Full disclosure: I did not hear the entire interview of Steve Stone with Boers and Bernstein. I came in very late as a matter of fact, but what I did catch is nothing short of remarkable. As the interview was wrapping up, Stone shared that sabermetrics will be a greater part of the broadcast this coming summer. Oh. My. God.
Len Kasper and his partners have been very good in the last few years of discussing new statistics during the games, taking extra time on Sundays if I'm not mistaken, to share further details and insights into the newer ways to examine the game of baseball. On the other side of town, no such innovation existed. Last year, Hawk started spouting off something about the will to win, or TWTW and Stoney first referred to sabermetrics as cybermetrics. Between the two of them, not a great deal of love was shown for any type of advanced statistic.
Now Stone was extolling the virtue and value of advanced metrics. Having listened to Stoney for years, I'm not that surprised. In reality some of his best seasons were under one of the most statistically oriented managers ever. Earl Weaver, underneath that old-school facade, was a baseball geek. Well before there was a chicken in every pot and a computer in every clubhouse, Weaver was keeping detailed stats on every player in the American League. (Of all the things in the Baseball Hall of Fame, I would love a chance to look through some of those cards.) Weaver was the guy who believed outs were sacred and shouldn't be squandered. So if, after the season of listening to Hawk talk about TWTW, someone got in Stone's ear and showed him some of the material in a rational reasoned way, I bet Stone listened.
The shock, and what is filling me with such anticipatory glee, is that Stone said Hawk was on board. I'm having such a hard time believing that. Even if in the pre season meetings, he begrudgingly accepted the change to the broadcast, I can't wait for the day when Hawk has to discuss Wins Above Replacement. Better yet, when the numbers reveal that Gordon Beckham is a below average fielder, listening to the restraint in Hawks's very being is going to be must see TV.
My guess is that the change is coming from a mixture of factors, viewer feedback probably played a role, Rick Hahn probably had some influence, and a want to stay current were all part of this shift. At no point however, was Hawk spearheading this change. Watching and listening to Hawk discuss sabermetrics is going to be like watching an old guy trying to be hip, think Bob Dole trying to discuss his website in 1996.
Honestly, I don't know how long this inclusion of sabermetrics will last. I'm sure it will be most prominent in spring training games and during the early season. I'm also pretty sure that Hawk is already coming up with schtick to put down numbers whenever he can, like when Adam Dunn makes a good defensive play. It will be after a nice stop or pick on a throw and Hawk will scream, "that ain't in the numbers!" and all of his fellow cranky old men will cheer him on.
By June, especially if the Sox are doing poorly, Hawk will lose it and go on a rant on how the numbers are messing with the players and they aren't focused on the game and TWTW. When Stone brings up a number that Hawk doesn't like he will probably get snarky and pretty much tell Stone to shut up. Eventually, even more than usual, Hawk will just disregard any of the discussion of statistics and go back to his old act, mumbling from time to time about the evil computers. It will be a descent into madness on par with King Lear. I can't wait.