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Article: Twins' broadcaster Dick Bremer discusses advanced stats in the booth

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:09 PM

You can view the page at http://twinsdaily.co...ts-in-the-booth

#2 Shane Wahl

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Posted 11 June 2013 - 11:20 PM

This is good for Bremer. Again, I would like Parker, Nick, Aaron, John, and Seth.

#3 old nurse

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 01:30 AM

The one part of audience analysis Bremer forgot to assess was does anybody really listen to what they say?
They must have a low opinion of the fan if they think they need to discuss the infield fly rule even once a year

#4 CairoCrown

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 02:32 AM

I'm sure there is market research to back him up, but it doesn't seem like Dick has much faith in his viewers' intelligence. As far as leaving things up on the screen for long enough, maybe they could get rid of those inane Twitter polls. Maybe FSN could better utilize their pre and post-game shows to better educate viewers on these stats.

#5 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 06:47 AM

I don't think it's a knock on viewers' intelligence, but a recognition that there is a good segment of their audience that doesn't care about ERA or slugging %, let alone WAR or BABIP.

There are some people who liked math in school, and some who hated it. There are some who see statistics, including advanced statistics, adding to their understanding of the game, and some who aren't trying to understand they game - they just want the entertainment value. And that should be OK; the TV broadcasts have to take them into account as much as they do those who desire advanced statistics. To use the analogy in the article, regarding restaurants, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a meal at a restaurant and not caring what the recipe is.

#6 mike wants wins

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 06:55 AM

I agree with everything Bremer said, and I'm a math/stats guy. If people think there is an appetite for more science in their entertainment, then you probably need to pay more attention to politics and voters.

As for the Twitter polls, people love that stuff. It makes them feel part of the action. Kind of like fans saying "we" and living and dying on a team's wins and losses, even though they have no logical connection to the team.

It's all about entertainment, for some of us, that includes more stats and "real" analysis. For others, it is just about watching in the moment, and not worrying so much about what is causing things to happen the way they are.
Lighten up Francis....

#7 Gernzy

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:10 AM

Great interview. Dick nailed all the questions. It would be nice to see more stats in the broadcast, but the average viewer would be completely confused.

#8 CRArko

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:10 AM

Did someone say Real Analysis?


?Real Analysis - Wikibooks, open books for an open world

#9 Don't Feed the Greed Guy

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:19 AM

How about having an analyst dedicated to talking about the statistical side of the game in the broadcast?
Looking for a new job, Parker? If so, you better work on your Roy Smalley hairdo.;) Actually I think this is a great idea, along with the Cubbie's "Stats Sunday" idea. Copy it, Dick. And, if you have to explain the infield fly rule, then explain it. It's your job, so make it fun.

#10 LimestoneBaggy

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:28 AM

I love stats. The more stats and analysis, the better. I just got into advanced stats two years ago, and I'm still learnin'. No matter how much I care for this analysis (and my particular belief that this helps understand the game), leaving advanced stats out of broadcasts is something that doesn't surprise me, nor should it be viewed as a knock on someone's intelligence. Quite simply, the general viewership isn't supporting this type of analysis. If the populous wanted BABIP and xFIP, they'd have it. Also, great stuff Parker.

#11 nicksaviking

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:39 AM

Good interview Parker. I always thought Bremer was a tough one to hook, good work.

#12 SD Buhr

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:40 AM

Good questions, good answers... just a very good interview. I happen to be one who likes Dick Bremer and I have ever since he was a sports anchor on the local CBS affiliate in Cedar Rapids. I think his answers show he's an intelligent baseball guy who understands that his audience is far broader in its interests than most people want to believe.

#13 Boom Boom

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:44 AM

I don't think that incorporating more statistics into the broadcast will exclude viewers who aren't familiar with the terminology. It's not like there's a shortage of time, and most of the time the viewers aren't completely locked in to the discussion anyway.

#14 mike wants wins

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 07:51 AM

Did someone say Real Analysis?


?Real Analysis - Wikibooks, open books for an open world


Ha, I was mostly talking "not Harold Reynolds-level" analysis.....
Lighten up Francis....

