Pantheism Lite

14 billion years ago, bang,

For eons, expansion,

Stars born, dying in explosions,

Atoms smashing, violent collisions,

Hurling through space, colliding with planets,

Carbon Nitrogen Sulfur, extracted from Earth,

Dug, gathered, mixed, melted, shaped into,

This water bottle


Baseball’s Unbreakable Records, In Graph Form

There was a great thread last week about which baseball records will never be broken. I took some of the top suggestions and put them into graph form.

Many of the graphs present the top five leaders and active leader. This can give the appearance that many of them are within closer grasp than they sound at first, but keep in mind that there are roughly 20,000 other guys who did not even make the chart in the first place.

It would seem there are many that will indeed stand forever. One I wasn’t aware of prior to reading the thread is the one that takes the cake:

The use of pitcher has clearly changed over the years. A guy today hits 100 pitches and he is done. That obviously influenced the above chart as it does this one:

A reduction in the innings also means a reduction in strikeouts. CC Sabathia has already played for 13 seasons, is 33 years old, and is not even halfway to Nolan Ryan’s strikeout record:

With the increasing bullpen emphasis, pitcher wins also matter much less in today’s game. When guys were throwing a complete game in 95% of their starts though, they got a lot more decisions:

It also meant that they got many more losses, which is why Cy Young’s loss record will probably never be broken either. Ironically, to lose this many games means not that the pitcher has to be bad, but has to be good enough to hang around so long he can build up the loss tally:

Of course if Young’s loss record is broken, he will no doubt hold on to his wins record much longer:

Another change in pitchers has been the increase of the number of runs scored. It is unlikely we will ever see another pitcher with a sub-1 ERA over a whole season. Current pitchers are not necessarily less dominant, though, if we look at ERA+, which compares each ERA to the league average of the year many recent pitchers are in line with the historic seasons of Keefe and Leonard.

Perhaps it’s not a real record category, but Johnny Vander Meer’s feat of throwing two consecutive no-hitters will be tough to beat. Unlike most of the other records, some which take decades to accomplish, this one only takes 18 innings. So I could potentially see someone tying this at some point, but three in a row? Good luck.

On to offense, we find Dimaggio’s famed 56-game hit streak. Unlike the pitchers, there has not been a drastic change in how offensive players are used. So it may take a long time, but this one isn’t insurmountable.

Ichiro arrived in the US at age 27 and stole a career-high 56 bags during his rookie year. Had he started in MLB at age 21 and stole 56 every season until he turned 27, that would bring his current total to one more than Tim Raines for fourth all-time.

Derek Jeter has played at least 145 games in 15 of his 19 seasons. If he continued to hit his career mark of .312 and didn’t miss another game, he would need five more years to break Rose’s record. It’s a safe bet this one will stand for a while.

Another one that would take about five years under optimal conditions to break would be Hank Aaron’s career record for most total bases. A-Rod is doubtful to reach that. Jeter won’t make it either. Albert Pujols, at 34, is about seven great years away.

One you don’t hear every day is Chief Wilson’s record of 36 triples in a season, which he did in 1912. Only Granderson and Lance Johnson have more than 20 triples in the past 20 seasons.

It would be stretch for Pujols to play that long, but not so much for Cal Ripken, Jr. who as you know played every game for 16 seasons. Another cool fact someone mentioned: Japanese player Tomoaki Kanemoto did not miss an at-bat or an inning on defense for ten years.

Finally, we’ve got the Cubs’ drought of 105 years without a World Series. If Epsein can’t pull it off, it may take 200 years.

Are Soccer Goals Really That Big of a Deal?

Soccer fans celebrate scoring harder than fans of any other sport. A goal in hockey and or a run in a baseball will bring about a few high fives. Touchdowns are fun, but there is a big difference between the excitement of a 90-yard run and a 3-yard dump off into the end zone. Unless the score is tight and the hour late, a layup might bring a smile to a basketball fan’s face. Might.

