Thursday, July 01, 2010

It's Just a Game

Ryan made mention of the Twins poor streak. It was unusual in that the Twins usually dominate in interleague play, but this year, they were dominated by the National League. No known reason, they just were. (Incidentally, I would really like to see the interleague play be balanced--that is, each division plays the same teams in the other league. To have one team (for this example, we'll use the Braves) face last-place teams in the other league (Baltoimore, Cleveland, Kansas City) while a divisional opponent (Mets) faces the first-place teams in the league (Yankees, Twins, and Rangers) is an unfair advantage. (This did not happen exactly like this, but I'm saying it could. The thing is, when the schedules are made, no one knows who the best and worst teams are going to be...therefore, to balance it out by having each division play the same teams--minus the interleague rivals, which I enjoy--would balance it out.) But I digress.

Recently, an article in Sports Illustrated was brought to my attention. Since I find psychology interesting, I enjoyed the perspective. There are players out there who suffer from issues like social anxiety and depression. Someone on Twitter recently said, 'I just made a mistake at work. Glad I didn't have 20,000 people booing me.' Players are people, too. Many of them care more than you think. What's their job is our relaxation--our free time is spent watching sports.

This is all just a game. Win or lose, does it *really* matter? If you asked me at the game, I'd answer, "yes!" Away from the game, I gain more perspective. I mean, baseball will be there next year (God willing). If we don't make the playoffs, it's not really the end of the world--it just feels like it. If we don't win today, we don't suck all around (although it feels like it some days). As many say: baseball is not a sprint--it's a marathon. If you get behind in a sprint, it's nearly impossible to make up time. If you get behind in a marathon early on--or even in the middle--there's still plenty of time to make up time. In baseball, there have been divisions won and lost in September. There has been seemingly insurmountable odds beaten in September.

And yet...divisions can be lost in April, May, and June, no matter what the Septembers looked like. To beat those insurmountable odds--which happens--not only requires one team to win a lot, it also requires another team to lose a lot.

Let's bring up the story of the turtle and the hare. As you know, the hare makes the great start, gets lazy, and takes a nap before finishing the race because he's so far ahead. Meanwhile, the turtle just plods along slowly, and passes the napping hare to win. The only reason the turtle wins is because the hare doesn't even try. If at some point when the turtle passed it and before the turtle crossed the finish line, the hare would've woken up, he still could've used his great speed to cross the finish line first. The hare could've won the race, and there's nothing the turtle could've done about it.

Realistically, each game is equally important. The Twins forced a tie-breaker Game 163 two years in a row. Just imagine one more win by the Twins--or Tigers in 2009 or the White Sox in 2008--in April of 2008 or 2009 could've made the difference. Based on that, also, each game is just 1/162 of a season. That's just 0.62% of the season. To live and die by every game means you're spending 44.4% of your year worried about a game...a game that's been played for over a hundred years, and likely will continue to be played for at least another hundred. (And in that time, maybe--just maybe--the Cubs will win the World Series again. But don't count on it.)

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