Bill James on ... uh, about Everthing

Awesome article by Baseball guru Bill James about rule-breaking and the core of what makes America dynamic.


  1. Joel:

    Although I'm sympathetic to (what I can make of) his philosophical views, his policy conclusion (insofar as there is one) boils down to "let's encourage prosecutors to use more discretion in deciding whom to prosecute (and hope that they use that discretion in the way I want them to)."

    That strikes me as a naive recipe for "some animals are more equal than others." (cf. software piracy in Russia: )

  2. Gil:

    I suppose the author may as well talked of the law-breaking of a German hiding a Jewish famly in his basement. I believe the author has failed by asserting a "middle ground". Libertarians don't like the appeal to the middle ground with government, laws and taxes. So why should this author fail by saying it's good to break the law but defends the law at the last moment? If he's of the attitude that laws are arbitrary prohibitions created by those who have seized power then why presume that no laws will lead to chaos? Libertarians would point to experiments where streets with no traffic laws are incredibly safe.

  3. stan:

    Prosecutorial discretion is a given. Today, everything is potentially illegal or at least subject to investigation.

    As to his point about the different "nature" which makes America great -- some years ago, someone made the argument that America was settled by immigrants with ADD -- restless risk-takers with an itch to go do something different. Note - some with ADD claim they are more creative when they don't take their meds (albeit less dependable, too). And there is supposed to be a genetic link.

    Regardless, whatever it was that made our forefathers take the great leap of faith to risk getting on a boat to come to a strange land is still likely over-represented in our makeup and makes us less likely to follow convention or rules we don't think make any sense.

  4. morganovich:

    worth the read just for the quote"

    "we are not a national of hall monitors. we are the nation that tortures hall monitors."

  5. caseyboy:

    At the risk of opening a door that may make some uncomfortable, I believe that a society well grounded in Judeo/Christian principles has little need for man made laws. If we all held true to the 10 Commandments it would empty the courtrooms and put lawyers out of work.

    The people that came to America did so to pursue their religious freedom. The early settlers for the most part were men of God who wished to practice their faith consistent with their beliefs. All of the early governing charters and organizing documents of the colonies recognized God as creator and religious behavior as the bedrock of governing principles.

    I know, I know, we are all too enlightened and intellectual to fall back into those "superstitious" beliefs, but I wonder what our country might be like if our elected officials and the bureaucrats that implement their laws had a healthy fear of life after death. The ultimate accountability.

  6. Carl S:

    I do enjoy Bill James and sabermetrics, but this article is just a bunch of jumbled thoughts without a point. Not his finest work and certainly not "awesome".

  7. markm:

    Caseyboy: The Ten Commandments, really? Or just the three banning murder, theft, and perjury? Have you forgotten what's in the other 7?

    "Remember the Sabbath day, keep it holy." "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
    So you can start with the 7th Day Adventists and Baptists prosecuting each other for going to church on the "wrong" day, and proceed onwards to religious civil wars, such as afflicted Europe for centuries?

    "Thou shalt not covet..." (There are various wordings and either 1 or 2 commandments related to envy, depending on the branch of Christianity.)
    "Honor thy father and thy mother."
    Good advice for living well. Terrible things if enforced by governmental violence under the direction of an asshole of a DA.

  8. Pat Moffitt:

    Lost in the comparison of a Barry Bonds and other steroid users versus Babe Ruth--- Ruth did not try to deceive anyone he was swinging for the fences. I am all for pushing the limits at times-- but one should at least be honest/open about it. By this logic corking a bat or insider trading would be simply pushing the limits. At some point along the continuum pushing the limits becomes cheating.

    And why is lasic surgery any different than steroids in competitive sports?

  9. first grade worksheets:

    i enjoyed reading it, though it had some drawbacks!