…. Absurdity

Here’s a taste of today’s article on a recent study that tried to see if there was a racial bias in how umps call strikes and balls:

…. four academics released a study that found that Major League Baseball umpires called strikes at different rates depending on a pitcher’s ethnicity. Specifically, an umpire will — with all other matters such as game score and pitcher quality accounted for — call a pitch a strike about 1 percent more often if he and the pitcher are of the same race.

The variance in baseball was quite small, even smaller than basketball’s. But its mere existence — too great for randomness to excuse — was met with wonder by those who study implicit association, a usually subconscious racial bias found in real estate sales, taxi pickups and other nonathletic areas.

“In sports, we can capture human behavior that is hard to quantify in other areas of society,” said J. C. Bradbury, an economist at Kennesaw State University outside Atlanta. “We can then ask questions like: Why is it there? Can we fix it?”

1% is too great for randomness? 1%?

You’ve got to be kidding me. That’s probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen written. One percent. One. That’s inexplicable. Alan Schwartz should be embarassed.

There’s no doubt anymore that the Times will publish anything –any thing at all– as long as it’s controversial. Unbelievable.

Here’s the text of the email I just sent to Shwarz, I’ll publish anything he sends me in response:

Dear Mr. Schwarz,

I just read your piece about racial bias in baseball umpiring, and I was wondering; did you come up with the idea that there was a racial bias in the study, or did your editor insist that you write the story that way?

I’m asking because I think that that is probably the EXACT opposite conclusion I came to, and more than likely, any other rational, reasonable person would.

A difference of 1% in any statistical analysis is the same as nothing, and you are too smart not to know it. To suggest otherwise is beyond absurd, it is dishonest, and it is manipulative.

You and your newspaper owe your readers an explanation as to why you decide to write an article with such an obvious and heavy-handed bias designed to do one thing, and one thing only; create controversy where none exists.


John J Perricone
Only Baseball Matters

If you want to add your two cents, here’s his email page.

David Pinto links to Dan Agonistes, who also seems to think the conclusion of bias is completely absurd.

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