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Note from the editor.

When we become perfect, so will The Baseball Research Journal, at which point we won't need it anymore, because we'll already know everything. And it won't need us. It won't need us to read it--to examine it for holes in its swing and glitches in its mechanics or to let it know that, if it drops a fly ball or fails to run out a ground ball, we'll be watching.

If this journal and those who publish in it are players, and imperfect players, who have holes in their swings and glitches in their mechanics and who are capable of dropping a fly ball (but who, may it be, always run hard to first base), who are the rest of us? We're their coaches. We're their fans. If on occasion we lose our temper and get impatient with them, it's only because we're on their side and want them to get a hit every time they're at bat and to get every batter out when they're in the field.

We cheer and we yell, but the players don't hear as much of that as either they or we would like. Up to now, the acoustics here in Bob Davids Memorial Park have involved mostly an occasional corrections page at the back of BRJ. There we duly make note of errors committed by our team in recent issues. It's not sufficient, though it's necessary, a necessary component of the larger plan for making our thoughts on our team's performance audible to them and to SABR nation as a whole. We want to be heard.

To that end, consider participating in the newly established correspondence column, which you will find on the next page. You can call it letters to the editor, but it's really correspondence, because the expectation is that, where appropriate, the author will respond to the reader who has taken issue with something in the author's article. Even the part of the exchange that is what the reader has written is not really a letter to the editor, because it's not really addressed to him (at least I hope it isn't, unless it's praise for a job well done), and so think of the column as a forum. It's like the media room outside the clubhouse after the game, except that you get to argue with the players behind the microphones, not just ask them questions. I take it back--it's like sports talk radio. You're the caller, and the author whose work you want to praise, blame, or analyze is the player who is either with me in studio or on another line.

There is a call screener, of course. To get on air, you have to have something worth saying and you have to say it coherently enough. Forceful is good. Belligerent isn't. Tone of voice counts. The correspondence column has standards. If you think you've been excluded from it unfairly, write a letter to the editor.

Or, if you got worked up and after a couple of days find that your commentary has grown longer than the article that so exercised you in the first place, you can ask to put on the uniform and be added to the roster of SABR authors. Tryouts are ongoing. Baseball research tends to answer or build on previous baseball research, because baseball research is a team sport, meaning that it's competition and cooperation in roughly equal parts.

We learn from watching others play the game. Read the correspondence column that follows this note from your editor. Bill Deane argues that Randy and Jami Fisher are wrong about the origin of hand signals in baseball. They answer him, probably not to his satisfaction but in a manner that advances the conversation. As you make your way through the issue, you'll eventually come to the cover story, wherein Dan Levitt, Mark Armour, and Matthew Levitt draw on some impressive archival digging and scrutiny of new evidence to advance a different conversation, about Harry Frazee, that was begun outside SABR but by a team of authors, Glenn Stout and Richard Johnson, who play in the same league.

The exchange between Phil Birnbaum and Bill James about clutch hitting is something you'll want to not just read but read again, and closely. Sure, they disagree, and in that, you might say, they're opponents, not teammates. But teammates often vie for a single roster spot--one plays his position like this, the other like that, and one way is better for the team than the other. Let them fight it out until the answer is clear, which may be never. That's fine. That kind of competition is healthy, and the team is better for it.
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Author:Frankovich, Nick
Publication:The Baseball Research Journal
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Previous Article:The national pastime 2006.
Next Article:Correspondence.

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