(Re-) Introduction

Hello. Or hello again, as the case may be. If you’re coming to this as a new blog and never read The Forward Defensive you might wonder why a ‘new’ blog is clearly not that new. If you know I used to write a blog ten years ago you might wonder what the hell happened and why that blog is here now. Either way, I felt I should stick some sort of re-introduction before just writing things.

About eleven years ago I decided to start blogging about sport and primarily cricket. I started The Forward Defensive because I was spending a lot of my time watching sport and had more options and analysis than could fit on Twitter. (This was in the days before threading.) I really enjoyed blogging; I enjoyed the excuse it gave me to watch even more cricket at even stranger hours in the middle of America and I really enjoyed virtually meeting so many people with a shared interest. But when I started grad school in 2013 I stopped having the same amount of time to devote to writing and in particular I stopped having the same amount of time to devote to watching. I still did watch sport, of course—anyone who has followed me on Twitter for the last decade will be keenly aware of this—but I didn’t watch as much and I didn’t have the same energy to devote to opinions about it. I don’t know if you’ve heard this, but grad school is exhausting. It also doesn’t pay well, and eventually I couldn’t justify continuing to pay for hosting fees, so I made a backup of the data and let the hosting expire. (I thought I had kept the relatively cheap domain name registration though, but apparently not.)

Great, that explains why the post before this is a half-baked one from 2014 about Mike Moustakas being sent to Triple-A that I wrote from a room at a now-defunct radio observatory in eastern California. But you may ask yourself: ‘Why is there now this post?’ ‘Why is the name of the blog different?’ ‘How do I work this?’ ‘Where is that large automobile?’

The short answers are that I’m restarting (for lack of a better word) the blog now because I finished grad school in May and now have a job that affords me a lot more money and spare time. So I’ve gone back into watching sport in detail and I have gone back to having thoughts and opinions about sport again. I noticed this in earnest during the recent MLB postseason when I realised I was texting unsolicited long-form analysis to family members every night, usually because someone in the broadcast media was completely failing to understand (or at least convey an understanding) of the nuances of statistics and mathematics. Consider the return of this blog an effort to spare my loved ones from getting series of paragraph-long texts from me every time I sit down to watch a game.

The name is changed for two reasons. Firstly and most importantly, it is because—as alluded to above—I accidentally let the domain name registration lapse. As soon as that happened it was picked up by a dodgy-looking reseller to whom I have no intention of giving money. I could have just changed the URL to some close variant of it, but at the same time the blog is not going to be quite what is was previously either. A new name seemed a better option. I’m still going to write about whatever sport I happen to have an opinion on (probably one of the first posts is going to be about the ongoing World Cup) and I’m still going to write some stuff that is just an opinion. But I’m going to focus more on deep analytical dives. I have almost a decade of experience as a professional scientist now including a PhD in Astrophysics. I have tools and experience to apply that I couldn’t even imagine when I was blogging a decade ago. This also ties back into my motivation to start blogging again in the first place. There is no shortage of modern statistical analysis in either cricket or baseball, but despite the fact that every industry now has data scientists to perform customer analyses there does not seem to be any effort to upgrade from advanced statistics to data science in sport. In practice, this also means I am probably going to end up focussing more on baseball than I used to. The data collection is a lot more thorough and organised in baseball and the records are easier to access. (Also, although both sports have inexplicably become harder to watch in the modern media landscape, cricket more so because I have less flexibility to deal with the time zones involved now.) This is why I chose the name Defensive Indifference. It is a similar style and has a direct nod back to The Forward Defensive, but it’s a baseball term.

Other than that, it’s the same as it ever was.

(NB: This post will be pinned for a little while, until there are enough new posts that it isn’t necessary any more. A summary of the relevant information is still in the About section.)

New stuff!

I’ve added a feedback form on the ‘About Me‘ page. Now if you have a general comment or question that does not go with one of my existing posts, you can still bring it to my attention.

And speaking of comments, I also wanted to clarify my policy about them. I don’t really have one and it’s never been an issue before, but yesterday I did get a very strange one. I didn’t publish it because it was on a five month old post and the half that was in English was completely irrelevant to that post. (And kind of crazy.) The other half was in what Google identified as garbled Swahili, though I am by no means confident that is accurate. So some guidelines for commenting (and I’ll try to include a handy link to these later):

-Stay relevant. If you want to say something that isn’t relevant to a recent post, use the comment form. If you want to say something that’s not relevant to anything I wrote and you feel that you must do it publicly, start your own blog. It’s easy.

-Stay sane. This is related to the above, but even if your comment is relevant to the post or another comment I am still not going to publish it if it is the equivalent of a guy standing on the pavement shouting at passer-by about aliens.

-Make sure I can read it. This is the one that I hate, because it’s no fault of the commenter if he or she speaks a language that I can’t read. I genuinely like hearing views from many different perspectives and it seems harsh to limit this to people who can speak and write English. But I can’t really apply the first two criteria to something I can’t read. My advice for people who want to comment in another language is to indicate what the language is and write it clearly, correctly and simply in that language so that I can get the gist of it from a translating service. (And I know those tend to be hilariously inaccurate, but since I know the context there is a chance that it will give me an idea of what is said.) Even that might not work though, so apologies in advance. Also: I read decent Latin and I have a couple of friends who speak French, so both of those languages could work to.

Other than that, I don’t really care. It’s still a subjective matter and I’ll still treat everything (what little there is) on a case-by-case basis subject to my mood and whims, but I am inclined to let things go through. Even if you just post to call me an idiot I’ll let it go if you can clearly articulate why. (Though just ‘ur a idit’ will probably not get through.)

Armchair selector

Some of you may remember my ‘media appearance‘ on the Armchair Selector vodcast a couple of months ago. Others of you may have blocked it out. Either way, the host of that vodcast, Jeremy Irvine, has turned it into an entire website, The Armchair Selector, with a variety of contributors, of which I am one. The upshot of that is that some of my posts, probably most of the ones about Australia, will appear over there. (Most of them will stay over here though!) I’ll make a note of it on here when I do and probably include a ‘teaser’ paragraph, but I encourage any of my readers to go over there regularly as there are some great articles on sports as diverse as cricket and ice hockey!

New comment moderation

I was away from the blog for 10 hours last night and this morning. In that time there were 67 comments here, all of them spam and all of them accompanied by an individual notification email. I don’t usually have 70 unread messages in my inbox in the morning, so one can imagine my surprise. None of the comments actually appeared here, I manually moderate most comments, but it was still a right royal pain. In response I’ve had to download some filtering software, but I don’t know how it will affect legitimate comments. It shouldn’t be a big problem, but if anyone has any problems commenting let me know via twitter, facebook or G+. (I assume everyone reading this has an account with at least one of those services.)