Monday, May 9

In my experience, there's no such thing as luck

I like Manny Acta, really, I do. He seems like a friendly guy and a smart baseball man, and he's piloted my team to the top of the division (not that I really think managers impact a team much either way). But his comments regarding the Indians' unlucky breaks during yesterday's tough 6-5 loss to the Angels suggest a pretty serious disconnect from reality.

"Luck is not in my vocabulary," the Indians manager said.
We're not off to a good start here. Anyone who has a serious appreciation of baseball knows that luck plays a major role in the outcome of many games, particularly close ones. To deny so is to deny reality and the very essence of the game. There's a reason they play 162 games - it's so the lucky plays for and against each club will mostly even out and the teams that played best will end up on top. I certainly wouldn't attribute a team mounting a successful 90-win campaign to that team having gotten lucky, but a team scratching out 11 infield hits in a three-game series? Lucky.

"Baseball is when preparation meets opportunity."
Are we managing a baseball team here, or running a motivational seminar?

"To me, high choppers have nothing to do with luck. It has to do with hard ground in front of plate and your pitcher jamming a guy."
And that guy still reaching base safely with an infield hit, and the guy next to him doing the same thing. These are poor at-bats rewarded with successful outcomes mostly because of luck. This is not preparation meeting opportunity - this is batters failing at their objective but being fortunate and reaching base anyway.

"It worked for them. It could have gone our way."
Honestly, I can't think of a better way to describe the concept of luck than this sentence. This is exactly equivalent to saying "they got lucky." I don't think the Angels would disagree with that statement, either.

Now, I realize that managers have to say nonsense like this after a tough loss to avoid the appearance of making excuses or not accepting responsibility for how their club played. I just hope Acta is just talking in hard-nosed make-no-excuses manager-speak, and doesn't sincerely think that baseball has nothing to do with luck.

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