Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Leaderboard

As far back as I can remember, I loved pouring over sports stats.  My dad worked in the newspaper industry, and having a paper in front of me was commonplace before I could actually read anything it said.  I remember being very young, 5 or 6 probably, and going through the box scores and stats sheets in the sports section each day and writing down which players were hot.  I always loved the numbers aspect of the game, and nothing more than watching league leaderboards change throughout the season.
 I did a mini-rip of some Opening Day packs during a Target run for some cat food last night (the underwhelming contents will be posted tomorrow), and as I was flipping through the cards noticed something.  Many of the old "counting" stats are gone, or at the very least shrunken down to make way for some of the more modern stats.
 And I guess it just sort of struck me as funny.  I was an easy convert to Bill James' way of thinking, pouring over his Baseball Abstract as a pre-teen in the early 00's.  I've loved having new and more complex ways of thinking about and measuring the game.

But I guess I draw the line when it comes to my baseball cards.  I knew having WAR on cards isn't a brand new development, but last night was the first good look that I've taken at a card back in a good while.  It just felt hollow to read a Billy Hamilton card and not see a SB stat.  Hell, it made one of my favorite players to watch look thoroughly pedestrian to see his defining skill cut from the cardboard.
And as much as I had been interested and intrigued to see the game wholeheartedly embracing new stats, I guess I'm not the old man yelling "keep them off my baseball cards!"  That childhood spark that loved watching the leaderboards and seeing the year end result immortalized on cardboard still loves the old fashioned counting numbers.  I am, after all, a child of the Summer of '98.  There's something definitive and unquestionable about "this guy hit more home runs than that guy."

And while it's been nice to see League Leader make a return in recent years, you might see me in the streets burning cardboard if/when we see a WAR Leaders card.


  1. I don’t like how the League Leader cards don’t have 3 players on each and how they waste 2 extra card numbers that way.
    The new stat things annoy me. I get how WAR is popular, but putting it on a card at the expense of SBs or SOs gets to me, as does the only having 5 years of stats, showing minor league stats for guys with 4 or more years of Major League experience, and the Twitter and Instagram handles.

    1. I agree. The leader cards, the post-season cards, and the debut cards, all are now generic action shots that all look the same. I like to see portraits on the league leaders at least, even just to be able to distinguish them from the rest of the base cards.