Archive for October, 2010

Faith to Move Mountains

Posted by on Wednesday, 27 October, 2010

I am not much of a “sports” guy, but if there was one sport about which I cared even a little, it would be baseball. I do not now recall the exact timing of events, but the facts are these:

In 2007, the Colorado Rockies made it to the World Series for the first time since the team’s formation in 1993. (They lost.) Around this time, and likely inspired by this, I researched and discovered that there were still four teams that had never been to the World Series. This number was reduced to three when the Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Series the very next year. The Rays were an even younger team, established in 1998. The oldest team that had not yet been to the World Series was the Texas Rangers, established in 1961.

Being the fan of the underdog that I am, I decided that the Texas Rangers were my team. This was probably sometime between the 2007 and 2008 seasons. As it happened, the President of the United States at this time had previously been a managing partner for the Rangers, so I felt a little extra sympathetic for them because of that.

It is now 2010, today the Texas Rangers are playing game 1 of their first ever World Series and I could not be prouder.

Yet, ever the skeptic, I try to look at it objectively. There are thirty teams in Major League Baseball, two of whom face off in the World Series every year, so the odds a team chosen totally at random being in the World Series in any given year is 1/15 or about 6.67%. However, MLB is split into two leagues, with sixteen teams in the National League and only fourteen in the American League. The Rangers happen to be in the smaller league and the odds of a particular team winning that league at any point in the last three years, if I did the calculation correctly, is about 20%. Not particularly good odds to bet on, but far from mind-blowing that I happen to have been correct.

However, baseball teams are not random numbers. Certain teams are objectively better than others, and though there are considerable factors involved, I think that generally speaking, a team’s record is not expected to change dramatically from one season to the next. In 2007, the Texas Rangers finished last in their division. In fact, they had only had one winning season (in which they won more games than they lost) by that point in the decade. Three years ago, no one would have thought they were a championship team. No one but me, that is. I willed it to happen.

In the interest of full disclosure, I actually predicted a Rangers-Cubs World Series, and I wanted it in 2009. I was off by a year on the Rangers. That is not too bad, really. I was completely wrong about the Cubs. Momentarily going back to random guesses again, the odds of correctly predicting a World Series match-up is about 0.45%. (Or put the opposite way, if one announces such a match-up, there is a 99.5% chance of it being wrong.)

But again, I did not choose the Cubs at random. As I said, I love a good underdog, and the Cubs famously have not won a World Series since 1908, and have not played in the World Series since 1945, when a gentlemen showed up to one of the games with two box tickets, one for himself and one for his goat. When the goat was removed from the stadium for, well, being a goat, the man claimed, “The Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.” And they haven’t.

Clearly that man was more powerful than I. But it does not trouble me, because I did not really care about the Cubs. As I said, the Rangers were my team. There is a picture of me taken on my birthday last year that I find amusing for a number of reasons, one of which being that I am wearing an my Official MLB Texas Rangers hat along with my typical t-shirt and jeans ensemble, and I suspect that the hat cost more than everything else that I was wearing combined. I am generally neither a “hat-wearing” nor a “spending-money” type of guy, but here I was in my expensive hat, to show solidarity with a forgettable baseball team, apparently as part of some elaborate joke.

An elaborate joke that paid off, of course. Because I am powerful. This is hardly the first time that something like this has happened either. Many years ago, I was reflecting on my life and realized that I had a very effective method of obtaining things:

1. Want it. Want it so much that I can hardly think of anything else.

2. Stop wanting it. Move on.

3. [Somewhat optional] Decide that I was better off without it anyway.

And then whatever it was would come to me. This method has been known to work on everything from toys to specific girls. I had not put this into practice in a number of years, though. Perhaps because I somehow became convinced that I needed to rely on an external god. This baseball thing does not fit the pattern though. Which brings me to the weighty question:

How do I seemingly have such power over such inconsequential things that logically would seem completely beyond my control, yet I remain paralyzed when it comes to taking even simple actions that effect the course my day to day life?