Diamondbacks 1, Rays 0

It’s a linguistic paradox: is a mountain a mountain? A hill a hill? A sport a sport? A chair a chair? “Duh” sounds glib–what is a mountain but mountainous? But “mountain” is a human division, a word to try and pin down our natural world.

Vocabulary, though, grows in import as you grow familiar with it. Not looking out, pointing to an unfamiliar thing, and asking “what’s that?”, you look in and try to fit your world to words you know.

And math isn’t that good in comparison. A formula found, digits turning into a solution, and you look at all that follows in that light. If nobody had a right pinky, would a normal coach start to worry upon watching…what you or I would call 81 throws?

You can look at stats on a day-by-day basis. Claim that a good limit on a particular night is not valid all nights. In fact, you probably should. But to say “no, count your own silly digits, I will stop at an arbitrary point, la la la I don’t know what that guy is saying”, is going too far.

That said, it’s not all so bad. A chair is a human construct too; with our ability–our craving to put words to things, humans can look at old chairs, build stuff, and say “this, too, is a chair; you sit in it also”. Lots of things I look at–a cup, a laptop, a pad for writing down a draft of this post, a toothbrush, this chair–had human construction, and I can rightfully say that I am sitting in a chair. A human with my pull towards vocabulary built it and now all of us call it that. I don’t think a Platonic mountain and a Platonic hill float in a Platonic land, two distinct things that all high points in our world match up to, but humans’ ability to craft things points to “Platonic” artificial things. In a human sport, shouldn’t all worlds sound just as artificial? Arbitrary, in our control?

A “hill” is sort of innocuous. It’ll still stand tall, though not so tall, if you know what a “hill” is or not. But if words control actions, it’s risky. A coach should go to an arm good for short durations for important matchups: losing by a bit, trying to not allow winning runs, or facing tough outs. But with a short word for “holding on to a win by an arbitrary margin”, many a coach will ration arms suboptimally.

Still, inaction for too long is risky too. How long is too long? It’s a function of conditions; round digits stand as shortcuts, but nobody knows cutoffs for all situations. A string of losing blowouts might prompt long hours to stop mop-up guys from working too much.

That said, facing Tampa Bay’s Rays, this might not worry you so much.

And still, words count. Against swirling loads of data–pitch count, walks, only scoring a run of your own (though isn’t that lack of room for tripping up what can push you forward?)–all that stands is a word or two, with punctuation, and all its glorious connotations. If you can’t say a word, but think it anyway, and allow such thoughts to control you, you know how much words count. Slap a tag on a night, and though it’s tiring or wild or a risk, that tag is what stands out.

But if I can only say it through words, any criticism is hypocrisy.


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