There is a certain elegance found in diversity—the understanding that people are different, cultures are different, and that these differences yield varying perspectives. The same applies to our beautiful game of baseball, America’s greatest pastime. Today, we celebrate the diversity of baseball fans.
Old School, Advanced Stats, Casual or Hybrid. Although they share a love for the game, fans have completely different discussions about it.
How do you experience Marlins baseball?
Old School Fan
Age may be a moderator in this group, but do not be surprised when speaking to a young fan who identifies as “old school” to their core. There is something romantic about the old-school outlook of baseball and committing to being a fan in the same fashion you were originally raised.
Perspective: Wins, losses, earned runs, errors, and runs batted in. This is all I need; and why not, these are the parts of baseball that originally made the game beautiful! Don’t talk to me about all of your advanced formulas for why Sandy Alcantara’s ERA is not “actually what it says it is.” And how do wins and losses not matter? This is the identity of the game; you play to win the game. Of course they matter.
So does clubhouse culture and chemistry. At the end of the day, this is a family of players that spend six to eight months of the year together. How could their relationships not influence their performance? What kind of lunacy would have to take place for their relationships to be void of value.
Stop taking the game and assuming that everything must be measured and dissected in a million ways—it doesn’t. The game is fine, just enjoy it!
Baseball is beautiful because of the seams on the white ball, the crack of the bat, and the players…not your shiny calculator or short attention span.
Advanced Stats Fan
The antithesis to the old-school fan, an advanced stats fan is the new wave of baseball. They find fulfillment in analyzing the many layers of baseball and deepening their understanding of how games are won and lost using quantifiable historical trends.
Perspective: America’s pastime is a “pastime” because it refuses to catch up to the current times. Don’t get me wrong; I love this sport, and I love this game, but being complacent is the preceding step to becoming a failure. As fans, we should always be striving to be better, and being better includes understanding the sport to the highest level possible.
I care about ERA and the win-loss record of a pitcher about as much as my old-school peer cares about WAR. The difference? At least I know what ERA is, and why it may be important. When was the last time you tried to look at a pitcher’s FIP? Or whether ballpark factors are the reason Christian Yelich is suddenly Mike Trout? Advanced stats matter because they resolve the ambiguity in this game. This is not something to run away from; it is something to embrace!
Is there something truly beautiful about sitting casually and not worrying about the metrics, defensive shifts, or data-driven matchups? Sure, but that doesn’t means it’s the right thing to do.
A casual fan was not likely raised on baseball, and as a result, may not grasp the intricate elements of the game. Nonetheless, they enjoy the idea of going to a ballpark (just not too many times a year). Likely a basketball or football fan in the middle of their respective offseasons, these fans are still outspoken about their team.
Perspective: I can see why this game has so many fans, but I also wonder how they all stay for the entirety of this game? Do they not understand that they can leave before it finishes? I get that the parks are gorgeous, the athletes are impressive, and when something happens, it rivals any type of event in sports. But that’s the thing: when something happens. Too often, the “something” takes too long.
My peers—the old-school and the advanced stats—confuse me. They watch every single pitch as if it’s the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Looking to see what the pitcher is throwing, or how the hitter adjusts. It’s exhausting; you can understand how what I want is action? I want to see hits and home runs, not walks and defensive putouts. The good news for myself is that the commissioner seems to be thinking more about me than some of the other groups.
Pitching clocks? Limiting mound visits (seriously, why do they even need that)? Speeding up the game? This is my type of music.
I don’t want to seem down on the game because it’s a beautiful sport and an impressive league. I just don’t know if I’m dedicated enough to see every pitch as closely as my peers. Plus, my attention span is much better suited for basketball and football anyway.
The scenic ballparks make for a great selfie, though.
A combination of the old-school and advanced stats fans, the hybrid likely gets the best of both worlds; but is unfortunately isolated from both groups. The “centrists” of baseball, hybrid fans understand that the game is beautiful because of its heritage, but also choose to learn something from those new-age scholars and their advanced metrics.
Perspective: I choose to look at ERA, while also being more informed when adding advanced stats into my assessment. I grasp how bunts may actually decrease a team’s probability of scoring, but still love to see a perfectly executed drag roll down the line.
Wins do matter, but context is needed here; it was not all about one player, and losses weigh less than previously believed. Where am I more traditional than not? With the pleasantries of baseball, and the clubhouse culture. These are the elements of baseball I was raised with, and no amount of formulas will change that.
Where may I defer from the old school? It’s time to let the boys play! Bat flips? Yes, please. Yelling and screaming after an important hit? Give me more of that! You want to dance when you hit a double? Good, just get ready for the pitcher to do the same when he strikes you out!
At the end of the day this game can be artistic, and it can be scientific; it’s what truly makes it beautiful. For me, it just depends on my mood for that day.
Baseball is one of the greatest games ever created—we can all agree on that!
Which of these types do you align with most? Let us know in the replies.
What type of fan do you most identify as?
This poll is closed
Hybrid of Old/New
Other (tell us in the replies)