#Hot Corner

"Holy R.b.i.—it's Statman!"

There is so much awfulness in that headline. Not only are there periods in RBI, but they don't even capitalize the ... and, wait, is that really the best possible headline? It's Statman? Man, it must have been 5:59 on a Friday, and an editor had tickets to something pretty cool.

The headline goes to something amazing, though: a 1991 profile of Bill James in People, of all places. When you try to find a newspaper article from 2009 on the Internet, it's usually deleted or behind a pay wall. Not People, though, and for some reason, in between profiles of Tim Allen and the guy who did the voice for the father in Dinosaurs, here was an article on Bill James.

James's methods have had a mighty impact. Sportswriters and TV broadcasters now routinely cite the statistics that he popularized, like how a batter hits against right-handed vs. left-handed pitching, or with runners on base. Newspapers like USA Today and the National are filled with Jamesian stats. James is also the patron saint of so-called rotisserie leagues, in which fans pick their own fantasy teams and compete via statistics, a pastime that now claims an estimated 1 million enthusiasts. (His methods touch his personal life too. When James realized that his chances of picking a matched pair of socks out of the drawer were less than 1 in 20, he switched to all brown socks.)

There is so much to love about that passage. So much.

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