Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Half-Hearted Crtique of the Attractiveness Ratings

Jenni has done us all a huge service by systematically ranking the attractiveness of each player in the American League, and then ranking each team on their overall looks. This is an important part of baseball that the Bill James types have ignored for too long. But I was a little skeptical when I saw that, after 'three weeks of studious evaluations' Jenni had ranked her beloved Yankees first while my Boston Red Sox were ranked last. How convenient. But how could a team that chose this guy (I'm not going to comment on what his wife is wearing in case Jorge reads this blog) as its captain be ranked so far ahead of a team with this angel patrolling center field? So, in typical Masshole fashion, I called Jenni out on her 'bogus' ranking system. She then raised the ante by inviting me to take my disagreements public with a guest post on her blog. So here we are.

Because I am a researcher by trade and because I didn't want to add to the tedious Yankees suck-Red Sox suck back and forth, I decided to try to do a more scientific assessment of the issue. Baseball is all about statistics and facial attractiveness can be measured as a statistic based on symmetry and proportion. So, I thought I'd find a program where you can upload pictures, run them through a model that rates their attractiveness, and settle this dispute once and for all. Easier said then done. After much Googling, this site was the closest thing I could find. Undeterred by the fact that everything was written in Korean, I downloaded the software and uploaded a picture of Josh Beckett. I thought the software would spit out some kind of attractiveness score, then I'd upload another picture, etc. Instead I had to connect 30 dots to specific points on Josh Beckett's face, with such instructions as 'Connect to highest point of lateral eyebrow, left'. I did this for all 30 points and still nothing. It never let me move on to the results. So then I got frustrated, swore at the computer, and gave up.

The next day I decided to try one more time. After some more googling, I found Digital Physiognomy another facial reading program. I downloaded the free software and updated a picture of Jason Varitek. This site was easier to use than the Korean site, but less scientific and more new age and weird. So, for Jason Varitek I didn't get a score for his attractiveness I did get their 'interpretation' of his face. Apparently V-Tek's life is pretty grim. Here's the reading:

Steep Introvert. Flacidity/depression. An unbalance and instability of nervous system. Impracticality to family life and women.

After uploading a picture of Josh Beckett and getting the same reading, I decided that either this site was bunk or I was using it wrong, probably both. So this is a long way to go with no punchline. Jenni's rankings have to stand for now until someone, preferably someone that can read Korean, has the time and patience to do a more rigorous analysis. So Yankees fans, when you are watching A-Rod hit a weak pop-up in yet another clutch situation, or CC burst the seams in another pair of pants, take comfort in the fact that you've got the prettiest team in the American League.


  1. The only reason why I know of Jorge Posada is because of his urgent need of a chin. But he does some touching charity work that has to do with something that his child has (or something like that), so I'm torn.

  2. Hi Josh,

    Remember that time senior year when we met at Burling to discuss our impending joint presentation on the first section of "The Postmodern Condition" and we were both like, "WTF, huh?" I wonder if researching this blog post caused your brain to reemploy some of those same neural networks, because, seriously, trying to argue that the Red Sox aren't the ugliest team in baseball is just as futile (if also admittedly as valiant) as trying to create cogent explanations of things like "The Pragmatics of Scientific Knowledge" and "Narratives of the Legitimation of Knowledge."

    Anyway, thank you very much for your post. I will look into alternative face-ranking software and let you know what I find.



  3. You can use this if you know all the player's information.

    I scored a "not that bad at all" so it seems to be pretty accurate.