On Roy, Ramos, and RISK

I, shall we say, "enjoy" the stat side of baseball. I liked math and science in school, but ultimately got a degree in English. I realize stats are a very real part of the game, but for me there is poetry as well. Attempting to reduce everything to some quantifiable stat kind of wears me out.

I suppose I just haven't looked hard enough, but since the end of Batgirl, Twins bloggers with a more artistic point of view seem to be few and far between, with, perhaps, the exception of Howard Sinker. TwinkieTown does have some fantastic content though, and I truly enjoy visiting. After the jump, I will attempt to show how baseball is like the game of RISK (although it seems some would prefer to compare it to Dungeons and Dragons; more on that later.) If you have never played RISK, you probably don't need to bother reading on.

A lot of times I read the comments section of sites like this and I feel I've stepped into some discussion forum for avid Dungeons and Dragons players. Its almost as if the stats were designed primarily so they would have cool sounding acronyms, ones that also sound rather weapon-like.

"My pitcher-mage, Har-Den, with the +2 Staff of Slurving Slide, has a 2.1 WAR. You have no chance."

"But my hitter-barbarian, Ugg-la, has the +3 Bashing Bat of Beautiful Bombs, so I trump you. Plus, your Elf-Shortsop, O-Cab, is shackled with the Pantaloons of Putrid Peripherals, rendering him a -.94883 UZR."

"Well, my mage-pitcher Har-Den casts the spell of Regression to the Mean on Ugg-la. What say you, SABR-Master?"

They roll their 11 sided die, the SABR-Master's work computer chugs away agonizingly slow, because he is simultaneously trying to check Gleeman's link to a Dancing Dog video. Eventually it spits out an answer:

"According to my calculations, while throwing the pitch, Har-Den's arm detaches at the shoulder. Ugg-la hits the ball, but the arm, trailing the play, makes a barehanded catch. I decree Ugg-la out."

While I've never played Dungeons and Dragons, I did watch the saturday morning cartoon, and for a while I played a cheap knock off version called Tunnels and Trolls. And I've played Final Fantasy. And I prefer games where you can actually control the player, rather than just letting the computer run probability tests--even if it means I keep walking off the same bridge over and over again. (Hey, video game makers--how about some 2-D games for us thirty-somethings? I'm tired of my nephews yelling at me for swiping them with my Lego Lightsaber.)

HOWEVER, I have to admit that when comparing baseball to games, roll of the dice, probability type games seem to make a better fit, and for me, the best comparison is the game of RISK. Here are the ground rules:

This is an AL only game. The Yankees control Asia, the Red Sox are Europe, the Rays are currently Australia (although at times the Blue Jays are.) The Angels currently control North America, the Twins are South America, and the rest of the AL Central is Africa.

For the purposes of this analogy, players are armies. Only when you dip into the tray for reinforcements, whatever you happen to pull out you get to keep, whether it's a I or a X. (There are a lot more I's than X's.) I'll use the version of RISK I played growing up when it comes to the Army denotations:

X's (tens) = Joe Mauer or Alex Rodriguez. Truly elite players. Kind of like getting an A from Sickels.

V's (fives) = All-Star players. Joe Nathan. Derek Jeter. Really good, but still a huge difference from a X.

III's (threes) = Slightly above average guys. Think Cuddyer.

I's (ones) = Filler. Frontline cannon/Rivera fodder. LNP.

In this game, you get to roll the number of dice equal to your Army, so Mariano Rivera gets 10 die and Brendan Harris gets one. Rivera has ten chances to roll a six, and even if Harris rolls a six on his one dice, he loses, because tie goes to the pitcher/defender. Harris has to roll a six, and Rivera has to NOT roll a six on any of his ten dice in order to prevail. I haven't actually checked the math on this, but it feels about right. Harris has almost no chance of getting to River. But, there is hope. You've got to roll the die.

Check back later for Part II, where I discuss "Trading in Cards," the Euro-Asian conflict between the Yankees and Sox, and the folly of attacking the Middle East.