One has to give strat-o-matic points for trying to help.
Need that MLB fix to get you through these days of social distancing? If you go to http://www.strat-o-matic.com/2020-season-simulation/ you’ll find the 2020 MLB season being played out.
It’s all simulated, of course. Which means we’re not going to get the wild surprises that come from real baseball. Players are going to perform at their career norms plus or minus an algorithmically-defined range. Teams will play at their cumulative skill level, more or less. How well will the algorithms replicate particularly bad managerial blunders, umpires’ missed calls, and Mother Nature’s interjections? I’m betting we can forget about unexpected player synergies and random callups that miraculously work out.
Still, it’s baseball of a sort. Just not, unfortunately, a helpful sort for me.
I mean, it’s great to see that the Mariners finally won a game Monday. (As I write this after Tuesday’s games are in the books, the Ms are 1-5. Nor are the other teams I follow doing much better. The Giants are 0-5. The Mets and Orioles are both 2-3.)
But I’d be saying the same thing if all of those records were reversed.
Stats and box scores don’t engage me emotionally. I need to hear the sounds of the game. See what’s happening. Sure, I can see in the box score or recap that Joe Schlabotnik went 0-4 again. But I can’t really appreciate the agony unless I see him complete the golden sombrero by swinging at a pitch a foot over his head.
Just the way my brain works.
I can’t watch delayed games either. I’m thankful to the various broadcasters for replaying classic games, but they don’t scratch that baseball itch for me. If I know my cheering isn’t going to affect the outcome, I don’t get engaged.
Yes, I’m aware that when I scream “Come on, Joe, get into one!” at the TV, he can’t hear me. But I’m firmly convinced that it helps his performance, nevertheless.
None of this is to say that rebroadcasts don’t have their uses. I sometimes turn them on while I’m writing; as I’ve said before, the rhythms of the game help me get into the flow and turn out better prose. (As it happens, I’ve got a replay of the Mariners/Red Sox game from last March 31 playing as I write this.) I sometimes put a game on while I’m reading in bed: I turned on a repeat of the 2012 World Series Sunday afternoon and let it run while Lefty warmed my shins.
In either case, though, I don’t watch the game. I just let the sounds fill the room. It makes the itch tolerable, without actually curing it.
Sooner or later, games will resume. Maybe next month, perhaps mid-summer, or surely by next spring. Whenever that is, it’ll be about damn time.
Understand, I’m not calling for a resumption of play before it’s safe. I’m just saying that placebos only get you so far. Sometimes you need actual medicine.
(Update after Wednesday’s results came in: The Mariners have now lost two games to the Twins by a combined score of 20-0. The Mets have fallen to 2-4. The Giants are no longer winless. And the Orioles have made it to .500! How long has it been since we could say that this late in the season?
It’s interesting. Amusing, even. Maybe it would help if the results weren’t all posted at once. As long as you’re simulating the season, simulating the schedule shouldn’t be a big stretch. Better yet, put up the results inning by inning so we can follow the games as they unfold. The added realism would go a long way to enhancing my emotional involvement.)