Playoff Announcers: A Modest Proposal

Recently, there's been much discussion of the role that new technology will play in baseball. Halfway through the year, Major League Baseball instituted a policy of instant replay for the evaluation of questionable home run calls.

Critics argued that this would open the floodgates for a host of other terrible developments, like machines calling Balls and Strikes. Supporters noted the limited scope, and that umpires retained discretion to use or discard the replay's findings.

Evil, heartless stat bloggers consulted their Star Trek bookmarks and posted the following image, lauding the advance of technology into the game:

Borg1_medium

via records.viu.ca

As one such blogger, I have a modest proposal. After careful consideration, and much spreadsheeting, I have concluded that the calling of baseball games is too important to be left to baseball announcers.

While Red Sox fans and Rays fans have much to argue about, I think we can come together on the following, carefully worded, diplomatic statement:

The TBS announcing crew of Buck Martinez, Chip Caray and Craig Sager are blathering idiots.

Baseball traditionalists will argue that there's no way a computer could possibly replace the insight that these men have on the game.

After all, what computer could come up with Buck Martinez's philosophy of "Selective Aggressiveness" and mention it every game? Or describe Jason Varitek's mind as a "computer?"* What computer could, like Chip Caray, claim that winning game 1 of a 7-game series is critically important when the odds of that team winning the whole thing are only 55%?

To answer these questions, I began the difficult process of calculating an announcer's value. The result of this painstaking endeavor is E.Coli's Numbers (TM), which I will gleefully spam on every SBNation site until the end of time.

How are they reached you ask? I analyze CORA: Criticism Over Replacement Announcer.

A replacement level announcer has a value of 0, of course. CORA is based on analysis of play-by-play data, as recorded by highly sophisticated technology, and it is evaluated as follows:

MINUS: The announcer misidentifies a pitch, or makes one up (Martinez: Beckett throws a splitter). The announcer discusses a player's "heart," "guts," "drive" or "motivation." The announcer attributes success to something other than play on the field.
PLUS: The announcer provides insightful commentary that is Sabermetrically correct. The announcer does not repeat rabidly inane phrases.

League-wide analysis by my company, Baseball Awesomeness Systems, has concluded that all major league announcers, with the possible exception of Don Orsillo (+4), have negative CORAs. If you'd like to consult the data in detail, please send checks for $20 to 12 Mother's Basement, Duluth, Delaware.

I then calculated CORAs for some computers, as well:
HAL9000: +2001
SkyNet: +1101
My 4-year-old PowerSpec which crashes 1-2 times every time I try to start it: +20

The conclusion of my remarkably unbiased study is that not only are computers far more effective as announcers, but there is a critical need for MORE CORA in baseball. I believe CORA may be the newest frontier of Sabermetrics, and it behooves advanced teams like the Rays and Red Sox to invest in CORA to maintain their competitive advantage.

* Jason Varitek, mentat. That's one way to market him, Mr. Boras.

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