When I was about 7, my mom gave me a book she used when teaching math to high school students to help develop what she hoped to become my mathematical mastery. It contained those number problems that we had to figure out. You know, if Bob left Chicago at 2 p.m. and drove 65 miles per hour and Joe left Denver at 3 p.m. and drove 55 miles per hour, at what time would they meet at the Omaha interstate Stuckeys for nut logs and beef jerky?
My deftness with words? That was another problem. I bombed my entrance tests in college and was actually placed in what the instructor of the class called “bonehead English,” a remedial course aimed more, apparently, for those who consider English a second or even third option.
And, of course, the irony here is that I make my living out of words, hammering them together into coherent sentences in the News Factory where I work.
All that to say numbers don’t intimidate me. Computers do, though.
As an avid APBA baseball game player, I’ve lately steered clear of keeping statistics for the various seasons that I’ve played. It’s blaspheme, I know. I see others who play the statistical-based game who know immediately the batting average for the San Diego Padres’ third string catcher, or the WHIP rating for a dismal Seattle bullpen.
I’d love to be that guy, but trust is an issue with me when compiling stats on the computer.
I used to tally the numbers by hand years ago when I played the APBA basketball games. I switched over to computers later when I played the hockey game and during the first years of when I began rolling the dice for the baseball contests. Three times, after meticulously creating Excel spreadsheets that computed batting averages and ERAs, my computers crashed.
I lost everything, including my self-esteem
Each time, after cursing whoever developed the particular computer system I was using, I soldiered on, reloading information into a newer computer.
Invariably, it would crash again.
It became a creator of Fear. Load stats, watch computer die.
So, I quit doing that and instead just kept quickie stats by hand like players’ home runs and pitchers’ won-loss and saves records. I haven’t had to buy another computer since.
But this year, after feeing a bit guilty and seeing others post their detailed stats online, and seeing that some third baseman in their replay batted .257 with runners on second and third during day games when left-handed pitchers with a low strike-to-balls ratio were on the mound, I decided to return to the stat keeping realm.
There is limitation to my madness, however.
Instead of doing stats for everyone in the 1942 baseball season I’m replaying, I’m just tracking numbers for the Big Three of that season: Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Stan Musial. I load their batting performances in after each game and know now that, after 21 games, DiMaggio is only batting .275 but has 13 RBIs and Ted Williams is flirting with .400 after 19 games.
I’ll keep doing the stats for these three while replaying this season. And if the computer dies, as I expect it will, I’ll return to using pencil and calculator.
Hey, it worked when I figured out when Bob and Joe got their nut logs and beef jerky.