One thing I know for sure. Each year, the more I learn about baseball, the more I realize just how much I don't know. Or how much I have yet to learn. It is why I keep coming back.
It is also one of the reasons why the art of second-guessing isn't one of my favorite activities. More often than not, I simply don't feel qualified enough to go there. Sure I engage in it from time to time, and I also appreciate how essential second-guessing is for many fans, but frankly, I'm more interested in how Dusty Baker is tuned in to his team's individual culinary tastes than how sound his baseball strategies are.
But that's just me.
With each passing season, I feel that as my appreciation for the game grows profoundly, so does the sense that there is still much to discover.
I was reminded of this when I read Rob Neyer's recent interview with Paul DePodesta, assistant GM of the A's. DePodesta serves as Billy Beane's right-hand man in Oakland, and is likely to become a hot shot general manager sooner rather than later:
Growing up, I always thought I knew a lot about baseball. I played in college. I played with a bunch of guys who played pro ball. I played hundreds and hundreds of games. Because of my body type, I was an on-base machine (I haven't hit a home run since tee-ball), and I was always fundamentally sound because I had to be. But I got to the Indians, and it didn't take but three or four days of being around the minor-league complex in spring training, and I realized, "I know nothing."
It was overwhelming at first. At that point, I realized that the best I could offer was just grinding out anything they needed done. And it was probably something like two years later when I gave them something that actually added value to the organization. I just didn't know a lot about the game, or at least not about the way this game works.
So the advice I normally give is, "Don't go in thinking that you're going to revolutionize this organization. Go in ready to work very hard. Keep an open mind, and listen to everybody."