Fighting irrationality with irrationality since 2006.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Predictions and Evidence

So I wanted to follow-up a little on the posting that “Football Matty” made yesterday, namely the “fearless sports predictions” that our man BM made on Monday.

Here’s what led off the column on Monday:

Barbaro will win thoroughbred horse racing's first Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978 and the streak of 14 straight division titles by the Atlanta Braves will end this year.

Alright, so those are some bold opinions. But he’s the paid professional. I assume that he knows more than me about these things, and especially about horse racing.

Barbaro was underrated before boosting his career record to 6-for-6 with an easy win in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Wait wait wait. Was he underrated because he wasn’t the favorite to win the Derby? And what races did he win BEFORE the derby? I mean, I don’t know horse racing from a hole in the ground, but maybe you could say he beat some quality horses in his earlier races. Or did he just manage to win the Finger Lakes Classic against Zippy Chippy and 7 other awful horses?

Just for the record, the morning of the Derby, Mr. Underrated Barbaro was listed at 4-1, the 3rd best odds of the day. By the time of the race he was listed at 6-1, but everyone else had fallen so far that he was the FAVORITE. How is the favorite underrated again?

The 2006 Braves were overrated from the start of this season and won't win the National League East or earn the league's wild-card playoff berth.

Now, I won’t argue much about whether or not the Braves will win the National League East, but I do wonder how (or why even) they were overrated at the start of the season. Could you back that up? All the prognosticators that I read this spring were predicting death and destruction for the Braves, if for no other reason than Leo Mazzone had bolted for the O’s. In fact, people have been arguing for several years that the Braves were due to lose. If anything, the team has been constantly underrated and doubted for the last few years, not overrated.

Barbaro went off at generous odds of 6-to-1 in the Derby's 20-horse field and had a dream trip to win going away by 6 ½ lengths. Trainer Michael Matz promised his colt would be fresh and fit off an unusual five-week layoff and they delivered. From now on, horse bettors will take him more seriously.

Yeah. More seriously than making him the favorite. They’ll make him the Super Favorite. Maybe they’ll bet that he will both win AND place.

Several fresh speed horses will give it a try that afternoon and a few distance-loving plodders (including Steppenwolfer and Jazil) will take their best shots in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

AHHH! YES! Actual horses being named. But what’s a plodder? And why does BM discount distance horses. (And yes, “distance” in horse racing seems to be relative.)

There was a lot more to this column, but I think that’s good enough for my first real go around. Basically I just want a little more background on the bold and fearless predictions people are making. Maybe something that tells me more about the people (or horses) involved than I knew before hand. Oh yeah, and it would help if the predictions were a little more “fearless” than “The Winner of the Derby Will Win the Other Two Races” (a prediction made by lots of people every year) and “The 7 games under .500, 3rd place team won’t make the playoffs.”


Blogger Brian said...

I hate to defend Mr. Matthews or use rationality, but Barbaro would be considered underrated if he/it had a better than 1 in 6 chance of winning. Whether Mr. Matthews had any sound basis for making that determination is open to argument.

I like the rest though, especially the self-exacta line.

More about Bob and Barry will follow when I get the chance.

3:47 PM

Blogger FireCrotchester said...

and WD comes out of the gate firing.

you prefer serif fonts, huh?

5:06 PM

Blogger WD to Evers to Chance said...

For the record... who knew that the spell check feature wouldn't fix my title line...

And Brian -- you're totally right. It's possible that BM was right about Barbaro being underrated even though he was the favorite. Didn't look at the odds/favorite issue that way. Anyhow, he didn't really back up his claim. Which doesn't make me right, but kinda makes me "not as wrong."

11:30 PM


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