Earlier today, Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs, along with a few internet-based others, joined the ranks of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, the organization which ensures media access to baseball games, and votes for major awards and Hall of Fame membership.
And though Cistulli is the association's least-tenured member (he'll have to wait 10 years to vote on Cooperstown nominees), he already boasts the longest Wikipedia page of any member—and it's not even close. Of all the writers listed as members on the BBWAA's own Wikipedia page—a list which includes Peter Gammons, Joe Posnanski, and Buster Olney—no one has exploits more meticulously perserved for the enrichment of future generations than Cistulli does. In fact, few member newspapers can compare to Cistulli on Wikipedia. His page runs longer than those of the Boston Herald, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the New York Daily News, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, to name just a few.
Would a hip young sabermetric writer like Cistulli have helped Mike Trout in this year's MVP voting? Or would Cistulli have felt awkward voting for someone with a shorter Wikipedia page than his? Sadly, we'll never know.
Reading Cistulli's Wikipedia page—which has been around for a while—is an exhausting exercise in wondering "Why does this exist?" Besides being well-known among sabermetric blog readers, he's also technically a poet, having written one book in 2007. He's obviously done well for himself to get into the BBWAA, but one wonders how his literary career became more footnoted than those of John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and—how's this for irony—David Foster Wallace.
The page starts with details of his early life, since future scholars will undoubtedly wonder to what extent his childhood influenced theories such as "Alf would make a good color-commentator." There's even a picture of his hometown in New Hampshire, like it's the Hemingway House. Is there a sign that says, "Welcome to Concord, Historic Home of Carson Cistulli, Sabermetric Humor Blogger"? Probably not, since he's not even on the Wikipedia list of notable people from the town.
Then there's an entire section on his panic attacks, featuring this amazing line:
A biographical reading of his poetry highlights echos of these experiences
How many readings, I wonder, exist for this particular Cistulli poem? Because there seems to be a real dearth of academic literature on the subject. Personally, having gotten my B.A. in FanGraphs from the University of Phoenix, I prefer a nihilistic interpretation, focusing on the meaninglessness of a world in which Carson Cistulli's panic attacks have their own Wikipedia entry.
And the "Poetry" section of the page, which begins:
Cistulli's work A Century of Enthusiasm begins "People of the world, allow me to introduce myself: my name is Carson Harrington Cistulli, ambassador to crunk in the Western Hemisphere."
Yea, that's footnote number 13, if you're looking for more information on how one becomes ambassador of crunk in the Western Hemisphere. Remember, kids, don't just copy and paste from Wikipedia, cite the footnotes. Any sixth-grade social studies teacher worth his or her salt will know about the ambassador to crunk in the Western Hemisphere and call you on your bullshit right away.
References to pop-culture (like the above mention of crunk) and intertextuality with scholastic figures as varied as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sean Casey or Emily Dickinson occur frequently in his work.
"Crunk," Emerson, Sean Casey, and Dickinson have been mentioned in the same sentence, and that sentence has 16 footnotes. Someone owes me $20.
Maybe the most self-parodic part of the whole page, though, is the three block quotes, offset from the page in special colored boxes, a Wikipedia technique usually reserved for quotations of extreme historic import. But what should we expect from a guy with his own Wikiquote page?
The most scathing criticisms of the page come from the Talk page, where Wikipedia editors discuss the maintenance of this archive of human achievement:
The notability requirements must have been drastically lowered. Can I get a Wikipedia article going on my cat, Mittens?
There's also a detailed discussion on who, exactly, writes Cistulli's Wikipedia page and whether or not there's a conflict of interest involved. It doesn't appear that Cistulli edits his own page: One "Sean Casey" did much of the early editing, and Cistulli seems to have a friend with that name.
It was another user, however, who almost singularly turned it into the tome of Cistullidom it is today. Molly81, apparently a French person named Molly, has made hundreds of edits to the page and defended Cistulli's writing on the Talk page. She's even developing the French-Language Cistulli Wiki. Someone should tell Molly he's in the BBWAA now. She's got an edit to make!