Starting The Countdown To Seventeen

This idea started, as so many ideas have before, at a performance of Les Misérables. During the intermission of Saturday night’s performance, I checked the score of the Pirates-Phillies game, and saw that it was 7-3 Buccos. Right around the time Jean Valjean was rescuing an unconscious Marius from the barricade, unbeknownst to me, Matt Capps was blowing that 7-3 lead. When I walked through the lobby of the Benedum Center and saw “PHI 9 PIT 8” on my phone, I declared to the room at large that I was done with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Upon returning home, I had an idea: Could I project when the Pirates would lose their 82nd game of the season? On what date would they be mathematically ensured of their record-setting 17th consecutive losing season? To the spreadsheets!

I started out by determining the pattern of wins and losses that would result from the team’s current winning percentage. Then I applied that pattern to the Pirates’ remaining games, to see where Loss #82 would fall on the schedule. Then I decided to adjust the winning percentage by factoring in their record over the last ten games. After tinkering with that, I decided on a ratio of 75% overall winning percentage / 25% last-ten winning percentage, so a hot or cold streak could move the date a little bit.

(Oh, and if any sabermetricians are steaming from the ears, relax. This is just back-of-the-envelope scribbling, in the name of One Man’s Futile Act of Defiance against the McClatchy/Nutting regime. Frankly, they don’t deserve anything more serious than this.)

So what does the spreadsheet come up with?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009, against the Chicago Cubs, at PNC Park.

Pencil that in on your calendars, folks. And if it’s at home, don’t forget the rotten fruit.

I’ll be posting updates in my Twitter feed (@LegendOfVinnyT. You did notice that over on the left, didn’t you? All two of you who read my blog?) Watch for the #CountdownTo17 hashtag.

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