On Snark

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

-Theodore Roosevelt

One True Thing

There's a consultant I've known for many years, and have always had a great working relationship with, who has over time become something of a quasi-competitor. Of late, he has taken to promoting his work on his blog by disparaging our own, either through backhanded compliments or subtle swipes, and this has been a personal disappointment to me, if nothing else. Surely, the world is big enough for both of us. 

I shared this disappointment with someone whose opinion I respect enormously: one of my greatest mentors in life, and someone who also knows this consultant/blogger. His response actually shook me a little. He said, "what is so strange is that he never says these things [in person]. It's like the blogger and the man are two different people. You should be proud that you seem the same."

God, I hope so. Unless you are a shut-in, eventually people meet both the blogger and the man (or woman). If those two identities don't square, its hard to see how you can truly be happy, or comfortable in your own skin. For me, that was one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me - and if that is my "one true thing," I need little else.

The Risk Of Flight

I don't like to fly. Friends know two things about me (and hey, you're here - so you're a friend): I fly a lot, and I don't enjoy it. I have my reasons (I don't need therapy.) It's a part of my job, though I suppose I could always get a different line of work. I don't want to, though. No, I've never been through the worst possible scenario, but I'd wager I've been through the second-worst possible scenario a couple of times in my life. Where I've settled is this: the tradeoff is acceptable. I take a slight risk, and I get a reward (furthering my career, seeing someone special, etc.)

Everyone has a different risk point, though. If I told you that 2 out of every 100 planes crashed, most of you wouldn't fly. Yet those are pretty much the historical odds of a space shuttle crash. History is filled with people who didn't really know those odds (the early shuttle crews), and those who did - but didn't flinch (the later crews). 

For the shuttle pilots, the worst case scenario was pretty clear, and the odds pretty poor, at least compared to commercial aviation. So why would they fly?  Simple - a clear visualization of the best case scenario. Even not knowing the real odds, like the early shuttle pilots, or the first explorers, is no impediment if the upside is a clear and compelling vision, like a view of the Big Blue Marble you and I will never see.

When the best case scenario is a vivid manifestation, I think we humans will accept all kinds of risk, even the risk of not knowing the risk. It's the opposite scenario that is more troublesome. Let's stipulate that you know the odds (they aren't good) and you know the worst that can happen (a crater). Would you take the risk if you didn't have a clear vision of the upside? 

The real risk is this: if you wait to get on that plane, you might miss the flight of your life. But it's a different kind of risk - not the risk of a negative outcome, but the risk of missing a positive outcome, which frames the problem in a completely different way

If you had no clear picture of what the destination looked like, would you get on that plane?

How much would you need to know?

I don't have the answer to this.

My Annual Spring Ritual

Every March, I dig out my winter coat, hop on a plane, and head for northern Maine, to participate in a fantasy baseball draft in what has to be one of the longest-running leagues anywhere - 27 years and counting. These guys are hard-core, the league is tough and the baseball knowledge runs high. We track 8 categories: HR, RBI, AVG and STL for hitters; ERA, WHIP, Wins and Saves for pitchers. It's an auction league, and you can retain players from the previous year if you ended up getting a good bargain out of them. We draft National League ONLY, thank you very much, with 11 teams each filling their rosters with 15 hitters and 10 pitchers for a budget of $280.

The ability to retain players from last year with low contracts often creates "inflation" early in the draft, and those dollars get spent like crazy (Pujols went for $58) Fantasy baseball auctions are serious clinics in not only sports knowledge, but bluffing, human behavior and economics. They never turn out how you plan them. Some of you might be interested in this sort of thing, so here is how I did (names in italics were retained from the previous year):

 

C: Miguel Montero $15

C: George Kottaras $1

1B: Joey Votto $40

3B: David Wright: $35

CI: Freddie Freeman $10

SS: Jimmy Rollins $25

2B: Bill Hall $10

MI: Ian Desmond $8

OF: Carlos Beltran $16

OF: Tyler Colvin $1

OF: Alfonso Soriano $16

OF: Nate McLouth $10

OF: Kosuke Fukudome $5

UT: Brandon Allen $1

UT: Matt Diaz $1

P: Chad Billingsly $21

P: Aaron Harang $3

P: Tim Stauffer $3

P: Hiroki Kuroda $14

P: Travis Wood $10

P: Wade LeBlanc $1

RP: Kenley Jansen 3$

RP: Brandon Lyon $9

RP: Jason Motte $3

RP: Francisco "The Domestic Violator" Rodriguez $21

 

Too many Padres starters (though there are worse parks to pitch in) and an outfield that relies on Soriano, Beltran and McLouth to deliver more than what I paid them, but aIl in all I'm pretty pleased. Super cheap pieces like 1$ Tyler Colvin or one of the $3 closers-in-waiting I have can later be traded to teams out of contention, who are building for next year, for current stars.

There, that was therapeutic.