I’ve occasionally mocked academic economists for their discussions of research papers as “singles” or “home runs” (a world in which, counter to the findings of sabermetrics, one of the latter is worth more than four of the former). The best thing, of course, is a “grand slam,” a term that I always found particularly silly as it depends not just on the quality of the hit but also on external considerations (“men on base”). But then I was thinking about this again, and I decided the analogy isn’t so bad: For a research paper to be really influential and important, it has to come at the right time, and the field has to be ready for it. That’s what turns a home run into a grand slam. So in this case the reasoning works pretty well.
Of home runs and grand slams