Jeff Passan, “The Arm,” and Me

I feel like I should write something about the latest excerpt from The Arm by Jeff Passan that was just published by Yahoo Sports. The last line states:

“I was pretty pissed for about 20 minutes for the future of Driveline,” Boddy said. “The company is going to go on. It just sucks. For all of baseball. It sucks that not everybody’s going to know about his work, no matter what happens with the Dodgers. The worst­-case scenario is he has a breakthrough with them. Because then the world won’t see it.” He sighed. “You can only learn you hate pro ball one way,” Boddy said. “By working in it.”

First and foremost, I support The Arm. Jeff did a wonderful job writing and it is my opinion that this book will have a significant positive impact on baseball for years to come. It will change how we view Tommy John surgery and give hope to many that the future of baseball is bright indeed. My company’s official response to the book can be found on our website.

Secondly, I do come off like quite the asshole in a lot of spots. In no way did Jeff misquote me – in fact, in a lot of spots, he quoted me verbatim and I feel like the story suffered for it as it was a rather monotonous quote. But that only speaks to Jeff’s character; more than once he told me he felt the story could be better if only he could twist someone’s words slightly. When I pressed him for an example, he told me something that I would not in the slightest consider a falsification or an embellishment, but he quite rightfully pointed out the obvious: That wasn’t the point. Chopping up words and meanings in any context would do damage to what is supposed to be a work of truth that stands on its own. I learned quite a bit about Jeff’s character and journalism in that short conversation I had with him (that I doubt he even remembers).


The Arm

I will state that my feelings for the game have changed slightly to the less-cranky side. However, I remain incredibly frustrated at professional baseball as a whole because it is similar to academia – slow-moving for the sake of being slow-moving. It creates an enormous amount of annoyance in my soul, and occasionally it is let off as steam in the form of rants, or in The Arm’s case, interviews with Jeff. Still, I maintain a very honest and open persona both in real life and online, and the professional teams I continue to work with know this. Jeff honored all of my non-disclosure requests and received secondary confirmation on stories I could not directly tell.

The professional and college baseball teams that balk at working with me due to my blunt nature do not bother me; we’re not a good fit at any rate. I have been lectured by many mentors to tone down my level of discourse, but I simply don’t believe in lying to my clients about my true feelings, regardless of whether or not that loses me business. My strongest relationships with professional coaches, front office types, and college pitching coaches come FROM this font of honesty, not in spite of it. Some of my best friends work in baseball and are exceedingly blunt themselves; these are the people that really get shit done in the game. As far as I am concerned, my blunt nature and honesty are assets to Driveline Baseball, not liabilities. If it means I have lost short-term business by refusing to hold my tongue when truth is required, then so be it. Integrity, forthrightness, and loyalty are the greatest virtues that I hold dear to the exclusion of making money for the sake of making money.

I have faith that doing business the right way – open, honest, and direct – will reward me in the end. And even if it does not, I feel good running Driveline Baseball in this manner. I do not feel good lying and embellishing facts for the sake of marketing; in fact, those were the main reasons I left my last line of work before working in baseball full-time.

The only adjective I disagree with Jeff on is the assertion that I am arrogant – I feel that I am very open-minded to those who present data in a convincing manner, even if it runs counter to my viewpoints and beliefs. (Indeed, I have changed my mind several times due to being enlightened by others – not always comfortable, but always positive.) The definition of arrogance is having or revealing an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities, and quite the contrary, I certainly think I strongly suffer from Imposter Syndrome in many regards. Not much of what I do is genius-level material; it is in fact simple common sense and iterative development over the course of many years and thousands of hours of labor, mixed with an above-average intelligence (I’ll give myself that much). I think my bluntness and often confrontational nature comes off as arrogant; it is only when I have the unassailable position of data-driven research and my opponent has merely conjecture and opinion that my true sense of superiority comes through, but this superiority is not granted as some internal feeling I have, but simply a stack of 1s and 0s stating unequivocally that the opposing side is simply, well, wrong.

So yes, The Arm makes me out to be a jerk, and to that I will cop. And while I don’t agree with Jeff’s assertion that I am arrogant (a fun point to argue, since arguing against it makes you somewhat of an arrogant person!), his book is an outstanding labor of love that took years to complete, and is itself a very honest, open, and forthright book. All pitchers, parents of pitchers, coaches of pitchers, and fans of pitchers should read it – and that is not a label I have given many books at all.

2 thoughts on “Jeff Passan, “The Arm,” and Me

  1. That’s because I am a jerk. There are also not hundreds of privately owned baseball Trackman systems in the country (I deleted your other comment and merged it here). As for Twitter, you’re probably a moron and I saved myself some time.

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