Even casual observers are aware of the Chicago Cubs’ failure over the last one hundred plus years to win a championship, a level of accomplishment that has built up an aura of inevitability that welcomes suckers, gamblers, statisticians and romantics in equal measure. Writers far more tortured and elegant than I have written about the agony of cheering for the Chicago Cubs.
This legacy of ineptitude is somewhat misleading. The club was actually pretty good, all things considered, from 1903-1945. Since WWII? Only 5 seasons of 90 or more wins. Tampa Bay alone has equaled that mark, and not just from the franchise’s inception in 1998, which would be cringe inducing enough, but since the name change in 2008 from Devil Rays to Rays. Yeesh.
I understand people who are resistant to placing their faith in numbers. It must be especially threatening to those who have built a professional identity through a lifetime of success either without the use of, or more likely, in direct opposition to analytics. To be told your entire life you are great, knowledgeable, or both, and to then have those core values, really your entire sense of self, challenged must be difficult. To value what you see, what you have done, everything you have been taught, well, this is a difficult thing to toss away, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
I was taught this was a rock. It’s still a rock, right? It sure looks like a rock. I’ll bat it leadoff just in case.
So when I write that Don Mattingly is an idiot, please understand it’s done with affection, understanding and compassion. He was a great, great player. He’s from Indiana. But idiot he is. Continue reading →
There’s a strange phenomenon that occurs at Dodger stadium, and at most ballparks for that matter, where the hometown fans boo the opposition’s decision to issue an intentional walk. Intentional walks are almost always a bad idea, because they put additional runners on base and this opens up the possibility of scoring more runs. Why in baseball’s name do fans boo something that is advantageous for their team? Continue reading →