Saturday, April 15, 2006

I'm Not A Number (5-5)

The White Sox survived Jon Garland's Thursday afternoon hammering but not Javier Vazquez' Friday night horror show and now have an even record of 5-5.

Ten games into the season the White Sox have gotten mostly frightening outings by their starting pitching, several frightening outings by the bullpen, and no offensive production from Brian Anderson or Scott Podsednik. Ordinarily, I'd be worried as hell about the import of all these dreadful numeric omens, puzzling over my vast collections of data, looking for the telltale numbers that somewhere, somehow, showed me that the poor performances were flukes. But I'm not.

Not because I'm not worried; I am. The White Sox look a lot more like the bash-and-pray 2003-2004 version than last year's magical mystery tour, and I don't think this is going to work at all. I don't think this team can out-bash the Indians, and the Twins look like they've struck gold with their newest crop of pitchers already. It's that my worrying has changed. I've lost the sabermetric religion.

I now realize that all those many years of poring over statistics was more about searching for a way to believe the White Sox would finally win than anything else. I was hoping that somewhere, buried in those numbers, would be a key, a clue that the final victory was coming, and the years of frustration and sorrow and, yes, ridicule were over. Somehow the numbers would tell me that the quest was concluding.

Last October, the White Sox found their Promised Land, and the numbers lied to us all year. They told us the team was 7 games worse than their record, that the team was lucky, that the team wasn't real. They lied. And now, as a result, I just find it hard to believe in them any more. So I let my subscription to Baseball Prospectus lapse. I didn't buy any statistical annuals. I am basking in the afterglow of what was, really, the Impossible Dream.

So Cliff Politte is getting hammered, and Vazquez is all out of sorts, and Garland looks worse than he's ever looked before. So what? Things will (probably) be fine. Who do you believe, me, or those lying spreadsheets?

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