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Welcome letter from a former 'newbie'

How getting involved with BYB helped me learn about baseball and have a really fun time.

BYB users guide


Hi, and welcome to Bless You Boys!

Everyone is a new reader at some point (I have somehow managed to be a new reader at multiple points on the same site, don't ask me how), and I know that jumping into a new community can be hard. So I'm going to tell you a little bit about my "Bless You Boys" story and hopefully you'll be encouraged to get involved too, right from the start.

When I first discovered the Bless You Boys (BYB) community, I was a die-hard baseball fan fully indoctrinated in the ways of "traditional universal baseball truths." As it turns out, most of these ancient nuggets of wisdom have a whole lot of "ancient" in them, but not a lot of "wisdom." For example, my opinion about Andy Dirks, prior to becoming involved with the BYB community, was that he was "a good player, because he's scrappy." I believed this with all of my heart.

I began participating in the BYB community right about the same time that I first watched, and then read, "Moneyball." These two events changed the way I think about baseball. (They did not, however, change the way I consume beer while watching baseball games.) If you haven't seen the movie "Moneyball" or read the book, here's a quick synopsis: You either perceive baseball through a matrix of statistics and mathematical certainties, or you perceive it through a grid of emotions and in-the-moment reactions, and if your perception is of the latter kind, you are, mathematically speaking, a moron.

Andy Dirks is not "scrappy." There really is no such measurement. I might have seen him get a few key slappy singles, or watched him hustle out an extra base, but the fact remains that he is a career .277 hitter with a career on-base percentage of .332, which means that he gets on base about 33 percent of the time, and only gets hits on Wednesdays during a full moon. He's an average player. Whether or not he is or is not "scrappy" is a completely subjective judgment that means, in scientific terms, exactly squat.

But there was a time when I believed it, and believed it firmly, and would probably have challenged you to a fight in the parking lot if you disagreed with me.

So, as you discover the BYB site and its community, and as you begin to get more involved, I want to gently suggest to you that, as far as these types of opinions go, you should probably be ready to be vigorously challenged if you post comments on this site that stray into this territory. And that's OK. It's part of your re-education, and it's ultimately a good thing.

This particular community is a community that generally favors rational thinking over emotional reactions. There are many, many other websites and forums in the great Internet cosmos that favor knee-jerk tirades with no basis in logical thought, but BYB is something of a safe haven for its members who prefer level-headedness, fact-based conversation, and good micro-brews. When someone new to the scene arrives and posts a comment, usually in ALL CAPS, to the effect that "QUINTIN BERRY WAS A SPARK-PLUG FOR THIS TEAM AND WE NEED EMOTIONAL LEADERSHIP IF WE'RE GOING TO WIN," that is usually perceived as a kind of intrusion of idiocy into the Holy Sanctuary of Sane Thought, and the response of the community is typically going to be a bit defensive. Don't be offended. This is a great time to learn something new.

From time to time, there may be references on this site to "MLive commenters," or "Facebook fans," and this can be a bit confusing at first. For whatever reason, these two sites (as well as many others) tend to attract the kinds of fans who find it intelligent to post things such as "Leyland doesn't know how to manage in September!" or "With their payroll, the Tigers should be 20 games ahead!"

This kind of thinking is the polar opposite of the kind of thinking shared by the members of the BYB fanbase. If you're not sure exactly where you fall along this spectrum of thought, I would suggest you begin by asking more questions than making assertions. In my experience, this group of fans at BYB is more than happy to share their insights in a constructive way when faced with honest inquiry as opposed to outright challenge.

To the regular members of the BYB community, I offer this suggestion: go easy on the new kids. When I used to make crazy assertions along the lines of "Andy Dirks is a scrappy player," I usually got my hinder quarters handed to me by means of heavy sarcasm (e.g., "Oh, is that a new statistic I don't know about, the Scrappiness Index?"), mockery (e.g., "Your mom is a scrappy player"), and semi-helpful factual counter-arguments (e.g., "Dirks is hitting .002 in his last 68 at-bats"). I may have been spouting an utterly ridiculous opinion, but only because I honestly didn't know any better. Most people don't, as a general rule, cling to demonstrably idiotic opinions out of malicious intent, and most people, also as a general rule, will accept factual correction when it's offered politely. Unless you're trying to convince me that Justin Verlander should be starting any of the games in the 2013 postseason -- then I'll just tell you that your mom should be starting in the 2013 postseason.

All joking aside (for the next few minutes anyway), this really is a welcoming and fun community, and it offers plenty of opportunity for you to get involved. I started out by posting comments, moved on to FanPosts (here's how!) and now I'm writing articles that appear on the front page and participating in the weekly podcast -- my involvement with BYB even led to me having the opportunity to play catch with my son on the field at Comerica Park. (That's his picture at the top of this post.)

So, please, get involved from the start. You might take a few lumps -- and you might dish out a few of your own -- but I think you'll find, just as I did, that this site is worth being a member of. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find a way to make that last sentence end in something other than a preposition.

-- HookSlide