I’m glad to see that someone else thinks there’s a connection between baseball and politics.
A couple of years ago, when I was circulating a book-length manuscript called Bush-League America: George W. Bush and the Church of Baseball (its later subtitle was Conservatism and Cosmopolitanism in American Baseball and Politics), a couple of the agents I contacted said that they didn’t see that there was any link between Bush and baseball. I found this puzzling, given that without his connection to baseball Bush wouldn’t have been able run for Governor of Texas, let alone President of the United States. (You’ll get the basic idea behind the book if you read this post.)
Reading Newsweek magazine this week, I was drawn to an article about Nate Silver, the man who devised the PECOTA forecasting system, which has proven incredibly accurate in predicting future performance by major league baseball players on the basis of comparisons to past performance by “comparable” players. (PECOTA stands for “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.”)
Now, Silver is bringing his methodology to political forecasting, and he created a stir with his surprisingly accurate forecast of the the results of the recent Democratic primaries in North Carolina and Indiana. According to Silver, “”Baseball and politics are data-driven. But a lot of the time, that data might be used badly. In baseball, that may mean looking at a statistic like batting average when things like on-base percentage and slugging percentage are far more correlated with winning ballgames. In politics, that might mean cherry-picking a certain polling result.” [Click here to read the Newsweek article.]
Silver’s work will no doubt find a place in the next revision of Bush-League America, which I’m hoping to complete just after this November’s presidential election. From what both agents and university press editors told me, the manuscript either needs to become more scholarly or much less scholarly. I’m choosing the latter, and, inspired by a reading of Shalom Auslander’s memoir Foreskin’s Lament, I think I have a revision strategy that will work. Stay tuned.