#15 PopRiveter

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:42 AM

I expect at some point, you'll be able to choose between two broadcasts for a given game. One will "broadcast" and appeal to the average fan, but a second option will be added to appeal to deep baseball fans. So the average fan can listen to Dick and Bert call the game, but the Twins Daily crowd can listen to Nick and Parker or maybe to this broadcast crew.
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#16 JB_Iowa

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 08:48 AM

I am in the camp that believes that Bremer and FSN in general underestimate the intelligence of the average fan. (And, while I believe that most of the people here are far above-average in terms of their devotion to the Twins and to baseball in general, I do know people who watch Twins broadcasts on a casual basis).

My most serious complaint is that Bremer generally does not appreciate that sometimes SILENCE truly is golden. Corey Provus acknowledged the importance of silence with regard to radio in the recent TD interview and to me, silence is even MORE important on television which is, after all, a VISUAL medium. There are so many times that Bremer and Blyleven talk over the action and simply muddle it (and Blylevens' replacements are even worse).

I paint FSN in general with the same brush. The broadcast of the CR Kernals game the other day was an absolute travesty and the Twins honchos should be embarrassed about the way that broadcast went. They made the "talking heads" much more important than EITHER the game or the prospects. Again, TV is a visual medium -- we wanted to be able to SEE these prospects play not to see a small square that gave as much (and sometimes more by the way they cut back to the studio) prominence to the yammering trio (composed differently at various times of the game). They could easily have reduced the size of the screen for the commentators and let us SEE the real game and more importantly, see how each of these prospects handled himself.

I have had the complaint about the Twins TV coverage or many years but it is even more serious when the team in not playing well. When times are good, they very well may get people who just drop by for games on occasion. But when, like now, times are reasonably bad, the people who watch games are usually going to be fairly die-hard fans who know something about the team. The broadcasters simply do not need to keep repeating the same information over and over.

While I would like to hear some statistical analysis by the broadcasters, I'm afraid it would lead to even less silence than currently. There are a lot of places I can go for statistical analysis where I can read it and really absorb it in a way that I couldn't do just hearing it.

I'd like Bremer to stick to some clean play-by-play and for the color man (whoever he is) to add just that, color -- information that gives texture to the game. That could (and should) include some simple statistical analysis. I'd really like the broadcasts to get back to being about baseball rather than simply being about entertainment. To me, the GAME continues to be the most important thing, not the personalities talking about it.

#17 ltwedt

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:03 AM

All agreed - love the stats - don't mind Bremer - getting real tired of Bert just reading the stats sheet, and describing EVERY base hit as "dropping the barrel of the bat on the ball" -

Nice work, Parker!

#18 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:10 AM

At the end of the day, this is all about entertainment more than it is about baseball. That's true of all spectator sports - at the end of the day it's about pleasing a diverse fanbase that includes hard-core supporters who know the intricacies of the game and the average joe who doesn't know xFIP from UZR and doesn't care.

A valid argument can be made that, for some parts of that fanbase, delving into advanced statistics enhances the entertainment value, and if this stuff does become more prominent in TV and radio broadcasts that will be the reason. I do think it would be possible, though, to apply them in a way that is more approachable for those who don't go to fangraphs regularly. Given a choice between hearing a) so-and-so has a poor xFIP, and B) so-and-so really relies on his defense to be effective, I think the second makes more sense for a larger fanbase.

#19 TheLeviathan

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:17 AM

Bremer is right, at some point hammering stat graphics into the game every 5 seconds just to appease people is a bit of waste. At what point will that become sufficient? Is BABIP enough? Do we need a breakdown of every hitter's past success against a pitcher when it is partly cloudy and they had a good breakfast?

Stats are amazingly awesome and baseball is a goldmine s for them. But at some point the content on the screen becomes an informational overload. Stat-heads who want it can go to any of the key data-mining websites and have it all at their fingertips now anyway, blasting flashy graphics just to say you're ahead of the broadcasting game seems like a silly demand to me.

No reason for the broadcasts to become a cluttered mess, which is all it seems to me that Bremer is saying.

