02 April 2008

The unexamined life?

From Bill James answers all your baseball questions, a long interview posted at the Freakonomics blog:
Q: Has looking at the numbers prevented you from actually just enjoying a summer day at the ballpark? Have we all forgotten the randomness of human ballplayers? By reducing players to just their numbers can we lose sight of the intangibles such as teamwork, friendships, and desire.

A: Does looking at pretty women prevent one from experiencing love? Life is complicated. Your efforts to compartmentalize it are lame and useless.
This is yet another example of the "people who think about things are strictly better off than people who don't" meme -- roughly speaking, the usual justification for this is that we can turn off the thinking when we want to. But can we? I know I can't just turn off the part of my brain that is constantly counting things or figuring odds of things, and there are moments when that does hurt my quality of life. I think in the end I come out ahead -- and most mathematicians probably would agree with me, otherwise they wouldn't be mathematicians -- but it is not so simple.

4 comments:

SBTVD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
kg said...

As far as baseball itself goes, I've found that the less people understand about it, the less they enjoy it. If you see it as a game in which one guy throws a ball and the other guy swings at it and sometimes hits it, and then sometimes the guys run around the bases, then no wonder it seems boring and pointless, as it does to most people.

I think the most important part is not losing our appreciation and wonder at the amazing things in life. Is it possible to appreciate the beauty of complicated things and still be able to appreciate the beauty of things that are simple? I think so.

michaeldcassidy said...

I love this quote:

A: Does looking at pretty women prevent one from experiencing love? Life is complicated. Your efforts to compartmentalize it are lame and useless.

And I love learning more about baseball from you so don't stop posting.

I follow the METs because of my mom, wife and a few bartenders, AND a Yankee fan who is British so I could argue with him - he is very into stats.

Learning about poetry, does not hurt your love of Whitman, W.C. Williams, and Yeats; learning about the history of art does not hurt your love of Picasso, Remberant, Gaugain; in fact learning helps you love them more.

JonVosPost said...

A136407 Valid strings, in lexicographic order, of Balls ("1") and Strikes ("2") in a Baseball at bat. Numbers that contain only 1's and 2's never exceeding 3 total 2's or 4 total 1's, whichever comes first.

http://www.research.att.com/~njas/sequences/A136407

1, 2, 11, 12, 21, 22, 111, 112, 121, 122, 211, 212, 221, 222, 1111,
1112, 1121, 1122, 1211, 1212, 1221, 1222, 2111, 2112, 2121, 2122,
2211, 2212, 11121, 11122, 11211, 11212, 11221, 11222, 12111, 12112,
12121, 12122, 12211, 12212, 21111, 21112
(list; graph; listen)

OFFSET
1,2

COMMENT
The string can be too short to have either 3 total 2's or 4 total 1's,
because the batter can be out in various ways, or on base in various
ways (hit by pitched ball, balk) before the at bat ends with strikeout
or walk. A proper subset of A007931.

EXAMPLE

a(14) = 222 represents a strikeout in 3 consecutive pitches. a(15) =
1111 represents a walk in 4 consecutive pitches.

2221 is the lexicographically first element of A007931 not in this
sequence, since after 3 strikes the batter is out, and there is no 4th
pitch in the at bat.

11111 is the lexicographically first element of A007931 without a 2
not in this sequence, since after 4 balls the batter walks, and there
is no 5th pitch in the at bat. Technically, this sequence contains the
null string (the batter is out without a pitch being thrown, in
several ways) but that is not properly represented as a string of 1s
and 2s in OEIS.

CROSSREFS
Cf. A115380, A121379, A121403.

KEYWORD
base,easy,fini,nonn,new

AUTHOR
Jonathan Vos Post (jvospost3(AT)gmail.com), Mar 31 2008