I once had a judge tell me that I had asserted my client’s position with such conviction and compassion that he was inclined to think I was lying. Obviously that was not a compliment and, although the judge still ruled in my favor, I realized that even when I am right I can appear to be wrong. The B.A.B.E.S. 2014 MLB competition has taught me a corollary truth: even when I know I am right, I may not know just how right I am. (I bet Yogi Berra wishes he had said that.)
If you read the B.A.B.E.S. Charter, http://babesbaseball.com/309-2/, you will see that the inspiration for this Society was my belief (shared with Rocky Walker and Steve Jacobs) that one does not have to be a professional sports journalist to predict accurately the outcome of the MLB season. Stated more precisely, we believed that informed amateur observers could predict the results as accurately as those who do so professionally.
Through the first five years of this endeavor our premise has essentially been proven. Although few professionals follow our format (and few from the IBWAA were willing to join), the accuracy of the professional predictions that I have been able to compare has never been better than the B.A.B.E.S. winner in any year. So, I was right, right? Clearly our informed amateur observers can match picks with the professionals. But so can an 84-year old great-grandmother who has never attended an MLB game even though she lived in Houston for nearly 30 years.
After 27 years of marriage to her only daughter, I can assure you that my mother-in-law, Pat Stone, is one amazing lady. The most recent evidence of this is that she just returned from a trip to Dallas to ride in a hot-air balloon! But I assure you she doesn’t know anything about baseball. In fact, despite having had me hanging around her house for almost 30 years, she still can’t name more than a half-dozen of the current teams. Nevertheless, this gift for ignoring baseball did not keep her from winning this year’s competition with the second highest accuracy percentage in B.A.B.E.S. history (.449). That proves that the science of sports predictions (or probabilities) has its limits but luck knows no bounds.
Listed below are Pat’s predictions made during a long car-ride back from Santa Fe, New Mexico over Spring Break. I gave her the names of the teams in each division and she made her selections at random. She scored with 7 of those 10 picks! From her 5 randomly selected NL post-season participants, she then randomly selected SFO to win the pennant and the World Series – the only B.A.B.E.S. member and to do so and perhaps the only person anywhere! I then gave her 5 names in each of the awards categories and she showed herself able to follow the crowd by correctly choosing Kershaw and Trout (something I obviously never learned to do).
Pat’s 19 random selections resulted in 53 amazing points and one historic B.A.B.E.S. champion – the first female, the most mature and the least knowledgeable winner who happened to post the highest raw score ever. Not even my brother the statistics professor can explain that. Indeed, it simply reminds me of another truth: it is smarter to be lucky that it is lucky to be smart! (That sounds like something Yogi would say, but it is actually from the 1970’s Broadway musical Pippin! now enjoying a revival at the Music Box Theatre.) Remember Charlemagne’s advise to Pippin next year when you are making your selections. I fully intend to hire Pat as my Scouting Director and will likely turn over all my decision-making authority to her. It can’t hurt since for the second consecutive year I finished next to last.
Congratulations, Pat! You made your son-in-law proud and no doubt are the envy tonight of many baseball experts – both amateur and professional.
Pat Stone (53) – NL East/WAS(3); Central/STL(3); West/SFO(1); Wildcards/PIT(3); ARI; NL LCS/SFO(6); AL East/TOR; Central/CWS; West/LAA(3); Wildcards/DET(1); BAL(1); AL LCS/BAL. WS/SFO(12); NL MVP/McCutcheon; NL Cy Young/Kershaw (10); NL Batting/Posey; AL MVP/Trout (10); AL Cy Young/Verlander; AL Batting/Cabrera