Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is 19-17 better than 1-0?

The answer is a definite, “Maybe”.

Most fans like to see runs. Scoring is king. It’s the same for every sport. That’s why soccer and hockey don’t draw the fans other sports do. There’s not enough scoring. Kids like runs too. It looks like the team is actually doing something when they’re pushing people across the plate. Runs also allow the stars to do what they do. Everyone who goes to the game wants to see Papi go deep, or Youk hit a double off the wall, or whatever. In a 1-0 game, you’re probably not going to see much of that. So, it’s a downside.

Fans who are a little full of themselves usually say they like 1-0 games. They say if you don’t like the 1-0 game better, it’s because you don’t understand the game like they do. You can’t understand the finer things. (This happens a lot in sports. There’s some feeling out there that if you pick an obscure favorite, it’s because you know more about the game than everyone else. It’s easy to say Chase Utley is the best second baseman in the game. It’s a popular, obvious pick. But, if I claim it’s Dan Uggla it must be because I’m smarter than you. I know about players in Florida. If you only understood the game like I do, or watched as many games as I do, you’d pick Uggla too. I wouldn’t matter if Utley is better or not. The mere mention of Uggla makes me come off as all-knowing. It wouldn’t be true, since I think Utley’s clearly better. But, as an example. )

For my money, I just like to see players do things well. They’re the best players in the world, right? Let’s see it in action. So, is it better to see runs or not? It depends on how they arrive at the runs. If I perceive that the runs are being scored because of good hitting, that’s great. If it’s because of poor pitching, that’s not so good. Same thing goes for the 1-0 game. Is it good pitching, or poor hitting? Some examples?

Let’s pretend Greg Maddux is facing Roy Halladay. Both amazing pitchers. But, if they threw a 1-0 game, I wouldn’t enjoy it. As much as you try to convince me that it’s something they’re doing that is causing ground balls or pop outs, I perceive it as weak hitting. Watching hitter after hitter ground to short is not much fun. On the other hand, you give me a vintage 1999 match-up between Pedro Martinez and Bartolo Colon. I got to see a couple of those live. There’s nothing like watching a pitcher dominate a line-up like those guys did. Each one would end up with 7 or 8 innings pitched and at least ten to twelve punchouts. That’s an exciting 1-0 game. On the other hand, games can have double-digit runs and be snooze fests. Picture a bad Dice-K start when he walks home runner after runner. Or, games full of flares and dribblers that score runs. Those don’t do much for me. But, a game where every other batter rips a double to the gap? Fantastic. That’s great hitting on display. That’s something I want to see.

Obviously, some of that is subjective. Did he strike out the batter because he’s good, or the batter’s bad? Was the double due to poor pitch location? That’s why it’s all about perception.

It’s also why I couldn’t answer the title question. Can you?

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