Controlled Re-Entry

I haven’t watched a Cardinals game in more than a week.  It has been my choice not to watch.  This season has been extremely frustrating for me, so frustrating that I found myself getting angry, and getting angry over a sporting event is not a path to mental health.  The frustration lies both with the team and with my fellow Cardinals fans (the media is also a source but one that is easily avoided).  There is so much about the game of baseball that is not completely understood and appreciated, even by one who has watched and studied the game for as long as I have.  Baseball is a complicated and even perverse game.  There are 162 games played for a reason.  It’s a game requiring constant repetition in order to be skillful at it and to maintain that skill.  Even after more than 40 years of watching, and all the effort I have put into learning the rules and the business side of baseball and the effort I am putting into learning the statistical side, I still feel like there is much left for me to understand.

Perhaps all the knowledge is not a good thing.  Whoever said ignorance is bliss may have had a point.  I have found the knowledge certainly enhances the frustration level.  It’s too late to fix it now, without just abandoning baseball altogether.

I thought finding social media would be a way to add to my enjoyment of baseball.  It did for the first few years, but it isn’t fun anymore, especially during games.  Twitter has descended into a cacophony of name-calling and scapegoating.  Those blogs and message boards that I have participated in have pretty much taken the same path.  Knowing myself as well as I do, my continued participation in my present state of mind will not end well.

My level of frustration with the team is different.  There are many many reasons why a team as talented as the Cardinals could be having the type of season they are having.  Some are just unavoidable, others are not.  The ones that are not unavoidable are where my frustration has its roots.  I have posted many times on this blog about my feelings about the manager, and the way the roster is constructed.  Individual player performances are constantly in flux; levels of talent can be ascertained, but the performances by that talent are influenced by many factors.  As a fan my contributions are limited.  Watching the games and expressing my opinion about what I see are my only avenues for taking part in the process.

So what that leaves me with is only the ability to withdraw myself from the causes of my frustration.  It’s not a perfect solution, but it is one that I need to try to make work.  I cannot abandon baseball so I have to set up the environment whereby I can still enjoy it, but minimize my stress levels.  Writing on this blog will continue.  I will reintroduce watching the games but my participation in social media will be kept at a minimal level.  It is best for me, and for those who would be subjected to me in my present state of mind.

This will be the last of these self reflecting posts.  They are boring.  I can’t guarantee my Cardinals posts won’t be boring, but at least they will be on topic.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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Checking In

I’ve been off the baseball grid for several days now.  Let’s just say it’s my choice and leave it at that.  Call it a mental break.

I plan to continue the mental break for a while longer.  I am not giving up the blog or anything like that, but I won’t be posting in the interim.

Go Cards!

 

 

Thank you for reading.

I Don’t Do Cookie Cutters

I’ve been a non-conformist all of my life.   My mother used to tell me stories about how I never did anything like the rest of the kids my age did.  Her favorite one was about how I started to talk.  She said I didn’t say a word for a long time past the time when I should have at least made googly noises like most kids my age.  No “ma-ma”  or “da-da” from me.  I was completely mute.  She was so worried that she even asked the doctor about me.  He told her not to worry, that I would talk when I was ready.  So she waited, and then she waited some more.  Not a word or noise escaped my lips.  Then one day, I was outside in the back yard with my mother and I walked over toward our next door neighbor, Dean.  I stood in front of him and opened my mouth and out came ” How are you today, Dean”?    My mother was flabbergasted.  Dean was flabbergasted.  I apparently was unmoved, or so my mother says.  After that day, my mother would tell that story to anyone who would listen, about how I would not talk, would not say a word, until I could talk in complete sentences.  Well, what’s the point of talking if you are going to sound like an idiot?

I have stayed a non-conformist to this day.  Didn’t care what my classmates thought about me, laughed at all attempts to poke fun at me because I did not conform in school.  Did my own thing, set goals for myself, and worked to accomplish them.  Don’t get me wrong, I had failures along the way, my life has not been smooth sailing.  I have had my moments of self-doubt.  I have never felt like I needed to be what someone else wanted me to be, or behave in a manner that I didn’t think was right for me, just to be popular.  “Go along to get along” has never been part of my personal philosophy.  Of course, that resulted in people who just never cared for my personality.  My smart alek, sarcastic mouth never helped either.

