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Too many numbers?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by spnited, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Is there a point where too many stats and too much minutia bog down a story?
    These four grafs come from one Yankees game story I read this morning.

    Good info or stats overload?


    The Yankees are 4-12 in one-run games, 3-9 on the road. The last time they had 17 or more hits and scored fewer than six runs was Oct. 5, 1991, a 7-5, 12-inning loss to Cleveland.


    Rodriguez is 10-for-14 in the past three games to raise his average to .333, the highest it has been since May 12. A-Rod is 25-for-61 (.410) this year in interleague games.


    Matt Morris became the first pitcher since 1998 to allow 13 hits in fewer than six innings (he went 5 2/3) but only four runs.


    But Torre decided Clemens -- who has two career relief appearances: July 18, 1984, as a rookie and the 16th through 18th innings of Game 4 of the 2005 NL Division Series -- didn't have enough time to get ready.
     
  2. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Active Member

    There are too many numbers in too tight of space. Those need to be broken up or used in a notebook.
     
  3. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Those were not consecutive grafs, but scattered throughout the story. Just seemed to me that some was good info (A-Rod's stats) and some was just silly like the Morris numbers.
     
  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    I was told there would be no math.
     
  5. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    Spnited: Stats are a useful substitute for quotes you don't have time to get due to deadline considerations. Seeing as the game didn't end until 8 p.m. Eastern on a Saturday, that may be the case with this story.
     
  6. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    I'm gonna say no to that Gee because there were plenty of quotes in the story.
    What I also wonder is if deadline is an issue, why would you take the time necessary to look these kinds of things up (other than the current A-Rod numbers)?
     
  7. Sxysprtswrtr

    Sxysprtswrtr Active Member

    I'd also like to throw out that I expect baseball stories to be brimming with stats like the example you provided.
    Golf stories? Not hardly. Tennis stories? Please.
    Basketball and football are stat-heavy in some cases, but I always give exception to baseball.
     
  8. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Agreed with spnited.
    The Morris stat is silly. Just because they keep it doesn't mean you have to use it.
    The Clemens stat is irrelevant since he didn't get into the game ("who has two career relief appearances" works just fine.)
    The A-Rod interleague stat is superfluous (him raising his average of late is a good stat, and it's more important, anyway.)
    The 1991 stat could have been combined with the Morris stat in a breakout or at the end of a notebook. Otherwise, it really doesn't add anything.

    And MG, I think your reasoning there is legit. But the writer could have used better judgment about which stats to include, instead of flinging numbers against the wall and letting the reader sort them out. Some of those stats are numbers for the sake of numbers.
     
  9. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    But, Sxy, are these kinds of "stats" meaningful in any way?

    The last time they had 17 or more hits and scored fewer than six runs was Oct. 5, 1991, a 7-5, 12-inning loss to Cleveland.

    Or:

    Matt Morris became the first pitcher since 1998 to allow 13 hits in fewer than six innings (he went 5 2/3) but only four runs.
     
  10. Johnny Dangerously

    Johnny Dangerously Active Member

    I struggle with this constantly. Sometimes I read a story the next day and wish I hadn't included certain stats. As buckweaver said, relevance is the key. So many stats are scattered through stories (and broadcasts -- don't get me started), and in many cases it's because they're there. They're available. They're everywhere. When I stumble upon a good one -- especially through my own digging -- I have to use it.

    But I'm not always right to use it, which I realize later.

    Everyone in the business should read the chapter called Statistics in Leonard Koppett's "The Rise and Fall of the Press Box." It's so good it would almost be worth breaking the rules and posting it here.

    ;)
     
  11. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    And to tie in JD's point with spnited's earlier one, I don't think the writer had to spend any time digging these up for himself. They were probably provided with the post-game press notes and/or by the Giants media relations staff. Baseball's great for that; there are amazing things you can do with Retrosheet and B-R.

    The writer used them because they were available, because they were there. Not because they added to his/her story.
     
  12. Sxysprtswrtr

    Sxysprtswrtr Active Member

    Buckweaver seemed to be on target with his explanation.

    I wonder why a copy editor didn't pare these down?

    The last time they had 17 or more hits and scored fewer than six runs was Oct. 5, 1991, a 7-5, 12-inning loss to Cleveland.
    =
    The last time they had 17 or more hits and scored fewer than six runs was Oct. 5, 1991.
     
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