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Tuesday, August 10, 2004 

Milestones

If you aren't reading King Kaufman's sports column on Salon.com, what are you waiting for? The catch is that in order to read the full version, you have to click on an ad. This takes only a few seconds and gives you a day pass to Salon's premium material. Absolute bargain.

This is from today's column about Greg Maddux's 300th win:

"I didn't mention Maddux's achievement because I don't get as excited as most people seem to about counting milestones such as a 300th victory. Maddux is only the 22nd gent to win 300 big-league ballgames, and that's certainly a spectacular thing, but he was also only the 22nd to win 299 games.

"Everyone got so much more excited about Maddux's 300th win than they're going to get about his 301st, a greater achievement. Aside from it being a higher number -- you're with me on that, right? -- he'll be only the 20th man to win 301.

"And why is this? Because 300 divides by 100, which is 10 times 10, and we have 10 fingers. That's it. If we had eight fingers, numbers that divide by 64 would resonate with us. The milestones would be 256 -- Tom Glavine became the 38th to win that many earlier this year -- and 320, a club of 14 joined two months ago by Roger Clemens.

"Well, that's just silly, isn't it? Three hundred twenty? Two hundred fifty-six? Of course it is. There's nothing wrong with being silly, of course. If 300 means something to you, good for you, but for me the targets that resonate are the ones that have been set by other players -- numbers like 755 or 73."

great point. it's a breath of fresh air to read this kind of logic from the media once in a while.

Indeed. It reminds me of the infamous contraversies regarding the millenium: everyone likes a round number, it is said. But these numbers are only round because of the base of our numbering. We might as well make up a code like the Babysitters Club or something.

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