The magic numbers of life

The TinCaps’ season is over. Bummer.

On a positive note, RHP Matt Lollis was promoted to Advanced-A Lake Elsinore after the TinCaps were eliminated and made a good start (5.1IP 6H 2R 1ER 1BB 7K) in a no-decision against Rancho Cucamonga. Predition: He begins 2010 at Lake Elsinore.

On an even more-positive note, near the end of the regular season, the TinCaps visited the Bowling Green Hot Rods. Which is generally my least-favorite trip in the Eastern Division. It’s a long drive, it’s hotter than blazes, it’s in the Central time zone which throws me off, we lose an hour driving back… It’s just not that much fun. However, I looked past all that when I heard the Hot Rods had just received a player from Short-A Hudson Valley. His name? Burt Reynolds. I’m not making this up. He didn’t start the first game, but he did pinch hit. Then he started every game of the series after that. The Buford T. Justice and Loni Anderson jokes were everywhere. Then, Burt drilled a grand slam, which led to maybe my proudest moment in four years of pro baseball play-by-play. I was having so much fun, I thought for a minute I’d like to have a Burt Reynolds on the TinCaps, but then quickly realized it would suck all the fun out of it. Let me give you an example of why: In college, I had a CD player for an alarm clock. I set The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” as the song I woke up to. After a while, a tired, 19-year-old me grew to despise hearing that song at 7:30 in the morning. Eventually I changed my alarm to be a normal beeping alarm and life went back to normal. The point is, if you use something you enjoy too much, you stop enjoying it so much. It took years, but I’m just now able to fully appreciate Pete Townsend’s windmill guitar move again. Same goes for Burt Reynolds: If I made Smokey and the Bandit jokes 140 nights out of the year, we’d all be tired of it by about Game 7. And nobody wants that.

On a less-positive note, some good people don’t work for the Padres anymore. Former TinCaps pitching coach Tom Bradley is among them. It seemed like this was coming by default, just with the sale of the Padres and the new people in charge. That’s how it works, in baseball and in any other business. People want to bring in “their people” and they have every right to do so.

Two months ago when I wrote my last entry, I promised a look at “magic numbers,” as in the ones we have in sports. It’s the way we figure out how close a team is to clinching a playoff spot, a division title, etc. Mathematically, you figure out the number of games the team has remaining on the schedule, then subtract the number of games ahead in the loss column (compared to the team you’re trying to eliminate). Any combination of your team’s wins or the other team’s losses equaling or surpassing the magic number means you’re in the playoffs. The point is, the lower the magic number, the better.

My first encounter with the magic number was in kindergarten, when we cut up strips of construction paper and made a chain to count down the number of days until Christmas break. Every day we ripped a link off the chain, which whipped everyone into a frenzy when it came time for the teacher to pick somebody to be the chain-ripper.

Note: I re-created this excitement the year I worked in Daytona, except I counted down the days until I moved away. And when I started counting down, the chain (constructed with sheets of pocket schedules) stretched almost all the way around my room. It was miserably hot and humid, it rained every day, I was doing nearly as much work as I do now for zero base pay and racking up more debt by the day. Don’t judge.

This got me thinking: What if there were numerical (or at least more definitive) indicators of other things in life? What if there were magic numbers for everything?

Example: You’ve been dating a girl for a while. It’s going well. You’re not sure when to pop the question. Wouldn’t it be easier if there was a number of dates that you had to go on, and once you got there you knew it was time? Would you even want to bother with a girl whose magic number was below 50? Wouldn’t you want a little longer to figure out if you want to spend the rest of your life with this girl without her driving you up a wall? Answer: Yes. Unless you’re my buddy Dave Hutte. In that case, I’m pretty sure your magic number starts at 1 as soon as you meet a female.

Side note: One overrated movie tried a variation of this theme, but it was more than a bit lame.

Think of all the uses for magic numbers: Potty training dogs/children (how many times do you have to explain it to them before they figure it out?). Weather (how many more days will we have without seeing the sun? 150? Sigh.). The possibilities are endless. Then again, if we know a sunny day is coming, maybe we wouldn’t appreciate it as much. Who knows?

Other ramblings:

  • I liked this about the idiotic tradition of throwing back home-run balls. People risk life and limb for a seven-dollar baseball, then throw it back onto the field. If you’re going to act like you just found the Golden Ticket to chocolate factories and million-dollar memorabilia sales, how does it make sense to throw it right back where it came from?
  • I also liked this story about elbow injuries compared to shoulder injuries.
  • Interesting piece about how to revamp the playoffs in baseball.
  • Saw Aroldis Chapman throw on live TV last night for the first time. Free and easy throwing 98-100 with the fastball. Is that good?
  • Going home at (approximately) 5:00 p.m. and getting weekends to, you know, have a normal life is a nice change.

And now, musical guest… George Strait!

That’s it for now. Next time: The Madden ratings of life.

Take care!


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