#20 Parker Hageman

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:16 AM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]But at some point the content on the screen becomes an informational overload. Stat-heads who want it can go to any of the key data-mining websites and have it all at their fingertips now anyway, blasting flashy graphics just to say you're ahead of the broadcasting game seems like a silly demand to me.[/COLOR]


Nobody is suggesting that they just "blast flashy graphics" on the screen. They need to "blast flashy graphics" of stats that are informative and relevant. For example, the WGN broadcast has recently begun adding the Run Expectancy chart to their games (seen here). This is a statistical nugget that both casual (or "average") baseball fans and the diehards alike can appreciate.

Furthermore, they need to produce stat graphics that make sense. During a Boston series in Fenway, FSN flashed the graphic of Mike Napoli on the screen that showed his career splits versus left-handed pitching and right-handed pitching. The stats chosen were as follows: Batting Average/HR/RBI. For Napoli, his career numbers against right-handed pitchers was .255/110/319 compared to .270/45/110. While the graphic was up, Bremer was raving that the Red Sox obtained Napoli for his power against left-handed pitching. The graphic provided no context to show that Napoli was a better power-hitter against left-handed pitching -- no plate appearance totals, no slugging percentages, nothing to back up Bremer's correct assessment. If you are the "average" fan, this graphic and editorial would not make sense.

The "average" fan remains an "average" fan by not being educated and enlightened.

Going back to the WGN broadcasts -- one of the most widely viewed broadcasts, by the way -- injects plenty of statistical analysis discussions during their games, clearly showing that the "average" fan is not turning off their TVs during these topics. Len Kasper, who holds Bremer's position for the Cubs, described it this way:

[COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial]The best way for us to push the conversation forward is to pick our spots and relate the new numbers to the game/topic at hand. If a team rates highly in Defensive Efficiency, I can merely say, "The numbers say when balls are put in play, this team converts them into outs better than most." Or if a starting pitcher's[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial]BABIP[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial] is killing his [/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial]ERA[/FONT][/COLOR][COLOR=#000000][FONT=Arial], we can say, "His peripheral numbers might indicate some bad luck this season, and an adjustment may be in order." These are ways to introduce people to better evaluation tools without turning the broadcast into an advanced math class.[/FONT][/COLOR]


Nobody is asking broadcasters to recite the WAR of every player who comes to the plate. What needs to be done is to speak to the reason Justin Morneau is obtaining RBIs when he has not hit home runs (Mauer's on-base percentage). Or why the pitching staff allows so many hits (outfield range issues). The team has a closer who openly discusses things like FIP and the concepts behind pitching allowing for a perfect opportunity to talk about that on the air.

There is plenty that goes into broadcasts (silence, commentating by ex-ballplayers, etc) that are vital, but educating about the theories of the game should be vital too.

#21 TheLeviathan

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:28 AM

The issues you are speaking to are knowledge deficits in the announcers. You can call for them to be educated or change in the booth, but so long as the old guard mans the booth, it will be nothing more than flashy graphics.

I would personally like to see more conversational use of stats but that again relies on knowledge base of the announcers. Frankly, I think we are a generation of former players away from that.

#22 IdahoPilgrim

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:34 AM

The "average" fan remains an "average" fan by not being educated and enlightened.


You say this as if it were a bad thing. I have little or no interest in advanced statistics, and do not wish to be "enlightened." Yet I have the same passion for the Twins as anyone here. I hope there is still a "place at the table" for fans like me, and that that is not seen as a bad thing.

#23 snepp

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:38 AM

You say this as if it were a bad thing. I have little or no interest in advanced statistics, and do not wish to be "enlightened." Yet I have the same passion for the Twins as anyone here. I hope there is still a "place at the table" for fans like me, and that that is not seen as a bad thing.


You're posting about the Twins on a message board, you're already far beyond an average fan.

#24 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:42 AM

I'd be happy with just seeing the BA/OBP/SLG (OPS)... that can help put context to the player's season.

