SportsIllustrated, BOSTON (AP) ... These are some of the theories thrown around this weekend at a Boston convention center, where self-proclaimed stat geeks have come to the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference with ideas to change the games - and the numbers to back them up. What started as a fringe on-campus gathering has grown into a two-day, 2,200-person convention with some of the biggest names, and biggest ideas, in sports.
The discussions in a spacious and packed ballroom covered new ways to evaluate players and teams in all major sports, with appearances from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, comedian Drew Carey, who owns the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer, and the godfather of sports statistics: Bill James.
In a discussion called "Box Score Rebooted," James argued for a new format that would include more advanced metrics than the outdated and overvalued batting average and pitching wins. Since baseball itself is unlikely to change a format that's remained largely the same for more than a century, he called upon the statisticians in the room to come up with a better one.
"If we create an alternative scoring system on a more rational basis and we publish the data, within a couple of years there's going to be a time when the Cy Young winner is different,'' he said.
John Thorn, an official historian for Major League Baseball, acknowledged the sport is slow to change, but he noted the game-winning RBI was adopted - and then abandoned - so it can be done.
"Introducing a new statistic rocks our world in an unpleasant way," he said.