The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Flat Earth Society Membership Offer Extended to Mike Mordecai

On my ride in to Sunday’s game I heard super-sub Mike Mordecai being interviewed by the radio team. Mordecai was asked how concerned he was about the team’s recent struggles (going into Sunday’s game, the Marlins had lost six of their last eight games). Mike responded with the typical cliché of “baseball is a marathon and not a sprint.”

He went on to add to this statement with what could become the theme for the Flat Earth Society. (Now I’m paraphrasing here, but) Mordecai, who has “Sweet Home Alabama” played prior to his at bats, used a quote from former Alabama football coach Bear Bryant to explain his take on the team’s woes: “You can’t win a game in the first quarter, but you can lose it; you can’t win a game in the second quarter, but you can lose it; you can’t win a game in the third quarter, but you can lose it; you can win a game in the fourth quarter.”

On the surface this is a nice quote. I’m sure that it has inspired many a member of the Crimson Tide on to victory on the football field. Mike Mordecai also probably finds it to be a motivational tool when he’s mired in a slump or the team isn’t playing up to expectations.

But if you dig into it a little, the saying doesn’t really make much sense at all. Let’s just look at the first part of the statement: “You can’t win a game in the first quarter, but you can lose it.” Here, and throughout the rest of the statement, the speaker presumes that you (Team A) cannot win a game in the first quarter, but that Team A could lose the game (through errors of their own). By default, this statement implies that Team B can win the game in the first quarter, if only because of mistakes made by Team A that will force that team to lose the game in the end. This is obviously not a true statement; in equitably played games, both teams have an equal shot at achieving victory at all times. If Team B can win in the first quarter (inning), than so can Team A. Sure, the results won’t be official until the end, but if you’re able to put a few runs on the board early, your odds are better than not.

I’ll be forwarding this comment on to Joe Morgan and Harold Reynolds, chairpersons of MLB’s Flat Earth Society.


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