Identifying heroes comes easily to sports fans. We have Josh Beckett, an unblemished 4-0 in the playoffs, Curt Schilling, the venerable warrior, pundit, and blogger. Who doesn't like Big Papi the lethal teddy bear DH and sometimes first baseman, or Jacoby Ellsbury, our latest answer to Ricochet Rabbit trivia?
You have ownership which has revitalized the team and the ballpark, bringing revenues to challenge the Yankees, introducing Nascar to New Englanders, and raising water prices to something only the MWRA can dream about.
We have local guy Theo Epstein, freed from the gorilla suit, now a 600 pound gorilla as Sox GM. And Terry Francona, who never has to buy a drink again, and can freely pass throughout the six-state region without echoes of "you suck, Francona", ever.
But buried somewhere in the bunker at Fenway lives a tall stat geek. Management embraced the lanky Kansas loner, who pores through baseball statistics looking for nuggets, advantages that can give the Sox the smallest edge. Where steroid and growth hormone laden behemoths seek to bash our collective brains in, he is our Minister of Defense. He surely can tell you the WHIP ratio per dollar, strikeout to walk ratio, runs created, isolated power, and zone ratings of Sox players, prospects, and opposition. He not only knows which statistics matter, but which don't, and how to help get the most bang for your buck. Which is more important, E.R.A. or strikeout to walk ratio in predicting future pitching performance? Ask Bill. Who has the most win shares per dollar salary? Ask Bill.
Does the player have a buyable trend? Is he about to fall off the radar into baseball obscurity, betrayed by failing eyesight, declining fast twitch reflexes, or some unforeseen toxicity from personal tragedy, alcohol, or something else? Ask Bill.
So while the Cavaliers have Lebron, the Red Sox have Bill James, and has a less-celebrated in this town nerd ever gotten less credit for whispering sweet baseball nothings in the ears of the powers that be?