Bill James in Love: Recently Discovered Spreadsheets Reveal Writer’s Unrequited Feelings for Craig Biggio
Craig Biggio: Bill James' decade-long unfulfilled obsession.
BOCA RATON, FL (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) Buried deep beneath mountains of baseball stats and regression analysis beats the heart of an incurable romantic. Based on data and an assortment of pie charts and bar graphs embedded in a series of spreadsheets that were sent to TSD’s Stats and Analysis Desk, for over a decade (1989-1999), Bill James, the father of sabremetrics, was madly in love with Craig Biggio, catcher, second baseman, and briefly centerfielder before retuning to second base for the Houston Astros.
Yesterday, amateur baseball statistician and longtime Bill James correspondent Richard Hastings sent TSD an email attachment containing 23 Excel spreadsheets, spanning the years 1989-1999. A thorough analysis by Dr. Felix Lopez, TSD’s resident statistician, the spreadsheets reveal James’ abiding obsession with the Astros’ star.
“The first several spreadsheets don’t automatically raise any red flags – James applies his standard formulas -- runs created, range factor, similarity scores (statistical similarity to other players), etc. – to Biggio over a four year period. The atypically ornate pie charts and bar graphs that accompany the data – particularly the eccentric color pallette he’s working from (mostly soft pastels contrasted with emotionally-charged reds, violets and lavenders), are the first signs that something’s, well, off. Then, out of nowhere, he creates new statistical categories he applies to Biggio and no one else – I felt like I'd stumbled on a secret diary chronicling a school girl’s unrequited crush. It’s a tough read.”
The categories Lopez alludes to include “on-field charisma” (sexual tension x length of at-bat), “errors caused” (buttocks type x botched ground balls) and “performance sustainability” (years of peak performance x hypothetical volume of ejaculate).
Hastings claimed his release of the torrid spreadsheets was prompted by an article James published in Slate, an online magazine covering politics and culture, wherein James makes no secret of his once deeply held feelings for Mr. Biggio.
“I loved Craig Biggio because...he…was the player who wasn't a star, but who was just as valuable as the superstars because of his exceptional command of a collection of little skills—getting on base, and avoiding the double play, and stealing a base here and there, and playing defense. Here was the guy who scored 120 runs every year because he hit 45 or 50 doubles every year and walked 70 to 90 times a year and led the majors in being hit with the pitch and hardly ever grounded into a double play and somehow stole 25 to 50 bases every year although he really had very average speed.”
…But in the last years of his career, my affection for Biggio started to fade, I'm afraid. As he moved closer to 3,000 career hits there came a general recognition of his status as a star player, which severed the bond that I felt to him when he was deserving of recognition that he wasn't getting." Bill James, “The Epic of Craig Biggio: Why I Loved, And Then Grew Tired Of, The Long-Time Houston Astro," Slate.Com
Theo Epstein, Boston Red Sox Executive Vice President/General Manager, dismissed Hastings as a disaffected Yankees fan who has maintained an increasingly hostile correspondence with James, beginning in 2003, when the fabled sabretician was hired by a former reader, Sox owner John Henry.
“When Bill says he ‘loves’ Craig Biggio, it’s just a figure of speech. It’s like saying you love clam chowder – it’s not like you’re suddenly fighting an unnatural sexual desire for a bowl of hot soup. Now, I’ll admit, if someone came into spreadsheets demonstrating Bill’s longings for Nomar (Garciaparra) or Johnny (Damon) or God forbid, Roger (Clemens), then I’d have a problem.”
“Craig Biggio?” sputtered a visibly shocked Victoria Gotch, TSD’s relationship expert. “Guys are usually drawn to the long ball. Men like men who can go deep. I’ve always respected Bill James’ work, but clearly there’s a structural flaw in his analysis – I don’t care how you slice the data, I wouldn’t fuck Craig Biggio with Marge Schott’s dick, may she rest in peace.”
The Authors of The Sportsman’s Daily