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I’m Just Saying ... with Doug Feldmann

Published: Sunday, May 11, 2014 12:10 a.m. CDT
Caption
Algonquin native Doug Feldmann now works as a data caster for MLB.com, inputting stats and play-by-play from Cincinnati Reds home games. (Photo provided).

Doug Feldmann has spent his lifetime around baseball. The son of a former Cubs and White Sox minor leaguer, the Algonquin native who now works as an associate professor at Northern Kentucky University went on to work as a part-time scout for the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds. Feldmann, who played baseball at Jacobs and then at Northern Illinois, also works as a datacaster at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, providing play-by-play and stats for Reds home games for MLB.com.

When I first started scouting, I was reminded by my superiors that they weren’t looking for a good player for MCC or Judson or NIU or even a good player for the minor league system. They were looking for someone who could help the major league team one day. It’s really that highest echelon of talent. You do look at the player holistically. You look at how he hustles on and off the field, you look at qualitative things. You look at what type of teammate does he seem to be. Does he seem to have a positive attitude – one that encourages his teammates or something else? It’s a lot of projection.

There’s probably no area where there’s more projection than with what kind of character a player has because in reality, you only know so much about a kid’s make-up. You can learn about the family, you can learn about his academics. But you can only project so much and I think (character) is even tougher to project than the skills because you just get a glimpse of a kid at a game.

I think my favorite (scouting movie) may be with Albert Brooks and Brendan Fraser – “Steve Nebraska” I think it was. (Steve Nebraska actually is Fraser’s character in “The Scout.”) People kind of have their stereotypical scout in their mind and it’s a tough life for the full-timers. And for those at home. They’re in a different hotel room basically every day for six months and then they’re at home for six months doing nothing. It’s a very stressful life, but they are people who love the game, they love baseball and that’s why they do it. But things are changing – the sabermetric thing is changing scouting and then the “Moneyball” book and movie really shifted the thinking. There is a battle going on between that qualitative and quantitative aspect of the game. Some scouts – especially the older ones – remain true to that qualitative aspect that only a trained scout’s eyes can see. Then there’s the camp that says, ‘We don’t need that so much anymore’ and just crunch all the numbers and go with that. There’s a case for that, too. I like the balance of the two, and I think there’s room for both.

I was memorizing baseball stats from the time I was 5 years old, and so I definitely love that quantitative aspect, and I’m proud I can record a game and disseminate it out to people on their smartphones and tell them what’s going on. I sit right next to the official scorer and he keeps his stats and I keep mine, and at the end of the night we have to make sure our stats match up before we send them out. So it’s fun to be involved with scoring decisions, and it’s great to be at the ballpark. It’s amazing how it has changed. When I was 5, I was memorizing the stats of Jose Cardenal and Bill Madlock on the baseball cards. I wonder what I would have done if I was a kid now? It’s truly amazing.

• I’m Just Saying is a regular Sunday feature. If there’s someone you would like to see featured, write to me at jarnold@shawmedia.com or send me a message on Twitter at @NWH_JeffArnold.

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