Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Short Note On Vicarious Competition

Huzzah! Team Evil is done for the year, the Cardinals survived a late scare and walloped the Padres, and there's an outside chance for the ultimate LaRussa Series (which means I'd be able to see the Redbirds in the World Series! Here!), so sorry Tigers, I'm going against you on this one.

And with all due respect to the great prose around such concepts as The Football Gods and the Levels of Losing, I'm afraid that concepts like "momentum" tossed around by sports broadcasters in the course of a playoff series are simply bunk. In sports, destiny is all retroactive. Of course it doesn't seem that way to the spectator, just as little kids think there's some magic to winning and losing at the card game War. But in reality, a team's "momentum" is a fiction that lasts until the next significant event, whereupon it "swings" or it doesn't. Streaks happen from regular old probability. Yes, the psychology of the players matters, perhaps even the psychology of the crowd, but people exaggerate this way too much. Announcers treated a talented Cards team, which would have had almost a 90-win season if not for two fluky weeks to end it, as if it were postseason roadkill. Guess what? "Momentum" doesn't win games; players win games. OK, and luck.

Now I will give back the soapbox.

P.S. Go Rams! Go Cal Bears!

It's a fun season.

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