Posts Tagged ‘baseball’

The Mature Sports Fan

October 22, 2017

The baseball season is into the playoffs and many fans are disappointed in the performance of their teams. Sports writers and commentators are providing their analyses of what went wrong and what needs to be done to get better results next year. The objective of this post is to provide some perspective on this business.

Perhaps the most common complaint is that the players were insufficiently motivated, and they did not want it enough. Given that their livelihoods are at stake, it is doubtful that any fan is more motivated than the players on the field. Moreover, the problem can actually be that the players are too motivated. Motivation is what can be termed a “Goldilocks” variable. That is, the most effective level of motivation, is that it is not too low, or too high, but just right. So a moderate level of motivation is optimal. When the level becomes too high both mental and physical skills can lock up and produce poorer performance.

A 300 hitter is regarded as a good hitter in baseball. This would mean that the hitter is successful 30% of the time and a failure 70% of the time. So expectations of even the best players are modest. But fans tend to think that their good players come through in the clutch. Well, they come through only a minority of the time. Fans tend to remember the successes and forget the failures. A common remark made by announcers is that it is likely after making a good play in the field, the player will lead off the hitting order when he comes in from the field. Well, this happens one out of nine times. It is just that it is remembered when it happens, but overlooked when it does not.

Always remember that these players are human beings. Batters fail more often than they succeed and even the best pitchers have bad days. And it is also the case that a pitcher can pitch a phenomenal game, but make one bad pitch and the game is lost.

Returning to batting, scoring requires sequences of events, none of which are high probability. Even if a batter hits a home run, there is the question of how many runners are on base. The home run can have a value of from one to four. So runners need to get on base and the probability of any one runner getting on base is less than half.

So no matter how good a team is, there is a strong element of luck that determines whether a win will result. Then there need to be many wins and the values of these wins change in the post season.

Washington fans are disappointed as they were eliminated in the first post season series. They feel like they deserve better. Well, they do not and this loss is felt even more profoundly by the players.

So many Washington fans feel that they are cursed. Boston fans talked about the curse of the Bambino, and it was only last year that the Chicago Cubs won a World Series. Be assured that there are no curses. When people are asked to generate random numbers, they fail to generate long strings of particular numbers. What are perceived as curses are actually manifestations of the way that probability works.
It is painful to watch the faces of fans when they lose. They appear to be hurting and hurting badly. Fans live vicariously through their teams. They need to have their own lives. Do not live vicariously through your teams, get a life of your own.

For a healthy memory it is important to have interests and goals of one’s own. So actually participate in sports. Athletics are not required. Educational pursuits are praiseworthy. Hobbies that allow one to grow and develop skills and knowledge can be personally rewarding. Be an autodidact and learn how to teach yourself. You’ll find resources in the healthymemory blog to help you do so.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Is a Passion Worth Pursuing?

July 9, 2016

(8th Post on GRIT)

Dr. Duckworth does not address the question raised in this post, is a passion worth pursuing?  But this is an important question.  The costs involved in pursuing a passion include the time taken from the rest of our lives.   These costs are considerable, so there are practical issues in choosing passions.  If the passion provides both personal and financial rewards, then there is little, if any problem.  If the passion involves a scholarly, altruistic, or artistic pursuit, although these do provide value to the community, financial rewards might be iffy.  Passions that benefit society are commendable, but people still need to satisfy their financial needs.

The United States is a country in which sports are highly valued.  This becomes particularly evident in an Olympic year.  There are several Olympic sports that provide handsome financial rewards for athletes who succeed in them.  However, most Olympic sports do not offer handsome financial rewards.  No specific sports will be mentioned so that no one will be offended.  We shall see video clips of individuals showing how hard they work at their respective sport, and these film clips are highly laudatory.  In many cases, the sport is all time consuming.  HM often wonders, why is this individual making this investment?  How can it be justified?  If the effort is being made to win a Gold Medal, the prospects of success are extremely small.  HM also read that bronze medal (3rd place) finishers feel better than do silver medal (2d place) finishers.  The reason being is that silver medal winners feel that they lost the Gold medal, whereas Bronze Medal finishers are happy that they won a medal.  This is something to be happy about  as only an extremely small percentage of Olympic participants win any medal.  Of course, the spirit of the Olympics is to participate and do one’s best.  However, it seems like these ideals of the Olympics are largely forgotten.

HM would like to hear from readers from other countries regarding the priority placed on sports.  HM frequently walks past baseball fields and sees very small children dressed in uniforms playing baseball.  Unfortunately, the level of performance is quite low.  Informal games and drills might be better for these children than uniforms and competition.  Not all the children appear to be enthusiastic, which makes HM wonder if these children are being forced to participate.

Passions are important.  They greatly enhance lives.  But there are also high costs in pursuing passions, so they should be chosen carefully.

© Douglas Griffith and, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.