The trouble with throwing out WAR or BABIP or anything like that is that it has to be explained to probably 85% of the viewers (5 years ago, it would have been 98%, so it's changing). Putting that he has a 0.8 WAR tells the fan nothing unless they know what that means... Even if you say, Mike Trout has a 10+ WAR last year and Miguel Cabrera's was 6.5 or whatever, people that aren't currently aware don't know that that means. Putting Trout's WAR up compared to league leaders or historically gives perspective. I'd love to hear some, but I definitely understand why they choose not to.

#25 Parker Hageman

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:47 AM

[COLOR=#3E3E3E]The trouble with throwing out WAR...[/COLOR]


Why is it that everyone just goes straight to WAR? I'm not sure why Bremer thought only of WAR when I asked about advanced stats. Is it because it is perceived as the most advanced stat? Or just because it is the hot button stat thanks to the Trout/Cabrera debate?

#26 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:49 AM

You say this as if it were a bad thing. I have little or no interest in advanced statistics, and do not wish to be "enlightened." Yet I have the same passion for the Twins as anyone here. I hope there is still a "place at the table" for fans like me, and that that is not seen as a bad thing.



Thank you for saying that... My sense (and this is just a guess) is that they may lose more viewers by going "too deep" than they would add by adding this content.

Not every fan wants this stuff, and that is just fine. It doesn't make them less of a Twins fan. The way I watch a game and what I want is different than you which is different from someone else. We all can be diehard Twins fans.

#27 Oxtung

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:51 AM

You say this as if it were a bad thing. I have little or no interest in advanced statistics, and do not wish to be "enlightened." Yet I have the same passion for the Twins as anyone here. I hope there is still a "place at the table" for fans like me, and that that is not seen as a bad thing.


Why would you not have a spot at the table? You could just ignore what you don't want see/know about. I couldn't care less about the color commentators stories so every time I start to hear one I just mute the TV for several seconds. Most posters so far seem to be under the assumption that at the first whiff of advanced statistics the majority of fans would .... well I don't know what, clearly something terrible though. That implies however that the broadcast is perfect as it is now and that changing anything is taboo. I disagree, I think there are plenty of things that fans get annoyed with. So if there are things that annoy fans, and they keep watching, how is throwing in an advanced metric every once in a while, and talking knowledgably about it, any different? Why would they riot over that and not the other parts of the broadcast they dislike?

I'd just like to second Parker's previous statement. Batting average, on base percentage, slugging, RBI's are only easily digested because at some point in the past fans have been taught what those numbers mean and why they are important. So if your argument is we can't implement advanced metrics because most fans don't understand them but you are unwilling to educate them then what you are really saying is we don't ever want to add these advanced stats into our broadcasts. The only way for these stats to become familiar and understood by the public is to talk about them. Repetition is what leads to familiarity.

On another note I don't understand why some advanced stats couldn't be added to graphics that already appear on the screen. For instance why couldn't WHIP or FIP or xFIP be added to the other stats posted on the screen when a new pitcher comes into the ball game? Is that one extra row on the screen going to cause people to riot? The graphic already exists. People could then choose to look at that stat or not at their own discretion. How about OPS+ when a batter comes to the plate and they list his BA, OBP, SLG?

#28 mike wants wins

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:55 AM

Thank you for saying that... My sense (and this is just a guess) is that they may lose more viewers by going "too deep" than they would add by adding this content.

Not every fan wants this stuff, and that is just fine. It doesn't make them less of a Twins fan. The way I watch a game and what I want is different than you which is different from someone else. We all can be diehard Twins fans.



Just like "stat heads"* can be real, passionate Twins fans.......

*not sure why people need to put people into boxes.....
Lighten up Francis....

#29 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:57 AM

Why is it that everyone just goes straight to WAR?


I just am a crowd-follower and since Mr. Bremer and several others did, I went with it. Also, it's in all-caps. I mean, if you start talking about xFIP, you have to hit the shift key and stuff.

#30 Seth Stohs

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 10:59 AM

Just like "stat heads"* can be real, passionate Twins fans.......

*not sure why people need to put people into boxes.....


That's my point, that there shouldn't be some sort of hierarchy of fandom. And just because some like that doesn't make them more intelligent of more of a fan.