Every now and then we just need to think out loud. Or I guess in this case, since you’re reading instead of listening to us (have you checked out our podcast by the way?), we’re typing out loud. Or just typing so you can see stuff before you. Whatever, the analogy sucks. Just keep reading. I like to ramble. This is definitely a ramble.
I forgot who said this quote now, but the paraphrase is something like “Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.” I saw this painted on a wall in a CPS school I’ve been teaching at for the past few months, and I liked it as an all-purpose inspirational quote. There are a lot of quotes and references that can be used to motivate and inspire students, should they choose to be so inspired.
I guess that’s part of my purpose in life now. I want to be a teacher, and I think I can be pretty good at it. I have taught in many different environments, from one-on-one tutoring to full-on classroom lectures. I’ve done middle school all the way to graduate school. At one point I thought I wanted to be a professional scientist and do research so I could cure cancer and win a Nobel Prize, but then I realized how much I hated bench work (I kinda sucked at it too). But generally, I feel that I’m intelligent, articulate, and intuitive, and those are good qualities to have as a teacher.
I also realize my limits, and have no problems seeking answers and advice from others whenever I need it. That was true when I was a graduate student, because I would try to surround myself with smart people (some I would say were far smarter than I, don’t pay attention to the PhD, it’s just a piece of paper) such that I could absorb some of their ideas and techniques to use for myself. Same thing with teaching; I would look at my professors, evaluate them for effectiveness, and emulate what worked best and try not to do what didn’t work.
This was true whether it was for tutoring or classroom teaching. And now that I “work” on this blog, I do the same thing. You can actually look at my Twitter feed and see who I follow; a lot of these guys are far smarter than I am. I blog to my ability, and then reference those who are more adept at analysis or more astute at a certain aspect of baseball (pitching, scouting, etc) when the topic extends beyond my range of knowledge. I actually like having fellow bloggers and the folks who “work” with us here at WSD because they add to the experience and I learn something new every day. It’s a really good experience.
To summarize, it’s a good idea to find out what works and copy it, look up stuff when you don’t know the answer, and never be afraid to ask for help. I think that’s how everyone should learn. This mantra hasn’t really failed yet, in sports or in life.
Fact vs. Opinion
Some of this may stem from our almost-instantaneous access to information via the internet and social media, but people generally jump to conclusions based off a very limited amount of information and then form opinions that they present as fact. Sometimes people don’t bother to look up statistics to back up their opinion-as-fact; they just say something because they have a preset conclusion, and that’s it.
This past week, Jorge Soler had a troubling incident in Daytona where he grabbed a bat and headed towards the opposing dugout after an altercation. The Cubs front office looked into the incident while Soler was suspended for five games, and said what one would perceive to be all the right things given what we know about the player based on team reports via the media. However, Twitter was awash with conclusions on Soler’s makeup, Carlos Zambrano jokes (Soler is Cuban, Zambrano is Venezuelan, by the way) and other disappointing comments. This was way before the full details of the incident were revealed; it turned out that initial reports were blown way out of proportion if the final report is to be believed. And even then, we only know what the team is willing to tell the media, and what the media wants to tell us after the editor is done spinning the story. Is the story going to be sensationalized? Or are they going to shoot straight and give us only the facts that are known? We simply do not know.
Perhaps it has to do with a negative attitude that’s prevalent within the Cubs fan base. I mean, the Cubs haven’t won anything of substance since motion pictures were invented, so that does test the nerves of even the most patient of fans (present company included). There’s a lot of confirmation bias that I see with being a Cubs fan. You can see it in comments on blogs, even ours, and on Facebook and Twitter. “This guy sucks.” “This guy is lazy.” “His heart wasn’t in it.” There are literally too many blogs out there for me to link to dealing with all these so-called “observations,” but I’d like to highlight this one from Cubs Den. Remember above when I said I like to surround myself with smart folks and learn from them? Yeah, you can learn a lot from John at Cubs Den.
What about statistics? Some folks say that stats don’t tell the whole story, and that’s true. You have to take statistics in context, and you also have to understand sample size and which stats are the right stats to use in a given situation. I am not a stats guru, and I actually have a friend who worked in lab with me when we were both graduate students who helped me a lot. I also follow a lot of really smart people, including Tom Tango (who works for the Cubs, yay!) who already crunch the stats for me, and it’s readily understandable as long as one has a rudimentary idea of what’s going on. In fact, I tell people to just use Google or Baseball-Reference to find stuff out. There’s no shame in looking up information; that’s what the goddamned internet is for, not just for porn and cat pictures. Cubs Den’s article I linked above is a good example of why stats are important, as your eyes and limited memory may miss a few details.
So next time, before you say “This guy is lazy” or something to that effect, look at the bigger picture and find out if it’s really true, whether based off of stats or what’s available via the media or the internet. Better to make sure your opinion is informed rather than just pulled straight out of your ass.
Why do all our toys break?
By now all Cubs fans should know that we have a number of guys who are recovering from injuries. Matt Garza is rehabbing from a strained lat muscle after he recovered from that elbow issue from last season. Scott Baker had a non-Tommy John-but-still-Tommy John-related arm issue (strained muscle, not a ligament problem) that put him on the DL to start the season. Arodys Vizcaino is still recovering from his own TJS and hopefully starts pitching sometime this year. Ian Stewart hurt his wrist, got it repaired, then hurt his quad. Even Starlin Castro and Brent Lillibridge got some dings in spring training.
Now we find out that Kyuji Fujikawa is going to the DL due to an arm strain, and to end the game with an insult, Steve Clevenger hurt his back on a swinging strike three that looked incredibly painful. As a Cubs fan who doesn’t believe in curses, I am not sure what to attribute this run of super bad injury luck to. Is it because Wrigley Field is old and decrepit, and they don’t have enough room to put in massage tables, medical equipment and a jacuzzi? Is it because the training staff is incompetent? Is it because the Cubs no longer allow steroids in the clubhouse and it just takes longer for players to recover from injury? (Sorta kidding on that last one.) Maybe it’s because of the fact that they have to play so many day games after night games, more so than other MLB clubs.
Or maybe injuries just kind of happen and this is pure coincidence. Darwin Barney, who’s playing in Iowa tonight, almost killed himself in an exhibition game diving for a foul ball. Last season, Jonathan Lucroy missed time because his wife dropped a suitcase on his hand. Weird crap always seems to happen, and after I almost did it to myself, I will never make fun of anyone re: back spasms after sneezing ever again.
It’s not really a #Cub thing; it’s just that shit happens.
Tonight’s WSD tweet
@theblogfines Si.Would rather have shitty bat and great glove than shitty bat+glove.
— Rice Cube (@CubicSnarkonia) April 13, 2013
I’m so eloquent.