June 25, 2003

IT'S BASEBALL, JAKE

What's in a Number?: Stat love and baseball love (Brad Zellar, 6/25/03, City Pages)
This season more than ever before, I find myself spending so much time poking holes in strategic moves or personnel decisions and arguing with the damn game that I end up pissed off rather than entertained. And that's just plain wrong. Armed with so many statistics, and with the opinions formed by those numbers, and determined with each new frustrating skid in the season to dig further into the stats in search of answers, I often feel like one of those scientists who gets so lost in the mysteries of physics that she's no longer capable of recognizing what an everyday miracle this world really is.

And the bottom line is that baseball, despite its essential and attractive order and the fact that so many of its components can now be subjected to rigorous statistical evaluation, is still a largely unpredictable sport, a game in which intangibles and absurdity continue to play regular roles in the outcomes of games. You could pick virtually any great game in the history of baseball whose outcome was affected by anomalous events and obscure, mediocre--even lousy--players whose moment of glory could not have been predicted by any statistical formula or pool of data.

The players understand this better than the writers and the stats junkies do. To them there is virtually no mystery, bizarre occurrence, or unexpected event on a field that can't be explained with a shrug and the oldest clubhouse cliche in the book: "That's baseball."

We offer in evidence: Jimmy Qualls. Posted by Orrin Judd at June 25, 2003 4:41 PM
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