Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Texas Rangers Fans: Don't Worry, Be Happy

Neftali Feliz - Be Happy from Drew Sheppard on Vimeo.

Where the Rangers are now is analogous to the 1991 Dallas Cowboys team which was a surprise qualifier for the playoffs before losing to Detroit when Erik Kramer kept throwing tall fade routes over the Cowboys short CBs. The following year, 1992, the Cowboys won the first of three Super Bowls in the 1990s.

Rangers fans, and seemingly the Rangers organization also, are hot for trading prospects away in a bid to improve the team's chances in 2010.

I ask: should the 1991 Dallas Cowboys have packaged some young players, say: FB Darryl Johnston, OG Nate Newton, DE Tony Tolbert, and throw in LB Godfrey Myles, for a couple of veterans whom the team could count on to help them win immediately? Would the veteran additions have helped the Cowboys win a Super Bowl faster than their actual Super Bowl victory in 1992? Hayull no. When considering trades, a franchise must be careful about its underlying assumptions.

Rangers fans and the Rangers organization are exhibiting a lack of imagination, a lack of shrewdness, a lack of courage. Most baseball franchises experience - every couple of decades - a large accumulation of minor league talent, only to watch that talent turn out to be nice talent which is not World Championship type talent. Most baseball franchises, the vast majority of the time, are better off trading that young talent for specific pieces which will help the major league team succeed.

Conversely, I assert the Rangers accumulation of talent is that rare thing: a true accumulation of World Championship talent which will, if left to marinate and mature in it's own time, produce multiple World Championships. Rangers fans and the Rangers organization are experiencing a dearth of imagination, of shrewdness, of courage. It almost never happens that one franchise has the ingredients needed for a decade of World Championship domination. However: why can't it happen? Why isn't it happening now(?), before our eyes(?), at least until Jon Daniels and Nolan Ryan despoil it by trading away irreplaceable talent?

In the 17th century, the English presumed that all swans were white. Except, it was eventually discovered: Australia has some black swans.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has coined the term Black Swan Event
to explain the existence and occurrence of high-impact, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations.
Taleb regards almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events, and artistic accomplishments as "black swans"—undirected and unpredicted. He gives the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I, and the September 11, 2001 attacks as examples of Black Swan Events.
Writing in the New York Times, Taleb asserted,
"What we call here a Black Swan (and capitalize it) is an event with the following three attributes. First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. Second, it carries an extreme impact. Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable. I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives."

Taleb is arguing that risk assessment must include unknown unknowns. The Rangers franchise, even before assessing unknown unknowns, is not giving proper weight to a known unknown, i.e. to the chance that the young talent truly is World Championship Caliber. It's not that Rangers fans and organization cannot see the talent. It is, rather, that fans and organization are so blinded by what usually happens to other franchises, are so cowed by past Rangers failures, that fans and organization cannot get their heads around the notably strong chance that a World Championship Team is marinating and maturing in the Rangers minor league system.

Wilmer Font.

Just because such accumulation of talent does not come together often ..... does not mean such accumulation of talent is not coming together right now, and right before our eyes. Most fans lack the imagination, shrewdness, and courage to see the higher-than-normal odds that this is happening now. Does the organization also lack the imagination, shrewdness, and courage to see it?

Just because, over the previous century, "ya gotta trade those guys" has always been good advice ..... does not mean "ya gotta trade those guys" is good advice in the present circumstance.


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