Math and superstition play a big part in the game of baseball.  Many players and managers are extremely superstitious (I am to an extent too) and math practically rules the sport.  If there is a way to generate a stat it will be done.  To describe a team as “mathematically in contention” or “mathematically, they are done” is common place in the coming months of the season.

Superstition’s I can handle but math is downright ugly.

It is July and I am starting to do the math.  This is never good.  When I was in college, and a final grade for a semester was teetering on the brink of pass/fail, I would start doing the math…..Hmmmmm, what do I need on the final exam to get a “C” in this class?

Then there is the first date out of college, when I make pennies for a salary, but I really want to make a six figure impression on a girl……Let’s see, if she orders the steak I have enough money to order…..a plate of peas!  Let’s hope nobody wants wine!  Yah, we didn’t go out again after that, and if memory serves me right, it wasn’t my decision.

Math is never good.

It has been said many times in the game of baseball, once you start doing the math you can chalk it up as a lost season.  I am starting to hear the whispers,”10 games out….61 games left……trade deadline……sell or buy?…….if we win every series we can do it……if we win on every odd day we can take over first……if the Reds fall in a black hole of losses……if we go on a winning streak of at least 10 games………. hamburger…….x=y+z……WE COULD DO IT! ……..there’s no quit in this team…….they are fighters……polish sausage!!!! polish sausage!!!!!”.

I feel like Russell Crowe in “A Beautiful Mind” except I see baseball standings and win/loss records and cheesy “it’s not over ‘til it’s over” expressions floating through my head with the occasional ballpark menu item instead of equations.

Math is never good.

It actually drives people crazy.  I started talking with a friend the other day about the Cubs chances for the post season.  My immediate question was, “wait, what season are you talking about? 2012?”  He started doing the math!  It was as if all of the sudden the dynamic duo at the top of the order (Castro & Colvin) or Lou’s retirement announcement was a real catalyst that could propel these guys out of the basement.  Maybe Aram’s recent power surge gave him some hope or the fact that D-Lee is driving in runs instead of killing rallies? I am not sure.  One thing I know, after watching this team slide back into its old ways in game 2 of the Houston series, against a team asking to be swept, we aren’t quite mounting a comeback yet.

Is superstition better?

I am a little superstitious.  My newest superstition is sort of gross and I am hoping it gets disproved before the end of the season.  Here is how it goes…..

Before the first game of the season in 2009, about three days before, I was walking my pug, Banks, around Wrigley Field for our usual Saturday morning “routine”.   Banks does “his thing” somewhere on the way and then we do a few laps around the ballpark.  For the record, Banks poops on grass 99% of the time. He never drops it on cement.  The 1% of the time is the reason for this budding superstition.

Anyhow, on this very day Banks had let loose on our neighbors front lawn and seemed empty so we set out for the ballpark stroll.  As we got to the front of Wrigley under the Marquee he stopped in the midst of a solid cantor and squatted!  Needless to say he soiled some poor family’s brick that they paid good money for.  After I pulled a poop bag from my pocket and scraped up the excrement, and of course tried my best to clean off the cherished memory the brick documented, I gave Banks a look like “what the heck?” If you know pugs then you know they have personalities like people and he shot back a look that was like “if you gotta go?”

Fast forward to this year…..It was around the same time, a few days before the season started, and I wanted to see some of the banners and such hanging outside at the stadium in preparation for the new season.  So we strolled over and low and behold the same thing happened!  On the bricks in front of the marquee!!!!! Same spot!

The results for both seasons, at least up to this date, have certainly fallen in line with Banks handywork.  What I am wondering is this, is my dog sort of like Punxsutawney Phil?  Is he the groundhog for Cubs baseball?  If he dumps on the bricks outside Wrigley on his preseason walk does this mean we don’t have the post season to look forward too?  That we don’t need to bother doing the math? If he has a “clean walk” should we get excited?

Maybe math is better?

Since the All Star break the Cubs are leading the NL in Batting Average, Runs Scored , and Home Runs.  It is only July if not for a few more days.  They have a lineup that seems to be producing and staying consistent.  Maybe if the Reds and Cardinals start losing a few games……..oh heck with it.

Now that I think about it………. the math doesn’t look so ugly.

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Chet West is an IT professional living in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters. He has a pug named Banks and loves photography. Follow him on Twitter @chetwest19