Archive for Thought Experiment

The Week in (Slightly Altered) Headlines


OK, thought experiment: If a writer – be he a certifiable genius or a certified loon – were to change just one letter in each of, say, six recent headlines, what would happen? Well, here’s what would happen.

Yost Says His Players Try Too Hard In Front Of Large Crows

With the Royals on the verge of their first playoff appearance since 1985, manager Ned Yost is worried that his team is feeling the pressure – but only in one particular circumstance. “They do just fine in front of large crowds,” he told the Kansas City media. “It’s large crows that give them a problem.”

Among the concerns, he said, is the matter of crow intelligence.

“Some species have learned to use tools, other to store food and others to predict behavior,” the skipper explained. “One species uses crumbs for bait fishing! Imagine what a large crow could do, then, were it to lure Butler with strips of crispy bacon.”

Compounding the threat, he added, is the collective name of crows. “I mean, a ‘murder‘ of crows? Jeez, why not a ‘bloody slaughter’ or ‘grisly massacre?’”

The team, he said, is trying to appease the crows by playing smart baseball.

“Problem is, they’re trying too hard. Just yesterday, Gordon took a ‘random walk’ to first base. I don’t mean he took an indiscriminate base on balls. I mean that upon hitting a line drive to right, he took a series of random steps that mirrored the route of a molecule through gas or the search path of a foraging animal. Needless to say, he got thrown out at first. Also needless to say, the crows got pretty riled up.”

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A Hypothetical Starting XI Composed Entirely of Major Leaguers

As was made mostly clear by way of their 2-1 defeat of Ghana, what the US national team makes up for with pluck and want-to, it probably lacks in terms of overwhelming skill so far as the world’s game is concered. This isn’t entirely surprising, of course: not only is soccer in its infancy, relatively speaking, within the States, but there are also multiple other sports which tend to draw potentially transcendant talent in other directions.

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What My Seven-Month-Old Son Knows About Fantasy Baseball

[Photo is of the e-trade baby, not my actual baby.]

“Hi. I’m seven months old. And even though I can’t talk yet, I can still have thoughts. Fortunately, my daddy can read my mind, so when I was thinking that I would like to write this post, he agreed to transcribe it for me. Even though I don’t really know what baseball is yet, I do know something about fantasy baseball, because sometimes when my daddy thinks he has my head facing away from his computer screen, I’m actually looking out of the corner of my eye. I don’t really know why he and mommy are so obsessed with me not looking at their computer screen. They would rather I stare at the wall? Adults are so silly. It’s not even like they’re doing anything with crazy blinking graphics or other things that are going to screw up my attention span or give me nightmares. They’re reading the New York Times. Big deal. Scrolling text. Wow. Really dangerous. Ugh, adults. They don’t even let me check my e-mail, EVEN THOUGH MY DADDY GOT ME A GMAIL ACCOUNT THE WEEK I WAS BORN. Why be so crazy as to sign up for the e-mail account when you’re not even going to let me check it?

“Where was I? Sorry, it’s hard to stay focused when you’re seven months old. Very easily distracted. Anyway, what was I talking about? Socks, right? They’re so annoying, and yet I don’t quite have the hand-eye coordination yet to pull them off. Ugh. What’s wrong with exposed feet? I like to be able to see my toes to make sure they’re still attached.

“No, wait, I wasn’t talking about socks. I was talking about fantasy baseball, right? I know my daddy is kind of obsessed with fantasy baseball, because when he feeds me at 3AM, the first thing he does is check the ESPN app on his phone to look at box scores. (Why do I still insist on waking up at 3AM to be fed? Because I am evil.) He doesn’t even really try to burp me anymore. He just gives me a couple of perfunctory slaps on the back and then moves me so my eyes can’t see the screen and starts checking all the late games. That is crazy behavior from someone who claims to want to get right back to sleep. Even once I’ve fallen asleep, sometimes he still checks the last couple of games before he puts me down. Sometimes, just to trick him, I pretend I’m asleep, wait for him to get ready to put me down, and then I open my eyes and start kicking my legs so he has to start over again with the bouncing and the ssssshhhhhing. Why can I only fall asleep when someone is bouncing and ssssshhhhing me? I don’t know, I’m just a baby, why should I know?

“What else do I know about fantasy baseball? My daddy is very mad at someone named Carlos Santana, and he should have made that trade someone offered him yesterday but he was too scared to give up on the season so early in the year. Guess what? This isn’t his year. Chris Sale is out for another month, Josh Hamilton is not going to be the same once he comes back, and that hail mary Johan Santana pick at the end of the draft? Even a seven-month-old knows that is not going to be a difference-maker.

“I do need someone to explain WHIP to me, though. What does it stand for, and who made it up? Some things in this world are just super-confusing.”

Fun With Shapes: A Fan’s Mental Exercise

It’s that time of year again, time when players of Major League Baseball announce via their Twitter machines, Instagramophones and hacked email accounts that, hey, no foolin’, they’re in the best darn shape of their lives.

Now, I’m no geometer, but it seems to me that apart from, say, “broad-shouldered and narrow-waisted, with forearms resembling the Lord God’s in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam and with legs like those exclusive to Secretariat’s wet dreams,” one of the best shapes for a player to assume would be “round,” and by “round” I mean “perfectly round,” or, to put a finer point on it, though not too fine a point because then we’d be talking about the Cartesian coordinates and that would be pretty boring, “spherical,” because in all honesty, it would be funny to see the guy roll down the dugout steps.

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If Baseball Were Played Once a Week


First, (obviously skewed and unrealistic) numbers.

If baseball were played once a week:

• Given the current months baseball is played, each team would play 26 games a season, for 780 games total.
• For Barry Bonds to hit a season-record 73 home runs, he would have to have averaged 2.8 home runs per game.
• For him to end his 22-season career with 762 home runs, he would have needed to average 1.33 dingers per every game played.
• If Barry Bonds wanted to maintain his career walk total of 2558 at his career rate of .86 BB/game, he would have had to play for 114 seasons. Read the rest of this entry »