Friday, May 4, 2018

"Second Thoughts On A Deliberate Strategy"

This is not a baseball story.  It just starts out like a baseball story. But eventually, 

It turns into a basketball story.

Something for everyone… not to be interested in.  

“Where are the show business stories?”

I don’t know, hiding.

Actually, this is neither a baseball nor a basketball story.  It’s just my way of presenting an idea I am curious about… through a baseball and basketball medium.

Here’s the thing.  And to me, it’s worth momentary pondering.

Last season the Los Angeles Dodgers won a major league best 104 games, many of the wins delivered in the form of “come-from-behind” victories.  I remember last season – and they say the old have no short-term memory.  There was no game you could turn off.  It seemed like no matter how far behind they were behind the spirited Dodgers rallied night after night, pulling the fat successfully out of the fire.  

(Extraneous Query:  What was the fat doing in the fire in the first place?  And why would you risk possible incineration trying to pull the fat out?)  

Anyway, it was a memorable season, the Dodgerscoming within one game and two nightmarish performances by the same pitcher of winning theWorld Series.

Then comes 2018, with virtually the identical Dodgers lineup.

The Dodgers break out of the gate winning two games and losing six.  More significantly was the way they were playing. It was like someone had nefariously “doctored” their drinks.  

Listless. Lusterless.  Lethargic.  


“And those are just the “L’s.”

Thank you. 

Is there are French equivalent opposite to “Joie de Vivre”?  The Dodgers were permanent like the victims of a permanent flu.

During subsequent early-season games, the Dodgers eked out the occasional victory.  But something was decidedly missing in their demeanor.  The pitching, the hitting, the fielding – everything felt distractedly “off.” It’s like someone just told them their dog had died.  (That’s enough of those, don’t you think?)  And I’m watching this sorrowful performance, wondering, 

“What the heck is going on?”

It was then, though in the diametrically opposite direction – and in basketball – my mind goes to a game that garnered huge media attention last winter, when a Division 1 (whatever that means) team from Drexel University(wherever that is) came back from a 53-19 shellacking in the first half to beat Delaware 85-83, completing the greatest comeback in Division 1 history.

This was last year’s and thisyear’s Dodgers, backwards, and in one game.

And in both situations, I’m thinking,

“How does this happen?”

It is important to remember that in big-time athletics, where everyone’s superiorly gifted, the advantaging “margin of victory” is inevitably miniscule.  There are identifiable factors involved in winning and losing:  Preparation. Talent.  Strategic adjustments.  The “Competitive Cycle” – You win some; you lose some.

But a team – that on paper should regularly win – regularly losing?  And a team, down by 34 points halfway through the game, clawing its way back to victory?

That’s unusual behavior. And I’m pondering,

What’s the common denominator here?

To me, the common denominator is that egregiously underestimated element in human affairs:


It’s not just in sports. Check out the 2016 presidential election and note in which direction the determining “Passion Needle” pointed. Revisit also the “selection of a live partner” decision.   Rational calculation?  Or “Something in the way she moves…”

The Dodgers front office executives are avid proponents of mining a “winning edge” via statistical analysis.  But without the underlying emotional component, your “statistical edge” strikes out with the bases loaded, and consistently leaves runners in scoring position.  (Note To Baseball Ignorami:  A worrisome happenstance.)

Quotes concerning Drexel’s miracle comeback after the game involved the team’s coach exhorting his team to keep fighting.  If their opponents could have a great first half, they could have an equally dominating secondhalf. 

That’s cheerleader rah-rah.  That coach could have said exactly the same thing and they lost.  (And if they had, he literally wouldhave.)  ”You can do it!” did not trigger that incredible turnaround.  It was an indefinable collective “inner enthusiasm.”  

Which is the same with the Dodgers, except it’s collective malaise.

Here’s the thing. (Did I say that already?  Well I’m saying it again.)

This blog is intentionally called “Just Thinking.”

Not“Just Feeling.”

Leaving me wondering, ten years down the line…

Could I have possibly taken the wrong road?

1 comment:

Ed said...

No, this is the correct path. You do the thinking. We do the feeling. And the feeling is one of deep appreciation.

(Could they have the "Dodger Blues"?)