Friday, April 8, 2011

No Need to Panic

The human brain is dumb. I don't mean to insult anybody, it just is. It tries to find patterns and things when there isn't one. It's helped us stay alive as we evolved, but it doesn't really help us understand the game of baseball. People put so much emphasis on the difference between hitting .280 and .300, and say that the latter is a much better hitter then the former. But of course the real difference between these hitters is a couple of hits spread out across the season, which could be the result of a ball hitting a rock funny, a gust of wind taking the ball away from the fielder, etc. I talk about this because people argue until they are blue in the face about batting average, and RBI's, and pitchers' wins, and all of those types of stats.

I'll get into my problem with some of those stats in later posts, but I want to lay to rest all of the outrage and confusion and gnashing of teeth about the start of the season, specifically the Red Sox. There was a lot of hype about the quality of the Red Sox team. Their hitting is fantastic, their pitching, while not the stuff of legend as ESPN would like you to believe, is pretty good, and their defense is outstanding. So let's get this out of the way, before any of you have the idea to jump on the "Boston is overrated" bandwagon. They arn't. Sure baseball isn't played on paper, but they are a good team.

Now to address this 0-6 business to start the season. Teams go on 6 game losing streaks all the time. Teams that win the World Series go on 6 game losing streaks, teams that finish 30 games below .500 go on 6 game losing streaks. It happens. It's a long season, and maybe the team is in a funk for a week and bam, 6 game losing streak. It hurts while it's happening, but eventually teams get out of it, and maybe they go on 6 game winning streaks to just appease the fans and show them that things will be alright.

Remember the whole question of whether or not the human brain is dumb? You do? Great. Well, an 0-6 start to the season seems like the worst thing in the world. I heard, from many, many, sources that no team that started the season 0-4 has gone on to win the World Series. Wow, that's incredible. But you know what? WHO CARES. There are so many stats that we try to show the pattern behind it. They go a little something like this: "Nobody on the third Sunday of April has hit a single while the moon's been in a waning crescent phase". See how dumb that is? Now I'm not saying that the idea of an 0-4 team never winning the world series is dumb, but most teams that go 0-4 to start the season are just....well they are bad. And believe me, the Red Sox are not a bad team.

The Red Sox are going to win a game. And then maybe they will win another game. And another. And perhaps they will win so many games that they finish with 95 wins and make the playoffs. And when they do make the playoffs, nobody is going to go through their schedule and find a time they lost 4 in a row in July. Because even the best teams lose multiple games in a row.

And when October comes around, and the playoff matchups are set, the beginning to the season will be a distant memory.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well put. Though I hate the Red Sox, it's too early to count them out. And I agree that a lot of the stats floating around are useless pieces of information that the average sports fan puts on a pedestal (thank you elias sports bureau).

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