The first four games of this season force me to bring out the old Earl Weaver chestnut: “This ain’t a football game. We play every day.”
When you are a long time baseball fan, you get a sense of how long 162 games is. Four or even six games in April means next to nothing. Even the best teams have four game losing streaks during the long season (including the 1998 Yankees). Speaking of which, here is George Will:
“I’m not really sure that being a Yankee fan is good for the soul, because you get an entirely wrong view of life. Again, the beauty of baseball is that there is a lot of losing in it, even when you’re very good. I mean, if the Chicago Bears start 0-3, the Bear fans will go to bed and not take solid food. I mean, they will just be distraught. For any baseball fan, 0-3 is just a stumble out of the gate, that’s all. Again, this is part of the experience of baseball. Football is a spectacle. Baseball is a habit. It is a habit nourished by going to the ballpark … This is the difference between NFL fans and baseball fans: if your enjoyment of the experience depends on the outcome, don’t go. Even the best team in baseball is going to walk off the field beaten 60 times (a season). That’s why, for a baseball fan, the enjoyment does not depend on the final score.”
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On this date in 1987, Rick Mahler tossed his third opening day shutout. That tied him for the all time NL record. So, Mahler went on to win the Cy Young and the ’87 Braves were dominant, right? As you probably know, that team finished 69-92 and Mahler went 8-13 with a 4.98 ERA.
On this date in 1979, Ken Forsch no hit the Braves. So the Braves stunk the rest of the season, right? Well, actually they did (winning only 66 games), but that Forsch no-hitter was neither predictive nor causative of the team’s dreadful season.
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Y’all also know (but perhaps need reminding) that a tiny sample size of four games can be highly influenced by luck. They flashed a stat box during the TV broadcast that said the Braves’ offense is 29th in BABIP but 6th in exit velocity. Conversely, Braves pitchers have surrendered the highest BABIP in baseball, while the exit velocity surrendered is at or near the lowest in baseball. That’s just very bad luck, folks. And while it can take a while for some things like that to even out, those numbers won’t last.
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Having said all that, it sure feels good to finally win one. I may have been distraught myself had they blown game one today. Fortunately, they didn’t. Our Hammers won the opener of today’s twin bill by a 7-6 score. Not exactly pretty, but a win when they really needed one.
I watched most of game one on the TV, but then from 2:40 to 3:40, I was teaching a class. The Braves were going to the bottom of the
ninth seventh (thanks, JonathanF) with a two run lead as I had to shut it off. The Fresh Prince was on the mound—what could go wrong? I see that he surrendered one run, but the insurance run our side scored in the top of the last frame was the margin of the Braves victory.
I’ll provide a more detailed recap of game one after game two, when I’ll recap both games.
Consider this a game thread for game two. Ynoa vs. Strassburg. I like our chances.
[By the way, the class I taught was Civil Procedure, in which the topic was Rule 50 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure: Judgment as a Matter of Law (aka Motion for a Directed Verdict). I tell my students it’s like the Mercy Rule in Little League; if one side is sufficiently far ahead, we don’t waste time taking the contest all the way to the end.]