Bot9 - Curses and Science

bill-james-0790060781.jpg

This time of year brings out so many great memories. While it might sound strange, some of my favorite memories are related to the so-called “curses” associated with different teams and their postseason ineptitude. The Black Sox Curse that haunted the Chicago White Sox for so long. The Billy Goat Curse and the Bartman incident rolled into one for the Cubs. And, of course, the king of all curses - the Curse of the Bambino that hovered over the Boston Red Sox until 2004.

The sad part is that these curses seem almost silly now. There was this mystical quality to the game in the previous century, and it seems like all of the metrics used the game today has driven out that spirit. The man pictured above, Bill James, started this revolution and anyone who knows me knows the irony of such a statement coming from me - I LOVE the metrics. But I also love the emotion that came from feeling connected to a curse. It was bigger than the game.

I’m leading a book and Bible study right now and we’re reading More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell. In a short chapter around science, McDowell draws out an important distinction between two different kinds of proof. Scientific proof is repeatable in an experiment. Legal-Historical proof is proof that is beyond a reasonable doubt. There are things you can prove using the scientific method, and others that require proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

People have used science to drive out the spiritual from our daily consciousness. In some ways, the same has happened in baseball as it has become so driven by the data. But because baseball is a game played by humans, there will always be a spiritual nature to it. As I’ve learned and grown, it’s right and good to use the metrics to guide some decision, but people need other people to use the Holy Spirit as they coach and play. Humans need mentors to guide them through this life. The spiritual will always be there in baseball and in our daily walks!

As we roll into the postseason, watch how the great coaches and teams are connected emotionally, while also connecting to the most important data. And, of course one of the best teams at this is the New York Yankees who are heading into the divisional series against my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. Dang it. Some curses never quite leave your consciousness.