Saturday, March 14, 2009

Baseball and Life in the Dominican

After spending a large chunk of my morning highlighting the stats and downplaying the scouting reports of Tommy Hanson in my most recent post, my brain has been grinding through a lot of thoughts about the innate strengths and weaknesses of stat based analysis versus scouting based analysis. I don't like to rely too heavily on either approach, but as is evident by my propensity to cite statistical evidence, I probably give stats 2 or 3 times as much weight as scouting reports. I could go on and on about the subject, and why I approach it like I do, but it's an argument that has been up for debate for over a decade now (3 decades if you count the initial Bill James Era), so what's the point? Everyone has their own style, so whatever.

Anyways, as I was thinking about all this stuff throughout the afternoon, I came across an article at that serves as a decent introduction to baseball and the role of international scouting in the Dominican Republic. After years of corruption and deceit by local trainers, agents, players, and major league officials, the MLB is finally launching an official investigation into the practices and policies of the international scouting scene.

The article is a quick read, and absolutely essential for anyone who spends much time following young players. I've got my own opinions about the issues, especially when it comes to the ethical practices of trainers and scouts, as well as the education process of players, and the methods of producing teenage baseball machines. I've lived outside the country before, including 2 years in Thailand, so I realize that for a lot of people in this world education can be a farce, and any opportunity to make $10,000 or more is a rarity. The drive for Latin American countries to focus on baseball is obvious, so I can't really fault them for their zeal. But I do hope that Major League Baseball increases the efforts to use the game to better the lives of all the players involved -- as well as their families -- and not just to suck the talent pool dry and leave the rest worse off than when they started.

There are 7 more parts to the above clip on YouTube. Pretty interesting.

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