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Why Am I Here?

Look! It's a nerd... complete with graphs and stuff!
Look! It's a nerd... complete with graphs and stuff!

This post is a bit of an extended introduction, and its title is a nod to this thread, where Al asked the question: "Why are we Cubs fans?" I'm going to expand on this question a bit to also let you know why I use statistics, why I care about them so much, and why I'm happy to take on a larger role talking about them here at BCB.

Let's start with the origins of my Cub fandom. I started out a very young White Sox fan, just like everyone else here... right? ;-) I could see Comiskey from our apartment building, and so I rooted for the White Sox to win so I could watch the fireworks. I also remember telling my dad that because we lived closer to Comiskey than Wrigley the White Sox were my "hometown team." The fact that Harold Baines lived in our apartment complex reinforced this notion in my mind. (Insert joke here about how even at a young age I was failing due to an over-reliance on logic and facts.) My dad, a lawyer, told me that we lived closer to Wrigley but that it was on the other side of our building and so I didn't realize how close it was. In other words, he lied. Well I bought the lie, and many Harry-filled summer afternoons later I was a Cubs fan for life.

There's something else that happened in those afternoons spent in front of a TV tuned to WGN. I watched games on TV with my dad... every. day. My dad was pretty old (over 50) when my parents had me and this meant that we didn't have the typical father-son relationship where we'd play catch in the yard or where he'd teach me how to hit a curveball. Instead, we'd watch games together and I'd ask him about everything... and I mean everything. Little details about the rules, strategies, numbers, stats - you name it, I wanted to know all about it. I suppose I did this to some extent with other sports, but nothing compared to the fascination I had in baseball and the passion I had for the Cubs. I think all the way back then I was already starting to become the fan I am today, with a love for the game but and an obsession about its details (more after the jump)...

When I was in high school I was by no means a typical jock or outstanding athlete, but I did play sports. Unlike most other athletes, I also started a career in sportscasting. And unlike Michael Jordan, when I got cut from the varsity basketball team I hung up my sneakers and picked up the mic full-time. My passion for talking about and analyzing sports continued to develop, and I did everything I could get my hands on: video editing, hosting a call-in radio show, play-by-play, color commentary, and finally co-producing, co-writing, and co-hosting a SportsCenter-like studio show for our high school teams. I loved it, and found I really enjoyed talking about sports with all kinds of people: friends, family, coaches, players, and most of all fans that had previously been complete strangers. I think that background makes me really enjoy interactions on sports blogs, as it's a little bit of my past come back to life.

At the end of high school, I had a tough decision to make: I could either go to a college with a strong sportscasting program or to one with a strong pedigree in more "traditional" disciplines. In the end, I chose the latter route and started a new journey that led to a career as a scientist. During that journey, I was trained to value and apply the scientific method and developed the belief that the communication of science is the greatest responsibility of modern-day scientists. Therefore, I agree with this sentiment from Goodie1969 and share the hope that what I do here is more teaching and less lecturing. Despite all my love for the Cubs, I wouldn't spend my time writing here if I didn't think I could teach some readers a little bit about the sport and a little bit about science... and I'd go a step further than that. In addition to teaching some of you a little, my sincere hope is that I learn a lot from all of you in return... and that the Cubs win a lot of games in the meantime... oh, and I'll over-use the ellipsis... a LOT... Anyways, I hope you enjoy my writing as much as I expect to appreciate your feedback.