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 Post subject: .500 or bust
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 11:15 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 741
Location: The Empire State
The Yankees entered tonight's game with a record of 21-19.

This would lead most fans to remark that the Yankees are "two games over .500."

Right?

Wrong, said Murray Chass in the Times in a column that appeared a year or so ago.

Chass' thesis was that people assume, in the case of the Yankees' record, that 19-19 is .500. In actuality, the Yankees have played 40 games, so a .500 record would be 20-20. So the Yankees are actually one game over .500 with a record of 21-19.

Anyone have any opinion on this? I'm no good with statistics or numbers, but my impression is that Chass cited incontrovertible mathematical fact and thus cannot be proved wrong.

But I have an equally strong impression that the colloquialism among baseball fans of "lowering" .500 to an equal amount of wins and losses despite the number of games played will never go away.

And I will admit that having read Chass' column on the subject, I am irked to recall that he is right every time I hear a broadcaster denote how many games "over .500" a team is.


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 Post subject: Re: .500 or bust
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 12:47 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 1775
Location: Baltimore
21-19 is two WINS over .500, in mathematical terms.

A mathematician would say one GAME over .500, but baseball tradition varies from what's "proper." Baseball fans and writers say "GAME" when they mean "WINNING GAME" or "LOSING GAME."

What is baseball shorthand for having pitched 8 2/3 innings? 8.2, not 8.6666......

We've been through the RBI vs. RBIs debate. Until 10 years ago or so I'd never heard anyone question the use of RBIs as the plural.

Some people are bothered when a batter is referred to as a "hitter," arguing that no one is a hitter until he gets a hit.

Some people--and broadcasters-- love to point out that knuckles are not used in throwing a knuckleball.

Catchers wear "the tools of ignorance" for protection. Well, only a stupid catcher would fail to wear protection. And stupid catchers don't last long even if they wear pads and a mask.

Call it tradition or ignorance, but the game (yes, it's a game, as in an activity intended for pleasure) has developed these oddities over the past century or so.


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 1:02 am 
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Location: The Empire State
Good answer, Wayne! I enjoyed reading your post.


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 Post subject: Re: .500 or bust
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 1:52 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 17, 2003 1:01 am
Posts: 1324
Location: N 36° 57' 9", W 121° 24' 2"
Wayne Countryman wrote:
Some people are bothered when a batter is referred to as a "hitter," arguing that no one is a hitter until he gets a hit.

Sports is full of parallels to this: a middle blocker in volleyball, a receiver or a tackle (one wonders why not "tackler") in football, even a catcher. One could argue that these people do not always perform precisely as the position is described, but to do so would be to pick smaller nits from nits.

OTOH, it's "batting average," not "hitting average," and that seems another misnomer. But what the hell?

Quote:
Call it tradition or ignorance, but the game (yes, it's a game, as in an activity intended for pleasure) has developed these oddities over the past century or so.

And, as a sports traditionalist (or ignoramus), I say there's no point in messing with 'em.

(Somebody tell those bozos to pull up their pants legs.)


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2005 12:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2002 12:01 am
Posts: 3135
Location: Albuquerque, N.M. USA
I was perhaps a little too quick with the lock on this thread. It's back open for those who might want to return to the original topic.


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