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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Moonshadows and Other Things 

If you are reading this, you've missed the lunar eclipse tonight.

I got home, ate some lasagna (which I later found out was vegetarian. Soylent lasagna is green!), and did a rudimentary bike tire change, which seemed to go well. The new Park tire levers worked, which is good. I would recommend them over any other bring-along tire lever MEC sells (I'm referring to the plastic Park levers, which curiously are not shown on that page). I haven't tried the Quick Stik yet, but its packaging warns that it works best on mountain bike tires, and not so good on road tires. The fixed-gear bike is back in business, and with new, non-insane gearing (44/16 or so, which is quite normal for a road fixie).

I took it for a very short test ride, which was completely satisfactory. I looked to my right as I rolled along the Barnet highway, and saw the lunar eclipse somewhere near the peak, a dull red moon. It's one of the more impressive sky sights for an urban dweller, since it happens to a full moon, and is visible even where streetlights abound.

Maybe it was some sort of omen, then, that the Red Sox, after one of the weirdest baseball playoffs ever, won the series under that strange red moon. Curse of the Bambino, only team in baseball ever to come back from a 3-0 series deficit (and against the hated Yankees!), and then an easy-looking romp through four games against the Cardinals. My guess? Not omens, but apophenia.

Gregg Easterbrook's last TMQ column makes the point that while baseball is the pet sport of many intellectuals, football is a much more mentally taxing game, one which relies extremely heavily on teamwork and smart play. I concur with his ideas, but they really only affect the players. For me, the joy of baseball (a sport which I can barely stand to watch) is the way which it lends itself to statistical analysis, and the way in which some very clever analysts of the game have even used that to construct better baseball teams (here's to you, Billy Beane).

This can only be done in football with the greatest of difficulty, because it is such a team sport that it is hard to quantify individual contributions to team success, or even to figure out what it's important to do well in football. That hasn't stopped aficionados like those at Football Outsiders from trying. But on the whole, you can do more interesting things with baseball stats.

The best line of the Sox victory belonged to their boy manager, Theo Epstein, who, in an on-field interview after the win, exhorted fans to "go get drunk!" So far, it seems absent from the news reports, but I heard it live on the radio, so it really happened.

Back to my bike ride, it was short but pleasant. Cool weather, so I took it easy, but wearing a jersey and my new 3-pocket fleece (thanks, Value Village!) kept me warm. Fixed gear is a lot of fun, because of the purity of the experience. No shifting, no coasting, just pedaling.

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