Our Numbers Game

Black and white numbers background

Unlike other teams sports, and as we already know, baseball turns on the wheels of numbers, and not upon the hands of the clock.

Whereas, the winner in games like football, basketball, hockey, and even soccer are determined by which team has the highest score at the end of a prescribed period of playing time, baseball does it differently. In baseball, the winner is the team that has the highest score only after 27 defensive plays called “outs” are recorded in the field.

Question: How long does it take to get an out?

Answer: As long as it takes.

Outs have nothing to do with clocks. You either get them, based upon the rules of the game that tell us all the ways that outs are possible, or else?

Or else what? Or else, theoretically, you move the game to Eternity Road and play forever, or until one team has a larger “run” total than the other after nine or more “innings” of play.

Baseball also flirts with eternity by scheduling the longest regular season of play for any of the three major American team sports. The Major League Baseball season is 162 games long, practically everyday for half the year from April to September.

The NBA, on the other hand, arranges their basketball schedule over half as many games (82) over seven months from October to April. The NFL is almost like a weekend event by comparison, booking their 16 regular season football games over a four-month span from September to December.

Assuming that a one-day season would make that particular game take on an importance of 100%, here’s a short take on the importance of each game in each of the Big Three Sports, based upon the actual number of games they each play:

One Game Importance (OGI) Ratings = One divided by the Number of Games Played in the Regular Season:

NFL: 1 game in a 16-game season takes on an importance of .0625 for each game played. (Simply do the division math): 1 game = 1/16 or 6.25% of the entire season. (The OGI for the NBA is .0625.)

NBA: 1 game in an 82-game season takes on an importance of .0122 for each game played: 1 game = 1/82 or 1.22% of the entire season. (The OGI for the NBA is .0122.)

MLB: 1 game in a 162-game season takes on the importance of only .0062 for each game played: 1 game = 1/162 or 0.62% of the entire season. (The OGI for MLB is .0062.)

Finally, to find the comparative importance of each game in the NFL and NBA to MLB, simply multiply the OGI Rating for each sport by 162, the number of games played during the baseball regular season:

(1) NFL: .0625 OGI X 162 = 10.125

Meaning – Each NFL game takes on the importance of about 10 MLB games.

(2) NBA: .0122 OGI X 162 = 1.976

Meaning – Each NBA game takes on the importance of about 2 MLB games.

General Conclusions

It’s not complicated. Baseball is the sport of the long season of cumulative outs, which, if they are not all collected, theoretically, the game goes on forever.

Baseball’s participants need speed, athleticism, and power, but they also need a quality you don’t see as much in the sports governed by the clock. Baseball people have to handle all those moments in the quiet here and now which are more like the game of chess. They have to be mental gamers too – guys who came prepared to play forever, if need be, but also people who are forever prepared also for that violently striking moment when all of their abilities to play the game have to abruptly transform them into beings making all the right movements quickly at precisely the right time. These are the only moments in baseball that the clock comes into play, but it doesn’t scream at players from the rules. It calls to them loudly from within – by example, from their own recognitions of how much time is needed for a game ending double play with the tying run threatening to score from third as the penalty for failure.

In baseball, it’s never about the clock. It’s about how we respond to the quiet or loud moments of the game in the timeless journey toward 27 outs for the other team while our guys do their best to give us the edge in the scoring of runs.

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2 Responses to “Our Numbers Game”

  1. Sands of time find numbers Says:

    […] /* */ /* */ Our Numbers Game […]

  2. Doug S. Says:

    Well stated Bill – the clock never runs out on you in baseball. You will get your chance. I once heard baseball is like a love affair as it is there nearly everyday with you for 6 months or longer. Sometimes you will get your heart broken but you are eager for the next spring. It is also like a marriage in that sometimes things aren’t as perfect as you might like but you still remain committed and loyal to it. Whereas football is more like a one night stand – just let it rip on one night and don’t worry about it for another week. I like both sports but baseball has always been #1 to me.

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