But you already knew all that. The more something happens the less exciting it gets. That’s why NFL Sundays are so big, because a win for a football team is worth ten for a baseball team.

But isn’t this GGGGGGGOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLL shenanigans just a little overkill? How much bigger is a goal in soccer than a touchdown in football?

Average points scored per team in each game:

Points Per Game

If we divide everything out so that soccer goals are equal to 1 then round everything off, we find this:

Adjusted Points

One goal in soccer is the equivalent of two goals in hockey, a three-run homer, two touchdowns and a field goal, or 35 slam dunks.

Football and basketball, which award more than one point per score, are the most interesting. Our brains have difficulty understanding such differing values. For the same reason, you do not become ten times happier if your blog gets 100 hits as opposed to ten hits. If you did, a million hits would paralyze you with utter joy for a fortnight.

In football, even without the field goal, two quick touchdowns are indeed a very big deal and would have even the most passive fan pumping her fist.

The NBA is on a whole different level. Try to imagine some absurd shot in a basketball game that would award 70 points to your team. It’s almost incomprehensible because it would significantly, and I mean significantly, boost your team’s chances of winning the game. You would lose your mind if your team sunk that shot.

This obviously isn’t a perfect comparison. On occasion, a soccer or baseball team will score three times or more the average—four goals or 12 runs, respectively. No basketball team will ever reach that point. The record for points in an NBA game was 173, which was 2.1 times the league average in 1953.

Still, the numbers give us the general idea that soccer fans aren’t all that crazy after all.

No, Game Length Isn’t Hurting Attendance

“If the people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s going to stop them.” - Yogi Berra

The Pirates and Cubs played a 16-inning game last week and few people who stayed until the end cared that it took almost six hours. Most would have stayed until the sun came up. But longer games are apparently the last thing some people want to see.

A “high-ranking executive” told Buster Olney on Monday he was so worried about games being too long that he proposed shortening them to seven innings. He backed the idea so strongly that he would not allow his name to be published in connection with it.

I would never support making games seven innings, but game length comes up every year, so maybe something does need to change. But before we get ahead of ourselves let’s actually look at the numbers: How long are games, really? And is attendance falling because of it?

Click to see full-size.

Click to see full size.

The length record was set in 2000, when the average game was 178 minutes long. It dropped off after that, but according to the guys holding the stopwatches games have once again increased in length over the past decade. By a whopping ten minutes. Ten minutes, guys. That’s more than nine minutes! It does add up though, over a whole season that’s 27 hours that you could have spent doing whatever it is you do when you aren’t watching baseball… reading high quality baseball blogs perhaps.

Surely this 5% increase in game length has driven fans past their threshold for how much baseball they can consume, right? Eh.

Click to see full size.

Click to see full size.

The attendance has clearly been more chaotic over the past decade than the length of games, but it was higher last year than it was in 2004. The major drop was between two seasons in which there was virtually no change in game length. Besides, even if it were declining it would take a lot more than a few graphs to say that it was due to game length.

Younger fans may want shorter games, but if a 2-hour, 50-minute game is fine when a 2-hour, 57-minute game is too long, then the problem isn’t baseball.

Sources: One and Two

This post was originally published at The McEffect.

Congratulations! Maybe.

A story from Alan Watts:

Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. And all the neighbors came around to commiserate that evening, “So sorry to hear your horse has run away. That’s too bad.”

And he said, “Maybe.”

The next day the horse came back, bringing seven wild horses with it. And everybody came around in the evening and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky? What a great turn of events! You’ve now got eight horses.”

And he said, “Maybe.”

The next day his son tried to ride one of the horses, and was thrown off and broke his leg. And they all said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad.”

And he said, “Maybe.”

The following day the conscription officers came around to force people into the army and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. And all the people came around and said, “Isn’t that great!”

And he said, “Maybe.”

That is the attitude of not thinking in terms of gain or loss, advantage or disadvantage… so you never really know if something is fortune or misfortune.