The Wednesday Pop Culture Rants hates to say we told you so. Wait. We love to say we told you so. The Rant warned you NY. Remember when Matt Harvey, the Dark Knight, talked the manager into pitching the ninth inning? We do. The Rant has a deep understanding of hubris, and as Harvey strutted to the mound amid thunderous applause, we knew it was all over, baseball and Greek tragedy being kissing cousins. Kissing cousins is the plot of many a tragedy now that we think about it.
Our favorite moment occurred when Eric Hosmer made his Mad Dash to home plate on a routine grounder to tie the game. Not quite Jackie Robinson stealing home, but pretty sweet. The Rant imagined all the Sabermetricians1 taking to their fainting couches: “I do declare Mr. Hosmer, the percentages sir, the percentages. You do give one the vapors.” Every team, including the Royals, now employs legions of number crunchers to search for the pattern that will turn their team into a winner. Current theory holds that striking out is permissible as long as you drive up the pitch count and hit for power when you do make contact. The Royals believe you swing at any good pitch you see and make the defense perform. The Royals will have their championship rings while the Mets will have their pie charts.
Speaking of percentages, The Rant appreciates the advent of Big Data, but the notion the accumulation of enough statistics can predict human behavior is nonsense. Economists have finally learned that how a person feels about their economic situation is just as important as the facts about their economic situation. We have known enormously wealthy people that believe ruin lurks just around the corner, and they behave accordingly2.
The desire for certainty expresses itself in religion, in Oprah, in science, in politics. The latest theory will make us happy, shed the pounds, transform our finances. But individuals will continue to act against their own self-interest; society will respond hysterically to benign occurrences despite a preponderance of facts to the contrary. We break our own hearts more often than we break the hearts of the ones we love, and we can explain neither.
So when a four-seam fastball comes over the middle of plate, The Rant says swing away. No algorithm or bar graph will ever provide the assurance of what the outcome will be, but that shouldn’t take away the joy of playing the game.
- Sabermetrics is the analysis of statistics to evaluate strategy and individual players. The term derives from SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research. Sabermetrics loves acronyms: WHIP, WAR, OPS, VORP. Every Saber geek believes their favorite acronym unlocks the mysteries of the game. Which is fine, since it keeps them from living in their parents’ basements
- The Republican Party has raised making the wealthiest Americans feel poor and beleaguered to an art form. They currently have no other strategies or policies to offer