- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Sense? Baseball? Ha!

“Hi, I’m sort of new to baseball, and I’m hoping you can help me understand it.”
“I’ll try.”
“Great. My first question is about the Mets.”
“Which is?”
“That’s the team that totally sucked on Thursday, right?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“I mean they couldn’t do anything right.”
“You got it.”
“They played a pretty bad team, didn’t they?”
“Yes, they played the Washington Nationals.”
“And the Washington Nationals creamed them.”
“They sure did.”

“And one of the Mets’ top players is David Wright, right?”
“Yet he was one of the worst culprits in that game against the Nationals, wasn’t he?”
“Oh, he was brutal. Brutal for the entire series, really.”
“Couldn’t do a thing well, could he?”
“Oh no. Totally dreadful.”
“So to sum up, the Mets were pathetic against a team that isn’t very good…”
“…and their key player was about as bad as can be?”
“Total disaster.”
“Lousy Mets, awful Wright.”
“That would sum it up.”

“OK…so, if that’s true, I’m a little confused.”
“How so?”
“Well, the Mets went to Atlanta after they played Washington, right?”
“And I understand Atlanta is a very good team.”
“One of the best in the league.”
“Much better than the Nationals?”
“No comparison. Better by loads.”
“So if a team that’s beat by a lot by a bad team plays a good team, it’s going to lose by even more, isn’t it?”

“Not necessarily.”
“See, that’s the problem I’m having with this. It says here that the Mets lost to the crappy Nationals 10-1 on Thursday…”
“Which they did.”
“And they lost four straight to Washington.”
“And before that they lost two to another pretty bad team, Chicago.”
“So there’s no way they should be able to beat Atlanta.”
“Oh, they can beat Atlanta. They can beat them plenty.”

“I don’t get it.”
“What’s not to get?”
“How does a team lose to a terrible team one day and then beat a good team…”
“Not just a good team, but a likely playoff team.”
“…beat a likely playoff team…”
“Not just beat them, but pound them.”
“…pound a likely playoff team?”
“I’m sorry, what’s the question?”
“How could the Mets get kicked around by Washington one day and then kick around Atlanta the next night.”
“Probably because they had David Wright.”

“David Wright?”
“Hold on, didn’t you just say David Wright was atrocious against Washington?”
“Bottom of the barrel. Almost a bum.”
“But against Atlanta, he’s the reason the Mets won?”
“Lots of reasons, I suppose, but Wright was the big one. He was awesome.”
“You’re telling me a player who’s supposed to be one of your best who can’t do anything right against one of the worst teams can also excel against one of the best teams?”
“Of course.”
“And the Mets can lose to a lousy team, 10-1 [1], and then beat a good team, 12-2 [2]?”
“And this doesn’t strike you as strange?”
“Why would I think it’s strange?”

“Do you see any logic in it?”
“Logic…sense…a predictable pattern from which you can make some kind of projection for what happens next?”
“I don’t follow.”
“I’m asking you about baseball!”
“Oh, I see the problem.”
“You do?”
“Sure. You’re trying to make sense out of baseball.”
“Yes, I am. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.”
“Then I have your answer.”
“You can’t.”

“I can’t what?”
“You can’t make sense out of baseball.”
“I can’t?”
“You can’t, I can’t. Nobody can.”
“That’s impossible!”
“As impossible as the Mets losing by nine runs to a terrible team on Thursday and beating a good team by ten runs on Saturday? As impossible as a player doing nothing remotely well on Thursday and then hitting two home runs, driving in five runs and making no errors on Friday?”
“Well, that’s just…”
“Just what?”

“Um, an aberration?”
“No, it’s baseball.”
“A regression to the mean?”
“No, it’s baseball.”
“A standard deviation?”
“No, it’s baseball.”
“Stop saying that!”
“Hey, you asked me.”
“I want logic! I want sense! I have statistics and charts and graphs and databases! I want to be able to know what’s going to happen based on what just happened!”
“Then you’ll want something else. This is baseball. It’s impervious to logic and it makes no sense. The numbers and all are fascinating, and over the long term you can do all kinds of interesting things with them, but don’t rely on them to tell you everything. They can’t. 10-1 one day can become 12-2 the next. The goat can become a star just as easily as the star can become the goat. Anything can happen and it often does. Do you follow what I’m saying?”
“Not at all. I can’t make any sense of how baseball works.”
“Congratulations. You’ve finally figured it out.”