FanGraphs Audio: Russell Carleton and/or Pizza Cutter

Episode 326
Russell Carleton, who has been known previously to the world as Pizza Cutter and is responsible for foundational work on the sample-size thresholds at which a number of stats become reliable, is the guest on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

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Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 3 min play time.)

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Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Carson, that was probably the best episode of Fangraphs Audio to date. Not only was the subject matter extremely interesting, but you flowed between the baseball and “less baseball” parts seamlessly and were able to get in to some pretty in-depth issues in an accessible way.

That said, I think you guys overlooked one basic dynamic in the player psychology conversation. To be an elite athlete, I would suggest, requires habits of thought that allow a person to dedicate themselves almost entirely to refining their ability to perform a relatively finite set of discrete activities. There is constant pressure to perform at the peak of one’s ability. To start thinking in terms of variance/luck/chance is essentially the first step down a path toward making excuses for poor performance. While some players may be able to stop it there, I can imagine that it would be awfully enticing to allow that explanation to serve as a demotivating factor.

Or perhaps to put it more simply, an ability/ inclination to think in terms of probability and chance may be a detriment, on balance, to a player’s likelihood of achieving and continuing to perform at the peak of his talent. The players who dominante any sports are, nearly to a man, perfectionists who refuse to accept anything but the notion that any slip in their preparation is inexcusable. Thinking in terms of chance or variance is a luxury that professional athletes perhaps simply cannot afford.