April 14, 2013
Chapter 11:The good loss: an exploration of paradoxes
This game was a paradox: it was a good loss.
Wait, let me stop and explain myself lest you think I'm just throwing out ten-cent words or perhaps trolling the readers of this establishment.
A paradox, for those who are too lazy to Google/Bing/Yahoo! the word, could mean:
- A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true.
- One exhibiting contradictory or inexplicable aspects or qualities.
- An essentially self-contradictory assertion based on valid deduction from acceptable premises.
- A statement contrary to popular opinion.
So which definition do I mean? Well, let's take them one by one, as I want very much for you to understand perfectly where I'm going with my premise.
1. About 75% there. The title of this chapter is by this definition a paradox. For a baseball fan, a loss cannot ever be anything but bad, but what if a loss contained something good? Must a loss always contain nothing but badness? Of course not; even the most irredeemably bad losses have some good things happen in that; for instance, Asdrubal Cabrera's home run on Wednesday. Just about every thing else about that game was bad, but that one thing (the home run) was good. This definition is saying that "a good loss" may appear contradictory but may be in fact true. I don't completely agree with this: the Indians lost, their record got worse, their magic number did not get lower, etc.
2. This I think refers to a person or a thing, not a sentence. For instance, we could say that "Jeff Francoeur is a walking paradox" because he looks like a baseball player, is by all accounts a great person but actually isn't much of an MLB baseball player. Not applicable here, but it will be filed away for future reference.
3. I think this one nails it. It possible to prove that yesterday's loss was bad and good based on two different points of view. With the short-term (one day) time frame, yesterday's loss was undoubtedly a very bad thing, because for that time frame, the only thing that matters is yesterday's game. But if your time frame is the season, then although yesterday's loss hurts the season goals, Brett Myers' pitching in your view helps the season goals more. Because if Brett Myers can go six innings and only allow 2-3 runs in those innings, there will be more future wins this season than we thought going into today.
4. This one caught me by surprise; I don't think I've ever heard the word used that way. So if I say "Justin Bieber sucks," I'm spouting a paradox because I'm undoubtedly in the minority with that opinion? Hmm...time for some paradoxes:
- Michael Bay is a horrible director and his movies are awful.
- The best Carlos Santana is the baseball player, not the guitar player.
- Kenny Lofton should be in the Hall of Fame
Picking up where I left off before the definitional tangent, yesterday's loss could be seen as good because Brett Myers actually looked like a credible pitcher. Yes, he couldn't hold a 1-0 lead through six innings, but if you're counting on Myers to shut out clubs, you're asking too much of Brett Myers. This game was on the offense, and aside from Michael Bourn's first-pitch home run, they were punchless against Jake Peavy.
Think of the possibilities that exist for this team if Brett Myers can do what he did yesterday on a regular basis. He might actually be a good starting pitcher, something that seemed impossible before yesterday's game. But let's not go that far; you have to assume regularly-scheduled blowout for Myers, games in which the team has no chance of winning. But yesterday's game showed us the possibility that Bret Myers can be good, and when he's good, the Indians can win Brett Myers starts.
But at the same time, the Indians lost a game they could easily have won had they mustered any offense beyond Bourn's home run. With this loss the Indians missed an opportunity to score a key sweep against an AL Central rival that will likely content for a playoff spot.
So yesterday was a good day and a bad day at the same time, the best of times and the worst of times, and a good loss and a bad loss. A paradox, if you will.