Baseball BeatJuly 02, 2011
The Declaration of Independents
By Rich Lederer

Thanks to Google Alerts, I was made aware of an interview conducted by David Mark, a senior editor at POLITICO, with Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, the co-authors of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong with America in Arena Chat.

My Hall of Fame "campaign" for Bert Blyleven was the subject of part of their conversation. Check out the 10-minute video and accompanying article. If you're pressed for time, fast forward to 3:30 and play it through the 7:00 mark.

Baseball fans, for example, may recall Bert Blyleven, a solid and durable major league pitcher from 1970 to 1992. Hall of Fame baseball writers shunned Blyleven for years, never giving him more than 30 percent of their votes (75 percent are needed for entry to the baseball shrine.)

Then a California investment manager, Rich Lederer, took up Blyleven’s cause.

“By penning a series of convincing articles and debating individual voting writers (face-to-face, in many cases), this outside dabbler pulled off the unthinkable: he changed a doomed candidate into a 2011 inductee into the Hall of Fame,” Gillespie and Welch write.

“It shows that you can move around the traditional gatekeepers and centers of power,” Welch said.

Welch, who is the editor-in-chief of Reason magazine, a leading libertarian publication, is perhaps better known around these parts as a diehard Angels fan, astute sabermetrician, and part-time baseball writer. It's hard to believe that his outstanding guest column at Baseball Analysts on Dave Hansen is now more than six years old. Be sure to check out the accompanying photo of Welch singing and Hansen jamming on guitar.

Matt and I grew up on the same block in the Lakewood Village area of Long Beach. While an age difference separated us, our brothers played on the same Little League team, which was coached by Mr. Welch. Unaware that I was the Rich Lederer from his childhood years, Matt linked to my website in 2004, then interviewed me for his inaugural "Infrequently Asked Questions" series in 2005 after discovering that we were not only neighbors but fellow bloggers with a passion for baseball and the Bill James Baseball Abstracts. Most recently, Welch wrote "How a Part-Time Blogger Changed the Face of Baseball's Hall of Fame."

Courtesy of Google Books, here is an excerpt from The Declaration of Independents in a chapter titled "The Democratization of Just About Everything...":

Fred Eckhardt is living proof that the American tradition of impactful pamphleteer activism is more than alive and well. Four decades after publication of the Treatise, it has never been easier for self-publishers and other outsiders to build their own seats at the table and elbow the deadweight aside, forcing the top-down cultures of industrial media (and politics and music and beer and a thousand other sectors) to confront their own banal inadequacies and acknowledge (only after kicking and screaming) the newcomers' contributions. Forget Bill James and pollster Nate Silver—consider the case of Rich Lederer, an investment manager by day and sabermetrics dabbler by night at his Baseball Analysts website.

Lederer, beginning in December 2003, spearheaded a one-man campaign to convince the famously stubborn and insular Baseball Writers' Association of America to elect underappreciated 1970s pitching great Bert Blyleven to the Hall of Fame. At the time, Blyleven had never received more than 30 percent of the vote (you need 75 percent to get in). By penning a series of convincing articles and debating individual voting writers (face-to-face, in many cases), this outside dabbler pulled off the unthinkable: He changed a doomed candidate into a 2011 inductee into the Hall of Fame. In a conference call with reporters after his January induction, Blyleven went out of his way to repeatedly thank Lederer, a California investment banker whom he had never met.

Irrespective of your political interests or leanings, I believe you will enjoy The Declaration of Independents. The book is as much about decentralization and democratization taking market share from "the forces of control and centralization" as anything else, and it has applications beyond politics.


Great post. Sounds like an interesting book. You deserve the attention.

A libertarian is someone who doesn't have the guts to say he's a republican.

A libertarian is a liberal who has: 1.Read books on economics and 2. Understands that regulation and most regulatory agencies will always eventually play into the hands of corporations.