Until tonight, I wanted to write a clever poem or something like that to get a lot of recs and thus show my appreciation for the community here. But thinking about it tonight I decided just to write a heartfelt thanks to Eric and the rest of the team for giving me a place to share in both my love of a baseball squadron and the folks who have collectively helped me to both support that love and deal with the disappointment that such squadron inevitably deals.
Let me preface this with my view of sports. I love the Mets, and the Giants (NY football) and to a lesser degree the Rangers and Knicks. But I don't let this cloud my view of what I think organized sports is: a way that people who all have their own lives can join in support or detraction of something that really means very little in the grand scheme of things. Politics matter, government matters, for chrissakes internet memes matter, if for nothing more than 20 year olds who can prove their worth to the opposite sex by their mastery of the latter. Sports does not matter to your real life, nor does it to mine, unless you are the insanely unlikely prospect of a professional athlete or Sandy Alderson disciple (in which case please give me a job) reading this. And yet when the Mets win, I am happy. When they lose, I am sad. These emotions manifest in a real, tangible way. I used to think that this actually had an effect on my life. Shortly after the Mets lost in the 2006 NLCS, I was fired from a job I hated, and I correlated that disappointment with Beltran striking out on a pitch that no one could hit. I hated the job, and no one could have pleased my boss, and the reactions to that strikeout evidence my mixed feelings about my life then ("he could have hit it, he's lazy and failed" and "no one could have hit that, he's a great player who was screwed by a bad situation").
But I grew up, as we all do, and began to analyze baseball. I recently found a Facebook post I made where, a year before joining this site, I was analyzing the team in the spirit of advanced analytics. In retrospect, however, I knew very little: it was something along the lines of "OBP good, outs bad." What Amazin Avenue gave to me was a forum where baseball was not merely a function of being a fan, or being a hater of another team (except the Phillies and all they stand for). It allowed me to express my great memories of being a Mets fan, the feelings my dad I shared when I was a kid and he was teaching me to be a fan, and my love of the baseball, in a forum where only respect for your fellow poster, and thoughtful rules of commenting, counted. When I found AA, I didn't know what it was about. But I knew the level of conversation was challenging, and I liked that. It was, and is, a place where those who don't yet know are welcomed. If you just want to come in and say something funny, cool. If you want to talk about the regression aspects of advanced statistics, cool. If you want to show that you've read The Book, or moreover that you wrote The Book, cool. If you want to learn, cool. If not, that's cool too, just don't be an ass, and don't jump into arguments that you know little about. I came in with my own biases, and some of them I abandoned, while some of them I still argue for. But now I know why I should have abandoned those that merited abandonment, and why I should argue for those that I think are supported by data. And that's important.
I like the idea that posters who are respectful but haven't yet gotten into SABR are shown where to go to improve their knowledge, but in the interim before they learn the intricacies of Excel can post about things about the team they love. I like the idea that folks who don't have the time to master the mathematics of baseball but who are clever can be funny can find their niche. And I like that in this place folks who are neophyes (like I was) can meet people who help them to analyze and better understand the good and the bad of a team they love, and in the process help them better understand the game they love. And most of all I love that as you're trying to understand the game, which I believe that no one truly understands, you have a forum to bounce ideas off of those who are also trying to do that. It all means very little in the grand scheme of things, but it means a lot that college professors, PhD students, finance guys, lawyers who are better than me, museum security guards who show a flair for an incredible appreciation for art, security guards who have taken it upon themselves to know about a subject as bizarre as Japanese baseball, college students, some British guy who runs a lot, some guy who knows a lot about weird movies, math geeks, other forms of geeks and nerds, a ton of smart people, and a lot of other folks whose names I don't know, and will never know, but have a clever moment, can be both told that their work is completely devoid of merit, and see it rec'd by a score of folks they don't know. It also means that all these folks can share ideas. I came in knowing far less than a lot of folks here, and still do, but I can hold my own in most arguments. Still, I like a site where when someone proves you wrong by better data or knowledge, the correct response is to admit this, learn from the experience, and know that you will still be respected later.
I like that a Wednesday night idea put into place by MSPaint can make me laugh more than a Saturday night TV show because I share a common opinion and view with whatever nameless basement dweller happened to think of it. I like knowing that my silly idea of a car and a spoof of the Pimp My Ride meme can be appreciated by people all over the country, and perhaps have made some of them laugh in the wake of a crappy season. I like knowing that a lot of highly intelligent people see some commonality in jokes about them--and some of them who we all respect like JamesK--living in their mom's basement. I see that the cover of living in your mom's basement can make me laugh off a friend of mine's jabs that I spend this much time talking about baseball when she used to be a regular at 2600 meetings (kids, ask your local elderly hacker what this means). Maybe I haven't been far enough into the depths of this thing we call the internet, but I have yet to see any community where so many folks do so much with so little expectation of financial gain. I see youtube comments that are awful or otherwise terrible. I see blog comments on various MSM sources that are awful, plainly stupid, racist, or in some other way not worthy of the time taken to read them. I see comments on sites like Deadspin that are great, but take someone giving you permission to be posted. I have yet to see, since about 1999, any site that has comments like this one, save for a few others on SBN, where the commenters are the first line of defense, and the mods only need to get involved when things get really bad.
Once on this site after a misplaced comment on my part I was told to "get my head in a spreadsheet," after various aspersions on my intellect. Frankly, it made me feel bad that night. In the long run, however, it was a good thing. It caused me to be cautious here, and to only post things that were either well thought out, or plainly just for fun. I love this about this site, and after a while I realized that it was better to apologize for calling the guy who responded "stupid" (which he is not) and to move on with other theories of participation. Oddly, I got my head into spreadsheets thereafter and found a lot of fascinating things.
In sum, I want to say a thank you to Eric and everyone else mentioned on the bottom bar for providing this place. I leave on Monday for more than two years in a place where I will only rarely have the internet. More than that, I will only rarely have electricity. But I will remain a Mets fan, and should the Mets for some reason tell expectations to take a long walk off of the short pier, I'll be back on playoff gamethreads. If it takes an airplane flight, I'll do it (or so I say now). So sayonara to you all, and hopefully that sayonara will translate to some good deals in the future. The last time I left for a place like this was early 1999, and I directly attribute that year's over-performing team to my absence. So hopefully my mojo continues.