More woes for the Master of the CAP, AKA "Freakonomics" meets "MoneyBall" times ten
by Aaron Koos
At the end of last week I was psyched. I'd just made my first blog post and embarked on a grand experiment to determine if baseball has a future with casual fans like me. I was motivated to improve my CAP ranking, the system that rates my Orioles enthusiasm in the categories of Current knowledge, Ardor, and Participation (for a full explanation of CAP, see my post from last week).
Incidentally, I received quite a bit of feedback on my ultra-scientific CAP system. The overwhelming majority of responses fell into the category of questions like, "Aaron, isn't all this talk of number crunching and ratings systems completely bogus?" and "Aaron, didn't you come up with this completely illegitimate system simply as an excuse to use the clever 'CAP' acronym?"
I have two responses: 1) thank you for recognizing, even with your criticism, that the CAP acronym is indeed clever, and 2) you really don't want to know too much about the science behind CAP. Did you ever see that "Beautiful Mind" movie? Well, CAP is based on very same mind-bending game theory mathematics that drove that "Beautiful Mind" guy to end up throwing phones at hotel concierges. This is "Freakonomics" meets "MoneyBall" times ten.
Despite my deep affection for the system, CAP wasn't kind to me last week. I earned an embarrassing score, putting my rating as an Oriole fan somewhat lower than Carson Kressley of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," who was in Baltimore for the Miss USA pageant Friday night.
In an interview with The Sun last week ("A touch of sass"), Kressley attested to his fondness for the Birds: “I love the orange and black.” He expanded on his recent Baltimore baseball experience: “When I was checking into the [Wyndham] hotel, the Boston Red Sox were checking out, and we did a show with the Boston Red Sox last year so it was like old home week. Or old homo week for me. And then the Orioles were there, too ... well, they actually got their butt kicked that day, so we won't talk about the Orioles.”
So, Kressley is actually bunking with the teams, and I can barely name the line-ups. I’ve been shown up by a man who rose to fame by instructing slobs like me to just “zhoosh it” when it comes to fashion. I was even more determined to forge ahead with my own makeover as an O’s fan.
And, the week started off great. I’ve learned from seasons past that if you can invest early in the spring, the games in late summer mean so much more.
For instance, when David Newhan eventually makes a triumphant return from a broken leg suffered while sliding into second base on Monday, it will mean more to me if I actually witnessed the injury. Which I did, as it happened live on TV, and then again several times in cringing slow motion, thanks to "Baseball Tonight."
I was encouraged. I actually watched a game, and then watched the recap on Baseball Tonight. I was aware of injuries, player stats, and game results. If I kept this up, I thought, I could expect my CAP scores to skyrocket. But, sadly it was all downhill from there.
After Monday, I didn’t see another game. It’s not that I consciously chose to ignore baseball. But I marvel that I was ever able to fit baseball into my life. One hundred sixty-two games over eight months, at around 3 hours a game. That’s almost 500 hours, and if you watched all the games consecutively, it would take you 20 straight 24-hour days.
I’ve got better things to do, and in honor of Carson Kressley, here are the Fab Five activities that kept me from caring about baseball this week:
The Weather. Temperatures in the 70’s and sunny practically all week. Need I say more? Yard work wins out over The Yard.
Family. Most games start at 7:00 p.m. which is a great time unless you’re interested in eating dinner, spending quality time, watching Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go, bath time, and reading bedtime stories.
Tivo. Loads of commercial free, quality television, on demand. Sorry, but while it’s intriguing to try and figure out which version of Daniel Cabrera is going to take the mound, it’s still not as mysterious or satisfying as a single episode of "Lost."
Work. I can see right into left field of Camden Yards from my office. Thursday’s game started at 3:00 p.m. Judging by the near-empty upper decks and left field seats, seems like most people were also “distracted” by work then too.
The NFL. It’s all about the draft right now on Baltimore sports talk radio. I purposely went into The Sun sports section to read about O’s results, but ended up getting sidetracked by an article speculating on how the Ravens will use their 13th pick.
So, it wasn’t a good week. I only calculate my CAP scores for the sake of science:
Current Knowledge. I do get some credit for knowing Newhan was hurt, Cabrera is inconsistent, and now I know that Harold Reynolds, John Kruk, and Steve Phillips are the analysts on "Baseball Tonight." However, any gains in this category are almost completely negated by also knowing that Carson Kressley and the Miss USA pageant were in town. Average: .142. A meager gain.
Ardor. Points for an enthusiastic start to the week, but I ended up being more passionate about applying weed-n-feed to my lawn. A shameful score of .050.
Participation. I watched one game, and actually did read two quick game summaries. Cleveland beat up on us and we returned the favor. No gain: .030.
The results are pretty disheartening. I’m a horrible fan, and baseball is still doomed. On a bright note, maybe the weekend's leftover rain will continue throughout the week, giving me plenty of time to stay in and Tivo a season pass of "Baseball Tonight."