Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
If you’ve ever watched a Major League baseball game, or ever listened to Mike and Mike on the radio, then you’ve probably heard of the Elias Sports Bureau. I never really knew much about this group, other than that they provided annoying stats to assist color analysts in sounding knowledgeable.
For those of you who don’t already know, and I’m guessing that’s most of you, the Elias Sports Bureau has been around since 1913 and is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. The bureau began as two brothers selling printed scorecards to baseball fans. Soon after, they became the official statistician for professional baseball. Today, the Elias Sports Bureau provides statistical services to all of the major professional sports in America, as well as for various newspapers, magazines, and websites.
This is clearly no fly-by-night organization we’re dealing with here, but quite possibly the greatest collection of nerds ever assembled in the corporate world! It only makes sense that they began in baseball, the ultimate number cruncher’s sport.
As a sports fan who can’t seem to get through one lousy game without some magical Elias Sports Bureau drop in, I can’t help but get annoyed. Maybe I’m dating myself a bit here, but I started playing baseball when only the good teams got the trophy at the end of the season, when only the MVP of the team got recognition, and only a few records were kept track of! Those were the good old days, and it’s high time we turn back to them in some areas.
We must be reasonable about both our statistics and the celebration of those said statistics. In the movie For Love of the Game, Billy Chapel says, “We count everything in baseball.” While certainly no one can argue with that claim, we must ask the question: When did we start rewarding every little achievement in baseball?
Now I understand that story lines help hold the attention of viewers through nine innings of a slow game, but can we please show some restraint here? I mean really, at the rate we’re going, you won’t get past the first pitch without the idiot color guy saying, “You know that was one nice knuckleball by the veteran right-hander. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, R.A. Dickey is the first right-handed pitcher with a cross-eyed mother to start a game off with a knuckleball since the great Cy Young did it back in 1890 when he was hurling for the Cleveland Spiders. Congratulations to that young man! I do believe that there has to be a spot reserved for him in Cooperstown now!” Enough Already!
(Disclaimer, I have no idea whether or not R.A. Dickey’s mother is cross-eyed or not…and if she is, I mean no disrespect. The whole statistic was pure hyperbole, but you understand the effect.)
Baseball is a simple but majestic game and it doesn’t need announcers handing out gold stars every five minutes for it to remain as such. To put it plainly, trophies are no longer special if every kid has one on their dresser at the end of the season.
I’m not suggesting that the Elias Sports Bureau close up shop and go away. The data they provide is essential to the proper playing of organized baseball. I just wish that they would scale it back a bit. There are things that I want to know as a baseball fan. I want to know how many perfect games have been thrown in the history of baseball. I want to know how many no-hitters and shutouts have been thrown this season. I want to know the league leaders in the major statistical categories. However, I do not want to know who the last identical twin to lead off a game with a home run was! Send the trivia information to Jason Stark…don’t insert it into the games. I enjoy trivia at the right times, like when Stark makes Mike and Mike look like morons on a weekly basis during baseball season. But the first inning of a baseball game is the wrong time for trivia.
I know that this whole rant probably makes me sound old and crotchety, but let us save the rewards for those who have actually done something of note. Let us stop cheapening our beloved pastime. Remember, when everything is made to look special, everything ends up looking the same. To the good folks at the Elias Sports Bureau, find a hobby already!