Hacking Away

by Bill Ferris on March 10, 2007 · 1 comment

in Blogging Tools

I love working with databases, and data, and especially baseball data. I thought I was pretty good at it, which is why when a book called Baseball Hacks by Joseph Adler came out a year ago I figured that I didn’t need it. On a whim I decided to get it a couple weeks ago and now I’m kicking myself for not getting it sooner.

Already it has helped me to get all of the retrosheet event files into a database for manipulation and inspired me to take on a new project for this season. The book contains information on spidering websites for data, working with the resulting files, and getting those into a database format.

This book isn’t for everyone. If you’re a blogger that doesn’t really do the stats thing, then you won’t see a lot of value. Also, if you don’t have any programming or database experience it will probably prove overwhelming. All of the code used in the book is made available, and the programs I haven’t altered have worked fine. However after reading this book you won’t be a programmer – although it may inspire you to learn more.

The bulk of the book talks about PERL and MySQL. Neither are areas I have much experience with, but there was enough there that I could make sense of the scripts, or take them and adapt them to Visual Basic where I have more familiarity.

I haven’t even reached the 2nd half of the book where the author talks about using R to perform a host of interesting analyses.

If plowing through retrosheet files is fun for you, I think this book can be a great addition to your library. The value as a blogger is that you could come up with something unique that could attract attention to your site.