So what does this all have to do with baseball?  I think about baseball just like I think about everything else in my life.  I don’t conform to the mainstream.  My baseball opinions sometime set people’s teeth on edge.  I say things that other baseball fans don’t like.  I don’t go along to get along.

If I don’t like something I say so, even if I am the only one who doesn’t like it.  If I like something that the majority of fans don’t like, I say that too.  My follower count on Twitter fluctuates on an hourly basis.  I say something someone doesn’t like, down it goes.  Whatever.  People have the right not to subject themselves voluntarily to things they find irritating or unpleasant.  I would do the same.

I can’t like every player on the Cardinals just because they are on the Cardinals.  I don’t think every player on the roster is a good player.  I can’t like Mike Matheny just because he is the Cardinals manager, or because the players like him, or because he is good-looking, or for any other non baseball related reason.  I can’t be supportive of everything Cardinals if I truly don’t like it.  I can’t be that false to myself.

If I make people angry by what I say on Twitter, or some Cardinals forum, or on this blog, I can’t worry about that.  Sure, I want people to read my blog, but if a person feels they can’t read what they don’t like and don’t agree with, well, that is their prerogative.  I think that philosophy stunts a person’s growth and leads to narrow-mindedness, but I don’t rule the world and tell other people what to think.

If you are reading this, and wonder what provoked it, let me just say that I have been told on more than one occasion recently that I needed to start writing more “feel good”  “rah-rah” pieces on my blog if I want people to read it.  I was told I needed to not talk disparagingly about certain players that other people liked.  I was not aware apparently that discussing the baseball shortcomings of certain players was “disparaging” them.  I am supposed to say good things about all players (or at least the ones who have been around for a while and are well liked by others).  I am supposed to conform to the mainstream.

Not going to happen.  Sorry.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

Finding Stasis

The Cardinals have won five in a row.  This is good.  I hope they keep it up.  Of course they won’t, because we all know the laws of the universe say they will eventually lose.  It may be today, it may be this weekend or next week.  Baseball is and has always been a cyclical thing.  Highs and lows.  Good seasons and bad seasons and just so-so seasons.

Individual performances are in flux.  This is the natural order of things.  Statistically, baseball players all have a mean.  It is that level of performance where their central tendencies lie.  It is their expected value.  This applies to both the player’s offensive and defensive abilities.  Some players have a high mean in offense but not in defense and vice versa.  Some have high or low means in both.  That mean will gradually change over time as age and wear and tear on the body cause the performance to decline.  There are other factors which can affect the mean, so not every player’s true mean is known in the same amount of time.  Once it is known, however, it is fairly easy to predict where a player’s performance level will end up over time.

With the Cardinals so far we have seen players play to their mean.  We have also seen players both playing below their mean and above their mean.  Eventually, but not always in the same amount of time, the player will regress either upward or downward to their mean.  The underachievers will heat up and overachievers will cool off.  That is the way it has always been.

The key to long term success is to find stasis, or the level of stability where forces are equal and opposing. This is extremely difficult to do in baseball because it is rare that every player on the team plays to their mean all at the same time.  This is why there are winning streaks and losing streaks, players who are hot and players who are slumping.  It is the natural ebb and flow of baseball.  Teams are in flux, players come and go throughout the season, affecting the ability to find stasis.  You can build a winning baseball team by filling it with players whose means in either offense or defense or both are at an above average level, but you can never guarantee success.

As a team, stasis may never be achieved in any given season.  That is what makes baseball fun and exciting.  We get excited by the overachievers and frustrated by the underachievers, and then it all changes and we continue the cycle.  The goal of course is to win, however you get there.

We as fans go through highs and lows with our teams and with our individual favorite players.  It is the nature of being a fan.  The key to trying to find stasis as a fan is to realize that that the team and the players are going to disappoint us at times. We have to understand that we are seeing today, or tomorrow or for the next week, may not be what see throughout the season.  We have to understand that playing baseball is hard, and that players will not always play to their mean.  We have to have patience and let it all play out.

This is not an easy thing to do as a fan.  I have never found it easy at all, and I go through times of elation followed by times of depression as a fan of baseball.  I have to continuously remind myself that no matter what is happening right now, it is going to change.  I search for my stasis as well.  None of this means that I can’t complain about a player or the manager or the team as a whole.  It just means that at the end of the day, it will play out the way it plays out and things will continue to change, for good or bad, and I have to adapt.  I have to search for my stasis, even if I never find it.  That’s what being a baseball fan is all about.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

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