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Time Imrem-morial

2004-04-07 18:52

by Mike Carminati

Mike Imrem is a bad writer, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. Old Imrem is as hack as a Joe Morgan discussing *Moneyball* (nods to Mr. Charles Dickens aside).

Imrem is such a poor writer that he has nothing better to do than to take an innocent remark by Sammy Sosa and turn it into a yuck-fest at Sammy's expense. Sosa in his opening day exuberance said, "We have a 99 percent chance at winning every day out there." Now, of course that's a ridiculous statement, but consider all the unchallenged assertions by athletes of giving 110%, 120%, 150%, etc. We all know that you can't give more than 100%, and it sometimes brings a chuckle when the next plateau in "giving" is established (have they reached 200% yet?). However, the media always lets it slide either because they have studied their cliches a la Nuke Laloosh or they don't know the meaning of 100% either.

So with everything going on on opening day, this is what Imrem choices to write about?!? It couldn't be just to poke fun at Sosa and his Dominican accent, could it? Nah, Imrem is too rarified a writer to resort to such calumny. Witness:

Hmmmmm ... 99 percent, huh?

Thank goodness Sosa didn't establish the number at something soapy slippery like 99 and 44/100ths percent. That would have been impossible to round off in English.

Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! I didn't know that Ivory soap was imported. See the interesting tidbits in Imrem's stuff. You need a gloss to soak it all in.

OK, Imrem is a hack. Just writing an article on such tripe is proof enough. He's also a racist or at least a xenophobe.

But I'm here to tell you friends that Imrem is something even worse—can I get a "Hallelujah", brothers? What could be worse you say. And I'll tell you. Imrem's a (pregnant pause for effect) bad statistician. Yes, brothers and sisters, Imrem's a hack writer AND a poor statistician.

Imrem calculates that using Sosa's probabilities, the Cubs will win 160 games in 2004:

However, Sosa is the Samminator, and perhaps also the Sam-math-inator. Maybe his native Dominican Republic operates with a different set of numerals, so who's to say the Cubs won't win 160 games this season?

They already have 1, which leaves only 159 of the next 161, a much easier task by my humble calculations than 160 of 162, especially if they play the Reds a million more times.

Is it news that Sosa is from the Dominican Republic or something? This guy mentions the Sosa's point of original and/or his native tongue every time he mentions his name. His subtext is as subtle as a bad Amos and Andy episode.

Anyway, Imrem is misusing the Law of Large Numbers a.k.a., the Law of Averages to arrive at the expected win total. If the Cubs played "a million more times", then the winning average would approach .990 if we take Sosa's throwaway in earnest.

However, the Cubs only have 162 games this year. Given that and basic probability, 161 wins has a better chance of happening. Here are the probabilities for 150 wins and above:

162 | 0.196291514 |

161 | 0.321204296 |

160 | 0.261181271 |

159 | 0.140703715 |

158 | 0.056494673 |

157 | 0.018032643 |

156 | 0.004766204 |

155 | 0.001072912 |

154 | 0.000209976 |

153 | 3.62922E-05 |

152 | 5.6088E-06 |

151 | 7.82862E-07 |

150 | 9.95052E-08 |

Try it at home! In Excel add one column with numbers going from 162 to 0 (for wins) and then in the next column insert this formula: =COMBIN(162,A1)*(0.99)^A1*(0.01)^(162-A1) Where A1 is the location of the first number (i.e., 162). If you populate the second column using the formula, the total will be 1.

Yeah, the Cubs aren't going to win 161 let alone 160 games, but if Imrem's going to make fun of Sosa and pawn it off as an article, he should at least know his combinatorics first.

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