Stats v. Story

Love this.

John Gruber with Ben Thompson on The Talk Show:

JG: I have a good friend, Matt, who’s a fellow Yankee’s fan. His theory is that there’s two types of sports fans: Stats fans and story fans. Now, anytime you try to say there’s only two types of people, of course there’s a grey zone. Some stats guys are a little bit into the story side and some story guys are still interested in some of the stats. I’m a story guy though, in his telling. I just don’t get into the numbers that much. I believe in clutch hitting. I believe in clutch performance. I know that’s one of the stat’s guys’ things, like the baseball prospectus guys (Bill James, etc.), that there’s a theory they try to backup that there’s no such thing as clutch hitting.

You say there’s no such thing as clutch hitting, and I say Derek Jeter. I don’t see how you could deny it.

The whole Jeter “Farewell” thing is just chock-full of all sorts of statistics and stuff like that. But one of the most amazing ones is (and this is off the top of my head, I’m not going to look it up), he’s played 158 post-season games. A regular baseball season is 162 games and most guys would be lucky to play 158. Even players who aren’t insured take a game off here and there. So he’s played easily the equivalent of a full regular season, all post-season. Which by definition is only against the very best pitchers and opposing teams. Every post-season game is against a team who was good enough to make it to the post-season. And he’s got like a .320 career post-season batting average. Enough that it would win the batting title most years. And that’s in the post-season.

BT: That’s really impressive because batting averages drop significantly in the post-season.

JG: Right. Because the pitching is so much better. So much better. Really, that’s the way to win post-season baseball games, is to have amazing pitching.

Remember the White Sox, when they won in 2006? Whatever year it was. Whatever year the Chicago White Sox won a decade ago, they won the World Series in four games. Their four pitchers pitched four complete games. It was unbelievable. They had four pitchers who caught fire, were just unhittable, and they just went “one, two, three, four. The World Series is over.”

BT: It’s like having a hot goalie in hockey or something. You can just shutout everything else.

JG: And tech is exactly the same. There’s story guys and stats guys.

Reading it back, I am reminded of Jon Hamm’s brilliant opening monologue to the 2013 ESPYs.

I am also reminded why I remain focused on the games industry. I have been fortunate enough to grow along side a budding industry from its toddlerhood (1985) to the behemoth it has become. The video game industry has yet to shake it’s growing pains but its effect on pop-culture at large has been breathtaking to watch. (While writing this, Pharrell released the video game inspired music video for “It Girl”, (and it may be a good indication of what is wrong with the culture).)

Over the course of the next-gen launch, the focus has been on story. None more so than Nintendo. Focus all you want on stats, Nintendo’s story is still one to believe in.