Monday, May 11, 2009

Great minds think alike

I may have sorted out my computer problems, so I'm finally able to catch up with some blogs I read regularly.  One of those is that of sportswriter Joe Posnanski, who writes copiously among all the other work he does for the Kansas City Star and, now, Sports Illustrated.  (And he has a new book coming out 9/9/09, which I expect to be quite good, though it will have to go some to beat his last one.)

At any rate, he wrote last Friday about streaks in baseball, reiterating the evidence that there really is no such thing as a "hot hand," something that seems counterintuitive.  The most hallowed record in sports, the 56-game hitting streak of Joe DiMaggio, has been shown to be, actually, pretty likely (that is to say, someone in the history of baseball should have done it, not necessarily DiMaggio).

Coincidentally, that's pretty much the same thing I was writing about on Wednesday, that any specific occurrence might be quite unlikely, but that something of note would happen is very likely.  At a single point in time, for example now, it is almost certain that something interesting and improbable is going on, whether in sports or anything else.  Streaks and records are fun, I certainly enjoy them, but there is a kind of inevitability in them, if not any specific one.  So take a lot of what you read about improbability with a grain of salt.

[By the way, if you like baseball, go on to read the rest of Posnanski's post.  He talks about some amazing hot streaks in history, and any post that remembers Rico Carty is fine by me.]

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