniforms for us. My oldest brother was Gary Carter, next oldest was Lenny Dykstra and I was Wally Backman.

Whenever I was home sick up until the day of my high school graduation, I would watch the video “1986 Mets – A Year to Remember,” and by the time I was in 5th grade, I could recite the video word for word.

As I grew up, I got more involved in baseball card collecting. The Mets of the early 90’s weren’t exactly a team that would keep a young lad happy, so I found myself trying to learn about as many players as I could across the game. I’d take my cards, shuffle them up and place players in their correct positions and have my own pseudo fantasy baseball league. Who knew I could be so innovative?

We’re all the same as fans. Deep down, whatever our views are of how to get things done, we’re all that young kid on Halloween dressing up as their favorite Met. We all want the same thing, a successful Mets franchise because we all want to proudly scream “Lets Go Mets…Yeah!”

As I got older, I got more curious about the management of baseball. We all see what we see on the field, and we all have opinions on how it should be done. But, I was mostly curious with what went on behind the scenes. The decision makers, the ones who decided what promotions to have at the stadium. The ones who talked contract negotiation, talked trade, and talked scouting.

As I did as a fan, the game evolves. The game is always changing, but the remains the same on the field. The object of the game is to score more runs than the other team. The beauty of the game is that people can have different views of how to build the best team possible.

I don’t look at every sabermetric stat as an accurate metric to use. Just as I don’t look at every old fashioned statistic in the same way. One day, the NFL will find a wiser way to rate a QB’s performance. When that day happens, I won’t be longing for the days of the QB Rating.

I embrace technology because without technology, where would we be today? Technology and questioning the way we do things has made the game of baseball better. Baseball Executives like Theo Epstein, Jon Daniels, Andrew Friedman, Josh Byrnes, Kim Ng, and Paul DePodesta would not have the jobs they have if people didn’t start to question the way things have been done for years.

I myself, find that amazing. I find it amazing that a game has been a network of “good ole boys,” and because of technology and advances in the way we think about the game, these young minds have infiltrated front offices all across the country. Some have more success than others, but none of it would be possible without an open mind that “what we know, may not be all there is to know.”

Having more than one way to do something great, is something I embrace. For every old school GM who has success today, there can be another “outsider” with proven success.

I embrace technology because I don’t like to think I know everything. Sure, when I have an opinion I like to be right, but who doesn’t? However, when there are people clearly smarter than me doing things in a more advanced way, I refuse to poo-poo their methods simply because I don’t understand them.

A guy like Theo Epstein probably does things with statistics that almost all of us would have no idea about. He likely doesn’t take an excel sheet and sort by VORP and call it a day. We have the luxury of seeing what these stats are, but not how they use them, and how they factor them into their organizational philosophy. If Epstein finds value in the statistic VORP, then who am I to mock the idea of that stat simply because I personally do not use it?

If we never questioned the way we do things, and never embraced technology where would we be as a society?

I can tell you one thing for certain; if that were the case, there’d never be an MMO or an internet because Al Gore simply would have never thought to invent it.

Yes… that last part was sarcasm.

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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