Interpreting Who Gets Credit or Blame
Both baseball and investing have rules and guidelines that help explain and interpret the activity on the field or in the market. But occasionally, even 100+ years of expanding rules and precedent don’t cover what actually happens on the field or in the market.
Baseball is somewhat unlike other sports in that you could watch 100 games but in the 101st you may see something you’ve never seen before. I’ve seen hundreds of games as a writer and official scorer, professionally paying attention so to speak, and I still occasionally witness odd circumstances that I haven’t seen before.
The Major League Baseball rulebook has a section for official scorers. It’s a 32-page mix of nightly occurrences and some rarely-used, esoteric application of scoring decisions. It doesn’t cover everything. Sometimes, the actual events on the field are left open for interpretation as to how they should be officially recorded by the scorer.
Sometimes, different people have different interpretations of the same information or activity. This is common in economics and investments as well. Two people evaluate the same data and come to different conclusions. Usually this is because of a variety of biases that influence our thinking and are hard to separate ourselves from. In either baseball or investing, it is hard to overcome psychological biases with data and facts.
Occasionally, a manager will ask for clarification of my ruling as the official scorer. Sometimes they don’t ask for clarity, they just tell me I’m wrong. I listen to their viewpoint – which most of the time is understood in advance of the conversation. I’m not opposed to changing a scoring decision given a rational discussion of the situation. Usually, in an attempt to be diplomatic, I tell them that I understand their position but that before I reverse a scoring decision, I want to make sure the other team sees it the same way. They often do not. When one manager is trying to protect his pitcher by having a hit reversed to an error that will make a subsequent run unearned instead of earned, the other manager is trying to protect his player, suggesting he is worthy of a base hit, especially if that hit came with an RBI that would be lost of the play is ruled an error.
Sometimes, both sides agree that a scoring decision should be changed, or even left as is after discussion, but it’s often open for interpretation. It’s not always clear cut whether a batter deserves credit for a hit or a fielder should be charged with an error. The line between routine play and one that require exceptional effort is thinner than you might think.
Like investing or financial planning, you make the best decision given the circumstances and the information available and you move forward doing your best to understand the landscape and how to handle when it shifts.
Takeaway: Even seemingly undebatable information can be interpreted in different ways due to our biases and how we apply the information to any given situation.
Investing and baseball (Part 1) – What do they have in common?
Investing and baseball (Part 2) – Tony Gwynn and Understanding Probability
Investing and baseball (Part 3) – Statistical Analysis
Investing and baseball (Part 4) – Team building and investment portfolio
Investing and baseball (Part 5) – An insider’s perspective on the game
Investing and baseball (Part 6) – Ongoing re-evaluation and adaptation
Investing and baseball (Part 7) – Keeping scores can be a matter of perspective
Investing and baseball (Part 8) – The rarity of most valuable “players”
Investing and baseball (Part 9) – Fantasy baseball (growth vs value)
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