Luck don’t come easy

Posted on October 31, 2011

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This blog has been dormant so long it missed an entire baseball season. There are no doubt plenty of thorough accounts of that season; but a very short post-World Series blog post in the New Yorker by Roger Angell captures a lot of what’s great and weird about every baseball season.

Thrilling but, in a thrilling way, not surprising. Sandy Alderson, a predecessor of Billy Beane’s as general manager of the Oakland Athletics (and now the Mets’ G.M.), talking to me in 1986 about the way baseball works, said, “In this game, whether you’re a player or a manager or a coach or in the front office, there’s just so many things you can control. After that, it’s just fortuity. You may have an injury or a whole bunch of injuries. You may have a bad hop, a terrible call by the umpire, a ball that just goes through—whatever. Or a whole bunch of them. All this constitutes thirty or thirty-five or maybe even forty per cent of the game.” (He didn’t say a two-out, two-run triple off the wall, but I can spot it there, inside “whatever.”)

O.K., fortuity. Call it luck, but thanks, anyway, David Freese and Nelson Cruz and the rest of you, and hang in there, Nolan Ryan. See you next year.

Incidentally, the title of this blog post comes from my favorite contemporary blues song this year, Jon Shain’s “Luck don’t come easy“. But when you’ve got it, you can mess with Texas.

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Posted in: baseball, moral luck