Numb to the numbers

Used well, previous results predict future outcomes. Picking the right numbers to crunch points out things to expect. Even if you’re not too concerned with tomorrow’s scores, looking over simple sets of digits (wins, losses, runs per inning) is useful for noting which pitchers did well. Over the course of the summer, these tendencies will help you decide who’s the best.

But then October comes. Then everything is wiped out, so you must find new metrics. Momentum is much more powerful if you’ve just eroded huge deficits. “Clutch” skill might not exist, but if it does, everyone’s looking for it. Few things feel good like turning to strong pitchers to begin series. Sometimes–with lucky homers–you don’t need much more.

But other times, you don’t hold your opponents to one run. You win, yes, but 8-5. It’s fine, it’s still victory. But it’s foolish to judge skill by results in this month. It’s time for flukes, surprises, contentious rulings, but not long-term tests of merit. We desire (mostly those of us not pulled to either side) long series, stretching even into November, but no series like this is long enough to give very useful box scores. This is doubly so for pitchers.

Which is why I just don’t like MLB.com greeting me with “Winning pitcher: Pettite. (1-0, 6.00). Losing pitcher: uh, let’s go with “Cole”. (0-1, 10.38).” Of course he’s 0-1! It’s contest three! We might not even see him until next spring, this tells us nothing.. 10.38 runs per inning? Surely there’s something more interesting?

It’s nice to get things off my chest.

On the non-lipogrammatic front, I’ve discovered the wonders of Wordle, a website that creates pretty pictures of sets of words you put in. The more often you use a word, the bigger it’ll show up. Naturally, I tested it out on the blog. The result (click any of these for bigger versions) was heavily influenced by “Elegy”…
Wordle: Lipogram! Scorecard!
So that was clearly a biased sample. Why not one with just my e-lipograms? What words do I use instead?
Wordle: Lipogram words
But that’s not quite accurate–it doesn’t take into account the really useful words, like “a”. The first and last pictures don’t either, but here’s my complete lipogram corpus:
Wordle: Common lipogram words
So has this changed over time? You be the judge–the following words were used in the Humbug era. (This includes my posts there, some of my older comments, and a few other bits of randomness.)
Wordle: Humbug era

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One thought on “Numb to the numbers

  1. I really agree! (Except I can’t find a good way to say so without “A”s.) Give the numbers from the season, for goodness’ sake! What do I care about what so and so did in the last at bat?

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