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Bill James

  • American writer
  • Born October 5, 1949

George William James (born October 5, 1949) is an American baseball writer, historian, and statistician whose work has been widely influential. Since 1977, James has written more than two dozen books devoted to baseball history and statistics. His approach, which he termed sabermetrics in reference to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), scientifically analyzes and studies baseball, often through the use of statistical data, in an attempt to determine why teams win and lose. In 2006, Time named him in the Time 100 as one of the most influential people in the world.


We need new athletes all the time because we need new games every day - fudging just a little on the definition of the word 'need.' We like to have new games every day, and, if we are to have a constant and endless flow of games, we need a constant flow of athletes.




The fact is that everybody around a college basketball game - the coaches, the announcers, even the referees at a lower level - calculates when the game is really over. They calculate it with intuition and guesswork.




Crime stories show us the part of people's lives they try to keep hidden.




In a crime story, the details become tremendously important - where the staircase was in relation to the bed, for example.




Baseball does become slow sometimes. It's totally unnecessary. The - you can play baseball fast. You can play it slow, and for some reason, we have chosen to play it slow, you know, which is unfortunate, but nothing you can do about.




If a candidate for office starts talking about thinning the deer population or investing in barriers to reduce the number of deer on the highways, the other side will probably just ignore him, because they're not going to know what to say about it. But there is a chance that the issue will resonate with voters in an unexpected way.




None of us are claiming that the statistical analysts understand the game of football as well as the football coaches do, or that our analysis should take precedence over the informed opinions of experts. I'm not saying that at all.




When people disagree with you, what you ultimately have to do is persuade people to agree with you - period.




Computers, like automobiles and airplanes, do only what people tell them to do.




The business of popularizing crime is how we expose the faults in our justice system. It's how we expose police misconduct.




Professionalism in law has brought us the O.J. Simpson case in lieu of justice.




I do have a family, and obviously I spend as much time as I can with them. Though even when I'm with my family, my mind tends to drift toward baseball.




You know one little way in which baseball changes us? We don't even think twice about Japanese names anymore. You know what I mean?




Television is full of fictional and real violence that's turned into entertainment.




Crime cases tend to be fascinating until you figure out what happened.




Some people give themselves over to their most evil desires, and those people becomes evil. But in general, it's reductive to think of evil as something foreign and separate from the rest of us. Evil is part of everyone. We all have the capacity to commit evil acts.




Do we need to have 280 brands of breakfast cereal? No, probably not. But we have them for a reason - because some people like them. It's the same with baseball statistics.




There comes a moment during a job interview when you're still talking, but you might as well take off your shoes.




It's easy for people to grow up in our society believing that certain lifestyles are risk free when they certainly are not.




If you go to a party populated by the NPR crowd and you start talking about JonBenet Ramsey, people will look at you as if you had forgotten your pants.




I try to take large, general questions that are difficult to resolve and break them down into small, very specific questions that have clear answers.




I like to feel that I understand little things about sports.




I think among the population at large, people are openly fascinated with crime and don't feel any shame over it. It's only the opinion-makers and the 'opinion elites' who turn up their noses.




It's extremely damaging to a fair trial to have people reaching judgment about the case in the newspapers and on the radio before the facts are heard in a case.




Well, stealing bases adds some runs but very few, and you lose most of the runs that you gain by having runners caught stealing.




Baseball would be a quite remarkable activity if it was the one place in the world where your co-workers didn't have any impact on how productive you were. But in fact, baseball is a high-stress occupation, and those sort of stress-inducing activities... just have a huge impact on how the team functions, I think.




I have always been much better at asking questions than knowing what the answers were.




Do people really believe there's something different about the eyes of murderers?




We don't genuinely need more literary geniuses. One can only read so many books in a lifetime.




When I was a small kid, I grew up in the newspapers.




Our society is very, very good at developing certain types of skills and certain types of genius. We are fantastically good at identifying and developing athletic skills - better than we are, really, at almost anything else. We are quite good at developing and rewarding inventiveness.




There are, I believe, many more false confessions to murders than true confessions.




Famous crime stories almost always lead to the passing of new laws.




Serial murders are just the worst stories. It can take an emotional toll on you.




Crime shapes how we think about the world; it shapes social decisions that we make; it shapes our base of knowledge. But we don't talk about it intelligently.




I would never encourage my children to be athletes - first because my children are not athletes and second because there are so many people pushing to get to the top in sports that 100 people are crushed for each one who breaks through. This is unfortunate.



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