The Marginalizing Humanity Debate… The Numbers Sometimes Lie

Read the opposing argument from Sports Geek.

We live in the age where there is a world of information that is always just a click away. You can go online and get any type of statistical data you want to make the best possible decision. This certainly applies to the world of sports. Between sabermetrics and other sports analytical data, there is just a plethora of info for stats nerds like Sports Geek to look at whenever they see fit.

But I’m a little more old school. I don’t totally dismiss statistics, but I’m a big believer in what I see with my own eyes. I believe my eyes more than what is on the back of a player’s baseball card or, perhaps more in tune with today’s society, what’s on his Wikipedia page. I tend to go with my gut feeling on a player.

I’m certainly not a scout, but like all five of the writers here at The Sports Debates, I’m a fan and I’ve watched a lot of games over the years. My viewing experiences at games and on television have influenced my opinions on certain players. Even this past weekend, watching a region high school basketball tournament at my high school, I found myself developing “gut feelings” on certain players. I knew what some of the statistics were regarding these players, but I disregarded them because it was a total different set of circumstances. The games were played in a tough environment with 1,200 screaming fans. A championship was on the line. Pressure that these kids hadn’t experienced was now being experienced and that certainly played a factor. It’s only natural, especially on the high school level.

New Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is following perhaps the king of “I had a hunch ______ was going to get a big hit tonight” in Bobby Cox (see one example). Cox never was one to rely on statistics all that much when managing a game, and those “hunches” of his helped him win 2,504 games as a manager. Gonzalez has said that while he does pay attention to all the information that is out there, he tends to go with his instincts and his gut feeling when making baseball decisions. And those instincts and gut feelings come from his own observations and from conversations with the scouts who have seen the players develop over the years.

As a fan, sometimes I have a gut feeling on who is going to win the game before the game starts, despite what the spread is. If you are a fan, you know what that’s like. There are intangibles that no statistical data system can measure. Granted, that gut feeling doesn’t always turn out to be right, but it certainly weighs heavily in making a decision. Gamblers in Las Vegas make a lot of money going with that gut feeling when betting on sporting events. Many people had gut feelings that the Green Bay Packers would win their first two playoff games on the road as underdogs this past post-season based on how well they were playing coming into the post-season. They backed that up with two more wins and won a Super Bowl championship. It’s the same feeling a coach or manager gets when making decisions over the course of a game. They make decisions based on keen observations by their trained eyes, not by statistical data.

Sometimes, I believe that less is more and that too much information can cloud one’s judgment. Using the likes of sabermetrics is one of those times. Numbers can sometimes be deceiving. But in this case, what you see and what you feel is not deceiving.

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