Sunday, September 26, 2021

Don't Cross the Streams: Economies of Scale in Ignoring Sports Teams

 Three weeks ago today, Sept. 5, I paid close attention to the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game against the Brewers. The Cards lost by giving up 5 runs, in stupid and inept fashion, in the 9th inning, blowing a 5-1 lead.

I announced that baseball season was (for me) OVER, and I would be ignoring the Cardinals and all of baseball from this point until Spring training, when pitchers and catchers report in February.

This promise I have kept, scrupulously. 

My impression (I wouldn't actually KNOW, of course, because I'm ignoring baseball) that soon after I unplugged the Cardinals have won some games, and are playing better. Given that their winning percentage at the time I began to ignore them was 0.51, it is a simple binomial calculation to show that the chances of them winning (say, I don't know) 15 games in a row is less than .000001. 

By any reasonable standard of inference, then, it is MY IGNORING OF THE CARDINALS that has produced any success (of which of course I am unaware, but have heard rumors). 

This is an enormous power; my good friend Christina Wolbrecht has gone so far as to suggest that I seclude myself in a remote Unibomber style cabin, to ensure that I am able to continue to ignore the Cards. I should note that Donna Gingerella has endorsed this proposal, on condition that I write home occasionally. 

So far so good. But I have a friend, a pathetic Reds fan (if that is not redundant, and of course it IS redundant), who has asked that I should ALSO ignore the Reds. He would be willing (I won't give his name, but his initials are Michael Martin) to pay a small amount for this service.

It struck me that this is quite a business opportunity. Rooting FOR a team is time-consuming; that's why I gave up on the Cards: it was taking a lot of time and sadness. But IGNORING a team is easy, and of course it SCALES. I could ignore MANY teams, with no additional cost.

But then I saw the problem in the reasoning: what if two teams I'm ignoring PLAY EACH OTHER. It would be the equivalent of "crossing the streams" in Ghostbusters. And that would be very, very bad. Egon said so.

So, sorry folks: ignoring the Cardinals is going to be my sole project for the rest of this year. I'm happy to accept bids to ignore YOUR team next year, once I have started watching the Cards again.