50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays: Brian Kenny

This is just what the name implies: Each week, I ask someone interesting a question and request that she/he respond in 50 words or less.

Or somewhere in the ballpark of 50 words. That’s why there’s an “-ish.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this site isn’t exactly a bastion of rigidity.

Brian KennyToday, I’m joined by a familiar face to sports fans across the country, Brian Kenny. Brian is an anchor for MLB Network, where he hosts Clubhouse Confidential, the first and only television show devoted to sports analytics. He is also the host for Showtime Championship Boxing, and hosts The Brian Kenny Show on NBC Sports Radio from 9:00 a.m.–noon Eastern, Monday–Friday.

I met Brian during his 14-year run at ESPN when I was a production assistant trainee and he was, quite simply, the most gifted anchor I ever watched work. Seriously, you learn a lot about someone’s broadcasting chops teleprompting in an ESPNews studio that was perpetually stuck in the original polar vortex—like that he could anchor a flawless show with or without that little screen you were scrolling. While at the Worldwide Leader, Brian hosted SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, and Friday Night Fights, among other shows.

You can find Brian on Twitter as @MrBrianKenny. Here, I asked him about what the godfather of modern-day sports analytics, Bill James, and the Society for American Baseball Research define as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball”:

What do you think is the biggest misconception about sabermetrics and those who advocate its use?

The biggest misconception about sabermetrics is that it’s some sort of ideology. Hawk Harrelson has, for example, said it “didn’t work.”  What didn’t work? Scrutiny? Knowledge? Information?

Sabermetrics came about because some challenged staid, orthodox thinking regarding player and performance evaluation that had held, somehow, for decades.

It does work, but it’s not really sabermetrics anymore. It’s just sound thinking.

Considering Bill James is senior advisor of baseball operations for my beloved Red Sox, who are fresh off a 2013 postseason run highlighted by plays like this:

And the Hawk, in calling games for the last-place White Sox, still refers to my team as “the Carmines,” I know who I’m siding with.

Huge thanks to Brian for stopping by this week (even if there is Yankees carpeting in that photo) and for getting us to think baseball in the midst of the snow.

Interested in being featured in “50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays” or know someone who should be? Let me know. Also, feel free to check out the archive of past guests. But no pressure.

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