Knowing How to Win

As that great sportswriter Jane Austen memorably said:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a fan in possession of a great starting lineup must be worried about starting pitching.” Jane was, I think, discussing cricket, but the point still applies to its American cousin.

Charlie Morton’s amazing seven-walk, three-hit five innings of shutout ball has me thinking of the old “knows how to win” nonsense For those of you who assiduously read the comments, this is going to be redundant, so just skip to the next section.

Charlie’s performance was tied for the 27th worst WHIP in a scoreless game for a starting pitcher who “earned” the win. And many of the performances ahead of him are by really good pitchers: Vida Blue. Kenny Rogers, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, J.R. Richard. Expand the list to pitchers who gave up 1 run and you can add Tom Glavine’s game here where he gave up 11 hits and 3 walks in 5 innings pitched and only one run.

Is that luck or a skill? To be fair, it’s obviously both.

Yankee Nightmares: Memento Mori

Just about everything went right for the Braves tonight. Max Fried pitched well after giving up a couple of hits and a run in the first. Rosario had the only homer (and was 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs) but a bunch of singles sandwiched around a d’Arnaud fielder’s choice which he hustled to stop the double play gave the Braves a six run lead in the third that was never seriously threatened. 2023 Folk Hero Nicky Lopez (subbing for the hammy-tweaked Ozzie Albies) was 3 for four with another 3 RBIs. That’s now a cool .700 BA with Atlanta and 8 RBI in 10 at-bats. I predict either regression or Cooperstown.

Now for the buzzkill.

The ancient Romans knew you’re never as good as you think you are when you’re winning.  To quote Tertullian (pictured at the top):

He [the emperor] is reminded that he is a man even when he is triumphing, in that most exalted chariot. For at his back he is given the warning: ‘Look behind you. Remember you are a man.’ [Respice post te! Hominem te memento!] And so he rejoices all the more that he is in such a blaze of glory that a reminder of his mortality is necessary.

Tertullian, Apologeticus 33

The Braves dominated the Yankees 11-3 tonight.  That’s great, but it reminds me, as so much does, of this game, an 11-1 World Series win over the Yankees that was followed up by a 4-0 shutout the next day and then… disaster.  For those who don’t think the playoffs are a crapshoot (are there any of you left?) please tell me which team was better that year – and if you tell me the Yankees, I sentence you to a jail cell with Jim Leyritz… oh, never mind.  He killed someone and got a year’s probation.


He talks a lot. Most of it is sensible, but jeez! there’s a lot of it. I assume Fox pays him by the word.


Ronald, after today, has 159 hits, 26 homers and 55 stolen bases. There are only three players who managed to equal or exceed those numbers in a single season. Cesar Cedeno in 1974 got there on September 26th. Joe Morgan got there on September 28th, 1973. Rickey Henderson got there twice: on October 1st 1986 and October 3rd 1990. Ronald is going to blow by those numbers.

FYI: Cedeno finished 16th in MVP voting in 1974. Morgan was 4th in 1973, and Rickey was MVP in 1990 but got no votes in 1986.


I wrote an offday piece about predicting the probability that Atlanta both scores the most runs and gives up the fewest in the NL. I’ve improved the model greatly since I first wrote that by including the quality of the opposition. The model is now much more accurate. Going into tonight’s games, here are the probabilities:

Since I talked about this last, the Dodgers have taken the runs scored lead. But it’s still close. Atlanta probability of scoring the most NL runs: 46%.; On the other side, the Braves have closed some ground on the Padres: probability of giving up the fewest runs: 13%.

Overall probability of both: 6 percent, down about 1 percent.  The 11-2 game tonight will raise the probability. But to paraphrase another line from Tertullian: I believe because it is close to impossible.

Come for the recap, leave with an insight on an Early Christian Carthaginian. You’re welcome.