Ticker Metrics – A Baseball Fan’s Key Stat
Opening Day is just a week away (the real Opening Day, that is, in America, not in Australia, at a decent hour, sans jet-lagged players), and that means so many things: Pennant Chases, hot starts, no names becoming Names, Mike Trout doing everything, Miguel Cabrera hitting everything, Yu Darvish whiffing everything and a world without Mariano Rivera entering games to Enter Sandman, which may or may not be a world any of us want to live in.
Oh, and most importantly, it means that this writer will also be mysteriously contracting a “food-borne illness” that will keep him couch-ridden for that entire afternoon. It’s a tradition*, and when it comes to the National Pastime, you can’t fight tradition**.
Pause. Rewind. This is the real most important thing: The Modify MLB Collection is almost here. 30 watch faces. Lots of interchangeable straps. Special Edition watches dedicated to both the Classic’s (Fall and Midsummer).
And if you’ve watched baseball in the last decade (or caught Moneyball in theaters, on video, on premium cable, on TBS or at gas station whilst filling your tank), you are undoubtedly aware of Sabermetrics, aka The Thing That Tried To Discount The First Triple Crown Since 1967, aka, The Thing That Has Made Bad Teams Good, aka The Most Revolutionary Paradigm Shift In Baseball Since The Advent Of Free Agency, aka An Empirical Analysis of Baseball.
If you haven’t, here’s the rundown: In the late ’70s, a cannery worker named Bill James began writing an annual abstract called The Bill James Baseball Abstract. For a few years, no one read them. Then a few people read them. Then more people read them. Finally, he stopped writing them, but not before creating a dumbstruck’s worth of new, helpful statistics.
(Note: A few things came before James, but he was the catalyst of the movement. The kin of Earnshaw Cook will now undoubtedly hunt me down and force me to annotate 20-year-old copies of the National Enquirer.)
For about a decade, the guys over at Baseball Prospectus carried the Sabermetrics torch, before Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s became posterchildren for the entire endeavor.
(Another note: That previous paragraph may or may not have just yada-yada’d over about 15 years of really important stuff, people and organizations, but if you really are interested, read the book Moneyball. Or just watch the movie again. It’s not the same thing at all, but, you know, movies vs. books or whatever.)
After the success of the A’s and their widely publicized methods, other organizations bought into the strategy.
(Last note: Other teams were already buying into the strategy in one way or another, but very few had a champion with the clout of Beane.)
Then, in 2004, the Boston Red Sox and GM Wonder Boy — known in some weird circles as Theo Epstein — won the World Series on the backs of a couple sluggers, a couple of arms, the RoadRunner legs of David Roberts, a miraculous comeback, and, most importantly, a lot of smart acquisitions***.
With the Red Sox victory, Sabermetrics made the jump from Indie Sensation to bonafide Chart Topper.
We here at Modify won’t profess to know how PECOTA (Player empirical comparison and optimization test algorithm) works. Nor will we try to explain to you how WAR works, or how those FanGraphs folks came up with their often-accurate ZIPS projection model. We won’t even translate the acronyms for you, but mostly because it sounds like engineering jargon.
But for as much as we don’t know about the mechanics of Sabermetrics, we do know about watches. That’s why we’ve got some Tickermetrics for you.
The Stat: Watch Combinations Per Team
The Catchy Acronym: WaCoPeT
Pronunciation of the Catchy Acronym: Waco-Pet. Like a dog in the town where Baylor University is.
How It’s Calculated: (# of Watch Faces) x (# of Straps Applicable to Teams/Number of Teams) / (Number of Teams) x (n! – r) = I hope you’re not still tracking because none of this makes sense and lots of it is arbitrary.
The bottom line is this: We’ll have at least two (great-looking) combos per team. Some of them have three or more. Some have more than that, like the Marlins, because colors.
And we don’t actually have a formula called WaCoPeT, because, well, only a curmudgeon would tell you NOT to wear your Cubs watch with a pink strap. And the Modify offices are not populated with curmudgeons.
So pre-order your favorite team’s watch, and thank yourself later. You know, when you’re at the ballpark getting compliments on your Super Fan wrist attire.
* Since the third grade. Here’s to internet anonymity!
** But for real. This is the league that still endorsed a franchise that refused to play a full season of night baseball until 1989. By 1989, ESPN had been around for nine years, Michael Jordan had four signature shoes (with air in them), people had computers in their homes and Mario’s brother was Luigi, in any context. But the Cubs were just introducing “night baseball” as a regular thing. It’s awesome.
*** That was the hardest paragraph I’ve ever had to write. Ever.