Carleton: The lies of October

From Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus on September 28, 2018:

It’s officially fall on the calendar, which means they are about to lie start lying to you. The last weekend of the regular season is upon us and the playoffs are right behind that. It’s the fun time of the year when individual games can mean the end of someone’s season or a giant trophy. It means we’re about to watch some particularly emotional games in the next few weeks, too. A season’s worth of hopes and dreams may come down nine innings. It also means we’re about to indulge in one of baseball’s most time-honored traditions: absolutely baseless claims about the stretch run and the postseason, how they work, and how one can predict them.

Pro tip: You really can’t.

The playoffs aren’t exactly a crap-shoot, because craps relies on rolls of the dice that are totally random. Someone’s a favorite in each playoff series, so it’s not a 50/50 shot, but it’s a lot closer to 50/50 than most people want to believe. Then again, that’s the fun of the playoffs. “Anything can happen” is more or less true. But people don’t like uncertainty, and so to cope with what is existential randomness, we begin seeing patterns where none exist. Well, the broadcasters do, and since you don’t have a microphone, you just have to accept what they say.

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Originally published: September 28, 2018. Last Updated: September 28, 2018.