JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

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Friday, September 05, 2003
 
The world turned upside down
Tyler Cowen happens to mention this odd description of the co-editor of the Almanac of American Politics:
"Michael Barone is to politics what statistician-writer Bill James is to baseball, a mix of historian, social observer, and numbers cruncher who illuminates his subject with perspective and a touch of irreverence."--Chicago Tribune
I remember, growing up, hearing Bill James compared to others all the time. Galileo and Einstein were popular choices, but my favorite was one, coincidentally from the same Chicago Tribune, labeling him "the Mozart of baseball statisticians."

James was always something of a cult figure among a small group of geekydedicated baseball fans, so it feels weird enough to see that James has so hit the mainstream that people are now being compared to him. But what makes this comparison particularly strange is that Barone has been editing the AAP since 1971; the first Bill James Baseball Abstract didn't come out until 1977, and it wasn't really anything more than a pamphlet until the early 1980s. And (though I can't seem to find the figures) Barone has to have sold many more copies than James has over the years. Plus, Barone is regularly on television; James isn't. And yet it's Barone being compared to James, rather than the other way around? It seems as anachronistic as describing CNN as "the Instapundit of television news" would be. Bizarre.