If You Want To Understand Why The Public Is So Easily Confused And Deceived, Follow Sports

Our education system simply does not train our young in critical thinking, and hasn’t for a long, long time. Then, as adults, we listen and watch supposed professionals who make their living informing us, enlightening us and communicating to us, and the level of reasoning they model is uniformly incompetent.

Nowhere is this more evident than in sports reporting. If you don’t follow sports, you don’t know what stupidity is being pumped into unsuspecting brains on a regular basis.

Here is an example: I was just listening to the MLB  radio channel’s “Loud Outs,” where the host, broadcaster and former player Ryan Spilborghs, was discussing the new baseball fad of beginning a game with relief pitcher who only throws an inning or two, and then bringing in the starter. There are theories that against certain line-ups this can create an advantage, but never mind: it’s irrelevant to the issue. Spilborghs, who really did attend college, says, “You know what convinced me? These stats…” and he began to read the won-lost records of various teams when they score first. “Overall, the average for all of Major League Baseball is that the team that scores first wins 70% of the time! Why wouldn’t you use this strategy if it meant that it increased your team’s chances of scoring first?” His partner, former player CJ Nitkowski, said, “You’re right!”

No, CJ, he’s an idiot, and so are you.

There is no magic to when a baseball team scores its runs. A run in the first inning is no more or less a run than a run in the 7th. The reason a team that scores first wins most of the time is, or would be, obvious if our schools weren’t crap, that in any baseball game, if one team begins with a one run handicap, it will lose most of the time. The team that scores first is like a team that begins the game with a one run advantage. Now, one run is a big advantage, but many of the teams in that 70% scored more than one run first. They really have an advantage: those teams probably win 85% of the time.  Then there is this factor that pollutes that stat that Spilborghs found so amazing: the teams that score first the most frequently are also the better of the two teams. They figured to win before they had a one, two or three run advantage.

The team that scores the most runs wins 100% of the time. Prioritizing scoring first with the result that your pitching is more likely to give up runs later in the game does not convey any advantage at all. If the “opener” pitching strategy results in opposition teams scoring fewer runs, then it has value. Preventing the other team from scoring first, by itself, is meaningless. ( How often does the team that scores last win the game? How about the team that scores the most runs in the fifth inning? Can you guess? Sure you can. But don’t tell Ryan. You’ll break his heart.

Or maybe sports just makes people stupid. On Neil Cavuto’s show this afternoon, they were discussing the NFL’s new policy that requires players to either stand “respectfully” for the National Anthem, or remain in the locker room. Neil was talking to a Fox News field reporter, who said, “This will create a dilemma for owners, however, who will be fined if their team’s players violate the policy. Will the teams prevent the players who want to demonstrate and ‘take a knee’ during the anthem forbid them from doing so, thus possibly violating their right of free speech?”

ARRGHHHHH! This is the private workplace, you ignorant moron! The owners can make their players wear tutus and sing “Melancholy Baby”! The players can then quit: that5’s their right. Their rights of free speech are intact; the Bill of Rights only constrains government action. Why are you a journalist if you don’t know that?  The NF, a private employer, has the same right to tell its players that they can’t engage in political speech on the football field that Home Depot has to tell its clerks that reading “Mein Kampf” out loud in the Plumbing Aisle is verboten and a firing offense.

Neil, of course, didn’t correct this false civic information. Either he was lazy and irresponsible, or he doesn’t understand his country’s Constitution either.

23 thoughts on “If You Want To Understand Why The Public Is So Easily Confused And Deceived, Follow Sports

  1. I am dealing with a similar issue now relating to 4th amendment issues.

    I believe a great deal of misunderstanding originates from law suits against private businesses for what are percieved to be constitutionally protected rights when they are actually for violations of public accomodations or employment law. These issues are couched in terms of rights not codified law and also refer to any recieved award as a settlement of a civil rights claim.

  2. I work with rockets. The majority of rockets that make it to space deploy their payload. Maybe we should deploy the payload first and then go to space. (facepalm)

  3. My favorite example of sports stupid was when there were ice-ball throwing incidents at Giants stadium. An example of juvenile behavior by adults and the mob mentality.

    The next day one of the sports commentators on a NYC radio station had a loud argument about how “they should have cleaned up the ice in the stadium”, thereby exonerating the idiots who picked up the ice. Really?

  4. The Red Sox are 19-3 this season when they score first. Now – starting a closer or set-up pitcher as a starter does not guarantee squat. Your team will still have to score. This, of course, is Tampa Bay and the commentary is how they have stuffed there analytics department to look at “The Numbers.” Maybe they can type bullpen by committee? How has that worked out for teams? Maybe try a College of Coaches? Gee….already done and, well, it was the old Cubs.

  5. I’m watching the Red Sox play the Rays. The Sox scored first in the sixth inning. Now the game is tied 1-1. If the Red Sox win, does the fact that they scored first have anything to do with it?

      • Well, Jack, when the teams were tied at 1-1 for a few innings I was thinking about your post with the idea we now have a reset in logic. Does that tie for a few frames erase the score first? Do we get a fresh “set of downs” as they would say in football?

        A few years ago I saw an article (Too lazy to search) that may have been on FanGraphs regarding teams that had done the opposite for the season – the “Kardiac Kids” type that had done just the opposite.

  6. I have forgotten who said this, but it is one of my favorite quotes: “They use statistics like a drunkard uses a lamppost–for support rather than illumination.”

  7. I heard someone suggest the Rays were in a completely desperate situation in terms of a depleted starting rotation and bullpen. The closer first thing is simply an act of desperation given their current circumstances. May have some merit.

  8. The team that scores the most runs wins 100% of the time.

    What do we expect when nearly all of the commentary and analysis related to any sporting event is restating this simple fact in many ways? We hear things like “If they want to win, they need to stop the other team from scoring” or “If they want to win, they’ve got to score here.” If that’s the enlightened commentary, we shouldn’t be shocked at the other idiocy coming from the sports commentators.

    • I spent a lot of time watching the BBC while traveling with my wife while she was going around the world for IBM. BBC World was usually on hotel television. During their news summaries, that ran over and over and over, when it was time to cover sports, the announcer would invariably say, “And now from the world of sport….” Which really sounded very Monty Pythonish. It was as if they were warning the viewers, “We’re taking you to a parallel universe now, so remember, nothing is real or makes sense in the world we actually live in. It’s the world of SPORT.”

      High performance sports have nothing to do with brain power or common sense. It’s about freakish physical skills and prowess. Logic is inapplicable. What normal person could hit a ball coming at them from sixty something feet away at a hundred miles an hour, or curving two or three feet at eighty miles an hour? The illogicality pervades the entire enterprise.

      • What normal person could hit a ball coming at them from sixty something feet away at a hundred miles an hour, or curving two or three feet at eighty miles an hour?

        Ohhhhh oooohhhh pick me! pick me! I could hit that ball! Years of training in baseball instilled certain reflexes, and I would do it for a pittance of what they pay in the MLB…

        Wait, did I just admit I am not normal?

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