The long, grinding summer baseball season is winding down and 2nd season is just around the corner. My two favorite teams are both working their way through the statistical and mathematical jungle that is known as the magic number.
The magic number is a calculated formula that looks like this:
G + 1 − WA − LB, where
- G is the total number of games in the season
- WA is the number of wins that Team A has in the season
- LB is the number of losses that Team B has in the season
In MLB the ‘G’ is 162 (a 162 game season). The ‘+1’ in the formula is to eliminate the possibility of ties when focusing on your magic number!
For the Atlanta Braves (as of this writing) their magic number is 4… That’s how many Braves wins and/or Cardinal losses it will take for the Bravo’s to be in the playoffs again.
For the Orioles, the numbers are just a little different. Last week I tweeted the magic number of 3 for the O’s… 3 wins required to avoid the “100 loss club” in MLB.
I have good news to report – the Orioles have won more than 3, resulting in a couple of brand new magic numbers: 1 and 4.
If the Orioles win 1 of their last 6 games they will end the season at least 1 win better than last year.
If they win 4 of the last 6, it will give the O’s 70 wins for the 1st time in 5 long seasons!
Since I live in the mid-Atlantic, I have local cable access to all of the O’s games. Last Tuesday the Tampa Bay Rays were in town. I got home in time to watch the last half of the game… it was a gut-wrenching experience.
When I “joined the game already in progress,” the Orioles were up 1-0. I barely had time to take the 1st sip of my Caribou Decaf before Evan Longoria took a hanging slider and parked it in an outfield seat! 2-1, Rays.
Ugh. Here we go again. My heart sank lower than my coffee!!
The Rays pitcher, David Price, had given up one unearned run in the first inning but by the time I clocked in he was in a rhythm… 4 scattered hits, 3 walks, 6 strike-outs, sensational defense behind him… things looked bleak.
In the 6th the O’s put 2 runners on, but one double-play and ground-ball out later and the Rays still held the lead.
In the bottom of the 7th a similar scenario faced the Baltimore club but this time Jake Fox came off the bench and managed a clutch, 2-out single to drive in the tying run, chasing Price from the game.
In the top of the 8th the Rays came right back, with a single and stolen base before a young bird called up the 1st of September, Troy Patton, came on and closed that door.
Then it happened!
In the bottom of the 8th Adam Jones got to 1st base. Now, if you’re not a baseball fan you have no idea the talent of Adam Jones. The Rays did know and J. P. Howell couldn’t afford to take his eyes or mind off of Jones – of the threat that he might steal 2nd (scoring position) and work his way in to score.
In fact, Howell was so preoccupied with Jones that he didn’t realize he had hung a changeup to Matt Wieters – the O’s All-Star catcher – until he heard it clunk against an empty seat in left field. Howell crumpled to his knees for several seconds while Wieters trotted around the bases.
THE VERY NEXT DAY I was meeting a coaching client at a local restaurant. The seating had me facing the television which was set to a local sports channel. They were rebroadcasting the game I had seen the night before.
I sat down at the very same inning where I had joined the game on Tuesday.
PAUSE: I should explain something here. Adele sometimes calls me Flipper – not because I’m “faster than lightening” or because “no one you see – is smarter than [me]” but because I flip channels.
This habit was formed early in my life and continues for at least 3 reasons:
- I hate commercials
- Dad did it, and
- I hate commercials
So, while I saw a lot of the game, I didn’t see every, single detail. Those details became my distraction for the lunch meeting (sorry, Keith).
But something was very different in those final 4 innings.
Our pitcher still hung a slider. Base runners were still stranded. Double-plays still doused hopes. Pitchers were still lifted. Pinch hitters still stepped in. I still smiled, celebrated, and cheered the win.
But… my pulse never raced with anxiety, just expectation.
I didn’t know how it would happen, but I was fully confident that it would happen: The Orioles would pull this one out!! I knew this by experience.
I am a person of faith in God… not an expert in religious matters, and my relationship with God through Christ has never been all that I know it could be.
But, what little I have learned from God in this relationship is shaping me.
I still spend too much time flipping around in life to get every single detail down. But I have learned something huge in these last few weeks: Perspective matters.
I can live with expectation, enthusiasm, thrill, mystery, wonder… what Jesus called abundance AND, I can do so without anxiety, worries or fears. Why? Perspective.
I have a hope born out of experience – not a wish – about how things wrap up; and that changes everything!
How about you?